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Sep 19, 2019

Senior Independent Living...7 stages of retirement "grief"!

I wrote this article back in 2014. My husband and I had been retired for 18 or so years. We had emerged from all of the angst and were enjoying ourselves no end...we still are. But, we did go through the stages of grief (in a positive way if that is possible). Now we love our time to travel, enjoy grandchildren and great grandchild. We now own two homes, one in Oregon and one in Arizona. Yes it is true that your financial life gets better as you age but that is another story.

Sapa, Viet Nam

Hanoi after dark
Grandchildren! I now have 13 and these are three youngest.
The oldest is 26ish. :)

Are there seven stages to recovery from the shock of retirement? Do we feel loss, pain, anger, depression and loneliness after which we turn upward, reconstruct our lives and then begin to live again? It very well could be.

I do know that when I talk to newly retired people there seems to be a pattern of behavior that each person feels is uniquely theirs. During the years of living in an RV Resort in the winter I rubble elbows with retirees for almost 12 years. Their stories are their own but the patterns they follow are similar. Here is what I saw and heard from those people:
  1. Euphoria:  I remember saying that I was never getting up in the dark again. The euphoria of knowing my retirement benefits would support us for the rest of our lives and we need not fear unemployment left me walking on airI think most people that retire feel this same emotion.
  2. Denial:  Most of the people will say they are going to travel/read/take up a hobby when they retire.  Even though they have never done any of these things before, it just sounds right to them. I have always thought the "denial/escape" should be substituted for the word "travel/read/hobby" because that is what we are wanting to do. The idea of no responsibility is so appealing but we know we do not want to sit down to die. My husband and I have traveled around in the world since our retirement. It did not take us long to realize that the new was wearing off and money had to be taken into consideration. There was no escaping the fact that we were going to have to face a life spent in our home, day in and day out. Travel was not going to fill the void left when we quit working.
  3. Pain of Uncertainty:  Now that the senior has figured out that there is no escaping their life the uncertainty settles in. Should they move to a smaller house, maybe near the children?  (We did that.) Or should they follow their dream and go to a foreign country or another part of the country to live? Could they find a way to own two homes so they can escape to warmer weather in the winter? All of the freedom leaves them with a nagging feeling that they could be doing better if only they moved...or something! 
  4. Anger :  This part of the retirees response to retirement is a bit like a dog biting his leg off.  Spouses may turn on each other. Husband will move the furniture and tell the wife how to cook. The wife will watch her husbands every move, tell him what to wear or leave long lists of "honey do's".  Living near the children can cause tension between the spouses and between the parents and their children. Television station selection can even be a bone of contention. I can't crawl in another person's skin but I do know what I hear and this part can happen early on or after a honeymoon period of the retirement. They will feel angry and frustrated. Boundaries will need to be set in order for everyone to live together in peace.
  5. Upheaval:  Many spouses have led separate lives but occupied the same space. Other have spent a lot of time together during their leisure time. This part of their lives can be a huge adjustment. In the first group, the amount of time they are together is almost overwhelming.  In the second case the expectation that retirement will provide more together time can be a problem. In both cases the man or woman's obsession with golfing, quilting, shopping etc. or the total lack of interest in anything can be a problem. In one case he/she never goes away. In the other he/she uses the hobby as a "job" replacement and even gathers up friends as though they are coworkers. The spouse left behind can be resentful. In my opinion some counseling may be necessary. Both men and women can have unrealistic expectations of their partners.  
  6. Role Adjustment: Retirement really does change our married life in every way. Couple usually arrive at an unspoken agreement and their life goes on. We eventually spread the work of life out between us. My husband took over the household finances and began cooking more.  When he cooks, I clean up. I suppose that in the end we just learned to work out what needed to be done. It is so automatic now I never think about it.  
  7. Acceptance and Realization:  After months or even years most retirees have worked it all out.  A routine is established and their life can be a very happy one. The day you realize that you would not have time to work even if you wanted is the best day of all. You have managed to fill your life with "life"! Congratulations.
Retirement is not easy. It is much like a rebirth of sorts.  But, on the other hand, it can be the best part of your life...after all you have worked hard, raised families and now it is your turn to decide.  I am having more fun all the time. Hopefully, you can come into this part of your life prepared both financial and emotionally...it will be so much easier that way.


