Author: kris

Browse the Next3rd Blog…

Browse the Next3rd Blog…

Get inspired, get informed, read about how others have charted their retirement. Check out this list of Next3rd blog posts. Read about real stories and the important factors that create a successful and fulfilling retirement!

Feel free to share the posts you find most valuable! Happy reading.

Real Retirement Stories:

Success Factors & Tips for a Fulfilling Retirement:

Retirement: Where Will You Live?

Retirement: Where Will You Live?

The choices seem endless. Downsize to a condo, move to warmer climes, split your time in two or more places, be a ski bum, or beach bunny, or live in an RV and hit the road? It’s a big decision, and potentially expensive if its the wrong one. How do you choose?

Set Your Priorities

Retirement can give us the freedom to live wherever we choose since we are no longer tethered to the job. That untethering can lead to perhaps impulsive decisions, or decisions based on marketing myths more than what’s really important to you. “Where to live in retirement” is the second most googled question on retirement after “how much money do I need”.

Take the time to really think about the lifestyle you will thrive in, what’s really important to you, and what you can afford.

Here are some factors to weigh and rate in terms of importance:

  • Sense of Community:  Being connected to others has shown to promote wellness in our next3rd. If this is very important, a small town may be best for you. Not so important, then you may like condo life. Think this through. When are you happiest?
  • Climate and Topography: We of the north dream of going south each winter. Is it really a dream? Think of more than escaping the cold. What about humidity, altitude and landscape? Do you crave forests or cacti, open plains or mountains, oceans or lakes? What kind of critters creep you out?
  • Family: How far away do you want to be from your loved ones? Think of grandkids, but recognize your kids are mobile and can move again. Consider ease of travel to visit your kin.
  • Access to Good Healthcare: This may become more of a priority as we age. Are good hospitals nearby, medical services and supplies? What does your health plan cover? Are there additional costs to consider?
  • Standard of Living:  What are your (affordable) comfort levels? Expect sterile grocery stores and reliable electricity, or do you enjoy perusing the local markets, tasting the street food and not minding the power outages? Do the streets need to be pristine or can you manage dirt roads and potholes? Consider the infrastructre, roads, potable water, waste management, electricity, gas for the car, public transit, internet access as well as the comfort of your residence.
  • Personal Growth: The beauty of the ‘new retirement’ is the opportunity to keep growing. What opportunities exist for new learning, or hobbies, or voluteering or travel? Can you find a path to your purpose?
  • Lifestyle: What acitivites do you want to pursue? Dining out, going to the theatre, the big game, cycling, boating, travel? Want to be in the action of the big city, or enjoy the outdoors in a smaller community? Near an airport or cycling paths, universities or colleges, artists or outdoor enthusiasts? Curling or gardening? Imagine a month of retirement. What will you do?
  • Affordability: We don’t want to be house-poor in our next3rd.
    Consider the cost of your preferred lifestyle and standard of living when weighing the options of your residence. Do your research – what is the expected cost of living? Get an honest assessment of your current home’s value if you are considering a change. Don’t forget the cost of moving which may include new furniture, window coverings and perhaps landscaping. Be realistic with your budget. A good financial planner can help you understand your annual ‘draw’ from your retirement nest egg.

Try Before You Buy!

Sometimes we dream of living in our favourtie vacation place, or escaping the work of maintaining a home and moving to a luxury condo. Test your dream first before making this big decision!

That’s what my hubby and I did this winter. My dream? Living in a mountain village, skiing, hiking, biking – you get the drift. My hubby’s dream? Warm ocean climate, fishing, strolling local markets, long beach walks. Hmm. We tried both this winter and learned a few things. We need to compromise. He loved the ocean lifestyle but not the mountain life, and I was vice versa (loved sunshine but not the humidity).

We were considering selling our home, living at the cottage in the summer and somewhere else for the winter. We realized we’d rather visit the mountains and ocean than live there. We researched downsizing with the help of a wise realtor and wealth manager. In the end, we learned we were financially better to stay put, and we wouldn’t be happy in a higher density community.

The experience of testing different retirement lifestyles brought clarity of what is right for us, and saved us from making an expensive and regrettable mistake.

Care to share?

5 Ways to Promote Brain Health in Retirement

5 Ways to Promote Brain Health in Retirement

“There is no fountain of youth, but there is a fountain of health” states Dr.Carol Ward, geriatric psychiatrist for Interior Health, BC. That Fountain of Health™ is a national initiative “to promote brain health and resilience” particularly for adults in their Next3rd. The science has revealed 5 ways we can protect and improve our cognitive function.

The Good Doctor

Dr. Ward, whom I call Carol, a friend of many decades, has had a passion for helping the elderly ever since she began practicing geriatric psychiatry in 1992. She provides leadership at the national and regional level to enhance mental health care for seniors, and practices what she preaches in her patient care. “Seniors have a whole life story to share and I love learning about their lives.” Carol enthusiastically alerted me to the Fountain of Health™ (FOH).

What is the Fountain of Health™?

Simply put, it’s a fabulous resource for you and your doctor. Founded in 2010 by Dr. Keri-Leigh Cassidy, FOH is collaboration of several research and medical organizations focused on mental health, brain wellness and ageing well. It’s science-based, practical and easy to use. FOH’s findings highlights the 5 actions you can take to improve your brain health.

“It’s a tool and a culture change. It promotes positive aging.”

Dr. Carol Ward

If that’s not cool enough, the FOH has The Wellness App which is a simple tool designed to help you succeed in making small changes that stick. More about that later.

The Five Ways

The 5 ways, highlighted by FOH are key areas where you can “make change” to protect and promote your brain and overall health. The benefits of each area are explained and practical tips for implementing change are suggested. You don’t have to choose all five, just pick one to start if you like.

“Genes account for only 25% of your health condition. The rest is in your hands.”

Dr. Ward

1. Physical Activity

If you’ve read anything about ageing well, this is no surprise. The science is there. Exercise promotes your brain’s neuroplasticity and resilience to stress. “You don’t have to run a marathon” Dr. Ward explains. Just move everyday. Exercise helps reduce the risk of vascular disease including high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol and stroke. Discover more benefits and tips for success here.

Ideally, aim to raise your heart rate for 30 minutes, 5 days a week.

FOH

2. Social Activity

Loneliness is a risk factor to your health, yet as we age we are more likely to encounter social isolation. “Face to face is best.” Research has shown that socializing improves your mood and brain function. Having a “positive confidante”, someone “who has your back”, reduces your risk for stress-induced illnesses. Go for a walk with a friend, join a club, or volunteer are actions you can take to improve your social interactions. Learn more here.

“Figure out how you’re going to stay connected to the world, to people.”

Dr. Ward

3. Brain Challenge

Erase that image of declining brain function as you age! Your brain is ‘plastic’ and can continue to grow through old age … as long as it is exercised! Challenging your brain helps you build your “cognitive reserve”. Sudoko or crosswords, music or languages – get started! Discover more.

“Education and lifelong learning actually improves brain function over time and lowers your risk of developing memory problems and even dementia when you are older.”

FOH

4. Positive Thinking

The messages we give ourselves can make a huge difference to our mental and whole well being. Positive thinking (not the rose-coloured glasses stuff), can help you recover faster from health set-backs, improve your mood, memory and longevity. Think … “ageing is good” (not bad)!

In other words, be kind to yourself (and others). It’s not easy to change the way we think, but it can be done with practice. Actions such as writing your gratitudes, reflecting on your strengths, and blocking time chunks to practice problem-solving can help. Click here for more ideas.

“Changing the way you think about yourself as you age might be one of the most important things you can do for your long term health!”

FOH

5. Mental Health

“Our brains are not pre-wired to fail.” Poor mental health can translate to poor overall health. The good news is that mental health and life satisfaction can improve with age. Taking care of your mental health is a sign of strength, not weakness. The key is to act now if you have concerns about your mood, alcohol use, anxiety, and the like.

“There’s a movement out there. Positive psychiatry. “

Dr. Ward

Instead of just treating mental illness, positive psychiatry provides a whole approach to mental well-being using additional practices such as meditation, mindfulness and yoga. The goal is to improve optimism, resilience, and an overall sense of well being. The FOH offers these ideas for you to act upon.

Making Change Stick

This is the beauty of the FOH and its Wellness Project. It provides tools like The Wellness App or downloadable worksheets to help you make change in small steps. You can sign up for positive encouragement from the App if you like, or share the worksheets with your doctor. It’s like having your own brain health coach!

The key is small change. Following the principles of SMART goals (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-stamped), you are encouraged to choose one clear goal. Maybe you decide you want to increase your social activity. Your one small change is to call a long-distance friend once a week. The app and worksheets help you stay on track and see measurable progress!

“You don’t have to overwhelm yourself with change. Narrow it down to one thing that’s tangible and measurable. That’s the elegance of FOH.”

Dr. Ward

Final Words of Wisdom

Dr. Ward sums up what we can do to set ourselves up for a brain-healthful Next3rd:

  • “Managing your risk of vascular disease is truly one of the best things you can do for your health. Move your body.”
  • Take care of your hearing and eyesight; this helps mitigate cognitive loss. “The impact can be quite significant. Hearing aids are almost invisible now.”
  • “Look after your brain. You can always learn something new.”
  • Build your social connections to prevent loneliness. “Get out there.”
  • Enable a good sleep. “There is interesting research on lack of sleep and cognitive impairment.” Natural light helps your sleep rhythms; get outside. Be mindful of caffeine and alcohol use.
  • “The drive to be well is in us, even if we are unwell. You CAN make positive change.”

