Blog by Rowan Rafferty and Jan Wild– are Australian baby boomers, who wanted to explore new horizons whilst re-wiring towards a fulfilling retirement. Retired or planning retirement? Follow our lifestyle blog and join our community to share information, ideas, inspiration and explore possibilities.
Gender roles in Australia are changing and being challenged within families. Australian men have an opportunity to embrace this change and move forward, with renewed strength, in partnerships that have more to do with equality and the commensurate application of skills, different as they may be, and less about a stereotype of “being a man”.
Challenging traditional gender roles
Years ago, I am pleased to say, a female neighbour of mine announced at a party in our suburb that I was a “kaftaned little wimp, who would prefer to spend more time in the kitchen than down at the pub with the boys!’ Now that may have been amusing for some of the blokes at the party, but – perhaps contrary to expectations – most of the women at that party, who didn’t already know me became, shall we say, curious about who ‘that’ person was.
The statement was true. I established a long time back I was interested in food and that I wanted to learn how to cook to feed myself and others. And yes, there are still men I know who “don’t cook” as though it was a social crime which offends their manhood, well they might operate a BBQ but that’s it. Since leaving home, I have been pretty independent, in fact I reckon if I had ever taken washing back to my Mother, she would have been aghast! We do have a friend who once turned up for the weekend and asked Jan to wash some of his clothes, fair to say she was aghast as well.
All that aside, is it just me, or have I seen little real advance in “gender equality” since I first read “The Female Eunuch” in the 1970s and realised it was a book about the need for social change? Change which has not been comprehensively embraced in our society nearly 50 years on.
The current status seems little improved, for either gender
Maybe I’m more conscious of it, maybe I am just hearing more, but our statistics on issues like the number of women on boards, on domestic violence, on wage and superannuation inequity , an acceptance of “that’s just the way things are” … and the list goes on, is quite staggering.
What if gender roles in Australia were better for both men and women?
I’m not arguing that ALL things should be equal, but where gross inequality seems to be a part of entrenched (usually misogynistic) values, rather than for logical reasons, then I begin to bridle. When that thinking leads to inequity which is harming society and we are failing to utilise half of our gene pool nearly as effectively as we could, this comes with a real economic, as well as social, cost. We are simply not doing things as well as we could.
Teamwork is enhanced when gender equality is in place
If you look at rural suicides you readily understand that in many cases, men have felt mightily oppressed through no fault of their own. They feel (undoubtedly amongst other things) that they have let people down and simply can’t cope. This is appalling, and I do know what hopelessness feels like. One of the tragedies of this situation may be that the person they felt they had let down most, could have been more of a support than they were given credit for or allowed to be. Is this a matter of being a bit lost and ignored or are we men simply failing to open-up and fully embrace the value in the partnership we have with our women (be that friends or partners)?
I don’t believe this is men just not getting a fair go. Is it frustration at the way society is?
Possible ways forward for getting the best for both genders
Is a man’s role and what has given some men their sense of pride being challenged, or just changed? Is a potential reason for men losing voice more about a deluge of information, things and stuff that attacks all of us daily? Are we as men losing relevance or are new roles emerging that demand that “our place” in society necessitates a more mutually supportive rather than necessarily a leading role?
I don’t think this is about competition, it’s about role expectations, personality and overall social cohesion.
If gender equality was in place we would benefit from successful teamwork where everyone plays to their strengths
Whilst not a major fan of direct positive discrimination policies delivering other than artificially skewed outcomes, I do believe there is a place for something that redresses statistics like this one: “Superannuation for those aged between between 60 and 64: Men will need … more than double the average balance, and women more than five times the average [See ”superannuation inequity” reference link above.]
Some “contrived” acts of leveling the playing field are IMHO very productive. In that respect we do put our money where our mouth is.
The inequities mean single women in particular have not as much to enjoy from the fruits of their labour in retirement, and is a sad reflection on our society. In the end, this inequity is placing a greater future burden on taxpayer funded resources. The impact is being seen in the increasing number of older women who are homeless.
As sensitively as possible, I ask: is a traditionally dominant “alpha male” role in general, still appropriate? And if not (I would suggest not), why does our society often persist in trying to make personal relationships a “stand behind me, not stand beside me” situation, and what can we do to change this?
There is a lot out there that mitigates against life being simple in any relationship and the supposed necessity for two employed partners to be working full time can lead to all sorts of destructive pressures.
Having been in situations myself where I was definitely not the main breadwinner, and seeing many other similar situations around me working perfectly well, I am wondering what is it in the psyche of some males that makes this situation so difficult to deal with, and creates so much potential resentment?
Clearly, we need to start gender equity education as early as possible, and keep talking about it and addressing the dreadful consequences of gender inequity. We need to call out some male stereotypical behaviour for what it often is, bullying (recognising that women are not exempt from that charge).
This needs to start with a lot more males engaged. Perhaps “walk a mile in my shoes” is appropriate, because if we keep blundering on as we are, our western societies will neither progress nor aspire to, the greatness humanity can offer.
The references below carry trigger warnings and may be confronting:
What has been your experience of inequity? Is redressing our situation up to men, women or both, or are we waiting for the Government or divine intervention? How do we start a positive conversation in a mutually supportive way for everyone?
Is retirement a thing of the past in Australia? Do we need and/or want to work more years? Is Government policy pushing us in that direction? These are some of the retirement trends canvassed in David Kennedy’s new book “End of the Retirement Age: Embracing the pursuit of meaning, purpose and prosperity”.
[This post is sponsored by End of the Retirement Age. Retiring not Shy! was provided a review copy of this book. If you purchase a copy from the Booktopia link below, Retiring not Shy! will receive a small commission (but you won’t pay any extra].
