Decide what Spirituality means to You

 

Spirituality: picturesque found in Rome

Sound easy?

The spirituality topic has been debated, questioned, studied, taunted, scorned and heralded throughout the ages.

We’re not going to join that debate.

What does spirituality mean to you personally?

As a point of information, the question here is not “what is spirituality” but what does “spirituality mean to you personally.”

Much of the retirement suggestion material in richlyaged.com posts deals with the new you and who you will be in retirement.  Our entire focus is to promote positive aging.

How does spirituality impact positive aging?

Spirituality: found in the ethereal in Spain

Is there a connection between positive aging and spirituality?

Two viewpoints are shared below. Click the link to University of Minnesota  spirituality study.

Spirituality may help you live longer.

An exhaustive review that compared spirituality and religiousness to other health interventions found that people with a strong spiritual life had an 18% reduction in mortality

Spiritual people make healthier choices.

Adhering to a particular spiritual tradition may bring an indirect health benefit because many traditions have rules about treating the body with kindness and avoiding unhealthy behaviors.

So in the discussion of what spirituality means to us, on an individual level, we find important components in our spiritual aging process:

  1. developing wisdom
  2. letting go gracefully
  3. unconditional love

How you define your own spirituality doesn’t necessarily need to have a label. You just need to be able to recognize it.

pompei
Spirituality: found in the ornate in Pompei

What determines your spirituality?

Many times we are too hurried and busy in our careers. We are consumed with parenthood and other relationships and we want to scream STOP! Time seems too tight to develop wisdom, compassion and unconditional love.

As mentioned in an earlier post,”hurry is the enemy of love.”  Love requires time; time to listen, to understand to support. In our later life, the retired one, we have more time to look for and listen to our spirituality.

My Spirituality Story

On a personal level, I grew up in a household that didn’t practice religion.  My mother and I attended church occasionally in a Midwestern legalistic religious setting. My dad and brother stayed home.

I thought hymns were difficult to sing and sermons were an opportunity to get to draw pictures on the church bulletin. Finding the hymnal page was hard but not as hard as understanding the words.  No one near me could follow those hymns either, especially the second and third verses.

Most of all, I wanted to be able to raise my hand on Monday mornings at elementary school. My third grade teacher asked for a show of hands for how many kids attended Sunday school.  Those who attended got a gold star on the Attendance Bulletin Board.   Those who didn’t attend felt crummy. But I knew that I had a spirituality inside me.

Spirituality: found in the majestic at the Tetons

For years I was a seeker. I visited churches wherever I went.

Sometimes, when you have a “can do attitude” and are a “survivor”, (whatever that means) you develop a tenacity that feels you can do it all “on your own”. You don’t need any help.  You’ve succeeded by your own abilities. I think I fell into that category. Finally, I reached a point in my adult life when I could no longer do it all “on my own.”

What I tell friends now is that my adult children prayed me into church.  It’s true.  I was ready.

  • This time, the simple heartfelt contemporary songs really were prayers.
  • The sermons really were written especially for me.
  • I left this all accepting sanctuary with a fullness that helped me come closer to my Father with a peace and calm I hadn’t experienced before.
  • I no longer have to take care of things to “on my own”.  I don’t need to.

I’m embracing my spirituality, my new found peace and gratitude.  Though, even at this age, I’m still a daily work in progress.

So what?

Spirituality: found in simplicity at Ground Zero NYC

This is my experience. Doesn’t need to be anyone else’s. There are lots of studies about being a believer and the impact on positive aging.  There are probably an equal number that champion the opposite viewpoint.

Everyone gets to make that determination on their own.  Just sayin’.

Dixie

  Retire from work, but not from life.
— M.K. Soni

Value your Siblings and the Old People in your Life

Hurry is the enemy of love.

It’s been noted that ‘hurry’ is the enemy of love.  Sometimes we are so busy, even in retirement, that we don’t have time for what is most important – like our siblings and the old people in our lives.   When our elderly friends or family need our help, we’re conflicted over our priorities. This can be difficult because we already have so much to do.  It’s essential, however, to value your siblings and the old people in your life.

I haven’t known anyone who regretted the time spent with the old people in their lives.  My father and my in-laws both died before I retired.  My father died as a young man, but my in-laws both lived into their late 80s, and my husband and I were actively involved in caring for them at the end of their lives.  Dixie, too, cared for both of her parents in their final years, even moving them to live closer to her and her husband.   Anyone who has done this knows that it’s not easy, and there are times when you wish it would just all go away.  Still, there is great comfort in helping the people we love at the end of their lives.  To make them feel cared-for and safe, and above all, loved.

