The Science of Happiness and what it has to teach us in the face of Rising Loneliness, Narcissism and Inequality

To say that the last six weeks have been rather surreal would be an understatement! Our communities have never seemed so peaceful,  the traffic so quiet or — for some — the days so long. Indeed, it has been a difficult and frustrating time for many. The biggest complaint I have heard from people is that the “alone time” that many of us used to crave at the end of a usually over-busy, over-stressful work week, is loneliness. We miss visiting with our friends. We miss seeing family members. We miss our colleagues. We miss seeing our neighbours at the kids’ sports tournaments. We miss chatting with our brothers and sisters in worship or during fellowship hour. Although we have been learning new ways to connect with one another, there is nothing quite like getting together face-to-face with a good friend over a real cup of coffee in a real cafe.

I can’t help but think that this is probably much harder for those of us who are Boomers (or older). Raised to work all the hours God sends and to treat “busyness” as though it was the highest of virtues, it can be challenging to find that we have nowhere to go and no-one with whom to go. I am probably one of the luckier ones in that my work has continued at almost the same frenetic pace, since regular Zoom meetings, online worship, pastoral phone visits and daily e-messages to our church family have kept my days full. Earlier in the month I even had a funeral that was live-streamed. But I still really miss the one-on-one human contact. It’s a much lonelier world.

Perhaps our experience of self-isolation will help us to empathize with those who suffer from chronic loneliness. This week I have been on study leave, pursuing three different online courses that focus on how we read (1) Scripture and employ ritual in worship and other aspects of church life (and what we can learn from mediaeval religious communities), (2) Jesus and the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures, and (3) the Science of Happiness.

Why study happiness? Suffice it to say that we are healthier physically and mentally when we are happy or enjoy a reasonable level of contentment and well-being. But here is something else that the research has discovered. Over the past thirty years, as we Baby Boomers were busy raising our families, buying homes and pursuing our careers, our world also became much lonelier, more consumer-oriented, and less democratic. The researchers have found that loneliness, narcissism and a lack of concern for others, and inequality have risen exponentially. The scientific study of happiness, as well a study of the philosophic and religious traditions that provide one of the best foundations for a happy life and a happy society, have much to offer us as we seek ameliorate these problems. I hope to share more insights from this study which is offered through the University of California at Berkeley. Stay tuned! There is much for us Boomers to learn!

How to Build a Strong Immune System during Coronavirus

How are you coping these days? Finding it challenging to self isolate? Concerned about the precautions you need to take in order to keep yourself and your loved ones well and safe? Of course you are! We all are!

But if you are a Baby Boomer like me, you probably still think that, as long as you practise good hygiene and social distancing, you are still fairly immune to the disease. After all, we are not that old! It’s the folks in their 80’s and 90’s we need to worry about most — not ourselves.

This is what I have thought until now. But the reality is that our immune system is not as strong as it was when we were young. So it’s important that we take extra care of ourselves, if for no other reason than there are other people — elderly parents and young grandchildren and partners — who depend on us.

To that end, I include here a wonderful article that offers some good tips on how to build a stronger immune system and stay healthy: A Good Defense Is a Boomer’s Best Offense, by Joy Stephenson-Laws, as found on Sixty and Me.

Oh and by the way, “worry” and non-stop exposure to media talk about the coronavirus do not help to build a good immune system. There are more pro-active and helpful ways to stay healthy, as this author points out. As always, speak to your doctor or medical professional for advice regarding your health and well-being.

Happy reading and stay well and safe!

 

An Old Favourite Updated for Our Times by Neil Diamond

How are you faring in this surreal world of coronavirus? I pray you and yours are keeping well and safe! Richard and I are still self-isolating after a trip to NYC two weeks ago.

I was feeling a bit down about all this, as well as about our need to postpone our special event with Rabbi Address on April 4th, but then my daughter Alexandra sent me this wonderful link to a newer version to an old Neil Diamond favourite! It’s one that many of us Boomers enjoyed in pre-Covid19 days. Enjoy!