Is it the end of retirement age?
Much has been said and written about the baby boomer generation, including of course on this blog. Our generation has been called all sorts of things, many of them somewhat insulting. But whatever the rhetoric, it cannot be denied that there are a lot of us. Consequently, we are impacting the economy and the shape of Australian society. I believe we have the potential to do so positively, and so does David Kennedy, the author of this book. David is a retirement planning expert (financial) but I was pleased to see that he does not use this book to push his financial planning services. Instead David takes a considered and thorough look at the state of retirement in Australia.
What is End of the Retirement Age about?
The book takes a wide ranging look at the history and current reality of retirement in Australia. It looks at demographics, government policy and social trends. The broad thesis of the book is that retirement in its current form is redundant and that what takes its place has the potential to be transformational. The subtitle is “embracing the pursuit of meaning, purpose and prosperity” and David describes the need to find ways to meet all of those objectives.
Meaning purpose and engagement are important at all stages of life
This thesis is explicated through a series of short chapters, rather like blog posts. These explore themes such as contending with longer life expectancies, surviving without welfare, navigating the changing workplace, and retirement planning challenges. David then follows with a number of personal stories from Australian retirees.
End of the Retirement Age includes inspiring retirement stories
Key themes from End of the Retirement Age
We each have the opportunity to redefine retirement on our own terms, embracing our increased longevity, the potential uses of technology and the opportunities for seniorpreneurship.
Does longer life expectancy mean the end of retirement age?
One of the key themes is that we each need to plan for our financial future, despite living in a world obsessed with “now“. Our increasing longevity makes this more essential and at the same time more daunting. David describes the reality for many Australians retiring in the near future who will not have adequate superannuation to support themselves, and that this is not just an issue for baby boomers. One of the solutions to this problem is of course to work longer and many (although not all) Australians are keen to do so.
Planning for the future is essential for retirees
However, wanting to work more does not necessarily mean that employment is easy to find for older Australians, well for any Australians really, but older Australians face particular challenges. David describes this as “The great workplace disconnect”, and documents that in November 2015 the average duration of unemployment for older mature age individuals was 68 weeks, compared with 49 weeks for those aged 25-34 and 30 weeks for those aged 15-24.
For many of our generation that means we are becoming self employed and our skills and expertise are lost to the business community. What is for certain is that we cannot rely on the Government to support us financially or in finding employment.
Old and young working together should offer the best of both worlds.
The fact that employment is hard to find is a double whammy, as the book explains, at a time when Governments are less able to fund welfare in the manner in which it once existed. We seem to be caught between not having enough superannuation, not being able to get meaningful well paid work, and not being able to get the aged pension. All of these issues are thoroughly canvassed in the book.
My final thoughts on “End of the Retirement Age”
I thought this book was well written and well constructed and demonstrated a great depth of research on a broad range of topics. It covers a number of themes which we at Retiring not Shy! consider very important and have written about, including the changes to superannuation policy and some thoughts on maintaining a sense of purpose in retirement. I felt though that the book asked more questions than it provided answers, and that was disappointing. It felt a little anecdotal and as though David was trying to cover too many issues in too few words.
Because it is a personal ‘bee in my bonnet’ I would particularly liked to have seen more on our positive economic impact (rather than just our cost to Government). Given David’s excellent research capability it would have been great to hear some more on that topic.
In the end though, we all need to ask ourselves the questions the book posits, and answer them for ourselves, so I recommend you make a small investment and purchase a copy. You will definitely find the book thought provoking, and if you are planning or indeed re-thinking your retirement, reading ‘End of the Retirement Age’ might be just what you need to help broaden your thinking. You will almost certainly feel much better informed upon finishing the Book.
Do you think retirement as we know it in Australia is threatened? Are we now expected to ‘Work until we drop’? How can we convince policy makers and employers that we are an economic powerhouse and that many of us are prepared to make a positive contribution to the workforce and the economy?
After our September 2017 visit to Paris we travelled onwards to Portugal, starting our trip in Porto. This was our first visit to Portugal and my expectations were high. Why you might ask? Well there is some interesting family history on my Mother’s side of the family.
My family connection with Portugal
Family lore (never validated) is that my maternal great grandparents Emmaline Carilessi and Jose de Fraetus Henriquez eloped from Portugal on a ship bound for parts unknown. In 1869 Emmaline died in childbirth on board ship and was buried at sea somewhere off the coast of China. Jose and his daughter Marianna sailed on, settling in New Zealand. Marianna eventually settled in Australia, marrying my Grandfather. Sadly no record has been found of either Emmaline or Jose which allows our family to know where in Portugal they were from, although it is thought that Jose may have been from Flores in The Azores. It would have been wonderful to visit their home towns but sadly that was not to be.
Getting to Portugal
We flew from Paris to Porto in the north of Portugal. Porto is Portugal’s second largest City and a great jumping off point for the Douro Valley and surrounds. We flew from Paris, Orly with Vueling Airlines and were able to quickly connect to the centre of Porto using the City’s excellent metro service. We were impressed with this our first, Vueling experience, and would not hesitate to use the airline again.
Our Porto experience
We stayed in the Trindade area and the metro took us very close to our Airbnb accommodation. Whilst we could have chosen a better location, we found it easy to walk to the centre of Porto and we used the metro for longer trips. Our actual accommodation was very disappointing and should we make a second visit we would choose a location closer to the river.
On arrival we had a wander around our local area and scouted out a restaurant close by for dinner that night. We had a delicious meal at Tapabento Trindade (there is a second Tapabento in Sao Bento) and despite our accommodation, our visit to Porto was off to a great start. The food, the service and the wine list at this restaurant were all excellent. Do make a reservation though, we were lucky to get a table.
