By Brett Harris
As I'm writing this note a rainstorm is brewing outside the window. The clouds are dark and the forecast is threatening every Easter egg hunt from Jackson to the Coast. In the midst of it all, I can see flowers blooming all around the Peck House grounds. While I enjoyed the snow Mother Nature brought to south Mississippi, I am thrilled for the new life that's popping up all around us, even in the midst of a rainstorm.
I've had numerous conversations with members this year about the storms of their lives-- diagnoses of disease, losses of loved ones, recognitions of physical limitations. The list goes on. It can feel as if the storms are coming no matter where we look to the horizon. Some may be closer than others. Some may be stirring in darker, heavier clouds than others. Nevertheless, we cannot avoid the storms.
If we're lucky, however, the view we have isn't consumed by the storms. Maybe there are flowers blooming in sight. Maybe there's a relaxing stream running nearby. Maybe there's a standoff between two honking geese over a plot of grass or a slow-motion turtle fight in Bear Creek Bayou that just makes you laugh.
I don't know what's in view for you, but what I see out the window today is, in some way, a metaphor for OLLI. Life throws a lot at us, often when we least expect it. In the midst of it all, though, there are pieces that bring us joy; images and experiences that remind us of the new life popping up all around us. I hope OLLI is such a place for you.
In these pages you'll read about some of the new life your fellow OLLI members have experienced this semester. You may have experienced it too. If you know anyone whose life is stormy right now, I hope you'll tell them about OLLI and the new life we see here every semester. It may be just the place they need to find and, if nothing else, they might get to enjoy a good goose standoff now and then.
By Betty Dettre
As my presidency approaches its final days, I look back at how fast the time went by due to the professionalism of Brett Harris, the OLLI Advisory Board, committee chairs and the staff.
During my presidency I came to realize just how much Brett and the staff do to create the impression that OLLI practically runs itself. Not true! The illusion is created by Brett's numerous meetings with various offices of Southern Miss to deal with issues as they come up and his foresight in dealing with future issues such as budgeting, maintenance of our buildings and grounds, and expansion. This helps ensure that OLLI fulfills its obligations with the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute in order to continue our affiliation with them. He also coordinates with local civic groups on activities that will promote OLLI. And in his spare time he searches for and writes grants for OLLI.
My sincere thanks to Brett, office administrative staff Tay Baucum, Diane Jeske, student helpers, Advisory Board, committee chairs and all of the other volunteers. And, thank you to all of the OLLI members for their enthusiasm and efforts to make OLLI such a wonderful place to be. OLLI would not exist without you.
By Carolyn Rothery
Home repair shows knock out walls and install new floors to achieve a modern, sleek look in old houses. OLLI fitness classes knock out stiff joints and weak muscles to achieve strong, healthy bodies in senior citizens. Trimmer waistlines and smaller clothes beat new draperies any day.
Health-conscious OLLI participants say "bring it on!" with Tai Chi, Nia Dance, Yoga, Zumba dance moves, and Fitness for Wellness and Injury Prevention. OLLI will even work on your brain with aerobics to keep your brain fit and sharp. Want to walk? What better place than our garden path with blooms, butterflies, birds and buff bodies zipping by?
A little Google research promised that exercise can build strength and muscle, help with cardio endurance, change decreased range of motion to flexibility, and improve balance to help us avoid injuries from falls and keep us independent and mobile. Want to feel sexy? Get moving. Need help with high blood pressure, high cholesterol, arthritis, osteoporosis, heart disease, waste around the waist, diabetes, and depression? Say, "Thanks, OLLI, sign me up; I want to get moving and have some fun while I'm doing it."
Now, just a few words of caution. Check with your doctor before you set out to remodel your body. Let your physician outline any precautions you need to take such as adjusting medications or if a physical condition such as osteoporosis must limit your bending and twisting. Start slowly and work up to more repetitions and to advanced or challenging moves. Stay hydrated while you work out. Stop if something hurts other than muscles that have been in retirement.
As much as we love our classes, be sure to take advantage of good weather with biking, tennis, swimming, hiking, dancing and walking. Take a deep breath and enjoy the honeysuckle while you enjoy your makeover. How sweet it is!
By Nanci Youngblood
He had already completed six Ironman Triathlons on six continents in his 60s—that's age not decades—and had written to tell about it! So why would Dr. John Pendergrass want to go back to a country where he had served as a flight surgeon in the Vietnam War? His latest book, Racing Back to Vietnam, tells why. It outlines his experiences and encounters during that re-visit which he shared with OLLI members in a seminar.Dr. Pendergrass found it interesting in his conversations with Vietnamese citizens, through an interpreter, that most of the people he encountered hardly knew of the war—either because they were too young to remember or had been born since the war ended. The ones who were older and did remember expressed gratitude that the United States had attempted to thwart a Communist takeover of South Vietnam. Surprisingly he found a thriving economy based on capitalistic theory and practice in spite of the fact that Vietnam is indeed a Communist nation.
In attempting to visit sites of major battles from which he had assisted wounded soldiers, he discovered many locations could not be found. Foliage had covered over the sites and the memories. In Hanoi he visited preserved remnants of prisoner-of-war camps including parts of the "Hanoi Hilton" where John McCain was a POW. The Vietnamese people he talked to seemed to bear no resentment toward the United States. The predominant negative feelings now, he said, are a fear and dread of China.
At least four members in the seminar had served in Vietnam—one as a Red Cross volunteer, one as a member of the state department and two as combat soldiers. Dr. Pendergrass asked them to share their experiences serving and then asked the rest of us to share our impressions of the war then and now.
Having a seminar by an actual participant in that war was relevant and well received in light of recent reminders of the Vietnam War by the movie, The Post, and Ken Burns' series on the war, which Dr. Pendergrass said he had watched three times.