Retirement for Dummies ~ surviving and thriving

Night sweats, terror dreams, restless monkey mind and walk, walk, walk and then walk a little more. Lots of walking. They say walking is good for your heart, your hips and you mental health. I must be fit as a fiddle. And then some!

And so goes my first official week of retirement.

What the hell was I thinking? It’s 10:0am on Day Two and I am OFFICIALLY BORED. I should have planned better. Thought this through. Booked up my schedule. Made more friends. Stayed in Oregon where I actually had friends. And like-minded friends at that.

Day One – I settled back in, got everything organized and then…??? You guessed it, went for a walk. Retirement is a whole new ball game and I am working on some long range travel goals, but at this moment it appears I need structure. I need mental stimulation. I need people. I need something to DO. Something with purpose. I need a PLAN.

Hubs has taken the act of doing nothing to high art. He loves it! He’s good at it! And he has no apologies for feeling that way. Good for him. We live in a small flat and everywhere I turn, there he is – so happy that I am finally retired and home with him. Doing nothing too. He is so damn pleasant and happy that I want to slap him and say “Get a job!”  Bless his heart.

I’ve never read Dantes Inferno, but I think I’m living in some version of it right now. “Lasciate ogne speranza, voi ch’intrate” Or the movie Groundhog Day. Without the alarm clock. Same. Same. Same.

Whew! This feels a whole lot like whining. Not usually my MO unless there is actual wine involved, but sometimes it’s the best you’ve got. Say it out loud. Let it go. Then get on with it girl. It’s time for the harder than I thought it would be work of sorting out retirement and what it will look like for me. Not hubs, not friends who have gone before, but ME.

To be continued…

P.S.  Retirement officially started when my feet touched American soil not while still enjoying play time in sunny Mexico. That was officially “I’m finally on vacation” time. I was walking but definitely not whining that week.

Top Baby Boomer Travel Blog 2015 Awards

And the winners are… pause for breath-holding… pause for envelope opening …

Well, actually there are 20 winners.  But I am beyond excited to be named one of FlipKey’s Top Baby Boomer Travel Blogs to follow in 2015.  There are some well-seasoned travelers and heavy-hitter bloggers in the mix.  And now me and Just a Backpack and a Rollie.

I’ll take it!

And hubs and I will keep on dragging our backpacks and rollies and sharing our adventures with you throughout 2015.  I’ve been busy applying for house sitting gigs all along the west coast from Canada to Mexico.  And we have some very interesting gigs in the works.

So please click on through to the wonderful post on the FlipKey blog and check out our fellow boomer travel bloggers.  They are all truly an inspiration to me.

And here is our little Award.  She’s not a gold statue, but I think she’s pretty cute.

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.

1965_mustang

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?

Nancy

A Little Red Wagon ~

I was a deprived child.  I did not have a little red wagon of my own.  I did, however, have shiny metal roller skates with a key.

So I guess that makes up for it.

I don’t know if the two grown-up kids in this video were wagon deprived in their youth or not, but to me they are two shining examples that there is still a little “kid” in each of us no matter how grey hair our hair or how many wrinkles crease our cheeks.

Whatever you do today, let the child in you come out to play.  Because it really is the simple things in life that bring us joy.

Cheers!

Nancy

 

Senior Living Game-changer?

This could be a senior living game-changer.

A brilliant idea in inter-generational living has blossomed into the thriving community of Bridge Meadows.

Bridge Meadows, which opened in Portland in 2011, is home to three generations of residents: low income seniors who receive discounted rent in exchange for volunteering 10 hours a week; foster children; and the families who are in the process of adopting them.  There’s a grandma and grandpa or an auntie on every corner.

Old-fashioned family values have come back to life in a whole new way and it’s a very good thing for young and old alike.

Bridge Meadows is a unique multi-generational community located in the Portsmouth neighborhood of North Portland where adoptive parents, foster children, and elders – those over 55 – find a true home built with love and the shared vision of a better tomorrow.

I hope we see many creative inter-generational communities begin to bloom all across the country.

Cheers!

Nancy

Two For the Road ~ 5 traits that make a great travel partner

I love you not only for what you are, but for what I am when I am with you ~

I love you not only for what you are, but for what I am when I am with you ~

 Let the Adventure Begin.

The photo above accompanied by the caption “Let the Adventure Begin” was how hubs and I chose to announce our marriage in 2003.  I thought the couple in this photo looked like a perfect team – happy partners in crime and in life.

Whether you are a duo on the Road to Zanzibar or the Road of Life, traveling with a partner can be tricky business.  One of the things I love about my hubby is that we travel well together.  As we get closer to heading out on our own Two For the Road adventures I’ve been thinking quite a bit about what makes a really good team.  For me it comes down to a few very important traits.

Here are the top five on my list ~

Every great team needs…

1.  A Yes Man, a partner who says Hell Yes or Why Not to whatever crazy idea you come up with.  Someone who is all in for a good time or an adventure and doesn’t sweat the details.  When you say “Just shut up and get in the car.”  That’s exactly what they do.  They might even roll down the window and hang their head out to feel the breeze.  Oh, wait.  That’s the dog.

