10 Tips Toward Being a Good Citizen

Being a good citizen was a big deal when we were kids!

I was 10 in 1958, separated by only 13 years from World War II where my father fought and was wounded at the Battle of the Bulge.  For his whole life, he got tears in his eyes when the flag went by.  Patriotism and love of country were more than words to all who had lived through that war – something that rubbed off on us, the first generation born after the war.

The idea of being a good citizen was a big deal.  In fact, we even got a grade for it in school.  What was later called “conduct” was then called “citizenship.”  We started our school day with the Pledge of Allegiance, and we were all required to take Civics to learn about our representative form of government and how it worked.

The whole idea of a public education was to train young people about how our system of government works, so they could be good citizens and be part of it. We’re not doing that today.

Sandra Day O’Connor

I agree with Justice Sandra Day O’Connor that we should be talking more about the importance of citizenship in our schools, but what can we do beyond that to be good citizens and support our democratic way of life?  The Honorable Lee H. Hamilton has written a great article titled “What Does it Mean to be an American Citizen?”  Many of the suggestions below come from this article.  Others are my own.

So what can we do to be good citizens?

This has nothing to do with politics.  Good citizens come from both parties!

  • Begin with gratitude. You and I are so lucky that we were born in this country in the 20th Century.   Realize that America is never “finished.”  Our way of government is a continual experiment that reflects the “will of each generation.”  We must realize that its continuation is not guaranteed.
  • Brush up on the basics. It doesn’t hurt to spend a little time reading the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.  They are not just words on a page – to be bandied about by whatever political party needs them.  They are living breathing documents upon which our whole way of life is based.
  • Stay informed about issues in our communities and our country. It’s hard to be a good citizen without knowing what’s going on.  Beware of the bias of those delivering the “news.”  It might just be opinion, or it might not even be true.  Check the facts.
  • Run for elective office or work for candidates of your choice. Particularly locally.  President Obama was once just a community organizer, and President Trump was once just a business man.
  • Vote and hold your representatives accountable with phone calls, e-mails, attendance at town meetings, etc. Start a petition or a letter-writing campaign.  Good citizenship doesn’t stop at the ballot box.
  • Join the Peace Corps or the military or non-profit organizations. Care for our citizens.  Take care of a neighbor who needs some help.
  • Accept jury duty and be willing to act as a witness if necessary. Justice is essential to good governance.  It doesn’t happen if people aren’t engaged.
  • Join organizations or parties that reflect your own views. Work hard, but realize that both sides have good ideas, and nothing will happen if we don’t work together for the common good.
  • Check your cynicism at the door. We can be a better nation.  We just need to believe that we can.

Engagement is the secret!

“Good citizenship and defending democracy means living up to the ideals and values that make this country great.”

Ronald Reagan

Liberty symbol

The secret to good citizenship is engagement.  Share with us how you are engaged with your community.  We’d love to hear about it.

Pam

Writers@richly aged.com

Travel near or far: positive aging

Many of us lived the secret life of “Walter Mitty”… daydreaming our way through various exciting but never experienced adventures. Even Walter found a way to actualize many of those dreams into his real life.  Let’s see what happens when your dreams become  a reality.

Pam, Bob, Dixie and Rick try a Relocation Cruise from Miami to Rome, Italy.

Not every one likes to travel. This positive aging tip is directed for those that do and those that aspire to.

You all know there are hundreds of ways to travel.  The four of us have tried many of them both in our nation and in other countries.

Pam and Bob started a business in Europe and lived both in Bath,England and in the Netherlands before returning to the U.S.  We’ve traveled by trains, planes, automobiles and ships.  Sounds extravagant? We’ve usually managed to do this on a “shoestring.”

Our residences are in Florida, one of the places that makes cruise travel fairly convenient.  We tried a Relocation Cruise with MSC, an Italian cruise line.

MSC, Italian cruise line. Great food, service and wonderful entertainment.

What’s a Relocation Cruise?

Many cruise lines move their vessels out of the Florida region during hurricane season. Basically June 1 to November 1st.  These transitions occur during the “shoulder seasons” meaning fall and spring.  Fall is the time the ships return to the U.S. and spring sends the ships to European ports.

Because the passenger’s portion of the trip is only one way (the trip on the opposite portion is up to you), Relocation Cruises are economical.  We booked a 20 day cruise from Miami to Rome. Ports included;

New York City. Standing at the ground level of “Freedom Tower”
  1. Depart Miami
  2. New York City (overnight in NYC port),
  3. Bermuda
  4. Punta Del Gado  Azores
  5. Lisbon Portugal
  6. Cadiz Spain
  7. Barcelona Spain
  8. Naples Italy (tour of Pompeii)
  9. Rome, Italy

We rented an apartment in Rome for four days to tour the area.  After visiting all our ports each couple flew on to their destinations.

