A New Beginning: A Dream Becomes Reality

My Vision of Community

This is Part 2 of My Journey. In Part 1 of My Journey, I wrote about my recent move to a mini-pocket neighborhood – essentially developing a group of shared homes.  (PS. Sometimes we leave out the most obvious details – as if you can read my mind… I still live in Asheville, NC) I also wrote that it signaled not only an important change in my life but also for Women for Living in Community. To read Part 1, click here.

My Journey: A New Chapter for WLIC (June 5th)

For the past few years I have focused much of my attention on the education and awareness of issues surrounding living in community and aging.  I have worked hard to build and promote Women for Living in Community as a resource to families and individuals (men and women) who are seeking alternatives to aging in community for themselves and their families.

I am now beginning a new chapter, a chapter focused on the building and development of a community model for aging in community.  A community not focused on the physical structure with amenities (like nursing homes and retirement homes) but creating a community designation that can be adaptable to where you live, whether you live in a single family home, mobile home community or a NORC (naturally occurring retirement community), live in shared housing or any combination of newly emerging models like the tiny-house community.

The fundamental problem with the way we view aging today is the focus upon the physical needs which tend to place focus on the physical models of living such as retirement communities. These are designed and built solely for the purpose of aging adults and their healthcare but not built for their welfare. These models fail to place focus on the “living aging” and it is this kind of thinking that scares most of us.  We wish to change that focus and in doing so, change lives and how we “age” in community as an active, living, vibrant part of life.

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Group Visioning About Community

In the next chapter of my life, I hope to make connections and partnerships with people, professionals and groups that want to join me as we develop this new community model designation that focuses on the welfare of individuals,  families and the surrounding area.  This is a model that can be implemented right where people live now, not forcing them to move to some “center”.  There will be much more on this.  This is a dream that because of Women for Living in Community network, supporters, and people like you, can now be realized.  Look out for Bettyz Playz.

I’ve Moved! Why and what does this mean for WLIC?

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Welcome to my house!

NOTE: This is Part 1 of My Journey update. Part 2 coming next week.

I’ve moved!

This is something I’ve been wanting to do for awhile. I’ve explored many opportunities, some that came to me and some that I sought out.  I reviewed each of them but for one reason or another, they didn’t seem to fit or be the right thing at the right moment.

What about this move made it the right thing to do and how does my move fit in with Women for Living in Community? After all, a big part of my story has been my shared housing arrangement that I’ve been living in for the last 4 years, often referred to as the “Golden Girl” lifestyle.  (Click here for related blogs about ‘Golden Girls’ style living)

What I am doing now is expanding the shared housing concept in a mini-pocket neighborhood.

Shared housing is a very important and a viable, wonderful, life fulfilling learning experience for anyone who is seeking a better way of living as we age.  A mini-pocket neighborhood is an expansion of the shared housing concept. Imagine if the Golden Girls ladies lived in a neighborhood made up of other shared housing homes.  That’s what I am in the process of developing for myself.

My shared mini-pocket neighborhood

My new home and land are a perfect setting for me to take in housemates (I will have a part-time housemate for now).  I will also be sharing a larger piece of property and another house with a friend, essentially creating a mini-pocket neighborhood.  Already, opportunities are expanding.  There is another house on the property who is interested in possibly living as a mini-pocket neighborhood. Hope, hope,….

Will this be my last move?

Since moving to Asheville and launching Women for Living in Community, I have moved 7 times.  My moving has, in a way, been “on the job” training for me as I have explored various alternatives to living in community in order to find the right one. (Sure has given me good stories for my talks too!) I have learned something new about myself and the types of arrangements – all lessons I have shared with you and the Women for Living in Community network. While I hope this is it, I cannot say what the future holds. This move actually signals another important change and development in my life.

A Look Back: Over the Years slideshow:


The Next Chapter

In many ways this move has also signaled a turning point for Women for Living in Community.  More on that in Part 2 of My Journey update.

Down the Rabbit Hole: The Alphabet Soup of Medicare

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DISCLAIMER: the following story is only my experience! Do not use for factual basis or advice, not that you’d want to. You’d be in the looney bin with me if you did. Just sayin’.