“Move your body, move your brain, move your mood!”

Dr. Ward

Care to share?

6 Reasons Why This is a Perfect Retirement Activity

6 Reasons Why This is a Perfect Retirement Activity

What will you do in retirement? Many hard-working boomers are uneasy about how they will ‘fill their time’ when retirement comes. Yet, retirement gives you the opportunity to try new things, meet new people, and develop new skills. Here’s an activity that checks a lot of boxes for a fulfilling Next3rd.

The Sport That Has it All

It’s social, requires new skill development, fires different neurons in your brain, and provides exercise too. Yup, that’s curling. It’s up to you if you want to wear crazy pants! Don’t judge yet, there’s more to this sport than “Hurry Hard”!

1. It offers a sense of community and connectedness

When we retire, our social circles change. We may be in social limbo for a while, especially if our friends are still working. Yet, study after study indicates that social connectedness is key to aging well.

Curling is a social sport. You play on a team, socialize with your opponents after the game, and can hang out with friendly folks by joining your local curling club. People who share the common goal of having fun, developing skills, and being active. Our club has potluck Sunday dinners, fun bonspiels (and competitive ones), social dinners and dancing for all.


Curling gives you the opportunity to belong to a community of active people of all ages, skills and backgrounds.

2. You can play it at any age

You don’t have to be young and flexible to take up curling. There are excellent “Learn to Curl” programs across the country for people of all ages and zero or minimal curling experience. All it takes is an open mind and a bit of practice.

Curling is an adaptive sport enabling you to continue playing even as old age may place restrictions on your body. You can get down low like the pros, or use a ‘stick’ to push the curling rock and stay standing up. There go all your excuses of bad knees and hips!


My great uncle curled until the ripe old age of 98!

3. You develop new skills

Critical skills like balance, eye-hand coordination, and observational skills. It’s one thing to aim the rock at the skip’s broom, it’s another to actually get it where it’s supposed to go! And then there’s ‘reading the ice’ – observing how the rocks slide on the ice and thus adjusting your ‘throw’ or ‘sweeping’. Curling is a sport where you can continually develop your skills!

4. It’s a thinking game too

There’s strategy to consider, physics and geometry. Like billiards, you’ll learn to understand the angles and how much force you’ll need to ‘take out’ your opponents rocks. How will you play the game – and what game plan will your opponent follow? What are the strengths of your team versus those of the opposing team? Lots of things to consider, and thankfully that’s for the ‘skip’ to figure out, and not so much the beginner!

5. You have an opportunity to contribute

Looking for a way to share your talent? Your curling club provides many volunteer opportunities. There are bonspiels and leagues to coordinate, facilities to manage, membership to develop, skill development clinics to provide, social activities to plan and more. You can join the board, a committee, or just help out here and there. Your club can feel like a big family where everyone helps out!

Volunteering for your curling club is way to contribute your skills, feel relevant and build a sense of purpose.

6. It’s exercise too!

Moderate exercise and sometimes vigorous, depending on how much sweeping your are doing. You’ll need strength and balance to push yourself out of the ‘hack’. More strength and even cardio fitness to provide the sweeping essential to the game. The bottom line? Curling keeps you off the couch and away from that unhealthy sedentary lifestyle.

There you have it! A sport that provides social connectedness into old age, skill development, brain work and an opportunity to contribute. Plus, its a great way to get through that long cold winter!

Care to share?

This Retiree’s 11 Tips to Creating Your Next3rd You’ll Love

This Retiree’s 11 Tips to Creating Your Next3rd You’ll Love

She lost 60lbs, travelled to four continents, reconnected with family and friends, embarked on meaningful volunteering, and learned new activities in her next3rd, all from a remote northern community.  What are her secrets to living a retirement life with zest?  Read on…

Meet Margot

She’s a girl of the north with a big heart, big goals, good humour, and a love of the outdoors.  Her dedication to her career in education left little time for anything but her family.  Now?  Let’s just say her retirement is action packed!

“How is life?  I don’t think it can get much fuller!”

Margot started planning her retirement life right away. A “living” plan focusing on her first priorities; her health and fitness, travel, and reconnecting with family and friends.  She’s the one who inspired me to start a ‘60 Things to Do When I’m 60’ list!

“I’ve accomplished 90% of my list with 4 months to go! I’ve learned I can achieve almost any goal I set for myself.”

But There’s More…

Not only has Margot reached most of her goals, she has added meaning to life through volunteering.  She’s preparing a presentation on her trip to China for a senior’s group and helps her church in various capacities including singing in the choir. “Singing makes me happy!”   She was part of a group that brought a refugee family to their small community, helped them integrate, and continues to mentor/tutor the children successfully through school.