Churches in Rome were spectacular, as expected.
Following the Azores, coming into the Lisbon Portugal port
Found artifacts preserved in the lost city of Pompeii

Obviously, the four of us like to travel and have traveled a bit. This trip did not disappoint.  Though I feel a little like those friends who return from their vacations and then bore you with their travel tales and travel slides/albums, I will stop with the photos.

We advocate travelling near, (we live in an amazingly beautiful country) or far.  The new experiences, adventures, camaraderie and friendship can’t be underestimated.  All important to positive aging.

“Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

One last photo in Rome:

Good friends in Rome. In Italy, Mangia mangia! means EAT!

“A journey is best measured in friends, rather than miles.” — Tim Cahill

Homework:  If you are one of those who enjoy travel, Checkout a relocation cruise.

Dixie

writers@richlyaged.com

Downsize, Snowbird or Stay Put?

Relocate? Stay where you are? Second Home? Snowbird?

Before choosing where to live in your new retirement, there are several important questions to consider.

Key questions for choosing where you want to retire.

  1. Are your kids going to move back home?  Do you want them to?
  2. Is your current residence manageable? By manageable, I mean; financially (taxes, mortgage, utilities), physical accessibility, friendly climate, repair and landscape upkeep.)
  3. Do you want to stay in the area you live in?  Or have you dreamed of moving closer to family, the mountains, the coast or a different country or living in an RV or boat?
  4. Are you situated where you can ‘age in place?’
  5. Can you afford to buy a second home to retreat to and fill those desires
  6. Have you thought about the thousands of “snow-birds” who live six months in their “home residence” and six months in their dream location?
  7. Have you thought about a “house swap” to try out those locations?

Evaluate your Answers

Answering these questions will narrow your choices and move you closer to your ultimate plan.

 

 Remember this:  nothing is concrete (except, of course, concrete).  If you make a choice and it doesn’t work for you, it can be changed.

My location certainly has changed during the years I’ve been retired.

Three out of 5 Americans want to spend their golden years in another city or state, according to a national Bankrate survey. A majority said they’d be interested in moving, regardless of gender, income and education, though wanderlust did seem to fade with age.  See this complete article at  bankrate.com/retirement/3-in-5-want-to-retire-somewhere-else/

Look at one couple’s experience:

Several friends of ours have moved into age restricted communities.  These come in all sizes shapes and costs.  Choose something that works with your retirement budget in an area that you are excited about and check it out.

One couple we know moved into a suburban neighborhood.  Being retired with their children grown, graduated from college, working in their careers, married with children, the couple thought that living in a nearby neighborhood would be just the ticket to get to see and be involved with their grand-kids lives.

This worked for a while but then the grand-kids grew and had their own interests and lives as did the other younger neighbors on the couple’s street.  Without the involvement of their own children’s school age kids in sports and activities, they found it difficult to nurture any active social life in this neighborhood so similar in age as their own adult children’s.

Ultimately, they moved to a retirement community where every day offers choices to participate in tennis, golf, dances, theater etc.  Very little effort is required to become involved in an age-restricted community and it’s easy to say yes or no.

The best advantage is that there are so many choices of activities with people who have a lot in common with you.  They felt like they had extended their family.

Downsize, Snowbird or Stay Put

Today the accomplishment of your goals is determined by you, not work constraints or others’ opinions. If you want to accomplish these goals, do so.  If you don’t want to, don’t. Just forget about it. But realize that at this time in your life,  what you do is your choice.

In all of this exploring and self discovery, please remember this: small changes can equal big results.  Eat less, spend less, sit less, stress less, watch TV less, worry less, be active more.  Get up and walk around the block or skip, skate, run or ride your bike.  Your choices equal your results. When you choose a job, neighborhood, location or partner, YOU choose a life.

Homework:  Grab a sheet of paper and brainstorm all your answers to the above questions.  Add a little research, mix it with desire and see what your retirement possibilities reveal.  There are good doctors and dentists, hairdressers and grocery stores most everywhere. So, get started!

Dixie

writers@richlyaged.com

 

 

Get outside your comfort zone!

I must be honest:  I’m a physical chicken.

