Oct 31, 2015

Fighting for My Good Barbara

We often say on the golf course that we have brought the wrong person along to play our golf game. Bad Golfer Barbara generally comes with me. However, I know that somewhere inside this body that is mine is a really good game of golf waiting to happen. Good Golfer Barbara will
Bad Golfer Barbara spends
a lot of time looking for her
golf ball
in the cactus!
score yet.

Even when I am on Facebook, I have to fight to keep Bad Barbara at bay. She can really be snarky and mean. I am sorry that she even exists but there you have it.

For example, today I found a post with the question that asked, "What do you think of the 'man bun'?". That would be a man with a bun on the back of his head to bring his long hair under control. Bad Barbara really wanted to say, "I don't care. I am too busy thinking about world peace."

I wish that people would use "I" at the beginning of sentence and "you or me" at the end, i.e. "Jenny and I went shopping." or "It was really too much for Jenny and me." See what I mean. If I were snarky I would take the time to point that I think that is a mistake. (I might add that I am not an expert so sometimes I wonder if I am right.)

But here is the thing about people like me that live in glasshouses, bad things happen when stones are thrown. You and I both know that.

So I will keep working to keep Good Barbara around. She is worth saving.

Oh, Happy Halloween!


Oct 29, 2015

Embracing the Season

by Barbara (b+ Retire In Style Blog)

I walked yesterday. The leaves are yellow and when the sun shines, the earth almost glows. It has been raining and the sky is vibrant blue. As I breathed the air deeply taking in the smell of growing things, I could only think how much I love this season.

In fact, I often see myself as in the fall of my life. Like the days of that season, it is a golden place. Things don't spring to life as much anymore and my hair is gloriously white. But when I breath deeply, I feel alive and can almost feel the growth. I think and learn more deeply. I am full of books and wisdom. The simple truth is I embrace this season with simple joy.

Have a wonderful day.


Oct 28, 2015

Time: It's All Relative!

 I read many years ago that a child's perception of time was based on how big they were. When my grandchildren walk beside me, because my stride is bigger than theirs, I will arrive at the corner sooner than they will. So it is with time.

Shayliana and Brayden. Does time go slower for her than
it does for her big brother?
The distance also appears further to them. When I look down the block to the corner, I am not overcome by how far it is. But for them that block looks like a mile.

As you can see time is on my mind today. It is going so fast that I cannot remember if I just changed the sheets or if that was last week. My thinking is always, "How could it be a week already?"

I suppose that has something to do with aging. Our time is short so it seems unfair that it is going faster than we care to admit.

Sue Mae is Hmong. She is very small compared to me.
Does time go slower for her?

In an article written by Belle Beth Cooper  she pointed out that "the funny thing is, by focusing on what you were doing, you actually slowed down time (or how your brain perceived that time, anyway)." The actual time that passed is always the same but it is all relative to how I spend the week.

Maybe that is why time is flying. We are just doing what is routine. It really has nothing to do with how big or old we are. It has to do with keeping our minds active and learning new things. Isn't that interesting?

What we do with the hours and minutes of every day is very important. Like a small child walking to the corner, we need to focus on every step, not fall and learn what we can. Time is our friend when we fill it to the brim with new experience. Otherwise, our life will slip away and we will have nothing to show for it!

Just a thought!


Oct 25, 2015

Have I Been Telling the Truth About Retirement?

I was thinking the other day about what how to describe retirement to my children. I know...they have seen it in action for almost 20 years so why would that be necessary? The thing is we may have not been letting them see what "really" goes on in our life. We don't want to be a burden or moan and groan  (oops). We may put on a good face for them. You know, just for show.

2015, 74 years old, blogger for 9+ years,
retired from a career in education since I was 55. I know retirement and
aging because I am living it!
It is hard for me to be totally honest about our life because I write a blog that talks about the positive side of life and that is the way my mind works. The truth of the matter is, I just don't think about the negative part a whole lot. It does not seem necessary.

