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November 23, 2009

When I'm 64... I'm Going to Knit a Sweater That Fits

AndyGilatsNEW.bmpfrom Andy Gilats, LearningLife director

I believe that it's impossible to be human without being creative. Creativity is a defining characteristic of our species, and is related to urges like hunger and thirst. It impels us to strive, make and build, have ideas, be resourceful, make discoveries, solve problems, and craft our futures. Creativity might be repressed, it may go to sleep, but it doesn't die until we do. We are all creative from birth to death.

Creativity shows itself in infinite ways. Whether it's an especially elegant way of organizing a space, teaching someone to read, knitting a sweater that fits (my yet-unmet life goal), leading a team through a satisfying project, or baking a soufflé that "turns out," large and small creative acts are a daily part of living and integral to a fulfilling life.

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November 5, 2009

When I'm 64... I'll Lurk, Link, and Tweet

AndyGilatsNEW.bmpfrom Andy Gilats, LearningLife director

Last week I was having coffee with a friend who is, to turn a phrase, "wired." She doesn't have a nervous condition - she's just a natural networker who actively uses the "Big Three" social and professional networks, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.

We were talking about why so many of us aren't comfortable networking face-to-face, and the subject of Facebook came up. She casually remarked that she has only 200 friends on Facebook because she wants to limit her network to people she actually knows. 200 friends? I didn't show it, but I was dumbfounded!

I have only 40 Facebook friends, which makes me feel like the kid nobody wanted to play with in grade school. To make matters worse, I have one friend whom I've never met, another who interviewed with me for a job nine years ago, and another who is my cousin's 13-year-old daughter.

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October 2, 2009

When I'm 64...I'll Commit at Least Seven Sins

AndyGilatsNEW.bmpFrom Andy Gilats, LearningLife director
Have you ever noticed that numbers seem to dominate the titles of great books? We all remember A Tale of Two Cities, Slaughterhouse 5, Catch-22, and One Hundred Years of Solitude. And of course, we can't forget The Three Musketeers, The 39 Steps, or The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins!

With all due respect to Mr. Dickens and Dr. Seuss, I believe that seven is the most storied, and frankly, the most feared, of all famous numbers, even if you throw in heavy-weights like Twelve Steps, Nine Lives, or Five Tips to Lose Stomach Fat, which was the first result I got when I googled "famous numbers."

Why seven? How about the Seven Days of the Week? Or more to the point, how about the Seven Deadly Sins: pride, anger, envy, greed, gluttony, lust, and sloth. I cannot tell a lie, so here I must admit that by the time I was 30, I was guilty as charged on all seven counts. In fact, just last night I was listening to John Fogerty singing a song called "Heaven's Just a Sin Away." If all it takes is just one, a whole bunch of us are in real trouble.

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July 29, 2009

When I'm 64... I'll Hop on My Magic Carpet and Ride

From Andy Gilats, LearningLife director

Adults are much more likely to act their way into a new way of thinking than to think their way into a new way of acting.

Richard Pascale in Surfing the Edge of Chaos

This is a short story about a small coincidence.

For at least the past several months, and probably for longer than I realize, I've found myself approaching challenges, changes, and even slight frays in my status quo in ways that run contrary to standard practice, long habit, and even, I've been thinking, to my "nature."

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June 29, 2009

When I'm 64... I'll split the difference and offer 32 palatable pointers about food

AndyGilatsNEW.bmpFrom Andrea Gilats, LearningLife director

It took me about 10 years and lots of rationalizing to finally understand that once I had passed through midlife, I couldn't eat as much as I used to without gaining weight. Not only that, I had to start moving around more, otherwise my body would start feeling stiff and uncooperative.

So, out of self-preservation, I've become a student of healthy eating and movement, and truth be told, it's turning out to be a delicious education. Here are 32 palatable pointers I've learned, including a few micro-missives on movement thrown in as condiments. I hope you'll find them useful, or at least worth a smile.

