Archive for March 2012

Three Answers to Stress by Barbara Bruce

Will the only person on this planet who lives without stress, please raise your hand.

Stress: some is good, too much is dangerous to your brain.

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You have just entered the stress zone!

Because of, or in spite of, our present time and place, we are all subject to stress of one kind or another. Some stress is good. It prepares your brain and/or body to be on high alert and ready for what may be coming next. When a stressful situation occurs, your brain and body react by producing hormones – adrenaline, norepinephrine, and cortisol. These hormones increase heart rate and respiration, send more blood to skeletal muscles, dull pain, and stimulate the immune system. You become mentally alert and all systems are “go”.

However, if stress levels remain high for a sustained amount of time or if they occur too frequently, your brain and body suffer. Many psychological/medical studies suggest a large percentage of visits to the doctor’s office are due to psychological problems, often the direct result of stress. The way your brain perceives stress determines whether stress is experienced as a panic or a challenge. While normal stress protects the body in times of threat, prolonged stress may potentially damage both your brain and your body.

“All well and good”, you say, “Stress happens. What can I do about it?”

“There are several right answers”, she said confidently. First, in my classes I have people learn to breathe. (Did you know most of us don’t know how to breathe efficiently?) Right now, put your hand on your belly and breathe in expanding your belly like a balloon. Hold your breath for a count of 5 and slowly breathe out. This form of deep breathing is known to slow heart rate and reduce blood pressure (108/65 after a yoga/breathing class for me)

Running a close second is exercise (there is that word again). Exercise can reduce the experience of stress, depression, and anxiety. Dozens of scientific studies have demonstrated the relationship between exercise and the reduction of stress.

Three is meditation which promotes lower blood pressure and slows the heart rate. Four is caring relationships which help in creating emotional trust, support, and relaxation.   And five is caring for a pet which may provide significant emotional comfort that helps reduce stress (think purring cat).

Barbara Bruce is an educator with a passion for teaching/learning about both  the learning brain and a holistic approach to successful aging.   To learn more about Barbara, including her books and upcoming workshops, please visit:

Learn to Coach Others

Coaching, or helping friends and family to make good decisions about wellness, doesn’t mean that you give them medical advice or a “professional” opinion.

Instead, it means that you encourage them to:

  • create an Action Plan to prioritize goals, measure progress and work closely with their doctor and other professionals
  • use the Satisfaction Skills to improve communication, reduce stress and find greater peace
  • find the help they need

Coaching steps

The best coaches motivate by setting an example.

Use the Being Your Best  booklet as your Coaching Kit.  Encourage them to follow the Four Steps.  Use the stories as discussion starters.  Set a good example by telling how these steps have helped you.  Ask questions to help them to be their best.

Take one of our online workshops to learn more.

Or arrange a customized workshop for your faith-based community or community organization.

Find the Help You Need

computer senior couple reversThe single best resource to find help for your medical, emotional, financial, educational and other needs is a simple phone number:  211 which serves 80% of the communities in New York State.

This United Way service and its website at:   provides information about thousands of national and local organizations to help  people of any age.  This includes services for: training, employment, food pantries, help for an aging parent, addiction prevention programs for their teenage children, affordable housing options, financial debt;  legal problems; support groups and ways of volunteering in your community.

For health related information, one the best places to start is

If you want to apply the Golden Rule as a volunteer, visit:  tomatch your interests and availability with a satisfying experience in your community – or contact your local church,

Welcome Pastor Brian and Barbara Bruce

I am pleased to introduce you to two colleagues who will be regular contributors on the topic of Never Too Old – and who share the leadership of the Northeast Forum on Spirituality and Aging (NEFOSA).

I hope you’ll find them to be as helpful and inspiring as I do.

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Barbara Bruce has been a friend and mentor for nearly 15 years.  She is an educator and author of ten books who has a passion for teaching about both the learning brain and a holistic approach to successful aging.  She and I are both associate directors of NEFOSA. 

“I believe  that the mind, body, and spirit are intertwined to make us who we are as  individuals,” says Barbara. “To that end, I consider all three in my presentations, books and  articles.”  Check out her website at

Read why Barbara thinks that “forgiving and forgetting are not the same thing” in Forgiveness, – posted in our menu under both Never Too Old  and the Satisfaction Skills.

