Finances

This Week’s Good News!

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A five-year-old in San Diego, CA was concerned about school lunch debt incurred by those households not able to keep up with their children’s lunch expenses. Wait until you see how she set out to rectify this ongoing problem that occurs in so many school districts. What a great story to start February’s weekly good news!

This Week’s Good News!

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It is so easy to take the comfort of our Home Sweet Home for granted, even when so many, through no fault of their own, have nowhere to live: homeless on the street or living in their vehicle, there are countless numbers of fellow human beings who have no home to call their own. This story about a school bus driver will warm your heart. Let us all be careful not to judge those whose stories we know nothing of.

This Week’s Good News!

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When restaurants see a need and meet that need, I get goosebumps and want to spread the good news of such good deeds. Wait until you read this story that shows the value in not ignoring another person’s hunger.

This Week’s Good News!

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What do farming, cancer, and the kindness of others have in common? Read this extraordinary and touching story to find out. Goodness abounds, it really does.

This Week’s Good News!

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This story from The Week really made my day when I read it. I hope you feel the same way!

Dan Laguardia went to a California dealership with plans to trade in his 2005 Toyota Scion and buy a new auto. Then he saw another customer walk out crying and asked a salesman what had happened. Laguardia, 49, discovered that Kayla Cooper – a struggling 22-year-old nursing student with two jobs – was upset because she couldn’t afford a down payment and didn’t know how she was going to get to work. Knowing he had to do something, Laguardia asked the salesman to call Cooper and then offered her his old Scion for free, no strings attached. The delighted Cooper called the gift “the biggest blessing of my life.”

This Week’s Good News

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I am so thrilled to offer this local story in a town called Lake Stevens where both of my husband’s daughters live. We take for granted the comfort and warmth of our homes or apartments when some people’s reality is not having any way in which to heat their abodes. This featured family is chopping hundreds and hundreds of cords of wood and giving it away to anyone who needs it. Their good deeds have been featured nationally and in other countries. One of the family members was astounded at the reach of their simple act of kindness. “It’s amazing to see because a lot of people out there don’t believe that good exists, and we’re showing that it still does,” said Henry.

Good news travels fast, yes?

Grandma and Grandpa pods

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I wrote this article five years ago and I’m posting it again today because it is one of the most viewed posts on my blog. Financial figures are five years old so current, 2018/2019 figures will be considerably higher.

I read a fabulous article in the “Home” section of today’s Seattle Times newspaper.  It’s a throwaway section that I always read before I toss it into the recycle basket.

Publicity photo of Will Geer and Ellen Corby a...
Publicity photo of Will Geer and Ellen Corby as Grandpa and Grandma Walton from the television program The Waltons. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

All of us are getting older – there’s no cure for that other than not growing older by leaving this earth before you’re ready – so where are all of us going to live – especially Granny and Pappy who can no longer safely live on their own?

Long-term care (LTC) facilities have priced themselves out of most households’ bank accounts and the alternative solution of having grandparent sitters is cumbersome and expensive in itself.  What’s an adult child to do?  If you have space on your property to have a guest house newly built or better yet, if you’re willing to turn your sunporch or guesthouse into accommodations for mom and dad, the original outlay of funds will pay for itself because you will have avoided the need for a facility’s ultra-expensive long-term care services.

One company that makes the pods spotlighted in the Seattle Times’ article is called Home Care Suites.  Disclaimer: I am not advocating for this company’s product.  I am merely pulling information out of the article and presenting it to the reader so you can do research that applies to your situation and your budget.

The pods made by this company range in size from 256 to 588 square feet with prices ranging from $42,000 to $83,000.  This is no drop in the bucket but let’s consider the cost of facility care.  Genworth (who sells long-term care insurance) states that the average monthly fee for assisted-living (AL) was $3,300 in 2012.  I think that’s a very naive figure based on my experience of having worked in the LTC housing industry.  Maybe Genworth’s lower number is just the cost for monthly rent – but what about care services?  Cha-ching!!!  Now you’re looking at double that amount and the cost will only go higher as care needs increase.  But even at only $3,300 per month, that amounts to $158,400 for a four-year period.  See how do-able the pod concept seems now?

Many of the AL service needs are simple monitoring of a resident – tasks that you can do for your loved one: waking them up, helping them get dressed, a certain amount of medication assistance, meal provision.  Many seniors living in AL facilities don’t need the massive hands-on care of bathing assistance, toileting services, physical therapy, etc.  I know for a fact that if a family member has the time – and a little patience – they can provide these lower acuity services on their own for quite some time before securing hands-on medical care for the elder member of their household.

Skipping ahead to after Grandma and Grandpa/Mom and Dad have passed on, you now are left with an added structure on your property which you can transform back into the porch or game room of its earlier existence, or simply leave as is as a guest room that may accommodate someone else in your family.  I have to believe that your initial investment in constructing a pod is an investment that you won’t regret.  And don’t forget – the costs for such a project aren’t necessarily out of your own pocket.  Perhaps Grandma or Grandpa are willing to pull some of their savings out from underneath their mattress and contribute to the cost of this alternative living arrangement that would certainly be more attractive to them than a lengthy stint at an AL facility or nursing home.  Just saying.

