I retired twenty-some years ago after earning a PhD in Materials Science from Stanford University and working for years as a professor at Oregon State University and as an engineer for Tektronix (test & measurement equipment) and Hewlett Packard (ink jet printers.) I married and divorced and remarried, happily now for forty-plus years.
Upon retirement, I found time for heavy drinking. That is when I said, “Burke, you better start taking care of yourself!” and joined Alcoholics Anonymous. There I was immersed in the serenity prayer and thought to myself, “Am I benefitting from gabbling this prayer? Shouldn’t I be doing something?” So, I wrote a guided journal instructing myself to jot down what it was that I was accepting that day, what I was changing, and how I had become wiser.
Alcoholics Anonymous is structured around one goal – QUIT DRINKING – and has twelve steps.
steps 1-3 ask a higher power for help
steps 4-7 catalog our defects and ask forgiveness
steps 8-9 make amends
steps 10-11 remind us to keep practicing
step 12 asks us to help others
Burke, you better start taking care of yourself!
I also participated in the Grief Anonymous group (now shut down.) GA was structured around three goals – SURVIVE, HEAL, THRIVE – and had ten tenets.
Tenets 1–3 help you survive by finding a ray of hope, a safe place to be, and a way to care for your physical self.
Tenets 4–7 help you heal, acknowledge your loss, face your fears, and forgive yourself and others.
Tenets 8–10 help you thrive, explore, create your new authentic self, and give back.
Now, as I am becoming unquestionably old, that phrase pops back into my head – “Burke, you better start taking care of yourself!” What does that mean for an eighty-something looking ahead to the changing landscape of aging? How can my past life experience guide me? and perhaps help others? How about creating a new group, Wise Elders Anonymous? WEA!
I propose that Wise Elders Anonymous be structured around these three goals – CONSERVE, ENJOY, SHARE – and have these activities.
SOME OF THE ISSUES CONFRONTING US AS WE AGE
it might have been
I am afraid
my family is plaguing me
my family is ignoring me
my body is wearing out
I am bored
I am useless
everybody I know is dying
I don’t have anybody to talk to
I can’t get work
THE ACTIVITIES OF WISE ELDERS ANONYMOUS
(I am making these up as I write.)
eat, sleep, exercise, take your meds
talk to people
shepherd your resources
let go the old
cross off items on the bucket list
practice serenity & acceptance,
forgive and forget
que sera, sera
this too shall pass
let come the new
add new items to the bucket list
take it step by step
add new items to the bucket list
create your own group
help those in need
In conclusion to this blog:
What do you think of the idea of Wise Elders Anonymous? Let me know.
Note: I am not ready to explain the difference between a step, a tenet, and an activity. They are all guides to encourage you to take care of yourself.
I have written four guided journals about these four activities – practicing serenity and courage, improving confidence and curiosity, transforming grief, and staying cheerful. All of these journals call upon the user to act, think, and feel. I find them personally useful, helping me navigate a variety of life’s problems. I am in the process of writing still more.
I am looking for partners and co-creators of new journals.
All Journals call upon the user to act, think, and feel.