So here goes some truths about retirement and aging that you will not hear from me very often:

  1. You will get bored...really you will. If you're smart and active it won't happen very often but if you can figure out a way to avoid it let me know. Mind numbing boredom will happen!
  2. You will fight with your spouse. Spending 24/7 together is not easy and even after our almost 20 years of retirement we are working on not making the other unhappy.
  3. Money is an issue. If you are not careful, the list of wants can outnumber the list of "can affords" a whole lot. 
  4. Spouses have different needs. Time spent "playing" can be a problem. Women may get very tied up in church volunteer work and the husband may not like spending day after day alone. Men can golf a lot with their friends. "Golf widows" really do exist.
  5. Staying healthy is a real job and not for the faint of heart. Food, exercise and real medical issues can take a lot of time. My mother told me once the getting old is very time consuming. She was right.
  6. If you live a very long time, things wear out...not you but things. The car, furniture, houses and even the yard. If you think that you can retire and then wear the same clothes you had on the day you retired for the rest of your life, you are not being realistic. If you don't keep your life and your personal appearance up to date, you are going to age a lot faster and you will look and act very old. 
  7. Hanging out totally with old people can take it's toll. I need to be around young people often. My outlook simply doesn't fit in a lot of the time.
  8. If you are a snowbird one or other of the partners will want to spend less time away. In my experience, women miss their grandchildren and want to go home before their husbands. I suppose it could work the other way around. 
  9. Leaving a profession that requires a lot of brain work and losing that intellectual connection can be hard. I always tell you that it is an opportunity to make new friends and build a new life. But it can be hard to find someone that shares your interests. I know this for a fact because I want to talk about science and books and computer technology. My grandchildren are a great help. But in public I struggle. I simply don't fit. 
If you are like me your children may not realize that your life is NOT perfect in everyway. They will be surprised when you say you are bored or need help. Truly, they are surprised in the SURPRISE! kind of way. So you may be surprised that I have even said these things out loud. But, there you have it. 

If I have lead you to believe that life will be perfect or made you feel like a failure if it isn't, I was not being honest. I quoted the Wall Street Journal recently:
All that said, it’s important not to go overboard and expect an entirely positive experience of aging. The key is to hold both positive and negative in balance and really understand and own the aging process.
That my friends is the truth. It is a matter of looking at you glass and ALWAYS seeing it as half full!


Oct 22, 2015

How Do YOU Feel About Aging?

Thoughts on How to Change How You Feel About Aging from an article in the Wall Street Journal By ANNE TERGESEN October 19, 2015

The link to this article was found in a Twit by Ali Davies (@ali_davies)

All those years ago when our country experienced a financial downturn, many people's dreams of retirement went up in smoke. The hopeful retiree began to see aging in a different light. Growing old without a chance to do all those things they dreamed of was depressing. I think their damaged vision of that stage in life may have been a self-fulling prophecy.

It was during that period that I read an article somewhere about how our money was going to go further as we aged. If we played our cards right in some way, things were not going to be as awful as the news predicted. Sometimes I wonder if anyone besides me read that piece. There was so much gloom and doom from every retirement adviser that the likelihood of growing old beautifully could not be seen. 

I think that in the end what we worry about is our money. All of the rest follows.

Aging is a scary prospect when you are 30 or 40 or 50 or even 60. Will one creep around bent over and limping? All that medication needed is expensive and with a retirement income, how will a person ever afford to take care of their aging bodies? Will you be alone, afraid and broke? It turns out that the younger you are, the worse it looks to you.

As a result, people have an image of what life will be that does not reflect how it will be. This last week the Wall Street Journal took a look that poor attitude toward being old and how it could change the course of aging. A person's attitude can make all the difference. Going into aging gloomy will indeed affect their health. Here is what the WSJ said:
Scientists are discovering something very peculiar about aging: How we feel about getting old matters. A lot. 
In test after test, researchers are finding that if we think about getting older in terms of decline or disability, our health likely will suffer. If, on the other hand, we see aging in terms of opportunity and growth, our bodies respond in kind.
So changing a thinking pattern could be the key to a happy old age. Isn't that interesting?

It turns out that people like me that have arrived at "old" are saying that it is not so bad after all. In fact, when the WSJ compared the retired person's sentiment about life in general with that of young people, the older people were more upbeat. Actually 63% felt that they were financially secure compared with 38% of those between the ages of 45-64. They had better social interaction, felt more secure and had more energy to get through the day than their younger counterparts.

Here is a screenshot from that article:

Could this possibly be true? Well if I am an example of what your life will be like, you will travel, be physically active, have enough money to buy what you want and your social community will expand. Let me explain.

When you leave your work life, you will find that your friendships are going to grow. You are going to meet people outside your profession. You will have time to grow those relationships into something that will give you comfort and strength. You are going to lead a more balanced life. 

