• So you really did it?
• Did you walk away from that fast paced job that was your world?
• What do you say when you introduce yourself now?
• Did you become invisible? Does anyone care?
• How do you define the “retired” you?
• When you wake up with nothing you have to do, is it all finished when you go to bed at night?
• How can you downsize your lifestyle?
A broad look at aging issues seems to be front and center in my life recently…..
Just the other day, after applying my “leaving the house” makeup, I sprayed my face with hairspray instead of my usual finishing facial mist! In my defense, both were in similar containers and side by side in my makeup basket. My mistake was not putting on my glasses! Good grief, what’s next?
Let me tell you……….when a few ideas for this blog came to mind last week, I jotted down several notes on a small piece of paper and carefully, or so I thought, placed it in my office. Now, I’m experiencing my number one daily activity, searching. Enough of that, I’m giving up the search and hoping for inspiration.
A few months ago, when my cable company suggested lowering my bill by removing my land line, I gave no thought as to how I would locate my cell phone in the house. It’s embarrassing to admit to how many times per day I go looking for it. Just last week, I thought I might need to visit my neighbor and ask her to call me!
And if that’s not enough, medical issues abound with my circle of friends and their spouses. I am blessed to have the time to offer feeble attempts at support as we all journey through this next chapter of our lives together. Today, our girlfriend lunches tend to focus on discussions around medication side effects and natural remedies. Somehow, the apparent problem on our dessert plates is seldom a topic. Simple exercise and healthy diets would likely resolve many issues, especially mine.
So now, with Christmas rapidly approaching,
I’m faced with hauling the decorations out of my garage to decorate my condo. My practical decision to buy a lighter weight Christmas tree on sale at the end of last season has worked to my advantage. This new tree weighs only 6 pounds and is in two pre-lit sections, easy to assemble. It’s more than adequate for displaying the ornaments that hold greatest sentimental value for me.
I gave away my larger heavier tree and spent a day in the garage, with a space heater, downsizing decorations. Just yesterday, I dropped off two large plastic tubs full at the Veterans donation spot near my local hardware store. A few tubs of “maybe” items remain in my garage until next year’s sorting. My childhood manger scene, precious SnowBaby Advent tree, and a number of other special treasures will remain with me as long as possible. However, many nice decorative accents that once graced a larger home no longer hold relevance in a condo inhabited by an individual. By eliminating the clutter, I find great peace, comfort and joy in my choices. The prospect of decorating is no longer a daunting task but a lovely time for memories and reflection.
Another joy I added to the season this year……….
Though I have an E-Reader, I remain a paper junkie and love those library book sales. I’ve accumulated a small stack of Christmas books, most by famous authors. You might be surprised to know your favorite mystery writer has penned such a book. Rescuing these Christmas treasures from a bookshelf corner, they are now stacked on a small table, near my comfy chair, in reading preference order. I’m currently enjoying David Baldacci’s The Christmas Train, and anticipating the joy in reading Marjorie Holmes’ Two From Galilee during the week of Christmas.
Wishing you a Merry Christmas & a New Year filled with simple joys and the gift of love………..Mary Ann
Valentine’s Day is grounded in nostalgia for me;
red construction paper, white lacy doilies, the smell of paste and the hopeful anticipation of acceptance. How awful to endure the stress of a beautifully decorated but potentially empty Valentine Box. Fortunately, that wasn’t my plight; though the popular girls always received many more cards than I did.
So here I am, about 18 months away from 70, and still smelling the paste. What about you? I hope you’re recalling a sweet memory right now.
Handwritten words, a lovely card, flowers; how we enjoy receiving them. Maturity not only teaches us to savor these sentiments and the delicious moments that accompany them; it often melts our concise business world hearts, revealing a new passion to appreciate and comfort others.
As the years catch up with us, there are flashes of irrelevance we experience in this fast paced world. If you are so moved this season of love, remember friends and neighbors who might appreciate a simple little Valentine or a small batch of cookies sprinkled with your kindness.
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OK, I have to admit it. On occasion, I have surrendered to the TV Shopping Channel.
