Lifestyle & Retirement

I Get It Now

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When my daughter and son-in-law announced the imminent arrival of my first grandchild, I have to admit, I was ambivalent.  ME — a grandmother?   I was only 52 after all.  True, plenty old enough to become a grammy, but I didn’t feel like a grandmother and I’m certainly more active than the grandmothers of my youth.  Did a grandchild mean that I’d finally have to act my age “ or at least admit it? 

But this wasn’t about me, was it?   So I got with the program and joined the young couple’s eager anticipation of things to come.  I accompanied my daughter to the obstetrician.  I heard my grandson’s heartbeat.  That’s right.  It had been confirmed:  we were having a boy.  I shopped at Babies R Us.  There is so much more stuff to buy than there used to be.  A baby swing with an iPod plug-in so he can listen to Mozart?  How did my generation ever get along without such high-tech baby trappings?  Could it be because a stroller today costs more than my first car? 

Still, through it all, I remained detached from the baby to be.  My role was to be a support for my daughter as she traversed the exciting and often scary journey to motherhood.  The joy in hearing the steady whump, whump, whump of my grandson’s beating heart lay in watching her face as she intently listened. It was the same look of wonder on her face the day she saw her first rainbow.

I was glad for her happiness.  But I knew I would never become one of those grandmothers.  If your eyes have ever glazed over like a Krispy Kreme Doughnut® while a friend gushed on about a grandchild, you know what I’m talking about.  They are almost obnoxious as they splash weekly updated photo collages across the screen of their desktops at work. Once when I was still blissfully grandchildless not so long ago, I found myself seated at a card table with a couple of grandmothers for a game of Bunco.  As I grabbed another martini, I experienced shades of yesterday:  how did I end up at this lunch table with this particular group?  I didn’t belong here because I just didn’t get it.

Of course I was there on the morning of the scheduled C-section.  Grandboy was breech and wouldn’t turn.  My daughter was calm; my son-in-law pale.  Things were good to go.  I kissed my baby girl’s sweaty brow goodbye and nervously took up vigil in the waiting lounge, along with other family members.  Around small talk with the in-laws, I lost myself in the past.  I relived my own pregnancies and personal joys of motherhood and doctor visits and hanging nursery wallpaper with my husband.  We stuck with yellow to be safe because we weren’t yet able to know the sex of our babies ahead of time.   Could it possibly have been 28 years since I first became a mother?   Could  it really be time for me to cross the threshold into the next generation?

Two hours later, an eternity, we were allowed into the recovery room.  I was not prepared for the emotions that flooded my being when I first laid eyes on the little bundle swaddled in blue being cradled so carefully against my precious son-in-law’s chest.   Breathe, I had to remind myself.  An older friend, a grandmother three times over, had told me that I would love my grandbaby instantly. At the time, I was skeptical.  But she was right.  As the Frankie Valli hit goes, My eyes adored you; though I never laid a hand on you, my eyes adored you.

Yep, I get it now “ this grandparent thing.  I also get the twice-married man who is a much more involved dad with his second set of children.  Or the couple down the street content to sacrifice endless rounds of golf and a time share at the beach in their golden years to cheerfully raise two grandkids.  Which leads me to ponder “ why?  I think it’s because with our second go round, be it grandkids or offspring from a second marriage, we possess a deeper understanding, an appreciation, of how kids will grow and change and not depend on us quite so much anymore  — a phenom that is both thrilling and heartbreaking at the same time.   We’ve got the big picture, so to speak.   But when we’re in the thick of running car pools, paying the mortgage and working on the career, we’re too bogged down to see the gradual slipping away.  Heck, we’re usually ready for the next stage of child development to hurry up and get here already.

How many times did we hear the words of older relatives who said with a wistful shimmer in their eyes, The time goes fast.  Savor it.  Enjoy it.   We heard them but we didn’t listen. 

I’d be willing to bet that there are not many empty nesters who, on occasion, haven’t wished to go back to an earlier time.  If we could compress our children, like computer files, to a smaller size so as to pay more attention, to marvel over each stage of development, I, for one, would jump on the opportunity.  I would sit and hold my babies every possible minute I could in an attempt to keep time from slipping away unnoticed. 

But of course, we can’t.  And neither would I want to redo every bit of those often stress-filled days.  But as grandparents we gain a second chance.  We get to relish every moment of precious childhood innocence.  As I enjoy my grandbaby’s peaceful presence while he sleeps on my shoulder with his head nestled in the crook of my neck, I am content.  Content to sit.  Content to breathe in the scent of him.  My heart swollen with love, my soul at peace with the world, I imagine scenes from the future. We will plant seeds together.  We will go down to the creek to look for crawdads.   I see the dirt streaking his face when he comes inside for a swig of Gatorade on a hot summer day.  (I’ll probably let him drink straight from the bottle standing in front of the opened refrigerator.)  I will caress his thin shoulders every chance I get, understanding that the problems of the world will someday weigh them down.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.  For now, I am content to sit and hold him – my very special first grandbaby.  But should any of my three children present me with more grandchildren in the future, I’ll say, Bring ˜em on!   Because you see, I get it now.

