Gero-Punk World Tour 2014!

Okay, dear gero-punk peeps, I need some wardrobe advice. You see, I’m going on the road next month. I am, really! I’m embarking upon the first ever Gero-Punk Project world tour! 

But what the heck should I wear?

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Well, maybe it’s not technically a world tour. Truth be told, it is a trip to Oakland, California, followed by a trip to Reno, Nevada. But, hey, two cities in four days constitutes a tour, don’t it?  And I’ve heard rumors that for the Reno portion of the trip there might be official Gero-Punk tour t-shirts.

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First stop: The 72nd annual conference of the American Society of Group Psychotherapy and Psychodrama, April 3-7, 2014, in Oakland, California.  I’ve been invited to be a keynote speaker. The title of my interactive presentation is, “Honoring the Past, Dreaming the Future.” I’ll be facilitating active learning around the idea that we are all ancestors and we can create an intentional relationship to the work we do in the present and on behalf of the future. Not explicitly Gero-Punk, but I’m sure I’ll figure out a way to Gero-Punk it up, especially when my colleague and friend Jackie Fowler and I facilitate a follow-up workshop in which we’ll explore the themes I surface in my keynote presentation. We’re going to do some reflection, writing, discussion and sociodrama (Jackie’s specialty) around our “future older selves” and the potent question: What kind of ancestors do we want to be?

If you happen to be in the Bay Area during the first part of April, feel free to bop on over to the conference and catch us in action. Here’s a link to more information: www.asgpp.org

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Second stop: Next, I’ll be heading to the University of Nevada-Reno to give a prentation as part of the Sanford Center for Aging Distinguished Speakers Series. The title of my performance is: “Gero-Punk Adventures: Is it time for my guitar solo yet?” While I’m visiting the U of N-R, I’ll also be hanging out with their amazing gerontology students and faculty. We’ll be militating for Gerontological anarchy and spray-painting Gero-Punk slogans all over Reno (shhhhh….don’t tell!).

If you happen to be in Reno, Nevada April 8-9, feel free to join me for my combination teach-in and show-and-tell about the Gero-Punk Project. If you aren’t going to be in Reno, guess what? My presentation will be streaming live at http://bit.ly/sca-sasser  from 5:30-6:30 p.m. PST on Tuesday, April 8th.  How cool is that?

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Yeah, yeah, yeah. But we still haven’t dealt with the real point of this little ditty: What am I going to wear for my Gero-Punk Tour?

 

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Gero-Punk Public Service Announcement

Okay, it’s that time again. Time for a gero-punk public service announcement!

We’ve had a bunch of new folks join the Gero-Punk Project in the past couple of weeks. Hello to those of you residing in Ireland, India, and various other North American and E.U. locations. (I’m reminded of a song from my daughter’s primary school days: “Tell me the continents, tell me the continents, tell me if you can.  North America, South America, Europe, Asia, Africa! Don’t for get Australia, don’t forget Antarctica! Tell me the continents, tell me the continents, tell me if you can!)

Thank you for your interest in the Gero-Punk Project!

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Perhaps you need to know a bit more about what’s what before you’ll feel willing to venture further.  That’s understandable.

The Gero-Punk Project provides a venue for telling and sharing stories about our travels through the life-course. Together we create a space for trying out alternative ways of experiencing and writing about time/space/place, about age and aging, and about the complexities of being human beings, aware of the passage of time. We take seriously the idea that we are time-travelers: a particular age, all ages, and no age at all. We give  voice to our flummoxing, fascinating, mundane and profound, odd and perhaps transgressive thoughts, feelings, and experiences related to this grand and strange adventure of being and becoming human in and through and outside of time. We legitimize confusion, uncertainty, and vulnerability, states of no-sense. As well, we harness our inner authority, our sovereignty, our growing expertise about our own inside experiences and our curiosity about the inside experiences of others.

We ask questions such as:  

Where does age reside?

What does it feel like to be the embodied creatures we are right now in this present moment? (And what might it feel like to be a differently embodied creature?)

What assumptions are we holding about what a particular age should be like, or look like, and where did these assumptions come from? (And are we served well by these assumptions or do we want to blow them up and create something new?)

How might our confusions, mishaps and missteps as we muddle through this life be sources of learning and wisdom, for ourselves and, by sharing them, for others?

(And for those of us who are formally engaged in the work of gerontology) We ask to what extent do we see our aging experiences reflected in the official Gerontological theory and research? And to what extent are our aging experiences and our capacities to support others with their aging experiences informed by Gerontological theory and research? What are the connections and disconnections? What is missing and what might we add? What new questions might we ask?

As well, we ask: What capacities for self-care and intentional aging do we want to develop so that we can live vibrant and purposeful lives, no matter what challenges we might face as we continue our travels through the life-course? (See a recent gero-punk essay from Erica Wells that testifies to the importance of self-care.)

