July 2022

The Gift

Time may be endless but the piece of it a life is given, like the gift of a cherished old photograph, dims and dulls as the seasons race forward in an indifferent perpetuity.  Having reached the age of 85, I have trouble remembering names, and the images of my experiences, once sharp and clear and full of color, are grey and cloudy and require hours of effort to pry them out of the disarray of detail that has now become my memory. And so, it was not surprising that I could not recognize the name, Stephan Jacobson when my caller identified himself.

It all began two weeks ago when Ellie, my young secretary, entered my study as I rested in my easy chair and handed me an envelope. “This is one,” she said in her slow, soft voice, “I think you’d best open yourself.”

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Time


Falling Leaves
summer’s end,
it’s the changing time,
the spinning of the earth,
the movement of planets:
like the river,
time flows on,
carrying the fall leaves,
shaping the crystals of winter,
signaling the time for the snow to fall:
days and nights,
nights and days:
time is a train,
traveling to destinations
near and far,
to places unknown.

Designing a Retirement Plan that Works

Retirement presents many challenges. It is an ending but also a beginning. Many are relieved that working life is over: others are anxious about what they will do. There are some universal issues around retirement, but the process varies from person to person.


Everyone has to design their own retirement plan. For some of us, this is easy, but for others, not so much. Here are some issues to think about as retirement approaches.

1. Think hard about what you like to do. Retirement doesn’t work well if you do what you think you should do. Sometimes, it is not easy to figure out and may take trial and error.

2. Work at retirement. Create structure. Don’t waste time.

3. Try to get good at things. Whether cooking, golfing, traveling, or gardening, study and improve. Being competent makes any endeavor more fun.

4. If you value relationships, get social. Take the initiative. Time is limited, and you have an opportunity. Don’t wait for your phone to ring. Reach out!

5. Retirement brings freedom. Don’t worry about what others think. The canvas is empty. Paint away.

6. If you want to try new things, do it now. Learn and grow.

7. Take some time to assess your past life and put it in perspective. Acceptance that you did the best you could brings peace and makes it easier to move on. Think of your working life as an athletic contest. The game was played. It is over, and you are free to move on to other endeavors.

8. Try to stay as healthy as possible. Illness compromises retirement.

9. As aging makes one activity difficult or impossible, move on to another activity. Find things that are fun and do them. If you can’t play tennis, play pickleball.

10. Remember that we can all keep growing and learning. You really can teach old dogs new tricks.

Not What I Had in Mind!

I tell everyone I won the lottery ONCE. The date was June 30, 2019; it was my official retirement date from 29 years of working at a middle school in a suburban town in Massachusetts . I was 65 and had planned for this day for many years. I retired when I planned to and was mentally and physically ready. Who knew that we would be facing a pandemic a mere nine months later? I won the lottery by leaving the profession when teaching was still in a regular school environment. I regularly check in with my colleagues, and I am unsure I can do what they are still doing two years later. So yes, I won a different kind of lottery!

I had nine months of traveling bliss following my retirement date. The next month while vacationing on Martha’s Vineyard, I met a man through mutual friends who would eventually become my boyfriend. (That story may be another article! Ha!). After that were trips to Boston, Colorado, Disney World, San Diego, Arizona, and a repeat weekend in Boston; at that weekend getaway at a hotel, I learned about an outbreak of COVID-19 discovered at another nearby hotel. The convention at that hotel where I was staying was cut short, and you know the rest.  

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Potatoes Antonio

Here is a recipe for spicy Italian potatoes that are wonderful for dinner and then heated up in the morning and served with eggs and bacon.

Bake in the microwave the number of potatoes you need.

Sautee in a frying pan thinly sliced bell peppers and yellow onions.

Cook them in olive oil.

When the potatoes are ready, cut them up into bite-size pieces. Mix them up in a bowl and add the cooked peppers and onions. Add salt, pepper, garlic salt, and seasoned salt. Add olive oil and a teaspoon of white wine vinegar. 

Heat the mixture in a large frying pan when ready to serve. 

A Good Walk

Drive to the Lumberyard Center in Encinitas, having left another car in Del Mar on Highway 101. From Encinitas, walk south along the ocean. In 7.5 miles, you will reach your destination in Del Mar. Have lunch and bask in a job well done. The walk features excellent views, occasional dolphins, happy bikers and walkers, funky shops, and California sunshine.

Seniors Beware!

Gyms and trainers are positive resources at any age. Activity fosters health. Keep active and live longer. Who can argue with these ideas?

Older people need to watch out for young personal trainers who bring a boot camp attitude to sessions. Personal trainers are not physical therapists who must earn a doctor of physical therapy degree and pass a state licensure exam. I have had several friends who suffered injuries during sessions with overzealous trainers.

It is good to discuss goals and methods before beginning sessions with a trainer. Stay in control of the process. It is your health that is at stake!!

Remorse

For the past 25 years as a psychologist, I have had the privilege and opportunity to be in consultation with individuals at various stages of the aging process.  My patients ranged in age from the early ’50s to the early ’90s.  I visited individuals in skilled nursing facilities, assisted living facilities, their homes, and in my office.  My interventions were often focused on the following problem…remorse.


A significant number of my patients lived with the emotional burden of remorse.  They felt guilt mostly about family situations.  They felt remorse about being overly busy with several activities in life and not spending more quality time with their spouses, partners, and children.  

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