Monday, December 26, 2011

Who Needs Snow?

What a wonderful Christmas! We headed to Murfreesboro to spend Christmas Eve and Day with Libby, Led and Savannah and Led's mom, Marilyn. This precious angel was singing the blessing at 20 months old for our Christmas Eve dinner...and then we wished the Baby Jesus a Happy Birthday! There is nothing as angelic as a baby...unless they've had too much sugar which happened on Christmas day!

Don't I look lovely? This was around 7A on Christmas morning...thank heavens the hair wasn't too horrid, but of course you don't tell a baby to wait while you put on all natural! We had the best time with know you've overwhelmed her with presents when you ask her if she wants to open another present and she says "no please"! After a wonderful Christmas day brunch, we headed home to nap!!

Today the tree came down and we started the preparations for the Notre Dame/Florida State Bowl Party at our house and the arrival of Woody's brother and his family for the Mississippi State versus Wake Forest Bowl Game here in Nashville on the 30th! This was supposed to be my year to go to a Bowl Game, but with MSU playing here in Nashville it was silly not to stay ND get back to a bowl next year!! Tomorrow is house cleaning and Wednesday is cooking! This holiday season has been fabulous...we usually head to Florida for the winter but it's so much fun with Savannah that we probably won't head down til February. January is cold in Destin anyway! Estelle and David suggested we go in they're having canasta withdrawal like we are!

I think my tip for you is to enjoy your friends and family, not just at Christmas, but all through the year! As we get older, we will begin to lose loved ones or may suffer poor health and not have the freedom to run and's important to embrace every minute to the fullest. Run and play and hug and love! Hope you've had a blessed holiday season and best wishes for a Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Doomsday Prophecy and Dementia!

The History Channel is running Armageddon Week including a series of shows on the Apocalypse 2012 predictions of the Maya Long Calendar...the last baktun of the calendar ends on December 21, 2012. Soooo.....if the world is ending in a year, does that mean I don't need to diet? If the Mayans were so smart...where are they now? Did they leave with the aliens that helped them build their civilization? The problem with all this is that so many of the wars, disasters and conflicts happened as predicted in the katuns that make up the baktuns. December 21, 2012 is also the date of an unusual cosmic alignment where the earth completes a wobble that occurs only every 26,000 years. How did they know? Is this a cataclysmic event? How does this correlate with Nostradamus?

Now you know what I watch when there is absolutely nothing on television!

When I struggle to find something on all these high definition channels, I generally settle on something that is whether the Mayans were really that smart or how sharks hunt or how to remodel my bathroom on $ costs more than $2.98. At first I felt guilty about not using every minute of every day in a productive manner, but then I remembered that I'm retired. Life is getting shorter and I should have time to consume vast quantities of knowledge...hopefully in this case, inconsequential knowledge! It's also much cheaper than going back to school unless you find a college that lets you audit or sit in a class free...however...tip for the day...It's never too late to learn can go back to school, watch the History Channel or HGTV, tutor your grandchildren, teach literacy in your community, or just read.

If we quit learning, our brains weaken and life becomes really boring. Not using your brain has also been linked to dementia...I would rather watch the History Channel than lose brain cells! I know people who can only talk about the past and have no clue about anything going on in the world or even in their own community. Our world is challenging us is important to be engaged and learning and contributing right up to either the end of the world or the end of our lives...whenever they occur!

Friday, December 16, 2011

The Downfall of Rome!

For those of you who know me well, you know I'm addicted to gossip sites and blogs. While I temper it with the NY Times and the Washington Post and post under the nom de plume Healthcare for All, I also love to read about the Kardashian's and Elin Nordegrin and lots of other people who's lives seem unbelievably fascinating to boring old me! One of the things that I've learned is that there is so much negativity in responding to entertainment posts and political posts that I may have to give up this guilty pleasure. I don't really understand why people read things and then say how horrid the people or actions are...if you don't like someone or something, don't read it and then say such incredibly angry things. Civil discourse seems to be missing in the world today. Profanity and tirades are not constructive. If you read something and disagree, state your case. If you're smart enough to use a computer and can read, then one would expect that you could link words together to agree, disagree or make recommendations without resorting to boorish language that would embarrass your mother!

Perhaps my tip for the day is to remind everyone that if you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all...or to paraphrase a bit...if you can't add to the educated discourse, then perhaps you shouldn't show your ignorance by posting!

I've found as I get older, I'm becoming more sensitive to how our country seems to be spiraling downward in civility. Kindness seems to be missing in our day to day interactions with others. When there is no concern for others, aren't we heading down the same road that led to the downfall of Rome? Someone posted today that charity should not be forced. I don't know that I agree with that...perhaps we should educate others as to why charity is important because our country seems to be a bit too self-centered lately. We are only concerned about ourselves and what we can get out of life in our personal greed. How can we ignore the children in our country who are hungry? How can we ignore that greed on Wall Street has destroyed so many lives? How can we ignore that so many people have no access to healthcare? Why are racism, sexism and lots of other "ism"s still condoned?

I think perhaps I need to go to bed now...maybe I'll feel better in the morning but right now I'm bummed. Please let's be nice for a least through the holidays! Try to say one nice thing a day...or more please!! And if you post in response to an online story....think before you hit enter!!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Christmas Cookies and Retirement

Well, I'm officially re-retired again! One of the nice things about consulting is that eventually you are through and can be home and making Christmas cookies with your granddaughter! Now if Marsha will give me a break for a while before finding me another job!

We've had a wonderful few weeks...we combined a trip to my favorite casino...Harrah's Cherokee....a trip to Chapel Hill to see our beautiful 7 year old granddaughter...and a trip to Greenville, SC to finish my consulting engagement there. Since Chris and Jen moved to Chapel Hill, I just can't ask Woody to drive 540 miles in one day...we are too old! So Cherokee is halfway. One of the perks of Harrah's is how generous they are with incentives to come and play including free rooms! Of course, usually I pay more than a Ritz Carlton with my losses.  This time came home about $50 to the good!

Riley is almost as tall as I am and I am so hopeful that she will be tall, thin and blonde...which was always my personal goal.  The closest I ever got is one summer I decided to be a blonde which is not a good thing for a swim instructor/lifeguard and chlorine is not a good hair color shade! We had a wonderful time eating and shopping in Chapel the thin thing is not likely either. Nantucket's had a wonderful lobster roll and incredible desserts! It was fun to see Bella the great dane and her new brother Charlie the bulldog. Chris and Jen's house is in an incredible wooded and hilly setting which I love but only because I don't have to do the yard. Chris and I agreed it reminded us of the Knollwood house except our lot there was flat. The trees make it so established even though it's a newer area.

Woody and I both love Greenville...we hit our favorite TJMaxx and our favorite restaurant, Takosushi...and yes, it's southwest/far east so you can have enchiladas or sushi (or bait as we call it in the south). Woody got to go to The Lazy Goat and High Cotton, two of my favorites. Isn't it funny that I seem to blog about casinos and restaurants? And now you know why I still consult on occasion to be able to afford my preferred lifestyle. So my tip for this blog...If you want a really fun retirement, consider a part time job since the market hasn't been kind to any of us!

My consulting work allows me to remain professionally engaged and still feel that I am helping cancer patients...this time a physician practice. I met some of the most dedicated staff I've had the pleasure to work with in a while! There have been lots of challenges, but they've never lost sight of why they do what they do. So keep all cancer care providers in your prayers...and pray you never have to meet any of the wonderful people that spend their entire careers caring for patients and families with this dread disease. I've spent almost 40 years in cancer is the most rewarding thing I could ever imagine...from nursing to education to administration to consulting, I've always loved it.  I guess that this is the passion that everyone tells you to find and is the reason I've not been able to quit working completely.

