Aging Well in the Gorge ~ February 21st, 2024

Have you recently had a meaningful conversation? I mean something besides the weather, your kids, or the future of the Pac-12, but the kind of conversation, whether it is with your spouse, a friend, or a new acquaintance, where you walk away feeling engaged and understood?

In “10 Ways to Have a Better Conversation”, a TED Talk on YouTube, Celeste Headlee describes how to find the balance between talking and listening to have more meaningful and respectful conversations – which seems to be a lost skill nowadays.

As I read these suggestions, I realized I often ignore many of them if not most of them. You might also find that to be true.

Number one: Don’t multitask.

Be in the present. Don’t be thinking about where you’re going for dinner or the snow starting to fall outside.

Number two: Don’t pontificate.

Assume you have something to learn which often means setting aside your own opinions. Everybody is an expert in something.

Number three: Use open-ended questions.

Start your questions with who, what, when, where, why, or how. You’ll get more interesting responses if you let the person describe their thoughts, experiences, or feelings.

Number four: Go with the flow.

How often does a thought come to mind that you just have to say it even though it may not add to the conversation? Stories and ideas will come – but let them go.

Number five: If you don’t know, say you don’t know.

They won’t be surprised!

Number six: Don’t equate your experience with theirs.

If someone shares their dementia diagnosis don’t start saying how you have forgotten things too. It’s not the same; never will be. And it’s not about you anyway.

Number seven: Try not to repeat yourself.

Make your point but don’t keep rephrasing it over and over.

Number eight: Stay out of the weeds.

You don’t need to share all the details: years, names, dates, you’re struggling to remember. Most people don’t care. They want to learn more about what you think.

Number nine: Listen.

It’s not easy. Paying attention to someone takes effort and energy. As Stephen Covey, author and businessman, said “Most of us don’t listen with the intent to understand. We listen with the intent to reply.”

Number ten: Be brief.

As they say about a miniskirt, “Short enough to retain interest, but long enough to cover the subject.”

When talking with someone, there is nothing wrong with small talk. But if you want a more meaningful conversation where you learn about yourself, the other person, and the world around you, try these suggestions and you may be amazed by what you learn.

Brain Tease: A Rebus brain teaser uses words or letters in interesting orientations to represent common phrases. Can you decipher these musical instruments? 1. P O; 2. BA BA; 3. ECLART; 4. @ # $ %

The name of the novella that tells the story of a group of animals who rebel against their human farmer and end up in a state as bad as it was before, was Animal Farm. I received correct answers from Nancy Higgins, Jonnie Anderson, Steven Woolpert, Judy Kiser, Rhonda Spies, Tina Castanares, Lana Tepfer, Pat Evenson-Brady, Linda Frizzell, Donna Mollet, Dave Lutgens, and Randall Pearl this week’s winner of a quilt raffle ticket. And last week I missed Lee Kaseberg, Steven Woolpert, and Doug Nelson,

If you grew up in the 50s and 60s, Walt Disney was probably a big part of your childhood whether it was the animated movies or the Mickey Mouse Club – with my first “love” the popular Mouseketeer Annette Funicello. For this week’s “Remember When” question, in the movie “Pinocchio”, who was the wise and comical character that was appointed by the Blue Fairy to be Pinocchio’s official conscience? Email your answer to, call 541-296-4788, or mail it with a recording of the 1940 Academy Award-winning song “When You Wish Upon a Star”.

Well, it’s been another week, trying not to be ruled by the clock. Until we meet again, as a friend told me, “To keep it, you have to give it away.”

“All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt.” — Charles M. Schulz

Nutritious home-delivered and in-person meals are available at noon Monday through Friday unless otherwise noted.

Seniors of Mosier Valley (541-980-1157) – Mondays and Wednesdays; Mt. Hood Townhall (541-308-5997) – Tuesdays; Hood River Valley Adult Center (541-386-2060); Sherman County Senior and Community Center (541-565-3191); The Dalles Meals-on-Wheels (541-298-8333).

For meal sites in Washington, call Klickitat County Senior Services: Goldendale office (509-773-3757) or the White Salmon office (509-493-3068), and in Skamania County call Senior Services (509-427-3990).

Answers:  1. Piano (P and O); 2. Tuba (Two BA); 3. Clarinet (CLAR in ET); 4. Cymbals (Symbols)

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