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Ten Great Reasons to Become a Boomer Entrepreneur

It’s time to bet on yourself, boomers. That’s the message from Canadian positive aging coach Mike Kennedy of Cambridge, Ontario. His essay is part of a series they’re running at the website of our partners at NextAvenue.org. It’s called, “America’s Entrepreneurs Special Report.”

The recession of 2008 and its negative impact on retirement portfolios and career prospects created a significant increase in next-chapter entrepreneurial ventures. After a lifetime of working for someone else, many boomers relish the opportunity to be their own bosses for a change. The good news is that the timing couldn’t be better.

Mike Kennedy

I speak from first-hand experience. I spent 30+ years as a consumer products sales executive before going out on my own to launch Your Future Reimagined, a coaching business to help people 50+ launch and scale entrepreneurial ventures. Knowing what I know now, my only regret is that I didn’t take the leap 10 years ago.

Here are 10 reasons why now is a great time to become a “Boomerpreneur:”

1. Age doesn’t matter when you’re the boss. Ageism can be a major factor for someone 50+ seeking employment. But a new venture can be a perfect alternative for those tired of the corporate grind and are not ready to retire.

2. You could have 20 or more productive years ahead of you. Warren Buffett is 86 and still goes to the office daily. Assuming you have good health, there is no reason why working into your late 70scan’t be an option.

It has never been less expensive and less risky to start an entrepreneurial venture. Many new businesses today are launched for under $10,000.

3. You can take advantage of your ability to generate income past 65. David Blanchett, head of retirement research at Morningstar, found that just three years of additional income improves a person’s odds of having a financially secure retirement by 55 percent.

4. You pick the people you choose to work with and those you don’t. Sometimes you can’t be too picky in the start-up period, but with success comes the ability to be much more selective about hiring.

5. With the advent of Internet-based businesses you can work from almost anywhere. As a retirement transition coach and consultant, not only do I have the ability to work from home, I also have the option to work remotely when on vacation. This flexibility can be a very important factor when considering ventures in retirement.

6. You have the opportunity to build your business around something you enjoy and are passionate about. There are a fortunate few who land on a career or venture that they are truly passionate about right out of school. But for the vast majority of us, true passion has proved to be elusive. After 25+ years of making a living, this is your opportunity to create a legacy.

7. You have 25+ years of experience and expertise to draw from and the network, social skills and maturity to go with it. You really can take all your accumulated experiences in life and successfully apply them to a new and exciting venture. Today, people over 55 are almost twice as likely to create successful startups as those 20 to 34.

8. You’ll be able to stay mentally- and socially engaged. Staying engaged in your retirement years can play a significant role in overall happiness levels.

9. The cost of entry has never been lower. It has never been less expensive, and therefore less risky, to start an entrepreneurial venture. Many new businesses today are launched for well under $10,000 and can run for less than $500 per month.

10. Boomers aren’t afraid to take chances. Compared to other generations, the boomer set is far less fearful of taking risks. A sizable 43 percent of boomers identified themselves as being high-risk takers, in a 2013 survey by Monster.com and Millennial Branding.

Maybe it’s time to bet on yourself!

 

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A Boomer Parent’s Apology to Millennials

If you’re a boomer parent, you’ll love this piece. Or at the very least, you’ll surely understand it. It’s by author and lawyer Richard Watts of Santa Ana, California, and we first spotted it on the website of our friends over at NextAvenue.org. Watts offers a generational mea culpa to our millennial kids.

As a boomer parent, I’ve noticed that some of the current conversation between other boomer parents and their Millennial kids centers on what the parents perceive as the younger generation’s impenitent sense of entitlement and a lack of drive and motivation. Well perhaps, in addition, we find them a bit short on ambition, bewildered about a life direction, infected with an obsession for social media and generally lacking perspective.

What is your problem Millennials? We have given you everything!

How We Raised Our Millennial Kids

Growing up, we never got the attention you received. Our parents made us responsible to go figure it out. That caused us continual struggle and disappointment. We rescued you from all of that!

