Boomers and Seniors on the Move

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I had no idea that there are a host of companies out there that specialize in helping senior citizens (and boomers) move.

They have comforting names like Gentle Transitions.  There’s even a National Association of Senior Move Management.  Who knew?

No one likes packing and unpacking an apartment or a home.  It’s a stressful business, said to be life’s third biggest stressor behind divorce and death.

Okay, I can buy that . . . though I think I might add illness ahead of death and continue on with severe financial problems, parenting, and job change.

Whatever the order, there’s no doubt that moving is a pain for anyone, no matter how young or how old.

Take my 41-year-old son, for example.  His girlfriend moved out (A good thing!), but he was stuck with a larger apartment than he needed and a hefty monthly rent.  My son lives in Chicago where rents are sky high.  A decent one-bedroom apartment in one of the many convenient and sought after neighborhoods can run upwards of $3000/month.  That’s more than our mortgage payment, and we own a beautiful home.

Finding an affordable one-bedroom apartment was stressful enough.  Then downsizing was another.  Sell the excess furniture or pay more money to rent a storage space?  Pay extra for a parking space or struggle with finding on-street parking every day?  Oh, and snagging an apartment whose landlord accepts pets.  The one thing my son’s ex-girlfriend left was her 16-year-old dog.

Men living alone seem to be overwhelmed by the process of packing.  Even though my son thought he’d given himself plenty of time, he ended up throwing dirty clothes, piles of shirts and pants, mismatched pairs of socks, coats, ties, and shoes willy nilly into unmarked boxes, gym bags and on the back seat of his car.

Unpacking required that his mother (That would be me) practically holding his hand as he tried to make sense of all his stuff and where to put it.

So, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that older boomers, many of whom are already seniors, see moving as a Herculean task that they must shoulder through and complete before it’s “too late.”  The stress and hassle convinces many to stay put.  Others enlist the help of their children, when available and willing.  Apparently, still others hire the services of one of those companies that focus on helping older folks move.

My challenge is different.  I actually relish the chance to get rid of stuff, to simplify.  And letting go of items like the oak dining room table we picked up at an auction in North Carolina and lugged home in a UHaul some 22 years ago is something I’ve been looking forward to for years.

Beyond decluttering, my biggest hurdle is my husband: he doesn’t want to move.  Oh, he was gun ho many years ago and applied for jobs in northern California.  He ended up the number 2 choice, and we stayed put.  But I crave more temperate climes, a country setting away from the noise of young kids and views of hills, trees, even mountains.  I want to garden all year long. I want to travel any any time during the year, not only during the winter when I HAVE to vacate the north and the horrors of winter.

Sure, it will be sad leaving a handful of dear friends.  Finding a good internist, a funky hairstylist, the best health food restaurant and grocery store (though with the ubiquitous Whole Foods, I doubt that will be a problem), alternative cinema, a book club, etc. may be challenging but achievable.  And we won’t be without initial contacts out there on the West Coast. Both of us know interesting people.  I’ve already planned the guest list for our first party.

“Involve him in the process,” my son suggested.  “Make him feel an integral part of the potential move.  Have your realtor copy him on all the new listings.”

Not bad advice.  I emailed the agent this morning.  Though I’m nervous about my husband seeing the asking prices, the abundance of one-story homes (“I’ll never live in a ranch”), and some of those northern California stone fireplaces that remind one of a ski lodge, I’m hopeful that he’ll come around.

In the meantime, I roam the house and envision how it can be “staged.”

And I’m bookmarking all of those senior moving companies just in case.

 

 

 

 

I Can Say Anything I Want . . . Well, Almost

I’ve earned the right to say whatever I want . . . well, almost.  As a friend said recently, “You’ve made it to 70 and should embrace your age and good fortune.”

Okay.  I’ll take her congrats at face value and “tell it like it is.”

 

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Example:  A few nights ago in my contemporary dance class, a new song had been added to the prescribed routines.  I can’t the remember the name of the female singer and don’t care to.  She sounded like a sap singing an even sappier song about love or getting in touch with her inner self or some such mushy crap.

But it seems my opinion was not that of the rest of the women in the class.

“Oh, I just love her voice,” one of them said.

“Me, too,” said another.  “I saw her on TV last week.”

I would have clicked the remote and changed the channel.  Like immediately . . .

“You know,” said a third woman.  “Last week was my birthday, and the song just hit me in my heart.  It meant so much to me.”

