The quiet blessing of grief that never ends

This writer finds beauty in the pain she feels over the loss of her sister

By Jill Smolowe for Next Avenue

Credit: Getty Images

Credit: Getty Images

In the almost seven years since I laid my husband to rest, followed barely a year later by the loss of my sister and mother, I’ve developed an appreciation for just how unpredictable and, well, amazing grief can be.

I’m not talking about the period of hollowing when the shock and fog of loss clouds every thought and informs every waking (and perhaps sleeping) moment. No, I’m talking about the grief that comes after that. After the deceased loved one’s absence is no longer a constant presence. After the acute ache subsides and then, unthinkably, stills. After life moves forward, opening new melancholy-free vistas that trace no connection to the departed.

The grief I’m referring to lays claim to no stage and holds no hope of being put behind. Even on the happiest days, it lies patiently in wait for some quirk of logic to unleash it. A scent. A song. A glimpse of an almost-familiar face. Suddenly — whap! — you’re puddled in a heap, sobbing and thinking, WhatTheWhatThe.


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The 5 exercises you should do every day

Improve your range of motion and balance in less than 10 minutes

By Rashelle Brown for Next Avenue

Credit: Thinkstock

Credit: Thinkstock

Balance and mobility training can benefit us at any age, but it becomes more important as you reach and pass the age of 50.

Maintaining joint range of motion allows you to move naturally and helps to combat the postural problems that cause neck, back, shoulder and hip pain.

Far from only preventing stumbles and falls, balance training is extremely important for everyone because it makes us better at every physical thing we do. Having a keen sense of proprioception (the sense of where your body is in space) makes all movement more efficient. When combined with fluid joints that allow for a full range of motion, this puts you at your functional best.

Here’s a short sequence of five exercises you can do every day to improve and maintain your balance and mobility. Done in a slow, controlled fashion, you can finish the whole workout in under 10 minutes:


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Art is Ageless® winners announced

Dee Maurer, 1st. place in Sculpture 3/D Professional.

Dee Maurer, 1st. place in Sculpture 3/D Professional.

Manor of the Plains hosted a reception in March for the winning artists in the annual Art is Ageless juried competition.

“We are honored to exhibit artwork by seniors,” said Kurt Lampe, marketing director. “Art is Ageless is unique in featuring only the works of artists age 65 and older. Our artists prove that art, in any form, is an ageless ambition.”

For the competition, works must have been completed in the past five years. Winners in the juried competition were:

Best of Show (professional): Joanne Clarke, “Gwendoline” (Drawing)

Best of Show (amateur): Vincent Burghart, “Hunting Hawk” (Sculpture/3D)

Honorable Mention (professional): Mary Anne Hendrix, “Old Friend”

Christmas (professional): Dee Maurer, “Blue Pot”

Christmas (amateur): Karen Ring, “Christmas Mini Trio”

Drawing (professional): First: Mary Ford, “King of the Beasts”

Second: Joanne Clarke, “Gwendoline”

Third: Mary Ford, “Pet Dog”

Honorable Mention: Joanne Clarke, “Wise Owl”

Drawing (amateur):First: Phill Gonzales, “Spirit of the Eagle”

Second: Ester Abbey, “Sisters”

Third: Doll Yunker, “Blue Serenity”

Honorable Mention: Doll Yunker, “Mardi Gras”

Mixed Media/Crafts (amateur): First: Alice Sweany, “Blue Angel”

Second: Phill Gonzales, “Slivers of Light”

Third: Robert Florez, “Spirit Brothers”

Honorable Mention: Alice Sweany, “4-H Clover”

Needlework (amateur): Lorene Lais, “The Four Seasons”

Painting (professional):First: Mary Anne Hendrix, “Old Friend”

Second: Mary Anne Hendrix, “The Kitten”

Painting (amateur):First: Phill Gonzales, “Girl Reading a Book”

Second: Patricia S. Bird, “Red Rocks”

Third: Marilyn Smith, “Tiger Lilly”

Honorable Mention: Patricia S. Bird, “Red Rocks & Cottonwoods”

Quilting (professional): Kae Bryant, “For Keeps”

Quilting (amateur):First: Charlene Ackerman, “Baskets and Flowers”

Second: Marie Millershaski, “Table Runner”

Third: Judy Claar, “Country Latte”

Honorable Mention: Karen Ring, “Five Red Baskets”

Sculpture/3-D (professional): First: Dee Maurer, “Madonna”

Second: Dee Maurer, “Greek Village”

Sculpture/3-D (amateur): Vince Burghart, “Hunting Hawk”

Local competition winners will join winners from 17 other Presbyterian Manors of Mid-America communities to be judged at the masterpiece level. Winning entries at the masterpiece level may be selected for publication in PMMA’s annual Art is Ageless calendar and note cards.

