Building Extraordinary Relationships

Love is all there is!

If you’re reading a blog about positive aging, I’m relatively sure that you’ve reached the point in your life where you know that the most important things in life aren’t things.

The most important things, of course, are the people we love and those who love us.  That’s why building extraordinary relationships is essential to a happy retirement.  You can have all the money in the world.  You can play golf seven days a week, but if you don’t have people to love, life can be pretty lonely.

It’s only stuff!  You can’t even give it away.

It’s not about acquiring things anymore.  All of our possessions – those things that we thought so necessary when we bought them – turn out to be just “stuff.”  Perhaps we have cleared out our parents’ homes only to discover that all that stuff becomes, in the end, a burden.  We don’t want it, and we can’t sell it.  Heck, we can’t even give it away!

I remember when we were cleaning out my mother-in-law’s studio apartment after her death.  There wasn’t one charitable organization that would come for her flat screen TV.  Finally, we just put it out in the hall with a sign saying, “Free TV.”  It was still there the next morning.

Consider the 50-year-rule.

What does matter, however, are the relationships we forge during our lives.  My mom practiced the 50-year rule.  She liked to think about things in relation to what difference they would make in 50 years.  Wise woman.

If we employ the 50-year rule, we’ll see that very little that we do now will matter in 50 years except those things that we do with the people we love.  Time spent with our children and their children.  Time spent volunteering, perhaps, or time spent mentoring.  Or even time spent protecting the environment.

91% of people in couples said their relationship with their partner was the most important thing for a happy retirement. 75% said that it was their partner or spouse that they would turn to in times of need. 83% overall said that strong personal relationships were very important in determining their happiness.

Huffington Post

It isn’t only the relationship with our partner that’s important.  It’s also the other beloved people in our lives.  I still remember and embrace the time spent with my parents, grandparents, and aunts and uncles when I was a child.  They still serve as mentors and models to my life.  Today, I also have siblings and in-laws and grown children and grandchildren and long-time friends to consider.

Everything else is just stuff!

Because building extraordinary relationships is paramount to a successful retirement, we’re starting a series of blogs on how to do it.

Since our relationships bring to our lives both our greatest joys and our greatest sorrows, they deserve some time and some consideration.

Many people go along year after year repeating the same arguments with the same people and suffering through the same disappointing holidays, but it doesn’t have to be that way

It is possible to build extraordinary relationships– to make them more joyous or, at least, less difficult.  We just need a plan.  So come back and spend some time with us over the next couple of weeks while we explore the best ways to build vibrant and fulfilling relationships.

Pam

Writers@richlyaged.com

 

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

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!

 

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

Retirement 11: Outline Your Ideal Retirement Life – Embrace Happiness

Know what you want and go and get it!

Before you begin to plan the nuts and bolts of your ideal retirement, make the life-changing decision to embrace happiness.   This may not be as simple as it sounds, but it can be done.  So much of how we feel is a decision.  Consider the example of Abraham Lincoln.

President Lincoln said that we’re just about as happy as we make up our minds to be.  That’s truly amazing when you consider that he suffered from melancholia (clinical depression) and that he had recently lost a beloved son and was responsible for steering the nation through a brutal Civil War.

If Lincoln could decide to be happy, surely we could give it a try!  Here are some proven ways to raise our level of happiness.

Proven Happy-Makers

1.  Be non-judgmental. This doesn’t mean you don’t have standards.  It just means that you’re willing to take people as they are.  We can never change the other person; all we can change is our reaction to that person. Continue reading Retirement 11: Outline Your Ideal Retirement Life – Embrace Happiness

Retirement 9: Four Ways to Discover Your Authentic Self

What look do you want?

How do you discover your authentic self by looking in the mirror? This might seem like a strange question that has little to do with life in retirement, but the answer is revealing because the look we pursue says something about us.  It says, “This is the face I’m showing to the world.  This is what I want to be.”

Will the real you please stand up!

For some, it’s professional dye jobs and plastic surgery.  For others, it’s the decision to stop all that stuff.  I know of one coworker who said if she ever had a car accident just remember that L’Oreal # 56 was her hair color.  Another friend said, “I just ignore my wrinkly neck and wear low-necked shirts.

My daughter-in-law recently asked me how long I was going to remain a blonde. “Oh, forever, I’m never going to stop coloring my hair.”  Continue reading Retirement 9: Four Ways to Discover Your Authentic Self