Sorrow Passes and We Remain

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I found a letter dated July 28, 1883, written by Henry James to his friend Grace Norton, in a reference book. He wrote a letter of encouragement to her as she was desolate, depressed, and determined not to live. I post portions of it here should anyone out there feel as Grace did, in need of life-saving encouragement.

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You are not isolated, verily, in such states of feeling as this – that is, in the sense that you appear to make all the misery of all mankind your own; only I have a terrible sense that you give all and receive nothing – that there is no reciprocity in your sympathy – that you have all the affliction of it and none of the returns.

I don’t know why we live, but I believe we can go on living for the reason that life is the most valuable thing we know anything about and it is therefore presumptively a great mistake to surrender it while there is any yet left in the cup.

Sorrow comes in great waves, but it rolls over us, and though it may almost smother us it leaves us on the spot and we know that if it (sorrow) is strong, we are stronger, inasmuch as it passes, and we remain.

My dear friend, you are passing through a darkness in which I myself in my ignorance see nothing but that you have been made wretchedly ill by it; but it is only a darkness, it is not an end, or the end.

Don’t think, don’t feel, any more than you can help, don’t conclude or decide – don’t do anything but wait. Everything will pass … and the tenderness of a few good people, and new opportunities, and ever so much of life, in a word, will remain.

You are marked out for success, and you must not fail. You have my tenderest affection and all my confidence.

The Man of the House and the Little Woman

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This real story takes the place of this week’s Lighten up Mondays.

Most of our utility bills are in both my husband’s name and mine. Our Frontier phone/internet bill, for whatever reason, is only in my husband’s name.

We’ve lived in our current house for over fifteen years. Approximately one year into our residency at our current address I called to make a change to our services. I found out that because only my husband’s name was on the bill, I was not permitted to even talk to the Verizon (now Frontier) customer service rep. Jerry was home at the time so I requested his presence in my office and told him he needed to talk to the utility person to authorize me to do business with the utility. He did so, they supposedly noted his permission/authorization in the file, and I was able to complete my service request with the utility. Over the years, it took at least three additional calls to Verizon/Frontier before they stopped asking my husband to intervene to authorize everything I said to them. Dilemma solved, right?

WRONG.

We recently upgraded our internet from Frontier’s DSL, also known as slow-poke broadband, to internet service provided by our cable TV company, Wave. The new cable modem/router was installed and voila! Instead of a Download speed of 9.6 mbps, Wave’s Download speed is a wapping 100+ mbps. The primary user of our iMac computer – that would be me, The Little Woman – is thoroughly ecstatic with the improved service.

The day after unplugging Frontier’s DSL and plugging in Wave’s extraordinarily fast internet service, I called Frontier to cancel our internet service – but still retain our landline phone service with them – and the technician said, “Is this Jerry I’m speaking to?” to which I responded, “No, I’m, Irene, Jerry’s wife.” “I’m sorry, you’re not authorized to make changes to your service, is Jerry available?”

Imagine the top being blown off a pressure cooker on my end of the phone line.

“Oh, do not go there. My husband authorized my involvement with this account almost fifteen years ago and did so repeatedly each and every time you questioned my authority to the point where you finally stopped requiring Jerry’s personal authorization.”

“I’m sorry Ma’am, but if your husband is there to make the request, we’ll take care of this for him.”

I hung up on them. Five minutes later I called back to make the cancellation of service request, speaking in a lower voice and identifying myself as Jerry, and the customer service rep simply asked Jerry’s birthdate, which I provided, and presto-chango, our cancellation of internet service request was granted. Keep in mind, in the past when I successfully was able to get through to Verizon/Frontier to talk about our account, I had to provide Jerry’s birthdate, our account number, and the private PIN provided by the utility to verify my authorization capabilities. If they had asked that of Jerry – the authorized person – he wouldn’t have known where to find such information. Why? Because The Little Woman is also the Finance Manager for the Olson household. Bills get paid utilizing bank account resources because I set up these recurring charges to be paid automatically just as so many of you do for your own household. I move money around from one account to another, set up new accounts, fund them and the like because as the household Finance Manager, I am dedicated to keeping us financially organized, healthy, and comfortable in our retirement.

Am I mad at Jerry as a result of this fiasco? Not in the least. He was out of the house when this most recent matter occurred and when I relayed it to him he said, “Oh oh, I hope you didn’t hurt anyone too badly.” He thinks this whole authorization requirement is a joke, especially since he relies on me to manage everything having to do with our finances. He knows I’m quite accomplished at taking on these tasks and is thrilled that he doesn’t have to mess with the minutiae of managing this aspect of our lives.

I guess I can say I had the last laugh, however. Lowering my voice and using language patterns that might be common for the Man of the Household allowed me to wield the authority that up until now had fully evaded The Little Woman of the Household.

The family caregiver’s hope quotient

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Each person reading this post has experienced a time when their hope quotient was at an all time low.

The definition of hopeless: 1) feeling or causing despair about something; 2) inadequate, incompetent.

When life happens, as it always does regardless of our preferences, we’re bound to find ourselves unable to manufacture even a modicum of hope to get us through the circumstances in which we find ourselves:

  • The loss of a job and the financial repercussions resultant from that loss.
  • Crimes against our body or our property.
  • Relationship disruptions.
  • The devastating diagnosis of a debilitating disease: cancer, ALS, Alzheimer’s disease.