It’s easier, of course, if they live close, but what do we do when they live far away.  Forbes Magazine shares these seven tips for helping your aging parents beat their loneliness.

Tips for helping out when you live far away.

  1. Maintain frequent contact.  If you only call once a month, call more often.  Call for no reason – just to talk.  When I lived outside the country, I wrote my mother a long letter every week.  I couldn’t call her, but I wanted to maintain regular contact.  When we returned to the United States after five years, she had saved every letter.  She’s gone now, but I’m glad I wrote the letters.
  2. Visit in person at regular intervals. A hug is even better than a call!  Even if you have a difficult parent, you can keep it brief, but make it regular.
  3. During your visit take your aging parent to concerts or plays or movies or anything that he or she especially enjoys and might not go to alone.
  4. Check out the community services available where your parent lives. You can find out so much on the internet.  You may be able to lead them to a great senior center that they don’t even know about.
  5. Ask your parent questions about things like lottery entries and contests. When my mother began to get dementia, she started to enter contests where she was sure she’d win lots of money that she could leave to us.  It wasn’t long until she was scammed.  This is an increasingly worrisome problem, and there are plenty of unscrupulous people out there to take advantage of trusting seniors.
  6. Consider hiring a geriatric care manager. This is particularly helpful if you can only visit your parent once or twice a year.  These professionals can find activities and help your parent when you are far away.
  7. Consider teaching your parent to use technology. My mother-in-law learned to use the computer in her 80s.  She was proud to master e-mail and absolutely delighted with Skype!  Along with the advantages to communication comes a profound sense of pride for the senior who conquers technology.

Treasure your siblings, too!

Value your siblings.

It’s not just our parents and our in-laws who need the gift of attention:  it’s also our siblings.

These are the people who share our past, who co-star in our memories, who understand in the most profound way the very foundations of our lives.  They were there long before our spouse, our children and our grandchildren and they are worth celebrating.  No matter what the relationship with our siblings is at the moment, research shows that strengthening that bond makes us healthier and happier!

Just like with our aging parents, the key to the relationship with our siblings lies in communication and a willing heart.  Familyshare offers nine ways to stay connected to your adult siblings in an article of the same name.

  1. Learn what your siblings are involved in and make efforts to support them.
  2. Forgive and forget. Avoid all those bad things from the past.  Just don’t bring them up.
  3. Treat your siblings as you would a friend. We’re always quick to give our friends a break, but sometimes we don’t offer that same compassion to our sister or brother.
  4. Keep trying – even when it seems like family dinners are always awkward and uncomfortable. You’ll never regret trying.
  5. Keep your siblings in the loop.   Let them know what’s going on in your life.  I’ve always had good feelings about my brother, but we didn’t communicate regularly because our mother kept us both informed, but when we no longer had her, we began to pick up the phone and call each other.  I treasure those calls now.
  6. Have fun together. Do something that everybody likes.  If you live far apart, have a family reunion.  We rented a house with my husband’s family last year and siblings from New York, California, Florida, and Maine had a ball together for four days!  It was worth every penny.
  7. Connect with technology.
  8. Don’t talk about politics. Or religion!  I’m begging you!
  9. Let your siblings grow up. That sister who is 18 years younger than you are is not a little kid anymore.  Treat her with respect!

When we first started this discussion, we said that the only things that are really important in life are the people we love and the people who love us.  I know that’s true.  Don’t let all the hurry of life – even in a great retirement – keep you from concentrating on them.

Why not pick up the phone today and call your mom or your brother!

Pam

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

Retirement 12 – Create your Ideal Retirement Life

Settle down with a cup of coffee for a little bonding time

Gather up the essentials – your significant other, a crisp glass of chardonnay or a strong cup of coffee, and your imagination – to create your ideal retirement life.  This is a wonderful conversation, so prepare to linger over it.  The sky is the limit.  Don’t be discouraged by incidental problems like a lack of money.  Dream big!  You can almost always find a way.  We’ll talk about that later.  The important thing is to figure out exactly what it is you want your ideal retirement life to be.

We’ve had many of these conversations over the years.  We usually start by each making a list of what we want to do in the next couple of years.  Then we share them with each other and consider how we can make the lists come alive.  It was one of those conversations that got us to Florida 15 years before we retired.  We knew we wanted to be somewhere warm when we stopped working. Continue reading Retirement 12 – Create your Ideal Retirement Life

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