Some useful links, to start us off.

Tracey Links

Better World Shopperwww.betterworldshopper.org /

Dedicated to providing people with a comprehensive, up-to-date, reliable account of the social and environmental responsibility of every company on the planet AND making it available in practical forms that individuals can use in their everyday lives. (Lofty, I know but really fascinating and practical!)

 

 

Retired Brainswww.retiredbrains.com /

A good spot for job seekers in The Second Half

 

 

 

 

Senior Corpswww.seniorcorps.gov /

Senior Corps connects today’s 55+ with the people and organizations that need them most!

 

 

 

 

Pioneer Networkwww.pioneernetwork.net /

Interesting resource

 

 

 

 

Home Energy Saverwww.hes.lbl.gov /

Consumer Home Energy Saver /How to calculate and save on your energy costs. (If we all do a little, we all benefit!)

 

 

 

 
WebMDwww.webmd.com / Reliable medical guidance. (It’s good to be informed but please … no self-diagnosing. See your healthcare professional if you have concerns.)

 

 

 

 

 

Overseas Adventure Travelwww.oattravel.com  /

Adventure, Value & Discovery on the Road Less Traveled (AN interesting, practical way to travel but there are so many great
travel sites. Share one you like … and tell me where you’re going!)

 

 

 

Pandorawww.pandora.com /

Free internet radio – every tune, song, style you could ever imagine! (Ok, there are ads but far less than regular radio. Besides, you can program your own listening!)

 

 

 

Young at Heart Choruswww.youngatheartchorus.com /

Just go to this site and listen. You’ll be glad you did!

Encore.org

Tracey Good News

Here’s an organization that is changing lives, in every sense of the word. Encore.org (www.encore.org) “provides free, comprehensive information that helps individuals transition to jobs in the nonprofit world and the public sector.”  The site is published by Civic Ventures, a national, nonprofit think tank designed to focus on boomers, work and social purpose. Pretty good, right? It’s downright great in my book.

Encore careers are positions that benefit society while utilizing the experience, life skills and passion of those of us in the second half. Consider these stories: Jan Albert, who was laid off from her real estate job, trained as a caregiver. She and her sister now manage their own home care business; Wylie Schwieder, a former corporate manager, now teaches high school math; Army veteran Cecil Whiteaker joined a sheriff’s department. He currently mentors younger employees and counsels inmates; Sharon Ridings took her 21 years financial industry experience, six years in the gaming industry, and a “leap of faith” to begin a position as National Training Manager for the U.S. EPA. (For more inspiring Encore career stories, go to www.encore.org/connect/stories.)

Want to mix thing up in your life while making a real difference? Seems like a win/win and we all have Encore.org to thank!

Let me know if you get involved. I’d love to pass on your success story!

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Bring it on!

Tracey Tracey's Blog

I’ve never considered myself to be especially techno savvy, although once upon a time, I did manage to rebuild the carburetor on my ’61 VW bug. And math? Ha! If a problem requires more than my ten digits, I head straight for the calculator. So (bear with me, this might not strike you as a logical leap)  my initial reaction to computers was less than enthusiastic. Fear, intimidation, flat out terror coursed through my veins the first time I sat in front of a computer, a behemoth of yesteryear. But eventually, I discovered the magic of computers and I was hooked. Enter blogging. Ok, the idea of writing a blog? Fun. But the thought of managing a blog, all of the behind-the-scenes stuff? I was nearly thrown all the way back to step one – stalled before I ever wrote my firsts post. I might still be frozen, staring into the headlights, if it hadn’t been for my very patient teacher, my dear son-in-law. (Amazing, right?!)  But now? The challenge is invigorating. I can almost feel my brain firing along at a healthy clip as solutions fall into place  – it’s gratifying. More than than, it’s downright fun!