Hope isn’t what a person feels when the rug has been yanked out from underneath them and their very existence as they knew it, maybe even just five minutes earlier, takes an irreversible turn.To be sure, that’s how quickly hope can take a nosedive. Equally as quick, we can not imagine we will ever feel happy again, nor can we imagine not being overwhelmed with how life has showed up. In an instant, our level of hope took a nosedive. Read the rest of this entry »

Life happens

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We all have a strong preference that life should be easy, comfortable, and pain-free, but that doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with life when it isn’t those things. It’s just life and it’s not how you would prefer it to be, but that doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with it. – Constance Waverly, WaverlyRadio podcast #132

I imagine we all would prefer to live a life of health, happiness, and success (however success may be defined but certainly not limited to financial prosperity). With those three preferences met, life would be a carefree and joyful experience. Given the complexities of life, however, we are guaranteed a certain degree of physical pain, emotional heartache, want, and for some, absolute devastation.

Even an innocent newborn baby immediately discovers that his existence on this earth is anything but 100% delightful. He can’t define what that means when he’s a minute old, but he certainly feels it.

We tend to wonder why good things “always” seem to happen to bad people – an inaccurate thought, nevertheless it’s one that we entertain from time to time – but those of us who endeavor to do no harm aren’t blessed with easy, comfortable, and pain-free lives.

I don’t have the answer to that question but I do have an answer: our assumptions about others are just make believe because we have no way of knowing what is actually going on in their lives. A person’s outward show of perfection, boundless happiness, and ease is just that: their outward public mask that very well may hide an entirely different one worn in private. Let’s face it, no one can be ecstatically happy and fulfilled 365 days of the year – or even 24 hours a day, or dare I say, a mere 60 seconds at a time – so why is it that we assume others have mastered that very impossibility?

Part of what I’ve learned in my sixty-plus years is that what matters most is how we live in the present, regardless of whether or not that present pleases us. Living in the moment, accepting that moment as our life’s current state of being without pushing back against it can be far more fruitful and enjoyable than the alternative: anger, complaints, and hatred. For example, Ariel and Shya Kane, in their book Practical Enlightenment, point out very clearly that getting angry does nothing toward changing ones current situation. Case in point: you’re running late for work in disastrous traffic. You pound the steering wheel, honk your horn, and yell at the other commuters and what do you know? Your situation hasn’t changed but you’ve become your own worst enemy because your previous misery has been considerably compounded by your fruitless actions.

  • Traffic doesn’t happen to us, it just happens.
  • A rent increase wasn’t directed at us personally, it was simply a business decision made by the landlord.
  • Long lines in the grocery store didn’t occur to inconvenience us; quite simply, like us, other people decided to shop at the same time.
  • Coming down with the flu a day after a person arrives in Hawaii for the vacation of a lifetime wasn’t preventable; germs are everywhere and will do their thing at any time and any place. Even though it sucks that the germs manifested themselves just as the vacationer was heading to the beach, please know he’s not being punished for trying to have a good time.

All the wishing in the world won’t change our current reality because anything we could have done in the past is over and done with. Anything we could possibly do in the future hasn’t yet happened, so we should give it up and just be where and when we are right now.

Piero Ferrucci had this to say about the illusion of being in control when his preferences weren’t met during a vital point in his life:

The outside world did not adapt to me: More simply and practically, it is I who must adapt to what is happening moment to moment. The Power of Kindness.

 

New Year, New Focus, New Look

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20160922_130340I’ve been authoring this blog, Baby Boomers and More, for five and a half years. Perhaps that’s a record for blog ownership, I’m not sure, but what I do know is that I thoroughly enjoy writing about matters of significance. I guess that’s why my blog has survived as long as it has: there are a heck of a lot of things going on in the world that fall into that category.

My website address remains the same: http://www.babyboomersandmore.com, but with a broader emphasis on life as it unfolds for all of us born within a certain year bracket:

  • iGen (after 2000)
  • Millennials (1980-2000)
  • Gen X (1965-1979)
  • Baby Boomers (1946-1964) and
  • The Greatest Generation (before the end of WWII).

Yes, there are many differences between the generations but we have one major characteristic in common: although as individuals we are strong in many ways, we still need each other to get to the finish line.

With that change in overall focus comes a new, primary blog identification:

Living: the ultimate team sport

Featured Image -- 8032If we consider all the people with whom we come in contact as being members of the same team, we will do all we can to support them. We’ll bolster rather than compete; we’ll pick them up rather than step over them as a means to an end; we’ll exhibit respect for each other’s talents while nurturing our own; we’ll not take advantage of weaknesses in order to falsely boost our own strengths. In short, we’ll stand by our teammates and want only the very best for them.

Another goal of mine: write more succinctly, at least after this particular post. 🙂 I know you’re all busy and have better things to do than read my oftentimes lengthy magnum opuses. I’m newly committed to being as succinct as possible, somewhere along the lines of an article I wrote on December 27, 2016: Don’t go there. Let’s face it, as a writer, I should be able to use an economy of words to get my point across to those who’ve chosen to follow me.

And one last thing: the header images you’ll see at the top of my blog (which will cycle through randomly) are from photos I took during a few of my hikes around the Pacific Northwest. Hiking is my passion, so I’m pleased to provide snapshots of views I have been privileged to see.