I’m pretty brave emotionally – love

Pam and Bob anticipating a retirement life of sailing.

new jobs, adore new cities, even new countries.  But a roller coaster leaves me weak in the knees.  Don’t even mention going up in hot air balloon.  Not so my buddy Dixie.  She barrels down the mountain on her skis, goes para-sailing at the drop of a hat, slalom skis in the Mediterranean, and once even considered hang-gliding off a mountain in Switzerland.  The only thing that kept her grounded was her lack of the language.  Thank goodness she couldn’t speak German because I couldn’t even bear to watch!

So when we first retired, I decided to use Dixie as an inspiration and get out of my comfort zone by facing my fear of sailing – something my husband dearly wanted to do.

You can't control the wind but you can adjust your sails
Dixie: In yellow shorts with toes in the water on a friend’s sailboat on the Columbia River.

Bob longed to become a proficient sailor and enjoy the open water and the mastery of the winds.  I loved the idea of learning something new with my husband and envisioned the times we would spend enjoying the experience and sharing long hours with friends unfettered by the constraints of land.  But I was scared.

Facing my fears, we signed up for a water safety class believing this would quell any anxiety about sailing.

Good idea, wrong outcome!  I tried this sailing stuff earlier in our life but felt like circumstances were different enough now in retirement that this time would be positive.

Stay within your comfort zone.

In the middle of the water safety class that listed all the things that could go wrong – ending with fire – I stood up and announced to the class that I took this class to calm my fears but now knew at least ten more ways we could die in a sailboat.

We eventually made it onto the water, learned to tack and how to get ourselves off when we ran aground, but I was always more comfortable with the boat sitting straight up and going slow.  None of that heeling over for me!

During my final sailing experience, our small motor fell off the transom and into the water.  We had to sail into the nearest gas dock.   Need I say more?  I literally jumped off the boat!  That day I decided that I’d faced my fears and gone to the very edge of my comfort zone.  And that was enough of that.

Remember what I told you about Dixie wanting to hang-glide off the mountain in Switzerland?  Well, there’s more to the story.

Alps language barrier prevented jump.

We rode up to the top of the world that morning on a ski-lift.  In the summer, ski-lifts are very, very high up in the air – especially in the Alps.  I just closed my eyes and concentrated on breathing deeply till we made it to the top.  But there’s no way I could ride that thing back down.  So Dixie and Rick took the lift down at the end of the day, and Bob and I took several hours to walk down.  Even walking, I felt like I was going to fall off the mountain.  I told you I was a chicken!

Still there’s something satisfying about looking something you fear squarely in the eye and doing it anyway.  I’m glad I did.  But if you’ve done it, and it’s still scary, it’s okay to give it up.  I’ll be happy to ride in your sailboat.  I just don’t want to sail my own.  And keep it upright, please.  None of that heeling over!

What fears have you overcome?  Send us a photo, and we’ll post it.

Pam

Writers@richlyaged.com

 

 

 

 

 

Learning New Things – Okay like What?

 

In our last post, Dixie talked about learning new things.  But what?  Glad you asked!

Most of our friends started tennis AFTER retirement.

Below are a few suggestions that come to mind.

  • Study Art History
  • Play the Piano or any instrument
  • Take up Tennis, Golf or Tai Chi
  • Understand classical music or any other type of music
  • Become a master Yogi
  • Take up painting, watercolor, acrylics, and oils. No? Paint the house?
  • Knit, Crochet, Sew
  • Learn to make magnificent sauces.
  • Horseback ride
  • Make jewelry.
  • Woodwork, build a boat and on and on

Explore your options

Don’t second guess yourself.  Incubate your idea of who you are and let it live. You may have formed restricting opinions about your abilities throughout your work years that aren’t actually true. Discard those opinions and test it yourself.  You are different now than you were when you approached the idea in the past and the idea may be associated with a negative situation that no longer is relevant.  Give it a chance.  Learn new things.  You’ve got time!

“Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t–you’re right!” Henry Ford

Maybe your adventure list includes wishing you could play the piano whether to dazzle your friends at gatherings or simply to entertain yourself with the music you’ve enjoyed throughout your life. Make a plan. Start by selecting a nearby instructor who is affordable or a friend who plays and begin at the very beginning or take up where you left off in childhood.

The key is START.  Give it a fair amount of time and if becoming a pianist is a fit for you, then keep on. Remember though, new ventures take time for mastery and can be frustrating, but it takes a grain of irritating sand to make a pearl.  In retirement, you have time.  That fact is as beautiful as the pearl!

Take up a sport, or go back to school!

This scenario applies to tennis, art history, sign language, jewelry making, flower arranging, golf, ice skating, kayaking etc.  Your list could go on and on.   Learn a new language or audit a college course where you don’t have to write the papers or worry about the grades.  Your choices are infinite.

