Wit and Wisdom Blog for Atria Senior Living

      Wit and Wisdom      

a new view on growing older

Anthony | Engineer

Posted on September 28, 2018 by Atria Senior Living

Anthony was born in Peiping, China, and came to the United States on a student visa in 1950. When he learned communists had taken over his home country, he decided to stay in the U.S.

Building bridges is Anthony’s specialty. As a civil engineer, he designed long-span structures in countries like India and China where builders possessed the technology, but not the design expertise.

He met his wife Lillian at her family’s Chinese restaurant. His advice for a long, happy marriage is simple: respect. His secret to longevity? “Take life as it is – not as you wish it to be.”

See why discerning older adults like Anthony choose to age well together at Atria. Schedule a tour of a community near you.

Photo by noted portrait photographer Mark Seliger 

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Caterina | Co-Creator

Posted on August 31, 2018 by Atria Senior Living

Born in Palermo, Italy, Caterina worked for many years as an assistant seamstress to legendary legendary fashion designer Geoffrey Beene.

In 1967, she co-created a haute couture wedding dress for President Lyndon B. Johnson’s daughter, Lynda. To prepare for the final fitting, Caterina, Mr. Beene and three other assistants traveled to Washington, D.C., where they labored inside the White House for three days. Caterina finished the wedding gown on a sewing machine set up in the Lincoln Bedroom.

Caterina’s favorite Italian expression is “hai mangiato?,” which means “Did you eat?” She loves making pasta con sardi, pasta with sardines, for family and friends. Her secret to longevity is “working for many years and enjoying my work.”

See why discerning older adults like Caterina choose to age well together at Atria. Schedule a tour of a community near you.

Photo by noted portrait photographer Mark Seliger 

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Rena | World Traveler

Posted on August 1, 2018 by Atria Senior Living

Rena is a writer who’s penned 22 travel guides and two cookbooks, including The 2nd Ave Deli Cookbook based on the legendary Jewish eatery in Manhattan’s East Village.

As a travel writer, she’s often asked which destination is her favorite. Rena’s answer? “The Galapagos Islands. It’s the most untouched, pristine place I’ve ever visited. It was like experiencing the Garden of Eden.”

Rena’s best advice to serious world travelers: “Program some leisure time into your day. Sit down for lunch. That’s my way of doing things. I’ve never taken less than three hours for lunch.”

See why discerning older adults like Rena choose to age well together at Atria. Schedule a tour of a community near you.

Photo by noted portrait photographer Mark Seliger 

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Janet S. – still living the gold medal life

Posted on March 2, 2018 by Atria Senior Living

Atria Bay Spring Village resident Janet S. never dreamed she would win an Olympic gold medal in track and field – mostly because she was a swimmer.

“I ran a little, but not as much as I swam,” said Janet. “I tried out for track and field anyway in college and it was unbelievable to me that I made it.”

In 1951, Janet’s team at Boston University qualified for and competed in the Pan American Games in Buenos Aires, Argentina. That led her to compete in the 1952 Summer Olympics in Helsinki, Finland.

“It was a wonderful experience to walk into the Olympic stadium and know that I was representing the United States.”

That year, the Australian team was the heavy favorite to win gold during the women’s 4x100 meter relay. But there’s more to a relay race than running. The baton must be passed and, during the handoff, Australia dropped theirs. The U.S. team pulled ahead and won. Janet cried tears of joy when presented with her gold medal.

After returning home from the Olympics, Janet married her husband and moved to Barrington, Rhode Island, where she taught physical education to middle school students for 36 years. Janet was the first Rhode Islander to win an Olympic gold. She was inducted into the Rhode Island Heritage Hall of Fame in 1968.

A longtime minister, Janet returned to the Olympics in 2010 as chaplain for the U.S. Olympic Team. She also ministered to residents at Atria Bay Spring Village and eventually became a resident herself.

“It’s where I always wanted to be,” said Janet.

Today, Janet’s car parked outside the community proudly sports one of just six official Olympic Gold Medalist license plates in Rhode Island. She donated her Olympic uniform to the United States Olympic Committee archives and says one day her gold medal will be given to her alma mater to inspire future generations of female athletes.

“Women can achieve anything they aspire to if they work hard and believe in themselves,” Janet said.


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Stories Connect People

Posted on December 5, 2017 by Atria Senior Living

From the time humans first roamed the earth, we have used storytelling as a way to understand our experiences, build connections and make sense of the world.

