Tuesday, January 22, 2013


                 TO THRIVE IN PRESENT TIME

As we grow older, it is common to have dear friends have serious health issues
Again and yet again, we are reminded of our own mortality.
It helps to be able to grieve with empathy for their losses, their suffering, and offer a helping hand or caring words.
It helps to use our rational mind to realize how we might best prevent the same misfortune from impairing the quality of our own life.
Yes, we all know we need more exercise, a better diet, a social network, friends   
   Who will listen and hug us when we are struggling. 
The obvious is easy to overlook, too, like the importance of drinking more water or
   Taking time to rest or meditate when we are tired and distraught.

Growing old has many challenges we may have not faced in earlier years. So it’s good to have friends who can remind us, in present time, of our strengths.  If we’re in our final decades, it helps to be honest with close ones about our wishes, should we become seriously disabled or die.  These conversations provide a reality check for us and for those we love.

To thrive instead of simply being reactive to life’s challenges, we do need tools
To uplift our spirits, protect our bodies and minds, encourage pro-active behavior.
Aging is not for sissies; it does require courage to face fears, to face loss, to be willing to downsize our expectations when they add to our stress.  Learning new skills keeps our brains active, and saying yes to better shoes, lots of post-its, becoming aware of our changing needs, all help us be more likely to thrive not just survive as we become elders.

The simple rhyming poems I used to write
Often become a sharing of my inner dialogue, not so tidy anymore.
We need to be flexible as well as resilient, and then it is easier to accept and learn from the unexpected in our lives.

Carol Browning

Monday, January 21, 2013

Creating Peace: Our Choices Make a Difference

In a culture and a world so often driven by anger, fear, and greed, when we choose instead to make choices with a gracious, grateful heart, honoring each of us has conditioning that can bring out the best or the worst in us, we take steps to create a more just and peaceful world.
 It does take courage, patience, and perseverance even to be peaceful with our own inner critic. She may be the demanding voice we first heard on our home front or in school, telling us to “ get busy, don’t cry, listen to your elders” even when their words are hurtful, still undermining our self-worth into adulthood unless we learn to realize where these negative messages have come from, and delete their impact.
  We can always choose to follow a path no one modeled for us.  It will take perseverance, willingness to face our own dark sides, self-acceptance, and finding meaningful ways to be in community with others seeking a more peaceful lifestyle and learning more effective communication skills.
 It helps to realize the history of Europe and our country is riddled with times of war, repression, revolt, and rebellion that continue into present time.  When the needs and rights of others are ignored or silenced, peace isn’t likely. We have a long history of domination and submission, with struggles that were rarely resolved peacefully.
 To be at peace, we need to first be kind, gentle and forgiving with ourselves before we can take time to be responsive in a nurturing way to others when their behavior or words irritate us.  Our culture glorifies important, influential men from our presidents to cool film figures who solve problems by killing people.  It is quick, sure, and still considered manly.  So given such role models, it is no wonder we haven’t taught our children to value mediation and non-violent communication as effective ways to resolve tough problems.  Creating peace has to do with respecting one another, honoring differences, and taking the time to understand and be in another’s shoes; these are not quick fixes.
 We can choose thoughts that make us feel good, but we all have an inner dialogue of discomforting thoughts as well.  We can make a choice to question beliefs that give us stress; often they aren’t necessarily true, or we can choose to believe “this too shall pass.” Discretion in what channels we allow our minds to focus on can help us feel more at peace, aware where we do have some power to make a difference.  Peace does begin at home, in our own minds and our personal choices.  As we make peace a priority in our interactions at every level, we model this new behavior for generations to come.
  written by Carol Browning  Jan. 20, 2013

Friday, January 11, 2013


The beauty of our first heavy snowfall
Blanketing the hillsides, dusting every tree in sight
A certain softness in the January air as slopes once green are now white
Memories of skiing with my young sons and husband in rolling hills
  Full of elk and even buffalo roaming free in the Alberta parkland
  Twenty-five miles due east of Edmonton, our home for fourteen years.
  These memories speak quietly to my aging body.

Storm clouds gather in early September,
Foretelling a colder winter to come after a record hot summer
Friends once close, suddenly die of mysterious illnesses.
I grieve their passing, wondering why am I still in this lifetime?
There is so much uncertainty, so much loss, behind and before me.
 It comes with the territory of aging.   I choose to live fully despite my limitations, some real, some imagined.  There are pluses to a slower pace in this awesome community.

The doe and her fawn dart in the darkness across a city boulevard
No longer able to dwell on safer ground where houses now stand. The trees and shrubs and open spaces they counted on are gone.  Progress is tough on wild creatures.
White lines and streetlights help me navigate the darkness when I have cause to venture out.  What shall I do when no longer able to drive?  It’s a precious freedom my fading vision no longer takes for granted.  I do my eye exercises religiously.

The memory of fresh salmon with shitake mushrooms, leeks and garlic shared with a friend on many a cold, winter’s night, gave comfort and camaraderie to us both. He has moved away to a warmer climate, to live nearer family who welcome him.
The memory of skating on a frozen Alberta pond when my sons were young.  The minus 30 degrees skies were blue, pure and unpolluted, but the sun set by 3:30 p.m. in January.

Memories that speak of life’s pleasures often gone or infrequent for me now, but God willing, they’ll live on for the youngsters now raising kids of their own.  There are toddling grandchildren whom I’ll see more often as they are sturdier, and traveling to Oregon will be easier when they’re old enough to hang out with Grandma while their parents go exploring, or we all take outings together.  It’s no longer fun to travel alone as I did so readily in my forties.

I wake from a winter’s nap, treasuring memories and anticipating more good times to come.  Solitude is often my buddy, but I’m still a people person. My heart still has dreams not yet fulfilled, as I greet the new day, usually still glad to be alive!
     Carol Browning    1/11/2013