By Nanci Winterhalter

Besides the beautiful scenery and the acting chops of Katherine Hepburn and Henry Fonda, there is a conversation that has stuck with me from the 2007 movie On Golden Pond:

Ethel: “Hey, I met the nicest couple!” Norman: “Huh? Where?” Ethel: “In the woods!” Norman: “A couple of people?” Ethel: “No, a couple of ante-lope. Of course, a couple of people. Their name is Migliori, I believe.” Norman: “Migliori? What sorta name is that?” Ethel: “I don’t know, darling. Italian, I suppose. They’re up from Boston.” Norman: “They speak English?” Ethel: “Of course they speak English. They’re a nice middle-aged couple, just like us.” Norman: “If they’re just like us, they’re not middle-aged.” Ethel: “Of course they are!” Norman: “Middle-aged means the ‘middle’, Ethel. Middle of life. People don’t live to be a hundred and fifty!” Ethel: “Well… we’re at the far edge of middle age, that’s all.” Norman: “We’re not, you know. We’re not middle-aged. You’re old, and I’m ancient!” Ethel: “Oh, poop!”

Like Ethel, I consider myself at the far”ish” edge of middle age. However, I have noticed that upon enter-ing the 60’s a couple of years ago, topics previously unspoken of have become more familiar areas of discussion amongst my cohort. Grandkids, hobbies, retirement, social security, health care, down-sizing and more.

Lions and tigers and bears, oh my! Even though I might feel and think like I am 40, I have to admit that The Older Americans Act (OAA) does apply to me. OAA is a federal law that promotes the well-being of Americans “over 60”. To be honest, the thought of now being an OLDER American can be a little intimidating. But I remain optimistic!

Every year in May, the ACL (Administration for Community Living) leads the nation’s observance of Older Americans Month and has proclaimed the theme for 2024 as Powered by Connection, which recognizes the profound impact that meaningful relationships and social connections have on our health and well-being. That got me thinking…how am I doing? How are you doing?

As a student of yoga, I am blessed to have a built-in community at both the studio (Sangha in downtown New Bedford) where I teach and practice and the community center (Dartmouth COA) where I teach. I am always surprised by how many opportuni-ties I have for learning/sharing at both places. From daily and varied move-ment classes, artistic explorations, book review/clubs, music, workshops, special presenters on a plethora of topics, community volunteer projects, scholarly pursuits, practical guidance and the wonderful people I have met through these affiliations. For instance, in a recent yoga class at Sangha, full of students of varied ages, we breathe and move together, we celebrate a special birthday, we laugh. After class, we spontaneously meet about the possibility of collaborating on a new project. I leave feeling energized and enthusiastic.

Likewise, during classes I teach at the Dartmouth COA that focus on cultivating healthy posture, we move and laugh together, share common experiences and encourage each other. Leaving, I walk around the Center where people are playing, learning, meditating, “Zumba”-ing, read-ing, helping each other and generally connecting. I pick up a few newsletters to share with people I know and I feel invigorated. The thought of aging is no longer as intimidating to me as I am “powered by connection.”

Nanci Winterhalter, MSPT, is a certified yoga teacher and yoga therapist.