Medicare: this is a positively monumental experience for most of us. It is a literally coming of age.

This is my story.

So, what happened to easy to follow directions? I miss kindergarten where it was all about using safety scissors and learning how to glue.

Timing: prepare for hours…day…weeks…years? Pack a lunch. This could take a while.

The steps look a little…what’s the right word? Ambiguous?

Did you know that you’re supposed to register for Medicare with the Department of Social Security three to six months in advance of your birthday? No one told me? How does anyone know that? Did I miss a memo or a piece of junk mail or is this something you’re just supposed to know how to do like eat with a fork or saying please and thank you?

So first, I had to go on the Social Security website to sign up to be able to sign up. Or I could just go to the Social Security office. The mere thought of standing in line with my little paper number waiting for it to ding on the sign as I listened to nauseating Muzak… not my idea of a good time. Government websites are scary, but their offices can be scarier.

Oh look – I found a clue! I feel like Sherlock…

rabbit holeThese official looking BIG envelopes look like they are from Medicare, or an insurance carrier, or AARP… Well, they’re really from an independent insurance agent who seems to have received some sort of notification that I am now officially old enough to target. I wonder when they learn that trick in insurance school.

They send these internet related keys that are supposed to be only for me, but how am I supposed to know? I called the help line, but I wasn’t fooled. They want to get me as a customer, but I think I can figure this out for myself.

I hope.

But the more information I read, the worse it got. Paper began stacking up on my desk.

As I read through the mountains of paper I had been receiving, my eyes began to glaze over. I needed to call in the troops…but who are the troops?

I believe in community so I figured I’d crowdsource some help on this thing. I talked to my sister and friends who have already done it.

My friend Linda told me, “I think I am pretty smart but… I’m doing it with someone else so we cannot lose our minds!” She is quite smart. If she can’t help me, I might be helpless.

Well, it helped a little, but I still felt like I killed a few too many brain cells and I might be descending quickly down the rabbit hole.

Is there anyone I ask? Can you just tell me what to do!

Well that depends.

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author and friend, Maria

The official information is enough to cause anyone to question their sanity. I began to call it alphabet soup. Parts A and B are basic Medicare. Okay, I was fine with that. But then if you want more coverage you need to tack on supplemental plans. They’re listed A through N or something. Serious alphabet soup. Why can’t they use some other designator like colors or animals or something? Anything else but more letters!

Seriously, there is an alphabetical list on the left side of the chart that tells you about some parts of the plan. On the top of the chart is another alphabet with the kinds of coverages you can elect to supplement. They aren’t different letters. It is all the same jumble.

Hey look! The Drug/Pharmacy plan is called Plan D. Finally, something makes sense! And, of course, it is about drugs. I don’t just feel like I’m in Alice in Wonderland. I feel like I am in Jefferson Airplane’s psychedelic “White Rabbit” song.

I really don’t like to think of myself as old but this really feels like it is part of that Luminosity memory training challenge.

And this is only the first year. I have the privilege of doing this every single year if I want to. Shoot me now!

From all of my online belly-aching, one of my friends took pity on me and suggested an insurance agent she knew who specialized in Medicare. Score! That was just the ticket. I am usually quite self-reliant but my brain felt like those old commercials with the eggs: “This is your brain on Medicare…” I give up!

Oh, wait, there are a few more gems!

Are you familiar with the tier of drugs? Seriously, I think it should be tears of drugs. By the time I got to figuring out what I needed, I was positively sobbing.

And they send you a card for Medicare like you would get for any insurance plan. It has your social security number on it! Hasn’t the government ever heard of identity theft? Sure, I’ll just carry that with me everywhere…

Bottom line tips:

  • Find a doctor before you turn 65 who takes Medicare patients. After this nightmare you don’t want to have to pick a new doctor, too.
  • Find an insurance specialist who handles this kind of stuff and start talking with them before you need it. It will save you from the same PTSD.

Love in Community: Happy Valentine’s Day from the Grand Nudge

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From the Grand Nudge:

Based on some of my most recent posts you might think that Valentine’s Day would be a “Bah Humbug” holiday for me. While I do get a little annoyed at the Hallmarkian quality of it throughout the first two months of the New Year, I’m surprisingly a bit of a romantic. That is why I advocate love in community.