Sep 17, 2019

"Mostly, we don't want to harm each other" Danusha Laméris: Small Kindnesses

"In her poem Small Kindnesses  Danusha Lamér wrote about those everyday things we do that send out ripples of hope and happiness. She began with:
I’ve been thinking about the way, when you walk down a crowded aisle, people pull in their legs to let you by. 
And she continues with words about spilled groceries and the stranger that will bend to help you. Then the best line of the poem:
Mostly, we don't want to harm each other.
As she continues I found these words:
We have so little of each other, now....
Only these brief moments of exchange.
What if they are the true dwelling of the holy, these
fleeting temples we make together when we say, “Here,
have my seat,” “Go ahead—you first,” “I like your hat.”
Credit: Copyright 2019 Danusha Laméris. First published in Healing the Divide: Poems of Kindness and Connection from Green Writers Press.  
I saw a photo of this poem on Facebook. I was taken back to a piece of graffiti I photographed in the restroom of the Uffizi Gallery in Florence Italy. I loved this at the time and still do...it said in my thoughts, "If you see someone that needs a kind word of validation, take the time and tell them you like their shoes."

The poem resonated with me because it is the way small town people live their lives. It takes the whole village to keep everyone afloat. Now that I live in the city I find that people appreciate that small kindness of recognition and conversation more than ever. They simply want to be seen and appreciated for who they are on that particular day. Honestly, I believe that people are very lonely.

I especially liked that part of the poem that said "Mostly, we don't want to harm each other". The last few lines pointed out how tiny words can make a big difference, "Only these brief moments of exchange. What if they are the true dwelling of the holy, these fleeting temples we make together when we say, “Here, have my seat,” “Go ahead—you first,” “I like your hat." "

I will be buying this book of poetry by Danusha Laméris when it is released in 2020. 

What are your favorite lines?


Note: I also loved Insha' Allah (translates as Allah Willing and is commonly used in the Middle East by everyone. Those of us from a different culture might say "Good Lord Willing.). It is a beautiful poem about those small prayers we say over the making of bread or the care of our garden.

Sep 15, 2019

Downsizing in Retirement? But where?

Downsizing was on everyone's mind. The stress people endure just because of a lifetime of clutter they have accumulated added to the retirement dilemma and limited income and you have the perfect reasons for wanting to live in something much smaller.
Park Model in RV Resort

Once the decision has been made to move the question is where? People as asking themselves Should we sell our house here in the north and buy something smaller for much less in a warmer climate? It has occurred to me that we might need to rethink what we are doing.

It is a temptation to sell here in Portland, Oregon, for example, because a person can buy something in the Southwest USA for less and have disposable income left over to have MORE fun right now. When the weather is warm in the winter that person will be at home while all those snow birds are living in small resorts. Sound about right doesn't it?

RV Resort Bocci Ball Tournament
Then summer comes...it gets very hot in the southwest in the summer. Those people want to do the snowbird thing in reverse and fly north to find some cooler weather. BUT, it is very expensive and there is really not that much available in the way of short term rentals for vacationing people. A hotel or motel is not affordable at all. Most people spend a very short period of time in the north. Better than nothing I suppose.

Snowbird Friends
It might be that downsizing to a smaller place in some location that is perfect in the summer would be smarter. When you came back north you would be at home and probably near your families and friends. The spend less on your winter location. The southwest is ripe for the picking when it comes to snowbird living. There is so much available at a reasonable price, especially in RV resorts. Even purchasing a small park model like we own is possible for less than $20,000. You will have a more fun than you ever imagined but not be tied to so much responsibility.

It is just a thought. Downsize at home in the north and snow birding small in the southwest has been our choice and I am so grateful that we have decided to do that. We live in a place that those coming north could not afford to visit for very long. Life is good!


Note: I happen to think that Idaho has some of the best locations for downsizing. Check out McCall for your small home in the north. It is gorgeous.


Sep 14, 2019

How Snow Birds Can Cut TV Costs Dramatically

I don't know about you but I love my TV. My husband can watch seasonal sports and I can watch those shows that I enjoy. We share a lot of interests so that is great!

When my husband and I move from North to South and then back again, the cable service has always been a problem. There was vacation service payments and extra boxes to return and purchase. It has cost us a lot of extra money over the years. The goal for the snowbird is to make the transition as seamless as possible.