Will be back with you soon, I hope, with a new date for our Long and Winding Road event!

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Memories of My Mother on her 105th Birthday….

Today my mother would have turned 105. How is that possible when I am only 30?!!

There is not a day that goes by that I don’t think of my mother. Of course, every morning when I wake up and peer sleepily into the bathroom mirror I see Mom staring back at me! It would be nice to think that I have some of her other traits too. Mom had a great sense of humour. She was smart, well read, incredibly funny and always generous and giving of her time to help her family and others. At the same time, she could make a dollar stretch a long way. In her hands a piece of aluminum foil found multiple uses before it came to its final resting place in the rubbish bin. She was the original recycler. Most of all, she was very loving and lots of fun. She was also my best fan and favourite cheerleader and I miss her!

She was also very proud of her Irish heritage. Her mother emigrated to Canada from Dublin, Ireland, in the early years of the last century, marrying a fourth generation Canadian who was born and raised in the French River area. Mom was born in Copper Cliff (near Sudbury, Ontario), and had the copper coloured hair and Irish temperament that went with it. Born on St. Patrick’s Day, her mother had her christened Kathleen (after her best friend from Ireland) Patricia, but she was to have been called Patricia. She was never actually called either name, but that is a long story!

My mother was strong and feisty and very protective of my father, my brother William and me. She loved us with a fierce love, just as she loved her parents and her three sisters, Olive, Audrey and Grace. She adored her grandchildren Alexandra, Lachlan and John — and I know she would also have been crazy about her youngest grandson Malcolm, who was born thirteen months after she died and who carried her maiden name Crombie.

I wonder what Mom would think of our world today. She passed away in 1996, five years before 9/11. (So did my Dad, who died just five months before September 11th.)  Although she lived through the flu epidemic of 1918, she would have been too young to remember that devastating time personally, so I imagine that the current corona-virus pandemic would have been terrifying to her. On the other hand, she had a quiet but deep faith, and no doubt would have been able to share many stories from the Great Depression and the War years  that would have inspired us and given us encouragement for our own unsettling times. She was a great Encourager. She was my Harbinger of Hope.

Mom used to keep a copy of the following scripture verse taped inside the kitchen cupboard that housed her morning coffee cup:  “Jesus said,  ‘If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it will obey you.'” (Luke 17:6) Today I still look to her for courage and hope when I face difficult days.

Happy Birthday, Mom!

Check out Conrad Grebel’s Annual Spirituality and Aging Seminary in Waterloo, ON on June 19th!

Exciting News! The annual Spirituality and Aging Seminar will be held on Friday June 19th (9:30 registration – 4:30) at Conrad Grebel University College in Waterloo.

This year’s seminar is entitled Embodying hope, faith and playfulness in caregiving:  Practical and spiritual resources for a complicated vocation.

Conrad Grebel University College is excited to welcome Dr. Janet Ramsey, Professor Emeritus of Congregational Care Leadership at Luther Seminary in St. Paul, MN.  Now partially retired, Dr. Ramsey spends her time writing, caring for her nine grandchildren and her beloved Sheltie, and traveling with her husband, Joe.  Before becoming an academic, she was a marriage and family counselor, a parish pastor, and a nursing home chaplain/administrator. She has written and spoken widely on spiritual resiliency, forgiveness and healthy aging.

OUR LONG AND WINDING ROAD: Seeking Our Path in the Longevity Revolution with Rabbi Richard Address, D. Min., Saturday, April 4th, London ON

Two comments people made after our very successful Canadian Boomerfest in October 2018 was: When you are you doing it again?! And when is Rabbi Richard Address coming back?!!!

I am delighted to be able to tell you that Rabbi Address has agreed to spend a full day with us on Saturday, April 4th! Please check out this short video and be sure to register as soon as possible for this wonderful day as we explore “Our Long and Winding Road: Seeking Our Path in the Longevity Revolution.”

