A Conversation for How to Best Prepare for Old Age

Develop new skills

Post 1

Mother of God, Empress of the Universe

I believe that old age begins when people settle into a rut and stop learning new things. The mind and body both lose their agility when not given fresh challenges to master.

For the past decade I've been making it a point to learn at least one new thing every year, and pursue it with passion. I try to do something different from the things I already know, so I can develop new ways of learning.

Since I've ALWAYS been a klutz, I've been focusing on developing grace and physical coordination through activities like darts, rollerblading, tennis, yoga and most recently bellydancing. Who knows what next year will bring...

And for my mind, I've been working on musical instruments (can successfully torture anyone with the accordion now), writing little stories, learning to color with oil pastels, computer graphics, and generally making it a point to learn enough about new things that I have a bit of an understanding of them. I'm thinking my next project might be geometry, as I haven't messed with math for 20 years.

I work really diligently at these things until I reach a certain level of proficiency, then move on to the next project while still giving the old ones just enough attention to maintain them.

Another benefit is that once I finally have the time to spend doing what I please (quite a ways off, still) I'll have plenty of hobbies begun that I can occupy myself with, rather than sitting in front of a TV and waiting for my next meal. And meanwhile, life is awfully interesting. smiley - smiley


Develop new skills

Post 2

jazzme

I like your approach to life.
And you are perfectly correct - the secret is to keep on learning.
I started into cross-stitch at the age of 65 and have made many pictures since then, quite a few of which I have sold - to help pay for the hobby.
I took up picture framing 4 years ago at the age of 71 to frame my cross stitch pictures.
I took up yoga 2 years ago, and calligraphy last year (some of which I have framed and sold!).
It's about 48 years since I last played piano accordion. But I am currently struggling through a book about quantum theory which is stretching my brain to the limits.
What are you after trying next?


Develop new skills

Post 3

Mother of God, Empress of the Universe

I have no idea. That's half the fun of it--whatever strikes my fancy and resonates long enough that I remember to make a point of doing it is liable to be my next choice. And I never know when they'll hit. I'm ready for something REALLY different, but I can't figure out what that is yet. Any suggestions?


Develop new skills

Post 4

jazzme

You seem to have the physical side of things well in hand - I'd like to see you belly dancing - not something that men take up is it?
And as 'Mother of God' you've obviously tried the best physical activity.
On the mental tack, if you are interested in geometry why not go for an open university degree in maths. Or - since you describe it as 'math' are you on the West side of the Atlantic?
Do you have the equivalent of our evening class system?
Or since you are into computing have you tried programming?
Can you sing? I had twenty years singing Barbershop Harmony which was a complete change to playing musical instruments.


Develop new skills

Post 5

Mother of God, Empress of the Universe

I'm here in the US, where advanced degrees DON'T come cheap. Though if I had the funds to work on a masters, it would be either in literature or philosophy. LOL more letters I could tag behind my name if I chose to, that would have absolutely no bearing on how I earn my living. I just dabble with these hobbies--gain a degree of proficiency that I'm happy with, then move on. I don't feel the need to be an expert.

I'm more the "creative" type than "structured", as one of my friends so delicately put it, so learning programming wouldn't suit my temperament. I tend to blast on through things with very little regard for details like rules and instructions. If I go after geometry that'll about push the limits on discipline.

Singing would be great! Unfortunately, that just isn't among my talents. Not even close. I think I'd end up with an odd assortment of other people's shoes, and maybe the fixings for a salad, if I insisted on trying that. smiley - smiley


Develop new skills

Post 6

jazzme

It doesn't sound to me like geometry is your thing either - it is very structured and based on logic - albeit the logic of Euclid some two thousand years ago!
If you are interested in philosophy have you looked at Dr.Edward de Bono's books on lateral thinking? See Pelican books - available in US.
In my schooldays (lots of years ago) we studied the United States quite a lot but I only got to visit there twice when I was with family in Vacouver, Canada.
Can I ask which state you live in?
I shall be in Vancouver in June for a few days - I did get as far as your Vancouver some years ago and briefly into Portland, Oregon.
Nice country.


Develop new skills

Post 7

Mother of God, Empress of the Universe

I'm in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Very different from Oregon! But I love living in the tropics. Wouldn't trade it for anything. I discovered when I moved away for a while that I need to be near the ocean. Life just isn't as rich, somehow, when I can't see the sunset on the water.

I'll look for Dr. de Bono's books. Might be right up my alley. Thanks! I was just at the bookshop a couple hours ago--wish I'd seen this before I went.

And geometry probably isn't going to fill me with passion, but disciplined thinking and logic (in small doses) is a good thing. hehehe I know I can DO it... but if I tell my dad he'll fall off his chair.

What are you planning to do in Vancouver?


Develop new skills

Post 8

jazzme

It is our 50th wedding anniversary on 12 June and we don't wish to host a party with friends, family, neighbours etc. Just where do you stop? And the friend you missed isn't a friend any more - even worse if they are family!
My wife has always wanted to take a coach or train through the rockies so we said "Blow having a party, we'll do the coast to coast Canada tour instead"
So there it is - we leave on 4th June for 17 days, drop out of the tour in Toronto for three days (Missing Niagara which we've seen) to visit our son in Toronto. Then in Vancouver we meet up with my Neice and Nephew with their families on some of the free time.
Then we travel by coach through the Rockies to Jasper and fly home.
We live in Newcastle upon Tyne in the North of England - lovely country but far too cold for someone from the deep South of USA.
Since talking to you I have dug out my De Bono books to read again - perhaps we can trade comments when you start to read them?
I love being beside the water too - we caravan (trailer van) on the West coast of Scotland every year and see some wonderful sunsets over the sea and the island of Skye. We'll go in August when we get over the Caanada trip!


