Retire? My guest today has a phrase that better captures this phase of life than the word retirement: The Vintage Years. So how are you planning for your vintage years? Dr. Francine Toder joins us to discuss how to do so with your brain in mind. And that means including novelty, complexity and problem-solving into your day-to-day life. Taking up an artistic pursuit, even without any prior experience is one way to bring those elements into your vintage years.
Dr. Toder joins us us from the San Francisco Bay area.
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Francine Toder, Ph.D. is an emeritus faculty member of California State University, Sacramento and is a clinical psychologist retired from private practice. She is also the author of The Vintage Years: Finding your Inner Artist (Writer, Musician, Visual Artist) After Sixty.Her most recent book is Inward Traveler: 51 Ways to Explore the World Mindfully. Her extensive writing on diverse topics appears in magazines, professional journals, newspapers, blog sites and as edited book chapters. She resides in the San Francisco Bay area.
“The most important thing is exercise. And while that isn’t an art form, it certainly can be added to an art form. Many of the artists who I interviewed did some kind of physical thing to facilitate their readiness for pursuing their art form. Even the 90-something artist who was a wood sculptor who I mentioned earlier, when I went to interview him, he showed me the hand weights that he used to get ready for doing his sculpting. And even though he used a walker, he had leg lifts that he showed me he could do with weights on them. So no matter what your level of ability is or whether you’re handicapped or you’re not, there’s something you could be doing. Another one, a writer, Caroline, in the book, before she would do any writing, she’d take a long walk in the woods that were adjacent to where she lived. So exercise, all of the research indicates that’s the most critical thing. Don’t forget about your body. And so that’s the key thing. The second thing is to do something that’s new and complex. I’ll go back to this idea of these three things that I sort teased out of. All of the literature that I read was about novelty, creativity and problem solving. Novelty, newness, do something new. It doesn’t matter what it is. And you could try anything. If you’ve never been a gardener, you could start gardening. If you are a gardener and you like flowers, try photographing them or painting them. And this is what I observed with a lot of the people I interviewed. They sort of didn’t have a plan. It just evolved. But often it evolves out of some kind of physical activity. So that’s critical. And the complexity means if you’re doing something, make sure it’s requires something that’s just not too easy. Learning a foreign language is a good example of that. It is really difficult and it’s good for your brain. You don’t have to be proficient, you never have to speak to another soul. You’re doing it for yourself. But you might find that there are ways in which you connect with other people around that activity as well.”
Intro and Outro voiceovers by Ross Huguet.