2.  A partner who is calm during your storm.  Like the time a few years ago when Amtrak cancelled our train with no warning – just taped up a hand printed paper sign “No Train Today”.  No train?  Really?  I’m on a five day vacation!  I need the train TODAY!   That’s when you need a partner who stands back calmly while you throw an earth-shattering-all out-but-still-lady-like-bitch fit after the Amtrak service person says, “Ok. So, do you want to cancel now or do you want to come back tomorrow?”  and, then said partner calmly steps up, takes your arm, and says “Let’s go find a Happy Hour and come back in the morning”.  Happy Hour?  Ok.  I love Happy Hour.

3.  The guy in the rose colored glasses.  On those days when one of you is less than your shining best – let’s just call it major-ass cranky-pants and your partner looks over and says  “Have I told you today how crazy I am about you?”  Whoa!  Hello Dolly! Just the right words at the right time.  Well, rightbackattcha Big Boy.

4.  A comedian and a straight man.  You know, like George and Gracie, Lucy and Ricky, Will and Grace.  Every great comedy duo has an instigator, the comedian with the cockeyed point of view and the straight man who makes it all seem funny.  They are a finely oiled machine.  They play off each other.  They give as good as they get.  They make each other laugh.

5.  And, finally, you’ve each gotta be a switch hitter.  A great partnership works when you can switch roles easily and as often as required.  When you’re at the end of your rope – he’s just getting his strength.  When he’s too pooped to participate, you slow your frantic pace and stop to smell the roses.  It’s a balancing act and it works best when each person is tuned in to the other, to the moment, to the goal at hand, and to the bigger picture.

And so, ten years later, I say – Let The Adventure Continue.  We’re two for the road and I cannot wait to see where the road will lead us.

“If ever there is a tomorrow when we’re not together… there is something we must always remember.  We are braver than we believe, stronger than we seem and smarter than we think.  But the most important thing is, even if we’re apart… we’ll always be together.”  Christopher Robin

I originally published a version of this post back in 2012.  It seemed like a perfect post for Valentine’s Day so I dusted it off, prettied it up a bit and thought I’d share it again.

Cheers!

Nancy

Purpose, Passion & Reinventing Retirement ~

What are you doing for the next 20 years?

Retirement means very different things to each of us.   For some, it’s the old-style American Dream of what I call “I don’t do very much, and I do it slowly” where you work to a certain age, cash in your chips and take up a life of leisure.  No work.  No worries.  And certainly no responsibilities.

But, here’s the rub.  Here’s what’s missing in this picture for me, and apparently for a lot of other retirees and boomers who are just starting to think about what retirement might mean for them.   Purpose.  I’ve talked to so many women who’ve been retired one or two years and while they’ve enjoyed the freedom to toss out the alarm clock or sip coffee and read the paper when others are lining up like lemmings for the morning commute, these friends are starting to feel the itch to do something more.  Something meaningful.  Something that feeds the soul, or the creative spirit, or maybe even leaves a tiny reminder that we were here and it made a difference.

These days lots of people are re-inventing retirement.   Many are leaving old careers to create new ones.  On their own terms.  Remember when we told our kids “You can be anything you want to be.”?   Well, we said it but we didn’t always believe it, and many of us (me) didn’t actually do it ourselves either.   I had bills to pay and work, meaningful or not, was how I paid them.  Today’s retirement is our second chance to be anything we want to be and we’re going for it – by becoming senior entrepreneurs, re-claiming long lost passions like painting, fly-fishing, or running.   Some of us are exploring new creative outlets: cooking, travel blogging and anything else we can dream up.  Yes indeed, our generation is once again doing what we do best –  making waves and creating change.  We are turning that old-style retirement model upside down.  And why not?  We’ve got 20 or 30 good years ahead of us after we turn in our office card key and name badge.  Let’s make them the best damn years of our lives.  Lives full of passion, purpose and meaning.  Let’s be busier than ever creating joy and spreading inspiration.   Let’s make a difference and have fun while we’re doing it.

That’s  exactly what these recent winners of the Encore.org Purpose Prize are doing ~

A hearty High-5 to Ed Nicholson, the 71 year old founder of Project Healing Waters.   Ed, a retired military man, founded Healing Waters to help disabled soldiers and vets heal from the physical, mental & emotional toll of war through fly fishing.  Cast by cast, line by line, his organization is making a difference in lives across America.

Congratulations to Nancy Armitage who launched an encore career that combines her professional experience, creative joy and family history when she created Memories in the Making.   Supported by the Alzheimer’s Association, Nancy’s organization brings the power of expression to those who have lost their words due to Alzheimer’s.  Through Nancy’s inspiration, art becomes their voice.

