Capturing the Special Moments of Paul Robeson with Christopher Bagley

One of the more interesting things that Brookletts Place, Talbot County’s Senior Center in Easton, is getting known for lately is their music programming. With concerts set up every month, Brookletts Place, with the help of such arts organizations like Carpe Diem Arts,  the relatively new center building is turning out to be of one of the community’s top music venues, showcasing local as well as international talent with just the right ticket price- which is typically free.

But for a event on September 15th, Brookletts Place is actually going to charge an entry fee.  In this case, it will be a donation to help raise funding for its other important programs that the senior center sponsors throughout the year like like Meals on Wheels throughout Talbot County and the hot lunch program in Easton.

But in exchange for that modest contribution, patrons should prepared to hear the powerful  music of singer Jason McKinney and musician Christopher Bagley as they bring to life famed singer Paul Robeson, and his accompanist Lawrence Brown, in a one act production entitled  Moments with Paul written by McKinney.

The Spy sat down with Chris at the Bullitt House the other day to talk about the extraordinary saga of Paul Robeson’s brilliant career and tragic downfall. That story, intermixed with gospel classics, has turned into a powerful account of Robeson’s extraordinary gifts, movingly performed by McKinney and Bagley.

Since they took to the stage in these roles at Chesapeake College in September of 2012, they have taken the story of Robeson on the road throughout the United States, and will be having its first international debut in Israel later this fall.

This video is approximately four minutes in length. For more information about Brookletts Place and this performance please go here

 

Senior Nation: The Artists of Londonderry

It makes sense to visit the Academy Art Museum and smaller art galleries in Easton and St. Michaels when one wants a sense of the local art scene on the Mid-Shore, but sometimes of the best examples of native talent can be found in the most unlikely places.

One of those is at Londonderry on the Tred Avon, just off of Port Street in Easton. This very special retirement community counts among its residents highly accomplished retired professionals in almost every field, from college professors to well known corporate leaders, but it has also attached some exceptional visual artists who continue to produce stunning landscapes, portraits, and few abstract paintings to the pleasure of the entire community.

Last week, the Spy took some time to capture a small sample of the kind of art now on display in the public spaces at Londonderry.

For more information about what’s going on at Londonderry please go here

Senior Nation: Londonderry Once Again Named Best Senior Living Facility

For the second year in a row, Londonderry on the Tred Avon has been named Best Senior Living Facility by What’s Up Magazine in its annual “Best of Eastern Shore” competition.

Located in Easton, Londonderry on the Tred Avon is an intimate residential cooperative community for adults ages 62 and up, offering a variety of housing options from convenient apartments to spacious cottages among 29 acres, including 1500 feet of waterfront shoreline.

For Peggy and Jim Sloan, residents for the past year, there were a number of things that drew them to Londonderry. The couple lived in Florida for more than a decade before deciding to move back to the Eastern Shore to be closer to some of their adult children, and immediately
knew Londonderry was the place for them.

“Everybody was just so friendly,” Peggy Sloan said. “It felt like home.”

Since moving in, the Sloans have come to love Londonderry’s roster of activities, the quality of its residents and staff, and the amenities offered in its cottage. The retirement community also offers both housekeeping and dining, which are important features for the Sloans.

“As we get older we can’t always do those things as well for ourselves, so those were some really nice aspects,” Peggy Sloan said.

According to Chela Hernandez, an accounting assistant who’s worked at Londonderry since 2015, “Best Of” is a title that really applies. She attributes it to how friendly and close knit both the staff and residents are.

“I heard great things about Londonderry before coming here, and as soon as I walked in for my first interview, I immediately felt at ease and very welcomed,” Hernandez said. “I never dread coming to work, because a day of work here is not a boring day by far.”

For more information about Londonderry, visit www.londonderrytredavon.com.

Senior Nation: When Dad is 106 Years Old with Nina and Peter Newlin

It seems unfathomable to imagine what it must feel like to be 106 years old. In the case of Shipley Newlin, You continue to wear your favorite shirt, you are still surrounded by loving children, and you can still make others chuckle around you using your unique brand of humor. But Shipley, who only just lost his independent living at age 102, is also aware that he is an infrequent exception in the world of mortality statistics.

That exceptionalism is also shared with his children. Nina, a curriculum administrator with the Kent County Public Schools, and Peter, an architect in Chestertown, also acknowledge the rarity of their family trait, which includes their mother, who still plays tennis at aged 97, and grandparents that were also in “Century Club” themselves.

