Jul 27, 2014

Retirement: What are you striving to become?

Oh my gosh, I just discovered the YouTube video called Older Ladies .  Donnalou Stevens is the vocal artist and wrote the song. It is just hilarious. But more interesting yet is the story behind the woman that wrote this delightful little ditty.

I discovered the video on a website called called Boomerology Revealed TV and a segment called Viral Videos with Baby Boomers #18. The YouTube show is hosted by Shahar Boyayan, a professional speaker, author, business owner and show host. Steven had given an interview with Boyayan for the website.
Stevens had been in pain for 30 years of her life and it could consume her I think. Then she discovered that pain is a lot different from suffering. Pain is something we all have but many of us do not suffer from that pain. It was during that interview that she said something so wise and wonderful about writing music for her audience.
I never wanted to create art that perpetuated my pain. I always want it to be whimsical or poignance in some way, not only for me but the the people around me.  
I honestly believe that is true of any type of writing or art or even life...the creator can chose to perpetuate the pain of their situation or to talk about what they are striving to become.

So I invite you today to watch this video, have a good laugh and then create a vision or a poem or a song or a picture of what you are striving to become.

Just a thought!


Thank you Patrick Roden PH.D of Aging in Place for bringing my attention to this video. He can be found on twitter or on the web at Aging In Place.

4 Reason's Why You CANNOT Sleep? Or are you sleeping on the wrong side of the bed?

I was wrong...again.

I wrote this blog post in 2010 but I am updating it NOW. It turns out we were not right about sleeping on the wrong side of the bed. We were wrong about that new mattress we bought at Costco. See, those mattresses have only one sleepable side and the edges roll off on all sides. Once I measured the part we could actually sleep on I realized we lost a full 8 inches to a big slope. We returned the mattress, bought a king sized mattress. Now we both sleep a lot better no matter what side of the bed we are on. Anyway, here is that old article. The ideas here are still valid and ones that I have encorporated into my routine.
A place to relax and read before bedtime!

I write a blog about staying active as you age...remain flexible, I tell my readers, don't get stuck in a rut and refuse to try new things.  We should at least try to change our routines occasionally.  My thinking is that, just like our joints, our minds get stiff if we don't make it moving.

So, being the person with all the bright ideas, I suggested that my husband and I switch sides of the bed.  I would sleep on the right side and my husband on the left.  We needed to change things up...remain flexible...learn to love change!  It was the principle of the thing not the bad or good of it.  My husband is always up for a challenge so we did it...last October.  It was a nightmare.  He felt like he was falling off the bed and I slept with my knees in his face.  And we did it for three months.  Our sleep quality fell like a  boulder off a cliff but neither one of us would admit that it was a problem...for us.  It was his/my fault that the bed seemed really small and that we both wanted to sleep in the middle of the bed!  If the other person would just straighten up and sleep in the right place the problem would be solved.

Then I folded...we need to talk  I said.  I cannot go on like this.  Even though I know it was my idea, I was wrong.  Can I please, please, please have my side of the bed back?  My husband did not give in the first night but then, when I went to bed last night, there he was back on his own side of the bed.  We both slept like we had not slept for 3 months.  It was wonderful.

Changing the bedtime routine is not the only thing that can interfere with our sleep.  It turns out that there may be a relationship between our bedtime computer use and what our brains thinks about sleeping.  The light generated by the computer screen or the ipad can fool our brains into thinking that the sun is up and interfere with brain waves.  Researchers at Northwestern University are saying that computer use right before bedtime may "delay your ability to sleep".  Phyllis Zee, a neuroscience professor at Northwestern University and director of the school's Center for Sleep & Circadian Biology said:
" could also be sufficient to affect your circadian rhythm. This is the clock in your brain that determines when you sleep and when you wake up."  John D. Sutter, CNN
As we grow older, we have both the time and the inclination to want a nap...I love a good nap better than chocolate.  But the dilemma is whether this makes sleeping more difficult when we go to bed.  Like all the other wicked pleasures we enjoy, it turns out that too much of a good thing is not a good thing at all.  Sleeping all afternoon can lead to a bad nights sleep which leads to the need for a long so the cycle goes.  I personally find that I sleep more when I am inactive or even (dare I say it) bored!  The trick is to keep active and busy.  If I do these things I never think about a long nap.  If I do take a nap I try to set a mental alarm that only lets me sleep for a short while.  When all those things do not work I just try to do better the next day.

