Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Retirement, Six weeks and Counting

My husband and I have are invited to the party tomorrow of another retiring co-worker. Since my husband was the first of the group to leave, it gave me a moment to pause about the changes in our life since then.

Actually, sleeping in the same bed together has been nice after twenty-five years of sleeping alone. It hasn’t been the adjustment I thought it would be.

We used to eat dinner at 4:00 and have now pushed it back to 5:30. I’m absolutely famished at 4:00, have a snack, which I’m not crazy about.

I hate him sitting in the office during the day while I’m trying to work. BUT, if I haven’t run across him in a couple of hours, I wonder where he is and take off searching. I’ve decided a cute little bell around his neck might be nice. I can always know where he is by his little tinkle.

Oh, and I haven’t watch HGTV in a month. It was my time filler. You know, those moments when you don’t know what to do and you’re too lazy to find something, so it’s easy to sit down, turn on the TV and veg.

Monday, November 24, 2008


Yes, we finally got the phone back. It was a simple switch that needed to be changed at the back of our house. OMG, I can't believe all that hassle. I guess the new world of technology is difficult for all of us, even those who work in it.

If someone asked me if I had a good life, I would have to say yes. I'm not one of those people who walk outside looking for a brick to fall on my head. But, this is getting uncanny. Our six year old tv died yesterday. Notice what I said-six years old! It's not like it's even on all of the time. As you can see it's huge.I'm not sure what I hate more, paying for a new tv or putting this one in a landfill somewhere.

The repairman said it was a blown color tube and they can' be replaced. My husband found some on e-bay, but the repairman said it would cost $500 to install each of the three tubes.

This is ridiculous. I'm really not taking it too personally-really, but doesn't it bother you that a television that is six years old died, can't be fixed and has to be thrown in the junk heap? This wasn't a cheap television. It just seems to me that something has to change. I'm not sure where or how, but something has to change.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Can You Hear Me NOW?

Raise your hand if you still use a landline phone. I'm guessing the only people who raise their hand are those who are over thirty-five.

I was a late adopter of the cell phone. They caught me at an in-between phase. My children were out of the house, so I didn't need to keep track of them. I worked from home and I didn't do a lot of driving in the city. I finally got a cell phone two years ago. Rumor has it I was the last person in Southern California to actually own one.

I'm still not wired. I only give the cell number to family members and if I'm meeting someone for coffee. The number isn't on my business card and I'd rather leave it that way. I don't even have a camera on my cell. The worst part is I only have 450 minutes a month.

I have been without my landline phone for thirteen days. Ugh! I won't go into detail about how it happened. Suffice it to say, we were trying to streamline our operation, acquire fiber optics and eliminate a second phone line. Somehow there was a SNAFU and I'm in a desparate situation.

I've used up all my cell phone minutes and have spent at least two hours a day on the phone with Verizon trying to get it resolved. Tech support has been very pleasant, apologetic and unable to solve the problem. The worst thing about the whole situation is I can never talk to the same person twice. So every single time I call the toll-free number, I have to explain the situation all over again.

My husband admires my ability to stay cool and calm. I got emotional last Wednesday and the tech hung up on me. I've learned that they are the link to my getting a number and I'm nice or else.

Now, in the total horrors that is occurring in the world right now, I realize that being without a phone seems really petty. On the other hand, there are certain things we expect in life. A phone is one of them.

Friday, November 14, 2008

What the Elderly Really Think

I had one final presentation scheduled, which was last night. I was a bit nervous about this one. It was promoted to baby boomers and their parents, but was held in an independent/assisted living facility. I knew most of the attendees were going to be older than the baby boomers I normally talk to.

What was I going to say? My normal words of wisdom seemed silly and trite to this group. As I was setting up and they were getting comfortable, I overheard one lady say, “I’d like to know the myths about retirement.”

“Ah, ha, that’s where I’ll start,” I concluded.

After a wonderful introduction, I asked, “What are the myths about retirement and aging?” What followed was a lively discussion of the misperception and irritations that are felt by the over 50 and 75 crowd. Ultimately, the myths that life is either a ‘happy ever after’ stroll on the beach or a immediate collapse into physical decline are both inaccurate. We all agreed with the frustration that advertisers and manufactures have written us off unless it is for drugs or medical related items.

We concluded that life after work and raising a family is neither better nor worse than it had been before. It is different. What surprised me was the amount of passion they displayed. There was a desire these people had to let the world know they have thoughts, feelings and lives as profound as younger people.

I have created a model for meaningful aging. We spent the rest of our time discussing the model. I asked for their opinions about what I had researched. They agreed with the concepts I presented. They also provided some additional thoughts, I hadn’t considered.

For example, I discuss how staying connected is so important as we get older. The youngster of the group, a 62 year old who is recovering from a stroke, shared how being connected can be a detriment. She has been welcomed into the community, but is much younger than the other residents. She feels a need to push herself, get back to work, develop new relationships and take risks. She confided how the residents had embraced her and provided a wonderfully safe place to be and how hard it was to leave that environment to go back into the world.

My grandparents had all died before I was born, so I didn’t grow up around elderly people. As a result, I always felt slightly uncomfortable in their presence. In the last couple of years, in part because of my work, I’ve been around more people who are in their eighties and above. Guess what? They’re just like us. They have charm, wit, humor, and insight. They want to be valued and acknowledged.

While I started off feeling a bit nervous, the night proved to be delightful. We all shared and participated. It was a wonderful experience.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Back from the...

After two weeks of presentations and conferences, life is returning to normal. Or not.

One of the things I encourage new retirees to do is establish a routine. If you want to sleep until 9:00, read the paper over a leisurely breakfast, that’s fine. Be consistent. A routine brings order and makes it easier to explore and create a new life.

My husband is establishing somewhat of a routine. After twenty-five years of working nights, I was concerned he would get up at 2:00 or 3:00 in the morning, be up for a few hours and then back to bed for another few hours. That was normal when he had a vacation.

As soon as he retired, he forced himself to stay in bed and sleep through the night. He’s avoided the temptation of taking naps in the day, which would make the previous scenario harder to do.

I wasn’t expecting my own routine to be so disrupted. It’s totally thrown me in a tailspin. I normally wake at 6:00 am and changing from daylight savings time hasn’t helped, since I now wake at 4:00, 4:30 or 5:00. The plan is to fix a cup of coffee, go in the office, read emails, take quiet time to journal, mediate and read inspirational books. This is followed by thirty minutes of yoga, and then breakfast spent reading the paper. All of this occurred before my husband arrived home from work.

I struggle with my morning now. I’m not fitting my quiet or yoga time into the schedule. We take a walk every morning, so that helps, but I’m still not in the flow.

I knew our evening habits would change. We’ve gone from eating dinner at 4:00 to 5:30-6:00. Of course, that has affected my working after dinner.

None of this is my husband’s fault. It’s not that he demands I cook him breakfast or anything like that. In fact, he’s just a dream, for the most part. He’s doing most of the cleaning, laundry and a lot of cooking. He keeps himself busy and doesn’t try to take me away from my activities. But, he’s around, when he wasn’t before. That presence has changed things.