Tag Archives: wellness

June is a Time to Celebrate Older Adults

June is almost upon us, a month when we celebrate the older adults in our lives, and ourselves if we happen to be older.  There is much discussion about the appropriate term to use in this context.  Traditionally June was Senior’s month, however many have decided to ditch the work ‘senior’, thinking it inadequate on many fronts.  The collective ‘we’ have not yet landed on an alternative word that is widely accepted.  ‘Older Adult’ seems to be a slightly more benign; however, many do not appreciate being called old.  A connection I have, the Manager of Older Adult Services at Denver Public Library, calls this group 50+.  Not 55+ or 65+. Why 50+?  She wants to include in this group those on the younger end of the spectrum to be more inclusive, and to help chip away at the stigma of being ‘older’.  The thinking is that once a person reaches 50, they have passed into the stage where there is loss in their lives.  People close to them have died, their children are either flown from the nest, or close to, they are within sight of retirement and often have parents that need their care.  They have more in common with a 65-year-old than a 35-year-old.

Zor9ina Wolf Playing a Drum

Yet, many people do not like being called a 50+ person.  Maybe there is just no winning this game of categories, the underlying reason being that we do not want our age highlighted.  We don’t want to be defined by our age.  We don’t want to age, and we don’t want to die grow old.  One of the most difficult and most pernicious forms of ageism is the kind we internalize and use against ourselves.

As the Older Adult Advocate at VPL I have thought a lot about this conundrum.  My hope is that people find a way to embrace their own aging process and feel some pride about achieving membership in the older adult club.  It often hasn’t been easy but as older adults we’re still here, and we’re thriving!  Instead of an anti-aging obsession, let’s discover positive aging and creative aging. 

Creative Aging is an exciting international movement that recognizes older adults as having vital contributions to make to society as creators and community members.  In learning new creative skills and being challenged, older adults find improved health, greater social connection, and frequent moments of joy. Discovering our creative potential at this point in our lives can be hugely gratifying and a great inspiration to others.

At VPL this June we have a great lineup of programming that can all be found in our What’s On magazine, with registration appearing on our Eventbrite page. Look on page 19 for our Creative Age programs, as well as other positive aging offerings.  I don’t have the space to mention all the many programs and events, but instead will highlight a few that I hope will entice.  

The Drum & Percussion circle at the Civic Centre Resource Library on Saturday June 15th at 2 pm will be a lively exploration of djembe drumming and polyrhythms.  Drumming is for everyone! No experience is necessary. There are many documented benefits of drumming to mental and physical wellbeing and social connection.  

Check out this title Whole Person Drumming, authored by Zorina Wolf who recently presented a fantastic drumming session for VPL on Zoom.

Hike & Haiku has been run a few times in the past year and each time it has been a fabulous time where new connections are forged, and beautiful lines of poetry are created along the Humber Trail.  This program happens Saturday June 29th from 2 – 4 pm.  Register on Eventbrite for instructions on where to meet.

Book Cover of Julia Cameron's book It's Never Too Late to Begin Again.

 If you’re at a stage when the creative writing lure is pulling you, check out the great titles by Julia Cameron in our catalogue, and consider It’s Never Too Late to Begin Again: Discovering Creativity and Meaning at Midlife and Beyond.

The last program I will highlight is Self-Care for Caregivers, presented by our community partner CHATS.  Learn how we as caregivers can take care of ourselves and what we need to what out for to prevent burnout.  Civic Centre Resource Library or live on Zoom.  Register on Eventbrite. Tuesday, June 4th at 2 pm.  Looking for more on self-care?  Check out these titles.

Have a Happy Older Adult Month this June everyone!


Post-holiday season, it’s tempting to let the winter blues get the best of us. Particularly in the wake of yet another covid winter and yet another sombre New Years. There’s something particularly, poignantly sad about canceling the celebration of a new year, isn’t there? Before the holiday season began, as the days got darker and the weather grew colder, I checked out the audiobook of Wintering: The Power of Rest and Retreat in Difficult Times by British writer Katherine May. I listened to it as I walked through a wooded path after the first snowfall of the season. 

The UK focus of the book did give me pause, I admit. “Oh, my sweet summer child,” I thought, quoting Old Nan, “what do you know about winter?” But May’s concept of “wintering” transcends the season itself and is also applied to the dark, low “winter” periods of life. Just as winter is an annual, perhaps unwelcome visitor, so too are these low periods. Wintering was written before the pandemic hit, but its timing could not have been better. Published in December 2020, the ongoing pandemic has given the book a striking relevance that May could not have anticipated while writing it. 

May’s quest to learn the wintering habits of cultures with harsher climates than that of mild England takes her to neighbouring Nordic countries like Iceland, Norway, and Finland. Countries whose people, while far from rejoicing in the waning light, have found ways to embrace the darkness (the Danes introduced us to the concept of hygge, after all). There are passages dedicated to Christmastime rituals like Sweden’s candlelit Sankta Lucia ceremony, as well as neo-Paganistic rituals closer to home like the Druid celebrations at Stonehenge, ringing in the new year by watching the sun rise over the ancient monument. The chapters are structured according to the calendar, from October to March, with subheadings such as “Metamorphosis”, “Midwinter”, “Epiphany”, and “Thaw” as guideposts. Throughout these chapters, May discusses sometimes her own personal crises (how should one adequately prepare for recurring bouts of depression?) while also taking meandering dips into nature writing, looking to the life cycles of beehives and the hibernation habits of adorable, disappearing dormice for inspiration on how to handle the ups and inevitable downs of our own lives.

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modern cottage gardenIt’s well into December, the air is icy, and the treetops are dusted white. Have you got chestnuts roasting on an open fire yet? This may be the only time of year that actually suits quarantine: cozying up with a good book and a hot cup of cocoa (well, except for all the holiday parties we’re missing out on—but let’s not talk about that). 2020 has been a year of many things, most of them truly awful, but one positive trend that has emerged from the rubble is something called cottagecore. If you’ve ever dreamed of giving it all up and running away to the woods, or of having your own thriving vegetable garden, or of days spent baking bread and tending to plants, then you’ve been dreaming of the cottagecore ideal! 

So what exactly is this “cottagecore” all the kids are going on about? The New York Times describes it as “an aspirational form of nostalgia that praises the benefits of living a slow life in which nothing much happens at all.” It’s basically like living inside the Animal Crossing or Stardew Valley games; perfect, fictional worlds in which your only responsibilities are tending to crops, raising animals, making friends, and decorating your house. Your cottage will most likely be in an open field, or in the woods, or perhaps by a small village where you can pop into some locally owned shops. It is, essentially, the antithesis of our hectic, technology-based, urban lives. 

Of course, like all things, cottagecore is not even close to being a new concept—what’s old is new, and what’s new is old. The term itself is new, a thoroughly modern invention combining the obvious “cottage” with the suffix “–core”, denoting a genre (derived from “hardcore”, which in the past 30 years has given itself to endless genres: softcore, mumblecorenormcore, the list goes on). But the concept of eschewing modernity and returning to nature is older than dirtBack in the day, the general term was “the pastoral”, which mostly applied to literature that idolized country lifeRomanticism (with a capital R) was a prevailing artistic trend in the 19th century, and was “suffused with reverence for the natural world”. In William Wordsworth’s famous “I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud”, the poet describes the peace he feels when thinking back on a field of daffodils blowing in the breeze. 

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