How to resist the Trump agenda (#resist)

It’s been nearly three months since Donald Trump was sworn in as our 45th President.  Since then, we have seen his and the Republican Congress’s unprecedented attacks on science,  energy efficiency standards, women’s rights, education, America’s standing in the world, immigrants, refugees, health insurance coverage, NATO, the EU, international trade agreements, and on and on.

To many people, the TV and radio news each morning is so depressing that they turn it off, or sit spellbound while news anchors and reporters describe yet another day’s worth of disastrous executive orders, Tweets, speeches, and bills passed by the Republican Congress.

To think that we have three and three-quarter years of this left is daunting.

Yet, we must not give up.  We must resist the Trump agenda.

No one can do everything, but everyone can do something. 

No one person can stop Trump and the Republican Congress.  But working together, many thousands of people can stop SOME of the destruction.  We can resist the Trump agenda in bits and pieces all over the country.

  • We’ve seen this already in the defeat of Trump’s attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act, also called Obamacare.  Speaker of the House Paul Ryan’s bill to replace Obamacare was withdrawn before it could be brought to a vote in the House of Representatives.  This happened for two reasons:  (1) a group of ultra-conservative Republican Congressmen refused to support it, and (2) ordinary Americans made over 500,000 phone calls to their 535 Congressmen and Senators expressing their opposition to the bill.
  • We also saw our strength when Trump’s bans on Muslims and refugees were overturned by federal courts after actions from state attorneys general and independent groups like the ACLU and Sierra Club.

These independent groups and others like them are in court trying to stop Trump’s attempts to dismantle the Environmental Protection Agency, privatize public lands, repeal the Endangered Species Act, overturn women’s reproductive rights, cancel clean air standards, restart oil pipelines stopped by the Obama Administration, and many other harmful actions.

So you see, we aren’t powerless.  We can resist the Trump agenda.

But it takes persistence, time, and money.

Right now, I’m volunteering for the ACLU People Power group, getting ready to join a group that cooks meals for homeless people, and marching for Planned Parenthood.

In this post, I will give you some examples of resistance movements of the recent past.  These will give you hope!

I’ll also suggest some actions to take and some reading that you can do on your own to help you learn the tactics of resistance that you can use to resist the Trump agenda:  to fight against specific Trump and Congressional actions that you just refuse to accept.

So here we go.

Resistance movements of the recent past

Definition:  A resistance movement is “an organized effort by some portion of the civil population of a country to resist the legally established government or an occupying power and to disrupt civil order and stability.”–Wikipedia

Vietnam protest
Credit: agora.cosmopolitan.com

The resistance movements that most easily come to mind for Americans are the Civil Rights movement and anti-war movement of the 1960s and 1970s, the American Indian Movement of the 1970s, the Gay Rights Movement, the Women’s Movement, and the current Black Lives Matter movement.  These resistance movements are examples of people fighting the actions (or inaction) of a legally established government in order to achieve the movement’s goals.

World War II was the impetus for many resistance movements in countries occupied by Nazi Germany and the USSR:  Norway, France, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Romania, Bulgaria, Greece, Hungary, Lithuania, Yugoslavia, Ukraine, Denmark, Netherlands, and Italy.  These resistance movements were examples of people fighting against an occupying power.

In the Middle East, resistance movements include the PLO, Hamas, and Hezbollah.

In Southeast Asia, the Viet Cong, Viet Minh, and Pathet Lao started out as legitimate resistance movements, but later used extreme violence in their efforts to achieve their goals.

In Ireland, the Irish Republican Army fought against British occupation. In Nicaragua, the CONTRAs fought against a dictatorship.  In Cuba, Fidel Castro fought against a dictatorship.  In Czarist Russia, the Bolsheviks fought against a monarchy that operated as a dictatorship.  In Mexico, Pancho Villa and Emiliano Zapata fought against dictatorship and led a revolution.

Nelson Mandela fought South African apartheid.

As you think about all these examples of resistance movements, you’ll note that many – but not all – succeeded in overthrowing the established order.  However, sometimes the new order was even worse than the previous one (e.g., USSR, Laos, Cambodia, Viet Nam).

Credit: everything.plus

In all the resistance movements mentioned here, people expressed their disagreement through protests and demonstrations.  These actions were undertaken to bear witness on behalf of a particular cause by words or actions.  They were attempts to influence public opinion or government policy or both.  Often they were attempts to get desired changes directly, either through nonviolence or through violent means.

