What is YOUR Life Story?

Written by Panorama resident, Mary Jo Shaw. November 2018

Think about it. Your story is only yours. It’s unique. No one else has the same life story as you. No two are alike!

I’d like to share this month’s unusual event.

The Lacey Senior Center invited me to be the presenter at their monthly Speakers Series. The manager asked me to discuss the 23 years of my life in my journey of when I was a nun and what happened when I left the convent and immediately trained to be a high fashion model.

In her phone call, Ms. Manager explained that my talk was to be “informative vs a primary sales pitch” for my Convent to Catwalk book. “You can have the book here and sell IF people request it after your talk. No problem.” She encouraged me saying that the seniors would love to hear excerpts of my stories.

Wow! How fun that would be! I was used to giving book reads & signings, but this would be different.

My opening remark usually explains that a catwalk is a modeling ramp for showing off fashions. I love the question-and-answer part during my presentations and always encourage the questions. “There’s no right or wrong question. Here’s your chance to find out what you’ve forever wanted to know about the nuns or high fashion modeling. If I don’t want to answer, I don’t want to answer.”

Naturally, I explain I don’t want to spoil the climax to the many stories, so I may give a soft hint of an answer. Invariably someone says, “I don’t want to hear the answer! It’s like knowing in advance ‘who done it’ when reading a mystery story.”

At Lacey Center, a woman posed, “Why did you write Convent to Catwalk?” Immediately, other attendees nodded wide-eyed.

My response? Actually, I answered with another question to everyone present to start a discussion. “That’s such a good question. Let’s list why you all think it was a good idea to write my story. I’ll give the first reason.”

I answered, “Why not? It’s my story, different from anyone else’s. I wouldn’t be here talking today if I hadn’t had the extreme contrast of the two life styles to write about.”

Toward the end of our hour, I summed up the reasons they offered which were true and my own added reasons:

  1. Years from now, some twig on our family tree will remark, “Oh, yeah! I heard we have an ancestor who was a nun, left the convent and was a model. Wonder what that was all about?”
  2. Even now my grandchildren (ages 11, 12 and 15) don’t know the mysterious, hilarious, traumatic, painful, emotional, near-death experiences I endured, how I handled them and how God helped me pull myself out of them.
  3. I don’t have expensive things to leave to my children and grandchildren. What I have they don’t want, except for my baby grand piano, and that will wear out and be forgotten that it was even mine.
  4. Without being preachy, I can leave them inspirational & positive ways to endure the ever-growing small and huge challenges they will experience in their lives.
  5. Most people won’t write a book as a legacy, but if we have a pencil and some three-holed paper or a simple computer, that’s all it takes…no fancy words, just writing as if we were telling our story to a friend…one story at a time.

The hour discussion with Lacey Center citizens was lively and fun, and too short!

So…what did you do that you tell your friends about when you reminisce about the 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s…? What do they laugh or cry about with you?

Here at Panorama, I’ve heard loads of life stories and learn more every day. Those accounts should stay alive for their families and for history.

I thank our 100 year-old Charlotte W., who has held free Panorama Writing Your Life classes for about 14 years twice a month. With no constructive critiques, our goal was simply to write a 10-minute story at home and read in it class. We were eager to hear the next episode in each resident’s life! Charlotte also started a program of tape-recording life stories of residents in our Convalescent & Rehabilitation Center. The activity director sees that the stories are typed and put into a folder. What a gift for the family!

After about a year, I was encouraged to attend PanWriters weekly classes, for a small fee, with international playwright Bryan Willis. He has taught at Panorama since 1998. I’d leave the class with swollen encouragement to publish my stores for others. Because of Panorama, I self-printed in 2018. Convent to Catwalk is in its fifth printing in one year. I look forward to the many opportunities to book read & sign, where I am able to donate a portion of the proceeds to the church, organization, or club; thus, giving back to my community and to my God.

I’m thankful that Panorama offers the opportunity, encouragement, the time (freedom from house maintenance and repairs, yard, etc.) and even sells our books and crafts for us in our Gifts Etc. shop!

So, what is your story? Write it right!