1. Eat breakfast. By that, I don't mean cold pizza. Try whole grain cereal, fruit, and low-fat yogurt.

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June 2, 2009

When I'm 64... I'm going to make some good inside moves

AndyGilatsNEW.bmpFrom Andrea Gilats, LearningLife director

I'm one of six kids, and would you believe? Half of us - and my dad to boot - were born in June. Two of us have wedding anniversaries in June, three of us "semi-retired" in June, and darned if all of us didn't graduate from high school in June! What's up?

June is a time of beginnings and endings and comings and goings - from graduations and weddings to retirements, relocations, and other ways of moving on. Whether we're on our way to a new life phase or to new work that has landed on our already-crowded desk (me!), I'm convinced that a few small inside moves can make larger moves easier. Try these five:

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May 13, 2009

When I'm 64...I'm going to take it easy in an encore career

AndyGilatsNEW.bmpFrom Andrea Gilats, LearningLife director

Okay, so LearningLife is hosting this super-exciting Fest called Encore!

Okay, so our special guest Marc Freedman, author of Encore: Finding Work That Matters in the Second Half of Life, is a truly brilliant, dedicated, down-to-earth human being.

Okay, so he talks about "encore careers," and the little hair I have left on my arms stands up as I think of myself working 60 hours a week, meeting somebody else's deadlines, and sending e-mails until I'm 90 years old.

Guess what? Those scary scenarios could not be further from the truth! To prove the point, I assigned myself the task of listing just some of the attractive options and features of encore careers.

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April 3, 2009

When I'm 64... I want to be restless, unreasonable, and impatient

AndyGilatsNEW.bmpFrom Andrea Gilats, LearningLife director

Here is an intriguing question. What do Ben Franklin, Florence Nightingale, Steve Jobs, and Muhammad Yunus have in common? Let's see...

Among prolific Ben's innovations were the public lending library and the volunteer fire department, and among his inventions were the lightning rod, the Franklin stove, bifocal glasses, and the flexible urinary catheter. Though Poor Richard and the Pennsylvania Gazette made him wealthy, it was the way Ben transformed his problem-solving skills into common-good solutions that contributed so critically to the civic structures and collective well-being we enjoy today.

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March 9, 2009

When I'm 64... I'll do a full-tilt boogie

AndyGilatsNEW.bmpFrom Andrea Gilats, LearningLife director

Sometime between my high school volleyball days and my gotta-salt-the-sidewalk days, I lost my balance. About two years ago, I realized that I could no longer trust my body to right itself if I slipped or teetered. I now think that I gradually fell out of balance as I got older, and to compensate, I gradually acquired an oversized fear of falling on my backside and breaking my now-brittle bones.

What this taught me is that living at any age is a constant dance of tilting and righting oneself, both inside and out. So I started consciously working to improve both my physical balance and my sense of perspective. I became a student of balance, and if you're ready to read my Five-Lesson, Inner-Outer Balance Plan, I'm ready to share it.

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February 2, 2009

when I'm 64...my brain will bloom

AndyGilatsNEW.bmpThis column is the first in a new series from Andrea Gilats, LearningLife director
I've just finished reading two popular books by psychiatrist and gerontologist Gene Cohen: The Creative Age: Awakening Human Potential in the Second Half of Life and The Mature Mind: The Positive Power of the Aging Brain.

A pioneer in the field of positive aging, Dr. Cohen believes (and he's got some pretty serious science behind him) that both our brains and minds actually work better as we age. Those pesky short-term memory losses aside, our boomer brains are firing on all cylinders, and if we can remain relatively disease-free, we can expect new sparks until very late in life.

In addition, because our inner reservoirs of experience and knowledge (and their by-product, wisdom) have grown so rich, we're also enjoying increased ability to think in more complex and creative ways, greater capacity for resilience under emotional stress, and heightened social and humanitarian instincts.

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