BOOMERBROADcast

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Breaking up is still hard to do


As more of our generation is retiring, accepting early golden parachute offers or even sadly, being made redundant through restructuring, I thought I would republish a piece I wrote a couple of years ago. The message endures.

Bette Davis is famously quoted as saying, “Getting old ain’t for sissies”. Retirement is a natural by-product of getting old and requires attention. For some, it’s wonderful; for others, not so much. I definitely fall into the former category but for those who are forced to retire before they’re psychologically or financially ready it can be devastating.

You’re out! You’re no longer part of the team.

At the risk of generalizing, I think it’s often more difficult for men than women to retire. The Boomer generation and our parents’ generation is characterized by men who devoted their entire adult lives to their work. Perhaps it was a family business, a demanding occupation like medicine or maybe it was a prestigious corporate position. Retirement means these individuals have lost not only something to do every day but their very identity. Gen X’ers and millennials watched their parents (us, Boomers) doing this, got the message and have flipped that psychology on its ear.

When you’re retired, people are no longer impressed by what you once did for a living. When you’re not Mr. Big, President of ABC International Corporation it can create a huge vacuum. Because you no longer have the power to improve the lives of your former coworkers they drop you from their social and business circle. This alienation can be devastating. The 2002 movie About Schmidt with Jack Nicholson and Kathy Bates clearly illustrates the shock of transition. When Schmidt, played by Jack Nicholson attends his retirement party, the speeches and platitudes from his coworkers at the insurance company where he had dedicated his life were so cliché and familiar it was heartbreaking.

My friend David worked in the marketing department of a giant international corporation. The corporate culture was casual and creative with frequent product launches, brainstorming sessions, corporate retreats and big-budget product promotions . Co-workers often socialized outside of work hours going on skiing weekends and attending parties together.  When David retired he expected his former coworkers to keep him in the loop but the invitations stopped. He was understandably confused and hurt that people he had always considered friends as well as co-workers no longer wanted his company.

business lunch2

Business associates and friends are not the same thing, despite what it seems.

Another executive I know from the financial services sector was similarly affected when suddenly dropped by his circle of business friends when he retired. He felt abandoned and couldn’t understand why his calls weren’t returned and no one wanted to join him for lunch anymore. Once the unspoken message became clear, he was forced to accept the truth—he was no longer a somebody. His business friends were in fact not real friends at all but merely business associates and when he could no longer do anything for them they no longer needed or wanted his company.

This particular aspect of retirement can result in feelings similar to divorce. The entity that has been a huge part of your life is gone and no longer cares to associate with you. Like divorce where you lose being part of a couple, loss of some friends, probably your home and assets, you lose a large component of your life. A new strategy for moving on is required.  For some individuals it might take the form of part-time consulting work to keep a hand in the business world, albeit to a lesser degree. Others may prefer a more relaxed approach, taking time to enjoy all the activities that working did not allow for. This can include golf and other sports, taking courses, spending time with the grandkids, pursuing hobbies or perhaps a part-time job.

Retiring for me, however, meant total and utter freedom at last. Now I have the time to read voraciously, entertain at my leisure, get together with friends, take vacations whenever I please and do dozens of other things I’ve waited for my entire life. Fortunately, it was and is the best time of my life and just keeps getting better.

Over the years I have observed people approaching retirement with different attitudes. Some were looking forward to european travelhaving the time to travel and do things with friends. Others were bewildered and had no constructive plan for filling their time. Those who were not prepared were often the ones who developed health issues that may have contributed to an early demise. Interestingly, many of the retiring career women I have worked with were often the ones who had a Mediterranean cruise or a tour of Ireland scheduled for the week after they finished work. They had plans to volunteer at a library or hospital and hit the ground running. These are generally the people who live the longest and have the richest, most fulfilling retirement.

