Thursday, March 28, 2013

Unhealthy Financial Decision for the Retired Life

Financing our homes needs to be done with care.
I was given permission to publish this article relating to unhealthy financial decisions we can make in our retirement.  I thought it was a good reminder. Sometimes we need to go back and review the basics. Our financial health is very important.  b+

As  you get older, it becomes more important for you to evaluate each and every major financial decision that you make in depth. One large mistake  that might have set you back when you were younger but still able to  work could have some very serious implications for individuals that do  not have the same earning capacity as they once did. You will find that  there are many different small mistakes that you may be able to  tolerate, but also many big decisions with high stakes that should be  avoided if you can. A few of the different unhealthy financial decisions  that are commonly made by retired individuals include:

Loans With High Interest
One of the worst decisions that you can make as a retired individual,  is to take on loans with a very high interest rate. You will find that  loans with high interest rates can have very terrible long term  ramifications which should be avoided by you if possible at all. One of the specific types of loans that you should look to avoid as a retired individual  is a payday loan. Payday loans might make sense when you are young and have a lot of incoming income to help you out, but may not make as much sense down the line as a retired person, since you are not  going to have as much income to count on. This, plus the fact that payday loans can have interest rates as high as150%, it can be easy to see how low interest rates could potentially damage your finances, which are particularly vulnerable as a retired person.

Over Spending
Another common financially unhealthy mistake is overspending. As a  retired person, there is a lot that needs to be taken into account as  you figure out the amounts that you can reliably spend. Remember that if  you have a set amount of money that you have to work with throughout  your retirement, that you really look at the amount that you can spend  on a yearly basis and budget all the way down to monthly and weekly  spending to ensure that the money that you have saved for retirement  lasts. Far too often people will not plan far enough into the future,  and then be forced to live on programs like social security for the rest  of their life.

Not Budgeting
A huge mistake that many retired individuals make is not budgeting at  all. Spending wildly can put you into a bad place quickly. When  individuals first retire, many choose to go on extravagant vacations and  take trips that they have been looking at taking for years, without  taking the financial ramifications into account. Make sure that you do  not begin to spend just because you have recently retired, and have a  financial planner if need be there to help you to make smart spending  decisions.

Not Making Meaningful Investments
Far too many people believe that they will be able to live on their  savings and social security alone throughout their retirement. While  this might not be impossible for everyone, the fact of the matter is  that it is not very much for you to live on, especially if you are going  to be living to a ripe old age. Make sure that you appropriately plan  out a number of investments that you could potentially supply you with  income throughout retirement, even if the return on investment is a  small one.
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Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Aging Gracefully: Happy Inside My Own Skin....really!

Generation FabulousI have been thinking about the phrase "aging gracefully" lately.  The GenFab Facebook page is using it as the jumping off point for their bloghop this month. This group of women always have something interesting to say so I am joining the conversation.

Aging gracefully...what does that mean away?

The Skin I Live In:
Reading glasses, no make-up and lot of wrinkles!

This has been a hard one for me. Grace and manners seem to go hand in hand for me but I don't think that is what we are after here. a ballerina or a tango dance. Gracefully as the palms in a gentle breeze. No, I don't think that is it either. Could it be that the noun we attach to the word...aging...changes gracefully into something that is negative?

I had a hard time wrapping my mind around that concept until it occurred to me that aging is all about change. Whether we like it or not somethings just are. Throughout our lives we have been changing, growing and learning. It really doesn't matter if we are 17 or 71 this process can and should be a positive one. We get to decide. Or that is what I believe.

But as we age gracefully, the world is telling us that how we look is more important that what goes on inside our heads. The message is that we are not worthy unless we look like someone we are not, someone that is younger and more beautiful. We are told that aging gracefully means we need to somehow find a way to make our outer self look less used.

However, we all know that our skin...that shell we live in...ages no matter what. It too learns and grows and changes as we grow up and older. It tells a story of hard life lessons, sunshine on the beach, children that were difficult to raise. The very part of our body that we need to treasure has been negated in our eyes.