“It feels good to give back. I feel blessed to be able to help.”

 

How She Did It…

Here are Margot’s 11 tips to living the retirement life you’ve dreamed:

  1. Start Financial Planning at Least 10 Years Before Retiring

“You need to know clearly what your financial situation is.”

“For 5 years, we put our income tax refund into a separate ‘travel fund’.”

 

  1. Go to a Seminar about Retirement at Least 1 Year Before Retiring

Learn the steps you need to take to transition smoothly.

 

  1. Take Control of Your Health

Margot changed her sedentary working life to a vibrant active life when she retired.  Now she enjoys, biking, tennis, pickleball, snowshoeing and more.  She also joined a diabetes study as a preventative measure which enabled a healthier diet.  “I feel fitter, healthier and happier.”

 “Prioritize your health from here forward.”  

 

  1. Have a Financial Plan B

Sometimes the unexpected happens.  Margot has seen families struggle financially after a spouse dies younger than expected.

 

  1. Be Positive

Bad stuff happens.  Margot lost her Mum in her first year of retirement.  Yet, she feels blessed for having that year to spend special time with her.

“When you feel fit, healthy, grateful, and are giving back, you can stay positive.”

 

  1. Enjoy What’s Around You, Open Your Mind to New Things and New Fun

“Don’t be afraid to try new things.”  Margot tried rock-climbing, tennis, pickle ball and other active lessons.  She helped her hubby with hands-on reno projects and re-learned how to filet a fish.  (The pickerel up there is amazing!)  She even finished 2nd in her category in a 10km run!

  1. Respect That You and Your Partner Have Different Days

How you each spend your day can be different.  Margot’s hubby can clock 10,000 steps working outside, while Margot will go out for a spin.  You don’t have to be, or travel, together all the time.  “You have something to share at the end of the day or trip.”

“You need to have your own space when you retire.”

 

  1. Count on Yourself to Be Disciplined

“I am more disciplined just counting on myself.”  If you have specific goals, or daily practices, its up to you to get them done.  Be it a ride at 6am, or daily meditation, “count on yourself first and that means discipline”.

“If no-one else is around to do it with, I’ll do it anyway.”

  1. Plan to Renew Relationships

Margot’s loved ones are scattered across our vast country and she purposely visits or calls long-term friends and her fam jam frequently.  She travelled with various family members, and planned family reunions which strengthened those bonds.

“I feel blessed to re-connect with old friends and bring my family closer.”

 

  1. Make a List of Things to Do for a Milestone

She’s already working on her 65 Things to Do When She’s 65 “This worked really well for me.”  Include little things and big things.  The list mobilized her dreams and really did create a very full retirement.  Full of adventure, meaning, connection and fun!

“I love lists. I love checking things off. I love that my family and friends wanted to make my goals happen with me.”

  1. Count Your Blessings

Those are my words.  Margot said, “Be positive again”.  As we chatted, I heard her reflect on how blessed she felt, which in turn gave her a positive feeling. “People want to be around you when you’re positive.” In her first year of retirement, she wrote her top ten things for which she was grateful, daily.  Now she ‘counts her blessing’s each week.

“It helps you be more aware, and it gives you something positive to talk about.”

 

Thanks Margot, have fun working on the new list!

Care to share?

Retirement: This One Thing Will Make it Truly Fulfilling

Retirement: This One Thing Will Make it Truly Fulfilling

How do you manage the change from the fast-paced, highly scheduled, and task-oriented work life to what could be the opposite in retirement? What can you do to live a rewarding retirement life without the structure that guided your work life? Many retirees feel lost and even depressed as they struggle to re-orient themselves in life’s blank canvas called retirement. Here is one solution to help those feeling a little adrift.

 

Build Your Own Personal Retirement Life Plan

 

Not a financial plan, a life plan. Your own personal plan for retirement life. How? Allow me to steal some proven practices for my strategic planning days and show you how to turn your personal dreams into action. Don’t roll your eyes yet!

 

First, Start with Your Dream

 

Most of us dream about the freedom of retirement. Some want to travel, some to relax, and we all relish the day without an alarm clock. That’s a start. I’m sure there’s more. I’m talking about a personal vision. A good vision provides clarity of your direction, your life purpose and of what’s important to you. It guides you to living the life you’ve imagined.

 

Your personal vision is your compass in your life.

 

How do You Create a Personal Vision?

 

The key word is “create”. It’s a creative process in the part of the brain that is visual. Expect it to be a bit fuzzy at first, difficult to articulate with words. It may help to draw your vision. Imagine your ideal life in retirement – your personal Next3rd.

 

What is your picture of your dream life in retirement?

 

Reflect on the life you’d like to lead in retirement. Where are you? Who is with you? What leisure activities or hobbies might you enjoy? What are you learning? How are you investing in your health? How will you help others? What relationships will you nurture? How will you grow personally and be in tune with your spirituality? What’s important to you? What hints of your life’s purpose are emerging?

