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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Last Day

           This is my last day as a psychology professor at Kwantlen Polytechnic University. I'm not sure how I feel about it.  I had a touch of joy when I checked my email a little while ago I found a message from the person who is now teaching the Department's Aging class. He has asked me if I would like to give a guest lecture. I emailed back that I would enjoy doing a presentation as long as I have enough time to prepare for it.  
 I am also continuing to develop my workshops and I have recently found someone who is well prepared to handle the financial side of the retirement workshop.
       On the other hand this afternoon  I  spent 3 hours in the Dentist's chair getting one of my tooth's nerves extracted. Within a couple weeks if I follow the directives my tooth will be fine. I think complete satisfaction my retirement process will take a bit longer.   
         Tomorrow, I will travel into Vancouver to visit with two of my sons. This is something I do regularly.  Looking at this on a more abstract level my life is a mixture of change and continuity.  And I expect that this will continue for some time.
           Would anyone out there like to describe their "last day"?


Friday, August 26, 2011

More About Ourselves As We Age

        First I would like to apologize for my relatively thoughtless announcement about changes in my blog entry content.
         Twenty years ago, for several years I left the academic world and practiced clinical psychology in the context of;  1. Helping companies find the right employee and 2. Helping individuals find work environments that met their psychological needs and characteristics.
         I can now translate my skills into exploration of retirement satisfaction in non-clinical environment casual conversations through exchanges of ideas with those who are interested in my previous blog entries and some of the questions that I will be asking.  My goal is to help people understand and adjust satisfactorily to retirement life.
         Just so you understand the framework within which I ask questions I will share more about my clinical background.
While practicing as an “industrial clinical psychologist” I was trained within the framework of Alfred Adler, one of the founders of clinical psychology.
         The primary aspect of this approach is to help people understand themselves including their personal identity and goals.  I always began by asking a set of questions associated with the core ideas of Adler’s approach. These questions are simple but can also trigger extended self-thought. 
         Here are the statements we need to ask themselves by completing the following phrases:
         I Am…  Deep answers to this question go way beyond gender and occupation and reach into things like your birth order and early relationships with your parents and siblings
        The world isYou might examine this in relation to our world’s current economic problems.  Are you pessimistic or optimistic about the worlds' current economic situation? But more than that, how do you see the everyday world around you?
         Other people are…  One of the key ingredients of Adler’s thinking was to explore our social relationships with other people, which begin in early life.
         Finally “In order to have a place I must…   It is assumed that the strategies we use as adults are continuations and elaborations of ideas we developed while we were growing up as children.
         During the next few blog entries I will ask questions which can be answered through your understanding of who you are and how you respond to challenges.
          My basic assumption is that our “Style of life”, as Adlerians frame it, is well established long before the time we retire. During our adult lives we respond, and make decisions without analyzing them. They seem obvious! But it may be that this major transition off life requires some serious thinking about the ways we have preceded and choices we encounter during our Third Age.
          Over the next several posts I will present various situations regarding old age and retirement.  If you have taken some time to build an idea of who you are, you can then examine the situations further.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Seeking Solutions to Retirement Problems

         Beginning with this blog entry I would like to start some exchanges with those who visit my blog and would like to go beyond mini lectures.  I now have the system DISQUS that allows viewer responses. Up until recently, I have gotten responses but the program refused to publish them.
         Below is a brief tale of a person who is facing a challenge of retirement.  After you have read the story I would like to know what you think.This scenario describes, the experience of a person used to power and leadership. He is what gerontologists describe as “young/old.”   He is a former Chief Executive Officer of profitable company who is now in his early 70’s. He retired at the usual age of 65 because he thought, “that’s what you should do. Since then he has discovered the whole pattern of being “young-old”. 
      He’s full of energy and has no money problems that might encourage him back to work. Yet he feels he is missing something.    So he has started looking for another job but being in his 70’s he has received very cold receptions. (Ageism?)  He says, “They seem to listen to you but they don’t see you.  You’re a non-person.” He has tried volunteer work but has found it not very satisfying”                   You are his friend and he has come to you for advice.  He is in very good shape and has lost none of his abilities. The way he sees it is ”When you’ve had your power, for a number of years, your value is your power not your abilities.  He finishes speaking and waits for your reply.  What would your response be?

Friday, August 12, 2011

Summertime Fun

         Several of my blog entries discuss leisure activities during our senior lives. But what is leisure for me. The best thing I like about leisure is freedom to do things for the pure enjoyment. But I ask myself this question “besides walking and watching Glee, and creating blog posts, is that all there is?” 
         Over the past five weeks I immersed myself in watercolor painting (no pun intended). My wife Elizabeth who is now approaching her degree in fine arts at Kwantlen is mentoring me. She is very helpful and is able to critique me with the same skill and attitude that her arts instructors give feed back to their students.
         It is interesting that each time I start a new project, I am fearful and I ask myself “What am I afraid of?”. I really don’t know. Once I get started I have a great time.  My first Acrylic painting and first use of a canvas was last evening from 6 to 9 pm at Camp Alexandra in Crescent Beach, British Columbia. About 40 people attended. We all used the same Van Gogh painting as a reference, Starry Night but using the local area as a subject so no one was just trying to imitate the painting.
         What an evening!!!!!!!  Outside on the grass, a full moon shining through the trees and happy laughter as about 40 people ate a brief meal of crackers, cheese, drank a bit of fine wine and began painting.
         I started making art about 3 months ago when I started drawing. After I finished a whole booklet of sketches I moved on to watercolour and kept the size at 8 ½ by 11 inches so that I could put them in inexpensive frames from local Dollars Store but also partly because I have been afraid to take on larger projects.
         And then came last night with canvas 20 x 16 inches.  I am not going to abandon watercolor but now I’m starting to include acrylic and am excited about a bigger canvas.  Happy, happy, happy!!!!!!!
         Below are my most recent watercolour paintings and Starry Crescent Beach from last night’s workshop.

Yellow Warbler, watercolour on paper
Northshore Mts. watercolour on paper

Starry Crescent Beach, acrylic on canvas

Friday, August 5, 2011

Blundering Through Life

         Before beginning this blog entry I checked Wikipedia to be sure that I would not be making  “A serious or embarrassing mistake, usually the result of carelessness or ignorance.”
          Frequently when my wife talks to me from across the room I do not pay attention. I often fail to hear what she is saying but nod my head as if I do.  My habit of nodding my head is sometimes quite embarrassing; I have had a tendency to blame this problem on my decreased hearing capability; I have hearing aids for both ears but seldom wear them around the house.  In reality whether it’s at home or in the community, my blunders are mostly because I am not paying attention.
         It’s easy to get caught up in “self-talk” and simply nod your head as if you are listening to what the other person is saying. It is embarrassing when you have nodded your head and are then ask to explain your thoughts particularly when the proper response is to wag your heard from side to side.
         So what can I do about it?  I have gradually come to understand that slowing down in my responses allows me to re-examine habits that trigger the following negative responses.
It is interesting that the concept of wisdom includes the idea of slowing down.  It helps us to be less controlled by our habits.

Blunder Items:
1. You fail to hear people speaking to you when you are doing something else?   
2. You say something and realize afterwards that it might be taken as insulting?                                      
3. You lose your temper and regret it?                                       
4. You drop things?                           
5. You bump into people?                        
6. You find yourself suddenly wondering whether you've used a word correctly?

[1]   Wallace, J. Craig; Kass, Steven J.; Stanny, Claudia (2002). The cognitive failures questionnaire revisited: Dimensions and correlates, Journal of General Psychology,129(3), 238-256.