Enjoying retirement does not have to involve memberships in expensive golf clubs or Mediterranean cruises. The most simple things now give me enormous pleasure. There’s nothing better than enjoying a second cup of tea as I take my time over the morning paper.  The luxury of being able to go grocery shopping minus the crowds on a Tuesday morning or hanging sheets outside on the line to dry in the morning breezes still give me great pleasure. The novelty of enjoying a ladies lunch with a chilled glass of Pinot Grigio and not having to rush back to the office has still not worn off. Entertaining friends is much more pleasurable when you have the luxury of time to shop, cook and prepare for your guests.

Just like in a divorce, breaking up with your employer can be devastating or it can be yourhippie boomers2 “get out of jail free” card. When that door slams behind you, the outcome is entirely up to you. I say, crank up the 60s music and let’s rock n’ roll. As Boomer Broads we’re living our best years now.

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You know you’re a senior when . . .


Baby boomers came of age at a time when the mantra was never trust anyone over thirty. Ouch. Some of us now have grandchildren over thirty which means we’ve come a long way since then and have learned a thing or two along the way. We’re brutally aware of our age, particularly when we start doing or saying things that sound like they’re from another era or generation. Here are a few real-life examples experienced by baby boomers that drive this message home. You know you’re getting old when:

  1. We’d like doggie bags and separate cheques please.

    Closing a place means getting home from a Saturday night out on the town at 8:30 p.m. not a.m.

  2. We go out to lunch instead of dinner because a) it’s cheaper, and b) we don’t like to drive after dark.
  3. We take leftover restaurant food home in a doggie bag for dinner that night (see Item 2 above) or lunch the next day.
  4. Celebrating New Years’ Eve is iffy because we can’t stay up until midnight. Then, there’s the driving after dark issue.
  5. We prefer talk radio to rock radio.
  6. Out of our mouths pops, “Boy, when we were young . . . “ followed by comments about how spoiled, entitled and lazy so many young people are today and how terrible today’s music is .
  7. Sturdy arch supports beat out stiletto’s.
  8. Sourcing cheap booze is the result of having the time to price shop instead of having no money.
  9. We’re thrilled we qualify for seniors’ rates at the movies, on public transit and special days at Shoppers Drug Mart. That means extra money for Item 8.
  10. We opt for electrolysis on our upper lip and chin hairs instead of getting a Brazilian.
  11. Major chunks of the monthly budget are devoted to getting our colour done.
  12. Major chunks of time are devoted to hiding fashion and beauty maintenance costs from our life partner.
  13. You turn out the lights and hide in the den on Halloween instead of going to a crazy party.
  14. You’d rather just skip Christmas and head south.

    We still know how to close a place but now it’s at 9:00 p.m.

  15. Your peers at the community centre sixties dances look so much older than you. They’re all old, fat and bald and they dance funny, like they don’t know they’re old, fat and bald.
  16. A good parking spot now means closest to the mall entrance rather than down a country road after dark doing things our parents wouldn’t approve of.
  17. The definition of an ideal mate is no longer cute and a good dancer. It’s healthy and a good RRSP.
  18. You get your political jollies sitting in your pyjama bottoms and reading the editorial page in the morning paper instead of marching in your bell bottoms and waving a placard.
  19. The criteria for a good bra are comfort and coverage not black lace and transparency.
  20. Grannie panties feel divine.

And the list goes on. But you get the picture. The bottom line is we’re lucky to be here celebrating the best years of our lives.

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Boomers are singin’ a different tune these days


When Jim Croce sang Time in a Bottle in 1973, he wanted to “save every day ’til eternity passes away just to spend them with you”. How I would dearly love to capture time in a bottle but now it’s for general living. As an early baby boomer, I turn seventy this year. It’s a big number and I’m now confronted with the horizon in ways I never anticipated. Remember when we were children and teenagers? We were always wanting to be older, bigger, further along the continuum of life; we were five and three-quarters years old, or nearly sixteen. As young adults we couldn’t wait to leave home and start our own lives, get our first apartment, get married and have children. Then, we found ourselves planning ahead to pay off the mortgage or even counting off the years or months until the kids left home and we were free again. I clearly remember during my working days that I could hardly wait for Friday, counting down the days until the weekend when my real life kicked in. Although we listened to those who warned, “Don’t wish your life away”, it has now taken on real meaning.

