Black Eyed Susan flowers in the sunlight on campus.

All Life is Learning - May 2022

Director's Note

Director's Note

For the love of OLLI

Finally, spring has arrived and we’re all excited for both the warmer weather and to continue with face-to-face OLLI courses! Here are a few things we need your help with as we return to the face-to-face environment:

  • We need volunteers who can serve as class liaisons, mainly to take attendance, welcome the instructor at the beginning of the class, thank participants for joining, and remind them to complete their evaluations at the end of the course.
  • If you have technology skills and are willing to help instructors with getting computers set up before class, let us know. We unfortunately are limited in staff and are not always available as we would like to be for instructors.
  • Remember, COVID is still lurking. Masks will become optional in indoor instructional spaces after Friday, May 6. Through May 6, masks must continue to be worn in classrooms and indoor instructional spaces, which is anywhere indoors where faculty members or instructors are teaching.
  • Please help us bring new members to OLLI! We will continue to offer face-to-face and online course options. Our goal annually (per the Osher Foundation) is to have a membership of 500+.
  • If you use Facebook or other social media platforms, share information about OLLI! Use your connections to help us grow and promote our wonderful community of learners.
  • Help us by becoming an OLLI volunteer. Volunteers are the lifeline of OLLI. Without our volunteers, we are not able to keep pace with the rich variety of programming provided by OLLI.
    • It is our volunteers who help identify courses and instructors.
    • It is our volunteers who plan OLLI events.
    • It is our volunteers who evaluate OLLI programming to ensure that we are meeting your expectations as an OLLI member.
    • It is our volunteers who plan the OLLI trips.
    • It is our volunteers who help with membership recruitment and retention
    • It is our volunteers who spread the word about OLLI.

If you are able to volunteer in any capacity, please send me an email –

Thank you in advance for helping contribute to OLLI’s continued success!

Toni Woolfork-Barnes, Ed.D.

Director, Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at WMU



Summer 2022 registration


There will be limited “phone-in registration” for the Summer 2022 session. Registering online is the quickest way to secure your spot for the courses you want to take. If you need assistance when registering online, please email OLLI at or call (269) 387-4157. Please leave a voicemail if we cannot answer – we will see it in our email.

If you have already renewed your membership, thank you! We know that a number of you will renew your membership along with your course registrations.

  • View the steps to renew your membership and register for courses
    1. Go to the OLLI website – The courses will be available here for viewing prior to the registration start date of Tuesday, May 10 at 10 a.m. The "Add to Cart" button will not appear until registration begins.
    2. Click on the "Visit the OLLI at WMU course catalog to get started" link.
    3. There are three places for offerings: "Membership," "Courses," and "SIGs and Special Offerings." Courses are broken up by month. Events are listed under SIGs and Special Offerings.
    4. Registration opens Tuesday, May 10 at 10 a.m. for summer courses. You may shop these three categories and click on "Add to Cart" for any you would like.
    5. When you are done shopping, click on the "Cart" link in the gold bar across the top of the home page.
    6. If the items are correct in the cart, you may "Check Out." It will then tell you that you need to "Sign In."
    7. If you are already an OLLI member or previous registrant, you will "Sign Into an Existing Account." You already have a "username;" if you do not know what it is, email Joyce at or the OLLI office at, and we can resend it to you.
    8. If you know your username and password, enter them and "Sign In."
    9. If you do not know your password, choose "Reset My Password." A link to reset your password will be sent to the email we have connected to your account.
    10. Sign in with your username and the password you want to create. It will ask you to type in the new password that you will be keeping twice. Once it says the password has been changed, sign in to the “existing user” again using your same username and the new password.
    11. Complete the payment steps. Once you submit your credit card information, wait until it is complete before closing your browser.
    12. You will receive an email confirmation saying that you are registered. If you do not receive this email, email Joyce or the OLLI office at the email addresses above.