(Click here to see other random thoughts)

Husband is Afraid to Spend Retirement Funds

Tracey Columns

Original Date of Publication: 3/8/11

Dear Tracey,
My husband retired last year after a lifetime of careful financial preparation. He’d meet annually with our financial planner to map out the year and save for our retirement. We have always managed our money to the penny and have spent our lives socking it away for our “golden years.”
Well, those golden years finally arrived and now he is afraid to spend any of it. He has us living on a budget like the one we had when we were in our college years. Honestly, I think he’d be quite happy to just shop with coupons, listen to the “free” radio, and walk everywhere. (Don’t get him started on the price of gas.) He constantly worries about the future of social security even though, get this, it’s only about 30% of our retirement income. Yes, we have managed well. Are you starting to get the picture?
He frets over the business section of the paper each morning, is glued to the internet and he’s convinced that every bad news story will result in our financial ruin. Of course, since things aren’t all that rosy in the world, he seems to always be in a bad mood.
He’s been frugal our entire lives but we’ve always been able to work out a comfortable compromise. But now, he won’t even listen to reason.
Some days I’m furious with him, other days I worry that I can’t go on living like this. How do I talk some sense into him?

Signed,

Married to a Tightwad

Dear Reader,
It must be especially alarming to have planned for retirement only to have it backfire so miserably. It’s no wonder you worry about the future. of your marriage. Given your current circumstances, there doesn’t seem to be much to look forward to.
I also have great sympathy for your husband. It sounds like his financial prowess has always been central to his identity. Without a reliable paycheck, he seems to be scrambling. As cliché as it may sound, who is he now that he is not bringing home the bacon each week?
Many men and women struggle with their identity when they retire. The lack of purpose, loss of significance and worth is daunting. A paycheck represents all of these things. Take it away and some people are frantic to find a substitute.
From your description, I wonder if this is what your husband is doing. By micromanaging every cent, he can feel some control over his life while he continues to “provide” for his wife. It also gives him something to do – read the news, follow the internet, clip coupons – each of these activities provides him a connection to the world he has left behind.
It appears you have tried every possible way to approach your husband on this topic. It’s time for an objective voice to help you two navigate this situation. Fortunately, you have a long standing relationship with your financial advisor. Clearly, your husband trusts this professional. He/she may be able to reassure your husband about your financial welfare. Let him/her know in advance what you are dealing with. have your advisor help you decide upon a reasonable budget that works for both of you.
Money aside, just how happy is your husband with retirement? You say he is in a bad mood much of the time. He has limited interests and is lost in very narrowly defined pursuits. How much time is he spending out in the world? Is he getting any exercise? Are you two socializing? Just how much fun are you having? It’s also time to have conversations about these critically important subjects as well.
Defining oneself post retirement isn’t an easy tasks. This shift in our lives impacts everything. If your husband is resistant discussing these issues, pick up a couple of good books on retirement. Both of you need to educate yourselves on the realities you face, as well as the wonderful possibilities that come with this stage of life. Hopefully, you’ll eventually be able to see the future as one that is full of opportunities.

(Click here to return to The Second Half online archives)

Parents Are Having to Rethink College Plans

Tracey Columns

Original Date of Publication: 3/15/11

Dear Tracey,
I am a professional man with a lovely wife and three kids who will all be college bound within in the next few years. My wife and I have worked hard putting away money for their college education and our retirement. Now, there really isn’t enough money socked away to make all of it happen.Read More