And finally, a You Go Girl to Vicki Thomas, who, at 64, was a successful marketing and PR executive, but felt something was missing in her life.  When she saw a CNN news story about Dale Beatty and John Gallina, two injured Iraq vets who where changing lives, she knew immediately what she had been missing:  a higher purpose.  Vicki picked up the phone and cold-called them with an offer of help and a desire to make a difference by joining their Purple Heart Homes project where among their many services, they are adapting foreclosed homes for wounded soldiers.

This is not your grandmother’s retirement.   Our generation is living longer and stronger.  We’re taking up causes big and small.  We’re sharing our experience and our expertise. We’re going back to school.  We’re heading out to see the world.  We’re re-igniting our creative spark.  Just like the Raging Grannies, we’re making noise.  We won’t go quietly into the night.   We’re starting a Retirement Revolution and I want to be part of it.

How about you?  Rocking chair or revolution?  Or, maybe a bit of both?

Want to learn more about what’s going on at Encore.org? Click on over to their website Read the fascinating stories of all the 2013 Purpose Prize winners here.

Cheers!

Nancy

 

 

 

 

 

 

What began as an idea for a diverting day trip for soldiers has evolved into Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing (PHWFF), the organization Nicholson, 71, founded to help disabled soldiers and veterans heal from the physical, mental and emotional toll of war through fly fishing.

Cast by cast, line by line, it’s reshaping the lives of thousands of veterans across the U.S. Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing now has 158 programs in 48 states as well as affiliates in Australia and Canada. In 2012 alone, 2,300 volunteers invested 122,000 hours to work with 4,000 wounded warriors.

– See more at: http://www.encore.org/ed-nicholson-0#sthash.JHVCHQhs.dpuf

The Mother of All Garage Sales ~

 It looks like everybody’s downsizing and simplifying these days.

This Spring, eager to keep up our downsizing efforts, hubs and I participated in our community garage sale.  We rolled up our sleeves and jumped in with wild dreams of passing along gently loved goods to loving new homes and, in return, gleefully holding a big pile of cash at the end of the day.

We pulled out long forgotten treasures from deep, dark and dusty corners.  Polished each item to a shiny perfection.  Carefully researched, priced and tagged every precious piece.  And had more than one hearty laugh.  Hubs pulled out a big box of instant food items that he’d been saving for 30-odd years.  Even in the event of a nuclear holocaust, I’m pretty sure I would not have eaten this stuff, but he was just as sure it was “still good” and somebody would be thrilled to have it.  It wasn’t.  They weren’t.  This digging, sorting, and reminiscing process took weeks.  Treasures were piled everywhere.  Finally, the big day arrived.  When the garage door rolled up at 7:30 a.m. on Saturday, we were armed and ready to make our millions.

Crickets!

To put it mildly, our garage sale efforts were not handsomely rewarded.  So much great stuff.  So little money at the end of the day.  “Will you take a Dollar for that?”  was the question I heard most.  “Um, No!” became my battle cry.  I got more than a little testy.  It was a very long day.  And one that will not be repeated anytime soon.

Which leads me to why it is still so very good to be Oprah.  Yes, Oprah recently had a garage sale.  And, as you can see in the video, Oprah’s garage sale experience was world’s away from the Les and Nancy experience.  Of course it was!

By the end of her garage sale day, Oprah had netted over $600,000.  Which she donated to charity.  Pretty much like us.  We did keep the $350 we made in cash and then hubs (bless his heart) took four carloads of priceless possessions to the Goodwill.  Our donation.

On another note, it’s good to hear that we’re not the only ones downsizing and simplifying our lives.  Way to go Oprah.

Cheers!

Nancy

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.

Cheers!

Nancy

 

 

 

 

Setting a Date ~ making retirement real

I started this blog just over a year ago to share our journey from being two cogs in the corporate wheel to two happy retirees roaming the world with just our backpacks and rolling suitcases.  Since then, I’ve been exploring ways to have travel adventures on the cheap.  I’ve learned about home exchange, house sitting, VRBO and other very interesting options.  I’ve been looking at the pros and cons of living in other countries where we can stretch our small nest egg and still enjoy a high quality lifestyle.   So many options!

But, here’s the deal.  I’ve been looking, reading, talking, sharing, thinking, researching, learning and not actually DOING anything.  I’m still stuck making the wheels of commerce turn and afraid to let go of the paycheck.  I am definitely handcuffed to the security (or illusion of it) and I’ve been hanging on for dear life.  I have horrible visions of hubs and I lining up for the free meal at the end of the month.  At this rate I’ll be 90 when I finally fall over sideways – still at my desk.   I’m wearing FEAR like a big sparkly diamond ankle chain.

So, last week I made a decision.  It’s time to set a date, make it real and make it happen.

It’s time to make the leap…and FLY!  And, it terrifies me.  calendar

And it THRILLS me too.  August 31, 2015 – I’m calling it LEAP DAY.  Now I know I have exactly 782 days left to wrap up this life and get ready for our next act.  Wow, that sounds like a lot, but I know it isn’t.  There is much to be done.  I’m definitely up for the challenge.

Hubs?  He’s already there just waiting for me to catch up.

Tally ho!

Nancy