We mapped out your childhood with endless activities, sports, and entertainment. When you were toddlers, we decided what hobbies and sports you would participate in. We were intentional enough to select activities that fit our own passions so we could help you gain proficiency and enjoy the journey while you learned and we participated.

Author Richard Watts

Nothing was too great of a need when it came to your success. Our lofty expectations only matched the potential we saw in you, even if you didn’t see it yourself.

Perhaps, however, it is time for boomer parents to take a good hard look at what we did:

  • We decided to give our kids everything we didn’t have, and rejected teaching them some of the hard lessons we did have.
  • We insisted our kids succeed and make us proud according to our expectations, no matter how much tough-love parenting we overlooked to ensure that raising them was fun.
  • We behaved like drone parents, seeking out and removing obstacles and adversity to their success. Like growing a palm tree indoors, we protected them from the wind, fertilized them and kept the storms away.
    Now we push them outside and expect them to handle the gales of real life.

So what can we do this late in the game?

First, let’s take responsibility so the Millennials recognize we caused a problem.

An Apology to Millennials

So here we go. Speaking for my generation of boomer parents …

“Kids, we are sorry. We thought we had your best interest at heart, but in reality, we were making you look good to make us look good. We wanted a best friend and failed to realize that parenting was more valuable to you than our friendship. We let our love for you hijack our parenting skills. We prevented you from experiencing the natural consequences of your own actions. We were afraid to risk your affection when we should have equipped you with the life tools that only come from allowing you to struggle, persist and recover on your own. We felt obligated to explain every time we said ‘No!’ We handed you an allowance when you didn’t do anything for it. We gave you too much and anesthetized your drive. But most egregious, we prevented you from exploring and honing your passions. We put blinders on you to keep your head looking in the direction we carefully mapped and now you are without expression. We are most sincerely sorry and ask you to recognize, accept, and forgive our failure.”

A Promise to Millennials

Next, here is our promise to you going forward:

  • We boomer parents will encourage you in whatever endeavor you attempt, whether it is a success or a failure.
  • We will only give advice when you ask.
  • We will share with you and your children the struggles and setbacks we experienced when we were kids because recognizing and discussing our failures can teach more than boasting about our successes.
  • We will withdraw our financial support (perhaps over time), and allow you to feel the struggles, the independence and finally pride that results from victory over adversity.
  • We will begin to accept the reality that we boomer parents are only going to be on this planet a short time longer and our lasting legacy will only be the tools and traditions we leave with you, our Millennial children.

Sorry we got a late start at being your parents… but we have never stopped loving you. We were intentionally spoiling you, unintentionally.

Richard Watts is the author of “Entitlemania: How Not to Spoil Your Kids, and What to Do if You Have.”

The post A Boomer Parent’s Apology to Millennials appeared first on BoomerCafe.com.

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A baby boomer finds herself in Africa

Wow.  If we talk about baby boomers with active lifestyles, this one is hard to beat: the author of the novel Afterthought, Janet Clare, went to Africa.  And she came back with dreams fulfilled.

I went to Africa alone.  No companion, no tour, just an American woman of a certain age on her own.  I had read Isak Dinesen and Beryl Markham in high school and, like so many others, I wanted to be Jane Goodall; I was completely enthralled with the idea of this mysterious continent and the women who made it their home.

Janet Clare in Africa

Friends and family were incredulous at the audacity of my plan, thinking that either I’d lost my mind or I was extraordinarily brave.  Neither was true. I still had most of my marbles and I’d never been a risk taker.  I considered myself cautiously adventuresome.  I had limits.  I didn’t mind getting dirty during the day, but I definitely wanted a hot shower at the end of it, and maybe a cocktail.  

I politely discouraged anyone who suggested they might join me.  This trip was too important and I had no desire to be accommodating;there’d be no waiting around while someone let her nails dry and her hair curl.  My husband would also be sitting this one out.  His choice, but he understood.  Two years earlier I’d survived a life-threatening illness and going to Africa was a dream, but it was my dream.  During my nearly six months of planning, he encouraged me, then nervously wished me love and luck as I started on my14,000-mile journey.

Janet finds a fun way to cross a river.

It was three weeks of heaven-on-earth traveling through South Africa, Zimbabwe, and Botswana.  A few days in Capetown, then on to a photo safari: Kruger, Victoria Falls, the Kalahari Desert — and the incredible Makgadikgadi Pan — ending with an elephant-back safari in the Okavango Delta.  I was astounded to be so far away and to feel comforted from the first moment.  Maybe it had to do with being in the cradle of civilization where we all began, but for me, it was like coming home.  Enraptured by the land, the huge sky, the incredible animals and, not least, the people.  I felt comforted and safe.

Black or white, the people in Africa never fail to look you in the eye.  Disarming and genuine, they respect the land and everything on it and, because you’ve come to see their country, because you care, they respect you and thank you with their knowledge and attention.

Before Ileft for Africa, I expressed some hesitation to a friend who had traveled there many times.

“Don’t worry,” he said. “Africa will take care of you.”

He was right.

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Boomer Opinion: A White House Form Letter doesn’t cut it

BoomerCafé contributor Erin O’Brien of Warwick, Rhode Island, is pretty mild-mannered. She often writes about the peculiarities of the weather and the scenery and the new life she lives since moving from Southern California to New England. But for now, she is changing course, because she is mindful that the massacre at Columbine High School in Colorado was 19 years ago, and that today’s high school seniors have always known that a campus shooting is a possibility. So Erin offers her opinion as a baby boomer about school shootings, and guns, and how the White House responds.

I hate form letters. They are detached and impersonal, especially when one comes from the highest office of our country.

I haven’t marched. I write, because I have a pretty good command of the English language. This is why it is disappointing — no, insulting — to receive another generic response from the White House that does not apply to my particular concern and, moreover, is obviously not from the person to whom my letter was addressed.

February 18, 2018, another shooting at a school in America. Parents wait to learn the fate of their children at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL. Photo by Joel Auerbach, Associated Press.

I was diplomatic. In my letter to the White House I wrote in support of enacting sensible gun laws. But when the response arrived, thanking me for “taking the time to express my views on the Second Amendment” and informing me that “undermining our Second Amendment rights will not enhance our safety,” I knew my voice had not been heard in the Oval Office. I had received The Form Letter.

The form letter Erin O’Brien received.

My letter to Washington, dated January 25th, referenced last year’s concert shooting in Las Vegas, and the church shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas. However, three days before the date on the letter, there also was a school shooting in Texas, then the next day a deadly one in Kentucky. Yet these were not mentioned on the White House stationery. Here lies the necessity to update one’s Form Letter.

AR-15 assault style guns are plentiful and easy to acquire in many states.

Incidentally, there was an accidental school shooting in an Los Angeles Unified middle school on February 2nd. All of which came before the Valentines Day massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Broward County, Florida.

Catering to America’s culture of guns … Kimber Firearms promotes his and her semi-automatic pistols for February 14, 2018.

I did not call for rescinding Second Amendment rights. I called for the implementation of sensible gun laws.

Additionally, there is the vocabulary from the White House. I’ve never heard Mr. Trump use such words as “confronting” or “wisdom” or “enshrined” or “hallmark” or “sovereign” or “upholding” or for that matter, “undermining.” For me, his vocabulary alone was a huge and tremendous red flag.

Perhaps the “Change Gun Laws or Change Congress” t-shirt I sent Mr. Trump as a follow-up to accompany my letter was not well received. Maybe I will get a Thank You Form Letter from someone else in Washington, D.C. who is wearing it.

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Baby boomers can still find career satisfaction

We’re at a unique, and not always desirable, stage in the workplace. In other words, there are those who’d write us off. But Kerry Hannon, who for almost three decades has covered personal finance for Forbes, Money, U.S. News & World Report, and USA Today, says there’s a solution: Try focusing on your ‘inner job’ for psychic fulfillment.

Here are seven ways I think can help you find career satisfaction after 50:

1. Focus on your “inner job.” When I ask people what they love about their job, they often say it’s the people they work with, the opportunity to learn and to travel and the freedom to work from home. So, for your next job, you may want to accept less pay than what you earned before and even a title with less status in exchange for psychic fulfillment.

Kerry Hannon

2. Build in flexibility. Talk with enough happy workers over 50 and you’ll find that one of their secrets is the ability to mold the day-to-day job to their specifications. That can mean controlling their work schedules, telecommuting when they want to, and having opportunities to pursue professional passions.

Stepping up as an advocate, or sponsor, for someone younger can pay you back in ways you never imagined.

3. Add new skills. Drill down and do some soul-searching to figure our how you can get better at what you do and learn how to do things that will make you more marketable at this job or the next one — or to start a business. Even adding small skills has the potential to deliver big returns.

A 58-year-old producer at 60 Minutes told me that while he loves producing great pieces for a primetime network news show, he’s well aware that his field is in flux. To keep fresh, every year he sets himself a goal— to learn someone else’s job, add skills, or study something new.

It’s mentally engaging and gets him out of his comfort zone. It also allows him to have a better appreciation of the work his coworkers perform and builds a sense of camaraderie whenever he asks them to teach him. “I guess the best part of it is that I get a kick out of learning something new that helps me do my job better,” he says. “I love that.”

4. Raise your hand for new assignments. It’s easy to avoid or turn down new job projects that feel like a stretch. You may worry whether you have the chops to succeed and fear that you’ll fail. Use that fear and anxiety to deliver a rush of adrenaline.

Shift from thinking “I’m not ready to do that,” to thinking “I want to do that and I’ll learn by doing it.”

5. Find happiness on the edges. You might get involved in an industry group during after-work hours; being valued by peers outside of your office can be rewarding and send a message back to home base that you’re valuable.

Similarly, stepping up as an advocate, or sponsor, for someone younger can pay you back in ways you never imagined. You could mentor someone who may not even work for your employer but who’s in your line of work. Or you could volunteer along with co-workers.

These kinds of things will not only make you proud you’re doing good, they could lead to a promotion or raise if word about your activities trickles back to your boss.

6. Connect more with your colleagues. The human touch provides a genuine happiness boost. So, make a point of stopping by someone’s office just to ask how it’s going. Really listen to others and be present. Celebrate your co-workers’ professional and personal successes.
Interact with others at work more and chances are that new opportunities will crop up.

7. Find a purpose. For many people over 50, the heart of job satisfaction is purpose. As Jamie Rappaport Clark, president and CEO of Defenders of Wildlife, told me (with genuine passion rippling through her voice): “I love the mission of what I am doing.”

Little wonder, I say. We all want to do something we’re proud of and feel like we’re helping others (whether they’re people or animals) and contributing to the community.

When you believe in the mission of your employer — whether it’s a nonprofit or a for-profit— your work matters and makes a difference. That’s a win all around.
To sum it up, I’d say that to truly find satisfaction in your job, you have to choose happiness.

©Twin Cities Public Television.  All rights reserved.

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Housing challenges as baby boomer age

When we saw this headline in the online publication of The Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies, we took a closer look: “As Baby Boomers Age, Older Single Women Will Face the Greatest Housing Challenges.” That’s something that’s well worth understanding, and anticipating, before the problem hits us hard. This piece, by Harvard Research Assistant Shannon Rieger is longer than the norm here at BoomerCafé, but you’ll learn a lot if you stick with it.

While high-quality, age-friendly, affordable housing will be a critical need for all of America’s growing number of aging households, for two reasons, the needs of older single women require particular attention for policymakers, providers, and others.

First, because women generally outlive their male spouses or partners, they will continue to be a major share of all older households. Women living alone already comprise 44 percent of all households (and three-quarters of all single-person households) where the householder is age 80 or over (Figure 1). Such women—particularly women who rent rather than own their homes—are among those older people who are most at risk of housing, financial, and health insecurity as they age.

These challenges are one aspect of a larger demographic transformation that will occur over the next several decades as the aging of the baby boomer generation and increases in longevity swell the elderly American population. The US Census Bureau projects that the population aged 65 and over will reach 79 million by 2035, an increase of more than 30 million in just two decades (Figure 2). Further, longer life expectancy could nearly double the number of individuals aged 85 and over to 12 million by 2035.

This so-called “Silver Tsunami” has already begun to reshape housing needs across the nation, generating demand for accessible, affordable housing that can help older households age safely and comfortably in place. As people age, finding the resources to make age-friendly home modifications, to pay for assistance with daily activities and self-care, or even keep up with housing payments often becomes increasingly difficult. The risk of falling into financial and housing insecurity grows when households cross into their retirement years (age 65), as incomes begin to drop dramatically while out-of-pocket health care expenditures rise (Figure 3). While some households may be able to adequately supplement shrinking incomes with retirement savings, home equity, and other forms of wealth, a recent report from the Employee Benefit Research Institute shows that many households on the verge of retirement today have insufficient savings to independently finance their retirement years.

Some aging households are particularly vulnerable to the consequences of financial insecurity and loss of independence. Older individuals who live by themselves, for example, often have neither the option to seek help with daily activities or unexpected emergencies from another person in the home, nor the financial cushion of a second income from a spouse or housemate. Women are disproportionately impacted. Older women, who are more likely to live alone in later life, continue to have lower lifetime earnings than their male peers, and are also more likely than men to need expensive long-term care. As a result, single women are projected to experience the largest retirement savings shortfalls over the next several decades.

Single older women who rent rather than own their homes are most at risk of falling into housing and financial insecurity. Older renters lack housing equity and typically also have far lower overall net worth than older owners, leaving many unable to sufficiently bolster limited retirement incomes with financial reserves. Analysis of the most recent Survey of Consumer Finances data shows median net worth for renters age 65 and over to be just $6,150—a mere 2.4 percent of median net worth for owners of the same age. For single older women renters, median net worth is even lower—just $3,910—and the risk of financial insecurity is especially high, intensified by comparatively lower incomes and even higher housing cost burdens than older renters overall.

In 2014, annual median income for single women renters age 65+ was just $15,600. Meanwhile, fully 63 percent had a housing cost burden, with 38 percent paying at least 50 percent of their income toward housing. This combination of high housing cost burdens, low incomes, and little net wealth mean that older single women renters have few resources left to pay for assistance with self-care and other needs. But with median annual costs for non-residential long-term care ranging from $17,680 for adult day health care to $45,760 for full-time homemaker services, formal care is far out of reach for many single older women. With the aging of the baby boomer generation poised to increase the number of single older women living alone to unprecedented proportions over the next several decades, finding ways to mitigate housing and financial instability among this most vulnerable group is fast becoming a critical need.

As previous Joint Center work has highlighted, our aging population will re-shape housing demand across the nation over the next several decades, greatly increasing the need for affordable, accessible, age-friendly housing. Ensuring that older single women, especially renters, have access to high-quality housing and home care will require particular attention, given their low incomes, low wealth, high likelihood of need for care, and the absence of a spouse, partner, or other household member able to provide daily assistance in the home.

As the older population grows in coming years, it will be critical for policymakers and providers to take special care to ensure that our nation’s most vulnerable older households—particularly older single women—have access to tools that can help them age safely and successfully in their own homes and communities. Such tools may include affordable rental options and in-home care and homemaking services, as well as loan and grant assistance opportunities for age-friendly home modifications. Finding ways to expand access to these and other solutions will be critical to protecting the health, happiness, and well-being of our aging population today and in years to come.

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When a baby boomer’s eyes need work

We don’t know about you but here at BoomerCafé, we wouldn’t trade places with anybody. We have been the luckiest, most active generation in history. But there’s no denying, we’re getting older and our bodies are beginning to show it. That’s what BoomerCafé’s publisher and co-founder David Henderson writes about. Because his eyes just aren’t what they used to be.

Let’s face it, as baby boomers, things start going wrong with our bodies with age. Take cataracts, for example. They develop for many of us over the years … and give us something to look forward to (pun) in our 60s.

David Henderson

Eventually, we add cataract surgery to a growing list of medical issues in our conversations with friends. Notice how topics of discussion change with age? Such things as Medicare supplement plans, joint replacements, stents, and so on gradually creep into our conversations. Health, aches, and pains take front row. Don’t forget that cabinet of meds.

And now, in my conversations, cataracts. Inside our eyes, we have a natural lens. It bends or refracts light rays that come into the eye to help us see. The lens should be clear, but for many of us as we get older, it gradually turns cloudy. It’s like looking through a foggy or dusty window. Things look blurry, hazy, or less colorful with a cataract. For me, things I’d see started to take on an amber tint.

Driving at night can be particularly aggravating as cataracts develop. Headlights of oncoming vehicles seem brighter than normal, or they look like stars.

I found that cataract removal surgery was no big deal the first time, but then I had my second eye done. Suddenly, I had double vision and life’s routines became tricky. Double vision is no fun.

Driving with double vision.

Was I seeing one or two other vehicles approaching while driving my car? Were there two parallel white stripes marking the lanes on the street … and by the way, where was I? Unnerving! I began driving with one eye closed just to figure out where I was headed. And it wasn’t just while driving; I was seeing double of everything, particularly at distances.

I quickly returned to my ophthalmologist who explained that double vision is a side effect of cataract surgery on both eyes. Happens to roughly ten-percent of patients. It’s called diplopia. Because she had failed to alert me ahead of time, I was learning this for the first time.

So, while cataract surgery in both eyes may help me to see 20/20, an undisclosed downside is that I have diplopia apparently caused by aging eye muscles. Simply said, my aging eye muscles are weaker and don’t help my eyes focus on objects as they once did.

Yes, minor surgery by a specialist might fix the problem, I’m told. But not for me … no more messing with my eyes.

I’ve opted for the least invasive approach to correct double vision: specially ground prisms in the lenses of my glasses. A bit pricey but I suppose, at this point in life, only a small price to pay in the overall scheme of things.

There’s a chance, I’m told, that my eyes may return to normal, that the double vision may go away. Then, again, maybe not. Guess time will tell.

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One baby boomer’s personal battle with pain

As we’ve matured though our lives, society has rid us of some awfully debilitating conditions. But it also has added a few, including Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Baby boomer Ed Anderson of Westfield, New Jersey, writes for BoomerCafé about his own personal battle overcoming it. You might recognize something similar in your own life.

I worked in the same office for close to ten years. I had gone to college to become a filmmaker, so it only made sense that I would spend the next decade after I graduated working for a payroll company in a small cubicle. Not! In a million years I would not have guessed that most of my life would be spent putting numbers into a computer, but despite my hatred of math and the complete opposite way in which my career was now headed, all in all, I was happy enough with what I did.

That was, of course, until the pain in my wrist started. A pain I would end up ignoring for far too long.

At first, I just assumed it was soreness from typing so much, since in the beginning it was not happening all of the time. The pain would normally go away at night when I got home, and especially once I was away from a desk. Not only that, but everybody I know did their work on computers. If carpal tunnel syndrome was such a big deal, I would know more people who had it or I would have read more stories about it online.

It was not until years later that I started to realize that the pain was not going away, and in fact, it was getting worse. What used to be a general soreness when I was typing on my computer became trouble in grabbing everyday objects like my coffee mug or the keys to my car. All of a sudden these minor symptoms were turning into a real problem — one that I would need to find a solution for, and fast.

Ed Anderson

After finally seeing a doctor about it, I was told that I had carpal tunnel syndrome and that I could have surgery to try and fix the issue. However, because of the idea of going under the knife when it was not absolutely necessary, along with scary stories I had heard of people who did not have a successful result after getting the surgery, I decided against it.

What I did instead was learn to manage my physical suffering and take steps to relieve some of the pressure and reduce some of the pain. First, I made it a habit to take breaks when typing for long periods of time at my computer. In addition, I got into the habit of icing my wrists several times a day to help reduce the swelling, sometimes even wearing a splint on my wrist at night to help keep it in a neutral position.

For some, this might not be the right decision, but luckily for me, just these small changes ended up helping immensely and I was able to solve my problem without the help of a major surgery.

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For boomers to find their next act, it’s back to childhood

This is important, and not an uncommon question among baby boomers: “What do I do with the rest of my life?” Psychologist and freelance writer Holly Lawrence wrote about it for our partners over at NextAvenue.org, and with their permission, we offer you this glimpse of a newfound purpose for baby boomers.