Together with our friends from Temple Israel in London we will build a path of meaning and joy for ourselves and those we care about! Hope to see you at Siloam on Saturday, April 4th!

Happy New Year! Valentine’s Day is just Around the Corner!

Earlier I wrote about this special Valentine’s Evening coming up at Siloam, which I know you will want to attend! Here is some more info. Please join us at Siloam at 7 p.m., Friday, February for a special evening of song with two amazing artists, Kelly Walker and Breanne Dietrich. Refreshments and desserts provided.

Love is the only thing that is real. — Kieran Aleksander Francis Stroobandt

When you are present in this moment, you break the continuity of your story, of past and future. Then true intelligence arises and also love. — Eckhart Tolle

 

A Special Valentine’s Evening with Your Favourite Love Songs!

Breanne Dietrich is a Toronto based actor, singer and voice teacher. She holds an MFA in Musical Theatre from The Boston Conservatory and a Degree in Classical Voice from Western and is thrilled to be back performing in London. Breanne has performed in New York, Boston and Toronto. Breanne looks forward to sharing an evening of love songs with you, including songs regarding a new love of hers – her son.

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Breanne is also very happy to once again be sharing the stage with the charming and talented Kelly Walker. A popular speaker, author, pianist, singer-songwriter and recording artist, Kelly delighted our audience at Siloam last April and we are thrilled to welcome him back.

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Breanne and Kelly have performed several concerts together across Ontario including the Royal York Hotel in Toronto. Together they will touch your heart and soul and give you a musical evening that will make this Valentine’s Day one to remember!

Please join us at 7 p.m. Siloam United Church, 1240 Fanshawe Park Road East, Friday, February 14th, 2020. Tickets can be purchased for $20 each  in the church office. 519 455 9201. Soon there will also be an option to go to our Siloam website and purchase tickets online. http://www.siloamunitedchurch.org

We look forward to welcoming you to this magical musical evening with Breanne Dietrich & Kelly Walker!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rabbi Richard Address Returns to Siloam in April, 2020

I am so excited and know you will be too! Rabbi Richard Address, who was one of our keynote speakers at Canadian Boomerfest in 2018, will be coming back to Siloam in April. Working together with our brothers and sisters from Temple Israel here in London, Ontario, we will be hosting a special presentation by Rabbi Address on Saturday afternoon and evening, April 4th. We are honoured to welcome Rabbi Address also as  Siloam’s guest preacher on Palm Sunday, April 5th. Host of a radio show called Boomer Generation and author of a weekly podcast, Seekers of Meaning, Rabbi Address has written and lectured extensively on Boomer Spirituality. He is the creator of Jewish Sacred Aging, a forum for the Jewish Community with resources and texts that feature discussions on the implications of the revolution in longevity for Baby Boomers and their families.  Check back later for more details on Rabbi Address’s visit to London or contact Siloam United Church for more information on how to register at 519 455 9201 or office@siloamunitedchurch.org

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Senior Members of the LGBT Community Often Do Not Feel Safe in Long-Term Care Residences

Recently a friend was telling me about the discrimination that her relative suffered as a gay man entering a seniors’ home. The experience was so alarming that he felt he had to move. However, in his new community he was still afraid to acknowledge his sexuality. So back into the closet he went.

It is clear that the whole study of elder abuse must include some serious work among those who work with older adults or in long-term care facilities, many of which continue to be bastions of homophobia and discrimination against LGBT adults. As the Coalition of Lesbian and Gay Rights in Ontario has said, “We have lesbian great-grandmothers, gay uncles, and bi-sexual cousins! Principally what has changed is the number of people prepared to come out and be publicly identified.”

While there seems to be more support for younger LGBT people, the same attention and concern has not been shown for older members of the LGBT community. Many are afraid to come out or be open about their sexuality when they move into long-term care homes. Thus their dignity and rights to full-participation in society, as well as their sense of security and safety are severely undermined. It is imperative that we find ways to fight against this perverse form of ageism.