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Mary Ann
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Nearing retirement

In this section, Mary Ann addresses the non-financial side of retirement.

  • When should you take the plunge and tell your boss?
  • Do you want to minimize the emotional stress related to the last months of your employment?
  • Do you want a no fuss smooth transition from a career to retirement?
  • Do you worry about what you will do with all that time? How much golf can you really play?
  • Do you want to avoid eating cat food and working part-time as a store greeter?
  • It’s all possible with a simple plan – the earlier you begin this step the better.

PURSUING HAPPINESS AT 65+

With such a sad date of remembrance occurring this week and today’s news full of fear, I thought a lighter subject might be helpful for all of us.

 

At 65+, can we  find happiness in these times ?

We are so much more aware of global issues now. Instead of our parents, it’s us glued to the TV news reports. Instead of once a day in the evening, it’s every day, all day long. No longer do we require televisions or radios for news; we have up to the minute news on our computers and alarms on our cell phones to keep us in the know. Unfortunately, the same phone alarm sounds to tell us that an enemy attack is imminent or a sports figure has signed a new contract. Too bad my blood pressure can’t detect the immediate difference. So, how can we be happy with all this going on? We are resilient; we’ve enjoyed Happy Days, survived the Cuban Missile Crisis and are living longer lives than our ancestors.

Happiness is a fleeting emotion.

Years ago, I heard a speaker address this subject with an excellent visualization. Picture yourself in a room surrounded by floating balloons. They represent your emotions; those floating high are happy and those nearing the ground are sad. You begin your day with all balloons floating to the ceiling. Then the phone rings and it’s your doctor’s office wondering why you are late for your appointment = balloons start dropping with your angst, embarrassment and other negative emotions.   A few minutes later you receive another call from your best friend inviting you to lunch and your warm fuzzy emotions kick in, raising some balloons to mid-height. You get the picture, they drop with fear/disappointment/sadness and rise with fun/happy/good experiences.

By mid-day your balloons are all over the place. It’s a wonder we’re not all manic depressive. The speaker encouraged us to imagine a day with all your balloons just above your head; not too high, not too low, just a bit above average representing contentment. He said if we would keep our emotions in check, this could be accomplished. Easier said than done!

I’m certainly not a psychologist so you’re just getting Mary Ann’s opinion here. The age 65+ people, who seem to be happy, have a deep level of contentment in their lives. They may be in 30+ year marriages, or widowed, divorced or single. Their histories may include severe medical issues, great loss, failure or other life impacting events in their families. Yet, they all seem content. A few have experienced greatness in their lives with fame/career/achievements and yet they seem to be content with their years of senior maturity.

Life balance……..

seems to be a key to that contentment; appreciating what you do have and making the most out of what you have to work with. Some, like me, look to their faith for a firm foundation. Then according to their resources and abilities, they expand their interests and friendships in the world. We face physical and emotional setbacks then pause to recover and begin again. Resilience!

 

Glad you took a few minutes to read my blog. I’m learning about safe travel for people our age and will share my findings with you next week……………Mary Ann

Is Vacation still Vacation when you’re retired?

 

After seven months of retirement, I’m required to seriously ponder the day and date each morning. Weekdays and weekends seem to merge, Friday no longer carries that “whew………… “ feeling . It’s downright embarrassing to admit “day relapse” in conversations, especially with my daughters. Other retired seniors know exactly what I’m talking about because we discuss this new condition frequently. Good heavens, how bad will this become in our 80’s?

The calendar on my smart phone (it’s an iPhone 3, so I’m not sure if it’s still considered smart), is handy. I now have the ability to confirm a meeting date while having a phone conversation at the same time; without disconnecting the other person!   I also keep a Franklin-Covey paper appointment planner. Keeping the two in sync is essential and I usually spend a little time on Sunday evening comparing them for the upcoming week’s schedule. Using only one calendar would simplify my life. However, I’m a paper junkie and need that back-up. These tools are essential in a retiree’s life in order to stay on the same page with those still working.

With all that in mind, let’s talk about vacation. When I was working, vacations were few and far between; it was difficult to be absent from the demands of my job for more than a day or two. Employees today seem reluctant to use the time they’ve earned. Today, people worry about their jobs being at risk.  As a result, many companies are embracing a “use it or lose it” policy around accumulated vacation time to encourage that R & R (rest and relaxation) we all crave.

