When should you hand over the keys?

My step-dad Bill’s last car was a 1965 Mustang. It was a beauty – sporty looking and fun to drive. He was always a car guy and had a new car every few years, but that Mustang sure held a special place in his heart. I have great memories of my dad and mom, very active members of the local Mustang Owners Club, participating in road rallies, Mustang caravans to Vegas and other fun social outings. That car was not just reliable transportation.  It was his alter ego.


My dad was the proud owner of a license to drive for over 60 years.  Like most of us, driving was part of his identity.  It gave him freedom. And as he aged, it helped him hold on to his vitality and his “youth” – well past anything that resembled actual youth .

I don’t remember for sure, but I think he was about 80 when he gave up driving and the Mustang.  He sold it to two women friends who loved it almost as much as he did.  He was happy to see it go to a good home.  I’m sure it was bittersweet.

Giving up the keys was not an easy decision, but as I look back, I realize it was one he made with grace and much wisdom.  We didn’t have to worry about him on the road, we didn’t have to have “the talk” or to wrestle the keys from his hand.  He knew it was time.  And he rose to the occasion.  Thank you Bill!

After he’d given up his car, Bill used to visit me in Oregon and talk wistfully about driving.  I would offer him my keys but he never took me up on the offer.  I didn’t think much about any of this at the time.  Now that I am older and wiser, and growing closer to the time when I will have to make that decision myself, I am grateful.  Especially when I see my friends struggling with their parents who are well into their 80’s or 90’s and still behind the wheel.

How do you know when it’s time? There’s no magic number. It’s different for each of us and it is a life changing moment – relinquishing of your personal freedom, your independence and along with that some of your dignity.  Not a decision any one of us takes lightly.

Most of my peers are in their 60’s or early 70’s and giving up the keys seems like something in the very distant future. Hell, we’re still young. We’re healthy. We’re world travelers or marathon runners. We’re not the problem.

Until we are.

I’m not saying anyone I know should give up the keys…yet.  But it should be on the table for discussion.  I want to follow my step-dad’s lead and know when it’s the right time and have a plan.   He gave up the keys and took up walking.  I think the walking is what kept him fit and healthy into his late 80’s.

I sent this video to a friend who is struggling with “the key issue” with her parents.  It sheds an interesting light on the question “when is the right time?”  Listening to 97-year-old Evelyn puts a whole new spin on the current thinking. At least it did mine.

Perhaps the freeways of the future will be filled with centenarians swooping in and out of traffic in their mini convertibles.  And, although I can’t picture myself not being able to drive my own car, I’m not sure I’m comfortable with that either.

What I know for sure is that we will all be there sooner than we think.

I’m throwing this out for discussion… talk amongst yourselves…or better yet, leave your thoughts, experiences and brilliant ideas in the Comments below.

Now, where did I put my keys?


Brain Games ~ Are you playing?

Are you feeling it too?

Some of us are at that age where losing our glasses and forgetting what we went downstairs for seem to be the norm, rather than the exception.  It happened to me again this week.  There is a TV commercial with a very well-known actor that’s getting a lot of air time right now.  I knew who he was.  I’ve even seen quite a few of his movies, but every time the commercial came on, I silently played the “what is that guy’s name game”.  Oh, it was in there, but it sure wasn’t coming out anytime soon.  Hubs finally saw the commercial last night and immediately looked over at me and said “Isn’t that Samuel L. Jackson?”  Bingo!

Two old fogies out taking their brain cells for a walk and trying not to forget where they are headed.

Two old fogies out taking their brain cells for a walk and trying not to forget where they are headed. Yep, it’s a selfie – were not totally OLD.

Why couldn’t I pull that name from the recesses in my gray matter?  Just a few years ago, hubs and I would laugh about lapses like this.  These days, it doesn’t always seem so funny.  Especially if you are the one who can’t seem to remember anyone’s name.

How timely, then, that I came across an excellent and very relevant article from Next Avenue on the miracle that is our brain and how to keep it young, healthy and functioning for a long time.

It’s well worth the read.  How You Can Make Your Brain Smarter Every Day 

If you are new to the blog or don’t remember reading them, you might also enjoy these previous posts on memory and the aging brain. Have You Seen My Glasses?  and  Thanks For the Memories

See you on the road!  Please don’t take it personally if I don’t remember your name.



