About Us · Contact Us   

Archive for August, 2010

When Plans Change…

Wednesday, August 18th, 2010

Just because you had it all set up doesn’t mean it’s going to happen.  Maddening, isn’t it?  You’d think by the time we’ve marched past 50 that we’d be used to this fact of life, but sometimes it seems that the older we get, the more stubborn we are that what we thought should happen is the only alternative allowable.

Life doesn’t work that way.

Sometimes, it’s as everyday as having new neighbors move in who have a different idea on how a cul de sac is to be used.   You see a round street; they see a playground where their kids can play…and pretty soon all the kids within six blocks are treating “your” cul de sac that way.  We actually lose sleep over these kinds of situations.  Who gains when we do that?

Not one soul.  The kids don’t care what you think one way or the other.  The parents are blissfully telling all their friends from the old neighborhood what a great place the kids have to play.  And you seethe…or maybe snarl…or honk the horn when you are trying to get out of your driveway.

You don’t like being the mean old neighbor.  You don’t like being expected to navigate your way to the nearest main street through kids on bikes and skateboards and scooters.  It’s hard to let go of that one “allowable” alternative–the way it was before the new neighbors moved in.

Let it go.  It is what it is and fuming about it only makes your feelings about it worse.  Find something else to focus on and let it go.

Sometimes, the change is to you.  Right now, my left pinkie does not want to carry it’s share of the load when I’m at the keyboard.  It’s kind hard to blog without a‘s.  My first reaction was to just muster on, making the errant finger get on with what I needed from it.  But that finger isn’t buying my bluster.  When I try to hit the a normally, nothing happens.  Now what?

Let it go.  Find a workable alternative.  For me, that means this will be a short post.

When life goes a different place than what you had planned for yourself, see what’s there.  Sometimes, where you end up because “plans changed” is a whole lot more exhilarating than what you had mapped out.

And sometimes, it means you can’t type a‘s.  Either way, you learn more than you would have had things gone “right.”


Where to Live Once You Retire…

Thursday, August 12th, 2010

One of the nicest aspects of retirement is that your work no longer decides where you have to live.  But does that mean moving to a retirement community in a warm, sunny climate is in your future?  That decision involves a lot more than getting away from your local version of lousy weather.

Where you choose to live needs to be a well-thought balance between what you’ve already built and what you yearn for.  I’m not talking about square footage here.  Where you live now has a lot of pluses (unless you just moved there).

You already have your network of resources in place—your primary care physician and specialists if you need them, your dentist, your hairdresser, your car mechanic, your plumber.  The list goes on, but you get the point:  When you move, you need to find new back up for what you can’t do yourself on….well… pretty much everything.

And, of course, there’s the daunting task of moving itself.  (Just moving everything to the garage when I got new carpeting last fall was enough to make me promise I’m going to live here forever.)   Moving does help you get rid of stuff you no longer need, but with a bit of discipline, you can do that without putting what’s left in a moving van.

Usually, the big loss of leaving where you are now for “somewhere better” is the network of relationships you leave behind–neighbors, friends who like to do the things you like to do, family, and business associates (who just might be people you want to know three years from now when you get tired of “being retired.”)

Those three are just the tip of the iceberg, too.  You can thrive with a retirement move, but it needs more thoroughly researched than watching the Weather Channel for your dream location a few times a month.  Before you put a For Sale sign on where you are, there are a lot of things to ask yourself:

• What do I not like about where I live now?  Sometimes, just retiring might solve the problem.  Traffic for regular commuters can be horrendous.  Once you make your own schedule you may be able to avoid it most of the time.  Or maybe it’s a case of not having friends where you are now.  Are the time demands of your job what’s keeping you from making them?

• What problems am I expecting this move to solve?  Changing geography doesn’t change who you are.  A new location quickly becomes a disappointment if you think it’s going to get rid of woes that move right along with you.  What are the real issues and what other solutions are there for solving those problems?  Look at all the options rather than just assuming a move will solve everything.

• Who am I going to miss?  Make a list of all the people you love who are going to stay where you are now.  Is the move you’re planning worth having them somewhere you’re not?  It’s easy to lose track of your valued everyday relationships when the romance of living year-round in a resort climate blooms.

• How long do l want to live there?   Maybe it’s not something you will want to do long term.  If you aren’t sure, you don’t have to buy real estate right away. Consider living in the new location on a rental basis for six months or a year rather than pulling up stakes and moving there forever immediately.

• Is this something that I’ll enjoy everyday? What do you think of the “off season” where you’re planning to move?  A Seattleite who moved to Arizona as retirement admitted when she moved back that having to open the garage door with an oven mitt in the summer was just too much for her.   Some people are fine with taking a fifth wheel to a sunny clime for two months in the worst of winter.  Are you sure you’re not one of them?

• What kind of lifestyle am I envisioning?  Barbara Morris refers to retirement communities as “senior ghettoes.”  Pay attention to that.  When you segregate yourself from the full breadth of society, your view of the world starts to shrink.  The best way to stay vibrant is to keep your world expanding.  If you do end up in a 55+ community, have ways to get beyond the walls and stay in touch with the full social range.  Relying on the compound fun exclusively will make you old long before you need to be.

• What else is going to change that I haven’t factored into this idea?  There’s a lot more to it than getting away from the snow…gray skies…humidity…whatever.

Moving may be the best answer.  But be sure you’re asking the right questions when you decide.


The Power of “Letting People Know”

Thursday, August 5th, 2010

When you let people know–what you need, what you have, what you would like to do–you increase your chances of getting what you are trying to accomplish done exponentially.

I’m writing this just after doing some volunteer work at the local library–where I didn’t work much because no one knew about what I was there to do.  Not promoting my availability to do one-on-one job search counseling was a conscious decision.  They were worried too many people would want help and that many wouldn’t get it because I was only there for two hours.  But not telling anyone before the period when I was actually there meant I had a lot of time to read magazines I don’t ordinarily get to see.

It also made me stop and think about how many ways there are to benefit from “letting people know.”

The obvious one is if you are job hunting.  Letting every person who knows your name know what you are looking for is essential.  There really are only a few steps between you and what you need–just as the Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon party game suggests.  (Microsoft actually tested the premise–that any two people  in the world are connected by way of no more than six intermediate peopl–and found it to be very close to that.)  So “let people know” if you are looking for work, projects, internship opportunities, whatever.

Last week, my brother called asking if I needed a new dishwasher.  He had just purchased one he could not return and it didn’t work in his kitchen.  I did (need a new dishwasher).  Desperately.  One friend described mine as sounding like I was washing bowling balls.  But I had just purchased one as part of a major kitchen remodel and was within days of getting it installed.  I did, however, know of someone else who needed a new dishwasher.  So I called him…and now his family has a nice new dishwasher.

I have a wonderful hiking group that I go out with on Wednesday mornings.  I would still be yearning for the chance to get up in the mountains if I hadn’t “let someone know” that I was looking for a way to hike.

Three very different examples of the same principle:  Good things happen when you “let people know.”  This isn’t a case of “expecting” people to give you what you need.  It’s more like getting your name on the list for the Universe to work with.

Let people know…if you’d like to meet some new members of the opposite sex…if you need a handyman….if you want to wallpaper your dining room with tinfoil and are wondering just how to do that.

The power of community is one of the sweetest things about being human.  You tap into it by “letting people know.”