Try a new sport or resume one from yesteryear.  There are benefits from an active, competitive sport combined with exercise.  It’s good for you; it’s fun and you meet other retired people with like interests.

If it’s not tennis, then play golf, bocce ball, softball, bowling, shuffleboard, or swimming. Take up archery, ballroom dancing, or bicycling. There are so many opportunities to exercise and play with others.  Have fun and keep active.   If you still have an unmet need to compete and advance since you retired, this could be the answer to that void.

Learn a language; it’s good for you!

How about learning a new language?  This one is great for your brain!  Well, actually, every single one of these ideas help us to age positively and live the kind of vibrant lives we seek.  There’s all kinds of evidence that learning new things is good for us – both physically and emotionally.  Check out this article.

What are we learning?

Here are some of the things Dixie and I have done over the past couple of years to keep on learning.  We both learned to play tennis and now play on a couple of teams.

Music makes you happy and builds brain power!

We took ballroom dancing lessons with our husbands last winter.  I never thought my husband would do it, and I could barely drag him off the floor.  I’m studying Spanish and learning to play the Ukulele – with varying results on both!  Dixie took a painting course and produced some really great stuff.  And we’ve learned how to blog – a never-ending learning curve!

I agree with our old friend Henry Ford who had something else to say about learning.

“Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young.”  Henry Ford

We’d love to hear what you’ve been learning over the past few years.

Pam

Writers@richlyaged.com

Learning New Things!

 

Who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks?? 

Dixie and Pam blogging their book.

I’m pretty sure that was a rumor started by young dogs.  But Boomers don’t buy into that idea.  We never have.  Just look at the changes in our lifetimes! Amazing!  We’re used to learning new things.

I took typing in high school and learned to attain the coveted goal of 60 words per minute on a manual typewriter. The reason that was good, other than an ‘A’ in typing class, is that Personnel offices, (aka Human Resources) always administered typing tests to aspiring Clerk Typists.  The going speed for Clerk Typists B, (the “B” team) was 40 wpm, Clerk typists ‘A’s,  the stars,  earned 50 cents more per hour for their additional 20 wpm.

Try to keep in mind that there were no fancy features like cut and paste or spell check etc.  If you made an error, it was out with the ink eraser trying deftly not to rub a hole in your document paper which was still in the typewriter.  We completed the job  by tapping the correct spelling key over the roughed-up paper.  Duplicate copies were a whole new ballgame.

Second copies were made with a piece of carbon paper between two sheets of paper because this was a world before copy machine availability.  “Start over” was an often-heard response when handing in the company’s proposal to bid for an outside job.

This was followed by an electric typewriter with variable spacing so if you put an ‘o’ where an “m” needed to go, the roughly erased spot wasn’t big enough for the wider “m”.

Remember how we made copies?

Of course, improvements followed for typists’ errors as well.  The carbon had to be corrected by erasing the second sheet, then cutting a small piece of fresh carbon paper and applying it to the second sheet for the keystroke to strike the unused carbon paper.

Brilliant smiles on typists with a collective sigh of relief could be heard when

Wite Out to the rescue, crisis averted!

Bette Nesmith Graham invented liquid correction fluid in 1951!   She was working as a typist and invented the fluid in her kitchen before founding her very successful company, Liquid Paper.

The second paradigm in the lowly but valuable typists’ evolution was, of course, the copy machine.  No more battles with the carbon paper.  All you needed was permission to stand in line at the specially trained “Copy Girl’s” station to have your document, covered in correction fluid, reproduced with a push of a button.  Hail the Copy Machine.

That scenario pretty much held up till the late 1980’s when the first personal desktop computers became readily available in some forward thinking businesses.  Of course by then you were entrusted to take your documents to the copier and make your own copies and correction tools for typists became a thing of the past.

Old dog—new tricks!!

Are you kidding?  The learning curve was well worth the aggravation and time saved by the features offered by Word Processors and Personal computers.

We’re still like that.  Who wants to go back to drying clothes on a clothesline?

Boomers embrace change.  In fact, today’s changes are so rapid fire that very few, young or old, can keep up with the latest.  Check out these inventions from the past 50 years.

At the leading edge of the Baby Boomers, I still remember going to the Ice House in town to buy a block of ice, bring it home and put in the top tray of the “icebox.”  There’s a welcome change!

I’m sure there are things that you have learned in the last 10-20 years that you never imagined you would try.

We’d love to hear about the new tricks you’ve learned in the past few years.

Dixie

Writers@richlyaged.com