So, if you are not happy inside your skin, what part of your life would you give up so you would not have as many wrinkles or even age spots? Would you sacrifice the days on the beach, sunning with your spouse or watching your children play? Would you by-pass all those lessons in life that made you the person you are today? Would you have spared yourself the worry and sacrifice that rearing and nurturing children brought?

As for me, I am what I am. I take care of myself, wear nice clothes, keep my hair well coiffed, apply sunscreen, lotion, and make-up. It doesn't change much but I like it so I do it. When I look in the mirror, I have come to love who I am again. I think I am aging gracefully. The fact is I would not skip any of those days on the beach or late nights waiting for children to come home. No amount of money worry, time spent with aging parents
or even illness can ruin one day in my life because it adds more character to my face.  I love the skin I am living in...for that I am grateful. How about you?

Definition (mine)-
Aging gracefully: living, growing and learning while an attitude of gratitude.


Synonyms for aging (see what I mean?):

crumbling, declining, developing, fading,fermenting, getting along, getting on, maturing,mellowing, senescent, slumping, stalewaning,wearing out
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Sunday, March 24, 2013

Pros and Cons for Snowbird RV Resort Living: When buying is still renting!

We own a park model in an RV resort. If you aren't aware, a park model is a cross between a trailer house and a RV. It is still movable and when we look under, the axles and wheel are resting on the ground. In the world of state law in Arizona the Park Model is classified as an RV. But on the outside it looks like a small trailer. We paid a registration fee when we purchased the unit and pay property tax on the park model each year.

The cost of owning something like we have, for example, can be pretty daunting. While we did not pay very much for the unit, rent on property where we park our small park model came to $4400+ this year. This fee is due annually in a lump sum. And the rent has gone up considerably since we bought a few years ago. Last year it was $4200+. We also pay an extra monthly fees to the park for electricity and water for the washer/dryer.

Apartment Therapy posted an article recently titled Life Lessons: Smart Tips for Determining the Rent you Can Really Afford. It caught my interest because many of the owners of park models in our park have come to the realization that they cannot afford to own here in the park anymore. We have a lot of For Sale signs in windows now. What I hear people who are selling say is that they could afford to buy the park models but the RENT for the land is pushing them out of this life style.  In fact, when they do the math, they realize they can rent for the period of time they want to be here, save money and be free to go other places.  So how much can you afford to pay to rent land for a Park Model you own? Or do you even want to do that?
My Park Model Interior

Photo of Pickle Ball courts for our RV resort advertisement
According to ApartmentTherapy, the financial rule of thumb for renting a primary residence is 30 percent of your pretaxed income. I am not sure I know how much of your worth you feel comfortable setting aside for a second home but I know it cannot be 30%, not if you are also making payments on a home in another part of the country. In many ways owning a park model is like owning land in that you must maintain the location year round and you are committed to paying the rent for the land. So I am going to apply the information available for real estate home ownership. Smart Money says that your total debt (including the second home) should not exceed 36% of your pretaxed income. By the time you reach the age when you begin to think about a snowbird nest, you may not think that 36% is low enough. We all know it is about your comfort zone.

Doing the math when you consider this kind of a investment is important. But I believe you should also think about emotional and aesthetic considerations. You need to vet your decision based on what will keep you active and involved. Cheap is not always good but even spending a great deal of money on a place you are tied to will not guarantee your happiness. Always keep in mind what you want, what you can tolerate and how easy it will be to exit your decision. Getting in is very easy...getting out is another thing totally.

