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Happy New You!

Independent Living and Realities of Aging


Independent Living residents of Beacon Hill at Eastgate meet every week with Chaplain Howard Earle to discuss the realities of aging during. Every week during this class, “Nobody Asked Me,” they discuss new topics. We’re taking on 2024 with a lot of enthusiasm!


I am discovering something about myself; I love new stuff! Before you go getting all judgmental on me, I would surmise that you appreciate new stuff as well. Who doesn’t appreciate the new car smell? Or the sound of tissue paper as you unbox a new pair of shoes? Do you remember receiving the keys to your first car or your first house? Their age at the time doesn’t matter because they were new to you. How about the experience of holding your newborn child? I’ll never forget the myriad of emotions I felt as I held each of my children for the first time. They all have distinct personalities. Even though I have three children, each one’s birth felt like it was the first time.

I checked the calendar this morning and noticed that we are a few days into 2024. In essence, it’s a new year. What’s in a new year? That was a question we pondered in a Nobody Asked Me group this week. Of course, we shared all of the usual responses like “new opportunities,” “the unknown,” “new challenges,” etc. But we also sat with the question long enough to lean into something deeper. Like that new pair of shoes or new car, a new year brings with it an infinite number of possibilities. While this may be true, it turns out that this reality isn’t always readily embraced. Beneath the surface of Happy New Year are the realities unique to senior living.

What concerns you about a new year? That was our second question that really turned our conversation much more introspective.  The word “new” is one of those words that can be unassuming at first but ultimately becomes a gateway to rich dialogue and reflection. We often associate words like “shiny” and “attractive” with the word “new,” but what if you were content with your old house, friends, and even body. Every day that is added to my tenure here at Beacon Hill, the more sensitive I am to the realities of aging. It goes without saying, the world is changing fast, and an argument can be made that our current trajectory isn’t one in a favorable direction. In this new year there’s deep concern about the future. What kind of world will our grandchildren and great grandchildren grow up in? In addition to the concern about our progeny’s future, there’s also the concern of mortality. A new year for some is a reminder that they are closer to the end of life. Loss is inevitable and we cannot help but wonder who we might lose this year? I know the light in my eye is growing dimmer and my steps aren’t as spry as they used to be. Will some part of my body give out this year? Who will take care of me or my partner? These are questions evoked by a new year.

All of the concerns we have about a new year are valid, but they don’t get to dictate how we embrace a new year. “What excites you about a new year?”, our final question. Once again, the word “new” was the focal point of the discussion. At the beginning of every year, I sit with a God’s words spoken through the prophet Isaiah, “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing!” Rather than allowing a new year to be hijacked by doom and gloom thinking, choose to embrace the positive. There’s a reason why God allowed you to see 2024. He’s got new stuff for you this year! Just because you’re old doesn’t mean that there’s nothing new for you. So, tear into this new year like that new pair of shoes or new house and embrace all that it has to offer. Will there be challenges? Absolutely! But God is still up to something new and we have every reason to believe that it will be good. I keep telling you, “You’re alive, so live!” Not only is it a new year, but you’re also a new you! Happy New Year! Happy New You!

Join us on Mondays at 2:00 pm in the Vistas Garden Lounge or Tuesdays at 9:30 am in the chapel for a candid conversation about the wonderful world of senior living.

You belong here.

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Beacon Hill at Eastgate is a distinctive, not-for-profit retirement community located in Grand Rapids’ desirable Eastgate neighborhood.

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