As we enter this Christmas season, don't forget to put Christ in Christmas. It's not things; it's so much more. Making cookies with your granddaughter, watching your granddaughter climb a tree, missing the grandson you don't see as often, seeing how a kind word and and coffee can help a patient and family deal with a new diagnosis, leaving a little extra tip for the frazzled waitress who may be trying to get through school or care for her family...well you get the idea! I'll let you decide how to put Christ in your Christmas. You'll feel great! Merry Christmas!! 

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Turkey, Victoria's Secret Fashion Show and Instant Depression!

Let's see...we ate our selves silly on Thanksgiving and then were subjected to the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show last night = instant depression!! I was born weighing more than the models from last night! And if that's not depressing enough...I'm not even 5'2'' anymore (well if I ever really was). I just don't understand how some people are so genetically blessed and then there's the rest of us! I used to say that at least I had brains until Giselle and Heidi started making a brazillian dollars! So beauty and brains...what's a normal old broad supposed to do? Fruit cake anyone?

We did have a wonderful Thanksgiving with Libby and Led and Savannah and Marilyn and tons of friends...I made the dressing, or turkey bread as Riley calls it, cheese cakes and Publix's finest cajun crab dip and spinach dip. Led fries dozens of turkeys for everyone...he's a good boy...and Libby and all her friends made tons of great food. We kidnapped Savannah after dinner so the kiddos could play poker and party all night. Thanks for a wonderful Thanksgiving...we're blessed to have wonderful friends and family.

Now to go see Riley, Chris and Jennifer in Chapel Hill by way of Harrah's Casino in Cherokee, NC! Now that they have moved about 100 miles further, Grandad really doesn't need to drive for 10 hours and Mimi just has to help him out by letting him rest at 250 miles which just happens to be at one of my favorite casinos...and Paula Deen's restaurant doesn't hurt! So now you see why I'll never look like a Victoria's Secret model! Then off to Greenville, SC to finish up a consulting gig with some incredibly wonderful people...if you ever get sick in Greenville...go to St. Francis Hospital...wonderful care!

Hope you've all had a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend and are ready to ramp up for Christmas! I've finished all my shopping, put up our tiny tree, and mailed all my Christmas and Holiday cards today. Don't you hate me? I may not be tall, thin and blonde, but I'm a heck of an old semi retired broad! Now relax and enjoy the season...and don't forget what it's all about! Thank you Lord for all our many blessings!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Walk the Walk People!

I am struggling a bit in my life right now...there are so many bad things going on in the world that effecting change seems insurmountable. From child abuse at Penn State to continuing economic downturn for the middle class to hungry children in the wealthiest country (that would still be us I think), I wonder how one semi-retired person can even begin to make a difference. When I work, I know that I can impact change in cancer care for the better, but as an individual, can I really impact change in the lives of others? Woody and I had been talking about the fact that Meals on Wheels in Sumner County couldn't meet the needs of those who needed help...and then we started talking about the Samaritan Center Food Bank. We love the Samaritan Center...they are a wonderful not for profit group that serves Sumner County. While I was working this week, Woody went by and talked to them about what they needed. He said the shelves of food were almost bare! While all of us are cutting back on discretionary spending, the majority of us have sufficient food and shelter. We are heading out on Monday to buy food to donate to our local food bank...usually we do things like this quietly as we don't feel the need to talk about good works, but this time I may shout it from the roof tops! If just one person accepts the challenge to walk the walk and donate food, I'll take the heat for talking about good works rather than keeping quiet like we usually do. the high horse!

Spent most of the past week in Greenville, SC doing a little work. There are some of the most wonderful people in the cancer program at St. Francis Hospital. Their efforts to enhance their program and better serve their community are laudable. Got home around midnight on reminded me that I'm not as young as I used to be but while I'm working, I am energized. Not enough to go back to full time...but, well you get the picture.

After resting up on Thursday, we picked up Little Miss Dangerous, AKA Savannah (or Nannah as she calls herself), for a sleepover on Friday night. We went to Shane's for dinner...she loves beans and chicken strips and of course we had a coupon! We had great plans for Saturday, but we were having so much fun here at the house that we didn't go anywhere but WallyWorld to pick up a few things. They have some of the cutest little $5 jogging suits that are perfect for daycare. We did puzzles and read and painted Thomas the train! I think you don't always have to spend a lot to entertain your grandchildren! So the tip of the day is give the gift of time to your grandchildren...listen to them, play with them and give them unconditional love. Sometimes that's better than almost anything you can do, except maybe take them to Disney!

We're so excited...we're heading over to Chapel Hill to see Riley....oh and her mommy and daddy too. We don't get to see her as much as we'd like. We had a great Labor Day weekend with both Riley and Savannah but it's still too long between visits. That's one problem that many of us grandparents' share...our kiddos live too far away to see them often. Even retired, we just don't seem to find as much time as we'd like to visit. Or maybe our kids are just too busy!

So this week...walk the walk and do something good for an organization that is serving the needy in your community...I promise you'll feel better than you thought possible! And love on your grandchildren if they are close or send them a card if they are far away! Hugs from H'ville!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

The fun things in life and potty!

We've had an exciting two weeks! Woody and I have been in Greenville, SC working with a wonderful physician practice.  This is my first two week engagement and it was a real experience. We had a delightful stay at Marriott's Residence Inn with Andy the Yorkie and Harley the cat! I love hotels that allow pets. As long as I have my babies and hubby, we can be at home anywhere. There are wonderful restaurants in Greenville...loved Pomegranite, TakoSushi and California Dreamin! Woody got to go visit his sister in Anderson and on Saturday, we drove up to Hendersonville, NC and did a little Christmas shopping...I've already given away two of my "Christmas" presents because they were so cool I couldn't wait...sorry Ginny and Libby! Oh yes...I did work about 10 or 11 hours a day, not counting the work at night!

The fun parts of Hendersonville, NC were the Curb Market and Jump Off we were hiking up to the rock, we saw a beautiful young woman in a Notre Dame shirt. We stopped to chat and her husband Michael turned out to be on the 1988 Championship team the year I was on campus finishing my MBA! There are always new friends when you travel. We had a great chat about ND and football and Lou Holtz. We also met a delightful older couple who reminded us of how much we should treasure our time and the ability to travel while we are "young enough" to enjoy it! We talked about how lucky we are to be able to travel while we still have our health. So my tip for the day: Don't put off things too may not have the chance again!

Now for the potty! Savannah came home and told mommy that she had to go poo poo in the potty! And success! She's a ways from being totally trained....but baby steps! Her potty plays music when she's successful. I guess the Elmo Potty CD and her wonderful day care are working!! Her mommy is traveling this week so we're keeping her a few days to give daddy a break. Our beautiful niece Olivia is playing soccer at Cumberland on Tuesday so we'll take Savannah to her first college game.

Hope you have a wonderful week...and don't put off the fun things in life!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Fall Pilgrimage in Natchez, MS

Stanton Hall
We had the most wonderful trip to the Fall Pilgrimage in Natchez! The tour of antebellum homes was so much fun. The lovely families of Natchez open their homes during the fall and spring and other special times during the year with some homes offering tours year round. If you've ever had an interest in the south, the Civil War, priceless antiques and homes to die must plan a trip to Natchez. Our favorite event was the Amos Polk's Voices of Hope Gospel Choir and dinner at the Carriage House Restaurant at Stanton Hall. I even got to sing along on Amazing Grace...and got invited to sing with them whenever I wanted! Obviously all those choirs in church and nursing school paid off! Woody and I took so many pictures...I just have to get them uploaded for sale soon!

Several of the homes are really interesting...Longwood is the largest hexagonal home in the country...the basement is completely finished and the family was forced to live there when the war of northern aggression interrupted the building process. The main floor, second floor and up are unfinished just as left by the workers when the war started.

