Travel your dreams!

While travelling recently I was having a quiet evening relaxing in my hotel room when a thought came to me- why do we travel?
Seems simple enough!

But first let me qualify my terminology- to go on holiday for me means to go to one place and simply relax. Be it a beach, a spa, perhaps even a mountain chalet where you stare out at the view and sip red wine in front of the fire. No where to go and no where to be.
Travelling on the other hand is a packed trip, sights to see, museums to visit and a culture to explore.
Basically you need a holiday to get over your travelling!

So why do you travel? Is it to see as many sights as possible? Perhaps you like to immerse yourself in the culture and stay in B&B’s or people’s houses; buying food from local markets and living as they do. Or do you prefer the view from your 5 star balcony with guided tours by day?

For me it’s a question of timing and funds.
Gone are the days where back packing around Asia, moving from hostel to hostel and eating from street markets is a viable option.  I have that t-shirt.
I prefer a slightly more planned approach now. Sitting down on the computer beforehand and researching reasonable hotels, points of interest or even unusual spots off the beaten track is where the fun begins. I like to know what might be down that little ally before I venture down to find only a deserted warehouse – I clearly do not have the ‘legs’ I used to!

Exploring is one of the great pleasures of  my life, it may be half way around the world or just the next village. There is always an adventure to be had.
I hope to share a few of these trips as I go.


A Letter from a Mother to a Daughter

Everyday is Mothers Day.

My darling girl, the day you see I am getting old, I ask you to please be patient, but most of all, try to understand what I’m going through.

If when we talk, I repeat the same thing a thousand times, don’t interrupt to say: “You said the same thing a minute ago”… Just listen, please. Try to remember the times when you were little and I would read the same story night after night until you would fall asleep.

When I do not want to take a bath, don’t be mad and don’t embarrass me. Remember when I had to run after you making excuses and trying to get you to take a bath when you were just a young girl?

And when my old, tired legs don’t let me move as quickly as before, give me your hand the same way that I offered mine to you when you first learnt to walk and when you where nervous on your first day at school.

When you see how ignorant I am when it comes to new technology, give me the time to learn and don’t look at me that way… remember my angel that I patiently taught you how to do many things like eating properly, getting dressed each morning, combing your hair and dealing with life’s issues every day.

On that day you realise I am getting old, I ask you to please be patient, but most of all, try to understand what I’m going through.

If I occasionally lose track of what we’re talking about, give me the time to remember, and if I cannot, do not be nervous, impatient or maybe arrogant. Just know in your heart that the most important thing for me is to be with you.

When those days come, do not feel sad, just be with me, and most importantly understand me while I get to the end of my life with love. I will cherish and thank you for the gift of time and joy we shared.

With a big smile and the huge love I have always had for you, I just want to say, I love you my darling daughter.


Benjamin Franklin- Continual Inspiration

We have all read about great leaders but one springs to mind and that is Benjamin Franklin. He was undoubtedly a man of action who seemed to have insatiable curiosity: A writer, diplomat, inventor and President of the United States.
I was in need of inspiration recently and found the following quotes that got the spring back in my step:

“Well done is better than well said.”

“Never leave that till tomorrow which you can do today.”

“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”

“When you’re finished changing, you’re finished.”

“All mankind is divided into three classes: those that are immovable, those that are movable, and those that move.”

“Never confuse motion with action.”

“Do not fear mistakes. You will know failure. Continue to reach out.”

“To succeed, jump as quickly at opportunities as you do at conclusions.”

“Be at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let every new year find you a better man.”

“Diligence is the mother of good luck.”

“There are three things extremely hard: steel, a diamond, and to know one’s self.”

Who had deceived thee so often as thyself?”

“Energy and persistence conquer all things.”

“Life’s tragedy is that we get old too soon and wise too late.”

I hope these will get you thinking and make sure you make the most out of every new day!

Pension age increase

So there you are with your eye on the prize… and it gets moved out of view! You check your glasses prescription, still the same. You check your date of birth, still the same. You look around at your colleagues and see them snickering… You have been duped!

I feel bad enough for the youth, but being at the start of their career or only 10 years in, you have not set your sights on the finish line. Promotions, family, many changes in job and career stand between you and retirement. But I feel for those who are 10/15 years out, it must be soul destroying.

It seems Tesco is leading the way, there always has to be a pioneer! Unions are in negotiation with the supermarket giant but it seems they are unlikely to succeed in reversing the two year increase in its retirement age. This will affect the 172,000 active staff at Tesco. Two years does not sound a lot but at 65, it certainly feels like more.

I know we are much healthier than we were before, better medical support and therefore living longer but that does not help the tired bones to get going in the morning.

The other issue is the increase in unemployment across all age groups. We are told to keep working but what if we do not have a job due to redundancy. It’s much harder to get a job at 55/60 than in your twenties.

What’s the answer? I just don’t know! But more so than ever we need to enjoy our everyday lives and not live for retirement, take the holidays you can and spend time with the children as well as grandchildren – Do not wait for retirement.