As a retiree, I check my calendar each evening to determine the need to set my alarm for the next morning.  Don’t be too envious, my internal alarm seldom let’s me sleep past 7:30am. Also, even those open calendar days include the routine chores of life. Fortunately, I’m blessed with a wonderful option. Since I no longer have an employer, I can decide to lounge on the porch, watch the hummingbirds and do those things tomorrow.

My observation is yes, retirees do still enjoy their vacations. Travel removes us from those daily routine tasks we eventually must take care of and allows us to focus on new adventures and open our minds to new possibilities.

Please join me next Friday for Mary Ann’s Medical Mishap…………..Mary Ann

 

 

 

Memory Lane or Why Did I Come to the Basement?

Trying to remember a name or detail can be so frustrating……..

When I can’t remember a name, I recite the alphabet in my mind attempting to “jog” my memory; sometimes it works.  As we age, memory recall becomes more of a problem.

I wholly enjoy the memory analogy used by an instructor for the Certified Senior Advisor program in one of his lectures.  Picture a great library of books containing the information you have stored in your brain.  There’s a specific librarian assigned to you and it’s her job to find the detail you are trying to recall.

 In your younger years, your librarian is also young……..

and very quick with locating that information. For example if you’re trying to recall a particular date, she immediately says, “That date is 1955”.

As you age, she also ages; and your speed of mental processing declines.  In your 60’s, that librarian isn’t as quick as she used to be; she’s wearing orthopedic shoes, rolled down hosiery and walking with a slight limp from her arthritis.  When you try to recall that date, she says, “Oh yes, I think it might be in Section 222, let me check”; and she goes in search of the answer.  It may take several hours before she returns with the correct response.

The good news is……..

Seniors are able to process information about as well as younger adults, if given adequate time.

So when you’re standing at the foot of the basement stairs saying, “Why did I come down here?” you need to be patient and wait for your librarian to return with the answer.  Or, just keep a notepad by the basement door.

Today there are many resources to improve your memory……

You can subscribe to a website for a fee and access interactive fun games designed to improve your mind. The internet is loaded with memory information.

I am enjoying a book, Brain Power by Laureli Blyth, which offers practical ways to boost your memory, creativity and thinking capacity.  Don’t get too excited, I’m only on page 6.

Social interaction is good for all of us in so many ways, including our memory.  Pay a visit to your local Senior Center and check out their activities calendar. They offer all sorts of options for a minimal fee and usually have a helpful new member orientation program. There are several in my area and I am having difficulty choosing only one.  Since the annual dues cost around $20, I may join two and double my fun.  Keep your mind engaged with communication and your personal memory librarian will get a workout with the names of all your new friends.

Stop by next Friday for my Boomer Sisters’ input on travel……Mary Ann

 

Adapting to Your Retirement Budget

Financial advisors talk about wants vs. needs and we say, ya, ya, ya…….while we’re still earning a regular income.  Though the budget may be tight, we can make adjustments when that next paycheck is in the bank.  Early in retirement, we often adopt the same attitude; just substituting our savings for that paycheck.  About 3 – 6 months into retirement you realize this isn’t a realistic way to live and your savings may be in jeopardy.

So, you face budget reality and realize you’ll need to cut your expenses or find a job.  Before you dust off that resume, let’s talk about those wants and needs.  We’re likely on the same page with needs such as mortgage/rent, utilities, taxes, medical insurance, transportation and food.  Our list becomes subjective when we move to gym membership, golf, salon & spa services, gifts for grandchildren, lunch with friends, travel, etc.

 I wrestled with hair and nail salon expenses……..

and opted to drop my monthly nail appointment; not the periodic pedicure (easily justified as a Senior with difficulty reaching my toes).  That alone saved me enough to cover the dog groomer; and I was proud of my frugal decision.

Let me share a warning about those Acrylic nails, which always look so nice.  They require an hour each month in the salon and usually no maintenance between appointments.  What I didn’t know is how painful they are to remove.  After soaking your fingers in a special solution, a professional can lift and remove the acrylic from the nail bed.  They usually leave a bit on the tips which will diminish as the nails grow and are filed. That’s how mine were removed with minimal discomfort.   As the day wore on, I noticed increased sensitivity in all the nail bed areas.  When I applied the clear, and very expensive, nail strengthener purchased from the salon, I almost fainted from the pain.  That first week I couldn’t sleep without pain medication. This gradually disappeared as the new nail beds thickened, about three months later.   After that agonizing frugal move, I made the decision to retain my hair salon appointments!