I’m a baby boomer who considers the current years as the best years of our lives. Since I retired, I’ve enjoyed good health, a comfortable lifestyle, the love and companionship of amazing friends and family and all the benefits of living in a safe, free country where we take care of each other. What more could any person want or need? Material goods have diminished in importance and value. Having the latest fashions, the most expensive jewelry or the fanciest toys no longer has the same appeal as it did when we were in our thirties and forties. We accept our personal shortcomings with good humour. I’ll never look like Christie Brinkley and I’m fine with that.

The fact that we have time at all is a gift not to be squandered.

In the Frank Sinatra song It Was A Very Good Year, he’s, “in the autumn of the years.” I would like to think of myself as more than vintage wine from fine old kegs. In fact, I feel every verse of that song is part of my existential life today. On some level I still feel like I’m in my twenties but relieved that I’m not. We’ve picked up the wisdom inherent in aging but kept our curiosity and vigor for learning and growing. It’s the best of both worlds—feeling content with the status quo while reaping the benefits of experience.

We need a new anthem

The Rolling Stones have gathered quite a bit of moss and taken heat about still being rockers at an age when they should be rocking on the front porch with a cup of hot cocoa. When Paul McCartney penned When I’m Sixty-Four he had a romantic, unrealized vision of life at that age. Boomers were under the assumption we would live forever, that we would always be young, hip and rockin’. Youth comes with a sense of invincibility but time’s now slip slidin’ away far too quickly. Perhaps it’s time for Mick Jagger to update “Time is on my side” to something closer to our reality. That may no longer be our truth and we need a new anthem. Time is no longer just about the love of our life but about the time we have and the love of life itself.

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Trump was right. Who knew it could be so complicated?


Sometimes, we just need the noise to stop. The Syrian crisis, the threat of nuclear war with North Korea, Putin’s crimes against humanity and the ongoing terrorist threats scare the crap out of me. Then, we have escalating trade wars, racism and climate change denial. Not to mention Trump’s lies and regressive new laws that completely disregard the ordinary person and the future of our planet. When the news starts I get a knot in my stomach so I turn off the television or radio. As I sit looking out my window into the yard watching the trees move gently in the breeze and the new flowers coming to life, listen to the birds, my mind melts into a more peaceful state.

Has the world really become so much more complicated or is my memory failing me?  In the swinging sixties while we were wearing mini-skirts, dancing the night away to Creedence Clearwater or worrying about whether “he would call”, there were still serious issues. We had the the horribly escalating Vietnam War, Bay of Pigs, Khrushchev, and of course, Richard Nixon. We were convinced the world was constantly on the brink of nuclear attack. Later on, Bush Jr. baffled us with his stupidity, lied to the world about false threats and sent innocent young members of the military to their unnecessary early deaths.

Since the beginning of time the world has been in state of turmoil and seemingly on the brink of some war or another. Catastrophic economic depressions in the seventies and to a more serious degree in the nineties wiped out financial security for large segments of the population. AIDS, SARS and other chronic diseases were front page news. Every so often I have to take a sabbatical from the news. Electronic media can simply be turned off. Reading print media requires I just skip over the bits I find distressing. Talking about issues with friends sometimes means changing the subject when we get too frustrated and angry about current events. Despite his stratospheric ego, Donald Trump doesn’t know much which is truly frightening. But the world is a complicated place and the further away I get from his noise the less complicated it becomes. That’s one thing I can do to make the world a better place, at least for me.

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Boomer sex . . . what’s your position?


It was definitely the start of something big.