The thing we need to remember is what our body needs in the way of sleep to function at a high level.  A short nap during the day can actually help us stay active longer.  Slogging through the evening feeling exhausted is not productive and certainly not pleasant.  

I don't know if we can control what we think about or even talk about as we get older.  I would hope that if you find every conversation beginning with some ailment or tale of woe, you could somehow re-train yourself to not do that.  I know it gets much harder as we age.  Training ourselves not to obsess over small things like a little lost sleep is good.  We all know that obsessing over anything can be a problem.   I have also learned that a lost night's sleep is not really important...I don't feel much different either way.  So it seems that the trick is not obsessing about a good nights sleep or the lack of it.  What I do is simply never talk about it.  That works for me.

I don't remember if I told you this or not but I saw an article the other day that listed peanut butter as a sleep aid!  You heard me right...peanut butter.  It seem that peanut butter has a chemical in it that promotes sleep.  Here is the funny thing...I eat a tablespoon of peanut butter when I could not fall asleep and have done so for several years.  I was actually surprised that there was a scientific reason it worked...I thought it was just a trick I played on my mind!

So I have come to these four conclusions regarding sleep and me:
  1. I probably have always slept on the same side of the bed from the time I was a child.  I should not try to change that now.
  2. A good book is probably better before I go to sleep than spending time on the computer.
  3. All naps are good...if they are kept short. I feel better in the evening
  4. Obsessing and talking about how I sleep may keep me awake at night. And I know that no one is really interesting in hearing me talk about it.
I am interested in what your idea might be for restful sleep....leave a comment with your ideas.

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Jul 26, 2014

Retirement: Do you get so rested that you cannot sleep?

I have had so much fun this week reading other people's blogs. They have inspired me to talk about things I have on my mind all of the time. This morning Eileen Hopkins of Boomer Pot of Gold woke up very early (3 am) and wrote a post about the beautiful sunrise and birdsong. I could see her world in my minds eye.

Eileen is newly retired and just beginning the journey called retirement. Her days are filled with relief from the worry of a job that filled her day from dawn to dusk. I know how she feels. Even the part about waking in the middle of the night rings a very clear and nagging signal of what retirement holds for me. I suspect that most people have had the nagging experience.

The fact is a job just keeps our minds and bodies so busy that exhaustion set in and sleep is the only respite we have from that world. I know people that fall into bed each night and are asleep immediately. They will even nap on weekends. Sleep is a treasure to be pulled out when the world simply gets too hectic.

A walk with grandchild is
the perfect exercise. I do sleep
like a log after a day of
Then we retire and slow down. For a while sleep is our friend...something we just never got enough of when we worked. Then slowly and surely sleep will come at odd the afternoon, for two hours at bedtime or maybe not at all. It ceases to be a respite and becomes a problem. Why? Well, the fact of the matter is we do need to work to stay healthy. Surprise!

Now, I am not talking about a 9-5 jobs. I am simply talking about moving, exercising getting up out of the chair and not setting back down until one feels a real need. It is a trade off in my world. If I want to sleep sound without any trouble I really just need to "work" at something that requires me to move about.

I am not an expert on sleep. There are studies and clinics and medications. As for me I find that when I am inactive, my mind has too much time to get busy thinking about stuff, I cannot sleep. Once the whirling begins inside my head it is very hard to it turn off.

I loved that Eileen enjoyed the truly is a gift each and every day. But as for me, I prefer to let it pass most days. Sleep is my friend.

Now I am going for a walk.

Just a thought!


You might also enjoy a post I wrote in 2012: Why Are You Getting Old The Two Year Old Asked!

Jul 25, 2014

20 Awkward Steps to Our Happy Retirement or There Wasn't a Guidebook

Remember that very first child...the one they let you take home without a guidebook or a test drive? Retirement is a bit like that. One day they just say "Good bye, good luck and let us know how that works out for you." It is probably one of the most challenging things you will ever do. Even enough money does not make it any easier.