In fact, the Newlin children (three other sons are scattered around the country) have never hesitated to celebrate their father’s longevity. They also encourage him to flex his memories and find other ways to engage the former mechanical engineer like trade jokes with him and laugh at his puns as all three of them carry on their day-to-day lives.

Now living with son Peter, and his wife Gail, Shipley and his “kids” gathered around the dinner table last week to reminisce and talk about what it’s like when dad is 106 years old and going strong.

This video is approximately three minutes in length.

 

 

 

Senior Nation Minute: It’s Lunchtime at the Talbot Senior Center

While the Talbot Senior Center serves a variety of purposes, including classes, workshops and physical exercise programs, its most popular is the extremely affordable ($2.50) lunch served Monday through Thursday. Dozens of senior citizens find their way to Brookletts Place during the week to enjoy a warm meal, but more importantly, the social interaction that comes with it.

The social component of the Senior Center’s lunch program is essential since many seniors find themselves isolated as a result of physical ailments or lacking  transportation. Brookletts Place has become an important outlet to interact with others, catch up on news, and learn of other resources, public and private, that can make their lives easier and more enjoyable during these golden years.

The Spy checked on the lunch program this week to witness this important community service.

This video is one minute in length. For more information please click here

Mid-Shore Health: The YMCA’s Winning War against Diabetes

There are a few things that the local health community knows about type 2 diabetes. The first is that it is an epidemic, with close to 28 million Americans already diagnosed facing a lifetime of a disproportionately higher risk of heart attacks, strokes, kidney disease, and a variety of other conditions that often lead to chronic disabilities and death.

The second is that close to 100 million Americans are assumed to be prediabetic. That’s right, about 100 million folks are walking around who could very quickly transition to a condition is experts say is the 7th leading cause of death.

The third is that those whose blood tests indicate a prediabetic condition can dramatically reduce the odds of developing full-blown diabetes by shedding 7% of their weight and committing to some form of exercise for at least 150 minutes a week.

That third fact is what the YMCA of the Chesapeake is now focused on.

Working with adults who are prediabetic, the Y has created year-long classes and support groups throughout the Mid-Shore to slowly and methodically educate their members that their pre-diabetic condition can be controlled or even eliminated with simple, common sense eating and light exercise.

Under the direction of Bridget Wheatley, the YMCA’s Diabetes Prevention Program Director, these outreach efforts are now starting to show some stunning results in the first two years of operations. The three formal classes are running at capacity, and more and more participants are forming informal support groups to maintain personal goals.

The Spy caught up with Bridget and several members of the Y’s support group in Denton a week ago to talk about their experience and the extraordinary sense of well-being that has come with modest changes in lifestyle.

This video is approximately five minutes in length. For more information about the YMCA of the Chesapeake and its Diabetes prevention programs please go here

 

Senior Nation: Growing Old and Loving It by Dodie Theune

Editor’s Note. Dodie Theune is a resident of Oxford, adjunct faculty member of Temple University, and CEO of Coaching Affiliates. She was the keynote speaker at last week’s Senior Summit for the  Mid-Shore region. We have reprinted her address in its entirety.

Today I hope to encourage you to reimagine how growing old could be different than what we have come to expect. To do that, we need to let go of the old paradigms for aging and create a new vision for our future. No matter where we have been or what we have done or left undone…we can still reimagine our life in what I call “Our Third Act.”

You are never too old to become the person you were meant to be. And that’s what your Third act could be about…becoming the person you were meant to be.

We hear more and more about the “The Graying of America.” The median age of Americans is going up and the population is getting older. We are now the fastest growing segment and that gives us clout in many areas, especially in the voting box. And The Eastern Shore is a perfect example of this phenomenon. In fact, by 2020, we expect that more than 40% of the population of Talbot County will be over age 65!

Today we will take a look at what we can accomplish with this new-found power.

I remember Turning 65. There were a whole lot more candles on the cake. More small lines showed up around my eyes. I remember looking down at my hands and saying, “These are not my hands…These are my mother’s hands.”

I am more than a little stiff now getting up in the morning. I sometimes forget the names of people I know quite well. And I hardly ever remember the titles of books I’ve read and movies I’ve seen. And there are times when I walk into a room and wonder what I was looking for? These are all reminders that I am “gettin’ on in years.”

Turning Sixty Five is a big milestone for us. We send each other funny cards and tell jokes. We celebrate with cake and coffee at work. We have special parties. And we get a kick out of wearing black armbands at 65th birthday parties.