Remember the good old days when Boomers had sex like we were rewriting the Kama Sutra? During the sexual revolution in the sixties, we became convinced no one in the history of the world had enjoyed better sex than we did. In the days before worrying about Aids, herpes, HPV and other STDs, our mantra was “Make Love, Not War” and boy did we make our share of love, steaming up the inside of cars and enjoying the freedom of having our own apartment for the first time. Although we probably should have been more careful, our biggest worry was getting pregnant. The introduction of birth control pills eliminated that obstacle so we made the most of being young and free.

Then, we got married, had children or we may have divorced and changed partners, though not necessarily in that order. Life became more complicated. Many of us found ourselves dating again in middle age or even later. But the playing field had changed. We no longer had firm thighs and upper arms or just one chin. The days of freedom from self-consciousness were also gone. Lovemaking required pharmaceutical intervention and we needed our glasses to read the instructions. STDs have become a blight and a barrier to enjoyable sex for everyone, not just single boomers. As if those libido killers weren’t enough, we are also faced with . . . well, how to face it. We’re self-conscious about our backsides, unhappy with our muffin top middles and underarm jiggles. If we’re on top, gravity makes our face look like a basset hound. On the bottom, our boobs settle down under our arms like melting ice-cream.

But, it can be complicated.

Not that our partners fare much better. Oh dear, no. Although most males are completely oblivious. Remember the scene from the movie Terms of Endearment when Aurora and retired astronaut Garrett have their first intimate encounter? Shirley MacLaine’s no-longer-young character Aurora spends the entire afternoon prepping physically and psychologically. She experiments with negligees, hair and lighting, generally trying every trick in the book to present herself in the best possible light. Jack Nicholson’s character, on the other hand, spends the afternoon drinking without a thought to whether he’ll be able to rise to the occasion. When the big moment comes, she’s a bit nervous but ready. He prances in wearing a giant, lecherous smile and a dirty old bathrobe which he gallantly throws open to reveal a hairy beer belly. Men are so blessed with self-confidence.

So, what’s the best approach to boomer sex? Beats me.  Let’s try to recall the summer of love, 1967. Put on the oldies music, drink copious amounts of wine or other mood enhancers and relive the good old days. To paraphrase Timothy Leary’s famous quote in 1966, “Turn on, tune in and let the good times roll.” Put on some Everley Brothers, Roy Orbison or Tommy James and the Shondelles. Get lost in the fifties with Ronnie Milsap’s In the Still of the Night. Just turn out the lights and ignore the jiggles.

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Want the secret to a successful career?


The future is no longer in plastics.

If your grandchildren are planning to get a degree in Sociology, Women’s Studies, Art History or Musicology tell them to forget it. They’ll run up tens of thousands of dollars in debt for a degree that will never get them a job in today’s  market and they’ll miss out on an opportunity guaranteed to provide even more secure and profitable work than becoming an orthodontist. And it requires fewer years of education. While they won’t be able to put “Dr.” in front of their name, they will be able to work anywhere, including from home or a small town conducive to raising a family, and make decent money. It’s sad to think that some people keep prolonging their education and growing their debt load to obtain a useless graduate degree in the vain hope it will improve their chances of employment.

It’s getting harder for Boomers to keep up.

The answer to the employability conundrum is called computer software programming. Early last year I wrote a piece entitled “Mothers, make sure your daughters grow up to be coders. A recent article in the newspaper said that by 2020 there will be 1.4 million more software jobs than qualified applicants. Enough said. Get those kids out of career paths directed at philosophy, kinesiology or political science (unless it’s for fun) and get them learning to write computer code. That would never have worked for me because I’m a right-brain thinker and could never get my mind around logical subjects like algebra, physics or chemistry. But I sure need someone to help me with my computer issues. And having that someone in the family (a grandchild?) would make life so much easier . . . and cheaper, assuming they’d help us for free. Or, if they could hack into Trump’s tax returns, that would bring in enough that they’d never have to work again. It’s a no-brainer . . . particularly if you’re a left-brainer.

Click these links:

Mothers, make sure your daughters grow up to be coders.

Both my left and right brain say ‘go for it’

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What did you do yesterday?


