Monday, July 18, 2016

Elliot, Frances, Edward, Norman (Black Lives Matter Here)

Here, black lives have always mattered and always will. Our group, which meets weekly at Philadelphia Senior Center, is the first ever Best Day of My Life So Far group, and it just so happens that Philadelphia's population is 44% African American. Many of our older adult buds who have become my closest friends over the years are African American, and over the years, they have bared their souls to my volunteers and me about how it feels to be black. In light of the chilling #blacklivesmatter events in Dallas and Baton Rouge, I find myself thinking back about some of the conversations and stories. I want to thank Cailtin especially for going through our archives and curating this set of stories.

Elliot Doomes
The Herd

I grew up with the “herd” mentality. There was a group of guys – myself included – who used to band together, which gave us camaraderie and protection.

When we left our neighborhood, we had to travel with the herd for individual as well as group protection. I would do just about everything and anything to protect the herd. There was no leader. We were all there for each other. That’s why I call it the herd.

There were many days when I was surrounded by violence and aggression. I have been shot, stabbed and ganged. And there was no police protection for me at that time, especially in certain neighborhoods because they just didn’t care.

I have been told by the police, “I don’t want to see you in this neighborhood.” It was because of my skin color. This was in Philadelphia. This stuff wasn’t just happening in Alabama. For example, I was afraid to go to certain schools and certain parts of the city because of the racial conflicts that were happening at that time. One place in particular – Southern High School at Broad and Snyder – is still there today.

If I had a fight with a white boy at the end of the school day, all his uncles would meet me outside, grown men. My older brother went there so I had to get the herd together to go down there, to make sure he was safe. He was older but I protected him, because he was so outnumbered there. It didn’t matter if he wasn’t actually in a fight. When the men showed up, they were just looking for the first black kid. Just guys, they didn’t bother the girls. Any black guy. They called it setting an example. It worked.

Elliot Doomes
My Opinion

I get tired of hearing people say, "This is not a perfect world." There's nothing that we need that we can't find in this world that we live in. We have water, we have food, we have sunshine, we have shelter provided by the earth. For me, that makes the world perfect because we have everything we need.

The only imperfect thing about this world is the people in it. The people no longer see each other as people being a part of the whole. People look at the differences between people. We don't perceive each other as human beings sharing this perfect world. We don't think of other people as being a part of you, or a part of us, or a part of me. From human being to human being, what hurts me hurts you, so why do we want to inflict pain on each other?

Most people see differences in people from other nationalities. We all breathe, we all defecate, we all bleed, so where's the difference? Ignorance is the only word I can use. The differences come from our individual perceptions, which are based upon our own ignorance. If I don't communicate with you and you don’t communicate with me, we will never understand each other.

Most times if we understand each other, we will find that we both aspire to the same things. We all want to be happy. We all want to have freedom. We all want to love somebody. We all want to be loved by somebody. We all want to have a loving family. We all want to provide for our family. We all want our grandchildren to think we walk on water. Because they love me and we love them. You and I are the same. The differences are in our minds.

Frances Bryce

In 1965, I was living in Phila, Pa and went to visit my father who lived in a small town in South Carolina. I accompanied my father for his annual checkup to his doctor’s office. Two waiting rooms were still in use; one had been used excessively for white patients – the other for colored people. The outlines for the signs were still visible over the doors.

The large room was paneled with checkered red and mint green. Baskets of flowers and plants aligned the tables and the cabinets. A beautiful fern plant cascaded over the receptionist’s desk. The latest editions of Life, Family, Ladies’ Home Journal and Parents’ Magazines were neatly lined on a table. Bright lights illuminated the room. There were plenty of comfortable seats. This room was formally available to white patients only.

The other waiting room was small and windowless, dimly lit, and painted a drab gray. Ten dog-eared copies of Life and Ebony magazines sprawled out on the table. Draught-backed chairs lined the wall. This room had been the waiting room for the colored patients.

I entered the cheerful room, my father hesitated, and then reluctantly followed. I was not too surprised to see that most of the colored patients gravitated to the room that they had been required to use before desegregation.

My father said, “This room is nice.”

“Dad, you have never been to this room before?”

“No, Baby, I just always used our waiting room.” He thought for a while and then spoke again. “You know I never thought about using this room.”

