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Stress in Retirement

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

I know, it sounds impossible. When I first stopped working I was terrified: What would I do with my time? What would get me out of bed in the morning? What would shape my life, give me purpose? Well, like most retirees, it wasn't long before I wondered when I ever found the time to work. Life was slower, I had control over what I would do most days.

But then, the activities took on a life of their own. Which isn't a bad thing. I LOVE going to 6 or 7 stores a week to buy food because I love to cook and spend a couple of hours every night making food better than any (well, most) restaurant. I was available to help out my kids more than ever before, and be part of my grandchildren's lives.

When my husband had a few strokes, then broke his leg (which still hasn't healed), I was able to take good care of him here at home. Which made a dreadful situation much better.

Now my mother needs my help. She is having trouble managing her affairs so I will be taking over. It's an easy task by itself, but I will essentially be working for her. I want her to be happy, but since retiring I'm kind of used to doing things my way in my time. "Do you REALLY need to shop at that many stores just for food?" Well by now, yes.

All these things that I started doing to "fill up time" all those years ago have become my comfort, express my creativity. The stress comes in having to curtail what others see as frivolous so that I can help Mom.

I can get through about anything if I have the time to cook and eat well. The only practical stress reliever I have is cooking, which seems to be irrelevant to many people in this day of take out and ready made food.

I have maintained my loss for a long time by cooking, and took it to a whole new level after retiring. My mother doesn't like to eat, doesn't understand why I like to eat, and has little patience for interests in which she doesn't share. I'll manage but it is going to be a second very stressful year in a row.

Funny, even in stress, it's all about the food.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

TNEWELL26 2/4/2012 11:19AM

    Nell best wishes. I too know the comfort of cooking. When I am cooking my family healthy food it is relaxing and rewarding. Best of luck dealing with the stress.

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JITZUROE 2/3/2012 1:43PM

    You are right about the food factor. It always pops up in our life somewhere, eh? I love that you have used cooking as a method of therapy for life. You clearly show love by cooking and feeding good stuff to great people.
My uncle is the same way as your mother about food- almost aloof. It used to make me mad, but now I can see why he can disappear for hours on a nature walk. Clearly, his mind and mine are in different realms. But as long as your mom feels how much you care for her (by helping to care for her now), I am sure she is happy. You certainly DO have a full plate though; amazing wife to your hubbie,amazing chef, and amazing daughter!!!

Is this where I spill the beans that I was at a research hospital this past week and mapped out Trader Joes BEFORE we started our 100 mile drive to the hospital since I am so spoiled with good food myself!? Ha!!!

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KALISWALKER 2/2/2012 12:55AM

    Wow I can relate to retirement and being so busy now. I retired in October. Yes I am doing things my way in my time too!

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KANOE10 2/1/2012 7:49AM

    Keep cooking Nell and do what you love to do..that makes you happy. You are being such a strong person taking care of your mother..and helping your husband..But be sure to make time for you..even if others don't understand or it does not matter to them.
I love to cook also. It brings me great pleasure to find new dishes! Hope you have a good day..and find time to cook something wonderful.

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67CAMARO_SS 2/1/2012 6:18AM

    Nell, we never know how strong we really are -until we have to be. Or so they say....
It's hard work - just being strong & being there for others. Us chicks are really good at it too. But it does wear one out, doesn't it? Take all the advice into consideration, & fit it in where you're able. I'm pretty sure you're gonna get thru each day somehow, so it may as well be with your smile intact & a sense of pride. That sounds like a good plan anyway - but I know its tough to follow thru on it some days. Keep trying to "remain yourself." It will only help you with all the stuff life is throwing at you.
Keep sparking friend -
June :)

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PJCHILIS 2/1/2012 5:23AM

    I guess before you retire there isn't time for everything to go to hell, but there sure is then. Family, health and everything. I totally understand where you are coming from.

Make time for yourself. Watch your health. Be sure to have your mammograms. I thought I was home free and I wasn't. They have digitals now that catch everything sooner. If you feel depressed, ask for something. I waited too long.