Rev. Brian McCaffrey

Rev. Brian McCaffrey has been a Lutheran Pastor for 26 years and is currently Chaplain at LutheranCare in Clinton, NY. He serves as the chair of the Northeast Forum on Spirituality & Aging  which is a network of  various denominations  and individuals who believe that aging nudges us toward the  spiritual growth.

“I make a direct correlation between creativity and spiritual growth.” says Brian. ” I believe we enter into a partnership with Life / the Divine when we take what Life hands to us and we create something out of it.  In the process we get transformed.”

Brian will be contributing original articles, as well as reviews of resources he has found on the Internet, in bookstores and elsewhere.

Read Brian’s article on The Poetics of Aging, posted under Never Too Old, and tell us what you think.

Forgiveness by Barbara Bruce

Research is being conducted in laboratories around the world on the physical and mental aspects of forgiveness and its effect on health and longevity. These studies give evidence to the fact that our conscious act of forgiveness increases self-esteem, lessens anxiety and anger, lowers heart rate, reduces blood pressure and the best part is there is no prescription involved. Learning to forgive is clearly associated with a variety of health issues. By reducing negative energy and incorporating a forgiving attitude, you can enlarge the positive aspects of mental and physical health.

So, you may query – just what is forgiveness and how can I get some? Forgiveness is simple but never easy. It is truly a change of mind and heart. It is relatively easy to verbalize, “I forgive him”, but that is only half of the process. The second half is much more difficult, and yet it is the key factor. You must convince yourself that whatever this person has done to you is over – it is done. You cannot change the person. You cannot change history, there is no magic that will undo and recover what has happened. Let it go! Get on with your life.  I said it wasn’t easy. Continue reading Forgiveness by Barbara Bruce

The Poetics of Aging by Pastor Brian

The Poetics of Aging

The traditional view of aging thinks of it in terms of work: measured by whether work is present or absent.

I prefer instead to think of aging in terms of music.  Life has four ages, stages, or movements, just as a symphony does.

So, of course, aging as music, aging as poetics, is long overdue for discussion– Dick Bolles

The Poetics of Aging  – That was the heading in an e-mail I received.  It caught my eye

It turned out to be the name of a conference: Poetics Of Aging Conference: A Grassroots Gathering To Celebrate Eldership And Value Aging As The Basis For Depth And Wisdom (November 16 – 19, 2011, San Francisco, CA  —

It may seem an obvious insight that we all age, but there is a strong cultural bias against aging.  I am delighted whenever I encounter another positive perspective on the second half of life.  “The conference mission is to counter the mainstream understanding of aging as decline and/or disease with a more expansive, humanistic, and creative – that is poetic – vision and approach.  Together we shall create a climate where people share their awareness and creative expressions, while providing room for self-study and discovery.” The website led me to a fascinating paper by Dr. Nader Robert Shabahangi the founder of the AgeSong Institute ( — One of the many collaborators of the Poetics of Aging Conference) Continue reading The Poetics of Aging by Pastor Brian

Planning for the End of Life (video)

This three minute video descrbes why all adults should have a health care agent.

It is tells the true story of the choices that my wife, Kathy, faced before her mother died from Alzheimer’s Disease.


This video was made possible, in part, by grants from the Community Health Foundation of Western and Central New York and the Niagara County Office for the Aging. (And thanks to Jesse for his cameo appearance as “the father.”)

To give your loved ones peace of mind, instead of tough choices, please visit where you will find many helpful resources.

Please post your comments and suggestions.

We Never Outgrow the Need for Love (video)

This 90 second video by Dr Verna Carson, author of Spritual Caregiving, explains how peace of mind can always grow.
What do you think?

Create an Action Plan

It’s easy to create an Action Plan to help you solve any “piece” of your Wellness Puzzle whether you’re facing a medical, emotional or spiritual problem.

All you need to do remember the “poem for any problem”, as illustrated above. Continue reading Create an Action Plan

Wellness is more than what medicine can measure (video)

The following video clip  explain one of the  major themes of the Being Your Best (BYB) progam
For more details, please review the BYB stories by visiting and going to the “Read” page where you’ll find: