Category Archives: Seasons

Swim Suit Season

swim suit

No matter how old I get, there are two things that never seem to change:  in the fall, I want to buy school supplies and in the spring, I want to get in shape.  I want to be swimsuit ready for the summer, even though I notice that each year that seems a little harder to achieve.

I always find it ironic that Girl Scout Cookies are sold in the same month that the Sports’ Illustrated Swimsuit issue arrives at the check-out line in the grocery store.  However, when you think about it, these events are somewhat related.

First, you want to be able to enjoy life.  You can’t give up everything and Girl Scout Cookies come but once a year.  However, just when I am ready to open another sleeve of  Thin Mints, I am reminded that moderation, or more likely deprivation, is the way to the toned abs and sleek thighs of the swimsuit models.

I belong to a gym and go with some regularity, but it is this time of year that I want to kick my routine up a notch.  I begin noticing the muscle-bound trainers and their students.  Recently, I mustered enough courage to ask a trainer how much he charged and if he would be willing to train me.  His response made me really question what I am willing to do.  He asked, “What are your goals?”  My goal is to be in shape.  But am I really willing to do what would be necessary to achieve that goal?  And what does it mean to be in shape?  Does that mean being able to walk a couple of blocks to our favorite restaurant or does it mean being able to run a marathon?

Do diets really work?  Maybe for the short term,  but nearly every article I read  stresses that fad diets just don’t work over the long term.  But after I have been on the treadmill for ½ an hour and see that I have only burned 200 calories, I realize that exercise without some diet modification is probably not the answer either.

Dr. Dean Ornish, president of the Preventive Medicine Research Institute, has recently published a book called Spectrum.  In it, he advises people to eat with awareness, noting that you get more pleasure and fewer calories when you really pay attention to what you are eating.  He thinks exercise is an important part of staying healthy, as well as losing weight.
In a recent article in “Allure Magazine“, he contends that walking 20 or 30 minutes a day, not even all that fast, can reduce premature death rates by half.  More intensive exercise makes you more fit, but really doesn’t  add much to your longevity, according to Ornish.

So, maybe the key is to exercise, eat with awareness and use the money I would have spent on

Holidays In These Times

While some pundits compare our economic climate to those suffered at other times during our history,I disagree.

What we are going through has never happened in history. While some compare our crisis to that of the the Great Depression, this one is different on many levels, but no less traumatic!

If you have recently retired, or are thinking of retiring, it is a particularly stressful time. As 401K values plunge and home values spiral downward, it is hard to be optimistic about the future. Quite frankly, there is little to compare too, as the whole world has joined our bad times with no end in sight.

However, I was recently reminded that there is a big difference between retiring and being laid-off. Most people have planned for their retirement, and have some assets to rely upon during hard times.Being laid-off is a whole different experience and, unfortunately, is a predictor of just how long and painful our current recession could last, since the worst and most fearful symptom of recession is the loss of jobs and the devestating impact this can have on millions of lives.

In the last month, I have seen at least one person I know layed off each week. This is the most real evidence I have seen of what is happening. While, it may not be you or I, when our neighbors and friends are laid-off, it affects all of us psychologically. Some may have seen it coming, but some may have been caught totally off guard.

With the holidays coming and economic forecasts bleak, it is hard to keep our resolve and not to become discouraged. But perhaps, this is when we need to draw upon lessons from history, and the laws of nature. Historically, when times are rough, we still can draw from optimism and the hope that things will get better.And we can also thwart the theory of self-fulfilling prophecy, where we make things happen that we don’t want to occur.

It is a time to be hopeful, but if each of us reaches out to others that may be suffering just a little more than we are and offer them assistance and solace during the holidays this could be our best Christmas ever – a Christmas when look to help the fortunes of others even when our own prospects may not be as good as we had expected last year.Christmas can be a time of giving to others, so let’s embrace this idea not only in the presents we give but all our good deeds.

Why Vacationing is Important- Even When You are Retired

vacation lighthouse tour“The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.” St. Augustine

It’s summer.  The time many people looked forward to all year when they were working.  A time to break the routine and relax.  So, why is it when we retire that we think vacations are no longer necessary?  Maybe its because we think we do not deserve a vacation since we haven’t earned it by working.

This is garbage.  Retirees have earned the right to vacation too through many years of hard work and sacrifice. Variety truly is the spice of life.  Traveling, even a day trip, stimulates the mind and gets us out of our routine.  Even though the price of gasoline can make some long distance trips prohibitive, with a little planning, a day trip or a week-end getaway can make everything seem fresh again.

Our brains need to be challenged. Just like our bodies become unresponsive when we do the same workout routine every day, our mental skills aren’t as sharp when we do the same thing day in, day out.  Meeting new people, seeing different scenery, eating different food, all help to improve our minds. Retirees are prone to establishing routines and these routines can sap the energy and mystery of new life experiences.

It is true that when you are working, vacations take a higher priority in our lives and are highly anticipated and planned for.  A report published in the Journal of Travel Medicine in 2005 said workers who felt most recuperated after their vacations had:

Visited warmer, sunnier places.
Enjoyed more free time.
Exercised more.
Slept more.
Made new acquaintances.

Granted we can do these things every day when we are retired, but do we?  If you have found yourself in a rut since you retired, perhaps the time is right to change the scenery and take a vacation.    The internet provides information on special summer events and activities.  With our current economy, many places are offering discount packages to offset the price of fuel.  Libraries also offer sources of information for summer activities.

So, even if you are retired, don’t feel like you can’t take a vacation.  You need one.  And you will return with a renewed appreciation for where you are in life.

Thanksgiving Thoughts

As I was trying to think of something inspirational to write for the rapidly approaching Holiday season, I was struck by something that is happening much too frequently. That is: an email or a phone call from a friend telling of another friend, or acquaintance, who is sick or dying. So, all of a sudden the idea that we need to be grateful for our health and abundance during this season of Thanksgiving does not seem so mundane.

If you are retired, chances are you are middle-aged (whatever that is) or older. It is a time to reflect on what we have and appreciate each day. There are numerous ways to do that. In her book, Simple Abundance, Sarah Ban Breathnach encourages readers to start what she calls a Gratitude Journal. She assures readers that they simply will not be the same person in two months if they consciously give thanks for the abundance that exists in our lives. Her theory is that the ancient spiritual law (the more you have and are grateful for, the more will be given to you) is set in motion by writing down five things that you are grateful for at the end of each day.

Another approach was recently discussed by Elizabeth Gilbert, the author of Eat, Pray, Love, on the Oprah Winfrey Show. She suggests starting each day by focusing on what it is you really really really want. She emphasized the “really really really”, stating it must be something to get you focused in life. And at the end of the day she suggests reflecting on what made you happy that day. And she said to listen to the voice inside your head, because that is your mantra to make things happen.

So, as we enter the season of Thanksgiving, it seems it can be, not only a time of reflection to be grateful for what we have, but also a time to get focused on what we want and to enjoy every precious day we have.

Summer Retirement

Summer takes on a new meaning in retirement. No longer do you look forward to having a few weeks off in the summer to rejuvenate your mind and body, helping you to return to work with a new attitude. You are literally on vacation every day and it seems more and more people are having a problem with that. A recent AARP Survey says a growing number of retirees say retirement will include some form of work.

 So what does summer mean for these people? It means you better brush up on your computer surfing skills if you are going to compete with the younger generation in finding summer employment. Low unemployment and high demand can make this summer a time to pursue a job. Some mainstream sites include CareerBuilder.com and Monster.com. Diane Domeyer, executive director for Office Team at Robert Half International, suggests researching professional networking sites in interesting career fields. This is your opportunity to explore something that has always interested you, but your “day job” kept you from pursuing. However, you will be competing with high school and college graduates so this is the time to play up your experience and reliability. It is also the time not to get hung up on what you did in your “past life”.             ÂÂÂ

You are now retired and if money is not the main reason you are working, it is a time to make working fun. In a survey of full-time employees, 77% said they feel job burnout. This is an opportunity to reduce the stress in the work environment for everyone. There is no reason why you can’t report to work every day with a smile on your face and a helpful attitude. If you don’t like your summer job, you move on to another one. It is time to check your ego at the door and not get hung up on your pay and status but do something that gives you internal satisfaction. Sometimes the best job is not the highest paying job or the one with the most hours. ÂÂÂ

 

A NEW YEAR: A NEW BEGINNING

happy new yearTo make resolutions, or not to make resolutions, that is the question as you embark on a new year. As a new retiree, I find that I can quickly lose the discipline of a workday world, so I like to make resolutions, or I prefer to think of them as goals. Research has shown, you are ten times more likely to be successful with whatever you are trying to achieve, if you first write it down, being as specific as possible.Unfortunately, I sometimes think there is a tendency to think one’s best years are behind them as they enter retirement. Just the opposite can be true. However, one of the keys to enjoying life is good health. And achieving or maintaining good health is dependant on exercise. While the government guidelines have recently been revised, it is now suggested that we exercise 30 minutes a day and break a sweat three times a week. This can start any time, but there is something about starting a new year that makes it seem like a good time to incorporate exercise in your life, if it is not a part of it already.Eat healthy food. This one is always on my list and I have actually learned to eat broccoli several times a week. One thing I said I was going to do when I retired, was to take advantage of additional time to plan better menus and try some new things. Cliché but true, we are what we eat and when you eat good things, you do feel better.

Use your mind. When you retire you don’t have the stress of work, but you still need to use and improve your mind. If you have ever thought of joining a book club this could be the year to do it. Read the paper, or listen to the news and stay current with what is going on in the world.

Make new friends. You no longer have to get up when the alarm goes off and head off to work. However, you still need the contact of people. This could be the year to volunteer in some area you are interested in. It could also be the time to pursue a hobby you have always wondered about. The local library or newspaper is a great source to identify workshops or groups that need help.

Resolve to make it a better world. Perhaps, we can all learn from the new spirit we see emerging with the Democrats and Republicans after the mid-year elections. It is time to be open-minded and respect what other people have to say.

No matter whether you decide to make goals for the new year or not, it is always a good time to reflect and decide what you would like to see unfold in the year ahead. You do have the power to control some of the things that could make it one of the best years ever.

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