Create great relationships with friends and neighbors

 

It’s a healthy choice. Choose friendship for positive aging.

Creating great relationships is simple but not easy.  It requires taking the focus off of ourselves and putting it on the person opposite us.

Our last several posts have dealt with various types of relationships that include significant others;  in-laws, siblings, children and grandchildren.  Now its time for a few words about friends and neighbors.

Why all this attention to relationships?

More than just getting along with people, enjoying extraordinary relationships enriches life and retirement in the most wonderful way. Research shows that a positive social life with lots of friends make aging a happier phase.

Listed below are a few basic reminders that I know you are familiar with but bear repeating:

Listen.

Really listen.  Pay attention to what the other person is saying without formulating your own response.  Don’t start talking about yourself until you have responded to the speaker’s interests.  This is much easier to say than do.

Think before you speak.

Is what you say going to hurt someone?  It’s better to return the soft word rather than the sharp jab.  I can remember shopping with a friend when a clerk was downright rude.  I started to make a sharp retort to her when my friend said, “It’s really busy in here.  I’ll bet it’s hard to work today.”  The clerk made an immediate about face, apologizing for her rudeness and what could have been an unpleasant, negative situation was completely turned around by the soft word.

Be respectful.

Good manners are not out of style.  Simple phrases like “please” and “thank-you” show people that we care enough about them to show respect.  Treat everyone as if they are equally important – because they are!

When you remember that happiness is a choice, you are in the driver’s seat.
Be life-affirming to those around you.

Pam’s mother used to come and visit in the summer when her children were young.  She stayed a month, and by the time she left, Pam felt better about everything and saw her whole life in a more positive light – marriage, children,  home – everything.  Her mother was a person who made all those around her feel better about themselves. Decide to be that kind of person.

Build people up.

Offer encouragement and support, kindness and praise. You don’t need to be insincere or phony but there’s something about most everyone that is worth complimenting.  It’s just as easy as criticism and much more effective.

Accept yourself & those around you as they are.

Be who you are and take responsibility for the choices that you make.  I can reach out, or I can be selfish.  I can be kind, or I can be mean.  I can be accepting, or I can be critical.  Those are choices I make, and I will have to live with the consequences of those choices.  The only person I can really change is me.

Agree to disagree with those who have different opinions.

Our closest friends hold completely different political opinions than we do, and we’re both pretty passionate about them. That hasn’t been a problem for us because we know that disliking an opinion is not the same thing as disliking a person.  I know that our friends love America and want only what is best for this country, just as we do.  We just see different ways of getting there.  Respect and compromise are essential to extraordinary relationships.

 Stop comparing yourself to others.

We’re all different. Those differences contribute to our uniqueness.  Jealousy and envy are corrosive elements that bring only damage. Would you really want to be one in a batch of clones?

Reach out to others.

Almost everyone has felt shy, nervous, and insecure at some point or another.  Be alert to your surroundings, and if you see someone looking that way, rescue him or her with an open-ended question.  You never know; you might develop a wonderful new relationship.

Disengage from toxic and negative relationships.

If you have done everything you can to create an extraordinary relationship, and it is still sucking the life out of you, give it up and reclaim your life. Interactions with people who bring only negative energy are harmful and should be avoided as much as possible.  If you must see that person, do it as infrequently as possible.

 Be positive.

Welcome others with a smile.  It makes you more approachable.  Focus on happy things that make you feel good.  After all, that’s what retirement is all about!

 

Retirement is wonderful. It’s doing nothing without worrying about getting caught at it—Gene Perret

Dixie

writers @richlyaged.com

 

Remember why you chose your Spouse?

When it’s the right match!

Choosing the ONE!

Let’s start with our primary relationship. That means your spouse or significant other…or maybe you are single again but anticipating someone filling that gap.

In the beginning of the relationship what was it that made you excited to spend time with him?  You had so many things to talk about, to discover about each other; music, movies, activities, perspectives on various subjects, unconditional attention for each other and unfettered hopes and dreams.

Now fast forward, 5, 10, 30, even 50 years.

Consider that we may have spent so much time together that sometimes we don’t even really see our partners.  We tend to take that person for granted.  Sure you’ve changed over your history together but it’s probable that your partner has changed also.

It’s time to get to know each other all over again.  Working in separate careers over a long period of time provides exclusive experiences and growth for each of you.  Once retired, it’s time to reacquaint.

Even if we have an indifferent relationship, almost strangers, there was a time when our mate brought us nothing but joy – even butterflies in the stomach!  Can you remember that?

Research shows that couples who do new or different things together are happier than those who fall into same-old routines.

In the beginning of a relationship, you’re going to new places, you may both have tentative feelings about how the other person feels, and all of that contributes to the above-mentioned butterflies you feelOver time, you relax around each other and can get complacent. You don’t need to go zip lining but keeping things fun, like singing songs in the car or trying pickle ball can help keep boredom from clouding your relationship.

Recount that joy here

 This exercise should remind you of why you chose this person in the first place.  It does for me.

 List five reasons why you committed yourself to this relationship.

Okay, I’ll start:

  1. He’s handsome.
  2. He makes me laugh several times a day and is really funny.
  3. He’s my best friend and soulmate.
  4. He’s who I think of first when I see something I want to share.
  5. He gives the “gift of attention” when discussing topics (caveat, not quite as much as 33 years ago.)
  6. He’s a great dancer, tennis player, cook, hugger, etc.
  7. He loves our kids and grand-kids.
  8. He’s “game” for new activities.
  9. We have history, and history validates your life. When you have inside jokes and stories you create a bond.

Okay, I’ll stop.  I know that’s more than five, but I couldn’t help myself.

Now it’s your turn.  List 5 “magnetic” reasons.

Create Your Retirement Relationship together

Now that you’re in a positive frame of mind, you need to spend some time exploring the idea of retirement life together.

According to a recent Fidelity study of 500 married couples ages 33 to 70, more than a third of them gave completely different answers when asked about when they would retire and what they wanted their lives to look like in retirement.

Now is the time!

Planning retirement together.

Here are some partner questions to help you get started.

  • When do you want to retire?  Will you do it at the same time?  If not, how will that work?
  • How much money will you have to live on?  This isn’t the primary question, really, but it does make a difference in what you’ll do.
  •  The secret is in matching the plan to the amount and living happily with what we do have.  There are countless ways to “live large” on a shoestring, but that’s a subject for another time.
  • Make separate lists of ten things that you’d like to do in the next ten years and then compare the lists.  You will probably be surprised and possibly delighted.  But no matter what, you’ll have a great conversation.
  • As a couple, free flow your thoughts as partners?  Don’t limit yourself to listing those things that need to be done around your home.  Dream big here!  The sky is the limit.

“It’s simple: Whether you’ve been together a short time or a lifetime: Be conscious and intentional about making your relationship a priority or run the risk of drifting apart and becoming strangers.”

Now put on your favorite song, pour a glass of healthy antioxidant-filled red wine and sit by each other while you get busy on your “retirement  relationship” lists.

 Dixie

Writer’s@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 – 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