Sports activities can vary in cost……..

from free walking/hiking to other options such as golf.  Many golfers find a part-time job at their favorite course and receive free golf in exchange.  Others may want to beat the summer heat by just practicing at the driving range in the evening.  It’s less expensive, cooler and can eliminate some of the regulation golf course frustration.  You still wear your golf clothes and shoes, use all your clubs, and there’s usually a practice putting green included.  New golf centers, totally devoted to practice, often include small courses for your short game and seem to be the sport’s latest attraction.

My friend, Linda, found a way to travel and get paid at the same time………

She began as a part-time guide for a bus tour company specializing in school trips to Washington and Williamsburg.  Her schedule was flexible, there were parents along who were responsible for the kids safety; she absolutely loved the trips.  Later, she became a tour director on one of those glass top trains in Alaska.  It was only a 3 month commitment and the company provided her with a salary and housing. She also mentioned the tips she received from the travelers were very generous.  Linda is a widowed retired teacher and she found both opportunities online; they were part of a Cruise program.

As you talk with other Seniors, they will often share their bargain finds and budget tips.  I always say I spent the first 50 years of my life acquiring “things” and now I’m trying to downsize and simplify my lifestyle.  We really don’t need as much when we retire, especially when we focus on using what we already have.

Stop by next Friday for my blog on Memory Lane or Why did I come to the basement?

……….Mary Ann

 

 

 

 

EXITING THE WORKPLACE

Eventually, you come to the realization that you honestly want to exit the Merry-Go-Round of Work and go home. What dreams do you harbor for your retirement years?  Do you have a bucket list or maybe a longing for stress free contentment?

I am often inspired by speakers sharing their genuine success stories.  Visions of conquering those seemingly impossible challenges have always awakened my inner strength. Last year, as I enjoyed a particularly powerful speaker, the reality of my age hit me.  I was forced to acknowledge my energy limitations, and even consider that I might only have enough remaining for a few more significant lifetime challenges.

Writing has been a passion for me and this website/blog was needed to establish my next chapter.   I took a vast leap of faith into retirement last October to make it happen.  Yes, it was worth it!  I’m having such fun building a writing platform, sharing my journey, and hoping to impact you in a positive way.   And now, I find my inner strength revived and feeling frisky again.  Releasing my creativity has generated new energy for me.  I encourage you to find your own bliss while your tank is still ¾ full.

Now, it’s time to discuss the elephant in the room.

The one thing I’ll say about the financial side of retirement is, “For most of us, it’s scary”.  Just remember, you may have more options than you realize.

Spend some serious time putting pen to paper regarding your expenses and options.  If you’re married, your spouse should be involved in every step.  Since I’m divorced, I found it helpful to share my plans with my daughters.  10,000 people are turning 65 every day in our America and the internet is loaded with tools to help you.   Maybe you already have a Financial Planner.  If not, consider using a professional to review your situation.  Make time to totally focus and give yourself the opportunity to “try it on for size” as you visualize a realistic retired future:  downsized housing, location near family and friends, accessible medical services, budget considerations, reduced needs, etc., etc…  The thought of cleaning out your basement can stop you in your tracks.

Please take this advice to heart; you need to take care of these things while you are still physically able.  My dear Mother’s basement and her entire house became my responsibility when she was in her 80’s.  At the time, I was dealing with a demanding job and family issues.  I vowed never to leave my children with such responsibility and I now live in a condo without a basement.

If total financial retirement is not within your reach, maybe you can warm to the concept of a less stressful part-time job combined with any retirement benefits and Social Security.

Self-employed individuals have unique options. If you plan to sell your business, buyers often prefer to retain you as an employee for at least a year or two.  This turn-key agreement can be a wonderful way for you to approach retirement.  On the other hand, if your business will close when you retire, you may prefer to gradually downsize by reducing your marketing efforts.  With fewer clients to serve, you may be able to shorten your workdays or even work part-time.

Whatever the situation, you’re making a life changing move here.  Once you leave a career, you may never have that level of opportunity again due to your advancing age. (OK, I warned you this is scary)  Somehow you have to find confidence that you can still do whatever it takes to keep a roof over your head.

Once you have all the details worked out,

you’ll know exactly when to make your move. Each work situation has different Retirement Notice procedures.  Provide your written resignation to Management in the time frame appropriate to your job requirements.  They will need time to post the opportunity and hire your replacement.