Here is a list of things you need to think about when buying a park model that sits on rented land. Information and laws can vary from area to area. I live in Arizona:
  1. There is no rent control. With proper notice the park owner can raise or lower your rent.  You will have to pay rent or move your park model following proper procedure. 
  2. Moving park models can be expensive. (info here)
  3. If you do decide to move the park model, you probably will need to give the park owner notice much like you would if you had a lease on an apartment.
  4. Management of the park you live in is not under your control. They can make your time wonderful or a nightmare. You need to think of the owners/manager of the park the same way you would think about a neighbor. They have that much influence on your life. Talk to residents about the their behavior and management style. This is a proprietary type of business and the owners make changes on a whim. 
  5. Our owner maintains the common areas of the park. We do not get a say in park's appearance.  Even though we are responsible for our rental space, the owners in our park can tell us what we can and cannot do with the park model we own.  For example, if we want to add a porch or an Arizona room, the owner has the power to allow or not allow this. They can even tell us what color we can paint the exterior.  It is very like living in a community with CC@Rs. Those regulations appear in the rules and regulations of the park. We were bound to those when we signed our rental agreement.
  6. Most activities (at least in this park) are run by volunteers and will not be available without organizers. On the plus side, if you are interested in an activity, can get approval for it and want to do the organizing, you can call the shoots.
  7.  Our owner provides facilities for recreation (at their discretion). Currently we have bocce courts, shuffle board courts, horse shoe pits, a net for golf practice, a pool, rooms for ceramics, metal craft, lapidary, quilting and two pickle ball courts.  Our tennis courts have not been usable this winter (fence and carpet removed). Those people that played every day probably moved here because that activity was possible. I suppose they thought that it was implied that the tennis court would always be there. Not having it available changed their life this winter. Since we purchased, we have seen the croquet area replaced with a pickle ball court. You need to realize that what you see may not always be what you get. 
  8. While the owners must provide sewer, water and electricity, I cannot find a place that specifies that they must maintain the recreational facilities. You need to read the rule/regulations and see what is promised. Read moreArizona Laws for RV Parks |
  9. Even park models need to be maintained...a worn out furnace, water heater or air conditioner can be very expensive.
  10. You may be allowed to sublet your park model but the park owners can charge a "guest fee".  In the past we have paid $10 per day up to $1000 per year. We have always paid from day 1 when we rented our park model out. I do not know what the guest fee is now. You need to check on that information if you are wanting to rent your park model for part of the year to cover costs. 
  11. Remember that park models and RVs are a lot like cars. Depreciation takes it's toll and getting even a portion of your original investment back when you sell is probably not going to happen.  Go here for more information on resale value.
  12. Finally, be aware that visiting grandchildren or family can be restricted from using facilities like the swimming pool. Ask about the park policies.
FYI: In the past the owners of our park restricted owners from selling their own park models.  The units for sale could be advertised on a bulletin board in the laundry room with a small sign. The sign had to be approved by the the office. Owners could also list with the park's broker.  Now we are told there is a law in Arizona that gives owners the right to sell their own units and display "For Sale" signs in the windows of their units (a no-no in the past). It was a big surprise for everyone. The lesson here is very evident:  if the rules and regulations are in conflict with the law, the law always wins.

Disclaimer:  I do NOT guarantee that the information I have collected here will apply in your situation.  Online searches are not the same as legal advice or even advice on real estate purchases.  Check the facts and be very careful.  Remember: It is YOUR money!


More information:

Park Model page.
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Friday, March 22, 2013

Life Style: On Rearranging the Furniture

~shopping but not buying...looking for a change~
Note:  Be sure to check out Gift Boomer.  You will find wonderful ways to shop on Amazon.  Simple is good.

Rearranging the furniture may be a symbol of  our life style. We like a change of scenery, a new restaurant and small changes that give us a fresh outlook on things. When we get bunchy or even cranky over things we do not control, small changes remind us that there is more than one way to look at things.

A friend and I were talking about our life here in our RV resort and how we came to the life style we live now. We talked about traveling in an RV, timeshare travel, visiting with family, buying and selling homes and finally the our park model and the 6 months we spend here in the desert.

When we talked about this 6 here/6 there life we are living now she said, "Oh, and that is when you decided that you wanted to do this forever!" My answer that we still have not decided what we want to do forever caught her of guard. I suppose it has been a surprise to me too. I did not imagine that this post-career part of my life would be filled with as much change as all the rest of my life. Even a life of no job or career has its ups and downs.

