Survival Tips for the Retiree… and the Elderly

Much like babies not coming with instruction manuals, retirement does not come with an instruction manual. That is what motivated me to begin this blog. During my fourteen months of retirement, I’ve identified tips for surviving retirement that I would like to share.

The first tip is to buy one of those day-at-a-time calendars. It is very easy to lose track of the day of the week and the date while retired. It is important to maintain date orientation, in case you have an encounter (planned or unplanned) with a medical care provider, police officer or social worker.

In this same vein, it is important to maintain awareness of your location, political parties in prominence, and the name of the current president. Lack of awareness of these things can result in the loss of personal freedoms at best, and incarceration at worst. It’s similar to the admonishment of mothers of ol’ to always put on clean underwear to avoid embarrassment in the event of an accident… just in case. I’ve long wondered why a child would ever choose to put on dirty underwear. I’ve further wondered if the admonished children routinely wore no underwear, and the suggestion was simply to put on underwear. Maybe the children in question were those who went on to come of age in the sixties and preferred to go underwearless, live in communes, smoke marijuana, take LSD and string flower chains around their necks and on top of their heads. Oh, sorry, I got off track. The tendency to get off track contributes to my hyper-vigilance in preparing for potential sanity checks… just in case.

Additional tips include practicing drawing clocks and various times on the clocks. For this tip to be successful, you must draw clocks with hands; not digital clocks. Other things to practice are saying the alphabet in reverse and counting from 100 down to 1. Don’t practice any of these things in public, as you may be defeating the purpose – proof of mental clarity and sanity – of these exercises.

It would be wonderful if I could include a tip to save more money (money is very useful in retirement), but if you hadn’t been doing that while you were working (earning money), by the time you retire, it’s really too late. If you had not been vigorously saving while working, my tip is to now significantly lower your standards, and embrace poverty. It worked for the apostles, so you might as well give it a try. It isn’t as hard as you might think: learn to enjoy long walks as a form of entertainment, become emotionally attached to your aged vehicle, get rid of cable TV or get rid of TV all together, get to know your neighborhood thrift stores and purchase some sweaters to wear with your clean underwear (don’t ever scrimp on clean underwear).

Oh, it’s Friday!

A Riddle

What can cut like a knife, bend like paper, and evaporate like steam? The answer, of course, is a word. Now is the time to cut the cord to network TV, as we have entered an election year, and are subjected to its accompanying flood of inflammatory words. TV can be a real slut when you’re retired (you know – “watch me, oh baby I can entertain you and make you feel so good”). Network TV flaunts its lack of a price tag (“free with an over-the-air digital antenna”), and then fills that air over head with commercials encouraging viewers to spend money for everything from makeup to medication. It’s cold and wet outside; you’re retired; you don’t HAVE to go anywhere (like work) so you curl up on the couch, turn on the TV, and allow yourself to be seduced by the product of marketing personnel who, by dressing sexy images with come-hither words, earn much more money than you ever did. Happily, we now have streaming TV choices that allow us to watch things like “The Crown” with no commercials. Be careful though, because those tricky words are still out there ready to mislead.

Reading the newspaper is my retirement life substitution for driving to work. It is typically a much safer activity than driving to work; however, those easily manipulated words can incite harm. It is usually not the newspaper’s fault, but the fault of a human being’s stupid hurtful words that are reported and shared via the newspaper. Turn the page! Don’t read those words, or if you must, consider the source and choose to be a purveyor of goodness with your words. You can always read the advertisements. These are the newspaper’s equivalent to television’s commercials. I believe those previously mentioned marketing professionals see the public who constitute consumers as stupid (a word forbidden in our home when my children were young). This may be because marketing professionals, with their careful word coupling, are manipulating the spending of individuals with much less disposable, or discretionary, income than they themselves have. I recently saw an ad, that in large letters proclaimed “Sale – One Day Only” and then gave the sale dates as Thursday through Saturday. Another ad (this one for a digital training service) offered “three courses free when you subscribe to unlimited course access.” Words, coming from the keyboards of the unethical, can be very misleading. Uh oh, I hope my words are not stereotyping all persons employed in marketing as being unethical. Words can result in misinterpretation of intent. Words coming from the keyboards of the self-proclaimed ethical can also be misleading. We should be very careful with our words.

Words are talented shape-shifters. Think of the words that have been presented as truths, but were actually lies. Think of the words that are intended to define but actually malign. Think of the words that are meant to compliment but actually criticize (I once had a medical assistant proclaim, when I stepped on the scale in the doctor’s office, “Wow, you don’t look like you weigh that much”). Juggling words can be like juggling razor blades, you or someone close to you can be harmed. Not all people (particularly politicians) should be given unlimited access to words.

Words (and my cat) are my current companions. Much like the words shouted from mountain tops, most of my spoken words go unheard (I love my Cinnamon Girl kitty, but she chooses to ignore words that come out of my mouth – like “get off of the counter,” and “get down from that shelf”). I should amend my riddle to include, “What can be both dangerously potent and completely impotent?” I love words, but like all things I love, I need to remember to handle them with care.

Qualified for Retirement?

November 30th, 2018 I officially retired. Since then, I have questioned my qualifications for the position of Retiree. For the past 40+ years, my activities have been largely driven by job position descriptions (sometimes driven off of a cliff in my fiery vehicle at hand – obsessive compulsive disorder). I really need to find the Retiree Position Description. My attempt to create my own has sent me flailing about my house emptying drawers, painting, scraping out aged grout, all while draped in skeins of yarn in the process of being crocheted into afghans. I really need this whole thing quantified and set out in bullet points, something like:

  • Clean and organize one drawer per week
  • Paint one room per month (until all rooms painted and then remove from list, to be reinserted in 15 years – if I’m still living)
  • Major home repair activity (usually to involve grout – i.e., removing, inserting, cleaning) to be ongoing
  • Crochet one afghan a month (until forbidden to do so by potential afghan recipients)
  • Increase the following daily – physical activity, meditation, mental productivity (at first I had mental activity followed by meditation, but I thought those two might be mutually exclusive, so I changed “activity” to “productivity”), happiness
  • Decrease the following daily – food intake, spending, television watching, emotionally-charged activities, i.e., crying, teeth gnashing

I’m not sure if these are approved retiree functions/activities or not. Where does fun fit in here? Decreasing spending, may limit opportunities for fun, so to be on the safe side, I’ve left it out.

Thank you for your willingness to share in my journey through retirement.

Jennie coming up from under the bus.