Pssst….Need a Cat Whisperer?

English tabby cat from Wikipedia

By Liz Bjorkman

Among the many vetted vendors on a list maintained by the PNA Village Business Referral Committee, there is one that you might not think about on a routine basis. However, if you have a cat, you should know about a fellow named Zack. Zack has been called the “Cat Whisperer” due to his special affinity for cats and because he just seems to speak their language. This gifted man can help you carry out your veterinarian’s instructions to give your cat a pill or even give your cat a subcutaneous injection. He can take your furry creature to a vet appointment and back if you cannot. He can also take care of your cat when you travel.

If you’d like to know more about Zack’s services—or any of the vetted vendors on the Preferred Vendor list—please call the PNA Village Office (206.789.1217).

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Reading for the Weary

antique books By Alyssa McFarland

Some days (or months, or years) you just can’t summon the energy to actually read a book, and it makes you melancholy, because reading is something you really enjoy. Maybe it’s just a temporary condition for you – you’re ill or just had surgery, perhaps – and you know your love for reading will return eventually. Or maybe this weariness for reading has been going on for a long time. If you’re like me, you occasionally go through phases where reading seems to take too much brain power. But still…books call to you, like needy kittens and puppies, begging for your attention.

So what can you do? Here are a few suggestions:

  • Books on tape can be especially helpful when your eyes are tired or just not working as well as they used to. You can relax, even lie down, and listen to someone else read to you.
  • A change of genre might be what you need. For example, if you read history books, try a little poetry. Or instead of fantasy, try a how-to book.
  • Revisit some of your favorite books from an earlier era of your life. Even making a list of, say, the books you read when you were a teenager, could be inspiring.
  • Children’s books aren’t only for children. Whether it’s picture books or chapter books for a younger audience, you can find some top quality entertainment in books geared toward a younger audience.
  • You could skip words entirely and indulge in some art books or coffee table books with great photos of places you have never been or would like to visit someday.
  • Get out of the house and browse the shelves of your local library, bookstore, or museum gift shop. Visit an art gallery and see if any of the paintings inspire you to learn about the lives of the artists, or a different place or time.
  • Clear your head by taking some time to watch the clouds, birds, and squirrels in your neighborhood.

Taking a vacation from your usual reading habits might be just what the doctor ordered!

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Seeking a ‘Beautiful Death’

Ken Orvidas (NYT)

Ken Orvidas for NYT

By Jane E. Brody
The New York Times Well Blog—February 9, 2015

Virgie Divinigracia had the kind of death last month that most Americans say they want: at home, relieved of physical and mental pain, surrounded by those she loved, “a beautiful death” as those present described it. Alas, this is true for too few Americans. Most still die in costly medical facilities tethered to machines, often unable to communicate, in a futile attempt to prolong their lives.

Dr. Angelo E. Volandes, the author of an enlightening new book, “The Conversation,” said that although Americans received some of the best health care money could buy, “they also experience some of the worst deaths in the developed world,” mainly because people failed to articulate what they wished for at the end of life, and doctors failed “to recognize that fixing specific problems may not fix the whole patient.”

Mrs. Divinigracia’s experience is illustrative. At 88 and in need of full-time care after 10 years with Alzheimer’s disease, she developed acute kidney failure. Her doctor suggested dialysis.

But after a clearheaded review of her prospects, her devoted husband and primary caregiver, Paul, and their son and daughter acknowledged that, had she been able to say so, she would not have chosen aggressive medical treatment that would only further diminish the quality of her remaining days.

And so she lived to have an 89th birthday celebration with her family before deteriorating health prompted a call to hospice for help.

Read the full post here.

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The Tyranny of Safety



By Anthony B. Robinson — February 3, 2015

In the era of school shootings and terrorism it is understandable that safety has become a priority. But has it also become an obsession?