But the truth is that underneath all that playfulness, there is a clear aversion to getting older. And that is not good because when we resist the idea of aging, we are also saying NO to what is possible…saying NO to all that is new and wonderful about this truly unique and special time of life, Our Third Act.

We have, most of us, grown up with what I call the old paradigm of aging, You know what I mean: “Old Age Ain’t No Place for Sissies”, “Getting old is a bitch.” These deep-rooted bromides are what I call: Limiting Beliefs about Aging.

Beliefs are important because they determine our attitudes about everything. And our attitudes are what drives our behavior.

Think about that for a minute.

Limiting beliefs will influence us to have negative and self-defeating attitudes about our future. And since attitudes drive our behavior, we are then more likely to give in to aging, to give up, and to submit to the old expectations about getting old. If that becomes our attitude, we will be guaranteeing that ours will be a future with little if any possibilities.

I’d like to tell you a little bit about my own “growing older” story. I was 70 and teaching at Temple University in Philadelphia when I realized that I needed hearing aids. Mind you, I already had reading glasses. So off I went for the inevitable hearing test. I had to laugh as I remembered my mother saying…first the eyes…then the ears. I am now adding…then the feet!

To tell the truth I hated wearing those hearing aids. The little buds that went inside my ear tickled and I was constantly fussing to see if they were in place. And then one day, I turned on the ignition in my car and my hearing aids buzzed. I said out loud “This is getting ridiculous!”

I can laugh at it now but back then I was really annoyed. It was right around then that we had one of our family dinners. In fact, I think it was Mother’s day. I admit I was complaining more than just a little about those darn hearing aids when one of my daughters came over and put her arm around me and jokingly said, “It’s ok Mom. You’re just getting ‘OLDE’. I was speechless for a moment as I looked at her with amazement and then I said “I’M NOT OLDE… Grandpa…He’s OLDE!!”

So just what is OLDE? Johnny Carson said “Old is 10 years older than you are now.” We like that definition of course because according to Johnnie, we never ever actually get olde, we just age a little more.

My daughter meant well and she probably didn’t realize that what she was actually doing was expressing the old paradigm for aging. You know the one.

It’s often depicted as an Arch. You’re young…you’re middle aged and supposedly at your prime and after that, it is all downhill. We really must change that depiction because it fosters negative thoughts and limiting beliefs.

I prefer to show the life cycle as a straight line to demonstrate a new paradigm for aging: a new vision for “growing old and loving it. ”First there is your younger self…followed by your middle aged and older self … and then you shift into what I am now calling Your Third Act.

We can and should look forward to our Third Act with a curiosity for what could be possible. And anything is possible when you give yourself the opportunity to use your Third Act as a springboard to becoming the person you were meant to be.

When I was 65, It never occurred to me that I would be here with all of you talking about how much I love being 77. I am in the throes of My Third Act and I have not peaked yet! In fact, last winter I spent 30 plus days downhill skiing and I am skiing better than ever. I am truly blessed.

As we age, it is critical that we be authentic. We should tell the truth about ourselves and have some fun doing it. Life is so much easier when we learn to be authentic. Aging actually gives us permission to be who we really are. How refreshing is that?

We can spend time with the people we like especially the ones who make us laugh. And we should definitely find things to laugh about. We can always find something to worry about.

While I was preparing for this morning, I asked my husband if he could give me an example of a time when we laughed at ourselves. Guess what he said? Every day. We find things to laugh about ourselves and each other ….every single day.

I recently saw a post on facebook of a white haired woman dancing the high step and wearing the most outlandish hat and an equally outlandish red and white polka dot dress with lots of ruffles. The caption read: “It’s better to have a sense of humor than no sense at all”

It is extremely important as we enter our Third Act, to let go of the past. Forgive and forget. Life is too short and we just do not have the time to harbor a grudge. In fact, it is exhausting. I saw a poster recently that said: “The best revenge is to be happy.”

And absolutely…we should have no regrets. What’s the point after all? What’s gone is gone. What’s lost is lost. The past is the past.

Our friends have a really wonderful tradition for letting go of the past. All year long, they write down their regrets and then on New Year’s Eve, they make paper boats out of those lists of regrets and gather with other families at a small lake nearby. They line up the boats at the shoreline and light each one with a match and float the burning boats out into the darkness. And then they are free to celebrate a New Year. They have learned to be in the present by torching the past.

It is also important that while we are learning to be authentic, and letting go of the past, we must also learn to give ourselves permission to reach out and ask for help. Remember, ‘no one ever said that growing older would be easy.’ In fact, it takes a great deal of courage! Much too often, our genes disappoint us as we age and for some of us, the Third Act may become an overwhelming challenge.