The stronger your identity connection with your job, the more time you should allow yourself to process the change.  I speak from experience when I say,  it is emotionally painful to let go of the job and people you really care about. Handing off your responsibilities to someone else and realizing you’re no longer that person on your business card feels like a part of you is missing………….just for awhile.  As your job responsibilities diminish, the “personal you” blooms again.  Even before your final day in the office, you’ll notice the enjoyable pace in your workday and the appreciation you feel for the opportunity and the people who have crossed your path.  You’re letting go and it’s OK, because a window is opening. You’ll sense a new freedom and anticipation to embrace that next chapter in your life.

Stop by next Friday and meet my Boomer Sisters……………….Mary Ann

The Merry-Go-Round of Work

 

Maybe you’ve always called it a Carousel.  I prefer the joyous feeling and heightened anticipation that accompany the term Merry-Go-Round. This particular Merry-Go-Round is the prerequisite for Retirement and has a unique ticket cost……………….

picture of colorful carousel horses

image courtesy of Simon Howden at freedigitalphotos.net

You wait in line with your education and experience ticket, anticipating the ride of your life.  Disappointment clouds your face as you discover your ticket is not valid because your education and experience don’t match the opportunity.  Now, you’re required to stand in line all over again and maybe again and again, until your ticket matches the ride.  Once matched with your job, the attendant opens the gate.

 

A particular horse catches your eye and your foot is in the stirrup quickly.

That first job may be brief and paycheck reality often provides inspiration to beef up your resume or go back to school.  Time, opportunity, and necessity help develop your career path as you sit astride your horse expecting to enjoy the ride.

 

Occasionally, there’s a malfunction and you are at the mercy of the carnival repair guy.  You didn’t create the problem and you experience frustration because you can’t budge until his work is finished.  Safety rules force you to stay put until the motion begins again.  By that time, you will likely be so involved with the catch-up activity it will cause you to forget your earlier frustration; sort of like forgetting the pain of childbirth.  The cycle continues as the calendar pages fly off into thin air. Just riding along smoothly with occasional malfunctions until one day you receive an email congratulating you on your 5th anniversary with the company!

 

You’ve got this now, the corporate world thing. Maybe you’ve stayed in that original company and moved up in the organization.  Or perhaps you tired of that first ride and found another one that was more challenging and rewarding. Either way, you’ve learned so much throughout your career and honed your ability to “read” the other riders.  Some are typical co-workers in most organizations:

Mrs. Mom:

She’s properly seated on a carefully selected Tennessee Walker.  Her zippered tote contains a remedy for any mishap and a complete list of emergency contacts for everyone in her group.  She will take care of you.

 

Mr. Stuffy:

He’s not even on a horse; he opted for the bench seat with the swans on the side.  You can count on him to obey all the rules and file a report if you step over the line.  No ambition, just imbedded in his spot for the duration.

 

Ms. Wild Child:

She’s on a horse and can’t sit still.  She has all the moves of a circus bareback rider, with the ability to adjust to the motion of the ride. She’s always maneuvering to assure the spotlight illuminates her “best side”.  She’s highly unlikely to notice your struggles, even if you’re barely hanging onto your horse.

 

Mr. Leader:

He’s seated atop the one and only black stallion on the ride.  The horse’s mane appears to be flying in the breeze and the rider sits a bit taller to catch a glimpse of himself in one of the many mirrors festooned on the ride’s inner circle. Together, horse and rider exude assurance, power and control.   You can see their success and you are drawn to it.

 

 

The cycle of work and malfunctions continues.  Years fly by, as you deal with co-workers, managers, corporate policy and increasing responsibilities. You raise children, take care of your aging parents, maintain a reasonable lifestyle and convince yourself you’ll work forever because you can’t afford to retire.  As a senior staff member, you are respected and appreciated by your employer.  You may find yourself perceived as essential to the company’s success. You may be at the height of your career, challenged and loving it! So how can you possibly retire?

 

Then it happens; your friends start to retire and they tell you how wonderful it is and how you can do it because you “don’t need as much” when you’re retired.  And maybe you lose a dear friend to cancer; so young.

And you’re getting tired yourself.  It takes so much energy to get through the day and there’s not much left for evenings and weekends. Subtly the seeds are planted and your subconscious begins to evaluate your options. Eventually, you come to the realization that you really want to exit the ride and go home.

 

Stop by next Friday and I’ll tell you how……………….Mary Ann