January 28, 2016

My Neighborhood Listserv: A Real Asset

I love my Palisades neighborhood which we locals describe as “country living in the city,” the city being Washington, DC. And I love the house that has been my home for over 50 years. I hope to remain here until my "final exit."

But, as an 86-year-old with Parkinson's, I can use lots of help. I'm delighted that our excellent neighborhood "listserv" recently provided me some very helpful support.

For the uninitiated, a listserv is simply an electronic mailing list. You provide your email address and receive the information. Many urban neighborhoods have listservs. Maintained by volunteers, they provide a place for neighbors to exchange information about that new restaurant that just opened, complain (in our case) about the noise from the jet plans, ask for recommendations for good babysitters, etc. This past week our listserv was an invaluable resource as we dealt with the blizzard and shared information on snow plows, shovellers and lots of other issues.

Our Palisades' listserv posts a weekly "Vendor Saturday" message highlighting services offered by entrepreneurs in the 'hood. Over a month ago, I decided to check out the listing for a massage therapist. I've tried massages many times, and I've usually enjoyed them. Still, I was never interested in committing to a regular massage schedule.But after experiencing my first session with this woman, I signed up for a weekly massage.

I sense -- and my research confirms -- that massage helps alleviate the stiffness that progressively afflicts those of us with Parkinson's. So, adding a weekly massage to my routine is a winner.  And my masseuse and I share similar interests and views and are developing a nice friendship.
Encouraged by this experience, I recently checked out two other local vendors on the listserv. I was pleased with both initial sessions and look forward to working regularly with these area entrepreneurs.

One of them works out of her home a block away from mine and offers custom-designed, one-on-one instruction in yoga and meditation. You can go to the studio in her home or she will come to you. Her listserv blurb noted that she works on balance, which prompted me to contact her. Based on our first session this week, I’m sure the arrangement is going to work out well.

The other new conscript to my growing army of helpers is a woman whom the listserv describes as "The Management Maven," ready to help lighten just about any burden.

I've been talking for at least a year about downsizing, doing something about all the junk that I've accumulated over the years. But I haven't worked up the energy or enthusiasm to get started. I decided to call the Management Maven and see if scheduling a few hours with her every week might help me get going.

On her first visit, we threw out a lot of junk from a hallway closet and reorganized the rest. At first, I was uncomfortable asking her to do things I could really do myself. None of the stuff we went through required heavy lifting. But clearly I'm just not going to do the downsizing on my own. The multi-talented maven is able to handle other tasks, like searching the internet to find a good firm to cart away the big and heavy stuff. I'm optimistic that this is going to work.

My lifetime reluctance to ask others for help may be lifting a bit. Just about all of us in our 80s could use help. If you have a neighborhood listserv, check it out for listings like the Saturday Vendors List I found on ours. If you don't find a ready-made list, you can often get help just by posting a message on the listserv, like "Anyone know a good masseuse?" or "I could use help with X. Any recommendations?"

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