Several years ago when work related stress had me up channel surfing at 3a.m., a flickering image flew by and caught my attention. I recognized a famous financial advisor…… what was she talking about? One click on the remote took me back and I was smitten. She was selling a big blue briefcase displayed in front of her on a table.
At that time, our country had experienced a year of vulnerability with Katrina and other worldwide catastrophic events. Each time I turned on the news; there seemed to be a sunami, hurricane, melt down, landslide or worse.
The seller’s seductive voice mentioned security and waterproof plastic as she lifted the blue briefcase nearer the camera to demonstrate the closing safety latches. Inside, there were built in folders labeled with important tabs such as: insurance, legal documents, tax information and many more. The folders were further secured with a Velcro strap. A blinking signal light was provided to activate in emergency situations so the briefcase might be located easily in times of peril. And, not only was it waterproof, it floated!
That’s what got me; it floated. Keep in mind, I live in central Ohio. The most threatening body of water in my neighborhood is the pond near my condo pool. We did have so much rain once that the pond overflow blocked a street with two feet of water for a few hours. The blue briefcase floating and blinking in several feet of water above my kitchen floor; I could see it. How could I resist?
So, I found my credit card and began to dial. Every other shopping call usually involved frustration by asking me to “select 1 for this” or “hold for the next agent” and after 20 minutes, they’d drop the call. I know you will find this hard to believe but this call went through like lightening. The customer service rep’s sweet southern drawl made me feel like I made her day just by calling. You certainly don’t get that kind of treatment from the electric company.
Today, the briefcase is doing its job sitting a few steps away in my office, near the dog; convenient for my quick escape from disaster.
Fast forward about 5 years…… It took me that long to cave in again. First I must tell you about my Kabuki make up brush purchased from a Luxurious Salon, while I was still working full time. A Kabuki brush is used for applying powder make up. The handle is flat at the end so it can sit on the counter and the fluffy flat-topped brush looks so cute and chubby. It was a splurge but I felt it was an essential to maintaining my professional look. Using it the first time was fun. I fluffed and powdered and thought I was looking good……until I used my giant magnifying mirror (essential over 60). The coarse black hairs from my expensive Kabuki brush were all over my face. I had to pick them off like sweater lint; and do it carefully, preserving my make-up. I went back to Luxurious Spa and exchanged it for another one; it does the same thing.
As with most expensive purchases that later prove to be disappointing, I kept it and used it until……………surfing again and there it was!!! An entire brush set less expensive than my one kabuki brush. These were special because they were an extra chubby special production for that company. The company representative said so! The elegant woman stroked her face with the largest brush and said “Don’t you hate it when your make up brush sheds and you have all those hairs on your face? Well no worries with these brushes, they are guaranteed not to shed.” I don’t have to tell you what happened next. I’m still hanging onto my first Kabuki brush, thinking there must be a use for it somewhere other than my make up drawer – like cleaning my keyboard!
P.S. Even though I hadn’t ordered from them in over 5 years, the charming customer service rep had no problem finding my information in their system. Isn’t that amazing?
Receive my blogs in your email each time they are posted, just enter your email address and click on the subscribe button under my picture. Thank you and stay warm……………..Mary Ann
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.
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
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
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
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?
Letting go of your career identity can be surprisingly difficult.
Labels, such as friend, mom, dad, wife, husband, sister, and brother, are yours for a lifetime. Identities such as Employee, Manager, Vice-President, Associate, Administrator, Co-worker, etc., usually end with your retirement.
Once retired, you may find yourself wanting to explain what you did and who you were. This is referred to as the Denial Phase. I’ve discovered in my life as a Retired Senior, new contacts are not particularly interested in my past career. The Social Security office worker only sees the retired me. In six months of retirement, I’ve evolved from introducing myself as a Retired Sales Manager to just saying, “Hi, I’m Mary Ann”. Though it’s painful, I’m learning to let go.
As time passes,
even smoke and mirrors from the make-up counter no longer conceal our age. I’ve already encountered an unsettling phenomenon. Occasionally, I seem to become invisible. This has occurred during conversations when I’m the Senior at the table and again when waiting in a service line. That leads us to the next phase called the Anger Phase…..”What’s with these people, how can they ignore me and wait on that other younger person, I was here first. “ or, “I just asked that question and they totally ignored me. Why is he being acknowledged?”
