Wit and Wisdom Blog for Atria Senior Living

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a new view on growing older

Stories Connect People

Posted on December 5, 2017 by Jesse Hazel

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 Jesse Hazel

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 Jesse Hazel

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 Jesse Hazel

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 Jesse Hazel

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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Curiosity Isn’t Just For Cats and Kids – Atria Senior Living Blog

Curiosity Isn’t Just for Cats and Kids

Posted on February 22, 2017 by Jesse Hazel

Curiosity is often associated with an ill-fated feline, but it’s actually a very positive trait. Not only is there no evidence that curiosity results in disaster, research actually points to many benefits that can be enjoyed at any age.

The residents who call Atria home enjoy exercising their curiosity every day. (more…)

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Meet the Love of Your Life Again – Atria Senior Living Blog

Meet the Love of Your Life Again

Posted on February 10, 2017 by Jesse Hazel

You met the love of your life the day you were born – it’s you!

Making positive connections with others is essential to a good quality of life, yet the relationship that requires top priority is the relationship you have with yourself. If you’ve ever flown on a plane, you know the drill: Place the oxygen mask on yourself before helping your fellow passengers. Loving yourself is the foundation to having a positive relationship with others. (more…)

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5 Gifts Your Mom Will Tell Her Friends About – Atria Blog

5 Gifts Your Mom Will Tell Her Friends About

Posted on December 8, 2016 by Jesse Hazel

I find myself worrying about my mom in much the same way I imagine she worried about me when I went off to college. She retired years ago but stays active volunteering and serving on boards. Mom isn’t ready for senior living just yet, but that doesn’t keep me from making sure she’s eating right, exercising, regularly engaging with friends and not clicking on email scams. Meanwhile, I’m balancing work, appointments, wedding planning, volunteering, social events, dog walking, workouts and kids’ ballgames. Time is scarce. (more…)

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