Jot down some ideas or draw a sketch. Leave it for a while and let your subconscious percolate. Finetune and repeat. Write it down! A paragraph or a page – whatever works for you. Write your vision as descriptively as you can so that you can ‘see’ it in your mind’s eye. It’s OK to be vague. Over time, you’ll gain more clarity. Just get started! Remember, this is personal, you don’t have to share it, but do read it regularly.

 

Stuck? Think about what excited you as a kid. That’s part of who you really are.

 

Second, Set Personal Goals to Reach your Dream

 

Yes, I sound like a strategic planner. Can’t help it. This stuff works!

While your vision may be a little fuzzy, your goals become more specific. Read your personal vision and think of timelines. Within your vision, what would you like to achieve in one year? Three years? Five years? What can you accomplish to move closer to your ideal life?

 

Write 3-5 goals per time frame. Any more and success is less likely.

 

Preferably, your goals are measurable. You can see how you are progressing and adjust along the way. My one-year goals included hiking the Inca Trail. Easy to measure – completed or not! Sometimes goals require adjusting as life surprises us. Finetune them as you need. After an injury, I adjusted my ‘active’ goals to reading and learning goals.

 

Personal goals give you something to work toward and keep you focused on what’s most important.

 

Third, Put the Pedal to the Metal

 

Time for action! Look at your one-year goals and determine what you intend to do in the next 3 months to help you reach your personal goals. I like to give my one year goal a theme to provide some focus for my activities.  It may be helpful to plan your actions at the change of each season. You are creating your own personal action plan to accomplish your goals.

 

Write 2-3 actions per goal to complete for the next 3 months/season and ‘tactics’ of how to complete them.

 

For my Inca Trail goal, I wanted to be in top physical shape and so my ‘tactic’ was to join a gym and hire a personal trainer. Check! Repeat this process of setting new intentions toward your annual goals every season. Watch how your life’s dream becomes clearer and closer to reality! You have something to look forward to in each season.

 

Seasonal action planning fires momentum toward your personal vision and brings focus and intention to your daily life!

 

Finally, Review, Reflect, Repeat!

 

Congratulations! You’ve developed your personal retirement life plan! Keep it alive and relevant by reviewing it frequently. I try to read mine every day and let it guide my weekly To Do list.  This truly helps me live an intentioned life. Reflect on your progress, goals and personal vision. What have you learned about yourself? Do you want to finetune anything?

 

As time goes on, your priorities may change, and that’s perfectly OK!

 

Repeat the process of annual goal-setting and seasonal action-planning and soon it will be a natural rhythm in your retirement life. A rhythm that gives you meaning, some structure, and direction. A fulfilling life is one where our actions and thoughts nourish and sustain our life’s dream!

 

“You are never too old to set another goal or dream a new dream.” – C.S. Lewis

 

Care to share?

This World Champion’s Tips for a Happy Retirement, RV Style

This World Champion’s Tips for a Happy Retirement, RV Style

World champion dragon boater, RV aficionado, grandmother and free spirit, this semi-retiree is making big lifestyle changes as she embarks on her 7th decade.  With an open mind and new goals to pursue, the open road is calling.  Here are her tips on following your nomadic dreams in retirement.

 

A World Champion … at 69

Mona is rather mild-mannered given her international athletic feats, her adventurous spirit and the big change that is coming her way. It’s her dragon boat accomplishments that get my attention first.

“I just like to be active and I need a goal to work toward.” 

 

That’s a bit of an understatement. Truth?  She began dragon boating for fun about 15 years ago and loved it so much, she wanted to pursue the competitive field.  One problem.  Ottawa didn’t have a dragon boat club, a requirement to compete internationally.  So, Mona, in her 60’s, and a friend started a club. They created a senior C team too! Problem solved!

“We had to find enough people over 60 who where fit, interested and committed.”

 

Fundraising for coaching, early morning and evening practices, and dedicated training lead to gold, silver and bronze medals for her crew this summer at the world championships in Hungary!  “There’s nothing like winning the race!”

 

Big Changes on the Horizon

As much as Mona loves dragon boating, she is hanging up her paddle and on the lookout for a new challenge. “I’m ready for something else.” That’s not the big change though.  The BIG change is something, not everyone could do, but if you do, it can be very liberating.

She and her husband are selling the family home of 39 years.  Selling it and everything in it!  They have decided to buy a large recreational vehicle (RV) which will be their permanent home for the next year or two.  Her new challenge for the moment is emptying the house!  “I think its good for you to move.”

“We’ll be free! We never had trouble trying new things.”

