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Forum is a reminder to make days count

Those who look for a brighter tomorrow and find no beauty in today have missed the joy of living somewhere along the way.

That quote (author unknown) used by Dunedin Fine Art Center director Nancy McIntyre at an "Aging Successfully" forum Wednesday struck a resonant chord among the four panelists and 75 audience members.

Gaylon Greer, who coordinates Hospice counseling programs, talked about "living in the now" and doing it "spiritually, soulfully, meaningfully." Remind yourself, he said, that "it's important for me to make this day count in every possible way." We all talk that talk but too often forget to walk the walk, don't we?

Nancy talked about "aging creatively" and brought along two "good examples," women in their 70s who both teach at the art center and are too busy enjoying today to worry about tomorrow.

Shirley Talmadge, who paints and teaches it and tap dances and teaches it, urged her listeners to "surround yourself with people who are doing things," like her 80-year-old friend who has just learned how to play the saxophone.

"I don't believe in age," Shirley exclaimed. "The people I enjoy are ageless," adding that she doesn't worry about how many years she has left because "I've got today."

Sally Anderson, who operates a fitness studio and writes an exercise column for the Times' Seniority section, and Nan Jansen, a dietitian for the Pinellas County Cooperative Extension Service, also brought messages that their listeners have heard before but need to hear again.

"Some things we can't control," Sally said about our physical and mental health, "but there is so much we can control." Exercising properly, consistently and enthusiastically pays many dividends, she said. Her pitch for brisk walking is well-known, more so than her urging everyone to do some kind of weight training and strength conditioning.

She told about a friend who is a mental health counselor encouraging her clients to exercise and often hearing this response: "I will when I feel better." They obviously have it backward.

Nan also plugged exercise along with eating right so people can remain active. She reminded everyone that calorie needs decrease with age. I know that, but I didn't have the nerve to point out that my appetite has not decreased proportionately.

Dr. Bill Hale of the Dunedin Committee on Aging, which sponsored the forum, welcomed everyone including "an aging old friend," with a nod in my direction.

The master of ceremonies was an "aging old friend" of mine, Times elder affairs reporter John Cutter, sporting a new beard that befits someone turning 40 this year.

Armadillo Run ready

to set a pace Saturday

One of my favorite runs, when I was still able to do that, was the Armadillo Run along the shores of Old Tampa Bay in Oldsmar. It's a laid-back, scenic, kind of a quiet run, even when a human-powered armadillo occasionally joins the field.

The 15th annual event _ with 10-kilometer, 5-kilometer and 1-mile runs _ is set for Saturday with registration from 6 to 7:45 a.m.

The run is sponsored by the Oldsmar/East Lake Rotary Club, which uses the proceeds to support a variety of community programs including a reading room and children's reading kits for the Oldsmar Library; East Lake High School's wrestling and baseball teams, drama club, band and drug-free graduation party; Family YMCA of North Pinellas; and holiday food baskets. The club also has adopted a class at Oldsmar Elementary and salutes a student of the month at Cypress Woods Elementary.