With that, I’ll sign off for now, so very glad to be a member of your team.

Lighten up Mondays

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landscape-536173_1280I’m in a medical humor kind of mood so here’s something to tickle your funny bone if it needs tickling:

Mr. Smith was brought to the hospital and taken quickly in for heart surgery. The operation went well and as the old man regained consciousness he was reassured by a hospital staff person – who was also a Catholic nun – that everything went well.

“Mr. Smith, you’re going to be just fine,” said the nun, gently patting his hand. “We do need to know, however, how you intend to pay for your stay here. Are you covered by insurance?”

“No, I’m not,” the man whispered hoarsely.

“Then can you pay in cash?” persisted the nun.

“I’m afraid I cannot, Sister.”

“Well, do you have any close relative?” the nun questioned sternly.

“Just  my sister in New Mexico, but she’s a humble spinster nun, just like yourself.”

“Oh, I must correct you, Mr. Smith, nuns are not spinsters, they are married to God.”

“Wonderful,” said Mr. Smith, “In that case, please send the bill to my brother-in-law.”

Financial help for family caregivers

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seniors-1505935_640The longer our lifespan, the more likely each of us will need to be cared for. But one need not be elderly to require such care. Many illnesses strike without thought for a person’s stage in life.

Actor/comedian, Seth Rogen’s mother-in-law was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in her 50s, an age that many consider to be the prime of life. The successful actor’s finances, plus those of several other family members, supported the care of which his wife’s mother was in need. In time, he, his wife, Lauren, and many others established Hilarity for Charity:

In 2012, Seth and Lauren (along with some amazing friends), created Hilarity for Charity. They later established the Hilarity for Charity Fund as part of the Alzheimer’s Association, through which monies raised are directed to help families struggling with Alzheimer’s care, increase support groups nationwide, and fund cutting edge research. Since its inception, Hilarity for Charity has raised more than $5 million to support these efforts.

One of the ways in which they provide this support is through caregiving grants that provide hours of home care for those struggling to survive the demands of a disease that is always fatal. Could you, or someone you know, benefit from such grants? Please avail yourself of the information provided on the Hilarity for Charity website.

See the following link for further support: Caregiving 101 through 1001

Live like you were dying

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heartbeat-163709_640

Even at my age, I live by the school year calendar. When a new school year approaches, I oftentimes find myself reassessing where I am, and where I’m going – not unlike what so many of us do the first of every new year. This post flows from that assessment and has been ruminating in my mind for some time now.

Maybe it’s my advancing age, or maybe it’s the wisdom that has come with my advancing age, but I’m constantly reminded how important it is to live NOW; in the present. We have limited time on this earth. Time is a luxury we can not afford to waste, and yet so much of our time falls into that wasteful category.

If you were diagnosed with a terminal illness, wouldn’t you do all you could to squeeze every last drop out of your life? I know I would because I would have no choice in the matter.

But those of us who have not been given a medical death sentence do have a choice. We can be engaged in this only life we’ve been given, or we can waste it.

We can wile away the hours of each day lamenting what isn’t and complaining about what is, or we can live in the present and accept what we can’t change and do something about that which we can.

chains-19176_640The truth of the matter is, we all have restrictors strapped to our lives. They may be physical or medical restrictors; financial or situational restrictors. No one escapes what life dishes out, but we all have a choice about what we do with what we’ve been served.

That’s a very heady responsibility we’ve been given.

I mean, wow, it’s my life, I get to choose how I live it. I can choose to remain as I am, or I can do something this very day to make things better.

Waiting even one more day means that’s one more day I will have  wasted.

I’m not willing to do that, I mean . . . what if tomorrow brings about that death sentence I thought I had avoided?

 

My parents and two siblings are immigrants

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There, I’ve said it.

The newlyweds: Edmonton, Alberta CANADA
The newlyweds: Edmonton, Alberta CANADA

Don and Pat Desaulniers (who later changed the spelling of their surname to Desonier to make it easier for Americans to pronounce…it didn’t, they still slaughtered the pronunciation) and Donald and Mary Desaulniers moved to Philadelphia, PA from Canada and eventually relocated to Los Angeles, CA.

Not me. I was born in Pasadena, CA shortly after my family moved to the west coast. Does it get any more American than that?

You see, way back when, my father was a hard working employee of Manufacturer’s Life Insurance Company, an international company based out of Toronto, CANADA, and he was offered a position in !AMERICA! that he felt he couldn’t refuse because he loved his wife and young family and was given the opportunity to move up in the company’s employee ranks and by God he jumped at the opportunity. My father retired from Manulife after 50 years of service with them.

Such a cutie that brother of mine
Such a cutie, that brother of mine

My parents felt strongly about being an involved, integral part of American society so they let go of their Canadian citizenships and became American citizens along with my brother and sister, and of course since I was born in America, I was instantaneously a citizen. Lucky me.

My fabulous immigrant sister
My fabulous immigrant sister

I’m quite certain most people reading this post can trace their ancestry to other countries, and many of you don’t have to go very far back – just as I only needed to go back to the early 40s with my immediate family to find the start of my ancestry’s foray from a foreign country into the United States.