Perfect presentation and food at Tapabento Trindade
The following morning we joined the Vintage Food Tour run by Taste Porto . This 3.5 hour walking tour gave us a taste of a variety of traditional Portuguese foods along with a wine tasting and a port tasting. I am not a fan of port wine (I find it too sweet) but the northern Portugal specialty wine, Vinho Verde, was delicious and a wine we enjoyed on several other occasions. Whilst the tour gave an excellent overview, including a sense of the City layout, we found the food heavy and very meat and bread focussed. There is a reason Portugal has a high cholestorol problem and the famous Franchesinha sandwich might be responsible. Given the location of Porto and the historic association with seafood (particularly sardines), it is fair to say we were, by and large, disappointed in the food offerings.
Foodie delights on the Taste Porto Tour
Sardines in colourful cans Taste Porto food tour
However, one can find alternatives to the heavy Portuguese food and that evening we enjoyed a more Mediterranean style meal at Ginjal Porto (also in the Trindade area). Not as polished as Tapabento, but still pleasant. There is good food in Porto, but for us not the traditional diet.
Things to do in Porto
We greatly enjoyed walking down into the historic centre of Porto and through the vibrant area close to the river. Lots of restaurants and live music made this a fun place to be and the tourist shops were brightly lit and welcoming. We had a mission to purchase some of the Ajuzelo tiles for which Portugal is famous, but waited until Lisbon to make this purchase. We did buy a few small gifts, including some lovely ceramic fridge magnets and some of the beautiful Castelbel soaps. Rowan also purchased some great shirts in Porto, benefiting from the end of summer sales.
Ajuzelos on building near Bolhao Market, Porto
The weather was perfect during our time in Porto and on the Sunday we ventured out to Matosinhos Beach for lunch by the sea. This location was easily reached by metro and there was a wide choice of restaurant styles. Again a booking is recommended, we waited 10-20 minutes or so for a table at Lais de Guia bar and restaurant which is right on the beach. The food and service here were both uninspiring. I had sardines and salad and was disappointed in the quality of the food. I think we would have to put that experience down to ‘location, location’ complacency.
Sand art at Matosinhos Beach
On another day we enjoyed wandering through the Bolhao Market , a great place to source provisions for self catering or to enjoy a lunch within the market itself. We found the stallholders to be friendly and helpful, and tolerant of our almost non-existent Portuguese vocabulary. We purchased bread, cheese and fruit to eat at our apartment, and it was all delicious.
Garlic display at Bolhao Market
Of course a visit to the famous Sao Bento Station is a must, with the sensational entry foyer walls which are covered in Ajuzelo tiles. The station is busy with travellers and tourists, but definitely worth checking out.
Our trip to Portugal (more in a future post) was somewhat of a reconnaisance trip and we only had 4 nights in Porto, but we packed a lot into that time. There is a lot to see and do in Porto and we only scratched the surface. Would we return? On balance maybe not, but really because there is so much more of the world to see.
Have you been to Porto? Is it on your list? If you have been, how did you find it?
Throughout many days of the year the city of Canberra is populated by a variety of political hangers-on and blow-ins; Australia’s Federal politicians and those visiting to meet with them. These people don’t live in Canberra or have the slightest interest in being there for reasons other than what often appears to be their own self aggrandisement. Most do not have friends there and stay (at our expense) no longer than they need to. I believe the view of our National Capital held by too many people is badly tainted by this perspective. Far too much media attention is focussed on this aspect of the City, to the detriment of coverage of Canberra’s lifestyle and attractions. I would like to look a little deeper.
Anzac Parade Canberra looking towards Parliament House
Canberra vs New York!
In New York one Sunday afternoon in 1988, I needed a bottle of wine and went into a bar/bottleshop to make my purchase. I was informed that I could not purchase wine on a Sunday. I was really surprised, when even in Victoria it was possible to partake in an alcoholic beverage on a Sunday if one had purchased “a meal” (usually BBQ chicken and potato crisps). So, here I was in the centre of the free world and couldn’t buy wine. [As a side note, after a discussion with the gent behind the bar, I established I could buy an expensive paper bag and, to my surprise after purchasing same, found a bottle of wine in that paper bag. But I digress.]
Living in Canberra in 1988 there were 24 hour venues and all manner of what I considered progressive social policies regarding entertainment. I was gobsmacked to find we had outshone “The Big Apple”.
On a Sunday morning , I could go to my very local supermarket, buy breakfast provisions, and a bottle of bubbly and drive 15 minutes to a bush location to enjoy a BBQ breakfast. In the middle of the winter, it might have been freezing (yep folks, below 0°C but not by much), but it was clear and still. A very cold overnight temperature in Canberra is indicative of no wind, no rain and crystal clear skies, so the days dawn very bright; now that’s good for the soul, so much better than 12°C and drizzly cloud. In 30°C+ Summer temperatures, Canberra is pleasantly blessed with a low humidity, dry heat.
Canberra at it’s sparkling best on a crisp winter morning
These days, most retailing and entertainment in Australia has caught up with Canberra. Meanwhile the residents of Canberra have remained very progressive in their attitude.
Since moving out of Canberra, I have most likely visited more of the City’s icons, events and institutions than I did when I lived there, and I enjoy my visits immensely. We have in recent years visited the National Gallery, the Portrait Gallery and the National Museum among many other local icons.
The annual Enlighten Festival is well worth planning to attend.