Are we so focused on “safety” that we overlook the downsides, or at least the other side, of this priority? In her provocative book, A Field Guide to Getting Lost, Rebecca Solnit notes, “A recent article about the return of wildlife to suburbia described the snow-covered yards in which the footprints of animals are abundant and those of children entirely absent.

But it is not only the young that lose out when safety becomes an unquestioned norm. It is also the old.

“As far as the animals are concerned,” Solnit continues, “the suburbs are an abandoned landscape, and so they roam with confidence. Children seldom roam, even in the safest places. Because of their parents’ fear of the monstrous things that might happen (and do happen, but rarely), the wonderful things that happen as a matter of course are stripped away from them . . . I wonder what will come of placing this generation under house arrest.”

Others have also commented on the constrictions of so-called helicopter parenting and the over-scheduled child. A concern for safety is at least part of what has eroded the opportunities for children to roam the neighborhood and have the unstructured time to do so.

But it is not only the young that lose out when safety becomes an unquestioned norm. It is also the old.

In the new book of physician-author Atul Gawande, Being Mortal, Gawande describes what has happened as safety becomes the be-all and end-all as people age and encounter the trials of sickness and mortality. Safety, concludes Gawande, is not the same thing as meaning.

Continue reading here.

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Unconditional Love & Relationships

Lovestamp via

By Judy Pigott
Reblogged from Personal Safety Nets (January 2015, Issue 76)

Most of us might define “unconditional love” as loving another with no conditions or circumstances – regardless of how that person treats you or us, or what they do to or for us – we think the mandate is to love them no matter what. When you find someone who loves you for “who you are,” it’s an amazing experience, and similarly, it’s rewarding to love someone else just “as they are.” But what does this mean?

Dr. Jeremy Nicholson, doctor of social and personality psychology, believes that such bonds are priceless and should be nurtured with great affection. But he stresses that “relationships” are an entirely different thing. “Relationships are working partnerships. They involve thoughts, reasons, and decisions. They require two (or more) individuals in communication, commitment and cooperative exchange.” Relationships have boundaries!

Therefore, love (feelings) and relationships (decisions) can have separate rules and expectations. Nicholson believes, “Love, because it is a feeling, can be unconditional. Sometimes, no matter what a partner does, feelings towards them do not change. Relationships, however, are working partnerships, and as such, they require conditions, boundaries, limits, and directions to run smoothly.” In other words: while you may continue to love a partner “no matter what,” you may not choose to be in a relationship with them under all or any conditions. (“I love you, but find your behaviors/actions to be hurtful or wrong or unappreciated”).

According to Nicholson, “Some individuals may say, “love is enough” – deciding as long as they have love, nothing else matters, and as a result, their relationships become “unconditional” as well. But for most, there is a need to maintain a distinction between love and relationship. While these people love their partners unconditionally, they set rules that maintain a relationship that ensures a balanced, equitable exchange in their romantic partnership.” Therefore, “It is possible to continue to “feel” love unconditionally, while choosing to end unhealthy partnerships/relationships when the conditions are no longer feasible.”

How does this relate to loving our children? Here there have been conflicting opinions over the decades. More than 50 years ago the psychologist Carl Rogers postulated that simply loving our children wasn’t enough – that we have to love them unconditionally – for who they are not for what they do. But does this match today’s idea that we should turn up the affection when children are good, and withhold affection when they are not? Today’s pop-psychological book-writers such as Dr. Phil and Jo Frost (the Supernanny) push us towards “conditional parenting” – the idea of rewarding good behavior, and withholding love and attention (often through “time-outs” that exceed safe or reasonable limits) for bad behavior (sometimes called “love withdrawal).