The article I read all those years ago pointed out that, as we age, we become more secure financially. First of all we actually want less. If we have done anything smart with our money, we will have enough to spend for daily needs with some left over for pure pleasure. We do not need to send children to school or college so we won't need to save as much. Medicare will help with insurance. You will probably downsize to a smaller less expensive home. You will be under less stress and have time to manage your money. 

I might add here that finding a way to do what you dream of as you go along helps a lot. Those that are waiting to start their life until after they retire actually may never get to start their life at all.

If you are willing to be active, you are going to be surprised at what you can do. Honestly, I feel better than I did when I was 55. I went to Curves several years ago and found that I was not as old as I thought. I had just forgotten how to use my muscles like they should be used. I don't go to Curves now but I have not forgotten to wake up my muscles and get moving. 
2015 We traveled to Dubai to visit our son. 
We spent 5 days in Munich too.
We walked everywhere.
Do I have enough energy to get through the day? You bet I do. I walk over 1 hour as many days a week as I can. I garden, travel, entertain and generally keep myself on the move. It is not easy people! Who said it was going to be. If you want to grow old healthy and happy, you need to know that nothing is free. It is always going to be work but it is on our own terms. How it turns out is completely up to us!

In fact when people like me look in the mirror we feel younger than we look. All those bad things that young people expect are not happening in real life. 

The Journal article tells about techniques used to help change thought patterns, myths about aging and how to change stereotypical attitudes. 
You really should read it and get the full picture. Toward the end of the article the author put a thought forward that hit just the right note. She said:
All that said, it’s important not to go overboard and expect an entirely positive experience of aging. The key is to hold both positive and negative in balance and really understand and own the aging process.
...understand and own the aging process. Yes, a happy life truly is all about balance. Wouldn't you agree?

Just a thought.


Oct 19, 2015

Getting "Real" With My Followers about Retirement

As I write more and more I find that the comments I receive are more relevant to what I have written and in many cases heart wrenching. When people let me see into their lives, I realize that like me, they are searching for answers. They are hoping that maybe I have them.
Me at the Alhambra, Sept. 2000
Today a person commented from somewhere in Canada about retiring soon. They are from Korea and have accumulated enough wealth to quit work and move to the "location of their dreams" (my words not theirs.) Should they go back to a place where the language is their own or should they take a chance and choose somewhere outside their comfort zone. Those of us that are retired understand those questions entirely.

So what do you think? Do you jump ship and move to the far reaches of the earth to find a new life or do you just change the scenery but not the culture? Hmmmmm!

Someone asked me many years ago if I would move to Spain. My husband and I had just returned from a extended stay in the country. I fell in love with the music and the rhythm of life there. All I could think about for many months was paseo in the evening and a long nap in the afternoon. It was just heavenly.

But when the stranger asked me that question, I knew the answer and it was NO. If I moved to Spain, all I would do is go about recreating the life I have here and encourage my family to come with me. Why would I do that when the grass was very green at home? I don't speak Spanish, I am not totally in love with Spanish food and one can only visit so many historic sites and take so many naps before they are full.

My advice to the Korean commenter would be to follow your heart. Do what feels right. Don't burn bridges, get rid of your old life and abandon old friends. Dip your toe into the water, see how it feels and then stay or move on. I suppose flexibility is the key.

Be well.


Oct 15, 2015

Just When I Thought NO ONE Was Watching!

You know how it is. You don't put on your underwear and go out in public thinking that no one will notice. On that day you meet your high school principal, your doctor, the minister at your church and every neighbor you have ever lived next to....and they are noticing. Not that they say it out loud but you can tell...they all know that you are barenaked underneath your clothes.

I will have to admit that I feel that way about Facebook, Twitter and my blog here on Retire In Style Blog. I think I can get away with just about anything because I am sure no one is watching. Then, just when I think no one was watching, everyone is. I don't know if that good. I suppose it all depends.

Last week I posted a picture I had seen on my news feed.

For some very strange reason people I knew that I thought never saw anything I posted "liked" that post. There were 30 of my friends to be exact. It is ok...really it is. Just incase any of you are wondering, I am just fine. I am not senile. Really, I'm not. But for all of you that liked that post and think you are senile, let me know. I will send a card or something.

I'm just saying!


Oct 10, 2015

How Do You See the Future You?