A Resident’s Perspective – Returning Home

Written by Panorama resident, Sandy Bush. November 2018

Our move to Panorama was five years ago. In many ways, the change to new environment and environs has kept us occupied with local things. However, after seeing a trip through the Canadian Rockies offered at Panorama’s Hopes & Dreams Travel, we decided it might be time to take the train trip we had thought about doing for years. In the 1970s, we drove our little sporty car into Canada to Lake Louise and experienced the area in June. This offered a Fall trip with other residents in an escorted ten-day train and bus tour of the Rockies.

Twenty-four of us enjoyed this trip in early October. I was somewhat concerned that we’d miss the color array of Fall changes here at Panorama, but figured we’d see changes in the northern reaches. Our trip took us to Vancouver, Whistler, Quesnel, Jasper, Lake Louise, Banff and home from Calgary on a quick flight.

The train trip was wonderful. We were situated in the dome car, so views were everywhere. More fir and pine and less deciduous trees meant less color change than I had imagined. The pine beetle has ravaged much of that species and Canada has also had raging wild fires. The wilderness is a hard place to fight these fires, which seem to be more prevalent as the climate warms. Cold, hard and long freezes help kill the beetle, but many dead standing trees were evident.

We had heard about the food service on this train, but we were still surprised at the quality and variety of dishes offered in our “Gold Leaf Service.” When we were last to sit for breakfast, we were served tea and scones. Our car of 48 people was divided so 24 diners were comfortable in the dining car beneath the dome car. That meant that breakfast was after 10 am and we had some early starting times to re-board the train. There was also a wine and cheese serving for those in second seating for lunch.

Elegant “lunch” in the dining car

Train delays were minimal, except as we neared Jasper where we left the train for further bus touring. Commercial cargoes still have priority over leisure touring. Jasper is a main throughway for cargo east-west in Canada and some trains were congested with back-ups. Our train crew just whipped up an unplanned “snack” as the last day was a long one of fourteen hours, but it included shrimp, fruit, hummus, Focaccia bread triangles, and a sweet little dessert square. Restaurants were closed by the time we arrived and detrained in Jasper.

We all were prepared for cold, but in many places where we walked to view chasms and geologic formations, the 30 to 40 degrees Fahrenheit was manageable. Glacial ice fields are still fascinating, and we got to walk out on the Athabascan Glacier. We had done this 40 years ago and changes were very evident. Our merry band of travelers also noted that as crowded as it was at the closing of the season for rail adventure, we couldn’t imagine train lengths of 10 or 15 more cars that typically run in summer schedules. We were part of a six-car train.

Walking on Athabasca glacier

Hotels and motels were busy, but so much less so than high season. The magical part of this tour was not handling our bags. Now as older travelers, this is a godsend. We never had to lug our bags once they went on the commercial bus service that took us from Panorama Hall to Vancouver and picked us up at Sea-Tac and dropped us off at Panorama Hall. Our bags would show up in our rooms within the hour of getting our keys and going through customs in Canada was fairly streamlined.

Stained glass window décor at Lake Louise

A silliness on my part seemed to be fighting the ever-present duvets! Having experienced these in our hiking trips in the UK years and years ago, it seems they will be a part of travel forever. These devilish linens kept me overheated the entire trip, but it is the only thing I can say was an issue for me. At the very least, in the snowy wilds of Canada, we didn’t freeze at night! We experienced a bit of spitty snow in a few places, but otherwise we had clear viewing and sunny days.

Emerald Lake

Leg stretcher at Maligne Falls

We experienced wildlife from the train, on the gondola at Whistler, and during the walk along Pyramid Lake. We saw a black bear mom and two cubs under the gondola, elk in the openings of trees from the train, white-tailed deer and moose from the train, as well as mountain goats looking over the cliffs at our coach as we motored along. The in-room phone at our hotel in Jasper had a special button to dial to hear elk bugling if you missed the 4 am sounds, as this was rut time! This young red squirrel at Pyramid Lake was chomping away on pine cone seeds preparing for winter that was certainly on its way!

