Retirement Lifestyle

It’s not necessarily your parents’ retirement anymore.

On the Road with the ‘Workampers,’ Amazon’s Retirement-Age Mobile Workforce

Last fall writer Spencer Woodman visited a campground called Buckeye Mobile/RV Estates outside of Coffeyville, Kansas, where a number of migratory workers were waiting to start temporary work at Amazon’s nearby warehouse. Called workampers, they are “mostly retirement-age migrant workers who have taken to the road in RVs and camper vans in pursuit of temporary jobs to make ends meet.”

But the workamper lifestyle isn’t just about finding temporary work:

Although workampers’ schedules can be grueling, they are quick to express appreciation for the community and sense of belonging that their migratory life offers them. The workers at Buckeye not only lived and worked together but formed close bonds and shared a fierce camaraderie.

One workamper told Woodman, “You need to just get in the RV and explore. You won’t get rich doing it, but you get a lot of experiences and you meet the greatest people.”

Woodman wondered if such enthusiasm for the migratory lifestyle might be rationalization, a means of glossing over the harsh economic realities that force people to keep moving in a search for one temporary job after another. But, he writes, many workampers talk about the lifestyle with a zeal that “can become almost evangelical.” Most of them see this life as a way to throw off the shackles of a stationary, materialistic view of life, to abandon “the entire orders of value that workampers have left behind.”

Several comments posted under the article reinforce this view. Len Randol wrote:

At the age of 36 I went fulltime and left our sticks and bricks life behind. I had a job in corporate management and took my family to live a life full of adventure, a life building memories. Connecting with nature and community in a way that didn’t seem possible in in our wash/rinse/repeat lifestyle of before.

Cheryl Henry posted:

Thousands of us WILLINGLY gave up our sticks and bricks home and a life style that is stressful and/or boring! Sure there are those who struggle, but they probably did when they were anchored to one place… . Most of are NOT running around saying “oh poor me”! We are happy traveling to places of our choice, seeing places in this country we could not have afforded to go visit even for a few days. Now we not only get to go, but get to stay for months at a time if we so choose. If we don’t like the place or the neighbors, we move! We have been across the country east to west, north to south and met some wonderful people and made great friends.

Georgia Bissonette said that after the loss of her son:

I wanted to live again, I wanted to get out of bed and my overwhelming grief and fall in love with this world again! I live and love in a 28ft space with my husband,2 cats and our old dog! And I couldn’t be happier! We are leaving Tennessee this weekend, where are we heading? Where the wind blows us!

This lifestyle is obviously not for everyone, but both the article and the comments suggest that, for some, it is an appealing choice.

Retirees Turn to Virtual Villages for Mutual Support

I had not heard of “virtual retirement villages, whose members pay a yearly fee to gain access to resources and social connections that help them age in place”:

At the core of these villages is conciergelike service referrals for members, said Judy Willett, national director of the Village to Village Network. Members can find household repair services, and sometimes even personal trainers, chefs or practitioners of Reiki, the Japanese healing technique. Most important, the villages foster social connections through activities like potlucks, happy hours and group trips.

One major benefit of virtual retirement villages is that it counters the social isolation that aging adults often experience. Members keep in touch by telephone as well as on websites and by email and social media sites like Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter.

virtual villages are popping up all over the country. Currently, there are 140 villages in 40 states, according to Village to Village Network, which helps establish and manage the villages. Another 120 virtual villages are on the drawing boards.

For more information, see Village to Village Network.

Three Things Thursday

Although so far in my challenge to write a blog post a day this year I haven’t had a problem finding things to write about, last weekend I went looking for a couple of blog challenges to participate in. Participating in these challenges will not only give me something to fall back on when I’m short on either ideas or time, but should also add a bit of variety to the kinds of posts you’ll see here.

This week I’m digging into the blog challenge Three Things Thursday, courtesy of Nerd in the Brain. The purpose of this challenge is to “share three things from the previous week that made you smile or laugh or appreciate the awesome of your life.”

three-things-thursday-participant

So here goes!

1. Last weekend we finally made it to the movie theater to see the third (and final, thank goodness) installment of The Hobbit. I saw this bumper sticker in the parking lot:

Hillary

And I was reminded that, since we’ve now had our first Black U.S. President, it’s time to start thinking again about a female President.

2. No, this is not a full moon over Stonehenge. It’s the sun trying to pierce the fog of a January morning here in Tacoma, Washington, USA.

fog sun

3. While at the movies (see #1) we saw trailers for upcoming new additions to both the Terminator and Jurassic Park_ franchises. I’m not exactly sure what I think about this, but I find it interesting that movie studios apparently think it worthwhile to resurrect these concepts for a new generation. Will there truly be new takes on the underlying ideas of these films, or will the success of the new movies rest on the fact that special effects are so much more advanced now than they were when the original movies were made?

Mandolin Sushi & Steak House

My husband F. and I are regular participants in the Lunch Bunch, a monthly bus trip to a local restaurant offered by our retirement community. This past Friday we went to the Mandolin Sushi & Steak House:

3923 S. 12th Street
Tacoma, WA 98405
253–301–4969

There were about 15 of us, just the right size party for the separate room in the back, where the hostess seated us.

This restaurant offers many different kinds of food. F. and I went for our usual, steak and shrimp cooked at the table habachi-style.

Some of our friends ordered sushi, which arrived in a dramatic presentation:

Sushi in a boat
Sushi in a boat

I don’t claim to be an experienced food critic, but we liked what we had. Discussion on the bus on the way home suggested that most of the others had enjoyed their food as well. The restaurant has overall good reviews on yelp.

We were all impressed with the service. Our group consisted of couples and some individuals, which meant a lot of separate checks. Our waitress did a fantastic job of keeping all the orders straight, even at the end with all those separate checks and credit cards.

I’m Not Sugar

Recently after a gathering here at our retirement community, we emerged into the drizzling rain that’s standard at this time of year here in the Seattle-Tacoma area. I hate both raincoats and umbrellas, so I usually just brave the elements if I’ll only be out for a short time. A friend of mine, T., huddled with her husband under their big umbrella. “Oh, Mary, you’ll get wet!” she said to me.

“My mother always told me ‘You’re not sugar, you won’t melt,’” I told her.

“That’s funny,” she said, “my father always told me I WAS sugar and I WOULD melt, “ she replied.

Obviously T.’s father had a different attitude toward her than my mother had toward me.

I initially took this difference as an example of my mother’s lack of caring about me. But maybe the difference didn’t mean that at all.
Maybe what my mother was really telling me was that I should go forth in the world without letting a little thing like a drizzle affect me. Perhaps this was her way of toughening me up in preparation for whatever life might throw my way.

And perhaps there’s also a significant gender angle at work in this difference. As a man, T.’s father might have felt obligated to protect and shelter his daughter. He could have been exercising both his obligation and his right to guide her into the role of someone who needed to be cared for. But my mother, who had had to learn to take care of both herself and me on her own, had a different outlook on life. Perhaps she was really telling me that I didn’t need to become someone fragile and dependent on another person to protect and shelter me.

Whatever my mother’s reasoning was, there have been many times in my life when I took comfort in knowing that I wouldn’t melt.

In Celebration of Older Authors

Recently I came across a 2015 reading challenge (which I didn’t sign up for) that had as a category “a book by an author age 65 or older.” This category prompted much discussion, as many people didn’t know any books that fit.

And, as synchronicity would have it, I immediately came across four articles about older writers.

8 Authors Whose Biggest Successes Came After The Age of 50

Not all of these authors fit the “over 65” category, but it’s still a joy to celebrate their late-in-life success:

  • Charles Bukowski
  • Laura Ingalls Wilder
  • Richard Adams
  • Mary Ann Evans/George Eliot
  • Jose Saramago
  • Frank McCourt
  • Nirad C. Chaudhuri
  • Mary Wesley

Q&A: Alan Bradley, author of Flavia de Luce series

Alan Bradley was 70 when his first novel, The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, was published in 2009. Read here what he has to say about how his character, 11-year-old Flavia de Luce, and her story came into being.

For Writer, Talent Finally Succeeds Where Chance Failed

Meet Edith Pearlman, who “is enjoying a commercial breakthrough at 78, after five decades of writing short stories, some 200 of them, nearly all appearing in small literary magazines.”

Her latest book, Honeydew, is her fifth story collection and the first to be published by a major house.

Watership Down author Richard Adams: I just can’t do humans

From Richard Adams, 94, author of beloved children’s book Watership Down:

He began writing in the evenings, and the result, an exquisitely written story about a group of young rabbits escaping from their doomed warren, won him both the Carnegie medal and the Guardian children’s prize. “It was rather difficult to start with,” he says. “I was 52 when I discovered I could write. I wish I’d known a bit earlier. I never thought of myself as a writer until I became one.”

8 Lessons College Bowl Season Teaches About Writing

I haven’t talked much about my writing here before, but I’ll be discussing it from now on because of my commitment to my writing for 2015.

Watching the Rose Bowl recently got me thinking about how dedicated and committed to their work these college athletes are. What can they teach me about how to commit more fully to my work of writing?

1. Success requires regular and frequent practice.

To win, you have to put in the time and do the work. Every day. If you’re serious, there is no off-season. For a writer, this means not thinking or talking about writing, but actually sitting down and writing.

2. Sometimes you have to drop back to move forward.

A quarterback steps back to see where he needs to go. For a writer, this means looking at what you last wrote to see where the work needs to go. This is why many writers advise stopping in the middle of a section instead of at the end. And once the first draft is done, a writer steps back to look at revising and editing the work.