Our favorite house was is owned by the Daughters of the American Revolution and beautifully furnished and maintained. What was so fun was to hear the stories of so many of the houses from descendants! Several of the houses have been in the same families for decades. We even met the grandson of the family that owned TuJacque's Restaurant in New Orleans and the daughter of the CEO of Howard Hughes' Empire, Ginger Hyland, who has a collection of antique purses and crowns! We also met Jimmy the Crickett, aka Scott Smith of Spring Hill, who helps his friends with the tours. He is the most knowledgeable young man you could ever hope to meet about the traditions and antiques of the the era. His own home in Spring Hill is open for tours so I think we might have to drop in on him!

I could post dozens of pictures since we saw 23 houses! And the food was fabulous...Sandbar just across the river in Vidalia, LA serves fried shrimp that is oh so close to Dewey's in Destin. Magnolia Grill's shrimp and grits and pan seared redfish are also divine. Cotton Alley Cafe was great for lunch and Breaud's Seafood had great grilled oysters. There was a cute little casino, Isle of Capri, that had a great southern foods buffet but I must say their slots were generous early in the evening and then got tight so you gave back all your winnings.

The piece of advice for this post is to wear comfortable shoes! We walked and climbed stairs and hills over uneven surfaces but it was well worth it. You can have so much fun if your feet don't hurt. We watched people hobbling around...if they had worn comfortable shoes they would have had much more fun...besides, they'll never see any of these people again. Comfort over style when you're a tourist. There is a second piece of advice...look for local or near by festivals and events. You don't always have to leave the country or even the state to have an adventure! Now on to the next excellent adventure!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Staying Intellectually Challenged!

One of the problems with retirement is that you can get dull! I don't want to be like the "old folks" (and yes, I know I'm one of them) that sit around and talk about how great it used to be or their latest malady! Falling into a rut and doing the same thing day in and day out is dangerous. If you sit in front of the TV, never go anywhere, rarely leave town, and don't seek out new opportunities, you will decline both mentally and physically. All this talk about staying active is valid...get out, try new things and live life. There is a cute ad for a Toyota Venza that shows the daughter in front of facebook, while the parents are out riding bikes! I want my children to complain that I am too busy for them!

As my frequent readers know, I'm a compulsive Groupon and Living Social addict! If you haven't signed up, what are you waiting for? There are always coupons for restaurants and events if you actively seek them out. Car shows are free or low cost and lots of fun! We recently bought a Nashville City Saver Coupon Book sold by our local schools to raise money. The first week we had it, we recouped our $25 investment while enjoying a night out at the Whippoorwill Cafe with entertainment by the WannaBeatles and dinner out with our granddaughter! The WannaBeatles are a tribute band for, you guessed it, the Beatles. Our other favorite local band is Boomerang, a 60's and 70's tribute band. OK, OK...I did say not to dwell on the past, but the music was great!

Intellectually stimulated for me is easy...I still work occasionally as a consultant and medical editor. It requires me to stay current in the field of cancer care and to fire up the synapses to edit manuscripts for non-English speaking medical professionals. When you read something besides the depressing newspapers, you realize there is a whole world out there that could be fun! Have you considered volunteering with a community agency to teach literacy? What about dog walking at the Humane Society? Local schools often need volunteers...if you have a skill in math or science or English...have you considered tutoring kids with learning needs? Offer to do a story time at the library if you're creative! If you like plays or athletic events and can't afford a ticket, volunteer as an usher! Volunteer to visit residents in nursing homes in your to them, help them to write notes, or just listen. Bottom line...get off your bottom and do something! The nice thing about being retired is you can do things during the week when everyone else is working so you don't fight the crowds!

Have a great week...and my tip for today...start making plans to stay physically and mentally active!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Reconnecting with "Old" Friends

One of the fun things about retirement is you can travel whenever you want! We just spent a wonderful weekend at Harrah's in Tunica with Janet, my dear friend for life. Sometimes you get so busy that you forget to reconnect with friends and family on a timely basis. My tip for today is schedule time to reconnect with friends and family. The nice thing about casinos and motorhomes is that they often connect at an inexpensive campground! We love MidSouth RV Resort in Tunica on the campus of Harrah's Tunica!

We planned the trip and everything was going well until the driveshaft disconnect on the Mustang failed. You can't tow an automatic unless you can disconnect the driveshaft! Soooo....plan B. One of the great things about Harrah's MidSouth RV Resort is that they run a shuttle to the casino and to Horseshoe Casino so you really don't need a car. Janet was coming on Saturday so she would have a car if there was a real need. Off we went with a naked motorhome...meaning we weren't towing a car! First time for everything. Once we got to the park, we were so glad that the pads are FLAT concrete because the jacks wouldn't go down...for you novices....without jacks to stabilize, you feel like you're on a boat when Woody walks through the's rocking! So those were the only two problems.

The best part of the weekend (other than seeing Janet of course) was the Paula Deen's Buffet. It is some of the best food we've ever eaten and it's reasonably even, if you have a Total Rewards card from Harrah's and have lost a bit of money gambling! And of course, let's talk about gambling.  It was a good weekend...I came home with all the money I had budgeted for losing and still gambled Friday night and all day Saturday! I would get up a few hundred and then put it all back trying to win a big jackpot!! Janet is now a big girl and has her own Rewards card and I may have her addicted too...she does have more self control than I do! Woody was ecstatic because he flirted his way into the owners' reception Friday night for the car show that was happening over the weekend with a barbeque contest and then saw cars all day Saturday.  All in all it was a great weekend.

Now we have to get the RV and car fixed because we head out to the Fall Pilgrimage in Natchez, MS the first part of October. We'll reconnect with Mike and Janis and Estelle and David...and who knows who else we'll run into along the way. We are so blessed to have friends and family that we stay in touch with...sometimes you get so busy when you're working that visiting suffers...when you are retired, take advantage of your free time and reconnect with people you've neglected. Even if you haven't seen someone in years, you'll find that those years quickly fall away when you take the time to reconnect!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Making a List and Checking it Twice!

Did you think I had vanished? It's been a while since I've posted because we've been so busy. We hit the road a bit in the RV this summer and remembered why we love it so much. Sometimes you have to reactivate your feelings when you get old...that includes our use of the RV. As you age, things do tend to get a bit stale so you have to shake things up a bit. We tend to get into a rut and forget to try new things. When we decided to travel this summer, we sat down with the Atlas and figured out how to work a trip around the wedding of a dear friend, picking Mackinac Island and the UP of Michigan and northern Wisconsin since we hadn't been there. When you travel as much as we do, you tend to struggle to find new places. The last two years we've done cruises to both coasts of Canada and Alaska, but really didn't want to cruise again this year. The international instability is also a concern...when there are riots in London, you know things are in turmoil. This turmoil is a great reason to explore the U.S.! We spent Labor Day at a family reunion in East TN with the kiddos and grandkiddos followed by a quick trip to NC, leave soon for a weekend with a dear friend in Tunica, MS, and head to the Natchez, MS Fall Pilgrimage in October. We can't wait to tour the Antebellum Mansions!

The other compelling reason to stay closer to home is money! The stock market is fluctuating to the point that I'm dizzy. When you are retired, you don't have a lot of time for the market to rebound! I think that I also would prefer that my little dab of money be spent at home to help our faltering economy since our fearful leaders in DC don't seem to be doing anything. We have been so blessed to have traveled so much internationally over the years that if we never leave the U.S. again, we'll be fine. I still want to go to Ireland, but I still have a few more good years so hopefully I will get there some day!!

So your tip for the and shake things up a bit. Get out of your rut. Even if you can't afford the trip of a lifetime, look closer to home and see what the U.S. has to doesn't even have to be far from home. Most of our trips have been regional and we are having a ball. We have a nephew and his family that recently moved to Nashville and find more to do here than we even realized. Shakespeare in the Park, lots of local and neighborhood festivals, art gallery crawls and plays and programs at local colleges are all things they've discovered. We just forget to look and then complain that there is nothing to do! When I worked, I always had a "to do" list and plans for the upcoming month. Crack open your favorite beverage and sit down with your significant other and make a list of places you'd like to see and things you like to do.They don't have to be costly and, in fact, many local events are free. 