Red squirrel along the Bow River

Our traveling companions from Panorama were easy to travel with. We were also spoiled by having escorts along who smoothed over any rough patches, of which there were amazingly few!

The thing that surprised me as we returned home to Panorama was actually being overwhelmed by the color changes that I was sure we would miss. The green of grass vs. the brown of the prairie around Calgary was eye-popping. And we didn’t miss the changing of our trees and the palette of colors. What a homecoming! Sometimes you need to step back and experience other environments to totally appreciate what we have here in Panorama.

A Resident’s Perspective – Activities at Panorama

Written by Panorama resident, Sandy Bush. April 2018

I thought I’d take just a few minutes to share what impresses me about our planned activities here at Panorama. Everyone gets the monthly “Panorama News” bulletin, either by electronic media or on paper through our mail boxes. Along with the “Resident Handbook and Directory,” these provide us with all the happenings around Panorama.

We are informed about the current state of Panorama affairs by various departments, such as Maintenance or Grounds. Special interest groups can outline upcoming events that they are providing and other opportunities available are spelled out.

What has become almost a “bible” for us in our household is the long section of activities organized by the Lifestyle Enrichment department. On-campus offerings often provide bus transport to movies at the auditorium or Resident Council transport can be arranged for other things. Speaking for myself, I always make a copy of the often 8 pages (!!) of happenings and descriptions outlined to keep next to our paper (yes, paper) calendar. Movies, either foreign or first run recent films, are listed along with classics, which often run on special times or holidays, like Christmas.

The hiking, walking and outing offerings have always been uppermost in our interest as we are pretty mobile at this time. Being from out of state, the meal outings, such as Brunch at Its Best and Dinner at Its Best, have introduced us to places that locals already know about. This has been a wonderful learning service provided for getting to know Olympia and environs. Hidden parks you would never find on your own have been a delight to discover.

Many of the offerings include bus transportation to Seattle (and who wants to drive there??) and night performances at many theaters where parking and night vision make driving, in our circumstance, a bit of a crapshoot, if not, downright dangerous. Get to know the activity desk folks (9:30 AM to 12:00 PM weekdays) in Pan Hall to sign up for these outings. Also, get your suggestions about things you’d like to see & do to the Lifestyle Enrichment department, as well.

The listed activities coupled with special lectures for Learning in Retirement have been so very helpful as we maneuver through our aging years! The Office of Philanthropy underwrites performances and Lifestyle Enrichment department supports and covers so many other opportunities. The Panorama Board of Directors also supports administrative decisions for many activities.

We have met some wonderful folks on these outings and have had a good time. And we always look forward to the next month’s issue with listings of doings/outings to sign up for. This brings to mind the query I get from people from our old community on “what on earth do you do there?” This always makes me laugh. We are finding our calendar as full as it was ten years ago!!! Granted, the activities have changed. The opportunities to learn are different. But for anyone wondering what there is to do, these activities are a gold mine. Those who volunteer for many of our functions and interest groups find time at a premium, but still manage to go to a movie now and again.

I am hoping you will acquaint yourselves with this bulletin and what it offers. I know, many of you are still in boxes and moving in can be a bear. But remember that Panorama is rich in what they are providing us and we are rich in being the recipients of such energy and planning.  Enjoy Panorama!!!

(P.S. The magnolia finally bloomed as well!!!!!!!”)

Panorama Residents Know How to Have the Happiest Retirement

Written by Matt Murry, Panorama Director of Operations, for the October 2014 Panorama News.

I must admit I really enjoy “surfing the internet”. Anything I am interested in at the moment will have an abundance of information available by typing a few simple words. A couple of weeks ago while on the web, I ran across a number of interesting articles about retiring. This is not only interesting because of my profession but because I see firsthand how well Panorama residents retire and the accomplishments they have long after they have retired. Although I am many years away from this myself, and because of working at Panorama, it is a time I look forward to. One of the articles immediately reminded me of Panorama. It was called “Tips for a Happy Retirement”. It seems as if every resident that lives at Panorama must have not only read it, but studied it and acted out each tip perfectly.

Make life plans.