We dropped in to have a cup of coffee with my daughter and her husband this morning. They had been to a Weight Watchers meeting so of course the conversation turned to what was going on there. My son-in-law told me that the question for the morning was "How do you see your future self?" He said he saw himself as Tom Selleck. I am not sure if that dates him or not but I guess even the old Tom is not bad!

Then he looked at me expectantly. I am almost 74 years old so seeing the future me means something entirely different. I am living my future. The outcome was determined many, many years ago. I am the answer to the how the future will look, not the question.
Our future now...grandchildren, visits with family,
travel, an occasional golf game, long walks,
our garden, friends and a snowbird lifestyle.

I suppose the two things that I thought about when I was younger was money and health if I indeed thought about anything. I was never the primary breadwinner although I did work most of my life. I am a retired teacher. I always saw my role as keeping things under control so we could live on what we had not what we wanted to have. As for my health, I have always been active both mentally and physically so what is, is.

I don't think I am the best example for independent women of today. But I knew women that made some very smart financial choices that left them well fixed in retirement. The thing that always impressed me about those women was their determination to finish what they had begun. They found careers and worked very hard to advance and learn within those parameters. Women my age did not change jobs if they were smart and had a good position. The grass did not appear to be greener to them. Those women retired and could be self-supporting if they needed to be.

Of those women, one stands out in my mind. She was a home economics teacher turned counselor. She earned a Master's Degree when her children were young. Her home was beautiful even though she did not spend very much to make it that way. She was all about creating and doing it herself. Her husband was a wonderful partner. She probably visited the second hand stores and looked for deals. She covered her family room floor with carpet samples and found uses for wallpaper sample books. We are very lucky now because information on DIY is everywhere we look. Doing what she did would be much easier now.

They sold that home making a big profit and built a new one in town after she and her husband retired. I am sure it is as beautiful as her country home. Like me, she is now living the future.

If I were to give advice to a young woman today that is not married and the primary breadwinner, I would tell her that living on what she will retire on and saving the remainder is the answer to providing for their future. The phrase that so many use, "I cannot retire to the lifestyle I am living now," is very telling. The future depends on living in the lifestyle you will always be living. It is all about self-control and seeking help from a professional for working out the details.

One resource I found for retirement planning is this tool from Personal Capital. It's a retirement planner that's 100% free to use for anyone in the U.S, and it really helps you see how much you're saving and when you're planning to retire.

I am very grateful for the way things turned out for us. Would we have done things differently? I don't know. We live a very full life on what we accumulated. Now we are reaping the rewards.

So, how do you see your future?


Note: I received no payment for this article.

Oct 8, 2015

Guns and Mental Illness: The View From My Front Porch

I play a learning game with myself occasionally. When I feel very strongly about something, I need to be reminded that the strength of my opinion is usually inversely proportionate to the depth of my knowledge... the less I know the louder I talk. So to tone myself down I write down what I think I know and then research to see if I am even close. Here is one I wrote after the incident in Roseburg, Oregon a couple of weeks ago. 

Note: The best statistics are available on Mother Jone website. Read the information and see what you think.

See this article about Patrick Kennedy's take on mental illness and the Roseburg killings.

From 1900 until 1958 there were four mass murders here in the United States. In fact, in my youth I did not even know that sort of thing could ever happen. But as the years passed, I saw President Kennedy, Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King assassinated. It was a string of beads that added up to mass murder in my mind. By the time my oldest was graduating from high school the ship had sailed on good manners and rebellion was the norm. That is how I remember it.

In spite of the talk about gun registration and how it has impacted us, I think there may be another more logical reason for the problems we see now.

Here is what I have found:

In 1982 Republican Ronald Reagan defeated Democrat Jimmy Carter and became president of our country. The Republicans took over our congress. Ronald Reagan believed that our citizenship was taking advantage of government programs. He convinced the public that "welfare cheats" and programs for mentally ill were the cause for many of our country's financial problems. As soon as he became president he and his party set about correcting the money problems stripping those programs bear. President Carter saw mental health as a significant problem in our country but Reagan would not acknowledge that it was an issue...
One month prior to the election, President Carter had signed the Mental Health Systems Act, which had proposed to continue the federal community mental health centers program, although with some additional state involvement. Consistent with the report of the Carter Commission, the act also included a provision for federal grants “for projects for the prevention of mental illness and the promotion of positive mental health,”.... With President Reagan and the Republicans taking over, the Mental Health Systems Act was discarded before the ink had dried. from Salon
This was when the Reagan administration touted the concept of "homeless by choice" and called the mentally ill veterans among others "double dippers" for taking benefits they were legally entitled to. Those benefits were taken away and people were left with such a little bit of income that it was very hard for them to survive. I had a mentally ill uncle that was a veteran of WWII that was caught in this web.