I reached out for his hand and patted it gently. I spoke to no one in particular. “The signs have been removed from the doors but they have yet to be removed from the mind.” We picked up a magazine to read and waited to see his doctor.

Norman Cain
Defending and Respecting Dr. Martin Luther King

During the fall of 1967, when I was a cadet at the United States Army military police school at Fort Gordon, Georgia, at least 70% of the training consisted of classroom instruction.

One day, a 2nd L.t., who was teach a civics class told the class: "Martin Luther King is a communist, an enemy of the United States of America.

Believing that he was not aware who Reverend King was and what he stood for, I immediately arose from my desk, stood at attention, and sharply saluted the L.t. Then I began to speak.

"Sir, with all due respect," I said, "Reverend King is not a communist. He is just trying to get the rights that the Negroes are entitled to."

No one said anything. There was silence. After a while, the L.t. proceeding with his lecture. I assume that my statement had been respected.

Several days after the preceding incident, I was assigned to Kitchen Patrol or K.P. Now this was unusual because I had already served my required one time on K.P. I surmised that the company was short-handed, I was wrong. My being assigned to extra K.P. wasn't just for a day.

I was assigned to K.P. for ten straight days. I was awakened at 4:30am. I reported to the kitchen at 6am. I peeled potatoes, and sliced onions, shucked corn, and made salads, washed dishes and mopped floors and did a variety of other tedious tasks until at least 9pm. For sixteen hours a day, I had to toil unmercifully. And if that was not enough, I had to endure the harassment of the mess sergeants.

For ten days, I missed military police training. My superious refused to give me make-up work for my missed classes. It never dawned upon me that saying Dr. Martin Luther King was not a communist was the cause of the dilemma that I was experiencing.

I was dismissed from my K.P. duties the day of the final examination. Although I had missed ten days of instruction, I felt that I had, at least, barely passed the test. However, I was mistaken. I was informed that out of the 300 cadets in my class, I had ranked 298 on the final exam.

I had flunked out of military police school. I was devastated. I did not know what the future held for me. I was worried. Several days after the test, I was informed that the company commander wanted to see me. I had something else to worry about.

Attempting to maintain my composure, I entered the company office. Inwardly shaking, I faced and saluted the captain, a tall lean wirily individual who was quite the dandy. His boots were brilliantly shined and his pants were sharply tailored and pressed. He, unlike the other personnel, wore a battle helmet and carried a swagger stick (tip down). He drove throughout the post in a red convertible that always contained an attractive blond. He was meticulous, not vain. He was likable, a trait that most commissioned and non-commissioned officers lacked.

"Private Cain" he barked in an unfamiliar hostile voice. "Are you trying some trick?" He stared me down. I could read anger in his eyes. This was not the likable and cool company commander that I had grown to know.

"No sir." I answered, wondering what he meant by assuming that I was trying to be tricky.

"You got the second lowest score on the final examination." By his tone I knew he wanted a verbal response.

"Yes sir" was all I could think of to say. I was literally shaken up inside.

"I think you are trying some kind of trick and I am going to get to the bottom of what you are trying to do." He said, "When you first got here, I recruited you for officer's training school, explained to you that there were too few black officers in the Army. You said that you were going to sign up, but you didn't. I didn't give you a command but I thought we had a gentlemen's agreement. What do you have to say for yourself?"

"Sir," I said, "When the recruiting officer opened the door and saw me, he slammed the door in my face."

The captain's stern look softened for a second. "What about this low test score of yours?" he asked. "You finished college, was in graduate school part-time, taught school and was accepted by the Peace Corp. How could you flunk the final examination?"

"Sir, I did not go to classes for ten straight days."

"What, why?" he asked. By the tone of his voice I could tell he was astonished.

"I was on K.P. for ten days." I answered.

"You were on K.P. for ten days?"


Norman Cain
Defending and Respecting Dr. Martin Luther King (Part 2)

In 1965, I defended Dr. Kin's honor, when as a cadet in the military police academy in Fort Gordon, Georgia, I corrected an officer who said that Dr. King was a community. I never regretted the dire consequence the Army gave me for defending Dr. King's name.

Ten years after the Fort Gordon affair (1975), when I was living in Atlanta, Georgia, an incident occurred that prompted me to respect the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King. The incident in question began one spring night when I injured my left wrist, which I assumed was sprained.