Today’s Inspiration ~




Friday Food For Thought ~ Life is Just a Bowl of Jelly Bellies

I love the visual of this video.  It felt like a perfect follow up to my post from earlier this week about collecting experiences not things.

Here’s hoping your weekend is filled with fun and fabulous new experiences.




It Still Takes a Village ~ a really cool option for aging in place

This week I had another NPR Driveway Moment.  If you listen to public radio, a driveway moment is when a conversation on your car radio is so interesting that you actually continue to sit in the car in the garage or the driveway until it’s over because it’s just too good to miss.  I love a good driveway moment.

With my 65th birthday looming on the very near horizon and my recent proclaiming of my Leap Day to retirement, it’s safe to say that the whole process of living out whatever years I have left in this particular go-around has been on my mind.  In the short term, it’s about staying fit and healthy, downsizing, scraping together all our pennies and coaxing them to miraculously multiply and looking at ways we can spend the next few years traveling and exploring other countries and cultures.  All good stuff, but there’s also the longer view.  What happens when we can’t, or no longer want to be retired gypsies.   At some point, we’ll have to settle down, settle in and settle for a much quieter existence.  Oh, NO! Not the HOME!

Actually, I’m pretty sure we won’t be able to afford assisted living.  At least in the U.S.

And that’s how I came to this particular driveway moment.  The show was about the Village movement for elders that has been quietly springing up in towns and cities across the United States, Canada and is slowly spreading to other parts of the world.  The idea for the first village came from the brilliant minds of a group of folks in Boston’s Beacon Hill area who were facing retirement and wanted to explore creative and affordable options that would allow them to age in place – literally living in their own neighborhoods and homes.  In 2002 they founded Beacon Hill Village and it has become a model for other villages.  These “villages” are springing up everywhere.  There is one in the planning stages in Northeast Portland.  Another in Ashland, Oregon. In fact, there are more tha 70 village networks in the U.S.  From Maryland to Michigan elders are banding together and creating exciting alternatives to assisted living facilities.

The village concept begins with the simple idea of bringing services to the people rather than people to the services.  Each non-profit village is independently created and functions with a board, a small staff and many volunteers.  Instead of paying thousands per month, you pay between $200 – $1000 a year to become a member.   The village system offers transportation to doctor appointments and the grocery store, yard work, home repair, and other services (usually for a discounted fee, but sometimes at no charge by a volunteer).  There are social and educational offerings, as well as fitness classes – all with transportation provided.  Each village is unique to its residents.  I smiled at the comment made by a women from the Village to Village Network.  “Most people think if you’ve seen one village you’ve seen them all, but the truth is – If you’ve seen one village, you’ve seen ONE village.”  They are created by the people, for the people.

I absolutely love this idea.  A little help when it’s needed.  The social contact that keeps our minds lively and our spirits and bodies healthy.  Dignity still firmly intact.  If it takes a village to raise a child, it seems like a perfectly wonderful idea that grandma and grandpa create their own village to grow old in.

We’re not ready to become Village People yet, (sorry I had to fit that in someplace)  but it gives me peace of mind to know that when the time gets closer, we have options.  Maybe even options that won’t break the bank.  More research is definitely in order.

If you have experience with this type of elder village or other unique ways seniors are finding to age gracefully and less expensively, please share them.  This is important information!  Aging minds want to know.







Fitness ~ Setting a Really Big Goal!

As anyone who knows me will tell you, I have traveled all over the fitness map.  Sometimes there’s a plan.  Other days, not so much.  But, I have learned from experience that setting a long term goal that is a real stretch (pun intended) is often the motivation I need to keep up my exercise or walking practice.  It works for me.  Every time.


That’s me #12168 with the white visor coming into the finish lanes.

Way back when I was a young 49 year old mostly-couch-potato, I read an article about Team in Training and marathon walking.  Intrigued, I explored this opportunity to train with a group and walk or run in marathons all over the world while raising money for a great cause.  Sometimes I tend to jump without worrying about the details like “How far is 26.2 miles anyway”?  In I jumped!  I set a goal to walk the Honolulu Marathon for my 50th birthday.  I was committed.  I walked every day starting with two miles that first week and ending my last training walk with a 22 miler from my front door in Lake Oswego to my sister’s house in Hillsboro, Oregon.  Two weeks later, I was on a plane ready to take on the full 26.2 in Honolulu.   And I did it.  And I never walked another marathon again.

