Lathrop/Kendal North Residents' Website

Wellness Matters

The Story We Write and the Stories We Live

Like many of us, I love a story. I’m blessed to be able hear so many in my shared time with you at Lathrop. I am also fascinated by the question of how we continually write our own story, how we’ve come to accept the stories that other’s write about us, and how these stories shapes how we live.  Of course we weave into our story what we gather from the important people in our lives, especially family.  Biological science is showing us more and more how genetics pre-loads possibilities for us, and though human knowledge in this area is hurtling forward, our true understanding of how we express what might be coded is still thin.  Here we come up against that deep human urge, to feel that we remain free to choose our path despite all that’s come before, to break the patterns both social and biological.

This comes to mind as I hear the news of my maternal uncle’s passing last week.  Like my mother–his only sibling–he rode the Alzheimer’s train to its final stop. Into my own story process, I also weave observations of the tracks that many of my past patients and Lathrop residents have followed.  It’s easy for me to think that yes, my mother’s story is likely mine too.  But I also know that I’ve lived a very different life, and that I benefit from other decisions, other habits and now the fruits of current learning.  Epidemiologists talk about managing risk factors.  The storyteller follows where the story goes, open to what imagination can offer and curious about how the protagonist responds in the face of what appears. Last week in Northampton, a small group met Jill Wolk, whose practice of coaching, looking at goals and then supporting the process of building new behaviors, includes this core aspect of choice.  That is, what story are we telling about where we are and where we believe we may go. I’m curious to hear if attendees were inspired by her visit and whether we might invite her back.

So for me, I practice living inside that scenario with as little fear as I can, and simultaneously commit to sitting down every day and seeing how I can nudge that story in a new way.  Many times I’ve discovered patterns from my family that I pledge, sometimes successfully, to alter.  First we see them honestly and with whatever acceptance we can muster. And then we carve a path that we hope leads another way.  Those who’ve gotten to know me, and perhaps often enough from this column, know the path I’ve found comes from the Yogic tradition. And I am excited to share with you an approach influenced by that tradition, along with current scientific insight on cognitive health, and that is the work being done by the Alzheimer’s Research and Prevention Foundation in Tucson. Find them on the web at   Their Four Pillars program combines so much of what my vision of Wellness encompasses: nutrition, physical and mental exercise, but also what they call Spiritual Fitness and the calming effect of meditation.  I have a selection of their teaching materials to share and hope in the coming weeks to create some programs for residents where we can explore these pillars together.

My discovery of ARPF arrives simultaneously with inspiration from the work of Harvard psychologist Ellen Langer, passed along to me by Inn resident Nancy Moran.  Among other questions, Langer’s creative experiments examine how our attitudes and self-perceptions directly affect how we feel.

(…/what-if-age-is-nothing-but-a-mind-set.html) Adjusting our attitude, changing our habits, writing a new possible ending to the story is something we do day by day, one mindful moment at a time.








Click on the links below to read all of Rob’s articles

The Stories We Write and The Stories We Live February 2017

Neighbors Caring In Northampton January 2017

How Much Support Is Enough? January 2017

Aging In Place January 2017

Seasonal Tidbits December 2016

Want To Make A Healthy Change? Start With the Right Goal December 2016

Living in the Rhythm of the Year December 2016

Fight Heartburn and GERD: Diet and Lifestyle Can Make a Difference (Part one of two) December 2016

Fight Heartburn and GERD: Diet and Lifestyle Can Make a Difference (Part two of two) December 2016

The Four Keys To Well-Being November 2016

Fitness Committee Working to Get You Moving October 2016

CPR-Responding in a Cardiac Emergency October 2016

Independent Musing October 2016

10 Easy Steps to Prevent Colds and Flu September 2016

Be Prepared For Stroke Response September 2016

Musings at the Edge of Things August 2016

Anybody Home? August 2016

Vitalize 360-A Powerful Tool in the Wellness Toolkit July 2016

Directing your Care- Hospice at the Roads End July 2016

Feeling Better is as Easy as ABC June 2016

Directing Your Care – Certified Home Care is the VNA June 2016

Directing Your Care – Time Spent in Rehab June 2016

Retired Men at Work May 2016

Tick Prevention May 2016

Directing Your Care: Who is the Hospitalist? May 2016

Directing Your Care: Injured When Away From Home April 2016

New Partner on the Path: Lathrop’s Fitness Committee April 2016

Responding to an Emergency: Lathrop’s Safety Net March 2016

What’s Your Plan? March 2016

Foods that Fight Inflammation February 2016

Straight Talk On Depression February 2016

Reaching For Fitness January 2016

Pendant and Pull Cords – January 2016

Caregiver Support Group – January 2016

Mindfulness Basics -December 2015

Holding Light in Darkening Days – December 2015

Correct Walker Use – December 2015

Assistance for You Should the Time Come – November 2015

The Gift of Never-ending Work – October 2015

On Being Mortal – October 2015

Grief and Praise – Changing Aging October 2015

Cultivating Vitality, Yoga – September 2015

MIND Diet – September 2015

Staying Healthy in the Months Ahead – September 2015

Walking Promo – September 2015

Falls, the Game Changer – August 2015

Stay Driving -August 2015

More on Driving Safety – August 2015

Wellness Plan and Coordinating Care – July 2015

Tune ups, Maintenance and Possible Spare Parts – July 2015

Six Dimensions of Wellness – July 2015

Morning Edition Walking Piece – June 2015

MD Recommendations – June 2015

Informing the Web of Care – Advanced Directives -June 2015

The Web of Caring Part 1 – May 2015

The Web of Caring Part 2 – May 2015

Wellness Matters – April 2015