You may have heard of the “Blue Zones” project, a well-being improvement initiative designed to help make healthy choices easier in The Dalles. It is based on the idea that much of our health and longevity is determined by our environment, and that optimizing our surroundings can add both quantity and quality to our lives. When the entire community—including schools, restaurants and the Mid-Columbia Senior Center—participates, small changes can reap large dividends.

In support of this initiative, the Center is working to become a Participating Organization. This requires the Center to complete several actions within six months—starting a Moai Walking Team, hosting plant-based cooking events, and posting Blue Zone information on the Center’s website.

But another requirement is to encourage community members to complete a Blue Zones Personal Pledge and return it to the Center.

The pledge consists of selecting at least five actions from the list below. If you are already doing some of them, give yourself a pat on the back. And then consider challenging yourself by completing several additional actions in the next six months. You can find the pledge in more detail on the Center’s website (www.midcolumbiaseniorcenter.com) or pick one up at the Center.

More information is available on The Dalles Blue Zones Facebook page.

1) Keep a comfortable pair of walking shoes in plain sight to provide that nudge to move naturally daily. Or maybe a speedo swimsuit pinned to the front door?

2) Adopt a dog. Those daily walks will keep you moving!

3) Attend a Blue Zones Purpose Workshop.

4) Remove all computers and electronics from your bedroom. Here most older adults have an advantage by not being addicted to their Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts.

5) Designate a space in your home for quiet time, meditation, or prayer.

6) Stock your cupboard with 10-inch dinner plates because you mindlessly eat more calories when eating off larger plates. And that doesn’t mean you can go back for seconds!

7) Remove TVs and computers from the kitchen and dining areas. They lead to mindless eating and consuming needless calories.

8) Own a bathroom scale and weigh yourself regularly.

9) Attend a plant-based cooking class. Knowing how to cook plant-based dishes that you enjoy increases the nutritional quality of your meals.

10) Grow a garden at your home or adopt a plot at a community garden.

11) Schedule a weekly happy hour with friends and a small glass of red wine (if you have a healthy relationship with alcohol.)

12) Have a conversation about getting older. Join the Center’s “Let’s Talk” group every Friday at 11 a.m. Or have an honest conversation with your adult children about what you want.

13) Belong to a faith-based organization.

A “wet rag” was someone who was unpopular and just not fun to hang out with. Only Jeanne Pesicka answered the question correctly, although with a little coaching; she receives a free quilt raffle ticket. And from last week, I missed Sandy Haechrel driving by in her “jalopy.”

I often receive comments about the “Remember When’ questions, and what I particularly like to hear is, “I’d forgotten all about that”. My goal is not to stump you, although this last week’s question was a tough one, but to bring back memories of past experiences: attending a Beatles concert in Portland, remembering where you were when Neil Armstrong walked on the moon, or thinking of when you first heard classmates playing “Hang on Sloopy” at your high school’s talent show.

Reminiscing is one of the advantages of age. It gives us a deeper perspective of life and who we are. But most of the questions come from my limited experiences—an Indiana boy attending high school and college in the 60’s.

So if you can think of any questions, send them my way.

The Dalles-Wasco County Public Library has several book groups, one of which is a non-fiction book group which meets on the 3rd Wednesday of the month at 6:30 p.m. The book they are reading for February was written by Rachel Carson and published in 1962. For this week’s “Remember When” question, what was the name of this book, which inspired the environmental movement?

Email your answer to www.mcseniorcenter@gmail.com, leave a message at 541-296-4788 or return your answer written on the back of a gallon of DDT.

Well, it’s been another week trying to keep the fire burning. Until we meet again, here’s one of Roger Rosenblatt’s rules for aging: “Just because the person criticizing you is an idiot doesn’t make him wrong.”

Thursday (7): Seasoned Chicken Breast (Music by Tom Graff)

Friday (8): Chicken and Dumpling (Homemade Soup and Salad Bar)

Monday (11): Salisbury Steak

Tuesday (12): Turkey and Gravy with Mashed Potatoes

Wednesday (13): Pork Chops (Homemade Soup and Salad Bar)

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