It has been pretty quiet here this week. That could be why I think I might rearrange the furniture. I need a change of perspective.

What do you do to give yourself a lift when you need a different way of looking at things?


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Thursday, March 21, 2013

How Much Life Insurance do You Need?

How big should your insurance umbrella be?

I am well past the age when "dependent" means much to me.  But I do know the cost of dying can be a worry.  If you have children that are still dependent on you for any reason, your need for insurances jumps considerably. Here is some very good information from Life Insurance Quotes website.
How much life insurance does one need?
If you are thinking about  subscribing to a life insurance policy, you might want to know how much  life insurance you actually need. Subscribing to a policy that is beyond your needs would be an inefficient way to handle your finances. Below, you’ll find things to take into account so that you will know how much life insurance you need and how much you should be paying on a monthly basis.

Number of dependents
Your life insurance needs should be calculated  based on the number of dependents that you have living with you. For instance, if you have children, your children would be considered your  dependents. They rely on you for your income and without those finances,  they would struggle immensely. Additionally, a spouse or significant  other can be considered a dependent as well. These are individuals in  your family that are supported by your income and would need financial  assistance if something were to happen to you. Life insurance can be  calculated based on how many dependents that you have. For instance, if  you have more than one child, you are going to need a much larger life  insurance policy than someone with just one child.

Severity of their dependence
Similar to how the number of dependents that you  have can affect how much life insurance you need, the severity of their  dependence on your income is equally important. For instance, if you are the only person in your family that works and your spouse is a  stay-at-home parent, then your entire family would be dependent on your  income. This would be a very severe dependence and it would increase the  need to purchase a substantial life insurance policy. The more your  family relies on you for the income that you have then the greater the  need to increase your policy.

Your age
Although your age is not typically a factor that  will affect your need for life insurance, it is something to take into  account. Life insurance policies are recommended for anyone with a  family or dependents and it’s not something that is age dependent.  However, as you approach your old age, the risk of health concerns  becomes far greater. Old age comes with a weaker immune system and deteriorating health, which could be a concern if you have a family that  is dependent on your income. The older you are, the greater your need  for a life insurance policy in order to secure the financial stability  of your family.

Your health
If you have pre-existing health conditions, your  life insurance premiums are going to be substantially higher than if you  did not. However, it’s never too late to subscribe to a life insurance  policy and if you are developing health problems, it’s important to  speak to a financial advisor about your options.
There are lots of factors that can affect your need  for life insurance. If you have a family that is dependent on your  income and if you are concerned about their financial stability, life  insurance is a reliable option.
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Wednesday, March 20, 2013

I wish I had a penny....books and more!

If I could go back and collect a penny for every book I wanted to read or movie I wanted to see or even places I wanted to go, I would have a lot of pennies.  If the age old adage ...wishes were fishes, the lake would be full! were true, my lake would be very, very full!

I received a my monthly newsletter from Simon and Schuster this morning and another penny went into my jar.  After Visiting Friends by Michael Hainey topped their list of Indie Books this month. I want this book a lot.

The book is a story of a man, mysteriously dead at a young age, as told by the son left behind at the age of six.  Hainey is a newspaperman like his father before him and evidently a very talented writer. He was haunted by what he did not know and no one was willing to share.  He finally began searching for answers when he became the age that his father was when he died. 

Then there was the email from a promoter of travel in Scotland. He wanted to post promotions for a travel website from that country.  I blew him off and now I regret at least not getting to know him.  My jar is getting fuller every day.  It is become very evident to me that I want to go to that country one day before I die. I may be watching too much Netflix and have fallen in love with Monarch of the Glen BBC series.

One of my friends here in the park has been to Cuba a number of times.  He is from Canada and goes into the country through Mexico.  I am not sure if we can do that but I want to and have put a penny in my jar so I will remember.

Then there are all those movies I want to see but can't seem to make myself leave the house to go see them.  Les Miserables, the latest Jame Bond are two that come to mind today.