For instance the old Parliament house now houses the Museum of Australian Democracy, where they hold an annual exhibition “Behind the Lines: The Year’s Best Political Cartoons”. This exhibition run by the Museum brings together a selection of the best works of the last year, without fear or favour to any Party. If you have even a slight interest in politics, this is a hoot. Of course the ‘new” Parliament House is also impressive, but “those” people are there (well some of the year anyway).
If matters military are your interest, the Australian War Memorial is an extraordinary collection, tracking Australia’s military involvement back (so far) to the Boer War. After visiting, take a long stroll up and down Anzac Parade to the various memorials located there.
If you are a “markets” person, Kingston Markets over weekends or the Capital Regions Farmers Market at EPIC in Lyneham can be fun, along with the Hall Markets, a short drive down the road towards Melbourne.
For walkers and cyclists, Lake Burley Griffin, Canberra’s man-made lake named after one of Canberra’s original designers Walter, is the perfect spot. Walters partner in this endeavour was his wife, Marion Mahony Griffin.Whilst a trip around the Lake gives a great perspective of the City, the view from Mount Ainslie Lookout provides a clear expression of what the design was about.
The National Arboretum located at the western end of the lake (you’ll need to drive or cycle there), is a growing work in progress. More fascinating than you ever thought trees could be, with a couple of impressive pieces of architecture and some great sculptures thrown in!
One of the fun sculptures at the National Arboretum
Food and wine are quintessential to your enjoyment of Canberra
It’s not hard to find good food and wine in Canberra and you can start your discovery with almost any of the cultural institutions plus the Arboretum. Many of these spots have lovely cafes overlooking some of the best of Canberra’s scenery.
Canberra’s wineries are a joy; like most wine regions, full of characters and adventures in a glass. Don’t hesitate, large and small these cool climate wineries are bound to provide something out of the box, or more appropriately, the bottle. You will find wineries to the North, West and East of the City.
Eating out in Canberra is sheer delight, with a variety of fare and pricing to suit any occasion and budget. IMHO Canberra stands as Australia’s most underrated foodie destinations, perhaps because some of the best restaurants are hidden away in suburban shopping centres. But you don’t need to travel far and wide to seek out the hidden treasures; a huge choice of easily accessible eating options can be found in locations such as Braddon and Kingston (including the foreshore). Just yesterday we discovered the somewhat hidden Meadow in the centre of Canberra – well worth finding.
I grew up in Canberra but have not lived there for many years. I still find it’s attractions and ambiance continues to draw me in. It was unsurprising to me when I read that “Lonely Planet lists Canberra as one of the world’s three hottest destinations” .
So, I guess I’m suggesting you might like to give Canberra a visit (or another one if you’ve been some time in the past. Let yourself loose for a few days at least (please don’t tell me you went once for 2 nights and it was boring) the reward will be worth it, and I reckon you will go back, again. P.S. Take your camera!
It was once nigh impossible to find shoes for travel and walking that were both stylish and comfortable. Enter FRANKiE4 Footwear’s podiatrist and physiotherapist designed range, now my preferred footwear choice for everyday wear as well as travel. [This post is sponsored by FRANKiE4 Footwear.]
My FRANKiE4 Footwear love affair begins.
When planning our 2015 visit to Europe I knew I needed to find stylish walking shoes for travelling. That definitely did not mean running shoes! I needed to find shoes that would be flexible and comfortable but still look stylish. They also needed to take me from walking cobble-stoned streets through to dining out at night. My days of wearing high heels are pretty much over and my high arches mean ballet flats and loafers are not a good choice. And thus my research began.
My first FRANKiE4 Footwear purchase was a pair of JAMiE ankle boots in black. These are a flat boot, now replaced in the range by the JAZZ boots. I wore those boots day after day and they served me so well. In fact they still serve me well two years later.
The following summer I decided to add to my collection and purchased a pair of silver ELLiE sneakers from the Active Flats range. At this point my feet and my back began to really let me know this was a good decision. I was delighted to have found shoes that my body loved and that I also felt good wearing, I really dreaded having to wear ‘nanna shoes’.
FRANKiE4 Footwear Silver ELLiEs in Barcelona
Why FRANKiE4 Footwear is so comfortable
I think the FRANKiE4 website sums this up best in this statement to health professionals. ” It’s the moment during a patient consultation that you dread the most… The time has come for you to recommend ‘comfort’ footwear to your client. The options you have to offer her are unsightly and outdated, and that’s on a GOOD day. She’s refusing to wear them at home, let alone in public. Sound all too familiar? ”
Designing functional but stylish shoes is what the brand is all about. Each pair of enclosed styles is shipped with a choice of footbeds to tailor the shoes to your unique needs – wide or narrow feet are catered for. In addition, the entire range has built in cushioning so the open styles are also supremely comfortable. These days I have been prescribed orthotics, so I wear my sneakers and boots with those. I still find that the open shoes – sandals and slides – are so well designed that I can wear them without discomfort.
My only choice of shoes for travel and walking
Having totally joined the FRANKiE4 fan club, I have added to my collection with some more boots and sandals. I have also been fortunate to be gifted several pairs. When we travelled overseas in 2017 I took only FRANKiE4 Footwear shoes with me; two pairs of ELLiEs (silver and navy) and a pair of SALLi boots in Tan. This combination covered all my style and comfort needs. And I have grown to really like flying in ankle boots as I find they help to keep my ankles contained and to hide my ugly but functional compression socks.
ELLiEs and SALLis
The SALLi boots are a little higher than the JAZZ boots but I still found them comfortable for walking. Having said that, the ELLiEs were my choice on days where we were doing our 10,000+ steps. I wore both the boots and the sneakers with dresses, shorts and jeans and felt comfortable and stylish in all those combinations. The weather was cool in Paris and hot in Portugal and Spain; the ELLiEs in particular were ideal for both situations.