If the inevitable “What do I do with the rest of my life?” question has you perplexed, you may benefit from revisiting who you were as a child and what you loved to do.

In those dusty storage boxes filled with your childhood keepsakes — report cards, photos, artwork, news clippings, coloring books, prize ribbons, toys and other artifacts — you may find clues for your tomorrow. They might lead you to a new career, a place to volunteer or a joyful purpose through generativity.

Looking back …

As psychologist Dan McAdams of Northwestern University, who has studied narrative identity for more than 30 years, explained in this TEDx Talk: “Narrative identity is the story that you are working on, in your mind, about how you came to be the person you are becoming. It’s your reconstruction of your past, if you remember it, and your anticipated future. Your personal story about your origins and your destiny.”

McAdams added that creating a narrative about “the remembered past and the imagined future” may let you live out your deepest dreams and cherished goals.

I’ve found that to be the case in my own life.

My Childhood as an Artist and Volunteer

For three decades, I was separated from my childhood keepsakes in Georgia. I relied on vague memories and stories by my older relatives who credited me with being a talented artist and painter as a young girl. The idea of carrying around an identity myth plagued me; I was swallowed up by the largeness of New York and its intimidating population of world-class artists.

I found myself in a string of miserable work settings, none of which fulfilled me creatively. But I rarely picked up a paintbrush or created art after age 18. Though I included my “artist” identity into my life story over the years, I always felt unworthy and came to believe it was all a myth.

Only after retrieving the “evidence” 35 years later, I made sense of who I was as a child and what matters to me going forward.

I pored through boxes of framed artwork and photos that confirmed the existence of child with a talent for color, design and composition. I found an array of prize ribbons and news clippings about my art exhibited in the state capitol and at fairs.

By surprise, however, I discovered that I had another childhood identity: community leadership — as a school safety patrol officer, a school club leader and a volunteer in the community.

3 Ways to Research Your Childhood Keepsakes

Psychologist and author Nancy Schlossberg who has conducted extensive research on preparing mentally for retirement, establishing your new purpose and reshaping your identity says: “The things that have come through as most important to people is who they are, how they see themselves and how they identify themselves now that they are not in their [former profession].”

She suggests asking yourself: What’s your new purpose?

As you’re trying to figure that out, Schlossberg advises, “thinking back over things that meant something to you in the past could be a very valuable thing to do.”

Here are three ways to research your childhood keepsakes to help find your next act:

1. Study your main character: you, as a child. Conduct an objective character study. What is the main character’s demeanor? Hint: candid childhood photos reveal more about your personality than posed smiley photos. Do your notes or diaries describe your career dreams? What do your report cards show? What interests do you have in common with the character today? What did you abandon that you’d like to reclaim?

To keep your findings organized, check out these tips for conducting a life stories exercise from NextAvenue work and careers blogger Nancy Collamer.

“It’s all about helping you figure out something new to do now. And if you can do that, by looking at regrets, what you haven’t done, by looking at dreams or activities that you had as a child, there are many avenues to get you to a path,” says Schlossberg.

2. Consider repurposing your childhood dreams and passions. Suppose you find a collection of toy firetrucks, a fire helmet and photos of you dressed as a firefighter at Halloween. The helpfulness of firefighting still appeals to you, but not the physical demands of the job. So analyze the characteristics of your childhood dream profession. Firefighters rescue people in trouble and save and protect members of the community. You can repurpose your dream by volunteering at the local fire station, becoming a social worker with displaced families or taking a fire safety course and teaching students what you learned.

3. Revise your life narrative and adjust to fit your goals. In my revised narrative, I now tell the story of being an artist with design interests and a passionate community leader in my youth.

So I am starting to think about settling in a small, idyllic town (think Andy Griffith’s Mayberry or Doc Martin’s Portwenn) that will welcome me into a community leadership role well into my 60s. And for my entrepreneurial hobby, I’m repurposing my creative focus. Rather than fulfilling my creative interests through painting, I’m now taking online classes to learn digital photography and visual storytelling.

