Gaining More Resilience in Aging: A Reflection

October 16, 2017

On Friday, October 6, 2017, the Retirement Center, partnering with UCB Work/Life and The Resilient Aging Lab hosted an all-day workshop, step one of a three-step program that provides practical tools and support for successfully transitioning into a new phase of life in retirement. Forty-nine participants- nearly half currently working and the other half retired - joined together to explore their past and present to uncover a plan for their lives ahead.

At the end of the session participants were asked to write down a vision of their future lives and share it with the others at their tables. We asked Lynn Hammond, one of the participants to share her vision along with her experience with the day's activities.  


Gaining More Resilience in Aging
Lynn Hammond, Ph.D.

I really enjoyed the Resilient Aging workshop, put on by the UC Retirement Center on Oct. 6. I was drawn to the title of the workshop because I was feeling a need for more resilience in my aging process. As a lifelong hiker and Nordic skier with a daily Yoga practice, I had expected to age healthily and even easily, but an Australian driving in the left lane changed that. As a result of injuries from that accident, I have been in constant pain, had to take early retirement from my teaching career, and lost the ability to do those outdoor activities that I loved. I also lost three of my best friends in a short period of time.

So I definitely saw the glass as half empty.

The workshop consisted of a series of activities that had us examine our lives and our values in a variety of ways. Then we moved into the stages of transitions, which necessarily include loss as well as gain. Eventually, we drew a tree that captured our past in the roots, trunks and branches and then had buds of possibility that were beginning to open up. I was pleasantly surprised that my buds were quite positive, including “Undefended love,” “Elder wisdom and leadership manifested and received enthusiastically” and “Helping make peace through Nonviolent Communication and my Unitarian Universalist Church.”

The final exercise was to project a vision of our future lives. Here’s what I wrote: “I’m living at a retirement community, near Married Student Housing, and I lead workshops that help especially spouses clarify how they plan to express their strengths and help the planet. I ride a recumbent trike all around Berkeley and the bay trail and find someone strong to kayak with. I start a writing workshop with emphasis on resilient aging. Resilient is a good word because it’s hard to get old, and you need to be brave, patient, courageous, and accepting. I deal with increasing limitations with patience and good cheer.”