We recognize that many of our Talbot County seniors are in need of support and encouragement, especially when they are suffering from pain, or financial distress or grieving for a lost loved one. Facing an uncertain future requires enormous courage.

That is precisely why we are here today at the Second Annual Senior Summit. Talbot Community Connections and the Talbot County Department of Social Services are hoping that by sharing information about the right tools and the assistance that is available, our seniors can approach their Third Act with more confidence and ease. Today is all about learning that Aging in Talbot County need not be scary. We can indeed, grow old and love it.

I launched my Third Act by retiring to St Michaels. I told my friends that I would be taking a year to settle in and that I would be nesting, testing and resting. Anyone who has downsized will understand what having ‘layered furniture’ means. I spent endless days unpacking and running to the thrift shops and rummage sales.

Testing was the most fun. I looked around town for ways that I could match my experience and skills with a need in the community. To fill a gap, if you will. I knew it would certainly be easy to be busy. There are endless possibilities for volunteering. But I was, after all, in my Third Act and I was looking for a way to experience what I saw as a profound new vision for myself…“to grow old and love it.”

That’s when I discovered the Academy of Life Long Learning. When I was a young mother I saw a poster at the library that read: “Live today as if it were your last and seek after knowledge as if you will live forever.”

I absolutely believe that anyone who stops learning will get old while someone who keeps learning will stay young. I have become a great proponent of lifelong learning. Malcolm Boyd, an Episcopal priest and Poet-in-Residence at the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles wrote that “Aging… requires learning. God knows it requires wisdom. It can be an enormous blessing because it serves to sum up a life, lend it character, underscore its motivation. Finally, it prepares the way for leave-taking.”

I AM a life long learner. I finished my undergraduate degree when my children were grown and then went on to earn my Masters in Adult Education. I received my PhD just 7 years ago and it took me more than 5 years to earn that degree.

So, when I discovered the Academy of Life Long Learning. I was really excited . I took several fascinating courses and then came up with the Idea of creating a course about my favorite subject: growing old and loving it. Facilitating that course was an extremely fulfilling experience. Actually it was a joy. I was in my Third Act and doing something I truly loved. And here I am today.

In one of the workshops at the Senior Summit, we will hear a discussion about reimagining your life. It is possible, you know…to reimagine your life …no matter what your current circumstances may be. A technique for reimagining your life is to ask yourself : What will be my life story; What legacy do I want to leave?

When you were younger and busy raising families and building careers, you may have wanted to do more but just didn’t have the time. Now that you have the time, what dream can you follow? And for you younger folks, now is your chance to do what you can with what you’ve got in the direction of your dream and begin to write that story.

The motto for Talbot Community Connections is “Filling the Gap.” What gap can you fill? What can you do to make a difference? You might think about what makes you mad or sad about what’s going on in the world? Is there an organization or group you can support that’s doing work you think is important. Is there one small thing that you can do to make a difference.

My neighbor is passionate about the environment. When she walks through our town, she always stops to pick up cans, and plastic bottles and puts them in the recycle bin. She then started cleaning up the recycle areas in town. In fact she would even bring back trash that wasn’t recyclable and put it in her own trash bin. She was living her passion about the environment. Eventually, she was successful in getting curbside recycle service in St Michaels. Wherever she goes, she makes a difference. Ann Hymes is living proof that small things, done consistently, in strategic places can reap huge results.

Remember: you are never too old to become the person you were meant to be, and it’s never too late to envision yourself acting out your passion in your third act.

Senior Nation: Second Senior Summit Highlights

When it comes to caring for Talbot County’s seniors, Talbot Community Connections (TCC) is leading the charge. Responsible for the second annual senior summit, held at the Talbot County Community Center; 48 vendors and sponsors informed the public on topics such as quality in-home care, dementia, and scam avoidance.The public attended workshops showing disadvantages seniors face daily, along with discussions to stay fit and healthy. Raising seven grand their first year, TCC helps fund Easton’s Child Advocacy Center.

TCC was founded in 2001, focusing on safety, health, and well-being of Talbot County children and adults. This non-profit organization receives grants allowing them to donate to the Department of Social Services for several programs including Backpacks for Children, Dad’s Class, and the Foster program. TCC envisions furthering education on senior care for their third annual senior summit but until then; they are grateful to their volunteers and sponsors who help make these events possible.