It’s important to plan for the non-financial aspect of retirement living by considering what will make you happy. Maybe you’ll climb Mt. Kilimanjaro, go dog sledding in Alaska, make time to write that novel you’ve been thinking about, or even continue to work part-time. Make a life plan and tick off your experiences as you move ahead. I see and hear about amazing adventures, hobbies, athletic events, and vacations every week at Panorama.

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Find a purpose.

Look for things you can do on an ongoing basis that bring you joy and add structure to your life. This can include travel, hobbies or even training for a new career. This is an area I see residents enjoy daily as I walk through the Quinault , Aquatic Center, the grounds.

Keep your mind sharp.

“Use it or lose it” applies to your brain. If you feel the need to replace the intellectual stimulation you found at work, try learning a foreign language or a musical instrument, or join a book club. Lifelong learning offers many opportunities to keep your mind sharp. This is another category with endless opportunities at Panorama and if we don’t already have it, you are encouraged to start it.

Volunteer.

Getting involved in your community is a great way to give back, and it’s a wonderful opportunity to interact with people and make new friends. Could you imagine the Patio Sale without volunteers, or the Auditorium, or Resident Council?

Develop new friendships.

A measurement of whether people are successful at retirement living is the strength of their social network—that includes family and friends. Check out groups that help you meet new people or join community or religious organizations that have members who share your interests. It’s possible to meet people and make new friends even if it’s difficult to get around.  It is scientific fact people live longer when surrounded by other people.PeaPatchFriends_Compressed

Remain healthy.

Carter brought up an old adage: A lean horse for a long race. With increasing life spans, retirement living can be a long race, so get yourself in shape. That means eating well, watching your weight and staying active. When you feel good, it’s easier to stay positive and open to new experiences.

There are so many options at Panorama. The article went on to say to keep setting goals for your future: decide what you still must accomplish but never had time for in the past.

-Want to obtain a diploma that you never completed or started before?

-What instrument do you want to learn to play… flute, drums (sorry neighbors)…?

-Do you want to travel to other states or new countries?

– Learn Spanish?

The most helpful thing you could do for yourself is to think about what things you feel passionately about and then find a way to engage in it. You don’t have to think about meeting other people’s expectations; you can relax and be who you are. This is what I see from Panorama residents and it is a pleasure that we get to help support it!

A Resident’s Perspective – The Smartest Decision in Our Retirement? – Part 2

Written by Panorama resident, Mary Jo, on February 18th, 2014.

Rachel Dobry, in marketing, was patient and understanding about the hesitancy of Chris (my husband) to visit and tour Panorama.  (See my first blog written in February, 2014.)  She assured me it was normal that one of the spouses wasn’t as eager as the other to move to a retirement center.  We’d e-mail easily, or talk by phone when Chris wasn’t around.  She answered any questions about activities, meals, transportation, housing and prices and was never “pushy,” which I especially appreciated.

I gathered info and studied nuances of every possible, affordable retirement facility for us that was online in Lacey and Olympia.  I filed all packets and brochures they sent us, highlighting statistics.  Even made my own “in-a-nut-shell” large chart comparing at a “glance” the pros and cons of all potential residences.  But each had its drawbacks.

In January, 2011, Melody and John (who kept going to Lacey for job interviews, hoping to move out of Las Vegas, per my 1st   blog) did visit retirement places we might be interested in if we could swing the finances.  But I still thought we’d run out of money at each of those places…over $4,000 for a couple each month!

“Mom, Dad, you don’t want to go ANYWHERE EXCEPT PANORAMA.  No place begins to compare with Panorama.  Not only are the grounds and buildings beautiful, they have so many activities and much more to offer.  Residents seem much happier and friendlier than the other places.  Residents are walking around on the grounds, in and out of the buildings.  Even the employees are happy.  The new Convalescent/Rehab Center doesn’t look like a nursing home or hospital…wide halls.  Bright. Squeaky clean.  Lovely carpeting.  Cheerful and friendly.  And a beautiful piano, Mom! Not a single odor like some places we visited.  Dad, you like to walk.  They have a gorgeous park with fantastic mature trees. We asked tons of questions for you.  Ya’ll have to go up with us when we go back in March.  We took lots of pictures and videos.  Can’t wait to show you, Mom!”