Life is better now. Live life to the fullest. Peg

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FISHINGLADY66 1/31/2012 8:59PM

    I understand and I agree with you Nell. emoticon

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BANKER-CHUCK 1/31/2012 7:48PM

    I retired 6 years ago. and I had many of the same "retirement" fears as you. After 2 years of retirement I bought my street bike, joined 3 different motorcycle organizations. Motorcycles really helped keep me occupied with club functions and long road-trips. My mother has been in good health up until a couple of years ago it has been declining. Mostly age related but she is so far self-sufficient, still drives short distance. She is now 91 years and the age is starting to take its toll and has reduced her abilities to get around as well with walking outside.
My worry is the day she will be unable to be totally self-sufficient and require more care.

I feel for you and know what you are going through. Take care and do as much as you can to enjoy life.

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DARLENEK04 1/31/2012 7:03PM


More than ever, you need to keep that time of shopping,
cooking and eating because it brings you joy.
You have dealt with a lot in the last year, and while I
know your mother is important to you, if you don't care
for your needs/wants, then you will not be able to care
and do for others.

I know it is hard for them to understand that this brings
you so much enjoyment, but your health has to be your
priority, and everything else falls into place.

It will keep you will keep you happier. In
the long run, that will allow you to deal with everything else
in your life.

Is your mother still living at home? her home, I should say??

Blessings and keep us posted....

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TAMPATINK67 1/31/2012 6:37PM

    It is and needs to remain about your health... Sounds like everyone is adjusting to the changes to the best of their abilities!

Cook on Lady Nell!


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Look Long

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

One of the things I learned riding my motorcycle is to make sure to always look long. If you stare at the pothole thinking it will make it easier to avoid it, you WILL hit it. You and your bike will always head toward where your eyes are pointed. If you want to go left around the corner, lead with your eyes. If you are always aware, your peripheral vision will sharpen and you will be able to see and avoid road hazards.

It's the same for me with my goals. If I concentrate on the cookies, I'll surely eat them. I am always aware of potential hazards with my peripheral "vision", and I am able to aim toward the goal.

Stay always aware and keep looking long!!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

BANKER-CHUCK 1/19/2012 5:23PM

    You hit the nail on the head!! During my dirt bike racing days we used to call those holes and rock "magnetic". You look at it and you will hit it!
Last May I went off tracking and my scale and profile show the results by regaining a third of the weight I have lost.
Like you said, "...keep looking long."

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BRATS4 12/31/2011 1:20PM

    great way to look at it.thanks

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WVAWACKADOO 12/29/2011 11:08PM

    Good example & of course there are bumps along the road & we can get there immediately. We can stay on the straight & narrow or we can take some side will just take us longer to get there Thanks for sharing...

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DARLENEK04 12/28/2011 6:44PM



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ZUCCHINIQUEEN 12/28/2011 3:18PM

    Makes a lot of sense, Nell!

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DEMETERSCO 12/28/2011 9:34AM

    Well put - I know I tend to focus too hard on what's in my face rather than seeing the whole picture. I think you're very brave to ride a motorcycle!

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BITTYGIRL51 12/27/2011 11:48PM

    Good advice!

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FISHINGLADY66 12/27/2011 10:03PM

    emoticon Thanks for the Tip.

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GINNAR 12/27/2011 9:16PM

    Thanks for some great tips. We all need these as we navigate our way out of the holiday mode!

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67CAMARO_SS 12/27/2011 5:26PM

    Awesome analogy!
Keep looking long!!
June :)

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MEADSBAY 12/27/2011 5:03PM

    Wise words, indeed, my friend!

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I LOVE TO EAT!! Is that so bad?

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Today I am frantically preparing a feast for 17 people, and all the food will be fabulous! And I intend to enjoy every bite!! Of course, it won't be as many bites as it might have been at one time, and it won't include as many foods as it did at one time. There are many dieters who limit themselves to very few foods.