I suppose my point here is what am I waiting for anyway? The pennies are not worth enough to collect but doing what I do now could be very important. Tic-toc! I have told you before that I am through waiting. I even wrote my whole camera off on taxes this year as a blog related expense. Who knows what next year will bring...why wait!

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Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Pink Martini Music: We should take it slow, rest our heads upon the grass, listen to it grow!

The lyrics from a Pink Martini song always make me think...then sometimes I laugh and sometimes I cry.  Their Facebook page describes them as "Breakfast At Tiffany's meets the United Nations." Their songs don't fit into a genre...but I don't care because they speak to my heart.  When my husband and I attended the Tucson Symphony performance featuring the Pink Martini band I was not disappointed. They brought the crowd to their feet and had them dancing the aisles. It was not your usual symphony experience but Pink Martini is not your usual band.

They reminded me again that being young was hard. But what was hard then is still hard as I age. Remember back when you started out and you wanted more and then, when you got it, you felt the same?  More doesn't fill the holes in our hearts even when we are older. When the song says, "Life's been moving oh so fast, I think we should take it slow, rest our heads upon the grass and listen to it grow" I just wanted to sit dow, smell the air, listen to the birds and be grateful. It made me cry because I regret ever being in a hurry.

Splendor in the Grass is the name of the album and the song by the same name is featured on the song list.  The video you see above won the Pink Martini Grand Prize for a video contest. China Forbes sings the song co-written by Thomas Lauderdale, band leader, and Lauderdale's college friend Alex Marashian.  Pink Martini is a Portland group and, though uninvited, I managed to stand next to Lauderdale at the back door to Portland's Arlene Schnitzer theatre on a magic New Year Eve several years ago. (see related article below) I am a huge fan. I hope you enjoy the music. I dare you to listen without tears in your eyes!


Follow: @pinkmartininews
or me: @barbblogtwits

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Monday, March 18, 2013

Messing Around: What Teens Get About the Internet that Seniors Need to Know! @TheAtlantic

National Geographic: How to take lanscape photos.
There is a lot we can learn from our grandchildren...especially when it comes to technology. We have known since forever that, when we could not figure out the cell phone or computer, all we need do is call a young person and they would teach us what we needed to know.

But that is not all. It could be that we are only scratching the surface.  Teens get it that the online world can enrich our lives. Even though most adults think that their teens only like the social part of cyber space. But parents may be surprised to know that those same teens know about the internet that sparks their imagination and gives them opportunities direct their own learning.

That is why I thought that The Atlantic article, What Teens Get About the Computer, might interest you. This article reminded me that, when we reach a certain age, we are more like teens than we are like professionals. We need to be free to learn, grow and use our imagination but we do not need a calendar filled with more things to do.

The article spoke about a busy stressed college bound child that wanted to learn to play the guitar...just because it might be fun and their friends were doing it. The parent was up for buying lessons and driving the child across the city to find a wonderful teacher. However, the teen didn't want another thing to do on their schedule (sound familiar?). They just wanted to play guitar. They thought it might be a fun way to spend time with new friends. The parent had forgotten about the joy of simply figuring things out on your own. Here is what the author said: daughter wants to mess around with the guitar and the Internet and pursue some interests at a pace that doesn't feel like the relentlessly scheduled pressure of school [] and structured activities...the Internet [can be] a lifeline for self-directed learning and connection to peers. 
The joy of doing something a little or a lot just because I want to is one of the great freedoms of being my age.  Self-directed learning is a big part of my life. If an interest connects me with my peers, so much the better. Like the younger teens, those of us that are older teens know that friends are very important too.

Self-directed by YOU
There are so many possibilities out there.  For example, Senior Planet published an article on their website about Open Education courses for obligation, no pressure, no cost, probably no timeline. The post is called Learn All You Can: Free (click here for the list). Senior Planet sorted out the very best. This is a good thing for obvious reasons:
Open Education...some professors are deathly boring and/or their lectures are mired in procedural info that you don’t need, so we’ve done some browsing and listed the 10 most interesting, engaging and user-friendly courses.
If you want to mess around with art or even wonder about what a class in Intro to Psychology might be about, give it a go. They have links to classes called Darwin and Design, String Theory...., Elementary French and even one called Financial Markets.  Really, there is something for everyone.

