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Good morning,

I have these words on my mind, “Be all that you can be,” and couldn’t wait to share them with you. Actually, I think the words are part of a commercial, but it describes exactly the way I believe you and I would like to be living our lives.

Great chef’s throw themselves into creating their masterpiece dishes. They do it with passion, creativity and originality.

What a great way to live our lives. Think upbeat music, beautiful fall colors, taking long walks in the fresh air, breathing in all the sweet fragrances. In other words, we need to live more consciously.

We seniors have a reputation to maintain. After all, in our county, we are living longer, and we now outnumber those under the age of 15 here in Napa County.

Since we continue to increase in number, I say it’s time we took pride in that and set examples of how we live our lives. Demonstrate to our county that, sure, we have some years on us, but just watch us strut our stuff.

We want to be involved in our community, be a part of the action, attend a few City Council meetings, County Board of Supervisor’s meetings, be up on what’s going on in your town/county. All of this in addition to being the best parents, grandparents and great-grandparents that we can be.

Show our community that we are still able to be of help, to do whatever we can, to show our desire to be involved.

Actually, this is a prelude to what I’d like to bring up for discussion today.

Because we are living longer, enjoying better health, we need to make sure we continue feeling strong and in good shape both physically and mentally.

About nine months ago, a group of fellow students from Christy Kling’s Adaptive Physical Education Class, at the college, were gathered together discussing the issue of memory problems that they were beginning to experience. One of the members in the group is a psychologist — Dr Bill Weddington — who stressed the point that, in the same way that we work out on a regular basis to keep our bodies strong and flexible, we also need to stay mentally active by taking classes that challenge us. Stretch our minds, as we stretch our bodies.

The class soon realized that this was something that they all felt passionately about; the idea of meeting on a regular basis in order to come up with ideas on what we believed would be a wonderful opportunity for, not only county seniors, but also for the college.

We meet weekly on campus with Dr. Weddington as our chair. Our group is comprised of a retired pastor, ergonomics, a psychologist, community leaders, several retired educators, a dietician, a landscape architect, the elder abuse investigator from the district attorney’s office and other concerned citizens.

Our goal is to have available to county seniors’ affordable workshops on many topics: memory helpers, computer skills, possibly learn to play bridge and many others. We’d like part of the focus to be on seniors who are isolated in their homes, possibly arranging transportation for these seniors, as we realize that the benefits are many, not a small part of which is the socializing involved, making new friends and opening up to new adventures.

Our plans have gone before the college president several times. We have been encouraged each time with President Kraft’s interest and encouragement.

We have also been in contact with the Stanford Center on Longevity, who has also been very helpful and encouraging. Our goal is to pattern our workshops after suggestion from both Dr. Kraft and the Stanford Center.

Laura Carstensen, the founding director of the Stanford Center on Longevity, recently wrote an article for Wall Street Journal, titled, “Forget Old Age, It’s Time to Live Long & (Really) Prosper” in which she states, “Life expectancy is ballooning just as science and technology are on the cusp of solving many of the practical problems of aging. What if we could not only have added years but spend them being physically fit, mentally sharp, and functionally independent and financially secure? At that point, we no longer have a story about old age. We have a story about long life.” She also writes, “Our record-length lives afford us the chance to redesign the way we live, and write a life script for lifetimes that lasts a century.

The goal of Napa County Alliance for Senior Education is to seek continued support from Napa Valley College in offering workshops through a longevity course for seniors. The courses would include brain function, memory, age related learning, vocational retraining for seniors and other issues related to aging that affect seniors.

We are very excited about this plan, and know that you wish us success in adding this very special program for all of us Napa County seniors.

Ask yourself how you want to spend your time and energy. We would certainly love to hear what type of workshops/classes you personally feel passionately about.

See you, soon. Take good care of yourselves, and enjoy the holiday season.

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