Other than Dad, no additional members of  his family of six moved to the United States but four of six adult children in my mother’s family of eight are immigrants. Counting my siblings, aunts and uncles, and numerous cousins, close to 68% of my immediate Desaulniers/Conroy family members made the move to the United States and I assure you, they were welcomed, and as far as I know, the United States still treats its Canadian immigrants as they did my parents so many years ago. Or maybe I missed current headlines declaring that Canadians weren’t welcome and that a wall should be built between our northern border with Canada…

Did I miss something?

Why aren’t American citizens up in arms about the influx of immigrants from non-Muslim countries and those from countries that aren’t Mexico who’ve made the United States their home: Canadians, Eastern Europeans, the French, Italians, Australians, New Zealanders and Germans to name just a few? Americans’ arms are spread wide for those who aren’t a part of America’s “no-entry” list, and I applaud their generous gesture.

Answer me this: do intelligent Americans actually believe that if you’re coming into our country from a primarily Muslim country, you’re a terrorist? Seriously? And do those same Americans believe that immigrants from Mexico are murderers and rapists and have taken away the jobs in which they, the Americans, are most interested?

I believe as my parents did, that when you’re living in a country and benefiting from its resources you should give back to the country, which sometimes means becoming a citizen but not always. What about those legal immigrants who – having families just like mine – want to do all they can to create a safe, healthy, and financially secure existence for their loved ones by working in America, getting involved in commerce (aka buying stuff in America), volunteering in their communities, and being good neighbors? They are an integral part of the melting pot that we so proudly boast as being what a well-rounded and diverse society should look like.

I don’t know, maybe we should just scrape the inscription off the Statue of Liberty if indeed Americans are no longer willing to welcome those whom we’ve graciously invited to our very shores for so many years. If the invitation is no longer being extended – or if it’s being ruthlessly discriminatory – don’t tease the huddled masses from afar, and don’t pretend to be the extraordinary country I’ve called my home since 1953.

"Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"
“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

Caregivers: bruised by judgments & criticism (reblogged from My Alzheimer’s Story)

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Dedicated to unappreciated care partners worldwide. Thank you for all you do. Dear random person who sees my care partner from time to time and feels the need to point out s/he has bruises all over her/his body that look frightening and s/he has really declined a lot since the last time you saw her/him and…

via an open letter to those who think they know better — My Alzheimer’s Story

Our lives in focus

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marguerite-499489_640Through comments by someone I follow on Twitter, I stumbled on the key to living in – and thriving on – the present. Authors Ariel and Shya Kane [@ArielandShya] went through trial and error during their early adult lives in their attempt to find fulfillment.

If you read even one of their books, you’ll discover that they admit their journey took them to many places and venues, under varying conditions, spending great and small amounts of money, only to find the answer to their quest in their every day experiences.

If we’re aware and focusing on the present we’ll find life lessons everywhere we look.

We can be deaf and blind to those lessons, but it doesn’t take a trip to India, a luxury spa, or even a therapist’s office, to practice the art of thriving exactly where we are.

The painful yet honest truth is that we excel at complaining and stressing about situations in which we find ourselves: traffic, long lines at the TSA security checkpoint, our job or lack thereof, boredom, illness, and so on. But if we’re honest with ourselves – and lately I’ve been painfully honest with myself – we’ll conclude that complaining and stressing out over such situations does nothing toward changing them. But changing the way we view those situations does alter how we react to them and therefore how we feel about that moment of time in which we’re inconvenienced because what we would have preferred to happen, did not.

When did your complaining about a lengthy red light – when you were endeavoring to get to an appointment on time – actually make the green light come quicker?

It didn’t.

Here’s a direct quote from the Kane’s book, Practical Enlightenment: Read the rest of this entry »

Last things

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april-2016-1148261_640My husband is retiring the end of April at the age of 59, the same age as did my father. I can’t recall the reason why Dad chose 59 as his retirement age. Maybe he felt the same way my husband does:

It was time.

Yes, it’s time, and my husband and I have been very diligent throughout our marriage – and before – making prudent financial decisions that will enable a somewhat early retirement compared to others. But did Jerry and I ever feel we robbed ourselves of enjoyment while being frugal? Not at all.

Between us, we financially assisted three daughters through college, still managing to travel to Hawaii every few years and other low-budget trips in-between. We’ve had our fair share of vehicles, not fancy ones, but safe metal encasements with four wheels each. 🙂

But this post isn’t about that, it’s about marking “lasts” while remembering the “firsts.” Here are some of the lasts that have already occurred and that are yet to occur:

  • Voting one last time for – or against – the SPEEA engineering union contract that comes up for negotiation every few years. Done;
  • Last at-work employee Holiday potluck. Done;
  • Last Boeing Holiday break that gives employees a week or so off during Christmas/New Years (who needs it when every day during retirement is a break from work?) Done;
  • Last employee performance review. Done;
  • Jerry’s last Boeing paycheck will be received in May of this year. The first one was in June 1978;
  • On Thursday, April 28th: he’ll shut off the last 3:45 am wake-up alarm, he’ll drive the last commute to/from Everett, when he walks through the door later that day, I’ll say my last, “Yay, you!” which I have said to him pretty much every day he comes home from work.