However, if you are not up for a college class and really would prefer to fritter around with your guitar, just type how to play the guitar in a search on YouTube. There is a whole wealth of information and how-to videos on just about any subject out there waiting for you. The internet is your lifeline for self-directed learning. Have fun!

FOLLOW ME ON TWITTER: @barbblogtwits
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Sunday, March 17, 2013


"The Combing of Granddaughter" - &qu...
"The Combing of Granddaughter" - "Το Κτένισμα της Εγγονής" (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
There they are all wrapped in sunshine and strawberries...those beautiful granddaughters running into our open arms. You can't help it, they are just sweet and pretty so we keep telling them so. You look so beautiful today...I love to look at you! We are only speaking what comes to our mind because we adore them. But, should we be doing that?

Or, could it be that we are sending a message that, as girls, that is why we love them...because they are pretty? Are they hearing words that will affect the way they see themselves for the rest of their lives?

In an article written for the Huffington Post back in 2011, Lisa Bloom had some pretty convincing arguments for changing the way we talk to our grandchildren. Her article had this to say:
Teaching girls that their appearance is the first thing you notice tells them that looks are more important than anything. 
The message girls get may lead them to behavior that not only "dumbies down" their personalities but also could be dangerous. I don't know about you but I don't think that a child should be worrying about their weight or looks before they can do the multiplication tables or even read.

She went on to say:
Try this the next time you meet a little girl.... Ask her what she's reading. What does she like and dislike, and why? There are no wrong answers.
It may have been my daughter-in-law that pointed this article out but I am not sure. I am grateful for the heads up. My granddaughters are beautiful but that is not what is interesting about them.  I, for one, am going to change how my conversation starts with them.  And trust me, their clothes or hair will not come up in the conversation. We will talk about the most fun they have had lately, maybe simply what they know or even who their friends are. I really don't want any of my granddaughters to grow up with the belief that being hot is more important the being interesting...not because of something I said!

It is just a thought!


Lisa Blooms's How to Talk to Girls

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Saturday, March 16, 2013

Snowbird Lifestyle: The Other Place

I was talking with Linda Myers of Bag Lady in Waiting a few weeks ago. The other places came up in the conversation because I had said that, if I were alone, I would go to Starbucks to read the paper or maybe a book. I thought it would comfort me and keep me from feeling so isolated in a life without a partner. I thought maybe I could just pretend it was my living room and lots of people had come to visit. I like the idea a lot.

Friends from the other place!
Have you ever hear the phrase before...the other places? There is a Broadway play titled The Other Place and a pizza parlor chain in Iowa and Kansas with that name. There are many Facebook pages with variations on the name and someone has claimed it as their Twitter name. Linda told me there was a barista near her called The Other Place. But I for one had never heard the phrase or even thought about it. I liked the idea that a person could call several different locations home...the coffee shop, a pizza parlor or even the local pub. Much like the Cheers of the by gone TV, when you walk in every one will know your name.

For those of you that are thinking about becoming a snowbird and want to live in two different yet equal locations, you are moving toward a time when you  call more than one place "home". No matter where you are, there will always be the other place! In fact you will always be IN the other place.

I don't know why I wanted to bring this up today. It could be that the idea is comforting for me. My world did get a lot bigger when my husband and I became snow birds. Our circle of friends has grow. Each of our places is separate but connected in some strange way. We have a wonderful life. I do miss friends from the other place when I am in the other place...but I know or at least hope that we will be back together again soon. So, if you come to visit and I am not at home, don't worry, I am probably at the other place!  I will be back in a jiffy!

Have a wonderful day!


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Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Life Lessons: Keep digging for gophers!

