What is Sage-ing? Simply put, Sage-ing is a different, more positive approach to growing older. It’s about walking in mindfulness and looking at the things in your life and trying to harvest our life’s wisdom. In this episode Chuck Warren shares the history of Sage-ing and the positivity it has brought to his life.
The history of Sage-ing
Living a mindful life
Sharing our life experience and wisdom with others
How you can start a Sage-ing wisdom circle yourself
About Chuck Warren
Chuck grew up in north Florida and spent most of his working life as a social worker in a variety of locations including New York City working with street youth and later with addiction services, in Central Florida with the Job Corps, the Florida Sheriffs Youth Ranches Program, with a residential brain injury program, and finally with Winter Haven Hospital in their ESTEEM Program for brain injury. He has been facilitating the Sage-ing program in Winter Haven, FL for 20 years.
He lives in Central Florida with his wife, Bernie, still facilitating a weekly Sage-ing meeting, writing books (usually fiction), and biking. He loves music and is trying to learn to play the harmonica!
About Featured Sage Ager Bob Doyel
Bob, a retired Circuit Court Judge of 16 years is married and a father of two grown children. He’s also a former Naval officer who served in the Vietnam War. During his accomplished career, Bob has championed causes living his life’s mission to be a part of the solution for the good of all. His most notable contributions in this respect come in the area of domestic violence. We suspect there is much more to come in the area of community service for Bob Doyel!
If you are interested in starting a Sage-ing wisdom circle in your community, email Chuck directly for more information: email@example.com
Transcript – Sage-ing vs Aging
Sage Aging – Episode 5
Sage-ing vs Aging
Guest: Chuck Warren, Sage-ing Wisdom Circle Facilitator
Recorded April 20, 2020
Liz Craven 0:00
Support for this episode of sage aging comes from Polk ElderCare Guide designed with families in mind. Polk ElderCare Guide gives you the tools and education necessary to make quality choices about senior care and living options in Polk County, Florida. available in both English and Spanish. You can view the guides and much more online at PolkElderCare.com.
Hello everyone and welcome to Episode Five of Sage Aging. My guest today is Chuck Warren. Chuck is a retired social worker and an active advocate in his community and a leader for many causes. And we’ll talk to him more about that in a bit. But when it comes to aging, most people think of words like frail, old, wrinkled, dependent, weak, but my goodness, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Yes, it is true that as we age, we face physical and sometimes environmental challenges. But the manner in which we react to and embrace those changes can alter the way that we experience our later years. So Chuck is here today to talk to us about Sage-ing. Sage-ing is a different, more positive approach to growing older. Now we’re going to talk about that more in just a few minutes. But if you’ve been listening to the show, you know that I like to start with a lightning round to have a little bit of fun with my guests and give you a chance to learn something about them. So what do you say? Chuck? Are you ready for a couple of fun questions?
Chuck Warren 2:04
I’m ready. Let’s Let’s go.
Liz Craven 2:06
All right, first question. Coffee or tea?
Chuck Warren 2:11
Well, I have to say tea, although I’m not a big fan of tea either, but I tried to learn to light coffee a number of years ago and I never could like it soy. I never drink coffee, but I do drink tea once in a while.
Liz Craven 2:23
Yeah, that’s the same story with me. I really tried to like it too, and just couldn’t get there. All right, movie or live theater.
Chuck Warren 2:34
I’d say live theater.
Liz Craven 2:36
Awesome. And what is your favorite season?
Chuck Warren 2:41
Liz Craven 2:42
Nice, nice cool weather coming in.
Chuck Warren 2:46
End of the summer. Right. The summers are very hot here in Florida. So yes. Cooler weather. Yeah.
Liz Craven 2:53
All right. And last question, favorite place you’ve traveled
Chuck Warren 2:58
I would say a tie between Ireland and up in Nova Scotia, Labrador and Newfoundland.
Liz Craven 3:05
Wow. That sounds beautiful. Both of those are on my bucket list.
Chuck Warren 3:11
They’re both well worth going to, I hope you get a chance to do that soon.
Liz Craven 3:15
Awesome. Well, thank you for playing with me. I love starting that way because it kind of gives everybody a sense of who we are and put a little bit of personality into that. So thanks for playing. So let’s get on to our topic Sage-ing. In the introduction, I gave our listeners a hint of what that means. But can you take us a little deeper and also tell us how you became involved with staging?