 

No, this is not a rash decision.  They have enjoyed the RV life for a few years, spending half the year on the road.  They’ve made new friends, visited interesting places and kept active with sports and outdoor activities at the RV parks.  Mona still works casually, and can do so remotely from her RV.  They love the flexibility, freedom and the social RV community.

“Rving is a lot of fun, it’s a lifestyle.” 

 

Say What? RV Community?

If you think the RV life can be lonely, think again.  There’s a vibrant community out there of free-spirited people from all over North America.  They are a friendly, helpful bunch.  Mona and her hubby have found their preferred RV parks. Home base for part of the winter.  They take day trips and enjoy the numerous activities and social life available.

Fitness classes, swimming, yoga, pickleball, sewing, woodworking, bike club, hike club, dances, and of course happy hour are just a few examples of the fun, fellow travelers can enjoy.  “It’s very social.”  Mona has already set some goals for her next stay at the park.  I foresee a new pickleball competitor emerging!

“It’s good to meet different people.  We’ve made new friends, stay connected and look forward to seeing them in the winter.”

 

What About Old Friends and Family?

Skype and social media help them stay connected.  Mona and her hubby Skype their grandchild every week.  When they are in town, they make an effort to see old friends and they always come home for Christmas.  The reality is that friends are busy or also away.  You don’t see them as much when you are home anyway.”

“We won’t be doing this forever.  One day we will sell the RV and buy a small home somewhere on the water.”

 

The Secrets to a Happy RV Life?

“Be open-minded.” 

Everyday can bring a new adventure and new friends to meet.  You can hide away in your RV or go out and enjoy the new sights, activities and people around you.  The later brings more fun and new experiences.  Mona was thrilled to experience the largest rodeo in North America while in Texas, something completely different for her.

 

 “Know to how fix things.”

Troubleshoot really.  Things can break down.  An RV is a home on wheels complete with water systems, electrical, heating, etc.  Mona’s had an awning nearly blow off, and a towed car roll off its trailer on the TransCanada! “You need to be healthy enough to fix things. It can be physically demanding.”

 

“You have to like the lifestyle.”

Not sure its for you?  Mona suggests trying it out first. Some of the RV parks have trailers you can rent over the winter.  The type of park you are in makes a difference in terms of the demographics of fellow RVers. “We wanted to be with active people.”

 

“Give each other space.”

To follow their own interests that is.  One of you may want to see one thing, while your spouse may have another interest. Accommodate each other’s interests along the way.  Mona’s hubby swims, while Mona plays pickleball. Speaking of space. Worried about the small quarters?  “If you can live outside, the small space is fine.”

 

Words of Wisdom for a Happy Retirement

“Find what works for you.”

Retirement is a gradual transition out of some activities and the picking up new ones. “Your interests and stamina changes.”

 

“For couples, ensure you are both on the same page.”

When you start retirement, look at the pros and cons of key decisions such as buying an RV.  Each of you make up your own list to see if you are on the same page.  Compromise may be necessary!

 

“We’re very happy in retirement. We always find something to do. “

Care to share?

3 Retirement Lessons from the Inca Trail

3 Retirement Lessons from the Inca Trail

Built in the 1400’s and hidden from the Spanish, this 45km, 4-day trail through the stunning Peruvian mountains to the unforgettable Machu Picchu Inca ruins is a trip of a lifetime. It’s not easy, and it may not be for those expecting 5-star accommodations, but it does cause you to see things with a new lens. Especially when we face one of life’s biggest changes, retirement.

 

 

  1. You Can Do More Than You Think You Can

I wasn’t sure I was up to it.  Hiking in high altitude, from dawn to dusk, for 4 days, sleeping in tents and no showers! Three mountain passes, the highest, aptly named Dead Woman’s Pass, is 4,215m high. I’ve never been that high, and my body is, you know… ageing.  Old sports injuries are ever present along with other aches and pains, and you just didn’t know how you’d react to the very high altitude.  Could I keep up?

But, I had a list.  60 Things to Do Before I Turn 60.  Hike the Inca Trail was the BIG stretch goal.  Time to put my dream to action.  Enter Jocelyn, my energetic, tough, but encouraging physical trainer.  She helped me overcome injuries, strengthen the bod, and build up my cardio capacity.  More importantly, she helped my mindset.

“You’re not old. You can do this!  Age is just a number.”

 

She would remind me, when I would doubt injury recovery, and question my ability to do this trek.  She was right!  Going to the gym, raised my confidence level, but the big test was on the mountain.  I was the oldest of our group and I could keep up!   I did it!  Completing this trek, helped me realize I can do more!

I will never forget that exhilarating feeling of reaching the top of Dead Woman’s Pass and ‘whooping’ as loud as I could over the Andes mountains! 