A Classic Comedy in Coldwater

 Date: Wednesday, August 3

“Why Coldwater?” you might ask. Coldwater is the seat of Branch County, a small city of about 11,000 residents, but more importantly it is the site of the Tibbits Opera House, the second oldest theater in Michigan! This gorgeous opera house was built in the French Empire Architectural style in 1882. 

  • August 3, 2022

First, we will undertake a short tour of the theater, including taking a peek backstage. Then, we will take a short walk and enjoy a savory lunch at the Broadway Grill (included). After lunch we will return to the Tibbits to see Neil Simon’s iconic comedy “Barefoot in the Park.” Neil Simon received more combined Oscar and Tony awards during his lifetime than any other writer. I bet you didn’t know that!

This classic comedy follows newlyweds Corie and Paul, who are over the moon to begin their life together in their new Manhattan apartment. But, as one might expect, there are some complications. The apartment is small, it is six flights up and the building has no elevator, the heating malfunctions, they have an eccentric, bohemian neighbor, and oh...yes, a surprise visit from Corie’s conservative widowed mother. Wouldn’t you just love to eavesdrop on their antics and overhear their conversations? 

Please join us for a relaxing, fun-filled summer day. We are looking forward to reacquainting ourselves with pre-pandemic travel friends while at the same time making new ones. Grab a friend and sign up today! 

Registration begins May 2. To register, call AAA Nebraska at (800) 222-6327, press 1 from the menu and enter 203 for Dave or 204 for Michelle. To call the Nebraska office directly call (402) 390-1000 and press 1 from the menu and enter 203 for Dave or 204 for Michelle. The mailing address for AAA Nebraska is 815 N 98th St, Omaha NE 68114.

  • $136 for members

  • $151 for non-members

  • June 29 registration deadline

  • 30 capacity limit

EasyThis type of trip involves minimal walking, such as a theatre trip, requiring very short walking distances and boarding/exiting the bus a few times.


Mark your calendar! A Taste of OLLI 2022 – A Feast for Your Brain is coming up!

Save the date - June 23, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. (check-in and continental breakfast begins at 8 a.m.)

  • Bring nonmember friends for an introduction to OLLI at WMU! 
  • The event will take place at the Fetzer Center, 2251 Business Ct, Kalamazoo, MI 49008-5239, on the campus of Western Michigan University
  • Meet fall instructors and learn about their courses
  • Attend mini breakout sessions or “tastes” of courses lead by our OLLI instructors
  • Learn about OLLI committees and volunteer opportunities
  • Become an OLLI member or renew your membership
  • Socialize with old friends and meet new ones
  • Bring your donations for Kalamazoo Literacy Council, one of OLLI’s community outreach partners
  • The event, including parking, is free, but registration is required!

A Taste of OLLI is perfect to experience that one-time volunteer opportunity you have been thinking about. Please contact the office at or (269) 387-4157 to let us know if you are interested in helping support this lively event! 

We look forward to seeing you there with your nonmember friends!


Membership and Marketing

One-time volunteers needed

Ever wonder about how to volunteer with OLLI when your life is so busy? We have the perfect opportunity! Volunteers are always needed for one-time activities, such as talking with people about OLLI at a Farmers Market, festival, Art Hop, or helping at Taste of OLLI 2022. If this sounds like something you can fit into your schedule, please sign up for our list of members willing to be asked for assistance by reaching out to Judy Sivak, co-chair of the Membership and Marketing committee, at or call the OLLI office at (269) 387-4157

WMU Giving Day 2022

Thank you to all who supported OLLI at WMU by participating in Giving Day 2022! We broke several records and raised an incredible $5,432! Our OLLI is so much stronger because of you and your generosity. How many ways can I say thank you? And how many ways can I show my gratitude? The answer is simply, I cannot thank you enough and I cannot show my gratitude enough! I am always heartened by our OLLI members and your ongoing support. 

Deeply heartened and forever appreciative

Toni Woolfork-Barnes, Ed.D.