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Happy Holidays from The Grand Nudge

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From The Grand Nudge:

Have you ever heard of Krampus? This guy is getting a lot of press these days, but many of us have never even heard the name. In some parts of Germany, St. Nicholas is keeping some rather strange company. In this mythology, Krampus is a horned fellow not unlike your average furry, goat-footed demon and he and St. Nick are old buddies. The history of Krampus, much like many Christmas traditions, is murky at best. And really, I’m not overly concerned about the “why,” but rather the “who,” or at least what he represents.

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5 Things I Know For Sure

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I’ve had a few years’ experience in my life. I mean, I won’t say I am a wizened ancient (quite yet) but I think I’ve picked up a few things along the way. These are just some truths, at least for me, which I feel could apply to anyone.

I know for sure:

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Happy Thanksgiving from the Grand Nudge

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So it’s that time of year again. We cook up a turkey and spend an afternoon listening to Aunt Josephine rattle on about her gout. Sometimes I really wonder what the meaning of all this really is. Are we honoring our thankfulness – a virtue we should have all year round – or is it a big marketing plan from the turkey farmers and cranberry growers?

In truth, I think it is a little of both.

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The Grand Nudge Halloween Celebration

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Ooh, it’s my favorite time of year again! Halloween gives us all a chance to wear a mask and step outside of ourselves just for one day. For me it means donning my feather boa, sporting my cat eye glasses, and taking up the mantle of the Grand Nudge.

Last year many of you met me in my Halloween manifesto. My role in this life is to challenge all of you to move forward.

Stop thinking and start doing.

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Extended Community and the Role of the Internet

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Last month I shared the story of my injury and was looking forward to recovery. I do want to let you all know that I have been doing very well since I had surgery to repair the damage in my neck and have been slowly getting back to normal.

When I wrote about my experience and the importance of my shared household and community in my initial emergency as well as my recovery I purposefully left out part of the story. This one involved a more widespread community and how the internet and social media played a part in the connections.

When I first felt the debilitating pain in my neck, my original Facebook posting got the attention of my cousin who just happens to be a neurosurgeon. One phone call later I felt confident with a second opinion that helped inform me about my options going forward. I also received dozens of well wishes from others as well as input from people who had similar experiences in their own lives. It was helpful to be in contact just to let my far-flung friends and family know that I wasn’t ignoring them but rather trying to stay away from the computer too much and let the healing begin.

Since that time, and throughout the surgery, I was able use an online tool called Caring Bridge which allowed everyone to stay in touch, keep themselves informed, and send messages of support that I could see when I was finally back to a computer screen. It was both practical and heartwarming. Caring Bridge is a non-profit organization.

I have experienced so much support over the last several months that it is hard to write about how much it touched me. There were many messages, emails, visits, offers to help, dinners made, and deliveries of delicious edibles. Some friends even offered to take me to the doctor to help in my recovery. There are so many more blessings that I can’t even list.

Have you evaluated what you have in your support network? Support takes a different shape with each person in your life. You may have friends and family in another state who can’t be with you to help but want to support you in other ways. Most of my family is on the west coast but through the power of the internet I was able to stay connected and I knew they were thinking of me and lending their support in my recovery.

Of course, the internet doesn’t just have to play a role in your life when you’ve suffered a major setback. It can be a great tool for finding your own community and making change happen in your life. Tools like Facebook and Meet Up can help connect you to likeminded people to form a community and become each other’s support network through every day challenges and major disasters.

What are you waiting for?

Learn more about building community through Marianne’s workbook Your Quest for Home and on the website. Ask a question and join the discussion on Facebook.

The Blessings of Housemates: When Community Becomes More

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Just over a month ago, on July 11th, the article in the New York Times was published. I spent the weekend basking in the glow of the new attention being paid to the Women for Living in Community movement.

But that all changed on Monday.

I woke up to neck and arm pain so excruciating, I immediately thought it may be a stroke or heart attack. My pain was similar to the warning signs of women in my age group. The more I writhed around on the floor in intense pain the more I realized that I needed help. Because of my shared household, help was only 5 feet away in our common kitchen where my housemate was standing.

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