So, yes we do love our TV BUT we resent the cost that cable companies and satellite dishes are charging. The cost is simply more than we want to pay. Many people cannot afford the fees. And cable has ceased to allow you too fast forward through the ads on recorded or On Demand shows. For many, the big cost was worth it as long as you had that advantage.

So my husband and I cut the cord completely. We do not have cable TV. Instead we have been using a streaming media player. We have both a Roku and a Firestick by Amazon. This leaves us free to pick what kind of streaming service we want. (Hulu or something like it is necessary to get most mainstream shows).

Best of all, we simply unplug the media players from our TV and take them along with their HDMI cords to our winter home. They are both very small. When we get to the new location we simply plug them in and do what the screen tells us to do to reconnect. The memory that we have stored on these services remains in place.

You will need:
  1. Streaming service like DirectTVNow or Hula
  2. A fast internet service. (we own two modems and wireless connectors.)
  3. A streaming media player
  4. A little bit of time to figure it all out.
Note: If you own an RV, you will need to figure that out. When we parked for the winter in one place we just paid for internet service.

We used DirectTVNow for over a year but things are changing with this kind of service. This last month we disconnect DirectTVNow. The service does not require a phone call to do that. We went online and disconnected. Most streaming services will allow you to do that. Then we signed up for another streaming service. It is a requirement because we cannot choose just the channels we want use individually...yet.

My son-in-law went with YouTube service. We decided to go with HULU Live TV.

HULU has all the same things as DirectTVNow and the cost is so much less...almost half as much for what we use. We opted to give HULU a try. I am loving it because it has shows that no one else has...Handmaids Tale for example. AND, if you want to pay a little extra, I think you can add no ad service to Hulu as well as unlimited screens. You could probably share this service with your family or friends. I have not tried it but noticed it in their information.

We also have Amazon Video which includes links to other services like Masterpiece, Britbox and Acorn. I see there may be others available.

We use our internet service a lot anyway so the speed of the internet is being paid for no matter what we do. Someday there will be a way to avoid that too. Here in Hillsboro a wireless internet service for everyone is becoming available but it not quite fast enough yet.

So, there you have it.

Questions anyone?


HOW TO BE A SNOW BIRD...answers and lists!

I published this article 4 years ago but most of it is still relevant. I hope it is helpful.
I love being a snow bird. But I wish someone had told me all the tricks before I began. There probably was a book I forgot to read or maybe that book simply did not exist when I started my snow bird adventure. That is why I am here today. Here is the scoop on insurance, financial matters, utilities precautions and travel.

I am not here to burst your bubble but there are a few reality checks that need to be considered. I know...traveling off to warm weather in the winter, having two sets of friends and maybe a second home, sounds very luxurious. Golfing while your friends are mucking around on snow and ice would be soooooo dreamy. I want you to stop and think about what you might be doing.  There are choices to be made and even financial sacrifices. I have been doing this on and off since I was 55. If over 22 years of experience makes me an expert, then that is what I am!
    Arizona at it's finest...Sedona, Arizona
    You have always dreamed of that retirement life...you know, the one where you get up in the morning and you do just what you want.  Every day, day in and day out, for the rest of your life. When you think about it, the first choice you make is "Can I afford to retire both financially and emotionally?"  Be very clear in your mind about this before you even start down that road. (Link:  Seven Stages of Retirement Grief)
      Should I do the Snowbird Thing?
      Being a snowbird requires some doing. I suppose the first consideration is money. Inexpensive second homes can be had but you need to be careful before you leap. (Link: Rental information)  Areas that cater to snowbirds both in the southwest and southeast do provide opportunities to rent fully furnished apartments or park models in RV resorts. You will need to do some research online or even call a rental agent in the place you have chosen to visit. It is all very doable. ( Inexpensive Retirement Information) RV resorts offer a lot of activities and that is a real consideration when you have free time on your hands. You can rent park models* in these places. This is another choice that might replace living in an apartment.

      Will I Miss my Grandchildren?
      I think the answer for this one is obvious. Yes, you might miss your family. It is a given. But on the upside, your family dynamic may be better when you are gone for a while. When we started this life my children actually needed for me to be out of town for part of the year. I got a break from babies, my children became more independent and we enjoyed each others company more when we got back together. In fact, they now see us coming home as a vacation of sorts for themselves. If you have children that live in a warm place, you can choose to live part of your year close to one child and part of the year near the other. If you get lonesome for them, you can talk on Skype, or use your smart phone for facetime or even use video via your Facebook account. This is our link to home or where ever our children are at anytime.