Also this: What are the ways in which we might be of service to others, to the larger community, and to the world that allow us to enact our deepest longings and commitments,  help us grow in all directions as human beings as we continue to ripen?

And perhaps most important of all, we ask: If we had play-dates with our 8 year old selves, what would we do? If we invited our future older selves over for a glass of wine, what would we talk about?

(This is by no means an exhaustive list. But it is a good start. What questions have you been asking lately? Any questions to add to the list?)

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Will you play with us?

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Gero-Punk Dispatch: I’m getting better with age

Oh, golly, but I am completely thrashed. I’m so tired! I have a ton to talk with you about, but because I’m so tired – exhausted, actually – and because I still have a bunch of official work to do this evening, I’ll be keeping this dispatch on the short side. I’m just writing to check in, to connect.

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As you probably know because I blabbed it all over the place, last Friday was my daughter’s 18th birthday. We started celebrating at the beginning of her birthday week and continued to celebrate throughout the weekend after. When a colleague asked me yesterday how Isobel’s birthday celebration went, I said that it had been truly wonderful but that I was thrashed from partying too much. His response was that he wasn’t surprised I was exhausted because it is, after all, a fact that as we grow older it becomes harder on our bodies to over-indulge.

This pronouncement about the correlation between aging and reduced partying capacity confused me. I’ve never been able to pull all-nighters or party or over-indulge in any way without some sort of consequences. Not in any way. And when I say “never,” I actually mean Never. Ever.  Not even in my teens and early adulthood, a supposedly prime time in our travels through the life course for engaging in such shenanigans.  You don’t believe me? Here’s some evidence:

At high school summer band camp, I yelled out my dorm room window at kids whose fun was disrupting my ability to sleep (You can imagine how popular I was.). You need more evidence? Okay. The first time in college I tried to stay up all night with a boy I was crushing on in order to study for a biology final resulted in these consequences: I was queasy and seeing double by morning and I fell asleep during the exam (an exam which I barely passed.). Okay, one more example. When I was in my early twenties, newly married, and visiting France for the first time, I was afflicted with a crisis of the liver (as well as every other part of my body) because of eating too much cheese, pate, and croissants, as well as attempting to drink even a quarter of the amount of wine the French drink.

I can supply examples from every decade since, if you need them, but my point here is that the deficit in my biophysical reserve capacity when it comes to being resilient in the face of lack sleep and over-indulgence in food, drink and fun is not a function of my growing older. Rather, it seems to be a function of my basic constitution and it hasn’t changed much, if at all, as I’ve grown older.

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On this month and day, February 19th, in the year 1966, my parents were married. My parents are no longer married, haven’t been for a long time now (not since I was in my 20s), and I haven’t seen my father in almost twenty years. Today as I was making chili for supper I found myself reflecting on my parents’ wedding day and attending to how I felt as I reflected. My dominant feeling was gratitude. Gratitude because I’m here. Gratitude because my brother Jeremy is here. Gratitude because Isobel is here. Gratitude because my teenage mother and my teenage father found one another all those decades ago despite coming from such different worlds.

Random, improbable, and so consequential.

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This month and day, February 19th, is also the day my mother survived a ruptured cerebral aneurysm. Today is the eighth anniversary of that significant and life-changing crisis. Eight years ago was 2006, and in 2006, Isobel had just turned 10, I was in my 40th year of age, and my mom had just celebrated her 60th birthday. Izzy and I had recently adopted Happy-the-dog. I hadn’t written anything much in the previous ten years what with trying to hold things together as a single mother and professionally-insecure professor. I hadn’t been caring well enough for myself. And out of confusion and sadness and overwhelm, I had made a mess of stuff.

Until my mom’s brain exploded, I hadn’t known – or, perhaps, I hadn’t yet accepted into the front of my mind — that I was on the brink of my own monumental life crisis.

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A lot has changed as I’ve traveled thus far through my life course, especially in the past eight years. What has changed as I’ve grown older is that I’ve relaxed quite a bit. What has changed as I’ve grown older is that I’m willing to suffer the consequences of over-indulging for a good cause, such as for my daughter’s 18th birthday. Or in order to celebrate completing a big project, as I did this past Monday after having worked for almost 15 hours straight without a break in order to make the finishing touches on a soon-to-be-published book I co-author. (My mid-life adult version of an “all-nighter”: Wake up at 2:30 a.m. from a weird dream and when unable to return to sleep, get up, make coffee, and dive into creative work.)

Now in the second half of my fifth decade, I’m also more than happy to suffer the consequences of over-indulging in honor of a major turning point or anniversary for one of my people – especially for my mommy — even if doing so leaves me feeling slightly queasy, seeing double, and falling asleep in class.

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