When I arrived at Grady memorial Hospital in downtown Atlanta, four doctors attended to me. Because I had been employed as a surgical and orthopedic orderly at the Middlesex hospital in Middletown, Conn, years earlier, I had knowledge of orthopedic procedures.

I felt that only two (not four) doctors were needed to attend to me. After looking at my wrist, the doctors huddled, conferred and then returned to me. One doctor yanked my wrist. My entire left arm was set in a cask.

I had the feeling that the four doctors had conspired to experiment on my wrist. Like, I said I had worked as an orthopedic orderly. I had often held appendages in certain positions when doctors placed plaster on patients. I remained in Grady Memorial hospital for a week.

After being discharged from the hospital, my arm itched constantly, but I was unable to scratch because of the cask that covered it. I couldn't work. I had to worry about eating and paying the rent on the efficiency that I was renting. I went to the Unemployment office to file a claim, but was told that I didn't qualify for benefits; because those on unemployment compensation were required to seek employment and if an ailment or physical situation would prevent one from being hired by a prospective employer, unemployment compensation was out of the question. I was told, however, than an overdue Philadelphia claim that I had initiated months earlier would be activated. I accepted the disheartening/good news without an argument; however my calmness soon evaporated.

When I was on my way out of the Unemployment office, I overheard the case worker who had interviewed me tell a co-worker my situation. They laughed. How can people, especially those who held a position to help others, be so insensitive? I lost it, I read the culprits the "Riot Act." They called for security. I was not in the position to remain in the office, so I left.

What was I to do? In addition to being broke and hungry, I was worried about paying my rent and could not scratch the constant itching of my arm because it was covered with the plastered cask. That night, I decided to go to the tomb of Dr. Martin Luther King to meditate. When I arrived, no one was there. I sat on a concrete bench which was in front of a pool. Dr. King's tomb (which set behind an eternal flame) was located in the center of the pool.

The inscription on the base of the tomb read: "The eternal flame symbolizes the continuing effort to realize Dr. King's ideals for the 'Beloved Community' which requires lasting personal commitment that cannot weaken when faced with obstacles."

I could not be weakened because of the obstacle that I found myself in. I could have gotten enough money for a decent meal to quench my hunger, for resting at the bottom of the pool were an array of coins that visitors had thrown in for "Good Luck." But, I could not weaken when faced with obstacles.

Although I was broke and hungry, I did  not think about wading in the pool and confiscating some of the coins. I stayed at the tomb for two or more hours. My mind was clear. It was not burdened by my problems.  It was the realm of a spiritual Peace. I had never experienced the feeling of serenity that had overcome me at Dr. King's tomb. That night, I developed a plan that I instantly knew would solve my problem.

I knew that men were not given welfare in Atlanta in 1975; however, the day after the night that I had meditated at Dr. King's tomb, I went to the welfare office anyway. I was interviewed by a nice caseworker who showed sympathy. She told me that unemployment caseworkers should have sent me to see her and while men did  not get welfare in Atlanta, she was going to make an exception in my case.

She game the some paperwork and instructed me to go to the welfare office in my district. Ironically, I was sent to an office that was named after Dr. King's name – and which was located within a block of his tomb.

When I arrived at my destination, I was greeted by another nice caseworker who not only informed me that my first check and food stamps would arrive within a week, but gave me enough money to purchase a meal as well. Things were looking up, but there was still another obstacle facing me.

A month after receiving my welfare grant, I reported to the hospital to have my cast removed. The same four doctors that were present when the cast was placed on my arm were present. As the cast was being removed from my arm, I intensely studied each of their faces. When the cast was removed, I saw that they were deeply disappointed. Their experiment (at my expense) had failed. They did not give me an appointment to have the pins removed from my wrist. They just left the room without uttering a word.

I spent the next month constantly going to the hospital to have the pins removed from my wrist. I was always given the "run-around". I chose not to return to Philadelphia for the operation. I did not have insurance and the Philadelphia General Hospital, which had been a public hospital, was closed. Finally I was given an appointment to have the pins removed from my arm.

When I entered the operating room, I immediately felt at ease, for the orthopedic surgeon and his two scrub nurses projected an aura of peace. I was not put to sleep during the procedure; I was, rather, heavily sedated. During the operation, I had a heartwarming conversation with the young doctor. He was from Brooklyn, New York, was familiar with Philadelphia landmarks, and spoke fondly of Foo Foo's Steak shop, that at the time, was located at 52nd and Locust Street.