Chuck Warren 3:43
Sure, probably might tell you a little bit about how staging started will help to explain what it is. Back in the 1980s a rabbi, Rabbi Zalman Schachter Salome is his name. He was approaching retirement age and he felt like in our culture, we tend to think of people who’ve retired as no longer having much value to our culture, he sort of felt like they were put out to pasture and they didn’t have any real purpose or meaning for what was going on in the culture. So he did some research. And he was still a very vital individual. And he felt that he had a lot to offer both to his community as well as to his family. And so he wrote a book called From Aging to Sage-ing: A Profound New Vision for Growing Older. In the book, he taught us that we have a lot of experience and a lot of knowledge as we get older because we’ve lived a long life and that these things can be valuable. But he felt like just because you grow older doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re a wise person. You have to look at the things in your life that you’ve lived and try to try to harvest our life’s wisdom. And so we have a number of exercises that we go through and we learn how to look at our life and pick out the lessons that we’ve learned. The purpose of it is really to help people go through their life experiences and figure out what the lessons are they’ve learned and how we can use those lessons to benefit our community and our families. So in doing that, we look at a number of things, we look at the activities we’ve had in our life, people that have meant something to us in our lives. And we look at what have those things meant to us, what have they brought to our life? How have they informed us and how they molded us into who we are today. Other things that we look at is forgiveness, for example, is one of the main things we look at because oftentimes when we go through our life, we’ve had relationships and had experiences with people that we’ve had a hard time with, and maybe someone has been very unfair to us or abuse us in some way. And so we carry around this baggage of not being To forgive someone. And so we look at forgiveness as a gift we give to ourselves. And we look at what forgiveness is and what it’s not. And we look at it as being a process. So we help people to let go of that baggage of not being able to forgive someone. And we look at learning how to face our mortality and how to get prepared for it. Both doing the paperwork, having wills and that sort of thing, as well as becoming more comfortable with was dying. So we can have a serene death. We look at healing painful memories. We look at people in our lives that perhaps we looked at as someone who wasn’t kind to us or someone who is difficult for us. We call those are severe teachers. And oftentimes we find out as we look back on it, that we’ve learned a lot from them and we learn to appreciate them and the lessons that we learn from them. Sage-ing is a way to look at our lives, and learn to appreciate the good and the bad and learn who we are, and what are the lessons in our lives. And once we’ve done some of those things, we can begin to be more of a of a sage, more of a person of wisdom who can be of value to our families and to our communities.
Liz Craven 7:16
So it’s really more of a way of life than it is an activity.
Chuck Warren 7:23
Right. It’s learning to, well for example, one of the things that we do is, we look at what does aging mean to us? We explore our feelings about aging. What are we looking forward to? What are we, what do we share about aging, and we become comfortable with the losses and the things that come with aging. And then we learn how we can be a mentor to others how we can be helpful to other people. And we learn that aging isn’t just about having fun and playing golf or getting older and having aches and pains but it’s also about using our life, wisdom and life experience. To be a mentor to others and to be what we would call a sage or wise person, right? I first learned about it when I was working for Winter Haven Hospital, I was invited to a award ceremony in Winter Park, Florida. And I happened to sit at a table with a woman who was the director of a Sage-ing Center at that time, it was called the Spiritual Eldering Institute. She had a center there and she was talking about how as people get older, they sometimes especially when they, after they’ve retired, they feel that their life has no purpose or no meaning. And she explained how this program helped people to realize that they do have meaning and purpose in their life and can still have a lot of joy and and enjoy their lives. So it seemed like that program would be helpful to population I was working with at the hospital. So the hospital gave me permission to get some training from them. And I eventually began doing a Sage-ing program with the hospital and then after I retired I kept doing it.
Liz Craven 9:01
And you’ve been doing that for quite some time now, haven’t you?
Chuck Warren 9:06
Yes, it’s been about 20 years. I was thinking just the other day how, how wonderful it’s been for me. Because I’ve met so many wonderful people, it seems that this program seems to draw people who are very kind and generous and open minded and want to learn. And so we’ve had some great people go through here and I’ve been blessed by having met them and having been able to talk with them and learn from them.
Liz Craven 9:33
I love that. And I love that by leading this group, I would guess you’ve had quite an impact on the lives of other people who are learning how to embrace this time of life rather than be intimidated by it.