Enjoying life requires a little effort on your part! Activities just don't drop in your lap...if you sit in front of the TV day in and day out, or do the same old things over and over, you may not shorten your life, but you'll certainly shorten your fun! So check the paper on Friday or Sunday for upcoming activities, check local and regional websites for festivals and celebrations, and don't forget your local colleges with theater departments who often offer plays very inexpensively! Be proactive and get out of the house! You'll be glad you did.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Friends and Family Time!

One of the nice things about being old is that you have gathered tons of friends over the ages. Whether from family or work or neighborhood or church, it's always fun to get together even if it's been years since you've been face to face! With facebook and, it is easy to reconnect with people you've lost touch with over the years. We just had a great weekend with Mike and Janis, Woody's brother and his wife at the Indy 500!  Our friend Cathy and our soon to be new friend, her husband David, are on their way from Raleigh to Chicago with a brief stop at the Edens' B&B! Or in this case B&D&B! Planning a lovely dinner at home to have lots of time for conversation and catching up.

Consider finding old friends and inviting them to come visit! It doesn't have to be fancy, just fun. Even if you haven't seen them in years, you'll love catching up, checking out who has the most wrinkles, and the cutest grandkids. You have more time now that you're retired so use it to reconnect with special people in your life.

And then, of course, there are fun times with grandkids. Off to Florida later this summer for a family vacation on the beach...the only struggle we've had thus far is our lead foot daughter and son-in-law and the slow pokes (that would be us!). I'm just going to be sure that we have the address because I'm too old to drive fast. After that trip, it's off in the RV. The housesitter is ready to guard and protect the house, the lawn and pool service engaged...all we have to do now is pack.  We're going to try to check in with some of our Florida trailer park friends that have headed north for the summer. 

You can collect new friends to go with the old ones whenever you open yourself to the possibility. Have fun this summer and collect some memories and new people to add to your circle of life.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Create Your Own Economic Stimulus Package!

Part time work in retirement is the best way to survive turmoil in the stock market. I am fortunate enough to work as a contract healthcare consultant for a wonderful company, The Oncology Group. When you retire, consider what skills you have that others might use. If you can afford to volunteer your skills, that's great, but most people need additional income given that retirement funds have taken a hit in the economic downturn. There are always healthcare options if that's your field, or if you've been a teacher, consider tutoring on your own or for a company that provides the service. What talents do you have that could translate into work? Can you play an instrument or are you really good at photography? Teaching a continuing education course at a local community college in quilt making or scrapbooking can earn you a little travel money with a minimal time commitment. Writing and editing are also good ways to make a little extra money if you have an English or journalism background or just had a really good high school English experience! There are several web based companies that are always looking for writers. Check out Demand Studios or just type freelance writers or freelance writing in your search engine. Copy editing is another option if you have an eye for finding know who you can't read a book, ad or magazine article without finding a misspelling or weird sentence! Consider jobs that compliment your interests such as working in a bookstore or movie theater. I think if I didn't have my consulting option, I would work at Chicos! I love their clothes and would love to get a discount! Many businesses are eager to get mature, part-time workers that are dependable and have skills that are desirable without the drama. Because you are retired, you don't have to struggle with explaining why you want to go back to work...just tell them you need extra money or you've gotten bored!

I have talked to many people over the last few years that have gotten bored in retirement. While they enjoy the money, lots of them enjoy the social outlet of work almost as much. If you are single or your significant other is still working, going back to work part time may be fun, especially if you choose a job that is your avocation. At one point, Woody and I thought we wanted a gallery but that requires too much commitment...the key is to determine how much freedom you are willing to give up for extra cash. If you're working too much, you can't have fun with all your extra money!

So your lesson for today...don't be afraid to go back to work if you need extra cash but think outside the box a bit. You might be tired of your "old" job, but trying something new could be just the economic stimulus you need!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Trip Planning!

It's time to hit the road again! As you know we stayed home this winter rather than leave our beautiful granddaughter! But now that she's a year old, we might be able to leave for a few weeks without having withdrawal. First trip though will be to the beach with the baby and the kiddos! This will be our first family vacation in a fact...the last one I can remember was our Christmas cruise with Libby and Chris. So first stop...Panama City Beach because they have more things for Savannah to do.  Then we head out in the motor home to Brown County, Indiana, South Bend, Indiana for a wedding, then up the Lake Michigan coast...finally to Mackinac Island! We've wanted to go there for about 100 years but just never got it together. Then to Sault St. Marie and on to Door County, Green Bay and then? We haven't figured out where to go next....that's the fun of being retired and owning an RV. Of course....gas is the highest since we went to Montana for 6 months when it hit $4.50 a gallon! We just can't start a road trip without gas going up. As always there is a tip embedded here....if you shop at Kroger, you can earn big discounts on gas. We are Publix people and they just ran a promotion that gave us a $50 Shell card for $40! I think it was to compete with Kroger. So watch for specials on gas and compare pricing between stations. We have a 5-8 cent swing just in our little town.

I just scanned through about 200 channels on TV and can't find a thing to may be time to down size my Comcast subscription! It must be bad because I'm watching the Kardashian's...I am embarrassed! So I think I'll scan on to something else. How about music videos? Not a bad choice. So second many of the channels that you pay for do you really watch? I did just save about $20 on my cell phone by changing my plan a bit. So that's at least one dinner out a month at Cracker Barrel or anywhere I have a coupon. I have a purse full of dining coupons...can't remember coupons for the grocery, but I always have one or two for meals.  I guess it's the little things that will add up over time. Like making coffee at home rather than Starbucks! Or if I just have to have Starbucks, getting regular coffee with room for milk instead of a Latte.

Can you believe the floods we're having...and storms...and earthquakes...and demonstrations across the world? I am beginning to wonder if the Mayans had it right that 2012 might be all we get. Our weather here in H'ville has been the 90's one day and a high of 58 the next. My sinuses are going crazy. Our world is really in a tizzy right now...Nostradamus may be on to something. tip for tonight...never go to bed angry...hug your family and tell them you love kind to random acts of kindness even when no one is looking...and have a little fun along the way! Have a wonderful week peeps!


Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Liars Club and Skype

One of the fun things about being retired is watching the "old" men solve the problems of the world. Whether it is the Romeo Club, retired old men eating out, or the Liars Club as our group at McDonald's calls themselves, you can go in any restaurant for breakfast and see them! Our bunch averages 8-20 each morning including both men and women arriving and leaving at different times. Woody and I are in the late bunch that arrives about 9:30AM...we don't like to get up early! I can remember my dad taking Woody to his club at Gigi's in Jackson...girls weren't allowed!! While there are multiple social outlets for seniors, a breakfast bunch is more engaged with each other. When one gets sick or has problems, the group rallies around and helps. It's almost like an office without the work...but yes, there are still tiffs and politics just like in any work or social setting. I tend to observe more than participate...not sure why, but I think it reminds me a little too much of high school plus I still have to work a day or two here and there so I'm not consistent with attendance.  Ed, Woody, Bill and Ron are the core of my main men...not sure who the gentleman in the back is! This 4-some runs and plays when the wives let them...exciting trips to the tool store, the KFC buffet, and to buy tomato plants on Dickerson Road...wink, wink...inside joke!

The nice thing about retirement is you can sit and chat without time constraints and really engage with your friends who are also retired...Jane and I debrief when we both show up at the same time! We send the boys off to their own table and then we talk about them. The bad thing about retirement is that your friends who aren't retired yet don't have as much time to just talk. You need to make an effort in this time of email and instant messaging to talk. We get so busy that we don't just sit down and chat about everything and nothing. This is what our grandparents used to do on the porch with a glass of tea as the neighbors stopped we do good to connect via facebook and email. Our generation is losing connections that our parents and grandparents took for granted. HOWEVER...thank goodness for Skype.

