Froma Harrop

Viral construction cranes or vibrant human activity?

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Guest: As Seattle grows, will the community and character stay? | Opinion | The Seattle Times. by Taso G. Lagos

Here we go again: I’ve linked another article about neighbors and community.  I’m not making this stuff up, folks; I’m not the only person out there who appears to be hyper-focused on neighborly kinship.  When I posted my article, The importance of good neighbors, I had been experiencing a comforting sense of neighborliness resultant from how attentive my neighbors have been to me after a recent household accident in which I injured my back and right hip.  Their outpouring of support wasn’t surprising to me at all – my neighbors are what I consider super neighbors – but their support clicked with me in such a way that I had to boast about them; so I did. Read the rest of this entry »

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As relationships move online, neighbors become more vital

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As relationships move online, a dark vision of ‘Pottersville’ becomes real | Editorials | The Seattle Times.

House with green roofLately, it seems everywhere I look I read articles about the importance of neighborhood connections.  In the past few days I wrote two articles specifically addressing that concept: The importance of good neighbors, and Positive community activism.

Snow globeThe attached article above, written by Froma Harrop, compares today’s community with that which existed in the movie It’s a wonderful life, an annual Holiday classic.  George Bailey’s bank customers and neighbors were people with whom he had a connection, “of varying incomes, education, and ethnicity.  Each of them was an individual, not just a useful provider of a good or service.”  Ms. Harrop goes on to say that the middle ring of society – as existed in George Bailey’s life – has been weakened over the years.  Her article outlines her belief that social media and e-commerce are responsible for that societal change.

Here’s an article excerpt that further explains the phenomenon:

Marc Dunkelman writes of the fading town-based model of society in his book, “The Vanishing Neighbor: The Transformation of American Community.” The middle ring, he says, was “where communities of people with different skills and interests, disparate concerns and values, collaborated with their neighbors in the pursuit of the common good.”

Those middle relationships are what bind us together.

That’s what I want, and thankfully, that is what I have with the households in my neighborhood where that connection exists.  Eva and Ian across the street, Irma and Larry next door to the south, Simone and Gareth, our New Zealand next-door neighbors to the north, and Patty and Bob just around the corner, all represent my middle ring of people who collaborate for the common good.

If you live on the outside of that ring, I encourage you to make your way into the center, and bring your other neighbors with you.

(all images courtesy of Pixabay)

Ending life on our own terms

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Ending life on your terms | Opinion | The Seattle Times. by syndicated columnist, Froma Harrop.

Being prepared, well in advance of needing to be, will serve you well.

All our lives, we set out on new adventures having prepared for them to the best of our abilities:

  • First day of school;
  • The start of a new job;
  • Preparing for a first date;
  • Wedding preparations;
  • Organizing a Holiday meal;
  • Even something as mundane as putting together a grocery shopping list.
Painting courtesy of Mary Riesche Studios
Painting courtesy of Mary Riesche Studios

We know how to be at our best, and being at our best means painstakingly and carefully preparing for important events in our life.  You didn’t personally have the option of preparing for your birth, but you do have the option, right now, to prepare for your death.

Carpe diem.

What does it mean to end our life on our own terms?  This doesn’t have to be a controversial topic.  I’m not talking about assisted suicide/right to die matters.  What I am talking about, however, is the importance of each of us to spell out in painstakingly and carefully prepared language, all that you want done – or not done – when you are determined to have an irreversible fatal disease.

Death is such a taboo subject.

Why is that?  None of us will avoid the inevitable, but many of us avoid laying down our wishes regarding that final time in our lives.  The subject matter of the attached article relates to medical insurance companies reimbursing medical professionals for end-of-life counseling provided to their patients.  I repeat, this counseling is not controversial.  As Ms. Harrop states, “Critics of end-of-life discussions argue the doctors would ‘push’ patients to end their lives prematurely.  Why would doctors do that?  Where’s the financial incentive in losing a patient?”

The report Dying in America calls on Congress “to end the ‘perverse’ financial incentives that rush fragile patients into invasive medical treatments they’d prefer to avoid.”  That being the case, it seems to me that counseling a patient about their dying wishes hurts, more than helps, the physician’s bottom line, so forget the nonsense about doctors encouraging patients to die sooner than later.  That’s just hogwash.