FRANKiE4 Footwear SALLi boots in Granada
Why not take sandals for travel?
When a friend saw my shoe selection for our most recent European trip she was surprised I didn’t pack any sandals. It was a fair question given the temperatures in Portugal and Spain. But I knew we would be walking long distances and I wanted to be sure I could wear my orthotics in all of my shoes. I was happy with my choice and I wore invisible sockettes to keep my feet comfortable and fresh. I also used a little talcum powder to keep things nice, but at no time did I have smelly feet, as the leather breathes beautifully, and I was able to swap my shoe choices around.
FRANKiE4 Footwear Navy ELLiEs in Singapore
Having said that, I do have three pairs of FRANKiE4 Footwear sandals and find them supportive and comfortable to wear without orthotics. Because high heels are not my preference, I love a wedge sandal for more dressy occasions. I purchased a pair of Chloe wedges in Champagne to meet that need. I was gifted a pair of HiLARY slides in Black which I love and I also purchased a pair of ViCTORiA sandals in Champagne. These three together meet all my summer shoe needs. Oh and there are other colour choices in each of those styles, particularly the sassy HiLARYs; rose gold anyone? And of course if heels are your thing, there are lots of gorgeous heeled sandals and boots in the range.
FRANKiE4 Footwear ViCTORiA In Champagne
But FRANKiE4 Footwear shoes are expensive
I have heard this a few times and my immediate response is twofold: 1. What is the cost per wear in comparison to other shoes? 2. What price aching back and sore legs?
I have found the cost per wear extremely low for these shoes. My JAMiE boots are still in mint condition two years after I purchased them, despite lots of hard walking in Europe. I will be wearing them for years to come. Their longevity speaks to the quality of manufacture and materials used. I do always waterproof and leather protect my shoes and yes I polish them regularly.
As for the second question I would rather spend money on my shoes and minimise my back and leg pain and trips to the osteopath and massage therapist. I consider these shoes to be a wise investment and I can only recommend them to you.
I do also recommend that you contact the FRANKiE4 customer service team if you have any questions or concerns; they are truly excellent to deal with. There is also lots of helpful information in the FAQs on the website.
AND on 6th December 2017 from 8 am to 9 pm FRANKiE4 Footwear is participating in the Vogue online shopping sale with 20% off all styles! Run don’t walk.
Interested to find out more about how I plan my packing for international trips? Read my tips here.
[Disclosure: If you click on the links in this post and purchase from FRANKiE4 Footwear, I will receive a commission. The good news is you won’t pay any extra and I will greatly appreciate your support.]
What do you look for in shoes for travel and walking? How do you balance style and functionality? Have you joined the FRANKiE4 Footwear fan club?
The importance of self care in the recovery of health can not be underestimated. Read on for a story of how Denyse Whelan has used personal style as part of her journey towards improved health.
[This is a guest post by Denyse Whelan from Denyse Whelan Blogs. You can read more about Denyse at the end of this post. I have written previously about why I think personal style is important to mental and emotional health, and what to wear in retirement, so I was delighted that Denyse agreed to share her story. Unfortunately the technology didn’t play nice with the images, I hope to rectify that in the next few days. Jan ]
My personal health journey starts
When I retired (from all my paid work) finally in 2015 I was delighted to have closed the door on my responsibilities as an educator which started in 1970. What I did not know, was that the period of adjustment to being retired was going to impact my emotional health, with a resultant impact on my physical health. Whilst I remained generally well, my inner turmoil exacerbated the stress-based Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), and its effects saw a slow but continuing loss of around 30kg in this time.
I was grateful to learn that the slow and gradual weight loss was good but it did change me because I had always been “the fat person”. I had some professional help in dealing with the life transitions, and did some more by myself, to adjust to my new life as a retiree living away from our grown family and the place where we had lived for over 30 years.
Cancer and recovery begins for me
Despite the challenges Denyse’s lovely smile is radiant
What changed – cancer did! After having cancer surgery on my mouth early July 2017 I lost not only teeth, gums, jaw…I lost my smile, my ability to eat a range of foods, but NOT my ability to talk.
But confidence takes a HUGE hit with illness, especially one as big as cancer and my surgical treatment was both ‘brutal’ and radical.
As I have healed well physically on my leg (where flesh and bone was taken to re-construct my mouth) and within my mouth some four months later, my emotional and mental health needed to catch up.
Whilst I have lost a great deal of weight I still have “the fat” image in my head even though the mirror says differently.
So, like some bloggers already do, I made a commitment to post a photo daily for 32 days (until my 68th Birthday) and make a conscious effort each day to dress well. I take into account that I am retired, we live in a beach-side suburb of the Central Coast NSW and I’m in in cancer recovery mode with more surgery to come.
How The Personal Style Challenge Started
Red looks fabulous on Denyse, she wears the brights beautifully
I made the first post about my personal style challenge on my blog’s facebook page, and remember how I felt quite fearful pressing publish. I then felt similarly when I did the same on Instagram when the image I had collaged was uploaded.
Why I felt fearful is because of the vulnerability I was allowing to be seen by more than me, and because I wondered how I might be judged. After all, I am certainly an older woman and saggy skin and face shows those years now. And of course, my mouth was shut as only one lip could do the smiling.
Then something unexpected happened! I was amazed when I saw the ‘likes’ on the social media platforms and I grinned, despite my almost toothless status, because of the love and support sent back to me.
Wow. I thought. This is OK. In fact, it is good. I needed some boost to my days and something that had previously been taken from me – my confidence and self-image – was slowly growing.