 

 

  1. The Right Tribe is Uplifting

“We are a family”, Rudy, our outstanding trek guide told our group of nine people, aged 22 to almost 60, and of various backgrounds and nationalities.   “We stick together and remember, PMA – positive mental attitude.”  That was our mantra for the four days of personal challenge for all of us. It worked. No need for competition, no race to the top. No one left behind.

We started out as strangers with different reasons for doing the trek, and we ended as a ‘family’ with a special bond after sharing a remarkable experience together.  We supported and encouraged each other through altitude sickness, travellers’ bellies, sore knees, the cold nights and a cold.  Snacks, meds and other remedies were shared (thankfully one trekker was a nurse) along with the local wisdom of our guide.   We enjoyed coca tea happy hour and Peruvian meals together in the dining tent, along with laughs, stories and a collective awe of where we were!

We made it to the beautiful wonder of the world, Machu Picchu, together, each of us uplifted and happy for each other!

 

 

  1. Travel is Sooooo Good For You

Especially in our next 3rd stage of life.  It causes us to be adaptable, open and curious. It puts our minds to work, researching sites, planning itineraries, or understanding different languages and protocols.  It can also test our stress resilience!

We learned so much on our trek through the Andes, while our comfort levels were tested. I was amazed at the marvels of Inca architecture and engineering on steep mountain slopes. We were introduced to the local culture, history and customs thanks to our valuable Andean guide and the local village people. Praying to the Sun and Mother Earth for good karma on our trek, eating alpaca and guinea pig, and of course sipping Pisco Sour, the tasty national cocktail.

Yet, we had to forgo our first world comfort and even sanitation expectations. (Always carry your own TP and hand sanitizer!)  Things we take for granted, like a seated toilet, were luxuries, but the magnificent mountain views, the Inca ruins, the starry night skies and the friendly people were definitely worth it!

The beauty of the place and the Inca civilization reminded me of how truly amazing this planet is.  I’m inspired to see more!

 

Remember this When Pondering Retirement

Check your attitudes to ageing, retirement and your ability.  You CAN do it!

Nurture tribes that uplift you.  Choose PMA people!

Travel – not just in a comfy way, but out of your comfort zone.  Let the world amaze you!

Care to share?

6 Essentials to a Healthy Relationship, for a Happy Retirement

6 Essentials to a Healthy Relationship, for a Happy Retirement

Feeling connected to others is vital to a happy retirement, and some studies suggest, to longer life. But, retirement brings changes and some of the biggest are in the dynamics of our relationships. Perhaps its time for a refresher on what makes a relationship healthy!

 

“A healthy relationship makes for a healthy retirement; an OK relationship makes for an OK retirement; while a chronically sick relationship, makes for a disaster.”  Dr. Richard P. Johnson

 

 

What is Connectedness?

It’s our ability to share ourselves at a deeper level with our spouse, special friend or confidante.  It is a key factor for retirement success.  When we share our time, talents, possessions, our emotions, joy, fear, hopes, dreams, desires, and mistakes, we share our spirit.  Think about those times when someone really listened to you, understood you.  How did you feel?  Connected?

 

A good relationship sparks our spirit; a poor relationship douses it.

 

 

Remove the Armour

Unfortunately, aloneness can creep into our retirement years. Loss of loved ones, and the changing lifestyles of friends and family may weaken close ties. We may try to protect ourselves from loneliness and don our armour. In the end, we isolate ourselves further and in so doing, quash our own spirit.  We just might become that grumpy old person people want to avoid!

 

“Reclusiveness is the opposite of connectedness. It constricts our souls, strangles our life energy and cuts us away from the vitality of living.” Dr. Johnson

 

 

The Six Conditions

Of a healthy relationship according to Dr. Johnson, expert on adult development, ageing and retirement, are:

 

  1. Mutuality

Each partner feels their needs are valued equally and they share a common purpose.  Inter-dependence rather than independence or dependence is key. They have a balanced union, not one of dominance or resignation. They can count on each other and they honour their relationship.

“The opposite of mutuality is self-centeredness.”

 

  1. Respect

Each partner recognizes, honours and cherishes the special uniqueness of the other… even after time has worn off some of the new excitement.  It’s not about tolerating the differences but recognizing them as part of the unique gifts of your partner.

“The opposite of respect is resentment.”

 

  1. Communication

Communicating in a caring compassionate way can help partners navigate the inevitable differences that emerge over time. Active listening, attending to feelings, speaking for yourself, not others, and encouraging each other to speak freely are some elements of meaningful interaction.

“The opposite of communication is criticism.”

 

  1. Intimacy

A strong and positive emotional bond brings intimacy.  A bond that yields affection, attachment and devotion. That’s intimacy.  When your partner can understand your feelings and vice versa. “Relationships that deal in the currency of feelings are relationships of richness and happiness.”

“The opposite of intimacy is emotional estrangement.”