During the following years facilities that had housed, treated and guided mental health care closed. Homelessness here in Oregon was rampant and as we drove down the freeways we could see homeless camps everywhere. It is said that Reagan did not understand mental illness. Maybe he thought homelessness was okay for the poor and mentally ill. The beginning of an era of "turning a blind eye" to human suffering was begun. Our veterans are still living on the streets today.

And I believe:
Those that are mentally ill are not seeking treatment in a consistent way. In fact, as I understand it, the homeless now can sleep on the public streets if they want...legally. I suppose that is cheaper and easier than actually dealing with the problem.

We need to push for better mental health care and disseminate information about the causes, signs, possible problems and provide help. We certainly do not systematically promote good mental health practices in public media nearly as much as we should.

I doubt very much if public schools are addressing the subject at all. And it has been my experience that school counselors are overwhelmed when it comes to helping students with mental health issues. Help from public mental health clinics may could be hard to find. It is a daunting task.

Like the killer in Roseburg, most of those people that act on the need to go on a killing rampage are mentally ill. Seeing the possible link between what is a historical fact and what is happening today is not a huge leap. Not in my opinion. Current gun laws that do not restrict ownership of military style weapons and lack of better mental health care are the perfect brewing ingredients for more and more disasters.

We cannot change the past. What is, is. But we can take a good hard look at our opinions on gun ownership and mentally illness. We can go beyond shouting loud and finding excuses. Yes, it is the people that pull the trigger that kill people. Yes, the gun laws do give us the right to keep arms. The Supreme Court has decided that we can do that.

What if we focused our attention on going to war on mental illness? Let the gun lobby have their guns...I for one give up. They win that battle. If what is happening is their fault then that is on their conscience. They have more money and so their influence carries more weight.

But finding solution for mental illness is a battle no one should give up on. Can't we do something...anything...positive to act on that cause and move on?

I know this is simplistic and those of you that are more knowledgeable than me could change this discussion. But sometimes just doing something good can make a lot of bad seem less of a burden.

Does anyone have a solution? You tell me.

Just a thought!


Wouldn't it be fun to see the gun lobby and the NRA go out of business because no one will fight with them anymore? Doesn't that just make you smile?

Oct 5, 2015

On the Lost and Found Department

I have been in the business of lost and found since I was a very young child. School work, watches and items of clothing seemed to vanish and reappear without explanation. Nothing has changed. I still continually lose things.

The really spooky thing about it is I do not worry that I will never get it back. Well, not usually. I will have to admit that misplacing my camera last week did get my attention. I asked for help and searched high and low only to find it, not in my own house, but in my daughters. No, it didn't fly across the street and up two blocks. I actually left it there. That adventure spurred a series of Facebook messages that had everyone laughing. It looked like this:
See what I mean. Losing things is frustrating and a big waste of time, especially if I actually worry about it and do a search.

A Decluttered Home
Now I cannot find my Halloween lights. It is not that important but very frustrating. I just saw them not so very long ago but a very intense search has not turned them up. Now I see that karma is out to get me. Just within the last couple of days I have seen articles written about decluttering and keeping only what makes you happy. A book by Marie Kondo has hit the New York Time's bestseller list. She it the queen of decluttering it seems. NPR from Boston had this to say about her skills.
Marie Kondo has built a huge following in her native Japan with her “KonMari” method of organizing and de-cluttering. Clients perform a sort of tidying up festival: time set aside specifically to go through belongings. Each object is picked up and held, and the client needs to decide if it inspires joy. If it doesn’t, it needs to go. 
from The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing.”
Then the front page of a magazine called Country Home told me that I could "Decorate With What [I] Love". It didn't tell me to get rid of stuff but I see a trend here. Perhaps it is time for me to give away clothes that were gifts and don't fit any more and pictures than belonged to my mother/grandmother/aunts. The pictures really must not bring me joy because they are in a box beside the refrigerator in the garage unopened since we moved 4 years ago. Then again I am not sure. I have not "picked up and held" them for years before we even moved.

Pray for me. Now I am obsessed. I need the courage to clean enough stuff from my life so my Halloween Lights will reappear. That, my friends, would truly inspire joy.  

Have a wonderful Monday.


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