Chuck Warren 9:47
Well, yeah, I think we’ve benefited from each other’s experiences. One of the things that we do is we have discussions about the topics that have to do with aging and we learn from each other and we all have different ideas about it. Some of us approach things with a little bit of fear and others approach it with courage and we can just learn from each other’s experiences. Just because we’re growing older doesn’t mean that our experiences don’t mean something still, and we can be beneficial to each other.
Liz Craven 10:16
I kind of think that our experiences as we get older are even more meaningful.
Chuck Warren 10:23
Yeah, one of the things that we say when somebody asks how old you are, we say I have so many years of life experience. So it’s kind of a positive way of thinking about your aging. The longer you live, the more life experience you have. And so you’ve hopefully learned from those experiences and then, therefore have more to offer to other people because of those experiences.
Liz Craven 10:46
I just love that. I love that philosophy. That is such a fit for the kind of person that I am.
Chuck Warren 10:53
And it’s also the longevity of the human race is expanding and getting longer. Back in the 1940s 40 years was about the life expectancy, whereas now it’s in the 70s and 80s. And so we have more years of life to live. And this has been kind of a new experience for the human race is how do you learn to live those years? What do you do in those years?
Liz Craven 11:22
Absolutely. Everybody needs purpose. I don’t care how old you are. Having purpose in your life gives you something to look forward to. This is a really great spot to take a break for our Sage Ager segment. So stay tuned, folks. We’ll be right back.
Our featured Sage ager this week is Bob Doyle. Bob, a retired Circuit Court Judge of 16 years is married and a father of two grown children. He’s also a former Naval officer who served in the Vietnam War. I could talk for days about this man and the good he does for others every day. He’s a true example of a Sage Ager. Here’s Bob with a little sage advice.
Unknown Speaker 12:16
My sage advice is directed primarily to high school and college students. And it’s for a principle that you probably don’t hear very often. And that is do what you want to do. Now, I don’t mean just do what you want to do all around. But I’m talking about a life choice on what you want to do for a living what you want to do with your life when you are no longer in school. I taught my kids that same idea. And my son, who was an all state soccer and baseball player, wanted to be a sports writer. And so he went to college to become a sports writer and he now is the main columnist for the Indianapolis Star, I also have a friend who wanted to be a secretary. She had the most intelligent approach to life. She was a very smart person, but she could also type 100 words a minute. And she decided that she would rather spend her life doing the thing that she liked most and that’s being a secretary and she did that. My wife wanted to be a musician. She most wanted to be able to learn to play the piano well. She went to college late in life in her 30s when she was able to get a degree and piano performance and she’s now an accomplished pianist. For myself, I had no advice given to me as a child about what to do. And my thought what I would do is what my brothers had done is join the army or the Navy. And that would be my career that I had a guidance counselor who told me I should go to college and helped me get registered for college. And I went, during the course of that someone advised me that I could make a living if I would be an accountant. And so I studied in accounting and did very well in accounting school, but I didn’t like to do it. After a time, I decided that I would try law because I took some aptitude tests. And the suggestion was, I should go into something like law or teaching. And ironically, I wound up being a law school professor for a while, but I also went on to be a judge. And that’s only because I did what I wanted to do. And that is think about the kinds of things that trouble our world, and see if I could do something about those things, and it’s been possible for me to make a living doing what I want to do. And I think you you can do that too. The reason I think that is, I was born into extreme poverty. We had 10 kids. We had one bedroom. The house burned when I was four, and we moved into a chicken coop. We had no advantage of any kind. But I did have a guidance counselor when I was a senior in high school who convinced me I should go to college. So what I’m saying to you is that you may have disadvantages, but set your mind on overcoming those disadvantages, and on doing something that just makes you happy. Make a living doing things that make you happy. Maybe that’s being a schoolteacher, maybe it’s being a nurse or a technologist somehow in the medical system, or it could be doing tech work, even really high tech work. It’s what you’re able to do and what you want to do. But the main thing is to set your mind on doing something and make it something that you really want to do. It’s a lot easier to work hard to or to go if you’re going to enjoy the goal once you get there.
Liz Craven 16:37
Welcome back. Let’s get back to our conversation with Chuck. So one of the things that I had read about as I was researching this was wisdom circles. What is that?
Chuck Warren 16:50
Well, the wisdom circle is what we do every week here in Winter Haven we group of people get together and we have discussions about various topics. That has to do with aging or, or even situations that are relevant to life today, things that are happening around us, and how do we deal with them. So Sage-ing Wisdom Circle is just a group of people that get together who are open minded, who agree to listen to each other with respect. And when we say something, when we talk about our views, we don’t try to convince people that we’re right and they’re wrong. It’s just a group of people who want to talk to each other and learn from each other.
