For those who are new here, my husband Mike and I have been in the process of transitioning from working to retirement in the past year.
We started out by exploring land options in southern Colorado, because land is reasonably priced down there, and we needed a break from the total ‘metro’ feel up north.
Last December we found some land with great views in the foothills south of Pueblo. We bought a few acres in January. Then came the very hard emotional and physical work, preparing our 25-year-old urban home in south Fort Collins for sale.
March was spent moving most of our stuff into storage, while giving about one quarter of it to the Goodwill. In April we remodeled and staged our left over stuff to sell our home. We found a buyer in the first week in May.
You might mistakenly think, as we did, that the worst was over with this sale, but no. The actual process of moving is one of the most stressful I have experienced in years! But we got it all done in spite of one fall down a flight of stairs, and my own uncertainty about such a big change so late in my fifties.
Mike never doubted this was the best choice for us…
After five months living down south in a small rental in a very small town, we decided to go up north to visit family and friends this week.
What an eye-opening experience! I was absolutely SHOCKED to have this timely reminder of what life in the city is, and what it does to us all.
Since we only have one stop light in our new town, I had forgotten what it feels like to sit in traffic constantly. I experienced total culture shock, and Fort Collins felt like a foreign country to me.
I saw people everywhere waiting for something, a place to park, a place to sit in a restaurant, a chance to go through the next stop light, an opportunity to pay for their purchase. There was terrible traffic going through Denver in the middle of the day, constant noise, obvious air pollution we could even taste sometimes! Do people really choose to live like this?
To me it was all so anxiety-producing and completely over-stimulating, I was just happy to get out of town! The good news is I finally know for certain that a metro area could never be my normal again.
According to the Avon Foundation for Women, 60 percent of Americans know someone who has been abused, 22 percent of people are victims themselves.
These staggering statistics only further drive home the fact we need to talk about domestic violence, because that is the only way we can eliminate the culture of denial surrounding the topic.
To help accomplish this goal, Verizon launched a new public awareness campaign this past June called Voices Have Power. Read more about it here: http://www.voiceshavepower.com/
To participate in Voices Have Power, please text at 94079 or through social media using the hashtag #VoicesHavePower.
This is an online, social media platform that allows users to send messages of hope to victims of domestic violence, and for every message sent through this service, Verizon will donate $3 to domestic violence prevention organizations throughout the U.S.
Voices Have Power is run through HopeLine, a program started in 1995 to provide domestic violence organizations and shelters with recycled wireless phones and accessories. Victims then receive the refurbished phones with free minutes and texting plans.
Since 2001, they have donated more than $21 million in cash grants and 180,000 cell phones.
For over fifty years my parents have cared for me. They did not make excuses, they simply cared for their children. Now they need my help.
This transfer of roles can be quite confusing at times. In the past our phone conversations were usually about what was happening in my world, how I was doing and what I needed. Now it is about them.
It is painful to watch them struggle with illnesses that make them ever more fragile and vulnerable. How can this be my parents? They always appeared invulnerable to me. I remember thinking when I was young that my Mom and Dad knew everything! How did they do that?
But now this imminently strong and responsible generation who lived through the Great Depression and everything since, is losing ground.
We must do all that we can to help our parents, but it is important to note that none of us are alone in our efforts.
According to AARP, more than 42 million of us are providing over $450 billion worth of unpaid care to our aging relatives and friends. Many think that caregivers are paid health professionals, providing full-time care to someone in need of daily help, when in reality, most caregivers are managing their jobs and families at the same time.
This can be highly stressful work, putting caregivers at risk for depression and anxiety immunosuppression, cardiovascular disease, premature aging, among other physiological consequences, as well as causing financial problems.
Caregivers need to know that AARP has created a entire community of experts and fellow caregivers to assist you with the daily challenges of caring for your parents.
It’s a first! We walked into a restaurant yesterday with adult and senior prices, and the server immediately said, “That’s two senior meals?” In this case they defined ‘senior’ as 60+
Yes, I have been asked occasionally if I would like the senior discount, but in this case it was assumed!
Then I realized there are a few different ways to look at this. The negative viewpoint is accepting that we look 60, which Mike is. He has mostly gray hair, and a weathered face from working hard and outside quite a bit, so this was not really a stretch.
Another way to look at this is that they were trying to reward us for living so long. We have become the respected elders of our tribe.
This is not about ego and vanity for me, it just surprises me when others see me as their elder. I simply haven’t yet gotten used to being seen as a senior.
I recall a great scene from the film “It’s Complicated”, where Meryl Streep catches a glimpse of herself in the mirror and says, “Is that REALLY what I look like?”
I laughed out loud! I saw myself so clearly in that same mirror.
I was listening to some music from the 1960s today. Remember Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass? Remember those happy, optimistic tunes, some of which ended up as theme songs for ‘The Dating Game’ and ‘The Newlyweds Game’?
When I think about those days, I am reminded of a culture that was what I now call ‘pathologically optimistic’ about just about everything. We were still in the “keep it positive” phase, where it was highly unpopular to admit to serious problems like depression and drug addiction even though it was happening all around us.
Unhappy life events like unplanned pregnancy and divorce were simply not allowed into the mainstream media. We were still pretending that things like that didn’t happen.
This is the world I grew up in. Simple and as artificial as the whipped cream on the famous album cover above.
The next song that came up on our random mixed MP3 player after Herb Alpert was one by the band Morphine.
Morphinewas an American alternative rock group formed by Mark Sandman, Dana Colley, and Jerome Deupree in 1989. After five successful albums and extensive touring, they disbanded in 1999 after frontman Sandman died of a heart attack.
Talk about a contrast to Herb Alpert! Morphine focuses on the rough, unpleasant side of life, along the same lines as Tom Waits.
Sometimes I feel like my life has evolved rather like these cultural changes. When I was young in the 1960s, I pretended that all was positive and nothing bad could happen. Come to find out that was WRONG! Life would be rough and unpleasant plenty of the time, and it is best to acknowledge that head on.
But has our culture swung to the other end of the spectrum now, by mostly focusing on the bad in life with no bright side? What do you think?
The more light you allow into your heart, the brighter the world you will live in.
One of my most important lessons from my own midlife breakdown was the raw power of thankfulness. Yes, it continues to blow me away how much this new perspective can contribute to my life!
It may seem natural to focus on what’s wrong when things go badly in your life, but resist that urge. A therapist I was seeing at the time introduced me to the concept of thankfulness, and I’m so glad she did!
There is ALWAYS something to be thankful for.
Decide to focus on what’s good in your life and take it from there. What is working right now?
Maybe you are going through a tough divorce or you just lost your job. That’s the bad news. The good news is you now have a clean slate to create your best life ever. No more obnoxious spouse to limit your dreams, no more bad boss to tell you you’re inadequate.
So much of what we have right now, we don’t even notice. Start your new gratitude attitude today by watching this short video, and then tell me you have nothing to appreciate in your life!