I finally had to break down and buy a new computer and I made sure that it had a built-in webcam.  Then I signed up for Skype and was able to chat with my kiddos and grandkiddo while seeing them. For grandparents with grandchildren out of town, it is absolutely wonderful. And of course, it is free! You can also add a web camera to your existing computer set up. The one thing I haven't quite figured out is just how good I have to look before I accept a call! You can also schedule time to chat but that takes away the spontaneous "look at my new whatever Mimi"! I guess our kids love us regardless of no makeup and flat hair. It is so easy to Skype, but my friends at the Geek Squad can help you if you need it!

And for those of you complaining that I don't update enough...just deal with it! I have a life outside the box! Retired and loving it! Have a wonderful rest of the week and weekend...and your assignment? Talk to someone for longer than a nanosecond! Hugs!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Give me strength!

As you know, I try to avoid politics, but as a retiree, I need to stay on top of what the government is trying to "do" to me! I blog a lot and recently posted this on an MSNBC site...I'm sharing it here for you to think about and to encourage you to get active in the political party that is closest to your beliefs. If you aren't actively working to get Washington's attention, we are doomed to take whatever is voted on and dished out to the masses! So pardon my rant...but think about it.  Your health could depend on it.

"Let's see if I have this right...I will get a voucher to buy insurance from an insurance company that refuses to insure older adults with pre-exisiting conditions because the Repubicans are trying to repeal the President's healthcare law that mandates that I am insurable regardless and I probably can't afford it anyway because my Social Security is in jeopardy and corporations don't provide pensions anymore so I have to save money from my poorly paid job if I have one while trying to put food on the table and shelter and clothe my family. Corporations no longer offer pensions or retiree health plans because they are too expensive a benefit and unions can't negotiate on their members' behalf. If corporations do offer retiree health benefits, the cost is exhorbitant...mine is $900 a month for basic coverage. If I go to the hospital through the emergency department, they must treat me whether I have insurance or not. When hospitals don't get paid, they raise rates on everyone to cost-shift unreimbursed expenses to those with money and insurance. And, corporations are getting a tax break, the wealthy are getting a tax break, and the middle class and poor are paying a greater percentage of their income for necessities and taxes at a time when corporations and state governments are 1) not providing even cost of living raises but are giving huge bonuses to executives who have performed poorly and perhaps illegally, and 2) are still laying off or not hiring to squeeze more productivity out of the few employees too afraid to complain or are in a union that has no bargaining rights.

What part of really messed up doesn't Congress understand? Oh wait...they get paid regardless of their productivity, they can vote themselves a raise, they take money from the corporations that subsidize their campaigns (conflict of interest anyone?), they have really good health insurance, they are only worried about themselves and the constituents that voted for them, and they have no interest in representing "we the people" unless we can do something for them.

I wonder just who can manipulate us best in 2012? Promises, promises, and no follow-through. Give me strength!"

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Politics as Usual?

I wish I could just quit reading about politics! The latest vitriol about the government shut down is almost comical. We encourage our children to plan their retirement without depending on social security, but what about those of us without the time to make other plans? With companies doing away with pensions, Wall Street killing our 401(k)s with market manipulations, the loss of thousands of dollars in equity in our homes...what ever are we to do? I think the thing to do is to become politically active in our old age. Sometimes we sit back and don't get involved, assuming that someone else will vote or work to elect the right politician or lobby in our best interest. While I love AARP, I am not quite willing to turn over all my decision making to someone else. I think we've seen that the Tea Party has mobilized to take over the direction of our country and the Republicans are following quietly along with their ideas that are not in the best interest of everyone.

Yes there is waste in government and pork in every bill is not unique to the Democrats or the Republicans...or even the Tea Party! The mood in Washington is to cut as long as it doesn't affect me. When a politician is elected, he or she is elected to serve all the people not just the people who voted for that particular candidate. I think we need to do a little inservice for the House and the Senate.  Our members of Congress must serve all the people, not just the special interests or the rich. They must serve the underprivileged and the wealthy equally. And if they don't, then they must not serve.

Here's what I recommend.  For every day that Congress can not agree on a budget, they don't get paid. If they shut down the government then they are not doing their job and when I don't work, I don't get paid. Duh...several weeks without a paycheck might improve their ability to reach consensus. Congress is willing to make the elderly, the military, public servants, children and others suffer by not being paid...shouldn't that also be applied to those that caused the problem with their political gamesmanship?

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Take care of your health!

We've had a rough week! One of our dear friends has been in and out of the hospital with a variety of problems. Hopefully he is on the mend now. It's a reminder that you need to take care of your health. Start with annual visits to your really good primary care doctor. Ours is Dr. Lewis Johnson at the Frist Clinic. We just went this week and got a great report including the fact that we've both lost a little weight! Be sure that you do your routine screenings including mammography, colonoscopy, prostate exam and PSA, and Pap smear as appropriate. You can't enjoy retirement unless you have your health!
Woody and I also swear by supplements. Now I can't tell you what to take, but I can share with you what we take. And never start supplements without talking to your doctor. A good multivitamin for old people is important! We use Centrum Silver. We take Osteo Bi-flex or its generic for joint health and collagen support (helps with my tennis knees!), Noni (which the Hawaiians think cures everything), an 81 mg Aspirin, fish oil capsules and red rice yeast capsules for our cholesterol levels, and Woody also takes acidophilous (a probiotic) for his allergies and saw palmetto for prostate health. We also love V-8 juice because it has lycopene and watercress which Dr.Oz says cures everything! We occasionally add watercress to salads and some sauces. I would certainly encourage you to research supplements online or at your public library. Barnes and Noble and Books a Million bookstores both have great reference sections on maintaining your health, including the use of supplements and homeopathic remedies.

Now you know I can't talk about health without talking about exercise....and I have no room to talk! I chase my granddaughter, work in the yard, clean the house, and Woody and I swear by urban hiking. But we don't "work out" in the truest sense. Oh by the way, urban hiking involves mall walking, WalMart walking and sometimes just meandering. At WalMart make your list and then go back and forth from one side of the store to the other. It takes a while to shop that way, but you get exercise and you're retired so you don't have anything else to do anyway!! And believe it or not, we still love to hike and Woody loves ziplining...yes at 65 he did the longest zipline in North America on our Alaska cruise! So get off the couch and do something...even if it's just walking around the neighborhood and spying on your neighbors! When you are old you gossip about your neighbors and this might provide new fodder for the discussion! Just kidding. 

Take care of yourself and stay healthy...and Bill you get better...Woody and Ed are depending on you to go on you for boys day out trips! The three musketeers must continue on their quest for the perfect buffet!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

A Great New Find! Coupon Chief

For those of you who know me, you know I am addicted to coupons and use them all the time. I scour the papers and magazines, sign up for emails, and am always on the look out! Well, an old dog can learn new tricks. I just found a great site, Coupon Chief, where you can get the promotional codes and coupon codes that I always see that can be added when I shop online, which I do a lot! Now here's the deal...I never knew where those codes came from until just recently. One great place is to go on Coupon and type in where you are shopping on line and tons of stores, restaurants, services and other things just magically appear with a promotional code that can get you great discounts. I have a beautiful granddaughter and we shop for her at The Children's Place all the time. Yesterday we took her to the mall to ride the carousel. She is decked out head to toe in her new spring outfit from The Children's Place right down to her matching tennis shoes! I'm getting ready to start shopping for a new computer and a few other electronic things and am going to try Coupon Chief for Best Buy when the time comes to make a purchase! I've also done a little preliminary research on dining options! You can use promotional codes to buy gift cards and then head to your favorite restaurant! So your tip for the day is to check out Coupon Chief!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Taxes!! and Evaluating Your Daily Expenses!!