Is illness and aging a necessary part of life?  It is the age old question and on the surface seems almost silly. Yet when you get it you get it. And get it Sally Wallach did.  See, she figured out that illness and aging are side issues in our existence and can be separated from living.  Illness/aging should never be the tail that wags the dog. How we spend our days is our choice. Here is what she said:
A Dogs Life: Happiness is pretending to drive the car! 
Maggie the magnificent magpie died very suddenly Sunday. I've been doing the Oprah/Choprah meditation on total wellness program, and have been puzzling over their declaration that illness and aging are not a necessary part of life. It has come to me that, with two exceptions (Al, the crazed Dalmatian, and Murphy the Terrier who came to me with kidney disease) all of my home companion animals have lived until they died. Even Murph, who was given up for lost by my vet several times, died while digging wildly for a gopher. It's not about outfoxing death, I realize; it's about living until it's time to move on. 
This is one of the best things I have read...ever...about living our lives. Think about it. We all know that life is not perfect for animals or humans. Pain, sadness, rain and the occasional empty food dish can make a day long. But those things do not need to be replayed in the mind. The difference between the dog or cat and we humans is that animals do not bother about the past for one second. They don't count on the future and live for what might be. They forgive and forget. It is as though they are genetically wired to be happy and good from the moment they are born. No one need teach them about love or happiness because they just are.

As Sally so wisely pointed out, we can never outfox death or aging or illness. In fact we will live until we don't and how we live is ours to decide. So take a lesson from Sally's beloved Murph who suffered from kidney disease but just kept digging for gophers, wagging his tail until he drew his last breath. He knew somehow his life wasn't about "outfoxing" pain. Life was about digging until he couldn't dig until it's time to move on.

Be well.


Sunday, March 10, 2013

RV Resort Living: Girls just want to have fun!

Carole (center) on the golf course!
Girls having fun!
We have had a lip-sync show almost every year since anyone can remember. This is one of the traditions that has remained here in our RV Resort. But it seemed that this is one tradition that might go away. Time has taken it toll and it could be that this will be the last show, at least for a while.  We know how to create our own fun and have the ability to pull almost anything off but a leader that has the talent for this type of thing is pretty rare.

When my friend Jack decided that we needed a show just one more time, the young people planning our activities for us didn't believe that such a thing could be done. Imagine their surprise when the show went on last night to rave reviews with a very large crowd in attendance. Over 275 tickets were counted at the door, people were slipping in the back way and the hall was filled to the rafters. People stood around the edges and everyone laughed through an evening of outrageous fun.
The show director is well into his eighties and suffers some pretty serious maladies, none of which he is willing talk about.  His zest for life and talent at bringing out the best in those around him is something we treasure. The show has been his baby for more years than anyone can remember. A few years ago he gave it up...too old you know. Imagine our delight when he decided to give it one more try. This is hard because not only do you have to have a great idea for a show but then you have to convince people to get up on stage and act silly. I never doubted he would do it. See, I understand how durable and strong older people really are.

But the doubt by those youngers that live among us is palatable. They really don't appreciate the talent that we all have can survive until we are this old. But survive it does. We are living proof that we are in here, in these bodies alive and well.  And we are still very, very good after all these years. We all know the show must go on!

Here is my friend Carole performing a lip-sync piece of the old Cyndi Lauper song "Girls Just Want to Have Fun". Even here in the 55+ RV resort, the girls are kicking up their heels. Enjoy.


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Thursday, March 7, 2013

Communicating: Talk to me...please!

I was reading one of my favorite blogs this morning. It was all about those many conversations he had with his family on Skype or the telephone. May of us that are older have a routine of calling family or friends on a special day each week.  It could be that running out of things to say is normal.   Here is what happens:
Hi How have you been?
Fine, you?
What's up?
Oh you know...same-old, same-old!
I was told one time that I was a great conversationalist...that is a polite way of saying I talk a lot. Still, I do exactly the same thing. Why is it so hard? Why do we do that? Is it that we don't want to revisit our own lives but would really love to hear about the other person's? Then when the other person talks, we wonder why we asked so we let it go?