Liz Craven 17:34
So are these wisdom circles and groups like yours, those can be found all over the place.
Chuck Warren 17:42
Well we have a an organization called Sage-ing International, they have a website, which is just Sage-ing, sage with a dash s-a-g-e dash i-n-g.org. They sort of provide some resources and some ideas for forming a wisdom circle, so there are wisdom circles all over the country. In fact, in other countries as well as Canada and Australia and Europe. So the Sage-ing International website and program helps provide resources and they have some workbooks and manuals to help you learn how to form a wisdom circle. And they’ll provide some guidance or doing that. They also have an annual conference. And they have some training programs to teach someone how to lead a wisdom circle if they wanted to. So we encourage people to start wisdom circles, wherever they are, there’s not one near you, someone can certainly start one and bring together like minded people who want to have these kinds of discussions.
Liz Craven 18:40
And just for the benefit of our listeners, I will be sure to put those links that we’re talking about to the website for Sage-ing International, and any other resource that we might mention as we go, those links will be listed in the show notes for you for easy access.
Chuck Warren 18:57
Great. Thank you for doing that.
Liz Craven 18:59
Of course. That’s what this is all about. This is all about getting good information out to people so that they can live their best life.
Chuck Warren 19:07
If you want to include my email in that you’re welcome to do that. I’ll be glad to…
Liz Craven 19:12
I will definitely do that. So if you’re interested in starting a wisdom circle, Chuck has very generously offered to assist in that process in the Central Florida region. So we will put Chuck’s contact email in the show notes as well. And if you have interest in that, be sure to follow up with him directly. To close this out. I have a question. This is kind of, a little bit of a deep question. So it might take a moment of thought. But would you give us some sage advice about living your best life? I know I put you on the spot. We can word it another way and say if someone is standing there and trying to figure out how do I approach the later years of my life, maybe they’re feeling intimidated. Maybe they’re feeling unsure? What words would you have for them to help them to get to a place where they are embracing and loving every moment that they have?
Chuck Warren 20:10
That’s a good question. And I guess a lot of it would depend on what the person was thinking and feeling. So one thing I guess I would say is to have a journal and write down things like him growing older. So what am I worried about? What concerns me? What are they good things about growing older? What do I fear? then looking at what you fear? If it’s things like loss, or how am I going to live my final years, that kind of thing. look also at the advantages of growing older. You know, one of the things that we can do is we can make our own decisions about how we live our life. You know, when you don’t have to go to work, then you can decide what you want to do with your day. You’re not having to go to work. Find something that is meaningful. to you. And I would say for me a lot of times it’s doing things for other people. That gives me purpose and it gives me meaning in my life. So how can I use my experience to help someone else? What are things in my life, to me that are valuable? Sometimes it’s just making a friend sometimes it’s just learning someone down the street from you is lonely, and maybe stopping by and saying hello to them, and having a conversation with them. That’s one of the things that that I find that now I can do freely without having to worry about my time so much, because I have a lot of time that I can use however I want to so
Liz Craven 21:44
that’s a wonderful thing. I’m always encouraging people to check on your neighbors.
Chuck Warren 21:51
So of course in this day and time you have to be careful with the virus and everything but you know, you can still do it with a phone call or you can do it by waving to them from the street or we have email, we have FaceTime. We have all these different ways of connecting with people these days, even though we can’t go up and give them a hug, we can still connect with them. Let them know we’re thinking about them. We care about them.
Liz Craven 22:15
Absolutely. That is great advice. Well Chuck, thank you so much for joining me today. This has been a wonderful discussion. I think with all of the craziness happening in our world right now. We needed a moment to step back and take a breath and think about approaching our life from a positive direction. And I think you’ve helped us to do that. So thanks so much for joining us.
Chuck Warren 22:41
Thank you very much, Liz. Thank you for having me, and I really appreciate what you’re doing. Thank you for your Sage Aging program.
Liz Craven 22:56
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Liz Craven, along with her husband Wes, owns Pro-Ad Media, publisher of Sage Aging ElderCare Guide, serving the local community for over 29 years. Liz lives in Lakeland and is very active in the local community, specifically in the area of aging. Liz serves on a number of local boards and committees including the Lakeland Vision and Age Friendly Lakeland.