      Where should I go?
      This is such a personal thing...we chose a human comfort zone. Really the geographic location is not as important.  For example, if I won the lottery, I would not be comfortable living in a high roller apartment in Las Vegas. That is not who I am. While this is an outrageous example, it is absolutely the truth. If you are a very educated person that loves the opera and expensive restaurants, you need to find a place where those people that live around you love the same things. (Link:  Like Minded People)

      How to Snowbird
      We are leaving for Tucson soon...here is where we get down to the nitty gritty of being a part time person in two locations. Think about:
      1. How long to stay gone?  We are living about 6 months in both of our homes. That is a personal choice and one we have settled on after all these years. We began by traveling in a motor home, bought a park model in a resort in Tucson, AZ and now have a small townhouse. We live in the Portland Oregon metro area and have been Oregonians all our lives. It rains a lot here and we like to avoid as much of that as we can and still enjoy our beautiful location.
      2.  Should I fly or drive? After people have done this for many years they usually buy a clunker car and simply fly to their winter home. Really this depends on whether you are coming to Arizona from Nova Scotia or from Oregon. Some drives are just not worth the time and expense. Our friends put the car on blocks, disconnect the battery, find a spot in the shade for the vehicle and leave it behind. The worse that can happen is it is stolen or the rats gnaw on the electrical wires! But if it is an insured clunker, you are fine. (Rats are another thing entirely but still you need to be aware of any varmints that lurk about...FYI.)
      3. Should I rent out my home while I am gone? Let me tell you if this is possible and you can find someone you trust, do this.  Most of your other dilemmas don't exist when you do this. We have had students live in our house and rented it out. In both cases it was a win/win situation. The extra cash in the case of renting can pay for your time in the south! The minor clean ups and damage were nothing compared to what we need to do when no one is in the house. The best part is the "closing the house up" part just disappears.
      How do I switch from one life to another?  There is an extensive list of to-dos when you close your house down and switch to a different life. This is a list worth copying:
      1. Mail...the post office with forward mail with a beginning and ending date. If you are in one location, this works perfectly. If you are on the road you can have a family member forward you mail occasionally or you can have your mail forwarded to a service and they will take care of this for you.
      2. Turning off the water if possible. This is one big bill you do not pay if you do that. If you turn off your water you also need to turn off your water heater. The tank could burn up without water. Some heating system is dependent on the water. Can you turn your heat off and not have big freezing problems? Draining pipes might be necessary if you are from the frozen north! No matter what, keep in mind what water can do. If you cannot turn it off, have someone check you home frequently. Water damage is a horrible thing and it happens a lot! (Yes we did have that happen to us.)
      3. Have the insurance for you second car changed...this can save you a lot of money. The insurance company will reduce the cost for you if you have the car in storage. Cutting the cost for car insurance for six months out of the year saves you money. 
      4. Keeping the bad guys out...I know people that turned on an alarm system and walked away feeling very secure. I still advice you to be very careful. We have someone check in occasionally and ask neighbors to be watchful too. We leave our phone number as well as our local family's number with them.
      5. Make your home look lived in when it is not...(see keeping the bad guys out). Be sure that some delivery person is not leaving unwanted ads at your front door. Piled up newspaper ads are an invitation to trouble. I suggest that you have a neighbor clear these away. I hate those things anyway but it happens. The local pizza parlor has to advertise somehow I guess. Leave the blinds partially cracked and leave a plant by the front door that will survive through the winter. You can even hang a generic wreath on the front door that looks welcoming. All these things make your house look lived in. I see that timers for lights do not cause fires so you might consider using some of those.
      6. Make choices about turning off garbage, TV, internet, phone service, etc.  Most of these services have a "vacation/hibernation" setting.  That means that they don't disconnect you entirely and all you need to do when you return is give them a call and they turn your service back on. Your garbage can, TV cable box (if you still use one) and your modem for internet hook-up can remain in place. You might have to pay a small fee but it could be cheaper that paying to have services reconnected. This also gives you the option of coming home for a short period of time or letting a friend/relative use the home and having the services needed. We come home at Christmas and have our internet, garbage and TV turned back on for that short period of time. You make the choice.
      7. Decide on a wardrobe.  It has taken me years to learn what to take with me and what to leave behind. If you are a total newbie, check on the temperatures during the months you are going to be in a locality. Arizona for example, is NOT hot in the winter. Locals and experienced snowbirds do not dress like it is 90 degree when the temperature rises to the mid 60's during the day. You will need sweaters, longer pants and a jacket in the evening hours. Pay attention to this sort of thing when you pack for your trip. I know we all dream of warm winter days but in this case it is all relative. Warm in the winter is 65 degrees but compared to say Iowa that is really warm.  See what I mean?
      8. If you leave the electricity on, UNPLUG EVERYTHING that can be disconnected. Just because.
      9. Then there is the cat!!!  Our cat was a real part of our life...however, the RV resort where we spend our winters before we moved to a townhome would not allow a cat outside the park model. (See making snowbird location choices.)  Because our cat was a feral cat when we found him in Texas, he would NOT stay indoors all the time. In fact, like my children when they were young, he would actually prefer to live and eat at the neighbors and eat again at home! To begin with we opted to let him live with a family member while we are gone. If the neighbors are free to keep him, we let them enjoy his company full time. We supply the food. This was a hard choice but we decided years ago to make our life about humans and not our cat. He made the sacrifice for us. We loved him for that.
      So, there you have it. Actually, when you think about it, the benefits far outweigh the problems. I hope this reality check helped you make the decision that will work best for you.  If you have any further question or ideas, feel free to comment and I will get back to you. I love comments and I am sure you love answers!!