This is a test. To reassure me that I’m not losing my marbles. When I was out walking the dog the other day, I stopped to visit a friend who casually asked “What did you do yesterday?”. I drew a complete blank. At our age (Boomers) memory lapses are to be expected as some mental inventory gets rotated out to accommodate new material, but my off-loading is getting alarming. Just to test myself, I do remember what I did yesterday. I went grocery shopping, got my glasses adjusted and had lunch at Five Guys. Are you impressed?

Ask any Baby Boomer how they keep busy now that we’re retired and the answer is inevitably “I don’t know how I had time to work every day”. We fill our days with activities that we enjoy and even routine chores are no longer as onerous now that we have the luxury of controlling our own time. But not being able to remember what I did just yesterday is concerning me. That prompted me to dig up an earlier post from about three years ago on this issue. If you remember reading it—congratulations. If not, welcome to my world:

I’m not OK. Are you OK?

 

 

Was it something I did wrong in the sixties?

Could the once-brilliant minds of our entire Boomer generation be slowly slip-sliding away? Was it too much wine and other mood-enhancers we’ve used over the years?  Do we have late-onset brain damage from all those years of sleeping on brush rollers in high school? Or are we retiring too early and “losing it”? Perhaps the sins and excesses of our youth are coming home to haunt us. In a short 24-hour span this past weekend I experienced and witnessed enough lapses in cognition to cause major concern.

It began on Friday when I joined a girlfriend for lunch at her condo. The table was beautifully set with fine china, colourful, origami-folded napkins, a little gift bag at each place and large goblets for our flavoured mineral water (if we drink wine at lunch we fall asleep before dessert).  When I questioned the third place-setting and my hostess mentioned it was for so-and-so, I reminded her that so-and-so had e-mailed a week earlier that she couldn’t come. OMG. Hostess didn’t read the entire e-mail and just assumed the reply was an acceptance. On the positive side, that meant that I could gorge myself silly on extra finger sandwiches and fruit flan.

The second misadventure was a double-header. When my honey and I got married, the wedding date conveniently corresponded closely with his birthday so he’d have no excuse for forgetting our anniversary. Anniversary on the 12th. Birthday on the 16th. Simple. On the morning of the 12th I gave him his birthday present and cards and wished him a happy birthday. “But it’s not my birthday” he said. Second OMG. “Oh no. You’re right. Today’s not your birthday, it’s our anniversary” I yelled as I snatched the gift and cards from his hands. “It’s our anniversary?” he said. Emergency run to Superstore for flowers and card. We’d both screwed up. The honeymoon’s over.

 

 

About an hour later, we received a phone call from friends who’d gone to a cottage for the weekend. After taking a day off work on Friday and driving four hours to get to the cottage, they arrived to find no-one there—they’d got the date wrong and were a week early! Another four-hour drive and they’re back in the city and miraculously, still married. Some friends turned up a week early for a dinner date at an out-of-town restaurant with other friends. Hmmm.

Is it just me?

Finally, on Saturday we went to my husband’s birthday celebration (on our anniversary, in case you’re having trouble keeping all this straight) at his son’s place in London, Ontario. During late-afternoon cocktails, his grandson asked my husband what type of car he should buy. Puzzled by the question, said grandson produced a blank cheque I had written for said grandson’s birthday. In the course of writing a number of birthday and graduation gift cheques I had inadvertently neglected to fill in the amount. Thank God no one at Canada Post intercepted that one or we’d be living in our car and getting paper routes to keep us in Pinot Grigio.

Calendar confusion? Inattention to detail? What’s next? It wasn’t that long ago I used nail polish remover instead of toner on my face when I inadvertently picked up the wrong bottle. I’m a voracious reader and I also log every book I’ve read as soon as I finish it because as soon as I start a new one I can’t remember the last book I read. I can remember the words of every song from the sixties but not my cell phone number. How long will it be before I start hiding my own Easter eggs. Has the Mad Men/Mad Women era returned? I’m not OK with that. Are you?

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