Gero-Punk News

Thinking together about our ends

No commentary, no explanation, and certainly don’t over-think it. Just notice.

When you hear the word “dying,” what short phrase or word comes to your mind?

For the past few months I’ve had the honor of being part of the Oregon Humanities statewide program Talking About Dying.

Between September 2015 and January 2016, I facilitated conversations in eight different communities, from Newberg, to The Dalles, to Baker City. No matter where I was, no matter how many folks showed up (anywhere from 8 to 40), our warm-up to talking about dying was the same. Assembled in a circle, I’d invite each participant to state their first name and the word or short phrase that came to mind upon hearing the word “dying.” I offered that this exercise was voluntary and that at any time one could opt out of participating. No one ever opted out of the warm-up.

I’d always go first, to demonstrate.

My name is Jenny. And the word that comes to my mind when I hear the word “dying” is “Yikes!”

Here are some of the other words and phrases participants shared:

Pain; peace; the inevitable; the great equalizer; long and short; release; sadness; fear; hope; reality; the end; the beginning; home; questions; curious; the unknown; mystery; transformation.

At the end of each program, as a closing ritual, I would recite Stanley Kunitz’s poem  The Long Boat.

As for what happened in between how we began and how we ended our conversations about our hopes for our own ends, take a listen: Think Out Loud.

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Well, it’s a new year! And an auspicious time to get the Gero-Punk Salon series up-and-running once again, don’t you think?

Please join me and my co-host Dana-Rae Parker for the first Gero-Punk Salon of 2016!

Sunday, February 21st, 2:30-4:30 p.m.

Sellwood-Moreland Library

Our theme: Gero-Punk Self-Care.

What is “gero-punk self-care”? Well, one hint is that it focuses on walks, naps, and baths, in any order that suits you. It also involves beautiful food. And sometimes hula-hooping and jumping rope. And deep belly laughs.

What else?

Will you join us?

(For more information, contact me: littlecoracle@gmail.com)

About Jenny Sasser, Ph.D.

I am a freelance educational gerontologist, writer, community activist and facilitator. As of 12/21/15, I am former Chair of the Department of Human Sciences and Director of Gerontology at Marylhurst University. I joined the faculty as an adjunct member of the Master of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies program in 1997 and since that time, I've been involved in designing many on-campus and web-based courses and programs for adult learners, including in Gerontology. As an undergraduate I attended Willamette University, graduating Cum Laude in Psychology and Music; my interdisciplinary graduate studies at University of Oregon and Oregon State University focused on the Human Sciences, with specialization areas in adult development and aging, women’s studies, and critical social theory and alternative research methodologies. My dissertation became part of a book published in 1996 and co-authored with Dr. Janet Lee--Blood Stories: Menarche and the Politics of the Female Body in Contemporary US Society. Over the past fifteen years I have been involved in inquiry in the areas of creativity in later life; older women's embodiment; sexuality and aging; critical Gerontological theory; transformational adult learning practices; and cross-generational collaborative inquiry. I am co-author, with Dr. Harry R. Moody of Aging: Concepts and Controversies (8th edition). I live in Portland, Oregon with my dog Happy. My daughter Isobel is a Sophomore at Bard College in New York state. I have been on the planet 49 years.
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