Reader’s Letter is a Teachable Moment

Tracey Columns

Original Date of Publication: 3/22/11

“You can’t please all of the people all of the time” is an adage I learned to believe a long time ago. And when you write a weekly advice column, you better accept that philosophy pretty darned quickly or you won’t last six months.
That said, I’m sharing some reactions I received from one reader. Her letter is a “teachable moment” for all of us, as her attitude illustrates: 1) how people rush to judgment without knowing all of the facts; 2) why assumptions break down communication and ultimately, relationships and; 3) why “should” messages are typically useless.
This woman was quite angry with me for how I responded to a letter. She wrote “shame on you” and “you really missed the mark,” adding that I “really screwed up.” She then told me how I “should” have answered. Finally, she weighed in on in a previous column, telling me how I “had failed” to address yet another issue. And though she closed with “sincerely” she added a P.S. “What age are you living in …?” Yes, it was a bit of a thrashing.
Some background into what it’s like to answer your letters and e-mails will be helpful. Naturally, I read them the all the way through, an easy but time consuming task. (Think about a single spaced letter, seven pages long, written on both sides, in very bad handwriting.) Next, I sift through which ones are appropriate for publication. (Trust me, some don’t make the cut.) Then I need to decide if the issue is timely and different. (I don’t want to waste your time!) Finally, I often have to edit the letter to fit the space. (I only get 700 words a week. Space is at a premium!)
But the most challenging aspect of this job? Having incredibly limited information to respond to. Remember, I only get one side of a any issue. Here’s a life lesson worth practicing: knowing that it is pointless to try and imagine the rest of any story. Speculating on anything is dangerous business. Consequently, I am always without vital information. Therefore, I always come down on the side of caution and restraint.
My training in counseling psychology taught me how pointless it was to tell someone what they “should ” or “should not” do. The seeds of this pressure are sown throughout childhood. Each of us carries our own unique “should” messages with us well into adulthood. These powerful, and typically useless, cannonballs can blow up without warning, leaving perfectly good people stalled and guilt ridden. Or they can loiter inside of us us with great weight, forcing us to drag around what can be very counterproductive missives.
Yet, time and time again we hear how we should be behaving, what we should be feeling, how we should be responding. Experience has shown me that it is far better to engage in a meaningful conversation with another human being and allow him/her to come to conclusions that are individually significant and useful.
Ah, but this raises perhaps the King of Slippery issues … allowing another to live his/her life without our interference, means we not only have to relinquish some control (there’s a challenge for many) but, are you sitting down? We also have to look at the very real possibility that we may not be right 100% of the time!
Yes, I’m poking a little fun fun here but these traits are not at all funny. Sadly, we humans are often frightened by our differences. When people look, speak, believe, behave differently than we do, alarm bells can ring, sometimes softly, sometime with a loud clang! Combine this reaction with lack of valuable information and the clanging is deafening! Anxiety shuts down our logical, open minded brain. It triggers the need to tighten things up, to control the situation. Our mouths fly open and without even thinking about the words coming out, the flood of “shoulds” pours forth!
Has this column simply been me telling you how you should be? I hope that’s not your take away! All I’m trying to do is point out that some ways of communicating and behaving that may just lead you to more satisfying encounters and relationships.
Okay, so we won’t be entirely back together for a little while longer. I only wish the people of Japan could say the same thing.

(Click here to return to The Second Half online archives)

Perspective and Gratitude

Tracey Columns

 

Original Date of Publication: 3/29/11

I’ve had trouble deciding on the topic for today’s column. For the last few days, I found myself torn between two issues: 1) the value “perspective” plays in our lives and; 2) how grateful I am to live in a community full of responsive, hard working people, who turned a potential disaster into a rather inconvenient but manageable event.
On March 17, a truck driver had the misfortune of entangling his delivery van in the guy wires that secure the power pole across from two buildings my husband and I own. (My office is housed in one of them, a lovely 130 year old Victorian.) As the driver pulled away from the curb, the pole snapped in half and came crashing down into the street. Then things got really ugly. Everyone within miles was instantly without power – apparently, 2,900 of us total.
But it was the string of buildings along our block that took the major hit. Power surged into my building, blowing out a gas line and water heater. (If you’re ever going to have a fire make sure it is directly below a broken water pipe! Crisis averted!) We lost our furnace, the carpet and linoleum was flooded, phone lines fried, equipment toasted … the list goes on and on.
But life in a small town has its rewards. The Arcata Police Department is literally a half block away and the Fire Department is just up the street. Help arrived in the blink of an eye!
What followed was pretty miserable – the Victorian was entirely out of commission. (The newer building faired a bit better but our tenants had their own challenges.) Both PG&E, AT&T worked around the clock restoring services. My husband and I were on deck immediately, coordinating the emergency services company, electricians, plumbers, the City of Arcata, and our tenants. Yep, it was a bit of a pain.
But here’s where “perspective” comes into play. From the moment I got the first call, all I could think about was that no one had been hurt. I mean, think about it – an old growth redwood Victorian? What are the odds? And then,I kept thinking “we don’t live in Japan.”
We would be fine. Inconvenienced? Absolutely but given the situation in the big old world around us, I was quite aware that what we were dealing with was relatively small potatoes. We had our lives, our buildings. No one was missing or injured. Our future economic security was still in place. Our cell phones worked. Water and food were plentiful and clean.
Yep, keeping a realistic and honest perspective is surely one of the best approaches to take, no matter what the circumstances.
I can’t close without expressing my gratitude to each and every person who helped get us back up and running.
My thanks to PG&E and AT&T for their quick response and tireless approach to problem solving. New Life Service arrived on the scene within the hour and stayed until the job was done, days later. Our likable and conscientious plumber Zach, of “Plumber Man”, was there in a jiffy. His attention to gas lines and all things water related was invaluable. Trinidad Electric managed to get there quickly too, systematically checking out both buildings. All electrical repairs were accomplished in record time. KC Mechanical hustled to install the new furnace. Carpet Express – a reliable company who provides consistently great service – continues to work closely with us and our insurance company to make sure all of the ruined flooring is replaced. We even had to get a couple of building permits from the City of Arcata. Honestly? It was like going to your favorite fast food joint – super friendly counter staff and BAM! “Order up!” Finally, my hat is off to Kathy Lewis and Capital Insurance Group. Forget all of those horror stories you’ve heard about some insurance companies. We have nothing but good things to report!