This video is approximately one minute in length. For more information about Talbot Community Connections please go here.

Senior Nation: Mid-Shore Senior Summit 2017 with Amy Steward and Ruth Sullivan

The aging process doesn’t have to be a daunting one. That’s what Talbot Community Connections leaders Amy Steward and Ruth Sullivan leaders say as they prepare for the TCC and Talbot County Department of Social Services’ second annual Senior Summit next week.

As Amy and Ruth point out in their Spy interview, getting older, or taking care of an aging parent, doesn’t need to be stressful if one has the right tools and resources. The Senior Summit will include workshops on downsizing and move, safe driving, prescription drug misuse, nutrition and yoga, financial planning for retirement, medical planning, and advanced directives, self-defense for seniors, and finding your balance.

In addition to break-out workshops, there will be the opportunity for participants to have lunch and to visit vendor tables to gather additional information on aging issues and services.

This video is approximately two minutes in length. For more information please go here.

Named “Growing Older and Loving It,” on Thursday, June 8, 2017, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Talbot Community Center on Route 50 in Easton, MD. This day-long program for seniors, children of seniors, caregivers, professionals and concerned citizens will provide presentations and discussions on the issues that seniors face today. The cost of the Senior Summit is $10 for seniors (age 60+), $45 for the general public $85 for professionals.

Inside the Sandwich: Easter Baskets to Camp Tee Shirts By Amelia Blades Steward

I never have transitioned from one season to the next on time. My friends laugh about the year the Christmas tree stayed up until Valentine’s Day (it was real, not artificial) and they had to practically do an intervention to get me to take it down. This year, I didn’t even get my Easter decorations out. The snowman on the sideboard got taken down in early April and replaced by two Beatrix Potter figurines and a small basket of Easter eggs that I got for my birthday in March.

It is how I have approached the “things” in my life too. Not always being ready to part with the memories attached to the items I have collected over the years. This week, however, that sentimental streak paid off when I found an old camp tee shirt and jacket that I wore at age 14 while attending Wye Institute, a camp held at Aspen institute in Queenstown, MD in the 1970s and 80s. I looked for the camp clothing because Aspen is doing a documentary on Arthur Houghton and Wye Institute and had called me about being interviewed as a camper. Houghton, the president of Steuben Glass in New York, had founded the Wye Institute camp for gifted and talented adolescents from rural areas to expand their intellectual and creative minds. I viewed it as perfect timing, as did Aspen, when I brought the tee shirt and jacket to the documentary taping.

The green and white striped camp-issued cotton tee shirt brought me back to a time and place in my life when the ground shifted and something changed in me, something that changed my view of the world. It was the summer of 1974 when I attended the month-long camp at Wye Institute with other 8th graders from Maryland’s Eastern Shore and New York’s Finger Lakes region. We would be attending high school in the fall. We all wore the same camp uniforms. The only time we didn’t wear our camp clothes were when we went to bed each night and could wear our own pajamas. My bunk-mates and I talked late into the night about world peace, women’s lib and what we were going to do with our lives.

As campers we studied and discussed classic literature, film and theater, learning about how these things have shaped our country’s foundation. We explored art, music, creative writing, and the environment – learning how to sail on the Wye River and attending our first theater production of the play “Godspell” in Washington, DC. We even participated in social experiments. One experiment had half the group paint their faces in wild colors and shop in nearby Centreville, while the other half of the group without the painted faces shopped in the same shops. I was in the group with the painted faces and we were run out of the shops we went in.

At Wye Institute I realized that I wanted to be a writer. For the first time, I participated in a creative writing class and learned the power of the pen. The camp showed me that I could illicit a reaction from the words that I wrote. My peers responded to the words and that was powerful. It was a summer when we all learned we had opinions and that our voices could be heard.

We had debates and studied rhetoric. We even put on the musical, “The Fantasticks,” for our parents when they came to visit us mid-month. It was the first time many of us had been away from home and from our parents for this length of time. After leaving camp that summer, I remember how different I felt when I got home. I had been transformed somehow and knew that I would approach high school in a new anticipatory way.

Now, as I think about summer approaching, I wonder if my own college-aged son will one day remember working as a camp counselor, experiencing wet sleeping bags from summer thunderstorms, chiggers and poison ivy, lost bathing suits, glorious camp productions, and the tears of campers saying good-bye to new friends. While memories like these linger for all of us, we are forced to move ahead to the next chapter of our lives. Ready or not, the season is changing. I just need to find where I put that box of Easter decorations before Memorial Day arrives.