Don't get me wrong, I love being retired but it has taken my husband and I almost 18 years to find smooth sailing. In that period of time we have invented and reinvented our lives so many times I have lost count. We love the adventure and I suppose that is why we have found ourselves changing direction so many times. If you just want to stay where you are and do what you have done all of your lives, it may be easier. I don't know how to talk about that. (Leave a comment to let me know.)

It seems to me the thing that has given us so much joy is the fact that we have never ever thought we had arrived at our "forever" place. We are a lot closer now but even now, we keep our options open. Here are the things we have done or considered doing:

  1. We moved from rural Eastern Oregon to Portland a year after my husband and I retired. 
  2. We bought a 4 bedroom home because we didn't know how to live in a smaller space.
  3. We joined a country club and learned to play golf a little better. 
  4. We moved from the 4 bedroom house with a big yard to a 2 bedroom condo with no yard and our youngest son moved back home.
  5. I took up multi media art and spend several years immersed in that form of creative projects.
  6. We bought an RV and began to travel. Our youngest son took care of the condo and the cat.
  7. Our youngest son married.
  8. We made plans to sell our Oregon home and moving to the Southwest. The only thing that stopped us was the recession.
  9. My husband and I played golf together when we traveled.
  10. My husband found a mens group to golf with and I began spending more time at home.
  11. I became the summer nanny for 2 of my grandchildren.
  12. I began blogging and abandoned the art.
  13. We traveled for 3 months to begin with and later stayed away for 4-5 months.
  14. We sold and bought several RVs.
  15. We bought a park model in Tucson and moved into it for the winters. The RV was gone forever (maybe).
  16. We sold that park model and moved to a better location in the same RV resort.
  17. We moved from our condo into a 55+ community near our daughter. We had a yard again.
  18. We became a one car family.
  19. We plan to fly back and forth to Arizona one year soon.
  20. Now we stay 6 months in Oregon and 6 in Arizona. The cat travels with us.
We love the lifestyle we have now. My husband still golfs with the guys. Five of our 12 grandchildren are grown. One granddaughters will marry in September. I have a beautiful flower garden that gives me great joy. Blogging gives me an outlet and I still have a wonderful time doing artwork with my younger grandchildren.

Is there a guide book for any of this? I would never have dreamed that we would have changed our directions that many times. I don't think any book could have forcast that. I could write a great book that gave the reader a general idea of what they were in for but I could not guide them. One of the central issues in the retirement like mine is actually living full time with your spouse and finding a way to compromise your way through life. Compromise the the key. The "how" is entirely up to you.

I would be interested in having you add your thought about your retirement list in the comments. How is it working out for you?

Oh, and do stay is not over yet!

Jul 24, 2014

Travel: So What's the Point of Travel Anyway?

Nation (novel)
Available on Amazon: Nation
(photo credit: Wikipedia)
I was reading a blog this morning written by Tam Warner Minton called Travels with Tam. Tam is a scuba diver that loves to travel. Her post was called 5 Reasons to Adventure Travel. I loved this post but then you don't need to poke me in the ribs to get me going when it comes to travel. She quoted Terry Pratchett, that very funny and much quoted English writer saying:
Coming back to where you started is not the same as never leaving.” Terry Pratchett
I liked that a lot. I recall my son asking me once about taking a walk. His father and I walked a lot to explore our little world so this son was familiar with the routine. He had been on many a walk. But as he grew older he became a little suspicious of the habit. Did he want to go for a walk? He wanted to know where we would be when we finished with the walk. When I told him we would be back home, his thought was that there really was no point in talking the walk if we were just coming back to where we started.

Travel is like that I think. There are people that never leave because they don't see the point in the whole exercise. Travel is hard and, in their view, not worth the effort. After all, they will just come back home.

Then there are people that travel and never want to come back home. They love the escape and think that by not going back they can shed all their worries and cares.

And then there are people like my husband and I that feel at home no matter where we are. We settle into the landscape and watch life like a fly on the wall. Because our home is within us, we know that moving to another place would honestly never change our life. What changes us is the adventure and the experience. We find it is hard to be judgmental after we see first hand what is going on in the world. As Terry Pratchett so wisely said, "Coming back to where you started is not the same as never leaving."

So, if I could answer my son today when he asked what the point was, I would have to say the point is you will learn something or feel something that you cannot know if you never go for a walk. 

Have a wonderful day.