“Meanwhile, there’s evidence that for some very ill people, a palliative approach may extend life longer than industrial-strength medicine.”  And certainly ones final days without the poison of chemotherapy that has no prospect of curing a cancer, would be far more comfortable than if that therapy had been employed.  “In a study of terminal lung cancer patients, the group that chose hospice care actually lived three months longer than those subjected to hard chemotherapy.”  Again, that would be a more pleasant exit from this life than suffering the ravages of a chemo treatment that is not curative in nature.

“An end-of-life talk with a doctor spells out the options.  Patients can use it as a basis for filling out an advance care directive – a form listing which treatments they would want or not want.”  And let’s not forget that such a document only comes into play if the patient can no longer speak/express his or her wishes regarding their care.  An advance care directive is a legal document and as such, spells out when it can be put in motion, and when it can not.  If ever there’s a time when you can benefit from being a control freak, your final days is it.

This legal document is not just for the older population.

Once you’re considered an adult, you can decide what you want regarding your life.  Don’t wait until it’s too late and someone else decides medical matters without your input.

Baby boomers – don’t throw in the towel!

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Baby boomers still rock | Opinion | The Seattle Times.

Ms. Froma Harrop’s Opinion piece, linked above, challenges all of us Baby Boomers to not surrender to the other groups coming up in the generational ranks.

Are you done at 61?  Closing the door at 64?  Barely alive at 75?  Or are you skipping to my Lou at 82?

Come on everyone – don’t throw in the towel!  As Ms. Harrop said in her Opinion piece, “there’s nothing noble about declaring oneself out of the game, whatever the game is.”  I’m not saying that us Baby Boomers and older don’t have age-related changes – of course we do – but that doesn’t mean that nothing remains for us in the years ahead.  In my recent blog article, A surprising fete by a Baby Boomer! I complained about a Florida reporter’s characterization of something that a 55-year old woman was able to accomplish – even at her advanced age.  Click on the link to my article to get the full gist of my whining diatribe.

Circa 1960's; my dad running a marathon in his late 50;s.
Circa 1960’s: my dad running a marathon in his late 50’s.

I am not advocating that you suddenly decide to beat 64-year old Diana Nyad’s swimming record, unless, of course you feel like doing so.  I am advocating, however, that you explore what you’re able to do and capitalize on it.  Start a new business, volunteer for organizations that you support, or just keep working at your current job as long as you still want to.  Who’s stopping you?  My former father-in-law turned 90-years old on September 18, 2013, and he still plays tennis and is still working at his commercial real estate development company.  If Jimmy were to stop working, he’d probably collapse and die on the spot.  Why?  Because he enjoys being active and productive.  So should you.

Don’t let the younger folks – anyone less than 50-years old – have all the fun!  You can have fun too!  I turned 60-years old this past May.  I’ve always been an active person exercise-wise but most of that centered around taking lengthy neighborhood walks and gentle hikes.  My exceptional and persistent daughter, Erin, decided I could do more.  She purchased six sessions of Bar Method classes for each of us and presented it as my birthday/Mother’s Day gift.  “It’ll be fun!  Once you get there, I know you’ll love it.”

My daughter (the Bar Enforcer), me in the middle, and my sister Mary.
My daughter (the Bar Enforcer), me in the middle, and my sister Mary.

Very presumptuous on her part, but she was right!  After six sessions, Erin dropped out (she has other mind-boggling exercises that she does) but I continued with the program.  The biggest lesson that I learned through this process is that I can do more than I thought I could do.  Bar Method is extremely difficult, but it’s not impossible.  After the first six lessons, I was able to conclude that a) it didn’t kill me; b) it didn’t disable me; and c) I kicked ass!  That’s right – I kicked ass.  I am in a class of mostly 20-50 year olds, and I not only keep up, but sometimes I outlast the younger students.  I go to class once a week and two to three additional times a week I exercise to the Bar Method DVDs at home – courtesy of my husband who installed a ballet bar in our exercise room.  Thanks hubby!

If you lack confidence, go find some!  If you’re hesitant to go it alone, find someone else with your same interests, and go for it together.

You are not done yet.  To quote Ms. Harrop, “Every age group brings something to the party.  And for every generation, the party’s not over until it’s over.”

What are you waiting for?  Come join the party!