What and Who Inspired Me To Begin my Personal Style journey
Gorgeous green print on this top
What really made me start this was knowing others had gone before me.
Since 2011 I have followed the wonderful Nikki Parkinson-Hubbard and her blog/website called Styling You. I have met Nikki and love her attitude to make the style that is you be your guide. She has never been about ‘weight’ or ‘appearance’, yet I was.
I never thought of joining in her style challenges, nor even subscribing again to her newsletters until now.
Then, throughout 2017, I really took notice of another blogger friend, Jan, from this very site. I have been really admiring Jan’s daily outfit shots and her love of life shows in every photo!
How Did I Make The Challenge Work For Me?
Another gorgeous print
I decided that it was time. For me, to admit I now looked and felt better than I have for decades. To actually have a good look at my current wardrobe and work out what might go with what. There were some clothes there but in my full-time retirement life and then recovering from cancer surgery I went for easy options.
My brain switched back to ‘what else can I see that will compliment me’ and I was on a roll. I found my collection of beads, necklaces, earrings and bracelets that had been packed away since our move in 2015. I found that my love of colour was in my wardrobe anyway and I just had to do some sorting.
Denyse uses accessories to add panache to her outfits
I used this new personal challenge of mine as a good reason to buy a few more pieces which I knew would easily complement what I had. I was not really a willing clothes shopper for many years, but in my professional life as a school principal and then education consultant and University tutor, I had to buy clothes and of course, back then they were from the more expensive sections of stores which sold plus sizes. I now found I could buy clothes in any mainstream shops which matched my now much tighter budget.
I have become a scanner of the reduced racks and it is a must for me to try clothes on. My first and only foray into online shopping saw me return half of what I had purchased. I am not a fan of buying from op-shops but those places have benefitted from my previously big sized items.
What is next in my self care and health management
I will be continuing my practice of selecting clothes from my wardrobe, which has been re-vamped into seasonal areas. I am enjoying the processes very much as they are a great distraction from cancer recovery. Whilst I have two surgeries coming up soon for my mouth to continue the re-construction, I will be using my personal style challenge to enhance my emotional health and remain well. I am no longer having a cut-off at my birthday…I shall continue!
Denyse Whelan is a woman in her late 60s who has been blogging since 2010. Denyse is a wife of almost 47 years, mother of two grown-up children and grandmother to 6 girls and 2 boys. Her career as a K-6 teacher took her all over NSW and eventually back to Western Sydney where she continued her tertiary study (and worked full-time) gaining her B.Ed and M. Ed Retirement at 60 saw her look to expand her social networks and saw her become ‘virtual’ and ‘in real life’ friends with many from the Australian community of bloggers. Denyse also gets out into nature at the beach for walks and loves photography as well as art.
Have you discovered the mental and emotional health benefits of self care? What tools do you use to support yourself when you face health challenges?
Life doesn’t exist without water, so let’s start with some general facts about the importance of hydration and health benefits in ageing; some you’re probably aware of, but others may surprise you.
[This is a guest post by Wendy Hodge from Wendy’s Way to Health. Wendy is a Precision Nutrition certified coach who takes a commonsense attitude to healthy eating and exercise. As always please seek specific advice suited to your particular needs and issues]
The importance of hydration and health benefits
1. Our bodies are made up of 70% water and it plays a vital role in just about every bodily function. A drop of just 2% in body water can trigger fatigue, brain fuzziness and difficulty concentrating.
2. We can go for weeks without food, but only 3 days without water.
3. Dehydration can occur at any time of year, not just Summer. The dryness of Winter can actually dehydrate the body even more quickly than Summer heat.
4. It used to be thought that caffeinated beverages, especially coffee, had diuretic effects on our kidneys. However recent studies are showing that the water loss from drinking coffee may not be as significant as we first thought.
5. Drinking the right amount of water can provide relief from many common ailments such as headaches, fatigue, joint pain, and much more. However the recommended amount varies, depending on things like how active we are and how much we sweat.
6. Water helps to protect our heart and may help to prevent heart attacks. Our blood is more than 90% water, so if we don’t drink enough water, our blood can thicken, which in turn increases blood pressure.
7. Water may assist with weight loss. Drinking a glass or two before meals, combined with eating slowly can help you to eat less at each meal.
8. Drinking the right amount of water keeps you alert and active during the day. If you’re feeling tired, it’s often a sign of dehydration. A glass of water and a short walk or stretch will usually do the trick as a quick pick-me-up.
9. Eating plenty of fruit and vegetables is an easy way to stay well hydrated and maintain good overall health.
As I mentioned above, the right amount of water needed daily varies from person to person. Finding the right balance can be tricky though, as you’ll know if you’ve ever attempted to drink more water – it often results in frequent trips to the toilet before you get it right!
A good indicator of your hydration level is your urine. Apart from first thing in the morning when it will be darker, a pale straw colour means you’re well hydrated. Despite point 4 above, I personally try to match every coffee I drink with a glass of water. Nutrition science is still relatively new (which is why it might seem like we’re always being given conflicting information) so I like to keep an open mind and use common sense (like checking the colour of my urine!).
Herbal teas can assist hydration
Hydration and health benefits
Here’s a really good reason to hit the gym regularly, especially for older adults. Decreased muscle mass and increases in fat storage used to be an accepted part of the ageing process. Now though, we know that this can be prevented with strength training. Simply incorporating a few body weight exercises into your routine 3 times per week will help to maintain muscle.