Alfie Kohn, author of 11 books on human behavior and education, including Unconditional Parenting and Punished by Rewards follows international research and data that tells us “love withdrawal isn’t particularly effective at getting compliance, much less at promoting moral development.” He states, “The primary message of all types of conditional parenting is that children must earn a parent’s love, and a steady diet of that (as Rodgers warned) will see children turning to alternative resources (therapists, lovers) to provide the unconditional acceptance they did not receive from their parents.” When a time out looks like a withdrawal of love, then it’s too much. Love for the child is secure, all behavior isn’t acceptable. Ideally, parents can convey this balance.

A 2014 study by America’s leading expert on the psychology of motivation, Dr. Edward L Deci, at the University of Rochester, working with teenagers, found that both positive
and negative conditional parenting were harmful – in slightly different ways. The positive kind may get children to work harder (say at academic tasks) but at a cost of unhealthy feelings of “internal compulsion.” Negative “conditional parenting” didn’t even work in the short run; it just increased the teenagers’ negative feelings about their parents. (editor’s note: luckily, this is usually short-lived and disappears long before the child has children of their own).

So what about the use of parental love as a tool with children? According to Deci and others, unconditional love by parents (as well as unconditional acceptance by teachers) should be accompanied by “autonomy support”: explaining reasons for requests, maximizing opportunities for the child to participate in making decisions, being encouraged without manipulation, and actively imaging how things look fro the child’s point of view. All age-appropriate, of course. “We must start to look at our love for our children from the perspective of the child – whether they feel just as loved when they mess up or fall short.”

Thinking about unconditional love for a partner and/or a child, brings us to one greater point: giving and experiencing unconditional love for ourselves! Some of us may never have received or felt such love (even from a parent) and that may be creating a large block in our ability to provide that love to others – beginning with ourselves. But the good news is that the ability to experience unconditional love starts with giving that love to ourselves – and that starts with accepting ourselves – imperfections and all!

Some psychologists, including Dr. Laura Markham, and author of Peaceful Parents, Happy Kids, believe that learning unconditional love starts with a first step: “a commitment to radical self-compassion.” This means “parenting yourself in a loving way through all the trials and tribulations of life” – first by accepting that humans are never perfect, and each of us has flaws an makes mistakes. Markham says, “Radical self-compassion – whether it comes from inside or outside -gradually moves humans from a state of being “self-centered” to a state of being “centered in self.” Researchers say this deep self-love is the opposite of selfishness. We become so secure in our ok-ness that we’re more emotionally generous.”

Dr. Leon Seltzer, clinical psychologist and author of Paradoxical Strategies in Psychotherapy, tells us, more than anything else, undertaking such deeply personal work (learning to unconditionally love ourselves) involves developing greater self-compassion. “You need to recognize that given your defenses, blind spots, insecurities, and the harmful things you may have been exposed to, you really are doing the best you can – and have been – all along. Additionally, you need to stop evaluating yourself according to standards that don’t really fit who you are, or what you can realistically expect of yourself.”

Dr. Seltzer agrees: “As you succeed in accepting yourself more – in simply coming to appreciate who you are, and are not – the self-judgmental barriers that have prevented you from loving yourself other than conditionally begin gradually to fall away.” Just as with another person, it is likely that there are some behaviors of our own that cross lines of acceptability: things done for which guilt is appropriate. This is a time for self-compassion. The action was regrettable and may need repair, but the love of basic self is broader. “It’s precisely in this much more kindhearted and understanding self-recognition that lies the path not just to unconditional self-acceptance but also to unconditional self-love.”

A second step is to make repair and connection a way of life. It’s been said that we need seven positive interactions to every negative interaction to keep a relationship in good shape. Whether this exact number is true or not, think of balancing your self-speak negatives with more positive connections – it will help you keep the relationship with your self in the best of shape. Don’t let others tell your story for you. You are the determinator of your life and what you choose to tell and receive. Life does not have to continue the way it has been in the past. When you change your thoughts, your feelings become more forgiving and more loving. It’s like setting up your own positive mantra.

A third step is to realize that unconditional self love can be learned by cultivating a more benevolent attitude toward yourself.