Several weeks after my operation, I received my long overdue unemployment checks and returned to Philadelphia. I truly believed that if I had taken money from the pool that housed Dr. King's tomb, my ordeal in Atlanta would have been prolonged. Taking money from his tomb would have made me a grave robber.

I will always respect and defend the legacy of Doctor Martin Luther King.

At that point, the captain called for the first sergeant, who was directly responsible for the "day-to-day" activities of the recruits to come into the main office. When he arrived, the captain directed him to stand at attention.

The captain began to spiel x-rated language to the first sergeant. He definitely let the sergeant known that he had been irresponsible in the performance of his duties. Finally, the captain dismissed the first sergeant. He then told me that I still had to respect the first sergeant, and he assured me that I would be sent to another company for three weeks and thereby, be able to fulfill graduation requirements. He sincerely wished me luck.

When I completed the three additional weeks, I was told that I had received the second highest grade on the final examination. Perhaps I never flunked the first examination. Perhaps I had received the highest score in the class on the second examination. Only the army personnel involved knew.

By troubles, which started when I proclaimed that Reverend Martin Luther King was not a communist did not end with my graduating from the military police academy. Seemingly, my pay records mysteriously disappeared and for my first six months in Panama, my permanent duty station, I was not paid.

I survived by depleting the $400.00 I had saved in Philadelphia's Continental Bank. To say the least, my experience in military school was prejudiced to core. It was initiated by my defending Dr. Martin Luther King, something I have no regrets for doing something I will always do; He gave his live for his dream of unity and freedom.

Edward Molizone

Born illiterate, teachers never taught you about reading or writing. Teachers never took the time to help you with learning. In the 1930’s, teachers never showed special attention, just passed you by. Born before the Civil Rights Era. They could read and write, my sisters and brothers. My sisters would help me, but there is still a fear to read and write in front of people. Parent’s didn’t know I couldn’t read or write. Always had a job and retired just a few years ago. My kids don’t even know I can’t read. When I was sick with cancer I thought I wouldn’t make it and it would be a secret I would die with. I do believe my children would be hurt if the found out. I always encouraged my kids to finish school. I found out at a very late age that my birth certificate said I was white. My father was white but my mother was not. This was a shock to me.

Elliot Doomes
My Opinion

I get tired of hearing people say, "This is not a perfect world." There's nothing that we need that we can't find in this world that we live in. We have water, we have food, we have sunshine, we have shelter provided by the earth. For me, that makes the world perfect because we have everything we need.

The only imperfect thing about this world is the people in it. The people no longer see each other as people being a part of the whole. People look at the differences between people. We don't perceive each other as human beings sharing this perfect world. We don't think of other people as being a part of you, or a part of us, or a part of me. From human being to human being, what hurts me hurts you, so why do we want to inflict pain on each other?

Most people see differences in people from other nationalities. We all breathe, we all defecate, we all bleed, so where's the difference? Ignorance is the only word I can use. The differences come from our individual perceptions, which are based upon our own ignorance. If I don't communicate with you and you don’t communicate with me, we will never understand each other.

Most times if we understand each other, we will find that we both aspire to the same things. We all want to be happy. We all want to have freedom. We all want to love somebody. We all want to be loved by somebody. We all want to have a loving family. We all want to provide for our family. We all want our grandchildren to think we walk on water. Because they love me and we love them. You and I are the same. The differences are in our minds.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Loretta (Have a Nice Day)

Whew! I have a serious problem of Attention Excess Disorder. I focus on everything I do a trillion percent. Well, the past couple weeks have been extra intense because in addition to the usual work and mommy responsibilities, our little family moved to the burbs, so now I have moving related responsibilities too... haha, no, I can't stop till every little thing is clean and organized!! Let's just say I have been really – I mean, really – looking forward to propping myself and my laptop on the couch and reading some stories right here with you, to just chill out, or learn to chill out. From day one, this blog has always been a calm retreat for me, to check in with myself, to connect with you. How cool is it that when I started looking through recent stories to share with you, this one by Loretta is the one that fell from the digital heavens onto my lap? It's exactly what I need to hear. Thanks Loretta! I feel so much better after reading your story. And you out there reading, promise you'll have a great day on me, alright ;)?

