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Archive for November, 2013

A Time For Gratitude 2013

Saturday, November 30th, 2013

As the fall weather blusters into winter cold,
And “the holidays” become that silly frenzy of buying,
It’s time to stop
And just look in wonder at all that’s part
Of this life I’ve been blessed to live.
Sure, I’m grateful for a warm house, a dry bed, clean sox, and plenty of food in the fridge.
But I’m also thankful that life is not always easy–because easy is a short cut to dementia.
I am grateful my new house is nestled in hills, where I will have to work a bit harder to take a walk.
That kind of walk will give me more energy day after day.
I’m happy that, looking at all the work of renovating the space that will be my new home,
I can see light at the end of the tunnel.
(No! No! I’m sure it’s not a train!)
Even more, I am grateful for all the loving friends and family who want to help
And the capable craftspeople who are ready to get what I need done.
I’m grateful for the waiting that organizing any effort requires, too.
Good things sneak into those little crannies of time.
I’m grateful, of course, for the wonderful family I’m blessed to be part of.
And for the daughters-in-law my sons have chosen to bring into our clan.
And always always, I am grateful for the grandbabies.
They light my heart today but the world tomorrow.
But that most of all, for which I am grateful– tomorrow.
As long as it comes, there are more delights to savor, more challenges to meet,
And new threads to weave into this tapestry called My Life.

By Mary Lloyd,
CEO, Mining Silver LLC

Lessons from Stumbling Around in the Dark

Sunday, November 24th, 2013

I spend too much time in the dark. No, I am not sleeping–I am not even in bed.  I am in “partner mode,” trying not to disturb my significant other who is in bed–and asleep.

My initial rational for trying to get dressed without turning on the light was to make sure he got enough sleep.  He’d been recovering from major illness and really needed a lot of extra shut-eye.  He’s better now.  But I still get up at least two hours before him and a portion of what I do to get ready for the day is done in the dark.  On purpose and voluntarily.

I do indulge myself about lights in the bathroom.  But when I need to get something out of the drawers in the bedroom.  I do it by Braille.

So far, I have not hit the wall with this odd experiment,  I have ended up with mismatched socks but nothing embarrassing.  Mostly it’s a case of not knowing what color underwear I am going to put on until I get to the “daylight” of the walk-in closet.  But why do I do it at all?

I think it’s a way to broaden my horizons without using my passport.  I must employ different cues when I am trying to do sighted things in the dark.  I do “cheat” and use the red LED “beacon”on the clock radio as a clue to how close I’m getting to the bed.  But quite often, I find I am not oriented as I thought and have come rather close to banging into the wall.  I don’t.  Just in the knick of time.  Because I am very tuned to the fact that that wall is there and I don’t know exactly where.

What does wandering around in the dark have to offer?  I need to think about what I am doing–to look for clues and chart a course that would be done on autopilot in the middle of the day.  I need to really pay attention to the information I am getting from my immediate surroundings–which I often take for granted.

Sensory deprivation of one type often enhances what you receive from the other sensory channels.  Maybe it’s a bit like writing something longhand instead of it as an e-mail.  Your thoughts sometimes come from a different part of your mind with those two approaches.

I do this kind of “deprivation” with audio on airplanes, too.  I don’t opt for the headphones for the in-flight movie.  It’s more interesting for me to watch the action and guess at the words.  (Per my screenwriting coach, the words are secondary anyway.)  Not having the sound gives me a more interesting challenge but I still understand the story.

There may be other “medium” changes to try:

  • Feeling the music….the beat reverberating in your spine when the music is turned up but your ears are turned off.
  • Smelling love–as everything from fresh baked cookies to a beloved’s favorite scent

What’s the point of wandering around in the dark? Or doing any of this other stuff?   It provides a different perspective. It makes you pay attention to details you would otherwise miss.  And, in my case, I don’t wake someone I care about who wants to sleep.

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Mary Lloyd is a writer and consultant and author of Supercharged Retirement:  Ditch the Rocking Chair, Trash the Remote, and Do What You Love.  For more, see her website.

 

 

 

How Much Information?

Thursday, November 14th, 2013

Decision making works better if you have good information. That holds true as much in personal life as professionally.  But how do you know when you have enough good information to get on with deciding?

Whether it’s buying a new car, choosing a new town to live in, or figuring out what you’re going to do about health care insurance, important decisions are typically not knee-jerk.  We look at the alternatives.  We try out different scenarios.  We compare options.  At least if we are intent on doing it well.

But how much is enough?  I’ve been asking myself that a lot lately.  I’m buying a house.  I’ve been pretty thorough about assessing what locations would work the best, what kind of house would be the wisest, what level of upkeep I want to have to maintain, how much yard I am willing to take on, etc.  I looked at 43 houses before I was comfortable making an offer.  That was a big decision.  I needed a lot of information.

But now I am dealing with smaller decisions–what color to paint the kitchen walls, what materials to use in replacing the current flooring, even what to put where once I  move in.

Those decisions don’t warrant anywhere near as much precision in the information I gather to support my decision-making process.  It’s important I recognize it’s time to switch gears.Yes, I may not like the carpet I choose, but that’s not on the same order of magnitude as buying a house with a major structural flaw would have been.