Dr. Seltzer says this is an attitude that is “one that’s more benign and forgiving, but also more charitable, considerate, and sympathetic – comprising the essential ingredients of self-love. And with this profound attitudinal shift, such love of self can eventually be “set in stone”-virtually automatic.” It can then extend to love of and compassion for others, while setting boundaries for behavior & safety. Give the benefit of the doubt, but stay safe.

Harold Becker, author of Internal Power: Seven Doorways to Self Discovery, and founder of The Love Foundation writes, “The most courageous act we can ever undertake is to love ourselves and life unconditionally. . .doing so ensures that the energy of life flows through us uninhibited and free of judgement and misqualification.” He also reminds us that, “loving ourselves is a continuous process not a goal.”

How about taking your first step today!

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Winter 2015 “Connections”

Connections Winter 2015

Our Winter 2015 PNA Village Connections newsletter is now available!  Great articles in this issue include:

  • Preventing Falls: A Matter of Balance
  • Fall 2014 Potluck and Sing-a-long
  • Member Services Support Team is Here to Help
  • Piano Benefit Concert
  • Home for Christmas: At the GSC!
  • My Green Lake Story
  • PNA Village Vetted Vendor Message
  • Quarterly Stats

…as well as informational flyers from Era Living and the Greenwood Senior Center.

If you’re not getting our quarterly “PNA Village Connections” newsletter, please call the PNA Village office at 206.789.1217 or email You may request a paper copy (sent USPS) and/or email.  You may also view our newsletter in a browser:

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The House II

By Marilyn Zuckerman

Zuckerman home deck

Deck Afternoon

Hello Louise,
I’ve been sitting
on your beautiful deck
imagining I am
on the deck of a steamer
although I am listening as well
to the pileated woodpecker
ratatatting away
a few blocks below me
(unless it was a neighbor
driving nails)
but, no it had that intermittent
woodpecker tattoo.
So thank you.

Pileated woodpecker


The deck for me is the star of the show for one who can no longer travel. It is my ship reaching out to the Sound and to the mountains and to go on sea voyages. So I’m almost surprised not to feel the swell, not to get seasick.

When one is of ripe old age, it is easy to imagine many things as one watches the sea and the earth with its billions of years – earthquakes, mudslides, floods and death that old trickster lurking.

My Ship

Sitting alone
on the deck in the dark
in a steamer chair
counting airplanes and Christmas lights
instead of stars
watching the storm break
breathing fresh air
staring at the Sound
for this is what I came for

I said I wanted a deck to see the world from, a balcony of cables so slender you could forget they were there. I said I wanted something spacious, I wanted sun and shade and now here’s the railing burnished red, there the fragile cords fine as threads. Now someone as restless as me is calmed by the scene before me – the sea, the trees tumbling to the ground, the wild wind singing.

Crows: An Anthropomorphic Poem

Crow on a Branch by Kawanabe Kyosai (1831–1889)

What do two crows say to each other
sitting on a wire above the deck
staring as I am at the sunlit waters of Puget Sound
They are:
sometimes posing in haughty indignation
beaks at dueling position
a high wire act
as one sidles over in sad supplication

She: seductively
maybe we can stop tormenting eagles
and settle down
spend more time together
He: sleepily
we’ll see
though he has clearly
begun to feel
the lure of a quiet life

when one flies off
the other follows in hot pursuit

·    ·    ·

Dedicated to Louise Wright who designed not only the deck, but so much of the house.

These poems form the second installment in an ongoing sequence about the construction of my home—read the first here.

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How Americans’ refusal to talk about death hurts the elderly

the conversation about death is really about autonomy (via Vox)

By Sarah Kliff
Vox—January 11, 2015

In my family, we don’t really talk about death. But, every now and then, we joke about it.

For some reason, there is a running joke among my immediate family about how my parents will die. Specifically, my brother and I will come home for Thanksgiving one year and find them decomposing on the couch.