Retirement planning

A question that pops into our minds often enough is, ‘Should I spend my money now while I am still able to enjoy it, or will I regret it if I live longer than anticipated?’

‘Rather than pushing large sums into my pension plan I’m tempted to enjoy the money now. I love to walk and travel. Do I spend it now while healthy, living more frugally later? Or the other way round? Do you really need that much money when older? What’s your experience?’

This was a question posed on the Guardian website and it got me thinking…

I am tempted to say blow it now given the appalling record of pension funds. But being old and poor is a horrible thought and you might live for another 35+ years, then what?

I think the answer depends on a few factors. Do you already have a pension plan? How long will you want or be able to work for? What other assets do you have that you could draw on in old age – for example, a house that could be downsized? Portfolios sold?

Could you have planned all these wonderful things for retirement and be hit by a train a day before retirement? A case of ‘Would have, could have, should have.’

If you have the answer or some thoughts met me know. I think I will come down on the side of moderation for now, enjoy some travel but also save, I never was much of a gambler!

New Year resolutions

How many of these have you made over the years? I lost count in my twenties… so there is no chance now!

Why do we make them? Is it to try to fix the errors of the past year? Guilt for not having taken advantage of the opportunities?

Either way I will not be making them this year, or should I? There are so many thoughts on the subject amongst my friends that I am as scared to not do them as to do them. So I have decided to make them more general this year, that might help, and share them with you.

In 2011 I did so many wonderful things and I feel I took opportunities that presented them selves. Traveling to the US again so that I could visit Monument Valley, then white water rafting in Colorado – these were all dreams I seized. How do I better them in 2012?

The resolutions I have come up with are to embrace each opportunity that presents itself, I will not be accused of being a ‘wall flower’. To make sure that at the end of 2012 I have learnt many things and experienced life, let it touch me.

How do you feel about resolutions? Do they fill you with dread?

Organising the family at Christmas

Over Christmas, how many families morph into three generational families. For some that means that Grandmother cooks the dinner with adult children to help with the vegetables and sauces and the young children play around the tree or help lay the table.

But for how many did this not happen. There are many reasons but for this post I will delve into how to distribute the work for next year.

So how do we survive a three generational get-together so that everyone has a memorable Christmas for all the right reasons.

  • It’s best not to presume that you will get the help that you need so do not be afraid to ask. Be clear with the delegation and give all attending a list of what you need – they can work out who will do what.
  • Have the phone numbers of the GP walk in centre handy and work out where the 24hour emergency pharmacy is and how to get there. This might sound paranoid but we have certainly had to talk to the out of hours service and visit the emergency pharmacy over Christmas and the New Year.
  • If you are attending church allow for ample time to get back to start preparing the food or so you can settle before the guests start arriving. Parishioners are always more chatty this time of year – Do not feel rushed!
  • Make sure that everyone is able to be there to open the presents. You or one of your helpers should not be pinned in the kitchen while all the fun is happening around the Christmas tree.
  • Find activities suitable for everyone. This is not always easy but board games and old photographs are a possibility.
  • If you need to, ask your children to take the young ones for a walk after the main meal. You may want the peace and quiet to just sit and

Finally, when everyone has headed home it is very easy to feel sorry for yourself-I know, I have been there. Try to have a plan for Boxing day or something to look forward to so that you do not dwell in the emptiness directly after Christmas.

I would like to take this opportunity to wish you all a wonderful New Year!

Top 20 stereotypes of older people

How do you feel about stereotypes? Damaging? Helpful?

Stereotypes are defined as oversimplified, exaggerated beliefs about a group or category of people. Stereotypes may be positive or negative, but they are nearly always distortions of fact.

For example, we generalise when we say that the English are snobbish and reserved, the Irish are witty and pugnacious, intelligent children have high foreheads, and redheads are quick-tempered. These generalisations are erroneous because they do not take into account the many variations within a group and because they indiscriminately attribute the same characteristics to all the members.

Many stereotypes or “myth-conceptions” surround older people and the aging process.

The following list includes some of the more common myths that we encounter every day:

  1. Most older people live in institutions
  2.  Retirement is less difficult for women than it is for men
  3.  Alzheimer’s disease is to be expected with old age
  4.  Older workers are less productive than younger workers
  5.  Sickness and disability come with old age
  6.  Older people cannot learn
  7.  Older people are more fearful of death than are younger people
  8. Old people are sweet and kind and at peace with the world
  9. Old people are weak and helpless
  10. Old people have no interest in or capacity for sexual activity.
  11. Old people are boring and forgetful
  12. Old people are unproductive
  13. Old people are grouchy and cantankerous
  14. Old women are a burden on everyone
  15. Old age begins at 60
  16. Old people do not have feelings
  17. Old people are past being consulted about anything – even their own lives. 
  18. The majority of older people are set in their ways, unable to change
  19. The majority of older people view themselves as being in poor health
  20. The majority of older people are lonely and are isolated from their families

How do you feel about these?

Do you find that you re enforced these stereotypes or perhaps give way to other peoples perception as it is easier.