Loretta Dotson
Have a Nice Day

I feel good when someone wishes me a nice day or a blessed day – or a great day, or a safe day. I feel most people really mean it, when they wish these pleasantries to us. I feel it is more up to date and more personal than the usual “See you,” “Bye,” “Good-Bye,” or “Later”. These wishes really leave you with a pleasant farewell. Yes, a pleasant departure has the tendency to lift our spirits and morale, it makes my day. Sometimes, those simple wishes make you stop and think and believe. I can have and do have a great day and a blessed day, and a nice day. Thanks for reminding me I have access to all of the above. So everyone have a great day on me!

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Tip #15 Challenge yourself to tell YOUR story.

The Tip:
If you've been reading along, you've probably figured out a common thread in the tips I've been sharing. You've probably figured out that the real secret to good storytelling is not making your older adult bud tell stories a certain way, but getting yourself to listen the right way. Well, this tip puts a spin on your role because it challenges you to up your listening game by... ready for this?... turning into a storyteller yourself and forming your own circle of listeners! Here's how. Challenge yourself to (a) reflect on how your life has transformed through the listening process and (b) share your reflections with friends and family on your own social media pages. When you do this, you will go back to your listening process with even more passion and clarity. You will inspire your family and friends. And most important of all, you will empower your older adult bud by showing him or her that you are the one who is really being helped, not just the other way around. Oh, and don't forget to tag us on your posts so we can give you a shoutout! (Facebook/Instagram: @bestdayofmylifesofar) (Twitter: @bestdaysofar)

So guys... we've come to tip 15! Woohoo! With the next blog post, I will return to posting my buds' stories for you. Still want more tips? You got it! I will be giving out more tips via video tutorials for you!!! Get sneak peeks on the content and on my video production process by subscribing to our newsletter and also following us on your fave social media: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter.)

The Moments that Inspired This Tip:
When we first started talking, I was quick to notice that my grandma was happier and happier from our conversations together - think it took just a couple of calls. But I think it took me around ten weeks to admit to myself that my conversations to my grandma was having an effect on me. The phrase "Best Day Story" to me has two layers. At its core, it's a younger person's loving collection of many little moments from an older adult's past. But soon, the act of collecting - the act of  loving, the process of collecting as a gesture of love - becomes a story of its own. And THAT story grows bigger and more beautiful with time.

Similarly, when I started the first Best Day group, it took me 3-4 weeks to know for a fact that the participants' lives were changing in front of my eyes, but 3-4 months for me to wrap my head around the fact that my life was changing, thanks to their friendship, as well.

Who's "Best Day" is it then? Who is the one calling today, "The Best Day of My Life So Far?" To a listener starting out, he or she will probably be quick to answer, it's the best day of the older adult telling the story. But if you stick with the process and keep listening for some time, you will soon realize that it's your best day too. The ultimate story is that of your own transformation. Whenever you're ready to tell it, the Best Day community is ready to listen, and I will be your biggest, loudest fan cheering you on.

The ultimate moment that inspires this tip is YOUR Best Day Story that is waiting to be told. 

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Tip #14 Celebrate milestones.

Want more tips and inspiration? Get them Here

The Tip:
As you share stories, what you are really doing is having meaningful conversations and spending quality time together. Soon, you will discover THE Ultimate Best Day Secret: the the "real" story you are sharing is the one that is unfolding of your growing friendship with your older bud. So go ahead and celebrate the milestones of your friendship. This can include the day of your first conversation, or the day your bud tells you a heart-baring story for the first time (which may or may not be during your first conversation), or the day your bud gives you permission to write down his or her stories, or the day he or she picks up a pen to write down him/herself, or the day you open up your ongoing conversations to a larger group (this could be the older bud's family). All of these are worth celebrating and remembering because they mark how far you have come, together. There is no need to do anything spectacular or spend any money. Just snap a photo and post about it on your own social media pages, to record it in the virtual timeline of your life while inspiring your own friends.

The Moment:
The moment that inspired this tip? Well, it's tomorrow! Tomorrow I will be attending one of our satellite groups' 2nd anniversary party and am SO EXCITED! In our original group, we have celebrated 6 anniversaries and are getting closer to our 7th. Every anniversary is not only a milestone in itself but also a time to acknowledge all the big and small milestones that has happened throughout the year.