They were exciting.  We saw pictures of other places they visited, too.

Rachel had sent us an informative packet and super DVD that answered more questions and had interviews of about ten couples/singles. On it, I looked out the windows of residents’ homes, saw the game room and restaurant.  I observed the home of residents, Jean and David H., and admired the beautiful items he’d made in Panorama’s woodworking shop. Chris watched it a few times, but I watched it often when he wasn’t home and made new lists for Rachel to answer!

Gotta find out in a few weeks about our visit with a surprise!

Mary Jo Bio

Yes, You Can Still Retire

One would think that a picture of Robert Young would engender all of the trust necessary to calm one down and believe that “it’s going to be ok.” After all, didn’t we love him as Dr.Welby for so many years? He was the “father that knows best” prior to that. This is probably why U.S. News and World Report chose him or what would appear to be a Robert Young lookalike to be the face of their cover story, “Yes! You Can Still Retire,” in their October 2009 issue. Other articles inside this magazine addressed the retirement issue from various angles and viewpoints. Best places to retire; Making the Most of Frugal Living; Getting Ahead by Putting It in Reverse were just a few of these titles. It seems the point of this retirement-focused issue is that despite the dire consequences of the past year’s financial disaster, older workers will be able to retire with careful financial planning and smart decisions. Panorama represents one of the possible avenues to a comfortable, affordable and active retirement lifestyle. An important part of Panorama’s overall structure is its financial program and pricing structure, which allows a tremendous value for its residents. In fact, the large size of the community and the broad selection of homes and styles offer a broad range in entrance fees and monthly fees that make living at Panorama affordable for a large cross section of retirees. Although many at Panorama are financially comfortable, at least 20% of the residents’ annual incomes qualify as “low income” according to the county’s standards. Those residents, whose annual income is limited, find they can live quite comfortably at Panorama. This is possible because Panorama’s financial program allows residents a wide range of choices regarding how they live, allowing them to create their own customized financial plan. The entrance fee and monthly fee make possible long term financial planning that includes taking care of a broad set of basic housing needs. With these expenses taken care of, residents have a significant amount of control over other expenses that address their own interest and taste.

140 Acre one bedroom apartment homes a great value

The humorous ad that offered the “140 acre one bedroom apartment” at Panorama was meant to explain this value. A basic and affordable one bedroom apartment not only includes a fully equipped kitchen, full bathroom and spacious living room and utility room, but it also includes all of the common areas, amenities and incorporated activities that make Panorama one of the most comfortable and beautiful places to live in the Pacific Northwest; not to mention the most affordable for the active retiree. Currently available is an excellent selection of one bedroom homes that include special financial incentives to make “retirement possible” and comfortable. Yes, although the wait list for Panorama’s larger single family homes on Chamber’s Lake or McGandy Park continues to grow, there are desirable, smaller apartment homes and some garden court cottages available now. Some of these homes have detached hobby rooms and convenient covered carports as well. A Panorama one bedroom home represents a truly marvelous value because those who live at Panorama have available to them all the activities, associations and vibrant people that make this a great place to live.

Active Retirement Community

Yes, you can still retire and enjoy a wonderful retirement, that is, if you retire to Panorama.

Yes, you can sell your home and unlock precious wealth that can fund an active and secure retirement

The adjustment in the real estate market over the past 12 to 18 months has discouraged many people who would like to live securely in their retirement years. Many of those who have expressed interest in moving to Panorama will use the equity from their home to finance their retirement. Some have delayed this move out of fear that their home will not sell in this poor economy. As reported in the news, studies and analysis by realtors are telling us that when homes are priced right they sell quickly. For many of our new residents this has in fact been the case. Some may see this as a loss in income, but in reality, most of these homes have already greatly appreciated, and selling unlocks this asset to provide not only money for a home at Panorama, but increased savings that can pay interest income for years to come. So if you are interested in a richer, fuller retirement, selling your current home may be the solution, not the hindrance. Can Panorama help you achieve an active, comfortable and affordable retirement? Yes, we can.