But I did keep on walking.   Usually by myself.  Until recently, this was the typical evening conversation at our house.  Me:  “Honey, want to go for a walk with me?”  Hubby:  “Umm, No thanks.”

But that all changed exactly one year ago when I began hatching my plan to do something memorable for my 65th birthday at the end of August.  I wanted to walk the last 65 miles of the Camino de Santiago de Compostela (The Way of St. James) in Spain.  I discovered a walking tour company, Marly Tours, who provide support for those of use who do not want the full Pilgrim experience (carrying everything on your back, sleeping on the ground and/or sleeping in hostels with 300 others in bunk beds).  I was so excited about this idea that my enthusiasm spilled over onto my husband.  Suddenly, he wanted to join me on walks.  Perfect!  Last Fall, we began planning our weekends around walking or hiking.  We have explored most of the City of Portland Oregon on foot and we’ve recently branched out to local hikes like the The Ten Falls Hike.   We’re up to 8 to 10 miles on Saturday and then another 6 or 8 on Sunday.  Always with a stop for lunch.  We call it jogging for doughnuts.

Not too bad for a couple of almost senior citizens.  On the Camino, we’ll be walking our 100km over 5 days.  We don’t know the terrain, but I’m told to expect everything from country lanes to farmers fields to hill climbs to city streets.   We walk 13 miles the first day!  Then we get up and do it again the next day, whether we’re ready or not.  Whether we’re tired or not.  Whether our feet hurt or not.

I can’t wait to get started!

Setting this long term and very large goal, has changed our lives.  We walk every day.  Hubs joined the gym.  We walk for entertainment.  We enjoy our time together.  We’re active people again and I don’t see that ending anytime soon.   In fact, we’re already thinking about walking through England or Italy next.

See you on the trail!



Retiring to Ecuador ~ Meet these boots on the ground experts!

In early April I very enthusiastically posted here about my initial look at Ecuador as a great option for living la vida cheapo in retirement.  Apparently, we are definitely running with the herd in looking at South America.  It feels a bit like being in line at 10:00 p.m. on Thanksgiving waiting for the doors to open at Best Buy.  (I am proud to say that I have never actually been there/done that and plan to keep it that way)   There is a mass migration about to take place.   I’m not sure that is a good thing entirely, but that’s what it’s come down to for a lot of us who need to figure out how to s-t-r-e-t-c-h every last penny and feed our adventurous spirits at the same time.

We baby boomers are casting off the chains, kissing our loved ones goodbye and heading out into the great unknown in droves.  I’m in love with the idea of becoming citizens of the world.  Trying to figure out exactly what that means is a very interesting adventure in itself.  I’ve looked briefly at Panama, Uruguay, Chile, Nicaragua and even the other side of the Big Pond in the rural (cheaper) parts of Europe, Spain and Portugal.  More on these options later.

My recent Ecuador post garnered lots of comments and some great questions, including a few I hadn’t even thought of.  Obviously, I had some more digging to do – this time in the form of some very cool blogs by folks who have already planted their flip-flops on terra firma in Ecuador.   For me, nothing is better than information right from the source.

Want to know the name of the tea that cures altitude sickness?  Is the medical care really that cheap and good?  What’s the scoop on health insurance?  Do I need a car?  How do I meet other expats?  What’s the deal with petty crime?  Are all the gringos going to drive up the prices?  What’s for dinner?  Can two people really live a good life on $2,000 a month or less?  Really?  Reading through the blogs below, I found answers to all of these questions and so much more.  Their own unique stories – in their own words.  I love the very different viewpoints!

Gringos Abroad – Brian and Dena Haines are a Canadian family of three who moved to Cuenca, Ecuador in 2009.  Their blog is full of solid information about life in Cuenca and the joys and pitfalls of living the expat life.  Check out Brian’s recent post – everything you ever wanted to know about cable and internet services.  Good stuff!


Rich and Nancy visited Ecuador in 2008.   All it took was a one day visit to Cuenca and they were hooked.  They went back to Oregon, sold the ranch and most of their belongings, and a year later, were living in their new home in Ecuador.  They share a wealth of valuable information gleaned from three years in their new home and 20/20 hindsight.