Wow. Looking forward to creating some new firsts once he’s retired, starting with:  Read the rest of this entry »

Tips for helping a caregiver

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to-do-list-749304_640The latest AARP Magazine had a fabulous article providing helpful ways in which to make a caregiver’s life just a wee bit – or quite a bit – better.  Here are a few tips for you to adopt in your life.

  1. Bring her a low-maintenance houseplant
  2. Take in his mail
  3. Do yard upkeep, whether raking leaves, mowing the lawn, shoveling snow
  4. When you’re heading out to buy groceries, ask him if you can pick some things up for him
  5. Take her kids or grandkids to the park or to a movie
  6. Stop by with a board game or a movie to watch – a perfect way to get his mind off things
  7. Visit her with a pet that has a sweet disposition
  8. Take his dog on a walk – maybe on a daily or weekly basis
  9. Do some light housework or repairs: dishes, vacuuming, dusting, ironing, smoke alarm battery and light bulb changing, fixing a leaky faucet
  10. Return her library books
  11. Volunteer to stay at home to wait for the cable technician, repairman, etc. while he attends to other more pressing needs
  12. Bring him a week’s worth of meals in freezable containers
  13. Send her a greeting card on an ongoing basis. Who doesn’t love to receive real postal mail?
  14. When visiting, let the person vent, without passing verbal judgment on what they may say
  15. Do an item or two on her To-Do list – I promise you, her list is extraordinarily long
  16. Offer to make a photo album with him, using photos that mean a lot to him and the rest of the family
  17. Give him a gift card to a restaurant he may enjoy, or better yet, take him out to dinner
  18. Help him decorate for the holidays
  19. Drop off or pick up a prescription
  20. Keep in touch with her, even after her loved one passes. Too often, the grieving one has more attention than she can handle immediately after someone dies, then when she could really use some TLC, no one can be found.

 

Perfecting our life’s target practice

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Are you going in circles?
Are you going in circles?

Dr. Bernie Siegel, 365 Prescriptions for the Soul, provided the following regarding the art of focusing on the right target for our lives.  The first quote is very timely advice by the late, great, Yogi Berra:

TARGET PRACTICE

You got to be careful if you don’t know where you’re going, because you might not get there. – Yogi Berra

Your target in life helps you to direct your course.  So before you aim, be sure you choose the right target.

What are you aiming for?  What is your goal?  What goals are you trying to achieve?  What are you trying to hit?  These are the questions you need to ask yourself, because they tell you your direction and where you will end up.

The more target practice you engage in, the more likely you are to hit the bull’s-eye.

SOLUTION OF THE DAY

Take the time to refocus on your target.  Ask the questions often to be sure to hone in on your center.

A cure for the workaholic

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There just aren’t enough hours in the day.

Stack of office papersYour To-Do list seems to grow longer with every passing day.

Your daily or weekly “free” time gets shorter and shorter.

Cluttered office deskYou juggle so many tasks and responsibilities, you’re starting to lose track of the important things in your life.

Take the following test to determine if you’re a workaholic.  Does this scenario, or a scenario like it, sound all too familiar?

If it frustrates you that they don’t allow laptops on a Ferris wheel, you may be a workaholic.  – Dr. Donald E. Wetmore

How’d you do?Ferris wheel

App-licable to retirees

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Person with cellphoneSome of us have owned smartphones for quite some time now.  Others have finally joined the 21st century, just recently retiring their Motorola flip phone. (Love you Honey!)

Sure, the latest and greatest phones are used to make calls – oddly enough not as frequently as we send texts – but they can also help us through our day-to-day schedules.  Jonah Bromwich, New York Times columnist, provides retirees with information on apps we might find quite useful. Read the rest of this entry »

Craigslist redemption

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Piano keys and sheet musicIn my blog post, BEWARE of this Craigslist scam, I highlighted an online crime that almost succeeded in robbing one of my family members.  He posted a piano for sale – a piano that needed quite a bit of work to make it operational – and he almost got taken to the cleaners.  (Read the BEWARE article for the details.)

A couple weeks later, a true lover of all-things piano contacted my family member and said he was interested in purchasing the piano and he and his wife wanted to have a look-see.  The couple arrived – a couple in their 80s – and when the husband took one look at the beat up piano he said, “You’ve got a deal!”

Piano restorationIt turns out, this fellow is an expert at restoring pianos.  For years now, he’s been buying pianos that are on their last legs; he restores them and gives them to children who would otherwise not be able to own a piano.  What a fabulous gift these future piano virtuosos – and their parents – receive because of this couple’s “ministry” of helping young musicians.

I’m thrilled I was able to provide this Craigslist redemption story that – in my mind – wipes out the bad taste in my mouth from the previous one.

 

 

 

 

 

A Friday good feeling

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This is NOT our wine cellar
This is NOT our wine cellar

My husband and I purchase our wine at grocery stores where we can earn Fuel Points.  We also purchase our wine 6 bottles at a time so we can get a 10% discount on our wine.

Today I purchased gas at a local Shell station and received a 60 cents per gallon discount for a $1.99 per gallon price.  That’s the first time I’ve purchased gas under $2.00 in quite some time.  (The going rate locally is between $2.59 and $2.79.)

Happy sunshine faceIt’s great finding a way in which to save money that is both pleasurable and profitable.

And that’s my Friday good feeling.

