Mary Blazanin

It’s good to find a time to celebrate the little things. Things that might otherwise go unnoticed, or fall under the radar. When our kids are little, we do this without thinking. We squeal when they give us their first smile, applaud with glee when they take their first step, proudly proclaim to anyone listening when they speak their first real word, celebrate each young birthday with reckless abandon.

As my kids aged we celebrated when they lost their first tooth, learned to ride a two-wheel bike, aced their spelling test, passed their driving test, got up for school on time, and, honestly, whenever they made a wise decision on their own without prompting from a parent. Sometimes we threw a party just because we had managed to fold, sort and put away every item of clothing sitting in the 10 laundry baskets scattered around the house.

Right now it feels like celebrating is difficult — we are surrounded by many things which don’t warrant it. But, I am choosing to look for the silver lining, to find the little things to celebrate, like beautiful sunsets and fall colors, conversations with family or friends, a homegrown tomato slice on my BLT sandwich, or the fact that I didn’t dribble coffee down my chin while driving to work this morning. You get the gist.

I also took a moment last week to celebrate September being National Senior Center Month. I dug out an old horn from our last New Year’s Eve party and blew it loud and strong. It made some good noise. I think I startled my coworkers.

Then, I took some shredded paper from long-ago COVID-cancelled events, and threw them in the air as a way of tossing out the old and ushering in the new. I was by myself at this party; I didn’t want to risk being in a crowd. I probably should have reconsidered the messy confetti idea, but it helped set the mood.

Admittedly, I kept my celebration low key with very little fanfare, but this does not take away from the importance of senior centers in our communities. In fact, we have been busier than ever finding ways to make important connections to our older adult population during this pandemic.

According to The National Institute of Senior Centers, there are 11,000 senior centers nationwide. Preventing social isolation is certainly vital to what we do. Yet we strive even more to promote a positive and healthy view of aging, provide a safe and engaging place to learn, and encourage good physical, cognitive and emotional health which, in turn, creates a strong community of active older adults.

While the delivery methods have changed because of COVID, centers like ours have succeeded in continuing to provide programming and resources for older adults and their families as they navigate the muddy waters of pandemics and social change. If you are an older adult benefitting as a result, that is something good to celebrate!

Today, I challenge you to celebrate the little things. For example, did you know that when you smile, even when you may not want to, your brain automatically creates endorphins that actually help you feel happier? Also, you simply cannot smile and frown at the same time. You can try this at home. Then, practice smiling — even under your mask in public. You are sure to notice a difference in your demeanor, and that is also something to celebrate.

Mary Blazanin is the Chanhassen Senior Center coordinator. The senior center is located at 7700 Market Blvd., Chanhassen. More info at 952-227-1124.