At Travel Past 50 Tom and Kristen began their life as world travelers when they sold their

Buen Camino.

Buen Camino.

house, cars, most of their belongings, and closed their business.  They gifted their kids with the dog and hit the road.  They lived in Quito, Ecuador for quite a while and now have truly become citizens of the world.  I connected with Tom when I read a couple of very thought provoking past posts on his not always good experiences in Quito.   Tom has been kind enough to connect via email as well and I value the information he has willingly shared including his packing advice for the Camino de Santiago.  Needless to say, these guys are great role models for hubs and I.


Cynthia Goes To Ecuador ~  I love this friendly, chatty blog by Cynthia, who  as a “slightly older” single woman packed up and moved herself to Cotacachi, Ecuador.  By all accounts, she is settling in very nicely.   I really enjoy reading her posts –  making the big decision to go it alone, the details of down-sizing and packing for her 3,000 mile move, finding her first tiny apartment, connecting with the local community and her recent post sharing some very important and relevant information on aging and health care as a single expat.  Don’t be afraid, but be prepared.

I have no idea if Ecuador will be our final destination, but I do know that it is on the list for a long visit.   And, after connecting with so many warm, wise and helpful expats already living there, I’m pretty sure we’ll have a some new friends to raise a glass with when we get there.

See you on the road,


Eight Great Food Blogs ~

One by one, the Farmer’s Markets around Portland are beginning to open.  After years of supermarket shopping where everything is available all the time, we’re having so much fun learning to eat with the seasons again (like when we were kids).  A few years back I read Barbara Kingsolver’s brilliant memoir Animal, Vegetable, Miracle – a Year of Food Life.  It literally changed how I thought about the food I put on our table.  It wasn’t radical or political, it was merely her account of how her family began deliberately eating food produced locally.  Following Barbara and her family through their first year of eating only what was in season was informative and inspiring.   So now, when we shop at the Farmer’s Market in March and April, we look for all the unique varieties of chard and kale.  We’ve learned to love garlic greens, tender pea shoots, and fiddle head ferns.  Greens I had never heard of or seen in the local Albertsons are now staples in our springtime diet.   These greens are abundant, unbelievably good for you, inexpensive and you can do so much with them.  These are definitely not the boiled-to-a-soggy-green-lump veggies that graced my plate back in the day.  I am grateful.

What do you do with an overabundance of greens?  You make pesto of course and freeze it to use later in the summer on grilled fish, chicken or a fresh veggie pasta.  Yum-o!

Kale Pesto Pasta Dinner ~ Veggie Delight!

Kale Pesto Pasta Dinner ~ Veggie Delight!

All of this delicious bounty led me to… Food Blogs!   Yep, one more thing to love about the internet.  I found many of my favorite new recipes on blogs like Smitten Kitchen, Nourished Kitchen and Orangette.  Most days hubs is still pulling out his dusty copies of Jeff Smith – The Frugal Gourmet, but I have hope there too.   We bought our first asparagus of the season this week and he made an absolutely  fabulous raw asparagus salad that he saw on Chef Anne Burrell make on The Food Network while he was “pounding it on the treadmill” at the gym.

At last count (and I’m sure somebody actually did) there are 8,390 food related blogs on the web. Here are five that I really enjoy.  Check them out and let me know what you think.

SpoonandSaucer – Real Food:  It’s easier than you think thanks Portland food blogger Brandie Kajino.

WorththeWhisk  – Patti Londre is a passionate cook and avid travel and she blogs about both.

101Cookbooks – San Francisco cookbook author and photographer Heidi Swanson shares some outstanding recipes and swoon-worthy food photos.

straightupfood – A vegan food blog from chef and teacher Cathy Fisher.  This woman knows what to do with kale!

tartelette –  A visual feast from a professional food photographer.  This is just true foodie porn.

Now it’s your turn –  What do you do when you find yourself with an overabundance of gorgeous green veggies?

Bon appetit!




How to Live to One Hundred and Beyond ~

What is the secret to longevity?

It’s a mystery that people have been trying to unravel for a very long time.  Could it be in your genes?  Maybe it’s all about eating right and regular exercise.    Here’s one for you – what if longevity actually has some connection to where you live?  Could be.  Who knows.