 

  1. Trust

You can rely upon each other without question and genuinely accept the other.  Each partner encourages, supports and accepts the other’s journey of personal development.  It is not about submissiveness or resignation, but of clarity of what really is. Trust involves acceptance of others and of what is.

“The opposite of trust is doubt.”

 

  1. Commitment

Each partner practices perseverance, persistence and steadfastness so that fidelity and staying power builds over a lifetime. Partners have the courage to unwaveringly grow and strengthen their relationship when others may have lost hope.

“The opposite of commitment is indifference.”

 

Whew!  As I write this, I realize how easy it is to get lazy in a relationship. Now I’m inspired to rekindle the connection and I hope you are too!  For more inspiration, check out this post about Karl and Denise, a couple that embodies these six essentials.  In Dr. Johnson’s words…

 

“If you have a confidante, take very good care of that person; they are your mental wellness.”

 

Care to share?

Retire at 52? How This Retiree Did It Successfully

Retire at 52? How This Retiree Did It Successfully

Retire early or keep working?  How do you make the decision?  This happy retiree weighed both options early, and at key milestones during his 35-year career before making the plunge.  Here’s how he did it.

 

A Man with a Plan

I was struck by Bernard’s positive energy while working on a project with a volunteer board he leads.  He seemed to really enjoy retirement life, full of zest.  I was curious.  What was his story?

Bernard knew what he wanted to do with his life at age 17.  Join the military and make a full career of it.  Even at that young age, Bernard had a plan with retirement in it already.  How many 17-year-olds do that? He planned on a 35-year military career from day one. Knowing he would be young when retirement came along, he needed a careful approach to his finances. He didn’t want to rely solely on his military pension, and so started his RSP soon after he donned his air force uniform.

 “I started to plan financially for retirement early and knew I had to prepare carefully.”

 

Milestone Check and Retirement Journal

Fast forward 20 years.  Bernard asked himself, “what do I really want to do when I retire?”   He saw two paths.   “Retire fully or prepare myself to continue working.” He would jot ideas down as they came to him and regularly check his list over time. He was looking 15 years ahead, and he was looking at retiring to something, not from something.  That’s foresight!

“I knew I didn’t want to spend the day watching TV.  I wanted to be able to do things.” 

 

Contingency Plan

Bernard’s first choice was to fully retire after what became a rewarding and interesting career as an aerospace engineering officer.  But, he wasn’t sure this was wholly possible.  He went back to college and studied human resources management, to expand his civilian career options just in case.  “I diversified myself.”  He felt better prepared for both retire or work eventualities.

“My back-up plan had 3 purposes; one, build a financial buffer, two, have something to do if I was bored and three, give me options if I really liked the work.”

 

The True Retirement Picture Came Later

Bernard’s ideal retirement life started to crystallize four years before retirement.  The ideas in his retirement journal changed and evolved as he matured, and as his family dynamics changed.  “We have to accept that our plans might change.  Be open to change and new ideas.”

“At my 20-year milestone, I wanted to golf in retirement.  Now, golf is not even on my radar.”

 

His retirement canvas? “Really enjoy life. Take life to the fullest.”  That meant, retire fully, volunteer, travel, sports, and enjoy the great outdoors.

“I knew I wouldn’t be traveling or skiing everyday and wanted to do something in between.” 

 

Life of the Youngish Retiree

“Life is great now!” It took Bernard about 6 months to realize he was really retired.  It felt like a vacation at first. He still had some doubts but, in the end, his decision to retire youngish felt very rewarding.

“I was still nervous.  I wore a uniform for 35 years.  And one day I wouldn’t.  That’s a bit scary.  The military is like a huge family, your crutch.”

 

Having a plan helped ease Bernard’s doubts knowing he had already thought about things. Four years after retirement, he wouldn’t change anything.  The only surprise was how busy one can be in retirement. “You have to pace yourself.” He also realized the simple things in life bring happiness.  “Helping neighbours and just being friendly each day.”

“You need a lot less than you think. Life can be much simpler – take the time to enjoy it.”

 

He lives in a village outside Ottawa where he can walk into town.  He and his wife, who retires soon, share one car. (He has a sweet motorcycle for fair weather fun.)  He curls, treks in the alps with his military buddies, hikes with his wife and really is enjoying life. Volunteering for a museum and for a stewardship association gives him a sense of contribution to his community, new social circles and added meaning to his life. “Life is much better actually.”

 

Words of Wisdom

Bernard offers 3 tips:

  1. Early planning is truly important. Write it down, regularly review, and change as needed.   Don’t be afraid to admit to yourself that your retirement dreams are changing.

 

  1. Don’t underestimate your skills and experience – especially military colleagues. You might be surprised how well your skills are transferable.

 

  1. Have the support of your spouse. This is most critical. Retiring early is a team decision and affects your spouse and family.

 

Thanks Bernard!

Care to share?