“Aging is not lost youth but a new stage of opportunity and strength.” – Betty Friedan
They say, You can’t teach old dogs new tricks, but I think that’s both untrue and unwise. New skills are important for “oldsters.” They are exactly the good medicine we need.
For some of us, the new trick can be learning to appreciate music, or to play a new instrument. For others, it’s learning a second language, or tutoring younger students. Some explore volunteering and exercising to stay active and busy. The new trick list is long because any new cognitive activity will work magic. It can take us from just “Oldsters” to “Super-Oldsters.”
Me? I blog.
At first, it seemed like a silly thing to do, to write and publish my thoughts and experiences for everyone to read. Early in, I wrote about seven things blogging taught me. Now, after doing it for over two years, I’ve discovered seven more benefits:
1.) Blogging helps improve both spoken and written communication. Today, I think more about what I write and what I say. I try to tell one story at a time, developing one thought and not letting my mind hop around so much.
Now, there’s more focus to what I do each day.
2.) Blogging adds appreciation for other points of view. I’m trying to have empathy with my reader in how they will take in my words. Written words are permanent, so I want to be clearly understood. I want my reader to be helped, not hurt. I’m not trying to shock or even swing my reader’s pendulum to a different side. If my reader starts to be more curious, more open to questions of their own viewpoints, and how they matter, then my story has value.
3.) Blogging challenges me to learn new skills. Blogging is different from writing thoughts in a journal. Journals are personal and are put away in a drawer or on the shelf. Blogging is electronic and posted for others to read. The blogger’s audience can be as small as only family or as large as the entire world. The computer is a necessary tool for blogging and that’s good, because there’s a lifetime of learning when joining this large community where everything seems different, even the language. It’s a healthy challenge and it takes time, but time is something most “oldsters” have.
4.) Blogging reinforces the value of keeping deadlines and being accountable. Having deadlines has value in aging. Even though I’m retired, I still need to plan my activities, organize my day and decide what task I’ll tackle next. Turning in my story every Wednesday for posting on Thursday is good discipline.
5.) Blogging challenges my creativity. Needing a new story, with a title, an opening quote, and closing video, plus the story itself, keeps me on the lookout for any new twist. I need to stay curious to be creative – and staying curious is a high value payoff for me.
6.) Blogging encourages research, not simply relying on gossip or hearsay. I can’t pick up some fake news or alternative facts and run with them. I need to dig and to do the research, because my posted writings are permanent. Something as simple as a 140-character tweet will live forever, it should be right.
7.) Blogging helps me accept myself and others and brings peace. Unlike some bloggers with 10,000+ followers, I’m happy with my group of readers who listen and join the conversation. This understanding lets me be true to myself.
And while I have no way of knowing whether this wish will come true, I think that blogging may be the best way to pass on stories to my children and grandchildren. Even if they don’t read them today, the stories are saved on the internet for a long, long time. That makes me happy.
Maybe blogging will help me live longer, but even if it doesn’t, it will make the time I have left seem better.
How about you? What new interests have you developed? Are your newly found interests helping you develop more cognitive skills? Why is that important at every age? Maybe you’d find blogging easier than you thought, that people are interested in what you say and that you have more stories than you ever imagined.
We all have stories, how do you plan to tell yours?
As always, the conversation starts here.
“In the ordinary choices of every day we begin to change the direction of our lives.” – Eknath Easwaran
Mary van Balen discusses blogging in senior communities. Could blogging have benefits in your community?
Could their be a way for intergenerational connections to develop in storytelling? Having oldsters paired with youngsters could be a creative way to share stories. We can talk more about this idea if you’re interested.
But for now, just relax and listen to Mary. Let her thoughts on blogging sink in.