BEWARE of this Craigslist scam

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Garage saleI’ve used Craigslist once.  I announced a garage sale from which all proceeds would be donated to the Alzheimer’s Association.  I felt safe advertising the sale because a) it was only scheduled for six hours on a Saturday; and b) several friends and supporters were on site throughout the entire sale so I wasn’t alone.  (And of course all items were outside and there was no access to the inside of our house.)  The garage sale was a huge success but I haven’t used Craigslist since.

I’m sure many of you have either listed something for sale or purchased an item that was for sale on Craigslist and were very pleased: the money exchanged hands and both parties benefited from the online service.

That was not the case for an acquaintance of mine who was recently set up for a scam but was smart enough to realize that if it looks like a rat and smells like a rat, it’s probably a rat.  (Bad analogy, but you get my point.)  Read the rest of this entry »

If Alzheimer’s disease isn’t a secret, then why are we whispering?

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Alzheimers Research Funding Lags Other Diseases- Dementia – AARP.  The January/February 2015 AARP Bulletin focuses on the prevalence of Alzheimer’s disease in America.  The cover contains photos of fifteen celebrities who died from the disease.  Some of those spotlighted may surprise you because their cause of death was not broadcast to the media.

What a shame.

Quiet 2It’s a shame that the stigma attached to the disease still manages to relegate Alzheimer’s to the closet.  Cancer used to be that closeted disease – so much so that many years ago people shied away from even mentioning the word, preferring to call it “The Big C.”  Before Alzheimer’s disease, cancer was the whispered disease but now the populous embraces each and every body part afflicted, even those considered of a private nature: breast, ovary, prostate, rectum. Read the rest of this entry »

Don’t throw in the towel: you’re not done yet

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Encore Entrepreneurs: How Five Late Bloomers Turned Big Ideas into Sweet Success.

Painting courtesy of Mary Riesche Studios
Painting courtesy of Mary Riesche Studios

The attached article from Parade Magazine is a fabulous example of how a person can recreate their life – regardless of ones age, circumstances, or lot in life.

If you’re seeking a new direction in your life – or perhaps are in the process of recreating yourself – I’ve found that it’s easier to know which direction you should go if you’re already in motion. The world may have been created in a week, or zillions of weeks; either way, a lot of energy went into that creation and the world-in-process was not a stagnant one. As for you – you are never too old to try something new – as long as you’re willing.

Trial and error approach. I constantly look for ways to improve myself (a task that will always keep me busy) in an effort to increase my influence on the community around me. But if I wait around for some sort of change to occur, I’m going about it in the wrong way and believe me, I’ve experienced enough trial and error to write a book on the subject. The trial and error approach can work, however, if in doing so we discover what doesn’t work for us in our attempts to find what does.

Living or playing to your strengths. My life’s direction was greatly influenced by Marcus Buckingham, one of the world’s greatest authorities on employee productivity. He suggests that to make your greatest contribution, it’s best to play to your strengths most of the time. I have taken to heart Mr. Buckingham’s strong caution against veering off ones strengths path. After all, when I’m creating a new me, why would I choose to do the lame-o, same-o with all of its inherent dissatisfaction? That’s like doing the same thing over and over again, expecting different results. That has never worked for me, how about you? In addition to playing to my strengths, I try to play to my passions. As a person who’s not getting any younger, it makes sense that going forward I should avoid activities that drag me down and weaken me. Instead, I should run to those activities for which I am most impassioned and inspired.

Find your niche and go for it. I know what I like to do and what I’m good at so I try to consciously remain open to opportunities that directly relate to those strengths. I thoroughly enjoy working with an older population of adults but I know what part of that experience I’m able to do, and what I’m not able to do. In 2013, I retired from my work as a volunteer certified Long-Term Care (LTC) Ombudsman – an advocate for the rights of vulnerable adults. As an Ombudsman, however, I knew my limits on “clinical atmosphere” so during my ombudsman career, any involvement with the older population excluded my participation in a nursing home or hospital environment. Throw me in the midst of adults living in assisted living or dementia residential settings, however, and I will make new friends and earn the trust of everyone with whom I come in contact. Add to that, with my enjoyment and effectiveness as a public speaker, I used that strength to provide talks to professional care staff, and to residents & their family members, on what it means to protect the rights of seniors who are not able to protect themselves.

Recognizing an open door when you see one. We are constantly bombarded by information whether through social media, radio and television programs, or even mini-publications such as Parade Magazine.  As we wade through all of that input, it’s helpful to be alert to what that input might be trying to tell us. Sometimes the information brings to light an opportunity that will utilize both our skills and our passions for the benefit of others. But I’ve discovered that not every door that opens is the right door. I have to be extremely careful when considering a particular opportunity, because sometimes I’ve sensed an open door through which I’ve thought I should walk, only to find that it was the wrong door for me. If I don’t look before I leap, e.g., research the project, consider all of its requirements, measure whether or not I’m able to fully commit, I won’t be doing myself, or those connected with the project, any favors. It is worth my time to weigh all options; to write a list of Pros and Cons; to ask trusted individuals for their opinion and then make an informed decision. If this new opportunity that I’ve carefully considered allows me to play to my strengths and my passions, everyone benefits and there are few, if any, casualties along the way.

What about you?