They keep telling me "Eat to live, don't live to eat". Well I live to eat! I spend a couple of hours every day to make a great dinner that will be consumed in 15 minutes, but they are a very important 15 minutes. A simply glorious 15 minutes! I don't care if I have to start dinner at noon, using a recipe that calls for 30 ingredients. If that's what it takes to make my 15 minutes the center of my day, then I will do it.

I don't need to eat great quantities of food to enjoy it. Ever see wine tasters take one sip, move it around in their mouths, then spit it out? Well I certainly don't spit out my food, but I do notice that they learned what they needed to know of the wine from just one taste. I savor my weighed and measured tastes of food I have lovingly prepared, from Chicken Pot Pie to "fried" bread (all Weight Watchers recipes from years gone by) and I can eat them and love them, and look forward to the next meal.

I can love a small plate of food just as much as a big one. It's the love! It's the taste! It isn't quantity that makes food one of the great joys of life.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

OOLALA53 12/29/2011 7:28PM

    Savoring food has been a mainstay of my ability to be satisfied with less. And I still love food! Many thin people love food. They just hate to be really full. I don't like it now, either. emoticon

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JITZUROE 12/29/2011 6:53PM

I love the wine tasting comparison. So true!
I wish I could say the same about my own holiday eating experience. I certainly fell off the wagon. But I am here, and I reading inspiring works of art like yours to keep ME looking ahead.

: ))))

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BRATS4 12/26/2011 4:27PM

    good deal

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MISSG180 12/25/2011 10:20AM

    I agree with you 100%. The notion that food should only be some kind of fuel we insert into ourselves negates the joy that comes with cooking, sharing, and appreciating good food. I don't think that's healthy.

Enjoy your feasts - in moderation!

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MEADSBAY 12/24/2011 10:50PM

    I, too, am amazed to have learned how such a small amount of food can keep me happy!

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FISHINGLADY66 12/24/2011 10:17PM

    It took time to learn to enjoy your food. You took control of your life and your living healthier because of it. I am almost there too. Have a wonderful Christmas with your family and friends. (((Hugs)))

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    Enjoy your food! As you said...quality not quantity.

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SHALOM19 12/24/2011 5:55PM

    quality, not quantity works. I'll remember that.

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Overly Optimistic Thinking

Friday, December 23, 2011

I have been reading a couple of books about people's tendency to be overly optimistic about their abilities to do something, and about the world in general. No one ever thinks the house will burn, or the hurricane will hit THEIR home, and tend to underinsure. People always assume they will pay all bills on time, never overdraw their accounts, never lose their jobs, so never read the fine print in their documents. Then when something DOES happen it's someone else's fault for not explaining consequences carefully enough.

Alas, things DO happen. I always plan for the possible negatives. I give myself "cookie insurance" during the holidays: I keep them away from me, then give them all away. I eat very carefully and during this season I write EVERYTHING down. This is all in anticipation of the possibility that I may not live up to my own expectations without a LOT of careful planning.

Many people consider it "negative thinking" to even consider a less than perfect outcome, but I am old enough to know that I can "positive think" myself into a corner. I am aware of my weaknesses, and know all too well that I can put myself in an uncomfortable position where inner strength won't be enough. I know that sometimes I can't rely on "motivation" any more than I can rely on the weather or the guy driving the other car.

So I always carry insurance. I carry it on my life, my cars, my home, and my eating.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

MEADSBAY 12/23/2011 7:07PM

    Dang! You are (unfortunately) so right!
I am a 'head in the sand' type person.
thnx for the reminder.

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    Very good blog!

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SLENDERELLA61 12/23/2011 4:23PM

    Great blog!! I love the insurance analogy with eating. Positive thinking is a good thing -- up to a point. Sometimes a dose of realism is needed. Thanks for pointing that out. -Marsha

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BRATS4 12/23/2011 2:07PM

    love it

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ZUCCHINIQUEEN 12/23/2011 1:47PM

    I not only "liked" that blog; I "loved" that blog!

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DRKYASHI 12/23/2011 11:48AM

    'Precautions' are always good things to have in mind. emoticon

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FISHINGLADY66 12/23/2011 11:05AM

    Great Blog Nell.Thanks for the thoughts.

