Wednesday, February 25, 2015

March 3-5: A Creative Aging Telesummit

Some of the top thinkers in the creative aging  movement (aka "third age," "sage-ing," "encore career," etc. ) are hosting an online summit, March 3-5. And it's free!
Mental calisthenics! I'm always up for new ideas.
Wendy Lustbader, author of a book I love, Life Gets Better,  is among the participants. She's a terrific speaker, so I'm sure it will be worth registering, just for her session. (March 4, 3 p.m.)   See my previous blog about her.   Marc Freedman, a pioneer in the notion of "encore careers" after retirement and founder of, is a guru of this movement. He talks at 4 p.m. March 4. For a taste of what that movement is about go here.
Below are some highlights from the schedule, East Coast time. (There's a drop-down to enter your timezone above the schedule.)
March 3, 1 p.m.: The Art of Aging, hosted by a noted artist/sculptor couple.
March 3, 2p.m.: Images of Aging in Film
March 4, 1 p.m.: Why Consciousness Matters in the 3rd Phase of Life
March 4, 3 p.m.: Life Gets Better, the Unexpected Pleasures of Growing Older  (Wendy Lustbader)
March 4, 4 p.m.: Inventing the Encore Years (Marc Freedman)

And here's how you register: Transforming Aging Summit 
After you enter your name and email address, it takes you to a page where you can pay for access if you want to tune in after the 48-hour free broadcast period. If you don't want to pay,  just  click out of that page (there doesn't seem to be a "next" to get out of it.) But it works! I got an email that I'm in, with more instructions on listening by phone or internet.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

A New Gender-ation Comes Out

Ever hear the phrase "gender fluid?" How about "nonbinary?" Or "genderqueer?"
In the new ever-more-open vocabulary of a younger cohort, they mean the same thing. 
In just the last week, I heard of several examples of young people who describe themselves with these words.
The first was from a friend  -- a man who himself was a trend setter some 18 years ago, when he and his gay partner adopted children, a boy and a girl. Recently his teenage son was talking about a classmate whose name did not make clear his gender. My friend asked his son, "Is that a girl or a boy?" The son replied that this classmate was  "gender fluid" and that the classmate had given themself a new first name to straddle the divide. (I know "themself" is not grammatically correct but keep reading.)
The second example came from a school in a free-thinking New England town, where my daughter lives. The school sent home a letter from the new student teacher, an introduction done for all new teachers. 

Aside from mentioning this teacher's many interests and enthusiasm about being at the school, the letter also said:
"I chose this unusual honorific (M. instead of Ms. or Mr.) because I identify as nonbinary. This means that I do not see myself as either female or male (the traditional binary genders.) Because I identify as nonbinary, I prefer using 'they/them' pronouns, which are also unmarked in gender.

"There is historical and social precedent for using ‘they’ as a singular pronoun," the teacher wrote. "Think about how you refer to people you don’t yet know – you will usually say, “Oh, who are they?” or “This friend of yours, are they nice?”  While some nonbinary people use invented pronouns (such as ze/zir/zirs/zirself), I prefer ‘they.’"

The third example (proving that this is definitely a trend) was in today's NY Times. A University of Vermont student, after struggling to feel comfortable as a woman and not feeling comfortable as a man either discovers that the description  "genderqueer" feels right. "Before, it had been really difficult to explain how I was feeling to other people, and even really difficult to explain it in my own head," said Rocko Gieselman. ("Rocko" is the first name Gieselman gave themself.). "Suddenly, there was a language for it, and that started the journey."
So... in the space of a week, I've gone from a baby kind of coming out,  to quite a different one.
It's a new gender-ation!.

Within a day of writing this, I'm told about these other discussions of the topic:
This book "How To Be Both," by Ali Smith.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

My Daughter's Gender Reveal: A Coming Out of Sorts

The invitation from my daughter was sweet and unexpected: come along with her and her husband to her 20-week ultrasound. Even more unexpected was what was to happen afterwards.
I would run a sealed envelope with the gender of the baby ensconced  inside over to a bakery. The baker, in the privacy of his kitchen, would open up this secret dispatch. Then, accordingly, he would bake a cake that was either pink or blue inside. It would be covered in chocolate, with a question mark on top.
And then there would be a "gender reveal party," a phrase that every bakery now knows even though the practice is new to the older among us.
When this daughter was born, my husband and I, too, wanted to be surprised even though my doctor already knew the answer from amniocentesis.  But when I entered the examining room around the seventh month for a routine visit, the chart was lying open on the table, and I saw this:

No way could I keep this a secret from my husband for two more months. So I immediately bought a pair of tiny pink Winnie the Pooh PJs, put it in a plain white box and handed it to him that night.
I'm now just back from the modern-day iteration of this unveiling.
Friends arrived at my daughter's place. Her husband set up a "google hangout" so that siblings, nephews and nieces in faraway cities could watch. And then, the not-yet parents gingerly sliced into  the cake.

Five hours away, an eight-year-old niece cried.  Her older brother punched his fist in the air.
The couple kissed. Either way, they would have kissed.