…these conversations could be the starting point for a health-care system that cares just as well for patients who will heal as those who will not

Yes, this is a bizarre thing to crack jokes about. But it’s also, in its own, ghoulish way, a bit of a fantasy — an affront to the way that Americans tend to die in the 21st century, with ticking machines and tubes and round-the-clock care. In this joke, my parents’ death is a simple, quiet, and uncomplicated death at home.

I joke about death because I am as terrified of having serious end-of-life conversations as the next person. Usually I don’t have to think much about dying: my job as a health-care reporter means writing about the massive part of our country devoted to saving lives — how the hospitals, doctors, and drugs that consume 18 percent of our economy all work together, every day, to patch up millions of bodies.

But recently, the most interesting stories in health care have been about death: the situations where all the hospitals, doctors, and drugs in the world cannot halt the inevitable.

Read the full article here

Finding Communities That Connect and Nurture the Like-Minded

Photo Credit Katherine Taylor for The New York Times

Dorothy Adelman, 99, lives at Lasell Village, a retirement community run by Lasell College in Newton, Mass. She takes various courses and teaches a weekly art class. (Photo by Katherine Taylor for The New York Times)

By Abby Ellin
The New York Times— December 26, 2014

Jon Allen lived most of his life very much out of the closet. He didn’t want to go back in when he grew older.

“Baby boomers won’t want to move into typical ‘old folks homes,’ no matter how nice they look.”

“After you live in Key West for 20 years, you’re out comfortably every minute of every day,” said Mr. Allen, 72. “The fear is not that you’re going to move into a place that’s homophobic but that at some point you might become fairly helpless and that you’ll come across some random odd caregiver who makes it his or her purpose in life to make you miserable or to let you know you’re a sinner or whatever.”

So in May, he packed up his belongings and moved into a three-bedroom apartment at Fountaingrove Lodge, a continuing-care retirement community in Santa Rosa, Calif., in the heart of wine country.

Read the full article here

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Confronting the Inevitable, Graphically

A full-page panel from Roz Chast’s new memoir, featuring “cautionary” tales from her childhood. Credit Roz Chast

A full-page panel from Roz Chast’s new memoir, featuring “cautionary” tales from her childhood. (Illustration by Roz Chast)

Review by Michiko Kakutani
May 5, 2014—The New York Times

Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant?

#1 New York Times Bestseller / 2014 NATIONAL BOOK AWARD FINALIST

Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? A Memoir
By Roz Chast
(Bloomsbury, 2014)

Roz Chast feels — and draws — our pain. Our neurotic worries and genuine fears, our mundane and existential anxieties, our daydreams, nightmares, insecurities and guilty regrets. Or, rather, she does such a funny, fluent job in her New Yorker cartoons of conveying the things that keep her up at night that many readers are convinced that she is somehow mapping their own inner lives.

It hasn’t been hard to discern the autobiographical impulse in Ms. Chast’s work. Though her earliest cartoons tended to be more conceptual, many of the later ones in her “selected, collected, & health-inspected” anthology “Theories of Everything” (2006) are clearly informed by her experiences as a daughter, wife and mother.

Her account is…by turns grim and absurd, deeply poignant and laugh-out-loud funny.

In her latest book, “Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant?,” Ms. Chast tackles the subject of her parents, writing with a new depth and amplitude of emotion. Her account of growing up with them in Brooklyn as an only child and her efforts, decades later, to help them navigate the jagged shoals of old age and ill health, is by turns grim and absurd, deeply poignant and laugh-out-loud funny. Her fondness for the exclamatory (expressed in capital letters, underlined words and multiple exclamation points) is cranked up several notches here, and her familiar, scribbly people go from looking merely frazzled and put-upon to looking like the shrieking figure in Munch’s “The Scream” — panicked and terrified as they see the abyss of loss and mortality looming just up the road.

Read the full review


Find this book!

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