So how much is enough on the current spate of decision-making?  I’m not sure it’s cut and dried, but it seems the following are going to be part of doing the research part well:

  • What’s going to happen if I don’t get this right?  If someone is going to die or your are going to be homeless, you need to do all the research you can.  If it’s just going to mean I spend a weekend repainting that room once I’ve moved in, go ahead and decide, will you?!
  • What are my options?  All too often, we choose the first possibility that comes to mind because we didn’t bother to take the time to think of the rest.  This is not good in any guise.  (You could have had pan-seared shrimp and fresh broccoli, but the first thing you noticed were the mashed potatoes that have been hiding in plain sight in the refrigerator for almost a week.)  Even if it’s just deciding whether you want to go out your driveway to the left or right, notice consciously that you are at a decision point–and that there’s more than one option.  There’s always more than one option–or else there would be no decision to make.
  • Know when to stop. Right now, I am researching flooring options.  I’ve spoken with four different vendors as well as a friend who is in the business (far far away).  Is that enough?  For the first pass, yes.  I have learned the jargon and recognize what the issues are going to be for me.  I will need to get some of them out to do bids, but I can’t make that call yet.  (I won’t own the house until next week…)  For now, I have enough information on that.  When I move to the next step, maybe not, but I need to assess that then.

There are a lot of reasons to keep gathering information after you’ve obtained enough to get on with deciding.  Most of those reasons are forms of “analysis paralysis.”  After a certain point, “enough information
becomes “too much information.”  If you are well enough informed that you can make a solid decision, then you need to decide.  The exception to this is if you are waiting for someone else to provide more current information–but be careful with that.  Once you understand the issues and can compare the relevant dimensions for each option using solid information, it’s usually time to decide and get on with your life.

Don’t get hung up on amassing information  Be aware of what you really need to know before you decide and of how much of that you already have in the pipeline.  Ask yourself if you’ve already reached the best point in the overall process for making this decision.  If so, decide.

Good decision making relies on a variety of skills.  One of them is gathering the right amount of good information.  If you find yourself saying “I knew that” again and again as you speak with yet another resource, it’s time to get on with it.

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Mary Lloyd is a speaker and consultant and author of Supercharged Retirement:  Ditch the Rocking Chair, Trash the Remote, and Do What You Love.    For more, see her website.

What I Learned Buying a House After 60

Thursday, November 7th, 2013

Life lessons don’t always come from expected sources. I’m buying a house. the lessons I’m learning go well beyond real estate.

For the last 18 months, I’ve lived with my boyfriend in a gated, 55+ community–in a new house he bought three years ago.  That’s been hard for me.  It’s not a lifestyle where I can thrive.  Our trial run at living together was an essential step.  We’ve learned living separately works better for us without having invested in real estate together.  That’s not exactly how “everybody does it.”  So there’s Lesson #1:   The next step for you is not always the one that works best for everyone else.

I sold my last house 18 months ago.  It was time.  I knew that for sure when I got an excellent price and had a done deal in less than a month.  I thought I needed to sell that house because it had a lot of yard—with elevation.  That wasn’t the real reason, but it got me to take action.   Lesson #2:  The reason you act isn’t always the reason you needed to act.

About three months ago, I knew it was time to get back in the game.  But did I need a house?  How about renting instead?  How about a condo?  I moved through this phase fairly quickly once I admitted something everyone in the family already knew.  I am a compulsive gardener.  I need dirt   Rented dirt doesn’t work.  Lesson #3:  Be honest with yourself.

I listed what I wanted in this new house—and promptly sabotaged myself big time.  I rejected my own preferences, telling myself I needed to heed the “prevailing wisdom” about what older people need as housing instead.  I wanted stairs—but what if I needed single-story living later in my life?  I wanted a garden, but what happened if I couldn’t handle the physical demands of that eventually?  This ageist crap clobbered me hard.  I was looking for a house I could “grow old in” and conjuring up all sorts of limiting scenarios.

A conversation with my older son saved me.  When I told him I planned to live in this house for the rest of my life, he laughed—and then told me that wasn’t likely.  I challenged him, thinking he was assuming I would not be able to live on my own for that long.  His reply?  “Mom, you’re a gypsy.  You aren’t going to stay in any house that long.”  Okay, Lesson #4:  Admit who you are.  Let’s throw in Lesson #5, too:  Beware of insidious ageist thinking!

So I learned I needed to buy the house for now.  Then the challenge became where.

I’d told the realtor I wanted to see things in areas I was familiar with, where friends lived and I already knew my way around.  We looked at 43 houses.  None of them came remotely close to fitting the bill.  All were older than I wanted, needed significant updating, and/or had chopped up floor plans that didn’t work for me.  I was thoroughly disheartened.  Time for Lesson #6:  When it’s not working, you need to change something.

I decided it had to be where I was looking that was wrong.  And it was wrong because I was thinking rationally instead of feeling authentically.  When I finally admitted what I really needed and wanted at an emotional level, I realized I needed a new location to explore—but one that was closer to family.  Lesson #7:  Important decisions should start with your heart and be handled rationally after the emotional aspects are clear.

Once I realized I needed to be somewhere new, an amazing thing happened.  I discovered an area that I’d been assuming was “too far away from everything” was actually closer to my family than the places I’d been looking. The homes were of the age I like.  The neighborhoods were a delight for walking.  Right on cue, a house I loved came on the market.  The right size yard.  The right amount of floor space.  The kind of floor plan I love.  So that’s Lesson #8:  Keep going.

I’m still jumping the real estate hoops on the deal—offer, acceptance, inspection, etc.–but I feel really good about this house.  It’s helped me learn so much already.

This article originally appeared in the November 2013 issue of Barbara Morris’s online newsletter Put Old on Hold.
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Mary Lloyd is a consultant and speaker and author of Supercharged Retirement: Ditch the Rocking Chair, Trash the Remote, and Do What You Love (which she wrote for those who want a better life than the current retirement stereotypes define).  Her first novel, Widow Boy will be out in 2014.  For more, see her website.