Discover more from "Opening Up"
Why subscribe to "Opening up?"
You'll be a part of a discussion about age-related vulnerability you'll find nowhere else.
Hi, I’m Jim Hasse, your author/administrator of “Opening Up,” an interactive newsletter.
I’ve had athetoid cerebral palsy since birth. That simply means, I explain to new acquaintances, that I have less muscle control than I‘d like to have. In 1943, I was not expected to walk or talk or go to school. I was headed for a state “institution.”
Yet, doctors today call me “high functioning.” The truth is that most people say I have a “hard time” walking and talking. It’s all relative, I guess, based on where you’re coming from.
I developed a corporate communication function for Foremost Farms USA, Baraboo, Wisconsin, during my 29 years at the cooperative -- 10 of which were at the vice presidential level. I wrote, assigned and edited 1,300 articles about disability employment between 1999 and 2009 for eSight Careers Network, New York City. Between 1996 and 2011, I wrote and published 14 books about disability employment and disability inclusion.
My wife, Pam, and I now live in a new senior living high rise in Minneapolis near the University of Minnesota campus, and we love it.
What is the key to my success?
A lot of things. But one thing stands out in my mind: focused practice.
Geoff Colvin sums up the power of deliberate practice with a purpose in his book, "Talent Is Overrated: What Really Separates World-Class Performers from Everybody Else." He writes:
"...The most important effect of practice in great performers is that it takes them beyond -- or, more precisely, around -- the limitations most of us think of as critical."
Colvin cites research that indicates what we think of as “innate talent” is more accurately termed “long-term, sustained practice at what really counts,” driven by a passion to reach a goal.
My goal, from about sixth grade, has always been to be able to live an independent life. Even at age 12, I knew I could not expect to have a home and a family of my own without an education and a job.
I knew what the potential alternative was: living in a state institution after my parents died and my siblings had families of their own. Remember, this was the 1950s, and even my uncles openly discussed institutionalization as a fallback possibility for me someday.
I gradually learned how to turn my childhood shyness and fear into a positive motivation to live well with my disability. I took one step at a time.
Now, at 79, my new venture in life is to help elders live well intellectually, psychologically and emotionally with vulnerability (yes, more specifically “disability”), which usually increases with age.
That’s why I created my "Opening Up" interactive newsletter for seniors in 2022. Learning how to make peace with limitation can become a passion for each of us, and that passion can lead us to unexpected accomplishments and new insights.
The community I hope to build through “Opening Up” needs your insight about living well with vulnerability from an elder perspective. I’m finding that very few people are currently addressing that issue. I’m surprised. About 10,000 people in the U.S. now turn 65 every day, and that will continue for the next 19 years, according to Pew Research Center.
So, now is the time to open up about what it means to be “abled,” even though we’re learning, perhaps for the first time, to live with limitation.
Becoming more limited in what we can do physically doesn’t mean we can’t continue to grow. Instead, our extra years give us an opportunity to re-evaluate what we believe now (instead of 50 years ago) to be true, write it down and pass it on to our family’s younger crowd. That means, however, we need to be willing to open up.
Let me paraphrase the main thoughts about opening up that I’ve gleaned from Brené Brown, The New York Times best selling author, who has spent the past two decades studying courage, vulnerability, difference, shame and empathy:
We feel shame because we feel not worthy (because now we may be different and somewhat limited physically). When we feel not worthy, we have a problem connecting with people. The goal is to allow us to be seen as worthy of belonging. It takes courage to be imperfect. That courage gives us authenticity – the platform to be who we are. Vulnerability is the base for not only courage, openness and authenticity but also resiliency and empathy. It’s natural to struggle with vulnerability and uncertainty. We may fear opening up. We may try to numb vulnerability, and, in doing so, we numb happiness and become miserable. Feeling vulnerable can sometimes nudge us into seeking certainty in other areas of our lives, and that thirst for certainty can show up in our overly stringent politics and religion. We don’t always have to seek certainty but to simply feel, “I’m enough, and I’m worthy.”
In “Opening Up,” I also intend to tap the insights of Lynda Gratton, Chip Conley, Andrew J Scott, Barbara Waxman MS, MPA, PCC, Malidoma Somé, PhD, Marc Freedman, Ken Dychtwald, Ashton Applewhite, Louise Aronson, Dr. Bill Thomas, Dr. Laura Carstensen of Stanford Center on Longevity, and Richard Leider — all current thought leaders about contemporary elderhood.
Here’s your unique online opportunity to engage in a virtual mutual mentorship with your stage-in-life counterparts for:
Opening new insights by reevaluating what is now important in your life and what is not.
Living a life of your own choosing.
Making peace with age-related limitations.
Sharing our stories about our vulnerability (opening up) is among the most important ways we connect with others in the later years of our lives.
As Brené Brown urges, “Write your own story … We move what we're learning from our heads to our hearts through our hands."
Founder’s Free Trial
Make the most of “Opening Up” by subscribing now to test-drive all of its features for free for 90 days. Redeem your Founder’s Free Trial offer by July 24, 2022. Then, by October 1, 2022, you’ll be in a position to make a decision about becoming a paid-subscriber to “Opening Up ” (a reader-supported publication), standing on the sidelines to enjoy the weekly story prompts as a non-participant/bystander for free, or unsubscribing altogether.
Remember, you’ll always have the option of receiving, for free, each week’s story by email without the discussion and other perks of a paid subscription. Or, you can always drop your subscription altogether by clicking on a link that is available at the end of each newsletter.
So, now is the time to join our community of insightful individuals who are using “Opening Up” to make peace with vulnerability. Take advantage of the Founder’s Free Trial offer.
For more details about content and subscription options, check these two other “introductory” articles: “A Taste of What You’ll Get in Upcoming Issues” and “Why You Need to Subscribe to “Opening Up” Right Now.”
To find out more about Substack, which provides the tech, security and privacy for “Opening Up,” visit Substack.com. It’s a safe platform. I’ve checked that out myself. The Substack staff built this newsletter service so you don’t have to worry about the vulnerabilities of social media. And, your email address will never be used for purposes other than delivering “Opening Up” to your inbox.
I’ll see you each Wednesday, starting July 6, 2022, with a new story to guide our discussion and discovery.
Here’s to elderhood and vulnerability!
Jim Hasse, ABC, GCDF retired, author of “Opening Up” newsletter
“Story-guided Discussion for Finding Peace with Age-related Limitations”