Wellness Moment

Tyler Norman, Ph.D.
Manager of Corporate Outreach
ACSM Exercise Physiologist
NCFI Corporate Fitness Specialist
West Hills Athletic Club, WMU

Learnable superpowers – mindful meditation

I recently took my 17-year-old daughter and her friend to Florida for spring break. My wife could not get the time off, so if we were going to drive straight through, I would have to reconcile attempting to sleep in the back seat while my teenager drove 80 miles an hour at 3 a.m. It proved impossible. With the ABRUPT lane changes, regular intervals of slamming on the brakes, and many expletives from the both of us, I realized that I would never be able to fall asleep, regardless of my exhaustion. Of course, she thinks she is the best driver in the world (she is not). Although I am a pretty fit person, I came as close as ever to having a coronary event and had to find ways to keep calm for about 8-hours. I had to conjure my mindfulness superpower for survival, and it gave me the idea for this month’s newsletter submission. 

Mental health is part of almost every conversation these days, and depression and anxiety are a common part of our language. Mindful meditation and radical acceptance have helped millions of people manage their stress and anxiety. I will only describe them from a big-picture perspective, as they are designed to be very personal in nature and mastered over time.

Mindfulness is a mental state where one’s focus is on the present moment in time. Most of our stress is fed by thoughts of the past and/or the future, so the idea is to use meditation to focus on the present with non-judgmental acceptance of your current emotional state. Close your eyes and focus on something you hear or feel, like the air conditioning in the vents or the way your body feels in the chair. As your mind drifts to the future, maybe a deadline or some chore, catch yourself and bring your focus back to the air in the vents. As your mind drifts to the past, maybe an unpleasant exchange with a colleague or something you read in the paper, catch yourself and bring your focus back to the way your body feels in the chair. 


 Like any superpower or skill your ability to conjure it gets better over time and with practice. Having practiced this superpower for the last five years or so, it came in handy during Covid and is the only reason I survived that 8-hour ride with my teenage daughter behind the wheel. As you get better at practicing mindfulness, you notice that you now have the magical power of closing your eyes and making your stress and anxiety disappear. Here is a study that discusses the physiology behind why mindful meditation has this effect on our executive function. 

Now You Know

The month of May features a couple of holidays that don’t usually get much attention. One that has become more recognized over the years, Teacher Appreciation Week, takes place May 2 through May 6. Now more than ever, we should celebrate the teachers who work with our children and help them understand the complexities of this world and how to navigate it. Don’t forget to show your appreciation by thanking teachers for the time and commitment they have put in during this pandemic. 

May is also ALS Awareness Month, recognizing the people who fight it every day and spreading awareness about this condition. ALS, otherwise known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, affects the nervous system, weakening the muscles and impacting physical function. To learn more or to help spread awareness, please visit these sites below:

Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage month celebrates the contributions and influences of AAPI culture, heritage, and achievements. There are many things to learn from another culture or ethnicity, as it offers another point of view and strengthens your understanding about our interconnected world. More information can be found at the following links:

Enjoy these warmer days by expanding your horizons and learning more about others!

What is the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute?

The program was initiated under the auspices of the WMU Emeriti Council and WMUx. OLLI offers intellectually lively and culturally appealing learning experiences. We accomplish this by focusing on intellectual stimulation, personal growth, social engagement and enrichment.  Read more


What do we do?

We offer short courses for one to four weeks. Sessions are usually two hours long. Travel programs are also a part of our offerings. There are no tests and no required homework, just exploring lots of interesting topics.

In the near future we will offer courses in different formats -- noon hour discussions, several sessions in one week, and more evening courses. OLLI courses and activities are developed and produced by its members with the support of the staff of WMUx.

We need your ideas for course topics and instructors. Let us know your suggestions. Call the OLLI office at (269) 387-4157 or send an email. The curriculum committee will review all suggestions.