Happy hunting. You never know what you might find in “lost and found.”

© Twin Cities Public Television. All rights reserved.

The post For boomers to find their next act, it’s back to childhood appeared first on BoomerCafe.com.

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BoomerCafe.com
Two baby boomers, one pen name

GREAT PARTY! SORRY ABOUT THE MURDER.” Great title, we’d say. It’s the title of a new book by a boomer couple in the Atlanta suburb of Johns Creek, Georgia, Alyce and Harvey Goldberg, who go by the single pen name D.B. Elrogg. He was a network news producer, she was a teacher. Now they’re retired and write just for the fun of it, and we think you might have fun reading an excerpt from this intriguing mystery.

If Milo Rathkey had seen the blow coming, he would have done a better job of ducking. The sucker punch to the side of his head sent the scruffy, barrel-chested detective sprawling off the short retaining wall and onto the ice and snow-covered parking lot. A steel toed work boot slammed into his midsection. Barely breathing, he drove upward with his fist, hammering his assailant in the groin. The man groaned and doubled over. Milo sprang up, pummeled him with uppercuts to the face until he dropped to the ground. Enraged to the point of feeling no pain, Milo had to restrain himself. Blood poured out of his assailant’s nose and mouth, and one eye was swelling shut. The bloody face belonged to Chet Dunkin, the cheating husband he had been tailing, obviously not well.

Alyce and Harvey Goldberg writing as “D.B. Elrogg.”

Crawling to the end of the short retaining wall, Chet tried to stem the blood flow from his nose with the sleeve of his shirt. He grabbed the wall and struggled to his feet. Milo, wincing at the sharp pain in his own ribs, was relieved to see the man keeping the wall between them.

Chet was reduced to a pathetic wail, “Why have you been following me?”

Milo, ignoring Chet, scanned the ground for his cell phone.

Chet shivered. It was cold, ‘Duluth-Minnesota-in-December’ cold, and he had bolted from his motel room without a jacket. The fight was out of him, but the anger returned. “You’re working for that bitch wife of mine…I’ve seen you before! You’re going to pay for this! Damn it! You assaulted me!”

“Idiot!” Rathkey muttered, slowly bending to retrieve his phone, thinking he was getting sloppy if a dope like Chet could pick him out.

Shifting toward his car, Milo continued to keep an eye on Chet as the man floundered against the cold steady Lake Superior wind. He fell twice to the hard-packed snow until he finally disappeared into his rustic love shack. At this point, Chet was no longer Milo’s problem.

Rathkey, finished the frigid, solitary walk back to his car questioning why he didn’t have a nubile young secretary to console him. Once inside, he unearthed an old crumpled Kleenex box and used the three remaining dusty tissues to blot the blood off his knuckles and the side of his hand. He touched his ribs and sucked air. They were at least bruised. He hoped not cracked or broken. Either way he knew he was in for at least a couple of weeks of pain. His hand located the Costco sized bottle of Extra Strength Excedrin in the glove compartment. After twisting the safety cap and washing two down with what was left of his morning coffee, Milo eased his car seat back to take pressure off his midsection.

Between calming shallow breaths, Milo grumbled about how he hated following wayward spouses to pay the bills.

He thought he had set up the surveillance well. The morning was so bone chilling cold, Milo couldn’t stay in the car to operate his camera-cell phone surveillance unit without running the defroster, something he was afraid would give him away. Looking back on it, the car would have been the better option, at least less painful. He checked the phone and the camera, both had recorded Chet slipping into the cabin with his secretary, as well as the assault on Milo. The process had been messy, but the video was clear.

Alyce and Harvey Goldberg … at work.

The strong Lake Superior winds were permeating his 2004 Honda Accord. He needed heat and needed it fast. Turning the key, the Accord groaned but failed to start. A sense of dread came over him. “Oh, not now!” He said to himself, bemoaning the fact he hadn’t had the car serviced in a long while, and the battery was old. He would get only one or maybe two more cranks before it was dead. This was always tricky. He pumped the gas gently so as not to flood the engine, turned the key, and the Accord was alive again.

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