Gero-Punk Praxis: Reflections and More Questions

geropunk selfcare

As Gero-Punks, we ask (and ask again, and again): What capacities for self-care and intentional aging do we want to develop so that we can live vibrant and meaningful lives, no matter what challenges we might face as we continue our travels through the life-course?

Not surprisingly, there are other important questions nested in this question which might be of great benefit for us to individually contemplate and collaboratively inquire about.

Questions such as:

  • What the hell does “self-care” even mean? How are we conceptualizing it?
  • What messages do we consume and internalize around what “self-care” entails? Where do these messages come from and are the mainstream, dominant definitions of “self-care” relevant to our daily lived experiences?
  • What does self-care cost us (in money, time, energy, etc.,) and what is the focus or intent of what we label “self-care” activities? (Is the underlying motivation to remain “young,” to prevent or manage chronic illness, to reduce stress, to increase well-being, to deepen our spiritual practice, to transcend our messy embodiment, or perhaps to stave off our inevitable demise as long as possible? Do we even understand why we do or don’t do what we do or don’t do?)
  • What might a Gero-Punk practice of self- (and other-) care look like?

Well, that’s just a few of the juicy under-the-surface questions we – 18 of us! — played with at the Gero-Punk Salon that took place this past Sunday, February 21, 2016.

Starting today and over the next few days, we’ll be sharing reflections and “take-aways” offered by several of the fine folk who participated in the Salon. To get this series of Gero-Punk Praxis pieces underway, please welcome regular Gero-Punk Project contributor, Erica Wells.

–Jenny Sasser, with Dana Rae Parker


Reflections and More Questions

By Erica Wells


Taking time to pause and ponder the notion of self-care while listening to the questions and struggles others face in enacting self-care, I came away with a desire to get this self-care thing going in my life. To bring it up to the level of day-to-day awareness, not something I scramble for when I’m too burned out to try something new, or return to something trusted and true. The conversation reminded me of how much better I feel when my actions line up with my heart’s desire; in other words, when I am living intentionally.

So today: less lip service, more action! I promise myself I will do the things I know will make me feel better. Then, I don’t follow through. I have a rebellious nature that resists these forms of regulating behavior, so the larger question I should be asking is why make rules I know I will break? Why set myself up to not be able to rely upon myself?

Speaking of promises to myself: for a long time, I got too used to being busy, and not having time for anything but the jobs/commitments/obligations that were stuck in front of me. I allowed myself to be outer-directed and I ignored any inner direction I might have followed. I was busy being all things to others instead of being true to myself, even though I made it seem like being myself was meeting all of those expectations. And maybe it was, for a while. Now a lot of those commitments are fulfilled and my responsibilities to the outside world are fewer and less fierce.

So the pendulum has swung and I should be paying attention to that inner direction. But when was the last time I felt right in my own skin? When I felt really good about myself? When I felt well, and whole and healthy and intentional about my life. I hate writing these sentences because I do not have the answers for them. Why do I care so much about having answers, I wonder?

I will make an effort to get comfortable with these questions: to use them as a guide toward self-care practices that bring serenity to a chaotic mind, that bring calm to a harried household of adults, kids and pets, and provide nourishment to an aging body careening through the life course on a joyous, reckless and unpredictable path.

Erica is a gero-punk housewife living in Portland, Oregon. Her husband, dog, cat and children monopolize all of her free time and she is quietly plotting rebellion. Or at least a proper cocktail hour.

About Jenny Sasser, Ph.D.

I am a freelance educational gerontologist, writer, community activist and facilitator. 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 twenty (or more!) 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 inter-generational friendships and cross-generational collaborative inquiry. I am co-author, with Dr. Harry R. Moody of Aging: Concepts and Controversies (now in its 10th edition!) and first author, also with Moody, of the recently published Gerontology: The Basics, as well as author/co-author of several book chapters, articles and essays. I am on the Portland Community College Gerontology Program faculty.
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