I might have a solution...a list of things to talk about so the conversation will take the direction we want.

You need to remember that words that will make people think are usually why and how.  Here are some ideas.
  1. What have you been reading? Was it good/bad....why?
  2. Did you see Lincoln (or any movie you have loved)? How was it? 
  3. I'm looking for something new. What have you done that I might like? Why?
  4. Are you watching ___________on tv this year? Why do you like it? 
  5. What do you think about me going to ________? I need your advice.
  6. (When on Skype)....take me for a walk around your house. I need to see something familiar.
  7. I bet my weather story is better than yours.
  8. I am learning to zumba, line dance, etc. What are you up to? 
  9. I like what you are doing but I don't know how to make that happen. Can you help me?
  10. Tell me about your children/grandchildren/neighbors. I need to keep up on the news.
  11. What's up at work? 
  12. Talk to me! I need to hear your news.
There are some subjects that are off limits:
  • worries
  • organ recitals (all our aches and pains)
  • complaints about neighbors, relative.
  • husband/wife litanies.
  • rants (most of the time)
Really, it isn't very hard. Connecting with people that we don't see very often is important but being satisfied with simple "same-old, same-old" does not constitute a conversation. This is one time when you can brag...I give you permission. You will surprised how people will rise to that bait with something better. s:-)

If you are one of those people that have children that do not answer their phones...busy you know...I want to urge you to begin using the text function on your phone.  You will find that you can communicate in more than one way and it seems that email is passe!  I am just saying!

Do you have some better ideas?


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Saturday, March 2, 2013

Powerful Toxic Habits: Is Your Hair on Fire?

Galen Pearl (10 Steps to Finding Your Happy Place...) shared a pearl of wisdom the other day. She was writing about the power of our mind and faith to help us stay healthy, both mentally and physically.  If you have ever made yourself sick with "worry", you know that we can actually create an illness out of thin air and spread our misery to those around us. This is what Galen said:
Galen Pearl signing her book
"As Pema Chodron wrote, if we really understood how miserable we make ourselves with our habitual patterns, we would practice [ridding ourselves of those patterns] like our hair was on fire." (Galen Pearl in a study for A Course in Miracles speaking of Pema Chodron, a renowned Buddhist Nun.)  
Toxic thoughts are not a good thing so ridding myself of them could actually make me healthier. WOW! That is a powerful possibility.  I wanted to know more. This is what I found as I looked further into the idea:
Habitual thinking patterns that cause intense feelings of fear, anger, shame or guilt are not only toxic, but also addictive in nature. (Psych Center, Toxic Thinking Patterns – How Pseudo “Feel-Goods” Put a Hold On Your Brain )
"Be on the lookout for toxic thoughts so they don't wreak havoc. Again, this is why thinking carefully, rationally, and not so important." (Psychology Today, Don't Let Toxic Thoughts Cripple Your Relationship 
I had never really seen my thoughts as "habitual" in nature. Still, I do know that there are triggers that will send me into a spiral of bad memories and anger. I suppose that is what they are talking about. But there is hope I think.  Charles Duhigg's latest book, The Power of Habit, tells us that there is even hope for old dogs and new tricks:
"What we know from lab studies is that it's never too late to break a habit. Habits are malleable throughout your entire life." (NPR quotes New York Times business writer Charles Duhigg)
He went on to explain that a habit is your way of freeing up time for other things. I'm not sure what habitual toxic thoughts free you up for if it is not inflicting hurt on those around you and making yourself ill. He says that if you give yourself time, (like going on vacation) you can change your thought patterns. We are retired so we probably have plenty of time. If we don't we should take time...this is important.

Is you hair on fire?  If it isn't, you really should do something about it. The fact is, we make our own misery because our habitual toxic thoughts are our own.  I want you to think about this. What if you are actually making yourselves sick.

It is just a thought.


More: The Courage to Be Happy (It Crossed My Mind Blog)
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