One of the fun things about retirement is that your taxes should get easier to complete...NOT! I think it has something to do with working part time on your own. When you start juggling income and expenses on top of your usual personal tax expenses, it can get crazy. Despite an MBA, I have a wonderful forensic accountant who keeps me straight. It still takes all day just to get our info ready to go. It also makes you reflective as you have to look carefully at your expenses for the year! I just heard from some facebook friends that they tried using TurboTax and the online, government program and they are just as frustrated. I've heard that there are free tax services at the Senior Citizen's Center and local churches. Might just have to explore those when I am less complicated. I also think I might vote for someone who just did a nice flat tax across the board!

It's going to get even more confusing when my social security kicks in! Yep, I signed up to start drawing at 62. I did every calculation known to man, and I just can't see any reason not to start now even if I have to give some back. When you work for yourself or even as a contract employee, you may or may not have work. You may or may not stay healthy enough to keep working....and more importantly, who knows when our "beloved" Congress may decide to keep you from drawing until your full retirement age. While I feel fine now, who knows what will happen over the next four years. We've already been negatively surprised at our loss of interest income; I sure wouldn't want to find out I couldn't draw my Social Security if I needed to start unexpectedly. I've also heard that I can pay back all I've drawn and then refile to get a higher benefit....that may be an urban legend, but it's worth exploring.

Now...from my reflections on life after working on my taxes....have you noticed that there is very little on television worth watching lately? After Castle, The Good Wife and Bones, there is not much left that hits our demographic...old. At least Dancing with the Stars starts tomorrow. Woody and I have been talking about dropping our level of cable service down, but we don't want to give up Speed and the NFL channel...although the NFL channel may be a moot point if they don't resolve the work stoppage. We're going to see what we can do to decrease our cable bill. We've also not renewed our season tickets for the Titans. I just can't pay for all the games that may not be played and when our travel interferes with a good number of them if they do play. We'll just buy a game here and there if we want...there are always tickets. I've been watching the NCAA basketball tourney...boys and girls. Notre Dame is doing well in the tournament, although the game tonight against Florida State is not looking too good. Girls play tomorrow night against, before you all correct me it's men and women...but in my day of play it was boys and girls. I just love any sport. So lesson for today? Consider evaluating the channels you pay for on cable or dish and think about streamlining the channels to the ones you really watch...I'm also paying for two internet services....cable at home and wireless for when we travel and on top of that, internet for the Blackberry so I guess that's really three...there's got to be a cheaper way to surf! I guess it's off to Verizon this week to check out the potential savings that I can negotiate. So evaluate all your communication devices and television viewing habits and there may be ways to save money...I think I'll take my own advice!

The precious grandbaby is coming tomorrow while mommy heads to Columbus to work.  Her dad gets her back Tuesday night so she'll be home when mommy gets home.  Grandad has worked all weekend on her new slide and swing. I'm not sure if he's praying or reading directions, but like most men he doesn't read directions so what do you think? We wish we could see our other grands as much, but they moved off and left us...Libby has to be close to her daddy and mommy, and by default, we get the kid! Have a great week.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Comfort or Cute?

Now that I am officially 62, and old, and on the government payroll, do I have to give up cute for comfort? Several years ago, Woody and I had the opportunity to go to China. As usual, I was working and he was my sherpa! and companion! Before I went, I bought a pair of Ecco walking shoes that are still today one of the most comfortable shoes I own. In the middle of the trip, he tells me that my new favorite shoes look like bowling shoes. Having lived in the Midwest, bowling is a very important sport, but being from the south, bowling is not always looked upon with favor in my circle. I'm not sure how he came up with bowling shoes other than there are a few seams...they aren't oxfords, there are no shoelaces and they are all black.

Saturday night our dinner club went to a wine tasting at Belle Meade Plantation, drinks at 360, and a wonderful dinner at Whitfield' the pouring rain. To make a long story a bit shorter....I wore my "bowling shoes"! My rationale was that it was dark, raining and I certainly didn't want to ruin my one good pair of black flats that I wear when I work. After falling in O'Hare Airport trying to wear heels many years ago, I gave up heels and went to flats. Since I always wear pants, flats aren't really a problem except that I'm really short...and that finding a cute pair of flats that are also comfortable and provide arch support can be challenging. Currently flats are trendy and cute, but have no padding in the sole and no arch support...I guess teenagers don't care about comfort....only cute.  Is it too much to ask for comfort and cute?

So off to Dillards and Wei, my favorite sales person who is from China and lets me practice my fractured Mandarin. Ecco failed me today, but Nurture, the Dillard's brand, had a darling pair of black flats with cushioning and padding and arch support!! Yay! So now I have a new pair of shoes and Wei taught me a new word. Bargain...Tǎojiàhuánjià...which sounds like "powja hija".

I was also reading Town and Country today about dressing your question is that your biological age or how old you feel? The article said just because the clothes fit you shouldn't necessarily wear them. That red lipstick is for young people. And if your kids say you're wearing mom jeans, you should burn them. For every 10 years of age, cover up another 10% of your my age does than mean a burka? And, finally, strapless and sleeveless evening wear does not look good with bat wings. So 62...can I be cute in orthopedic flats, jeans, t-shirts, Notre Dame sweatshirts and anything black? This is my uniform so I can't give it up!!

Things change in retirement...and by that I mean your feet, your clothing choices and the dreaded bat wings! For you young things, bat wings are the flabby part of your upper arm that hangs around even when you try to lift weights to get buff! So eat right, walk, exercise and don't dress too young...but also don't embrace old pearl chokers, turtlenecks in the summer, skirted swimsuits, elastic waist pants with a tucked in shirt... well you get the drift. Confusing isn't it?

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Sometimes Retirement Can Get Boring!

One of the things that I've learned over the past few years is that at times retirement can get boring. You get up, go to breakfast with the buds, and then try to figure out what else you want to do.  No matter how you plan your day, whether you work part time or not, how many grandkids you play still will get bored at some point. Now I think I'd rather be bored at times than go back to full time work...but just be aware that at some point you'll wonder what's next.  Woody used to tell me that I needed a hobby to retire.  I got several going before I retired but now I'm looking for new hobbies to master.  So I guess the message is that change is inevitable...whether at work, at play or in retirement.  There are ups and downs, but mostly ups. The longer you are in retirement, the more change you should expect. So not only do you worry about money, but now I'm telling you that you must worry about getting bored. Bummer.

So here's the deal...get more hobbies than you ever thought humanly possible to enjoy because you'll get bored doing the same thing day in and day out...too much like work!  Expand your group of friends.  Get a map or not and follow the yellow brick road.  Go back to school but this time for fun.  If you always wanted to be an architect or archelologist or astronaut, go see if you really did take the wrong career path.  Get a library card and read significant works, not casual books.  Join a book club.  Join a garden club...not me, I hate yard work! And if you think of any other fun things to do, let me know! I'm always looking for new ideas that don't involve shopping or two favorite things to do!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Almost Free Stuff!

With the price of gas going up, we did the absolutely wrong thing this week.  We love to, with gas rising, we headed out on a road trip.  We went to Pancake Pantry in Nashville...or the village, if you're a local.  Breakfast was $30...and then we just started driving.  We ended up going through Leiper's Fork  which is a trendy little community and home to multiple stars including Keith Urban and Nicole Kidman, the Judd's and Brad Paisley and Kimberly Williams-Paisley.  So we drove about 150 miles meandering through the countryside!  Great day...saw lots of jonquils and blooming bushes!  Today was almost as bad!  We drove to Green Hills and had lunch at Cheesecake Factory and walked around the mall...of course I came out with a purse.  I had to buy's a Brahmin with a "woody wagon", a palm tree, a truck and a '57 Chevy...sounds crazy but it's so cool!  We had already driven around our former street in Hendersonville to look at the wind or tornado damage.  All in all...about 50 miles today.  Now 200 miles at $3.25 a gallon! So one piece of advice...consider buying a hybrid or all electric car before you retire if you want to drive a lot!!  But driving a lot is part of the fun of being retired.

Tomorrow is a sleepover with baby Savannah.  Her mother is coming out for lunch and a bit of shopping before she leaves...and we keep the baby! The fun of babysitting grandbabies is PRICELESS!