(Click here to return to The Second Half online archives)

Husband is Exhibiting Personality Changes

Tracey Columns

Original Date of Publication: 4/5/11

Dear Tracey,

My husband is 75 and I am 63. We’ve really had a great marriage and communicate well, until now.

My husband abruptly “decided” we should sell our home and move into an apartment in a “senior community” in the San Jose area. He just announced it one morning. I was shocked. He says we need to be closer to all of our kids (we have five between us) and that he’s tired of maintaining the house and yard.

This is all pretty strange for a couple of reasons. To begin with, we’ve never had a marriage where one of us makes decisions for both of us. (My first husband did that to me. That didn’t work!) I’ve tried to understand why he wants to call the shots on this and he gets angry and says he’s “just trying to take care of us in our old age.” Another thing has me confused – he hates big cities. It’s hard enough to get him to go visit the children. I can’t imagine him actually living down there. And even though he says he doesn’t want to do things like yard work, he is absolutely happiest when he is out in his greenhouse or messing with his many garden projects. When I ask him what he thinks it would be like just to have a little balcony and a few potted plants, he just shrugs his shoulders and won’t answer. Which kind of worries me too. He’s just so much more detached these days.

How do I make him  understand that this plan doesn’t work?

Signed,

Wants to Stay Put

 

Dear Reader,

How frustrating for you – to have been living a comfortable, satisfying life for years and now face the possibility that your husband wants to unilaterally change everything.

While you are asking me for ideas on how to “make him understand that this plan just doesn’t work” for you, what strikes me is how out of character your husband’s recent behavior is. Let’s address this first.

You say he’s trying to make huge decisions for both of you, something he’s never done before. He’s proposing you live in the city – something he hates. He says he’ll give up his favorite activity, gardening. He can’t seem to explain his decision making process. And, he is “much more detached” than he has ever been.

My first recommendation? Get him in for a complete physical. Sudden and distinctive personality and behavior changes can indicate a variety of underlying medical and emotional conditions. And please don’t immediately think the worst. In a 73 year old man, the explanation may be something quite simple and very treatable. But ignoring what you describe won’t do either of you any good.

If everything checks out well, tackle the proposed move. Point out all of the experience you’ve accumulated over the years making decisions “together.” This approach has always served you well. Ask your husband to  explain this new, one-sided approach to decision making. He sounds worried about the coming  years. What are his concerns? Is he feeling badly about not providing well enough? Sometimes, by simply expressing fears and worries, a better plan can emerge.

If he persists in wanting to move, carefully explore all of the pros and cons of his plan. Be very clear about your reservations. Then, toss in a big dose of reality; take an extended trip to the San Jose area so you can actually visit the communities he’s thinking about. Some of these facilities allow prospective residents to stay for a weekend. Do it! Then, find out what you home is worth and what you can expect to pay for your living expenses if you moved south. Finally, meet with your financial advisor to access the merits of such a move.

After you’ve done all of these things, see if your husband is still adamant about moving. Consider less drastic options such as hiring a gardening service  and/or a handyman to do the chores that he’s sick of managing.

I wish you both productive conversations and sincerely hope you are able to navigate these rough waters

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