Thursday, December 26, 2013

Spirit of Christmas

Whether someone is a Christian or not, this time of year we can all embrace the spirit of Christmas. There is the symbolism of this time of year, going back to the pagan tradition of celebrating the return of light after the longest night of the year. The lights, festivities and family gatherings bring about a feeling of inclusiveness and belonging. The gifts of the Magi portray giving rather than receiving.

And the bottom line is the teachings of Jesus to love. So we can celebrate this message whatever our religious heritage might be because this same message reverberates through all religions.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Importance of Choice of Words

As a writer, words make up a key part of my daily life. What we write or say can be ignored or can have a significant impact. It still amazes me that when I sit down at the keyboard in the morning to write, magic happens. Well not all the time. Some days it’s a struggle, and on other occasions the words flow.

I was reminded of the importance of words two weeks ago when I watched a program on the History Channel about the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor. After FDR was notified of the event, he prepared a speech to give to the American people. In the original version he had written, “a date which will live in world history.” This didn’t have much impact. He later rewrote it so when he gave the address, he grabbed people’s attention with the phrase, “a date which will live in infamy.” That one small change made all the difference.
Words. Choose them and use them wisely.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Housing Options for Seniors

Since most of my mystery novels feature older characters, I’m interested in topics that affect the older populations. Because of this interest, I volunteered to be on the Boulder County Aging Advisor Council a number of years ago. This year our council has been focusing on the topic of senior housing.

At our most recent meeting, we convened as Silver Sage, a senior cohousing project in Boulder. There are sixteen units built around a courtyard, ten market price and six affordable housing units. It’s an interesting combination of individual homes with a shared facility for events and some meals.

One of the goals of our council is to help elders age in place in our communities. Rather than being forced into congregate housing options, it’s important to have a variety of other options available as well. The cohousing model provides the benefits of aging in place among peers who support each other. It’s a great option for people who like working in community. This is not for everyone, and other seniors want to stay in their separate houses as they get older.

Another important option is a variation on shared housing. Picture a widow who lives in a five bedroom house, who needs financial assistance to pay property tax and maintenance. If she is open to the idea, she could rent out four rooms to other widows. They all benefit, those that are looking for a reasonably priced rental living option and the property owner who is looking for a means of offsetting expenses. Unfortunately, in many communities there are zoning restrictions on the number of unrelated adults who can live in one house. These types of restrictions need to be revisited and opened up for more flexible living arrangements.

One of the concerns is the number of parking spaces required if people share houses. Five older people in one house, some of whom may no longer drive, is no worse that a family with three teenagers and five cars. Solutions can be found. It takes looking into alternatives and providing a breath of solutions for senior housing.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Gratitude for Being Healthy and Alive

It’s so easy to take good health for granted. I was this way until the wakeup call two months ago in the form of a severe heart attack. I thought I had been living a healthy lifestyle but discovered there were still areas for improvement. Since then I have continued to watch my diet, maintain a good program of exercise and simplify my life to eliminate area where I had overcommitted, leading to stress.

I never expected a heart attack, but stuff happens. I’m now taking medication which will help minimize the change of another heart attack. And the best news. Three days ago I had an echocardiogram and the results showed no permanent damage to my heart. The combination of quick treatment and excellent medical care led to this positive result.

I am sitting at my writing desk grateful for the outcome and looking forward to the gift of each new day.