I wanted to barf.

We all danced over to the barre where we would perform a few minutes’ worth of isometrics using rubber exercise bands.

Before the music started and we did our first squat, I felt a surge of honesty coursing through my veins and, yes, a few twinges in my knees.  It was if I were menopausal all over again.  Only this time around, I wasn’t a screaming banshee standing in my neighbor’s yard, threatening to call the cops if the yokels two houses down didn’t remove their stereo from the roof of their garage immediately.

No, this time, I followed proper etiquette and, in a soft, soothing voice said, “I’m amazed at how taste is so subjective.   I hate that song.”

The other dancers turned in my direction with eyes wide open, mouths agape.  They looked like I’d just killed their first borns.

I, on the other hand, felt as if I’d just slayed Goliath with a turn of a phrase.

No one looked at me again during the remainder of the class.   Let them listen to she- who- shall- remain nameless.  I’d plug in to Amy Winehouse or an Adele classic or maybe some Bob Marley.

After, when all the others had left for what I assumed were their Sunday afternoon trips to the zoo, I looked at the teacher and my friend and said, “Gee, I hope they’ll get over it.”

She started to laugh.  “I knew you wouldn’t like the song.”

She hasn’t played the song since.

And I haven’t stopped smiling.

 

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I’m Too “New Age” For This

How fortuitous.  This blog posted in the New York Times earlier this week.

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/09/fashion/im-too-old-for-this.html

The author must have listened in to the phone call my cousin and I had a few days earlier.  If she didn’t, then this is further proof that, for women, aging has its challenges but also big time perks.

Dominique Browning, a babe at 60, has found her voice and the relief of thinking and declaring, “I’m too old for this.”  She is, she writes, too old for feeling bad about her looks.  Insecurity is another distraction for which she is too old.  She doesn’t have time to change others because she knows it’s an exercise in futility.  And she’s learned to walk away from toxic people and toxic situations.

Hail to Ms. Browning.  And hail to the millions of other wise women who are feeling much more comfortable in their own skin.

Browning writes that she could just as well have adopted the mantra “I’m too wise for this.”  But she went with “I’m too old for this,” a mantra I was about to adopt when the aforementioned  cousin suggested “I’m too new age for this.”  Or simply, “I’m new age.”

For me, that’s pitch perfect.  My age (70) is “new,” “revitalized,” “different from expectations”—mine and every other woman who survives in tact with energy, health (Okay, maybe a bum knee here and a fragile back there), and optimism for the future and the unknown but exciting path it will take.

Cultural expectations be damned.

I mean, what was the New Age movement in the 1970s all about?   At its root, New Age was an alternative approach to Western culture.  The new age culture focused on spiritualism, mysticism, holism, and environmentalism.  The movement was all about “feelgoodism,” “correct knowledge,” and “tolerance.”

We sure could use some of that!

And no one is pretending that adopting this mantra works every time a “new age” woman is confronted with her image in the mirror, the “Oh, I sure want to be like you when I’m your age,” or the invisibility new age women experience (except for those who go under the knife, unable to accept the slow but inevitable march to the end.)

We “new age” women—even those loud and proud feminists—sometimes secretly wish that the construction guys on their lunch break might hoot and holler as we stroll by.  Or, while out dancing, some man who can keep a beat asks us to dance.

The flip side is that we don’t have to worry about the anger at being oogled or the hurt of being a wallflower.  Now, we can dance to our own tune without having to worry about what anyone thinks. Being outwardly “invisible” allows us to be inwardly “visible” and to connect honestly with ourselves without the cultural pressure to look, act, think like an “senior” or “elder” or, worse yet, a “hag.”

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I’ve been searching for my copy of Barbara Walker’s The Crone: Woman of Age, Wisdom and Power.  The book left a huge impression on me and, based on Amazon customer reviews, a powerful one on scores of women, both “new age” and younger.

“So many times ‘crone’ is spit out like a disparagement, and Walker does an excellent job of educating the reader that Crone is an age of woman that brings wisdom and power.”

“This book celebrates the place of perhaps the most marginalized group in our culture, while damning the methods and motives of the Christian church from the burning times through today.”

Sit back, put on some New Age music and meditate on and give thanks to all the wisdom and power age has offered to you as a gift to be cherished and shared.

And for Pete’s sake, have a little humor about it all.

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