We obviously cannot fight all perceptions, that would be exhausting! But can we, simply through our actions, ensure that we educate all we come into contact with. For example, although we can only control certain aspects of our health we can make sure that our attitude towards it is more positive.

Sharing a smile, a laugh and an interesting story will not only make anyone we are in contact with feel better but also share the wonderful person we are inside.

Over time I hope to work on breaking down these stereotypes in my own environment, what can you do?

How To Find A Date After 60

For all of us in the latter stages of life, finding love again can be a daunting task and you may think that it is impossible. However, the reality is that although dating is slightly different from when we were younger, it is still a realistic goal. I have been thinking about a few useful tips on how to find a date above 50.

Let’s look at some of the options available to us.

It may sound frightening at first, but online dating is an excellent starting point. You can protect your privacy as much as you like, revealing only information that you choose, when you choose to. The main benefit of this is that there is no early pressure on a relationship as time can be taken conversing and getting to know each other before building up to a face to face meeting. But remember that a face to face meeting is the only way to truly know if someone is who they say they are as well as know if the feelings over mail are real or should remain in cyber space.

Perhaps you prefer face to face contact from the start, senior centers are a good place to find like minded people and develop friendships. Interest clubs are also a great ice breaker as you already share a common interest such as art, history, philosophy – Some universities offer courses for the mature student.

Singles events are plentiful and you could join a few of the many clubs and societies in your area. These make me nervous as I feel a bit like being at a ‘meat market’, I prefer a distraction of another ‘reason’ for being there.

When actually on a date you really should remember to go back to the advice when were younger and just be yourself. Pretending to be something or someone else will do you no favours whatsoever. In any case, your date is likely to feel exactly the same as you do and will be equally keen to make a good impression. Being open and honest from the beginning is always the best policy.

Another key thing to bear in mind is to remain positive and up beat. You want to come across as someone who lives life to the full in the present time and who still has future hopes and dreams. Reminiscing about the good old days and moaning about how much better things used to be will not impress anybody. Keep health issues out of the conversation, you do not want a prospective partner thinking they are applying to be your nurse.

Although finding dating over 50 may seem problematic initially, it really is no different from at any other age. Remain active and optimistic, and you never know when the love bug will bite!

Christmas presents for grandchildren

It has come to that time of the year again and, if you are as unprepared as me, you will be hitting the shops for ideas.

Grandparents have a well-deserved reputation for spoiling their grandchildren. As a group, we spend very generously on gifts for them. Of course, we have to stay within our budgets. That can be tough when we would love to give our grandchildren just about everything they want! Often the most difficult task is deciding what gift to give. The choices available are overwhelming so here are my top tips to help with narrowing down the overwhelming selection.

Start with Mom and Dad
They probably have more day-to-day interaction with what is needed and can eliminate what is ‘fashionable’. They are likely to have great suggestions. They may have safety concerns about particular gifts or wish to give certain presents themselves. They also know what your grandkids’ current interests are. If the parents are on a tight budget, you could help them by buying gifts such as clothing or other essential items like school supplies or help with a days activity should they may not be able to take the time off work or simply cannot afford.

Suitability for the Child
Skill and age levels are important when choosing gifts that suit your grandchildren’s interests. They will probably not use a gift that is too advanced – or too simple. Grandchildren cherish gifts chosen with thought and care. Even young children have very distinct interests and desires. It is most important to match the gift to the grandchild. Some boys are just not in to football, some girls dislike fairies and butterflies. If you buy a certain gift to encourage a particular hobby or to help develop an academic or athletic skill, let your grandchild know that you have noticed their interest or ability and that you would like to share it with them. Here is an opportunity to share in their world.

Present Traditions
Perhaps you could start a tradition that helps you to narrow your range of choices. For example, a friend’s grandmother always gave a beautiful stone egg at Easter instead of just chocolates, which were gone in 60 seconds. This made a wonderful collection when they were older. These could be books for a collection, a craft that you can do together or perhaps you are creative and can make a bedspread or a cooking course you could do together.

Children are always intrigued as to what their parents were like as children. You could pass on a special family keepsake – handing down a book or toy that belonged to your grandchildren’s parent.

Monetary gifts – Investment in their future
Some youngsters seem to have everything. The last thing they need is another toy. If this is the case find out if the parents have set up a university fund that you could contribute towards. A deposit can be made towards it each birthday and or Christmas. This gift can take pressure off the parents in planning for their education and financial security of their children when they are older.

Then all you have to do is give a small, fun gift on the day to let the child have something in their hand and then explain what you have done in contributing towards their future.

The most special gift – A Gift of You
Special time spent with grandchildren can be the most prized of gifts. All depending on the age of the child, you can plan an outing for brunch, the science museum or to see their favourite team. If you wanted to give them a gift certificate you could then go with them to the store and pick something out together.

All of these encourage time together which they will treasure.

Always remember to stay in your budget, the last thing your children/ grandchildren want to see is you struggling. Although they may really, really, really want a certain item what they actually need is you and the love you have to give.

With your talents, the sky’s the limit! Enjoy this season and the special moments it brings.