3. Small amounts of progress can add up to big accomplishments.

Two five-yard runs earn a football team a first down. For a writer, writing even a small amount every day will eventually add up to a finished piece. Don’t knock incremental progress, just keep working at it steadily.

4. You have to study the playbook.

A team has to know what plays are available and when and how to implement each one. For a writer, this means reading widely to see what techniques other writers use and how they use them.,

5. There’s more than one way to advance.

There’s running and passing and all kinds of trick plays. For a writer, this means knowing what writing techniques are available (see #4) and what effects each one produces.

6. You have to be open the opportunities that present themselves.

The best quarterbacks are able to see the whole field and to recognize what options for advancement are available. For a writer, this means not only knowing what writing techniques are available, but seeing which approach or variation of an approach is the best choice in a particular context.

7. Sometimes you have to abandon one approach and try something else.

Often a team has to improvise when the planned play won’t work. For a writer, this means trying technique after technique to find the one that works best.

8. A season is more than just one game.

Whether a team wins or loses one week, it must be ready to play again a week later. For a writer, this means that finishing one piece means that it’s time to start working on the next one.

Diabetes Prevention That Works

It’s Week 5 of the Diabetes Prevention Program, and however commonplace the conversation, the results can be impressive. In 2002, a large national clinical trial showed that among adults at risk for Type 2 diabetes, this “lifestyle modification program” and resulting weight loss reduced the incidence of the disease by 58 percent in 1,000 subjects participating in the program, compared with those who did not — and by an even more substantial 71 percent in those over age 60.

So the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention began rolling out the National Diabetes Prevention Program in 2012. Now, 527 organizations around the country — health care providers, community groups, employers, colleges, churches — offer it in every state, often at multiple sites. Several providers are experimenting with online versions. The Y.M.C.A., the largest single organization involved, enrolls 40 percent of participants nationally.

via Diabetes Prevention That Works – NYTimes.com.

Did you know that nearly 26% of people over age 65 have Type 2 (sometimes referred to as adult-onset) diabetes? Here’s news about a program aimed at helping us make lifestyle changes to decrease our likelihood of developing the disease.

Many YMCAs across the country are offering this program. There’s a link here to help you find out if your local Y is among them.

Zoolights 2014

Every year Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium holds Zoolights, a fantastic display of color highlighting many of its animals and several local features (e.g., Mount Rainier, the Tacoma Narrows Bridge).

The weather has not been very cooperative lately, but last night we finally got a clear and relatively mild night, so off we went. Check our my SmugMug album. Keep in mind that it’s very hard to get good shots in the dark, at least for a non-professional photographer like me.

Zoolights is a glorious sight!

Marcus Mariota of Oregon Wins Heisman Trophy, and Hawaii Rejoices – NYTimes.com

Mariota was an inspiration in his home state [Hawaii]. He further validated the Oregon football program. And he has become viewed as the N.C.A.A.’s ideal student-athlete, especially after character issues in part defined the previous two Heisman winners, Jameis Winston and Johnny Manziel.

Mariota has garnered attention for his more positive off-field activities. He volunteers at the Boys & Girls Club in Eugene, Ore. He graduated early with a degree in general science. He tutored his teammates in high school.

“He’s always had a different mind-set than everyone else,” Taylor Troy, a close friend of Mariota’s, said by telephone last week. They played football together in Pop Warner and high school.

He added: “He always had his priorities in the right order. Around here, your priorities can sometimes get turned the wrong way. But he stuck to it. Stuck to football. Stuck to school. Stuck to his family. He’s just never gone off track. That’s why he’s so great.”

via Marcus Mariota of Oregon Wins Heisman Trophy, and Hawaii Rejoices – NYTimes.com.

What a relief to see someone truly deserving win a major sports award. It’s about time we start sending the message that life off the field or off the court DOES matter. Perhaps if we start rewarding the good guys and ignoring the trouble makers at the lower levels of sports, we won’t have such big problems with professional athletes.

Getting a senior discount? Here’s how to give it away

Moviegoers 65 and older who bought tickets at the Bainbridge Cinemas or the Bainbridge Performing Arts center on Bainbridge Island could pay full price for their ticket and have the $3 senior discount redirected to a local charity that provides child care to low-income families.

The program, called the Boomerang Giving project, raised $630 in a two-month trial this year.

via Getting a senior discount? Here’s how to give it away | Business & Technology | The Seattle Times.

I had not heard of this approach to charitable giving:

The intent of the charity is to encourage older people in a financial position to forgo discounts they receive on public transportation, movies, restaurants and other outlets to invest in their community by donating, or redirecting, some or all of the savings to charities of their choice.’

There’s lots of information here, including links to several sites for giving. The article also ends with a reminder that volunteering at an organization is another form of charitable giving.