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Dealing with temptation

Monday, December 12, 2011

I just finished a great book by Stuart Vyse called "Going Broke". It is an economic and sociological discussion about why we spend, but also discusses why we succumb to any temptation. He talks about what we want in the immediate future vs what we want long term: the car now vs comfortable retirement, the drink now vs sobriety, or the food now vs long term weight loss. He says that surveys about why we do what we do don't work because you are talking to people when they aren't immediately confronted by temptation. Some people either inherently have or have developed not so much self control, but a desire for a long term goal that exceeds the pull of immediate temptation. There are some who want to ban credit cards or fast food outlets so that they are never confronted with temptation, and there are people who create temptation free zones: they don't have credit cards, they never keep snack foods in the house. Americans value total freedom of choice, but in the end are confounded by it, and allow themselves to partake simply because it's there.

I, for one, tend to allow myself to think that I am giving up so much for one long term goal that I should be able to postpone the realities of achieving another long term goal. It isn't so much self-control (I still don't know what that actually IS) but I have developed mantras and methods to keep my eyes focused on my long term goals, trying not to confuse one goal with another. I mean one order of french fries won't impact my savings, but it WILL impact another goal. Over the years and decades, they are ALL important to me. I just need to make sure they are important at that one brief moment of choice.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

4DOGNIGHT 12/25/2011 12:58PM

    Very interesting. THank you for sharing.

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OOLALA53 12/25/2011 12:36PM

    This dovetails with the information I read in a book years ago called New World New Mind by the brain researcher Robert Ornstein. He did not talk particularly about food issues but about the fact that humans evolved in a world in which the immediate dangers were very important to deal with and there was little long-term vision in what we had to do to survive. Thus overall humans tend to be more compelled by the singular and immediate rather than the big picture: the airplane crash that kills 100 people (and statistically very few people compared to how many fly) vs. the 400,000 people (that's like more than 10 crashes a day) who die each year from mostly lifestyle-induced diseases. Some people will be afraid to fly but will eat, drink, or smoke themselves to death 1) because the body does reinforce the use of these sources of pleasure, esp. the manufactured foods of today, and 2) we are not in touch with the long term effect because of genetics, as well as a lack of training. Humans are capable of making conditions that are dangerous and have incredible costs to individuals and to society but we protect them because of this human tendency. A few individuals have a prediliction for foresight and many more could be trained in it. He and his co-author said it is becoming imperative that we teach more about probability and long-term decision making. I read the book in 1991. Much of what they wrote about keeps getting proved but not much happens because of it. It sounds like you have become aware of these elements in your life and are making use of your abilities. Great job!

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RR1_RR1 12/14/2011 1:13PM

    Cutting up the credit card is certainly something I need to do!

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SIMPLY-EVA 12/14/2011 12:18PM

  That sounds like a really good read. I think I know why I spend, its because for years I was on a tight budget, and growing up we were considered poor even though Mom always made sure we were never left without food or decent hand-me-downs. I am currently not a good example for my DD though since I dont have her on any sort of budget and she feels that there is always $ to be spent. On the days that I do "clamp down" she is shocked and wonders why we have to be so poor. I explain that this is not poor, we actually are doing pretty well... anyway, my point is that I should probably read this book and quick!

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BITTYGIRL51 12/12/2011 3:42PM

    Here's where I run into a problem with this thought provoking analogy:

I avoid temptation by not having the trigger foods in the house - good idea, right? So, then if I have a craving and want cake, I will buy only one piece at a restaurant rather than a whole cake, better option, right? But, I'm also trying to satisfy my budget and therefore can't stand to pay the price I have to pay for a piece of cake out versus making a whole cake at home for about the same amount of money!!

The only sensible answer is to not eat cake AT ALL!! emoticon Easier said then done some days.

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FISHINGLADY66 12/12/2011 2:57PM

    Your blog is very thought provoking. I agree with you and the book sounds like a great read. Thanks for the information.

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ZUCCHINIQUEEN 12/12/2011 11:55AM

    Your thought-provoking blog got me thinking! I enjoy reading your thoughts!

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