Each of you has a talent or a skill-set that can be used long after you’ve officially “retired” from the workforce. Think about it: you spent years as an employee or business owner using that talent – why put it to rest? Finding new ways to utilize your life’s work is good for you; it brings a fresh outlook on what you’re still able to accomplish, and equally as important, might prove beneficial to others as you stretch your wings in your efforts to make the most of your talents.

 

June 21st: The Longest Day Alzheimer’s Style

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The Longest Day.  The attached article by Author, Ann Hedreen, can be found linked above, and you can find additional well-written articles on her blog The Restless Nest.  Reader alert: Ms. Hedreen’s book, Her Beautiful Brain, will be released September of this year.

Sunset in RedmondWhat was your longest day like?

Was it long, because it was fun-filled and absolutely fabulous, or was it long because the day was crammed with the most difficult and stressful experiences of your life?

Caregivers: you are heroes to all who understand the job that you’ve taken on as carers for your loved ones.  You live the 36-hour day with all of its burdens and insurmountable challenges, while across the United States there’s much discussion – even controversy – over raising the minimum wage.  In contrast, there you are earning no wage but working harder than you’ve ever worked before.

Loved ones with Alzheimer’s or other dementia: your disease-controlled days might seem to have no beginning or end; you go about your day trying to fulfill its challenges while perhaps being at the stage in your disease where you are still able to feel the frustrations of not grasping the how-to of tasks that prior to your diagnosis required no complex thought processes on your part.

Those who have yet to be intimately involved in the above-mentioned roles: look around you – you won’t have to look far – and then on this year’s longest day, Saturday, June 21st, do what you can to help the co-worker or neighbor who desperately needs your help but doesn’t know how to ask for it, or is too ashamed to admit that they can’t do it all.

Jerry and his new rideWhen you offer help, please don’t leave it open-ended.  Instead of saying to your neighbor, “Hi yah, Joe.  Be sure to call me if you need anything,” be more specific so it’s easier for Joe to accept your offer, “Joe, when I get out my lawnmower this weekend, I’d love to swing by your place and take care of your lawn so you won’t have to.”  Or how about, “Yah know, we’re always making more food than we can eat at our house so we just freeze the leftovers for another time.  Can I come by later this week and give you a week’s worth of meals so you don’t have to concern yourself with what to fix for dinner?”

And then keep it up because your neighbor or co-worker’s life isn’t going to get any easier.  Keep offering tangible ways in which to provide assistance and you’ll go a long way towards making the longest day – which is every day in the life of a caregiver – a bit easier to tackle.

 

 

Grandparents are cooler than you think!

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Alternate title: Grandchildren are cooler than you think!

I believe grandparents and their grandchildren have quite a bit in common.  Just because many years have passed since a grandparent or great-grandparent was born doesn’t mean that there aren’t any similarities between then and now.  Here’s an example of what I mean, a quote that appeared in the Atlantic Journal:

The world is too big for us.  Too much is going on.  Too many crimes.  Too much violence and excitement.  Try as you will, you get behind in the race in spite of yourself.  It’s a constant strain to keep peace – and still, you lose ground.

Science empties its discoveries on you so fast that you stagger beneath them in hopeless bewilderment.  The political world now changes so rapidly, you’re out of breath trying to keep pace with who’s in and who’s out.  Everything is high pressure.  Human nature can’t endure much more.

An amazing sentiment that appears to reflect what’s going on right this very minute in the world in which we live.  It was published on June 16, 1833, almost 181 years ago.  The pervading feelings of the time are almost indistinguishable from what is in the minds of people today.  Isn’t that amazing?

Let’s look at a few common items that have changed over the years.  These items were used at one time but have vanished in the past several decades – or have they?

Image by Lawrence Manning/Corbis
Image by Lawrence Manning/Corbis

Telephone answering machines – earlier answering machines used cassette tapes, with later versions performing the same function, albeit digitally.  Answering machines still exist in the form of modern voice mail retrieved from home phones and/or cell phones.

Telephone directories/books – very few households rely on a 500-page phone book because they can now look up names and businesses on their computer or Smartphone.  But phone books still exist – they’re just “housed” differently.

Encyclopedia BritannicaPrinted encyclopedias – the final print edition for the Encyclopedia Britannica – a 32-volume set of books – was released in 2010.  How did I find out that information?  In one of today’s on-line encyclopedias of course: Wikipedia.

Five Inch floppy diskFloppy discs & drives – many children under the age of fifteen have never seen this storage device.  You’d be hard-pressed to find any newly-released desktop or laptop computers with this type of storage capability.  But storage devices still exist in the form of a thumb/flash drive or the “Cloud.”

Rolodex – some of us remember, or still have, a box or carousel version of a Rolodex.  But we still own something that holds all our Contacts: our address books contained in our e-mail program and in our cell phone contact list.

35mm-filmPhotographic film – I saved a roll of unused Kodak film.  Since this product is no longer made, it may be worth something some day!  Photos are still being taken, but instead of being developed and placed in a multi-paged album, most of the time these photos remain in our camera or phones, or they end up on social media sharing websites – the new type of photo album.

What I’m attempting to point out is that in many respects, grandparents and their grandchildren are performing the same functions as their younger & older age group, but the manner in which they do so is very different.

Grandparents and grandchildren are different – but the same.  Establishing a common ground – and minimizing the differences between the two groups – can open the door to increased understanding and communication amongst the generations.