The Sound of Silence

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We’ve been silent since the end of 2015; the silence was intentional – one of renewal, rejuvenation and looking forward.  We’ve made significant changes and those changes required time to absorb and adjust. As many of you know I’ve moved out of the shared housing arrangement that had defined me for so many years and into my own home. Many thought this change was a move backward and in contradiction to my quest to promote aging in community. Have you ever heard the saying, “Sometimes you have to take a step back to move forward?”

In this case, that’s exactly what I did. An opportunity presented itself; one that allowed me to create my own shared home environment (previously, I was renting the house I shared and now, I own it). What’s more, an opportunity then immediately presented itself to expand my home boundaries and purchase additional acreage.  The dream of creating a community centered on the principles of Aging in Community (description here) is now underway to becoming a reality. There will be more news and information on this but in the meantime, I wanted to share with you what’s been happening during the silence:

In January 2015, the Detroit Public TV aired a documentary, “When I’m 65: Rethinking Retirement in America” for which I had been interviewed a year ago. The documentary features people from across the country in the midst of retirement and showcases the challenges, fears and opportunities we all face.  As a result of these interviews, they also published 3 videos, one features our shared housing arrangement and the other features Asheville’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at UNC Asheville (OLLIE).

You can click here to see the videos (ours is at the bottom).

To see the full documentary, click here (we are featured 46 minutes in) but the entire video is worth watching. Watching this now (it just aired) was a demonstration of how much and how quickly things can change.

In March 2016, I was featured in WNC Woman’s magazine issue. I discussed how “Improvisational Living begins with Community.” It was a great reminder of the mission and vision I have held all these years for Women for Living in Community especially as we move from dreaming to doing in the next chapter.  We discussed the top 5 things that create controversy in community which was a great reminder as I begin to work out the plans for a real community in Asheville, NC.  We also discussed the missing element of today’s communities that are focused on seniors or retirees and those are the interpersonal aspects of living together, whether you share a house or a community.

Looking forward, I am excited about my upcoming trip to Oregon. Oregon, you ask? Yes, to attend the “New Tribe Training” being held May 19 – 22 in Ashland. If you’re not aware, there is a group of people who have created a supportive network of people, who intentionally have come together as a “tribe.”  As they put it,

“Our “new tribe” model is different from the usual “intentional community” as we live in our own homes and not on shared land. “Bicycle distance” is our metaphor for living close enough to meet face-to-face with weekly consistency.”

Why am I attending? I have always been looking for connections with others in my community related work and the groups I have been a part of. This idea of Tribe and how to form it and be a part of it called to me from an article in Communities Magazine. The article describes their history, their process, what worked and what did not in forming their tribe.  Click here to read the article.

What do I hope to gain?  My hope is to find others who really know me and I know them, spend time together, and choose to be in each others life on purpose, forever. That is what I want. I read Bill and Zoe’s book, titled appropriately, “We Need Each Other: Building Gift Community and knew this Tribe Training was my next step. So I am going to the experts.

So, you can see, the “Silence was not about the absence of something, but the presence of everything.” During this silence we’ve been busy and we can’t wait to fill you in on all the details in the coming months.

Helpful hint: If you’re getting this post by email and have a comment to share, please click here and reply at the bottom of the blog post so that way, your comments can be shared with everyone!

Marianne Kilkenny

A New Community Tribe: The First NotMom Summit

Months ago I was asked to participate in an event that would be the first of its kind. You never know what to expect in these situations but my participation made sense. This was the first ever conference for women without children. The idea was to bring together women who made the choice to not have children as well as those who did want kids but over time and circumstance find themselves without them.

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The first-ever NotMom Summit took place in Cleveland, Ohio on October 9th and 10th.

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How We Live Now: A Review

I usually save my favorite books for the holidays but this one was published just this week and I like to keep readers up with the latest news. Even though there are a plethora of books on my shelf that I could recommend this is the one I think you should add first.

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Like many of you, my life is always on the go so I can’t always find time in my busy schedule to sit down and read an entire book. But if you don’t read anything else, this is the one to pick up from Amazon today.

Here are a few reasons.

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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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