So what does this have to do with water, hydration and health benefits? Well, as we age,we’re naturally more prone to dehydration — and muscle cells contain more water than fat cells. Also, our kidneys don’t remove toxins from our blood as efficiently, so they require more water simply to function properly as we get older.
Did you know that our thirst sensitivity diminishes as we age? It’s to do with our hypothalamus, (which controls signals sent from our brain), not sending the message as clearly anymore. So you can’t always rely on thirst as an indicator of needing to drink some water.
Medications and certain conditions such as diabetes can also affect our hydration levels, so it’s important to be aware and adjust your needs accordingly.
Skin health is improved with good hydration
Now before this becomes depressing, let’s finish this section on a positive note! Silk pillowcases are said to be gentler on your skin and the silk fibres will help your skin retain its moisture overnight. I have to be honest and admit that even though I learned this fact a while ago, I still haven’t got around to buying any silk pillowcases yet! If you do try them, I’d love to know if you think it makes a difference.
Tips to Stay Hydrated While Travelling
Carry your own water bottle to keep hydrated
When you’re travelling, carrying a re-fillable water bottle is the easiest way to stay hydrated. That may not always be practical though, so try these little tips for boosting your hydration levels and making them last.
1. Drink a glass or two of water before you go to bed in your hotel or hostel and again first thing in the morning.
2. Coconut water is brilliant for travelling, as its high in potassium and electrolytes, so it can help you stay hydrated for longer.
3. Avoid sugary drinks as much as possible, as your organs have to work harder to process them (meaning more water is removed from your body).
4. Eat fruits and vegetables with a high water content whenever you can: think berries, pineapple, watermelon, tomatoes and cucumber.
5. Be careful with alcohol, tea and coffee, especially when flying; a good idea is to match each alcoholic drink, coffee or tea with a glass of water. Adequate hydration is a key factor in minimising jet lag.
6. Spritzing your face will keep your skin hydrated, as will washing your hands every 2-3 hours. Don’t forget to moisturise, as this helps to lock in moisture and keep skin hydrated.
7. Carry some chia seeds and add them to a glass of water. Chia seeds can absorb up to 30 times their weight in water and they’ll help you stay hydrated for longer.
Add some lemon for variety whilst meeting hydration needs
My final general tip is to add some fruit slices, flavoured ice cubes or a squeeze of lemon juice if you don’t like plain water; or try sparkling water. And on that note, I’m off to get a nice big glass of water!
[Retiring Not Shy! is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. If you purchase a product from one of these links it will not cost you any extra, but Retiring not Shy! may earn a small commission. Thank you for supporting us!]
What do you do to maintain your hydration levels? Do you find it difficult when you are busy or when you are travelling? Are there other barriers to your maintaining healthy hydration levels?
Too often I find when sitting in a crowded restaurant or in a space with lots of things in it and lots people, I seem to become, as my father would put it, bumble-footed. No, I’m not alcohol or drug affected but my personal space requirements are not met in much modern design.
Interior design and personal space requirements
I often find it difficult to squeeze my way into a seat in a restaurant closely packed with tables and chairs, and then squeeze my way out, particularly after stiffening up and not moving my legs for a fair while. Is this an issue of mobility and ageing or is it an issue of interior design not meeting my personal space requirements?
Personal space is compromised in this crowded European cafe
If there’s a protruding table, chair or human leg, I’m just bound to trip over it, looking like I am possibly inebriated – okay, it’s certainly not helped if I’ve had several drinks, but that’s not really the point I’m making.
A recent experience emphasises the point. Sitting quietly in a restaurant I went to move my chair in slightly … the rear legs of the chair slowly, elegantly, gave way and there I was, on the floor, legs in the air staring at the ceiling, unhurt but a touch surprised. Now if this had been in one of those tightly packed spaces (and it wasn’t that sparsely furnished) I would have taken out another table and likely a patron or two! Thankfully we were not packed in like sardines in a can and the restaurant owners were appropriately mortified.
This small bar in Lyon still provided excellent personal space
Ageing and mobility, when does it become an issue?
I also have a real difficulty navigating areas that have little steps or unexpected rises/falls that have no warning mark to suggest they are there. Nice level footpaths that have a protruding tile, brick, root, rock etc are the bane of my life.
These little protrusions are a challenge to staying vertical
My feet just don’t seem to clear the ground as much as they did before or perhaps I’m just getting lazier. So, much as it annoys me, I find myself having to spend more time very consciously looking where I’m going, which is sometimes not very sociable and causes me to focus on the ground, not where I am, being in the moment, and I really don’t like that.
While walking on a bush track, I sort of march, which is quite appropriate if you’re bush walking or on rough surfaces, but not on most city streets; it looks strange.
Sensible footwear also helps and I have some great shoes/boots which provide comfort and stability, both casual and more formal. My other challenge is to simply be more aware of my surroundings, I need to concentrate more than when I was younger. Then again, I have more to lose these days as I don’t seem to bounce with the same resilience as I did when I played football.
I know that my balance was affected when I had my hips replaced, but I thought I had sorted that out, so I guess I must just be ageing and that must have affected my mobility.
An uneven path; an issue for ageing and mobility
Jan also; the poor woman recently had a couple of instances on two successive days while we were travelling; one with a protruding rock on an otherwise smooth gravel pathway and one with an unmarked rise on a pedestrian crossing. Both found her suddenly on the ground. It’s very disturbing walking along and suddenly find your partner or yourself on the deck.
Impressive as were the quick and helpful actions of passers-by on both occasions, a fall can be disorienting, embarrassing and they hurt! Not just your dignity. I, of course, simply explained Jan was drunk . Passers by were helpful which was very reassuring once we ascertained nothing was broken. By the by, Jan reckons if there is a pea on the path, even a cooked pea, she would fall over it.