Then we begin the Bargaining Phase….”Well, I’ll just go have my hair colored again and stop dressing like my mother. Then I’ll be recognized as worthwhile. “That may make you feel better; and depending on the hair color, it could turn a few heads. Unfortunately, time takes its toll on our appearance and even when we put forth our best effort, they still know we’re Seniors.
“What a total bummer. No one cares what I’ve done in my life. All people see is the outside and have no idea what I’ve been through. “ ………………the Depression Phase. Hopefully, this one passes quickly. If not, talk with Seniors you admire and ask for their guidance and support.
the Acceptance Phase slips in one morning. You look in the mirror saying;
- You know, I’m incredibly lucky to feel so good today.
- I’m going to use what I have to look my best.
- My friends, family and pets appreciate me.
- I can feel confident and good about the wisdom and knowledge I’ve retained over the years. I will assume an Attitude of Gratitude!
- Today, if I encounter indifference, I’ll offer kindness and patience in return because I’m an accomplished Senior and proud of it!
By now, these phases may seem familiar. Actually, they are the Phases of Grief. I chose this analogy because, for many of us, there is a grieving process in leaving a career behind and embracing your next chapter. After a day at the zoo with her Senior group, I remember my Mom saying she was tired from pushing an old lady around in a wheelchair all day (my mom was 80). I’m not sure she ever made it past the Denial Phase.
Stop by next Friday for my blog on embracing your retirement budget..……………..Mary Ann
Volunteering is a wonderful thing.
I can’t imagine where this country would be without all the folks who give so generously of their time each and every day.
Today, I want to share a few thoughts about volunteering in your retirement years. It can be unintentional, without forethought, or an intentional choice made with discernment. Time is a treasure, especially as we age. Once you retire, give yourself time to adjust to your new lifestyle, maybe 3-6 months, before you take on commitments that will consume that precious commodity.
My Mom, Aggie, was an RN.
She retired in her early 60’s and hit the ground running. If anyone asked, she had time to help. Quickly, her pastimes became her focus. A monthly calendar was always displayed on her kitchen bulletin board with a minimum of three entries most days. She called these her “Activities”, and she loved her Activities. Most were volunteer commitments for everything from the Food Pantry to the V.A. Hospital. All were so worthwhile and easily warranted.
My Mom saved my first grade art project and I saved a page from her calendar; August 1999. She was 81 years old at that time and still living in her own home; “aging in place” as we say today. Mom’s calendar page sits on my desk before me. Her handwriting crowds numerous volunteer activities into the small squares designated for each day. She included other amusements like her Putt-Putt Golf and Bowling Leagues. However, there’s absolutely no room for quiet time or space to place a spontaneous entry. She embraced her volunteer commitments early in her retirement and they framed her life from that time forward. Her life was focused on, what she was doing next, not the present moment. She seemed content as long as she was on the go.
She was a beacon of inspiration and always encouraged others to stay active as you age. She was respected in her Senior community. She was my beloved Mom and I’m trying to find balance in my retirement and still live up to her example.
Carefully evaluate every aspect of each Volunteer opportunity you consider.
Does this activity have deep significance for you?
Are you able to give enough time to make it work?
Are they being completely honest with you about the time commitment?
Will it take time away from the retirement activities you’ve longed for?
Time, time, time……..that’s what it’s all about.
As someone once said, “If life is a journey, you might as well enjoy the trip”. Transitioning from a career that left little time to savor life’s precious moments to a blank calendar accusing you of idleness presents a challenge. You automatically want to fill that calendar with commitments prior to assessing your new identity. Slow down, breathe, allow yourself time to put down the stress and recover those long neglected dreams.
Attending a Franklin-Covey training seminar over 20 years ago, they required us to write a mission statement for our lives. Mine was simple and included, “……I want to impact others in a positive way and continue to grow and learn every day of my life”. Since that time, I’ve used this mission statement as my foundation for decisions. If you haven’t had time to identify your core beliefs, do it now and find your way to Intentional Volunteering. The commitments on your calendar will enrich your life and the lives of others.
Stop by Next Friday for thoughts on Adjusting to the “Senior” Identity……….………Mary Ann
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