Have a fabulous weekend!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Don't Fly! Drive!

I still work as a healthcare consultant on occasion to pay for our travel...this week was a work week.  It has been a while since I've flown and between trips I forget that it's not as much fun as it used to be! From getting to the airport hours early just in case security lines are long to late arrivals and broken ain't what it used to be.  I added up the time it took me to get home from Greenville, SC to Hendersonville, TN by plane and it would have been quicker to drive! So next tip...if you're retired, think about whether the journey might be part of the trip rather than just the destination!

A few years ago, we meandered the Maine coast in May eating lobster, lobster rolls and clam chowder at every opportunity. While we saw the usual lobster boats and lighthouses, we also saw things off the beaten path that tourists rarely see. One of our favorite photos is laundry on the line tied between a tree and the dock. The colors, early spring flowers and water were tranquil and reflected the emergence from a long winter.  We chatted with the locals and were pointed in the direction of great dives and fabulous food. You don't have to eat "frou frou" to get really great lobster fact, the more simple the better.  Lobster meat, a little mayo and the bun, preferably eaten standing in the parking lot or on a dock looking at water.  From work to retirement can be something like from work and end point to end point to meandering along the back roads and out of the way places!

Be sure your car is in good shape and reasonably fuel efficient since gas is going up...but if you're driving slow you'll use less gas. Pick months that most people don't vacation and you'll save a fortune on hotels. We also pick less popular months for cruises too...we did Nova Scotia and Alaska cruises in September.  The cost was almost ridiculously low, the boats weren't packed, and we only had to put up with a bit of cool weather and occasional misty rain.  With the right clothes, layers of course to add and subtract as needed, you can enjoy anywhere.  If you're retired, you can also meander to where the cruise departs rather than flying. Repositioning cruises are great at the beginning and end of seasons when the boats move to their next port. Sometimes you don't even need to get off the boat to have a blast!  We're thinking about doing another Nova Scotia cruise and just taking different shore excursions! You can save money, enjoy the journey and head on out to the sea. 

If you don't want to stray too far from home, consider the back roads around you.  When we first retired, we spent a lot of time being tourists in Tennessee.  Like a lot of other people, we rarely had the time to explore.  Day trips became fun, but there was always an overnight bag with clean underwear in case we found somewhere we wanted to stay!  One trip we did do a quick WalMart run for toothbrushes when we forgot our bag!  So enjoy the journey...the destination isn't really that important!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Don't forget to have fun!

Not all tips about retirement have to do with money or saving money or working...throw in grandchildren and it makes everything perfect! While I worked some this week, I also took time for a sleepover with Savannah, a movie with hubby, spending my Groupon at Barnes and Noble, dinner and a fast trivia tournament, not to mention cleaning out the closet and a snow storm.  Busy, busy, busy! Sometimes you just have to play.

While moving through retirement, don't forget to have fun.  We get so focused on managing our dwindling portfolios or working to make up shortfalls, that we forget that retirement is supposed to be fun.  Like many of you, I graduated from nursing school on a Friday night and went to work on Monday, rapidly followed by marriage, children and more school! When our kids graduated, we encouraged them to run and play for a year...sort of like a gap year that so many of our European friends' children do between high school and college...our one hippie like daughter really embraced it...truth be known....she still does!  The other two work a lot but do have a bit of fun along the way.  We love our kiddos but we really love our grand-kiddos! They are so much fun to play with, shop for and just all around spoil.  So plan on spending some time with your grandkids and rediscover your inner child. Life is too short not to have fun!

Have fun with your spouse! Woody and I truly are best friends and would rather be with each other than anyone else...well, most of the time. When I make him clean out his closet, he might rather be somewhere else! Remember when you fell in love and before the kids and bills and stress and work...try to recapture that feeling if you've lost it. If you're single, consider your options. I have a friend in her late 50's who just got married to a wonderful man she met through an online dating service...I think it was eHarmony.  Another friend is a perpetual volunteer.  In addition to seeing everything from plays to football to basketball free, he's met a few cuties along the way.  Hasn't settled down yet, but at 70 he says he has a few years before he has to grow up. 

Don't be a couch potato. Get out...have fun...remember why you wanted to retire in the first place!  Volunteer. Join a dating service. Find a club or group to join. Do all those things that you always complained that you never had time to do!! When all else fails, go to a funny movie and just laugh. You are responsible for making life what you want it to be...I can't imagine a day without laughter...can you?

Monday, February 7, 2011

Don't forget Groupon!

One of the best deals I've found is Groupon! Once you sign up at and select your city, you get a daily email with deals in your city. I just got a $20 Groupon for $10 for Barnes and Noble ( ), our favorite bookstore that can be used locally or online. Our dinner club as a group all bought Groupons for a wine tasting at Belle Meade Plantation in Nashville ( ) and can't wait to use them.  Other recent Groupons included spa treatments, restaurant discounts, and gym memberships! We got a great deal on dinner and a play at the new Nashville Dinner Theater ( ) in downtown Nashville! If you are traveling, you can also enter your destination city and see what's available.  So free sign up and huge discounts! What could be better in retirement?

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Heading to Facebook!

I've spent two days now trying to get this lovely blog tied into facebook! I did buy a book called Blogging for Dummies but haven't read it yet.  Typical...try to jump through hoops without reading the directions! I've had this blog running for almost 5 years now but just decided to "monetize" it as they say.  In other words, put ads on the blog and pray that someone clicks on them or even better orders something from Amazon and I get money! In the past, the blog has been more to keep our friends up to date on our retirement journey and travels...I'll still do that, but more importantly, I want to share tips for retirement survival with all of you retirees or pending retirees!  So wish me luck and click away!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Non-traditional Work in Retirement

When we decided to retire, we had planned on selling our house and storing our stuff and taking off in the RV. We have a saying in our family...God laughs when you tell Him your plans! Needless to say, the house didn't sell.  We decided to still try to travel in the RV and work part time along the way. Hiring house sitters and lawn services is not the most cost efficient way to do it, but it will work.  The best option is to become a work camper...also known as a workkamper! You sign up for a service that matches employers with employees who want to work in retirement!

With or without an RV, you can find part time jobs by going to  and signing up for their job lists for a small fee.  Here's the way it works...employers post part time or seasonal jobs of all kinds, you send a resume, and then you get hired. If you have an RV which is most often the situation, the employer provides you a spot for your RV, you work a certain number of hours without pay to "pay" for the spot, and then you get paid for all other hours worked. Some jobs are as few as 10-20 hours a week up to full time. Jobs are usually in resort or vacation areas. We spent almost 6 months in West Yellowstone, Montana, the gateway to Yellowstone National Park! We worked 28 hours a week in a gallery and gift store and spent the rest of our time exploring the Park and surrounding areas including Jackson Hole and Cheyenne, Wyoming!  It has been the most fabulous "vacation/part time job" we've ever had. We also took this job because we thought we wanted a gallery...decided really quickly that we didn't like retail. We also tried working in a campground for 6 weeks checking campers in and out...not fond of that but we have friends that are staying free in a resort area all winter in return for some outside maintenance and cleaning the restrooms a few days a week. Restrooms sound gross, but most campers use the RV bathrooms and if they do use the resort baths, they are usually neat! One retired CEO said it was the best job to have because it takes only a few hours a week and if you factor in campground fees it's the highest paying job he had ever had! Jobs may also be in a theme park and Disney Resorts hire tons of people for part time, seasonal jobs.

There are also other options if you don't have an RV or are traveling alone. Both the National Park Service and a company called Xanterra hire seasonally and provide "dormitory" accomodations at parks across the country. We met one single woman who had worked for about 20 years at Yellowstone from summer employment while a school teacher to part time work in the summer in retirement. If you want to travel internationally, options are available through both volunteer and paid positions. If your health is great and you are adventuresome, there is always the Peace Corps who encourage healthy, active adults to apply!  The Peace Corps provides health coverage so that's also an inducement if you are too young for Medicare. Just search online and you'll find tons of opportunities.