Started in 1980, Art is Ageless is an extension of PMMA’s wellness programs. It encourages Manor of the Plains residents and other area seniors to express their creativity through the annual competition, as well as art classes, musical and dramatic events, educational opportunities and current events discussions throughout the year.

Finding love in a senior living community

Add romance to what single older adults look for when seeking housing

By Kimberley Fowler for Next Avenue

Credit: Getty Images

There are many reasons older adults move into a senior living community, but is looking for love one of them?

Burdett Stilwell has been working with older adults for many years and, and as sales and marketing director of Somerby of Mobile,  she has had the pleasure of developing friendships with the many residents of this Somerby Senior Living home in Alabama. She’s up-to-date on who is dating whom. When it comes to relationships, Stilwell says, the Somerby people she knows fall into two categories: those who are interested and those who have “been there, done that.”


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Don’t ignore these facts about sunscreen

5 ways to apply it right and help avoid skin cancer

By Sheryl Kraft for Next Avenue

Credit: Thinkstock

The sun’s power is undeniable: The largest object in our solar system, it contains approximately 99.9 percent of the total solar system mass. Its interior could hold more than 1.3 million Earths. The sun provides for our very life. But this 4.5 billion-year-old star also has the power to kill.

Melanoma, the most dangerous and potentially lethal form of skin cancer, is caused most often by intense UV rays of the sun, and its rates have been rising for at least 30 years. About 73,870 new melanomas will be diagnosed in the U.S in 2015, and approximately 9,940 people are expected to die, according to the American Cancer Society.

The typical victim? On average, a person is 62 when the cancer appears. The risk of melanoma increases as we age.


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The health benefits of pets for older adults

They reduce blood pressure, help us get exercise and brighten our outlook

By Ronni Gordon for Next Avenue

Caption: Bridget Irving and her Yorkshire Terrier, Ben

When Lynette Whiteman’s youngest child went to college, Whiteman went out and got a second dog that she calls “my empty nest dog.” She wanted someone else to care for, “who loves me non-judgmentally and doesn’t mind if I’m gaining weight or getting gray.”

Whiteman may get home from work tired, but the 60-year-old resident of Toms River, N.J., says the dogs stare at her until she puts their leashes on. She walks them and always feels good afterwards.


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10 ways to turn your finances around in 2017

How advisers say you can do it without a lot of effort

By Kerri Fivecoat-Campbell for Next Avenue

10-ways-to-turnaround-finances

Credit: Getty Images

Did you resolve to save more for retirement this year, become debt-free or put cash aside for a bucket-list trip? We’re more than a month into the new year, but there’s still plenty of time to turn your finances around in 2017.

Next Avenue spoke with a few noted money experts for their suggestions. Here are 10 recommendations:


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5 tips for disorganized taxpayers

How experts say you can avoid the mad scramble at tax time

By Rosie Wolf Williams for Next Avenue

Tips-For-Disorganized-Taxpayer

Tax season is here and it may be causing you agita. Rifling through drawers for your 2016 tax paperwork; sorting a flood of receipts to qualify for write-offs; printing out assorted bank, brokerage and mutual fund statements and on and on.

Don’t hide under the covers. Instead, follow these five organization strategies from tax advisers to get your taxes together once and for all:


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4 money moves for a happier retirement

Advice from a writer who just combed through the latest retirement surveys

By Bart Astor for Next Avenue

Credit: Thinkstock

How do pre-retirees and retirees feel about retirement these days? Glad you asked.

Since this is “National Retirement Planning Week” (dreamed up by 40-odd financial industry and advocacy groups), a passel of retirement surveys have just been released. I’ve read them — so you don’t have to — and here are the highlights and four action steps to take based on the findings.

Interestingly, the results are somewhat contradictory.


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Making a memoir a reality

At 87, she wrote her life story and created a family treasure

By Edmund O. Lawler for Next Avenue

Memoir-Reality-web

When my mother was a teenager, she got to meet the most famous athlete of the 20th century.

It was 1947. Babe Ruth, by then stricken with throat cancer, granted my mom and her sister a private audience in the beautiful Manhattan apartment he shared with his wife, Claire. The girls, accompanied by their mother, were awestruck as the now-retired Sultan of Swat autographed photos and chatted amiably with them about baseball in a painfully raspy voice. My mom didn’t have the heart to tell the Babe, who would die a year later, that she was a fan of her hometown Chicago White Sox.

My mom was celebrating her recent high school graduation with a train trip from Chicago to New York where she rode the coasters at Coney Island, beheld the Statue of Liberty and dined at the Stork Club. The visit with Babe was a complete surprise — arranged by her businessman father and one of his confidants in New York City.


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