Leila AvatarHey, You! I’m Leila Rhoden, she who is composing this mini-bio about herself, and she who has a most difficult time “tooting her own horn.” (Is that why I am talking about myself in the third person?) Therefore, this blurb will only contain the most relevant information that pertains to how I got to the point of where I am now in creating this particular website. I will disclose more about myself in the posts that follow.

I was born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia, and am now nestled in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains in northwest Georgia. After a long hiatus from college (approximately 15 years or so), I returned to the University of West Georgia and finished my Bachelor of Arts degree with a major in humanistic psychology and a minor in philosophy. Not wanting to leave the joys of scholastic life so soon, I signed my life away and completed not one, but two master’s degrees–one in psychology with an emphasis in counseling, and the other in gerontology, which is the study of the social aspect of aging.

My focus in gerontology was ‘optimal aging,’ and there was a sort of self-serving aspect in that I was a lot closer to retirement age than not. Also, I had studied health and nutrition, alternative healing modalities, herbal medicine, owned and managed health food stores, and practiced Foot Reflexology throughout the years before returning to school, therefore, it was the natural way for me to proceed.

But, why did I choose gerontology in addition to psychology?  In deciding what to pursue in postgraduate education, I knew I wanted to serve the older populations of society. My parents had instilled in me a strong sense of caring for the elders in our church and community. I thought maybe I would specialize in counseling older adults, but found that most of them could do a better job counseling me. After graduating, I worked in community mental health for several years and then went to work in the private sector at an assisted living community where I was responsible for the health and well being of 70 to 80 older adults.

Even though I really enjoyed working with the elders there, I realized that we were perpetuating the medical model of semi-controlled deterioration of mind and body. Resident health assessments; medication management; coordinating home health visits and doctor’s appointments; monitoring blood pressures and blood glucose readings; hiring, training, and firing 16-20 aides, incident reports; then–burnout! That’s not what I wanted to be doing with most of my waking hours in the first place.

Did I say “burnout?” For the past five years or so, I feel as if I have been incubating in a self-created cocoon of sorts–licking my wounds, exploring aspects of myself that needed attention and healing–all while working very hard doing a physically demanding job (which has probably been the best thing for me), in order to support myself.

Fortunately, when working I can listen to audiobooks and other programming that serve to reconnect me with my passion of studying alternative healing, health and nutritional subjects. I also have been revisiting much of the literature pertaining to spirituality and self-development that profoundly affected my positive growth into adulthood and maturity.

Somewhere along the way, I found that as I was perusing the myriad of sources of information, I was mentally compiling what is vital and meaningful pertaining to health and optimal aging into little modules that could be used for the purpose of informing and assisting those who are making the conscious choice to age well. Hence, the mission for creating the Exceptional Aging Membership Community was born.

Now, you may be thinking, “That’s all well and good, but why should I listen to you?” Well, in addition to studying healthy aging for years, I have been doing it for the past 25 years or so. While I may not be perfect, I am ‘walking my talk’ as they say –  as best I can!