If you aren't quite this adventurous, there are lots of local part time jobs you can explore...remember, you are supplementing your retirement income until the market comes back! You can work in day care and after school care settings if you want to work with children, the YMCA (I got offered a job teaching swimming which was also, by the way, the first job I ever had), a gym, or Chicos (my favorite store!). In addition to a salary, there may be perks such as discounts, free memberships or even access to health insurance! Think about all the things that you wished you had been able to do before you had to take a "real" job.  Because of my healthcare background, degrees and love of writing, I work as a contract medical editor for a firm based in Taiwan and China. This allows me to work when I want and from anywhere in the world! All I need is a computer and internet service! I also found a consulting company that lets me work select jobs without commiting to full time work. I've even worked for my old company a few times.  Keep an open neighbor wanted a fancy closet retrofit and while getting a quote, found out they were looking for help on Wednesday and Saturday making appointments and were even somewhat flexible on her desire to still travel occasionally! She even got a hefty discount on her new closet.

So...bottom can always travel virtually free and spend long enough in an area to really see it. You can stay at home and make extra money to enjoy your retirement until the market comes back. You can take part time jobs that allow you to explore things you've always thought you wanted to do.  But most importantly, you'll feel better if you are out and about and exploring the world rather than being a couch potato! So combine a little work with a lot of play and embrace retirement! And so...with a memory of Yellowstone and the Lower Falls...happy retirement from Woody and Pat!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Saving Money is Fun...and Other Fallacies!

Living on a budget is important to retirement date...I am a miserable failure! I am addicted to Chicos and any place that sells children's clothes. I do try to check sales and stores like TJMaxx, but I still spend too much for an old retired girlfriend. There are a few tips...Chicos has a passport club that automatically gives you 5% off all your purchases and some days even more. You also get coupons that apply to purchases.  When you shop their sales and use the coupons and the passport discount, you can get cool stuff cheap! Plus their clothes are designed by real people so even if you're a bit square (physically not emotionally!) you can still wear things that don't look like your grandmother gave them to you! Coupons for department stores are a source of free money...keep your eyes open in the Sunday papers for deals! Another tip is to cash in your American Express or other credit card points for generic gift cards that can be used to buy things! AMX points can get you $50 gift cards that will go a long way to buying things that aren't on your budget! You can also give them as gifts.

Now for the grandchildren!  Each year I set a budget for birthdays and Christmas for the kiddos...and do pretty well for those two holidays.  It's the spontaneous purchases when I gravitate first to the children's department in any store I enter and the other holidays like Valentines, St. Patrick's Day, Easter, Ground Hog Day and 50 other major and minor occasions for which I am compelled to purchase presents! I can't give you any tips other than never enter a store again or at least shop the sales racks first. I do try to stay away from toys as I never know what they already have unless I get their Toys R Us Christmas list...that worked great!  I could pick things they wanted and didn't already have.

I'm also trying to write a closet plan...a closet plan lists the things that I have and the things that I need to make the things I have work.  Like more pants.  Last year it was tops and jackets.  I can't seem to get organized.  I also need to move the things I can't wear because I still haven't lost that 10 or 20 pounds.  By moving, it needs to be to eBay but it may just be to my storage closet in the attic.  A girl can dream! You can sell high end stuff on eBay without too much trouble.  I had several Brahmin purses that went really high.  A closet plan should be a realistic plan based on what you really wear in retirement...not what looks really cute.  An Ellen Tracy suit does not really fit in at WalMart, regardless of how great it looks. Let's face it...when you are retired you don't need as much...and if you have a closet plan you may actually only buy things you need and would wear.

I think shopping for clothes, shoes and grandchildren stuff has been the hardest thing for me to control. So...if you have any tips besides just say NO, let me know.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Reward Cards and Free Stuff!

We went to see a great movie today...No Strings Attached....and yes, it's a silly little romantic comedy but it was Woody's day to pick! I really enjoyed it too...we got in free and with our Regal Reward card (, we got a free soft drink. Periodically we get a free ticket on our Regal Rewards card but we have a more reliable way to score free movies. Now, you did we get in free? We use our American Express to pay bills and buy any big ticket items and use the points to get free movie tickets and gift cards for dinners at our favorite restaurants. The AMX for bill pay came for convenience when we were always on the road and bills still needed to be paid...those that would take AMX earn us points and the rest come directly out of our checking account. We use AMX but almost all the cards have a points option. We've bought carpet, cruises and, in Woody's case, a pickup truck on our AMX cards!

We started the points thing when I had a corporate card and spent even more money than we do now. In fact, years ago we used Diner's Club points, our then corporate card, to buy Savings Bonds! Which come to think of it have probably gotten really close to maturity....hmmm....wonder if we have enough for a cruise? But back to freebies...who wouldn't want free stuff. Many of our favorite "survival" restaurants offer coupons. By survival, I mean those restaurants like Shane's Rib Shack, Sam's Sports Bar, China Buffet and lots of others where you eat when you don't want to cook. If you watch the local paper, coupons through the mail, and magazines, you'd be surprised at how many buy one get one coupons or 10% off or "two for one" deals are out there. By using coupons and watching for special offers, we haven't had to quit eating out in retirement. One of our favorite places is Red Lobster and we just scored two $25 gift cards for a mere 5,000 AMX points! Can't wait to use them.

We also have reward cards for my favorite vice...casinos! For years we didn't get those lovely cards that fit into the slot machines and passed up tons of free offers. Since I'm going to gamble and even occasionally win, we signed up for the cards and now we get free offers all the time. We saw Miranda Lambert in concert with free hotel...and we just got back from our trip to Jacksonville for the Gator Bowl and stopped off for two nights at the Harrah's casino in Biloxi free! Now Woody says our hotel rooms were about $130 for the two nights which is what I lost, but the rooms were still worth more than that so it's still a cost savings!!

And of course, my personal favorite, 5% off at Publix ( on Wednesday for Senior Citizens! That discount, coupled with coupons (when I remember to take them) lowers our food bill...we do love to cook now and saving here and there always helps so I can tackle exotic recipes like beer butt chicken and omelets. Remember I traveled for years and forgot how to cook! tip for today is look for rewards cards, coupons, special offers and discount days and you'll be surprised at how much you can still do or get, even when the stock market tanks in your retirement!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

A New Focus!

Are you ready for retirement? I've been sort of retired now for 4 years and have learned more about retirement than I ever thought possible. When I started this blog, my focus was getting ready for retirement and then progressing through retirement. I have to admit, it's been a blast! But now it's time to share with you what I've learned. The most important thing is don't retire at the same time the stock market is tanking! If you do choose to retire in a down market, plan on working at least part time...I've edited medical papers for non-English speaking authors, written and re-written web sites, written articles, sold a few photos and, of course, did a little healthcare consulting for the big bucks! Woody and I also worked in a gallery and high end gift store in Montana for 6 months when we thought we wanted a gallery of our own. Trust me, after two weeks we decided we didn't like retail and weren't too sure we liked people, especially tourists! We also tried the workamping life in our RV and spent a miserable six weeks checking people into an RV park in Florida! If you have an RV, there are tons of jobs that are fun...just be selective. We'll talk more about this in a later post!

So...while I'll still update you on our fun things, I'm going to sprinkle in some good advice too. The first piece of advice is related to financial all the money you can and be prepared to use principal since earning interest is not in your future and don't even think that the stock market is your friend. Or work part time! You'll be bored anyway if you don't have lots of hobbies or you're comfortable being a couch potato. You can only travel so much which is what everyone says they want to do when they retire! Just try to find jobs that are flexible and can travel with you. And sell all the stuff you've collected over the years on eBay since your kids are probably like our daughter who told us to quit bringing our crap to her! Oh woman's treasures are another woman's crap!