We live in a time when information is plentiful, but cheap. Wisdom, on the other hand, has become all the more rare and valuable. Our purest, most relatable source of wisdom is our stories.


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The Power of Gratitude is in the Sharing – Atria Senior Living Blog

The Power of Gratitude is in the Sharing

Posted on September 13, 2017 by Atria Senior Living

Take a few moments to think about what you are grateful for: things like your health, your family, your friends, the food on your table, the roof over your head and the beauty of the flowers planted outside the coffee shop.

When we mindfully contemplate our blessings, we consider that some are things we did not always have, or lost temporarily. We acknowledge that many others do not share our good fortune. We recognize that we might not always have what we do now. (more…)

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5 Things You Can Do To Make This Year’s Family Reunion the Best Yet

5 Things You Can Do To Make This Year’s Family Reunion the Best Yet

Posted on June 15, 2017 by admin

Little ones running and chasing their cousins. Babies being held in the arms of wise great-grandparents. Family reunions are full of simple pleasures like these, yet they take a lot of planning. The when, where and who of a family reunion can be so time consuming that we sometimes forget why we’re getting together in the first place – to deepen our connection with the people we love, bridge generations and share the most precious gift we have to give – time. (more…)

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“It’s History. It’s Over. Focus on Today.” and More Wisdom from My Father by Billie Jean King

“It’s History. It’s Over. Focus on Today.” and More Wisdom from My Father by Billie Jean King

Posted on June 1, 2017 by Billie Jean King

Billie Jean King is a winner of 39 Grand Slam tennis titles, a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and a champion for social change and equality. She serves as Atria’s Well-Being Coach.

At 15 years old, I appeared on the front page of the Long Beach Independent sports section for the first time. Unfortunately, it was for a match I had lost 6-0, 6-0 – the worst loss possible. I was very upset. Here I had finally gotten on the front page and it had to be for that. (more…)

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From Chaucer to Motorcycles: Lessons from a Lifelong Teacher – Atria Senior Living Blog

From Chaucer to Motorcycles: Lessons from a Lifelong Teacher

Posted on April 28, 2017 by Sarah Warner

Photo courtesy of the Della Craighead Appreciation Society Facebook Group.

“I don’t think I ever had a student that I didn’t care for deeply. They became like my children.”

For Della Craighead, a resident of Atria Center City in Philadelphia, the scores of young people she taught in Bartlesville, Oklahoma, were not just her students. They were – and still are – her family.

As much as the 99-year-old retired high school English teacher loves her students, they love her back. Her former pupils have created The Della Craighead Appreciation Society on Facebook to honor their beloved teacher, posting photos from her teaching days and sharing stories of how she brought out the best in them and fostered their curiosity.

They also express gratitude for the lessons she taught them – not only about literature and grammar, but about keeping an open mind and finding their own voice through writing. They thank her for inspiring them to become teachers, writers and lifelong learners.

When they are not praising Della on social media, they are coming to see her at Atria. One recent visitor is a librarian at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. Others bring their children and grandchildren to meet their beloved teacher.

Della does not recall a time in her life when she did not want to be an educator. She got her first teaching job after graduating from college at age 19. After taking a hiatus to raise her five children, she returned to the classroom in 1960 to teach American literature, English literature, grammar and composition. Her favorite lesson was teaching students to memorize Chaucer in Old English.

“My one desire was to get them to write and read well,” she said.

Della still counts reading among her favorite activities, attributing her love of books and learning to her grandfather. Whenever he visited her family, he’d hide a book under his coat. If she could read him the last book that he had given her, she would get the new book.

“He was an incredible man,” she said. “I give him and God credit for everything.”

Della continually sets new goals for herself. In 2015, she went on her first motorcycle ride. She is now learning French and practices her French vocabulary with her occupational therapist. She also maintains connections with young people, working on art projects and playing games with Atria’s First Grade Buddies, a group of local schoolchildren who visit the community twice a month.

And just as her grandfather was so instrumental in her upbringing, she continues to set a good example and pass along wisdom to future generations of her family. Della’s daughter Marion recalls one such moment after Della’s motorcycle ride. Her great-granddaughter Kate was on hand to watch and asked her what it was like. Much to the girl’s surprise, Della replied that it was even better than getting a new house or car.

“How many little girls are able to learn from their great-grandmothers that experiences are more important than possessions?” Marion said. “That’s the most important lesson of all.”

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