The Story:
Thought this would be a good time to "dust off" and freshen up a blog post that I wrote on our original group's 3rd anniversary on Sept 24, 2012…

3 years ago today, this project was born.

It needed a name.

The Best Day of My Life So Far were the only words big enough to encompass the positive spirit of my grandma, and the deep joy her stories and friendship make me feel. I had started calling my grandma on the phone in 2006, at the age of 25. On these phone calls, she would tell me stories from her past, opening up to me about her deepest hopes, fears and dreams that she had never expressed before. I wanted to share this amazing experience with people all around me, old and young - so I started a storytelling group blocks away from my house, together with a blog, and called the project, The Best Day of My Life So Far.
What I didn’t know was that this string of little words are even more massive than I realized, stretchier by the day to welcome more stories, more lives, more friendships. I didn’t know how many people this project would soon connect - and I mean truly, emotionally connect - from older adult storytellers to their families, to volunteers and readers of all ages worldwide. Turns out we were never just collecting stories. Turns out this project is the ultimate intergenerational story – of strangers coming together from diverse backgrounds to become one community, one family joined by deep joy and love – and you and I are all a part of it.

What better time than our shared 3rd birthday, to bring back 30 of the most memorable moments from our shared story… so far? Click Here to celebrate each and every one of them!

Want more tips and inspiration? Get them Here!

Friday, May 20, 2016

Tip #13 Solve problems together.

The Tip:
This is another tip that fits under the umbrella of seeing strength - or seeing the leader within - in every older adult, whether he or she sees it yet. As you spend time together, curve balls, emergencies and mishaps will happen. You may need to change your meeting place at the last minute because of the coffee shop you were meeting at is closed for the day. Or you may want to brainstorm a way to share the stories with the older adult's family members who have yet to show any interest in the older adult's life all these years.  Solve problems together, big or small, easy or hard. Ask the older adult, "What do you think we should do about this?" Let the older adult set the overall approach and then work together to figure out the details. You will emerge stronger as a team, and the older adult will emerge happier, stronger and more confident.

The Moment:
As I was brainstorming an idea for Best Day's first major storytelling event back in 2010, my mind was racing at a million miles a minute, but I couldn't quite put my finger on the right idea. I wanted this event to be perfect because I wanted my buds to feel honored and I wanted every audience member who show up to be moved by the stories they would hear. I put a lot of pressure on myself and I was starting to feel stressed. I got chatting with one of my buds, Arthur, after a group session, and told him what I was struggling with. Within a few minutes, we basically scripted our entire game plan. We finished each other's sentences. We shared a vision. I got goosebumps and knew the vision was the right one.

"Funny stories, suspenseful stories, sensitive stories, we got them all!"

"It goes on and on!"

"Mixing individual energies."

"From the end to the beginning. Then and now."

"Look at Us Now! We tell the audience, ‘Look at Us Now!’”

“Standing together, young and old, on the same stage."

These are just some of the things that Arthur said that day, that are still echoing in my head right now. I can still remember the glimmer in his eyes. Arthur has sung professionally all his life. That's why he's got all this talent about how to put together a good show. I decided right then and there, there is no reason to ever solve any problem by myself. The process of working through something tricky is such a great bonding experience.

And how did Arthur's vision pan out? Let's just say there was not a dry eye in the auditorium at the event. Below are responses from the audience about how moved they were by our older adults' stories - and by the love and comradery that our group shared on the stage.

The Stories (The Audience Responses):
I enjoyed listening to everyone’s thoughts. My heart was touched and I did cry!
-Kathleen K, age 27

Hi I’m Miyarrah (Miya). I am 11 years old. I would love to pledge a donation of $5.00. Your show was really inspiring. I loved it and I’m 11. One day I would love to volunteer, hope I can!
-Miyarrah D, age 11

This is such a neat undertaking and I thank you for all of your hard work to bring diverse peoples (age, race, religion, socioeconomic status) together. That is the result when people seek to listen to others. Really liked the time/day of the event. Such much love and respect. Love the no frills, all heart approach. To the handsome and beautiful Seniors – Thank you so much for talking to us today. You are all such an inspiration. I loved seeing the confidence, strength, and joy. You are a special group
-Kaleigh E, age 24

You all rock! Such a great means of communicating and sharing ideas, stories, and love. People often forget that seniors are full of experience, wisdom, and life, so this was a fantastic refresher and way of getting to know everyone. Thanks for being such an inspiration, Benita!
-Monica G, age 27