When design meets personal space requirements
My personal space requirements also emerge in accommodation while travelling. Good, thoughtful design is really important. I have no problem with small rooms that have had some thought put into where my bags go – readily accessed and opened. Also how far my knees are from a door or wall – when seated in that all important place, and if I can actually wash my back and hair in the shower – without putting an elbow out of joint. Really, I don’t need than much room, but it must be functional. This becomes so very obvious when occupying tiny spaces that have been well thought out and more so, those which have not.
Maybe the day will come when I have to avoid going to certain places or doing what I want to do. But for the moment, I’ll plough on regardless; hoping my accommodation has been thoughtfully designed and that others I am sharing a restaurant, shop or footpath with may cut me some slack.
How’s the personal space in your garden?
I know right, that’s a total non sequitur but it leads me to a great opportunity for you and it links back to ageing as well! How would you like to win a tool that turns your cordless drill into a very effective soil digging machine. We have one Power Planter 312 (valued at AUD85.00) to give away. The Power Planter is the new wonder tool that turns your cordless drill into a very effective soil digging machine. The Power Planter is a sturdy unit, hand welded in the USA with a lifetime warranty on materials and craftsmanship. Simply attach to your cordless drill and use it to dig holes, cultivate garden beds, dig trenches for irrigation and even mix up a batch of concrete in your barrow. Find out more about the Power Planter.
Win this Power Planter Model 312 (drill not included)
To enter, all you need to do is comment below and answer the following question:
What is the number one task you need a Power Planter for?
This is a game of skill; the author of the most creative answer will win and the judge’s decision is final. Entries close 5pm 7th November 2017 AEST. Sorry, only open to Australian residents. Drill not included.
Having a travel capsule wardrobe that works is essential when travelling for an extended period. This is our second 6 week trip to Europe and I always spend considerable time planning what I will take to wear.
Once we have done our travel planning I start at the most obvious place which is the weather forecast for each destination. For this trip we are transiting through Singapore and then travelling to Paris. From Paris we head South to Portugal and Spain, before returning to the south of France, then back to Paris via Lyon. Singapore will of course be hot and humid, with tops of around 30 degrees Celsius. Paris could be anything from 20 to 25 degrees but based on past experience I am expecting around 21 degrees and quite likely some rain. As we head south, the weather will warm up to mid to high 20s until we get to Lyon, when it will be cooler at 18 degrees maximum.
What activities does the travel capsule wardrobe need to provide for?
With the weather in mind, I then focussed on the activities we would be enjoying. This step gave me a feel for the type of footwear I would need as well as how dressed up I might want to be (or not).
Walking is very much on the agenda so comfortable shoes were a must. Shoes are heavy too, so I had to be very disciplined in my selection. I was fortunate enough to be gifted some new shoes from FRANKiE4 Footwear, which fit the bill perfectly. I trimmed my shoe selection down to two pairs of sneakers and one pair of low heeled ankle boots.
FRANKiE4 Footwear for comfort and style
We don’t plan on much fine dining on this trip, so the need to dress up is minimal. We do have one splurge night planned whilst we are in Provence staying with friends, and I packed an easy care dress which will suit for that and be practical for the rest of the trip. I also had a Westfield gift card ‘up my sleeve’ and once we arrived in Canberra I added a second dress; an easy care tencel shirt dress. In the past I have always flown wearing ponte pants, but during my planning I realised that these were going to be redundant whilst on the ground, so I removed them from my list. I decided that I would fly in dresses instead which would give me more flexibility.
The rest of my clothes are smart casual separates which allow me to mix and match and (hopefully) not feel too bored with my selections.
When to start building your travel capsule wardrobe
I commenced gathering clothes about 6 weeks before departure, grabbing them from my summer wardrobe and storing them in a spare cupboard. This allowed me to visually appraise my selections and have time to refine by adding and deleting items.
The first cut of my capsule
I started with a selection that looked like this, knowing too that I had some items (kindly gifted) arriving from Yarra Trail. After a couple of weeks I decided to settle on a red/white/blue theme and removed the blush dress and the blush tee and also one of the two pairs of shorts. I also noted down each item and began to check them off against each other i.e. which tops went with which bottoms – this gave me a count of the total number of outfits. At this point I went back and looked at what I packed last time; that confirmed that I was at risk of taking too much and that removing the dress and tee was the right decision.
My final list was this:
Final travel capsule selections
Tee shirts to mix and match
Skirts, shorts and jeans to mix and match
Striped dress and sleeveless vest
Adding to the basics of my travel capsule wardrobe
With my colour palette and basics in place it was time to add both some accessories and some outerwear, the latter to cope with weather variations. I also added a cream merino top to wear back with jeans on any cooler days.
To cope with weather variations I included a trench coat, a hat which squashes flat for packing and a lightweight Paqme rain coat with hood.
Outerwear for all weather conditions
The greatest risk with a travel capsule is that it becomes boring and so I rely heavily on accessories to mix things up and add colour and variety. I also like to travel with pashminas for warmth in flight.
Accessories are essential to extend options with minimal weight
Follow me on social media to see my travel capsule wardrobe in action.
So, now my bags are packed and my clothes for our first flight leg are laid out ready to wear. I hope I haven’t missed anything and that I haven’t taken too much. I will wear my boats and trench coat in transit as that will help lighten up my luggage. I think (hope) I am in pretty good shape.
Want to follow our journey and see how my travel capsule wardrobe performs? I will be posting regularly on Instagram and on Facebook .
How do you put together a travel capsule wardrobe? Do you start weeks ahead or pack at the last minute? What tips do you have to share?