Well a very interesting guy by the name of Dan Buettner might know.  Through his extensive research, Dan has discovered a few concepts about aging well and longevity that I find quite compelling.

Back in 2002, Dan and a team set out to identify places in the world that contain large clusters of men and women who are living long, happy, productive lives.

What they found were extremely high numbers of healthy centenarians in five locations –  Sardinia Italy’s Nuoro province; Okinawa, Japan; Nicoya, Costa Rica; Ikaria, Greece and the Seventh Day Adventists in Loma Linda, California.  They called these areas Blue Zones.  Yes, Dan wrote a book – Blue Zones: Lessons for Living Longer from People who Have Lived The Longest.  I just downloaded a copy and cannot wait to dive in.

From this initial investigation, Dan then set out to determine what it was about each of these places, their people and the lifestyle that might be contributing to so many long and satisfied lives.  For example, the Greek island of Ikaria where one in three residents reaches age 90.  That’s about 10 years longer than most Americans.  Our average age is currently 78.

In a story he published in the New York Times called Ikaria The Island Where People Forget to Die, Dan states that an unusually large percentage of the population live past 100 because they get ample amounts of sleep, sex, socializing, spirituality, spinach (aka fresh greens from their gardens) and sourdough bread (whole grain of course).  Oh, and don’t forget the several glasses of red wine each day.  That’s right, Ikarians believe in hard work.  They enjoy time with family and friends.  They have a strong connection to their church.  And they take naps, lots of naps.  These long-living Greeks aren’t consumed with keeping up with the Kardashians or stressed by 50 hour work weeks.  They don’t count calories or carbs and there is definitely no 24 Hr Fitness on the island.  A healthy plant-based diet and exercise are a natural part of their life.  So, apparently is sage tea and local honey.  It’s their morning kickstarter.

It seems we Americans might have a little something to learn.

strolling with papa in the afternoon sun

strolling with papa in the afternoon sun

If Okinawa or Ikaria aren’t in your moving plans,  US News offers this list of the Top 10 Hotspots for Human Longevity as compiled by the Central Intelligence Agency.  For all our fancy hospitals and over abundance of pharmaceuticals, the United States ranks 50th on the CIA’s life expectancy list.  I found that fact very interesting indeed.

Now it’s your turn.  Would you consider moving to another country for a longer, healthier and maybe happier life?  And if so, where are you thinking of moving to?

Cheers to a long, happy and healthy life wherever you live.

See you on the road!


Spring is in the Air + a Little Link Love

Spring isn’t official for another week, but I’m here to tell you without a doubt that Spring has sprung in the Pacific Northwest.  It takes me by surprise every year.  One day I go out for a walk wearing my coat, scarf and a hat and the next day half way through my walk, the gloves are in my pocket, I’ve pulled off the hat, I’m wishing I could ditch the coat and wondering why the heck I didn’t bring my sunglasses.  I even saw people walking around in shorts and tee shirts yesterday.  If I didn’t need the sunglasses for the bright sun, I could have used them to cut the glare from those white legs.  Two days later and it’s back to coat, gloves, and all the rest.  Spring – you are a tease!

Nothing says Spring like crocus poking their colorful heads up in the garden.  I snapped these on a walk the other day.  Don’t you love the vivid colors?

springcrocus Since it’s Friday, it’s time to spread a little Link Love.  Here are a few posts that I really enjoyed this week.

This poem says it all  – Boomer Anthem

Another great post from the Love Being Retired blog –  Will Your Passion Dim in Retirement?

Happy St. Patrick’s Day – Here’s an authentic recipe for Irish Soda Bread from Shelly Miller Home Exchange Expert

What’s the biggest harbinger of Spring if you live in Portland?  The Shamrock Run of course.  It’s this weekend.  Time to lace up our walking shoes and hit the streets with 35,000 of our closest friends.  I ran it only once – came in 4th from last, earning the name “leader of the back”.  It was a long time ago.  I’m over it now.

Whether you walk, run or drink green beer, have a fun and fabulous St. Patrick’s weekend!

And here’s something from The Happiness Sprinkling Project to get your weekend started with a smile.  Their signs have been traveling across the country and soon around the world.