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Wisdom from a Widower – Blog Posts By Ken

Blog 12: Look Forward. Don’t Look back. 

Quite a challenge these days! We are all making daily decisions, hugely influenced by the pandemic and the future is very uncertain for many. Not so for the very few, like a friend of mine, whose job is not threatened at this stage. The “problem” will be overcome. I worry that in the meantime too many us are not being given enough help with their economic, social, physical and mental health and personal decisions. e.g. look at the number of people of all ages who are wasting government “assistance” for very short term gains. For example, using drawdowns on superannuation, buying short term “fixes”, such as expensive clothing and alcohol…. understandable emotional reactions, but at what cost! Those of us who are better equipped to deal with these decisions should be helping those not so lucky.

Levitin says,” Reminiscing doesn’t promote health.” Read the book to understand this more, but of course we “reminisce!” He also says Emotion and motivation change with age. We are all flawed. Throughout the course of our lives we will likely do things that are both wise and unwise. Of course we are, and we are likely to do them! From my perspective, reminiscing involves thoughts about actions and memories we reflect on from poor to wonderful ones, some of which might have arisen from own decisions and actions . I agree that wisdom means( at any age!) that as they arise in our thoughts, we should take the joy from the joyful ones and do our best to learn from our mistakes “and not repeat them!

Now, back to “Rejuvenating Your Brain”

3.Exercise. Get your heart rate going. Preferably in nature! More about that next time.


Blog 11: A quote from “The Good Weekend”

In Australia, there are four key lifestyle behaviours, physical inactivity,  poor diet, smoking and excessive alcohol consumption-that can lead to the conditions responsible for ninety percent of preventable deaths.

No apologies for this sombre message, especially during this world of “Homo Covidicus“. (Thank you Waleed Ali). In my humble opinion, any one of these behaviours can be dealt with at any time but obviously the sooner the better.  After (too?) many years of enjoying the odd drink or three,( but rarely to excess) I am currently “cutting back,” to almost zero. Care to join me? I will publish my progress via these BLOGS. To begin, one glass of wine two weeks ago and one beer last night(13/8/2020).

Now, I realise and make no apologies that my primary reference for these contributions is “The Changing Mind” by Daniel Levitin. Why? Because it is loaded with sound advice that alleviates the fears of “aging” , not just “getting old”, but throughout our whole life! And it scientifically based! And for me it is a fascinating story of how the brain ages, and just how rewarding our later years can be. Believe it or not, we “seniors” have much to offer! AND…. It applies to all ages!

Levitin lists 10 “key” pointers towards “rejuvenating your brain.’ (and who doesn’t want that?) I’ll deal with a couple each time.

1. Don’t retire. Don’t stop being engaged with meaningful work

He is saying;” With exceptions, for most of us, the best advice is, don’t stop working. Sigmund  Freud said the two most important things in life ” are healthy relationships and meaningful work. “

From my experience and observation, meaningful work is personal and varied, from business to hobbies,etc.!! We are living longer so keeping healthy and engaged in work, out of economic necessity or otherwise, seems pretty important!

2. Look forward. Don’t look back.

Love this one. We have more time to ‘Reflect “… But Levitin says reminiscing doesn’t promote health. More about this next time.


Blog 10: “Tis now the winter of our discontent”

Apologies to W.S! However, as our golden winter wattle blooms and spring is near, with all its wonder and better weather, hopefully, we are beginning to gain ground in the pandemic war which is challenging us all every day. Our leaders encourage us to be “resilient” as the battle continues.

I told my daughter once that, “We all approach life from our own perspective.” At this time we have a common enemy, with a huge range and variety of resilience ammunition and obstacles, from poverty to wealth, relationships, physical and mental health, age groups, religion, fear, anger, optimism, pessimism..the list goes on, and when it’s over nobody knows!

I suggest that for starters we seize every moment of safety, good sense and joy, seek help, give help and OBEY THE RULES! 

Obviously, resilience or “springing back” from the stress and problems of this pandemic, apart from everyday problems, is tough. Daniel Levitin suggests that “Reducing stress and increasing resilience, the ability to bounce back from adversity, (apart from or as well as specialised psychotherapy in some cases), can be achieved by strengthening social networks, physical exercise and meaningful and purposeful activities. But that can take some effort.” Well worth it, I suggest!

As a widower… living “alone” but not really “lonely” (but something to be aware of and deal with if necessary) I find challenges every day that obviously change with age, but I am certainly very aware of the importance of resilience. I have much to be thankful for. However the more I miss the freedom to be in REAL contact with friends and loved ones at this time, the more I feel so concerned for people with REAL problems at this time! I’m also learning to appreciate the “joy” of solitude, even if it means “binge-watching TV” OCCASIONALLY! I never anticipated this, but for what it’s worth, there is JOY in writing these blogs. I hope they have some value to others.


Blog 9: Optimism during a pandemic

Enjoyed a good dose of optimism yesterday, despite COVID 19! Brunch with a daughter at an “iconic” cafe at the south end of Coogee beach. Amazing sunny winter’s day; sparkling ocean view, everyone obeying the rules! Lucky us! Love my country!

I was born towards the end of the ‘Great Depression”, and had the good fortune to not fight in any wars or deal with pandemics. 

I guess I have had a lucky run. Sure have ! My crisees and triumphs have been at least average and mine to own, deal with and reflect on! UNTIL THIS ONE! I guess we just have to look after ourselves and each other as best we can,  AND OBEY THE RULES! My heart goes out to all who are far more badly affected than I. I have mentioned that I will go back to help at “The Loaves And Fishes” Church based free “restaurant”. EVEN THAT IS CLOSED! I’ll keep searching!

SOMETHING MORE FROM ” THE CHANGING MIND” about well-being and happiness. 

“Some older adults tend to be sad and depressed, but as a group, they are happier than young people. Happiness tends to decrease, beginning in the late thirties (midlife crisis anyone?) and then begins to increase sharply after age fifty four. This holds true across seventy two countries, from Albania to Zimbabwe.” 

I THINK THAT INCLUDES US! And by the way, research indicates that Americans are slipping down the “Happiness Ladder”. Who’d have thought!

Anyway, an “impromptu ” poem from Spike Milligan (What? Did you say” Who’s he?”)

My name is Fred Fenackerback

I walk around the town,

Sometimes with my trousers up,

Sometimes with them down.

And when they’re up they’re up,

And when they’re down… I get arrested.

Time for a power nap!


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