      *A park model is a small trailer with all the same amenities as a big trailer. Ours was about 12' wide and 34' long. We have added a room to the side that we call an "Arizona Room". That space provides storage and utility space. We also have a shed where our washer and dryer is stored as well as my husband's work bench.

      Sep 12, 2019

      On Getting My MOJO Back

      I have my MOJO back...you know my magic spells and incantations! Life is as near perfect right now as it has been in a long time.

      As you know, I embrace my age. Being 77 (78 in November) is really a pretty good gig for me. I can dance, still love a good party and an occasional martini. I have friends and neighbors that tolerate me as well as anyone can. Plus they like my parties.

      AND my husband still looks good in his blue jeans.

      Like I said...LIFE IS GOOD! I have my MOJO back.

      How is your life going?


      MOJO: a magic charm, talisman, or spell. "someone must have their mojo working over at the record company"
      spell · incantation · conjuration · rune · magic formula · magic word · abracadabra · jinx · sorcery · magic · witchcraft · wizardry · hex · makutu

      Sep 5, 2019

      Drinking Games and Old Dogs...Perfect

      This years theme: LUAU
      Every year my husband and I are invited to spend some time with some very special women...the ones that are interesting, fun and above all, true to each other. Their children/their spouses/boyfriends, parents and now, grandchildren join in the camping weekend. Games and old dogs fill the three days over Labor Day each year.

      Susie and Dewey own a meadow and their son, Lee and his wife Christine put on a party for us...well with a lot of food and help from friends...but still they orchestrate drinking games (croquet this year), set up corn hole boards (holes were lit this year) and see that there is an outhouse for everyone to use.

      Tents appear all over the meadow and a beautiful fire drum remains lit all day. The creek that runs through the property provides a play space for the dogs and their people.

      If it is not perfect I don't know what is.

      At sometime during our one day there I will have a little time with each of my daughter's friends. We laugh, commiserate and, above all, love our time together.

      I am not a Bunko Girl like the rest. I am a grandmother/great-grandmother that just happens to be a part of the lives of these people. It is one of the great loves of my life only surpassed by the love for my family. Life is good!

      2017: The year of the total eclipse in Lee and Kristines meadow
      in the Cascades.
      2018 in the meadow near the Huckleberry Inn in the Coast Range.

      On the right is True to the Core Kristine sitting next to her son's girlfriend.
      A friends on the left sits next to Sweet Jill

      Kathy's old dog!

      Old/New frisky pup!

      Old Moose Hound, granddaughter Elena's dog.

      Newly graduated nurse Katie (Kristine and Lee's daughter) and her boyfriend
      The famous croquet drinking game!

      Cribbage tournament! r-l Joann, Sean, Dan, Charlie, Bret

      Old dog that dives in the beautiful creek!
      So how was your labor day weekend?


      Featured Post

      HOW TO BE A SNOW BIRD...answers and lists!

      I published this article 4 years ago but most of it is still relevant. I hope it is helpful. I love being a snow bird. But I wish someone h...