Aging Pearls

Spanish philosopher and poet Moses ibn Ezra (1060-1139) captures the essence of ageless wisdom: “Dive into the sea of thought and find there pearls beyond price.”  Our thoughts may be gems or junk. What are your thoughts about aging? What if re-feathering your nest could change how you think about aging?

Designer Ingrid Fetell Lee (Joyful: The Surprising Power of Ordinary Things to Create Extraordinary Happiness) delivered a TED talk where the most discussed aspect of her performance later was her overnight stay in a candy-colored and stacked-architectural-form apartment with cube-sphere-and-tube spaces which led to her feeling energetic and well, a bit ageless. An apartment complex in a Tokyo suburb, Reversible Destiny Loft, surprises the senses. A circular room with a kitchen at the center–poles, ladders and electrical outlets dangling from above–delights people.  

There are directions for your stay in this curiosity paradise, such as: 

1. “As you step into this unit fully believe you are walking into your own immune system.” 5. “Go into this unit as someone who is at the same time both 2 or 3 years old and 100 years old.”                            

Designed by artist Arakawa and poet Madeleline Gins, the team took inspiration for their radical design from Helen Keller! They viewed Keller as an individual who exuded “reversible destiny.” They dedicated their innovated-living spaces to Keller’s memory. They believed that creative design could reverse aging!

Initially this may sound like junk thinking, but I believe it is gem thinking! Muscles atrophy without exercise and cognition takes a nosedive without stimulation. The intrepid artist/poet duo took a long look at the multiple beiges in our interiors, declaring such spaces contribute to a withering mind!  

The center circle of a Reversible Destiny Loft sports a floor of “an uneven compacted material with vertical poles to assist moving within the space.” It serves as a foot massage. Hmm…I just twisted my foot when I slipped sideways on a twig on uneven ground. But this is unusual behavior for me, so I’m still game on to try an overnight stay like Lee. Are you with me?    

Guests and residents of these stimulating spaces discover serendipity. It just sounds like fun! Fun makes you feel young at any age. OK, maybe we do not have to stay overnight in Reversible Destiny Lofts. What about adding more color, art, plants, and additional sensory stimulation to your home? Wear colorful clothes!

Arakawa admonishes, “People, particularly old people, shouldn’t relax and sit back to help them decline. They should be in an environment that stimulates their senses and invigorates their lives.” Afterall, when lab mice live in enriched environments with lots of physical movement, there are positive neurological changes in their brains that can relate to dementia.

It is National Wellness Month! Age is a number. Put on some pearl thoughts.

Pearls of Peace (PoP) Quiz:

107. What does your home offer that stimulates your senses?

108. Is your “feeling” age different from your biological age?  

By Janis Johnston

Janis Clark Johnston, Ed.D., has a doctorate in counseling psychology from Boston University. She has worked with children, families, and groups (ages 3-83) with presenting issues of anxiety, depression, trauma, loss, and relationship concerns. She initially worked as a school psychologist in public schools and was awarded School Psychology Practitioner of the Year for Region 1 in Illinois for her innovative work. She was a supervising psychologist at a mental health center, an employee-assistance therapist and a trainer for agencies prior to having a family therapy private practice. Recipient of the 2011 Founder’s Award for her dedication to the parenting education of Parenthesis Family Center (now called New Moms), and the 2002 Community Spirit Award from Sarah’s Inn, a domestic violence shelter and education center, Johnston is an active participant in numerous volunteer activities supporting children and families in her community. A frequent presenter at national psychology and educational conferences, Johnston has published journal articles, book chapters, and two books -- It Takes a Child to Raise a Parent: Stories of Evolving Child and Parent Development (2013, hardback; 2019, paperback) and Midlife Maze: A Map to Recovery and Rediscovery after Loss (2017, hardback; 2019, paperback). In addition to augmenting and supporting personal growth in families, Johnston is a Master Gardener and loves nurturing growth in the plants in her yard.


  1. Yes, Jenny Joseph’s “When I am an Old Woman I Shall Wear Purple” conveys gem thinking. Living with joy in little ways every day adds up to a more meaningful existence…besides, joy is contagious in a non-Covid way!


  2. I think one reason I garden, and grow indoor as well as outdoor plants is the variety of stimulation they create! A small, supposedly slow growing, cacti purchased last summer during the pandemic has grown a huge lobe in just the last few months; there are wonderful bees on my blackeyed susans, and new rose buds in all this heat are amazing!! I also love your picture…it reminds me of the sunsets in Acadia National Park when everyone would gather on Cadillac Mountain for the sunset!


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