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Health and Fitness / Lifestyle & Retirement / Tips and Tricks

How to Avoid Turning Into a “Grumpy” Old Woman

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How to Avoid Turning Into a “Grumpy” Old Woman
Often we see people who, in their early life, have a sympathetic and positive mind. But, 20 or 30 years later, those positive qualities slowly erode and are replaced with a propensity towards being grumpy, miserable and negative. How can we ensure that we avoid the ‘grumpy old man’ syndrome and remain positive throughout our advancing years? While traditional retirement planning covers financial essentials staying engaged and having a meaningful retirement is good for your health and happiness.

There are always going to be plenty of people to complain about the level of taxes; what we need is positive people who will help make a difference.

Here are a few ideas to help protect your retirement years from being tarnished by grumpiness:

Keep a youthful attitude

Stay energetic and work to maintain a positive attitude. As the saying goes, “You’re only as old as you feel.” Start a blog, or even plan to write a memoir. Get involved. Always remember, if you act and look old, then you are old. If you act and look young, then you are young.

Develop a plan and for a meaningful life

Find what’s going to inspire you to get out of bed each morning in the decades ahead? In many cases, second careers and new hobbies show there can be as many purposes as there are people. People who have pursuits outside of their professional life tend to fare better in retirement.If you are still working full time, don’t wait until you retire to explore new pursuits. Test-drive volunteer opportunities in your community before retirement to plant seeds for future. The decision to work part-time may be a necessity for some; others may simply enjoy it as a chance to stay sharp and to bring in some extra cash. Often retirement brings the chance to start your own small business or even a new career (perhaps consulting, real estate or teaching English as a second language), or the opportunity to help younger family members with their businesses.

Celebrate a new beginning

Take this new chapter in your life as a positive opportunity to redefine and re-invent who you are and what you do. This should be seen not only as a milestone in your life but as a true turning point for your future directions. Navigate these uncharted waters with passion and excitement. Joining a group where the focus is on something you already know about and like can be extremely rewarding. Your experience and skills will be of value to others in the group, and you can learn from them too. It doesn’t matter what your hobby is— golf, fishing, quilting or cooking—seek out others who share your passion and you’ll reap the rewards.

Don’t Get Exasperated Over Things You Have No Control

If the price of oil increases, there is not much you can do about it. Just because you incessantly complain about the price of oil, Saudi Arabia is not going to start producing an extra 10 million barrels a day. If you get upset things like this, you will invariably make yourself miserable. To some extent, we have to be accepting of external things beyond our control. For example, Governments always have and always will do things which are popular; we can’t expect this to change. But, what we can do is change our attitude. Rather than getting worked up by these things, we can develop a greater sense of detachment. Don’t allow your life to be dominated by complaints on the outside world.

Become the artist you always wanted to be

Art can feed the spirit. If painting, is your thing, you might find it useful to sample a variety of classes, materials, and approaches before settling on one. There are plenty of inexpensive workshops that offer classes to beginners. Community colleges classes and arts and crafts stores have classes, too. Also, after you’ve learned a new craft you may want to open a store on Etsy and sell your wares at the huge online arts and crafts marketplace.


Volunteer at a library or museum

When you give time to an institution like a public library or local museum you really are making a gift to your whole community. It’s also a great way to meet people and make new friends. Volunteers let them enrich their offerings and stretch meager budgets.

Leave Criticism To Others

Criticism and grumpiness are intricately linked. The truth is we could spend all day judging and criticizing other people and we would not have even made a start. The world is not going to change just because we sit in a coffee shop criticizing others.However, if we want real happiness, we have to take a positive attitude; looking for good things to encourage – making a positive contribution. The world does not need more grumpy old men.

Reach out to an old friend

Friendship is a part of life and these days there are so many ways to reconnect with people from the past. Get on the internet to find old pals. Some will respond, others will not. No matter. Reach out to them on Social Media.

After Fifty Living™ was founded by Jo-Anne Lema, a genuine Boomer and member of the 50+ generation. As she likes to say, “Our enormous generation is charting new territory – we’re healthier, better educated, and more financially fit than any other generation at this time. And, as we march through history, 110 million strong – unique, new issues are developing. It’s exciting to be a part of the development and growth of This is a historic solution for a historic generation.”

Jo-Anne spent many years in the financial and operations side of higher education after having received a doctorate in education management and administration from Harvard, and an MBA from Southern New Hampshire University. Launching out on her own, though, has been the fulfillment of a life dream. Jo-Anne believes that “AfterFiftyLiving™ will delight its visitors, catalyze its partners, and will significantly benefit those who engage it.”

Residing in New England along with her husband of 35+ years, she never ceases to brag about her two children and 4 grandkids!

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