I think this project is truly awesome (!) especially if you are a dreamer and love to hear about old times, good times, and stories of wisdom. My mother (Bea) never ceases to amaze me with words of inspiration. I would like to be a part of whatever event you sponsor moving forward and encourage/challenge seniors to put on a talent show. I’m so inspired by the group. Thanks!
-Evangela N, age 52

I think this program is great for seniors! I know many seniors who like to talk about their lives but do not have the opportunity to do so. A person could learn a lot by going to this program.
-Sam O, age 23

I think seniors are so full of wisdom – we really need to honor and respect their unique perspectives. So glad to see you providing a forum to showcase their talents and life experience. You should take it to a national level – call Oprah!
-Trish P, age 48

This is such a great idea and clearly something that so many people can benefit from. I hope it continues to grow and because it clearly brings so much joy to the seniors who tell their stories and those of us who listen. It’s great to see how much support the seniors offer each other.
-Kelly Q

I learned about TBDOMLSF from my girlfriend who is a volunteer. I am constantly impressed by the happiness that I see in her when she talks about the stories. To see the same joy on the faces of the seniors made for an uplifting day. Thank you.
-Drew P, age 23

This program reiterated to me the fact that seniors are our walking, living, and breathing history. And most of what they have to say is not written in books. I enjoy them and their stories and I on a daily basis encourage people to get to know one of them or more a day. My mom is a great inspiration to us all and there are others like my mom out there.
-Sandra T, age 39

Thank you so much for coming and sharing your life stories. I was so inspired! And also encouraged to get to know my family better. Do you have some suggestions for what questions I should start to ask them?
-Rebecca L, age 26

Thanks very much for sharing your stories with us! It was great to meet you all. I would love it if any of you could offer some words of wisdom for how to mend a broken heart?
-Gina A, age 32

I loved today. It warmed my heart and made me feel so positive.
I have a question that I’d love advice on: How have you learned to deal with heartbreak?
-Katie E, age 27

You all show a great deal of patience, courtesy, and kindness for one another that I really applaud. You show the ability to respect and learn from each other despite being from different backgrounds. Please offer your advice to people in this world who often do not respect each other enough. How can we all learn to listen better and break down boundaries between people from different backgrounds?
-Robert M, age 28

I love the concept of your organization and applaud you for bringing this group together to share their stories. Keep it going. We can learn so much from our elders if we only listen!
-Christine H

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Tip #12 Listen again and again.

The Tip:
Listen with full attention and let each story sink deep into your heart. Don't just let the stories pass you by. Now here's the real challenge, something that may take some practice - keep listening even after the physical conversation is over. Let the stories' deeper lessons surface over time. When you have a bad day, or when you just need an extra little spark of motivation, sift through the stories in your heart and see if any one of them calls out to you. Without you having to do a thing, a story listened with genuine intentions will return to you, vividly, right when you need it.

The Moment:
When I was pregnant the first time, my older adult buds wrote stories assuring me motherhood will be awesome and I would do just fine. I trusted their advice but it was hard to understand at that point because (a) I had never had a baby before and (b) I was too nervous to take any advice calmly. After giving birth to my kids, both times, I found that my buds' advice about specific things would come back to me right when I was ready for it. It felt like my buds were right there by my side.

The Stories:
Beatrice Newkirk
Every Thursday

Every Thursday is when we come together to our writing class. We meet every Thursday at 1 o’clock in our class. There is so much love and respect. I can’t wait to hear new stories. We even hear about our teacher, Benita, expecting a baby. That is good news! We in the class wish her all the luck.

My family was so happy to hear the news. She surprised us all. Being a mother is the greatest gift. A child that is part of man and wife. Oh what joy it will be.

Beatrice Newkirk
The Best Time of My Life So Far

I have so much to be thankful for. First for God letting me be here up to 79 years.  Second for letting me be a mother, grandmother, and a great grandmother.  Third for me having 12 kids and teaching them to know right from wrong.  You have to raise kids but let them know who is the boss.  Teach them what I taught them.  Raising kids is a full time job.

Whether you have one of three or 12.  It takes lots of patience and love.  But most of all discipline.  You can’t let the kids raise you.  You are supposed to love and help and show understanding.