Develop new skills

Post 9

Mother of God, Empress of the Universe

Sounds like a wonderful way to have a 50th anniversary! An adventure, no stress.

I'll try to make my way to the bookshop this Sunday and see if they have the de Bono books. Would look forward to having someone to discuss them with. That was my favorite part of being a student at the university--reading, exchanging ideas with the others. It always made the reading so much more interesting when someone else noticed things that I hadn't. Or viewed it from a differing perspective. I miss that a lot.

smiley - smiley


Develop new skills

Post 10

jazzme

I look forward to being able to discus Lateral Thinking with you - I don't know anyone here to talk to about the subject.
The first one to read is,"The use of lateral thinking" in which he introduces the subject - I've just re-read it since talking to you.

You mention having gone to University - what subjects did you do there? I didn't have the opportunity to go to university - I left school and served articles with the local Engineer and Surveyor, studying in the evenings but finally made it to become a Civil Engineer. I still do small design jobs when I can get them to keep stirring up the grey matter and put a little butter on the bread.
Keep the old skills up to scratch as well as develop new ones.
How do you make those little faces? The only one I ever tried was smiley - smiley


Develop new skills

Post 11

jazzme

Oops - I made one! smiley - smiley


Develop new skills

Post 12

Mother of God, Empress of the Universe

I'm in a rush right now, will type more later. But here are a bunch of little pictures for you to play with.

HOPE this link works.....
http://www.bbc.co.uk/h2g2/guide/Smiley

smiley - bubbly


Develop new skills

Post 13

Mother of God, Empress of the Universe

I popped into the bookstore yesterday and picked up "The 5-Day Course In Thinking". They didn't have any others on hand. This one looks like a series of puzzles to solve--haven't had the time to look at it properly yet. But I'll order the other you suggested. Shouldn't take too long to get here.

I also sat on the floor for a while and looked over some geometry books. *sigh* None of them looked as if they were the sort of thing that could hold my interest. I'm going to pose the question, whether anyone knows of a book that would work for a person like me on ASK h2g2. That's a good place to go, by the way, if you're looking for conversation about pretty much anything, but don't know who to talk to. Someone's bound to pick up on whatever you put there. When I first started using h2g2 I had a problem with a peeping Tom and I asked for help finding a solution. I was amazed at the responses I got. Some were pretty funny, and some I put to use.

I studied German literature at University of Florida with a minor in education. Was planning to be a German teacher for high school, but the internship cured me of that notion. Now, through lack of use, I barely speak German (mix it with Spanish when I try) though I can still read and understand the language. I keep meaning to start reading aloud for 20 minutes daily, as that will bring it back to me, but I never seem to prioritize the time.


Develop new skills

Post 14

jazzme

I always wanted to learn German at school but the school only taught French and Latin.
And as we were at war with Germany my opinion was not popular.
After 3 years Latin I managed 9% in my end of term exams and was put on to extra mathematics instead.
I passed my final exams in French but with a hopeless Tyneside accent - when we started to holiday in France I had to learn the correct pronunciation quickly!
I found in Germany that very many people spoke English.
Thanks for the smilies - I'm off now to have a look at them. smiley - smiley


Develop new skills

Post 15

jazzme

Hi M O G
I've just had an email crediting me with your introductory item - I've sent a reply telling the editors that they are your words they quoted and the honors belong to you.
Enjoy your reading - see you when I get back from Canada.
J


Develop new skills

Post 16

Mother of God, Empress of the Universe

Hi there smiley - smiley
I also got an email--I believe they credit everyone who contributes to these things. That's as it should be. But thanks!

I've decided against the geometry for the moment. Enrolled in some web design classes instead. Can't wait to figure out how to make some of the things that have been lurking in my mind for the past few months.

By the time you're back I should have received that book and read it. Have a great trip and a happy aniversary! Bon voyage smiley - smiley


Develop new skills

Post 17

Willem

Hiya! Please learn web designing and become active on the internet and teach us young whippersnappers a few things!

Lateral thinking: Edward de Bono is the guy who came up with that, and also he has figured out lots of other 'thinking tools'. He has his own website dedicated to these thinking skills and ideas. If you are interested, type 'Edward de Bono' into Google, or go to the Utopia Cafébar (because of the BBC policy I can't put the link here, hut you can find the link near the top of my userpage) and you can access his website from the Cafébar's Resource Page.

I don't really apply De Bono's ideas rigorously but I do find that it helps to do something to keep the mind in good order. Online there are many sites devoted to improving mindpower. Of course it's not much use just to train the mind, you also have to apply its new powers! Anyways I also want to say that I think the mind can keep improving indefinitely throughout life, and elderly people can easily be much smarter than young people!


Develop new skills

Post 18

jazzme

Thanks M.O.G. I'll be in touch smiley - smiley


Develop new skills

Post 19

jazzme

Hi M.O.G. I'm back - how's the reading?


Develop new skills

Post 20

Mother of God, Empress of the Universe

Welcome back! Did you enjoy the trip? Tell me about this adventure--I need a virtual vacation. Haven't started reading yet (slap me, I know I promised.) I've been going nuts between work and the classes I started, not used to having deadlines in my personal time. It's that ol' discipline thing, I guess. I need to either give up sleep or h2g2. Not a hard decision. After all, working in cosmetics, I can fix those dark circles and bags under my eyes until they droop down to my knees. Oy vey, really must wrench myself away and go finish those lessons, though...
smiley - smiley


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