In World War II, partisan groups blew up railroads and sabotaged German and Russian troop transports when possible.  I’m not advocating violence as a means to get Trump’s attention and wake up the Republican Congress.  But there are many PEACEFUL, NONVIOLENT MEANS that we can use:

Actions you can take to resist the Trump agenda

  • Sign up for one or more of the daily or weekly online Resistance newsletters:  Rogan’s List, Jen Hoffman’s,

 

Alt and Rogue twitter accounts to follow for good information

 

  • Join a group that is working for a specific cause.  For example, ACLU, Planned Parenthood, Sierra Club, Howling for Wolves, National Resources Defense Council, March for Science, People Power,
  • Use your Twitter account to express your views DIRECTLY to our U.S. Senators and Representatives.  Here is a link to the Twitter handles of all the Senators:

US Senate Twitter Account List

  • Make phone calls to your Congresspeople.  Call both their Washington offices and their local offices.  Phone calls are proving to be exceptionally influential in the current Resistance.
  • Sign petitions and send postcards to your Congresspeople and your local and state governments, when local issues are under attack by Republicans.
  • March for Science on Earth Day, April 22, and for Climate Change on April 29.  March for other reasons as the marches are organized.
  • Join a local group that is helping refugees to resettle.
  • Join a local group that cooks and serves meals to homeless people.

    NBC News photo, Migrants’ Camp
  • Volunteer in a local school to read to children, especially refugee and immigrant children who need to hear English to help their learning.

Further reading and viewing

Here are some fiction and nonfiction books that I rely on to give me the energy to resist the Trump agenda, and a few movies that will motivate you.  Each person can do something great!

Books

Eyes on the Prize Civil Rights Reader
Black Like Me
by John H Griffin
Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee
by Dee Brown

Night Soldiers and others in the Alan Furst series
The Feminine Mystique
by Betty Friedan
The Second Sex
by Simone Beauvoir

Against Our Will:  Men, Women, and Rape by Susan Brownmiller

Movies

Hidden Figures
The Help
The Imitation Game
Defiance
Schindler’s List
Stalingrad

Windtalkers
Letters from Iwo Jima

#Resist now!

Dr King marching
Credit: gannett-cdn.com

I hope you will pick a few of these ideas for ways to resist the Trump agenda and take action.  It feels good to do something, even if you can’t immediately see the results. 

Remember the words of Dr King in his last speech:   “I may not get there with you….  But I have been to the mountaintop….”

Remember that Congress is there to serve us, the citizens.  Don’t let the members get away with ignoring us.

Remember that Hillary Clinton won the popular vote in the election of 2016.  That means that WE are the majority.  Let’s act like it!

Remember to take time for yourself and take a break for volunteering and activism at least once a day.  You need to fill your cup so that you will have enough energy and spirit to share with others who need your help.

 

Before you ask about my name — please don’t.

How I got my name

Personal names are something that we are pretty much stuck with. Our parents chose them. We are legally identified by them. They follow us everywhere.

In the part of America where I grew up, babies were given a first name, a middle name, and the last name of their father, if the parents were married.  Mine were.  Often the first name for a girl would be chosen from one of her grandmothers’ names.  Often the first name for a boy would be the father’s name, making the boy baby a “junior” or “the Third”, etc., with that name.

My first name was chosen to honor my mother’s best friend.  In all my life, I only met one other person who had the same name as I did.

How my name became a problem for me

When I started school, the nightmare began.  No one had ever heard of my name. (Before you ask about my name – please don’t.)

Children’s name tags (Pinterest)

In many schools, children’s names are printed on paper or card stock by teachers and taped to the children’s desks. In some schools, children must wear nametags or signs draped around their necks with their names printed on them. Children’s school work is identified by their names written at the top or bottom of each page. Children are called on in class by name to answer questions or carry out teachers’ instructions.

In every single school, in every single class, I had to explain my name to one or more people.  I soon wished I had some other name – a “normal” name that no one would focus on.  I would think to myself:  “Before you ask about my name – please don’t.”  I hated introducing myself.  Children and adults alike made fun of my name.

In the 1950s, there was a popular television show about a hero dog, called “Rin-Tin-Tin.”  This was the most common response to my introducing myself.  Each person thought he or she was the only one who saw the connection.  Ha ha.  Very funny.

The “name nightmare” continues

As adults, our names appear on our driver’s licenses, state or provincial identification cards, tax bills, credit cards and loan papers, voting records, mail boxes, and on and on – hundreds or even thousands of documents and forms.

Whenever we try to carry out some intention, the first thing we are asked for is our name. When you apply for a job, volunteer for an organization, ask for an appointment with a doctor, sign up for a class, or even sit down to play cards with people, you are asked for your name.

And that is when the nightmare returns, for me and many others like me who have unusual names or names perceived as “foreign”.

My name is frequently spelled wrong.  I have to spell it our, letter by letter, in any official situation where there is oral communication.

Official:  Name?
Me:  Laurinda Porter
Official:  L-O-R-I-N-D-A?
Me:  No.  L-A-U-R-I-N-D-A.
Official:  Oh, I never heard of that.  Where did you get that?
Me:  –Sigh–

When I am asked for my name in an informal situation, I reply, “My name is Rin, R-I-N.”  I think to myself:  Before you ask about my name — please don’t.

Inevitably, I receive the following responses: “Oh, like Rin-Tin-Tin. Ha ha.” “What’s that short for?” “What’s your REAL name?” “Where did you get that name?” “Spell that again?” “Is that a nickname?”

My internal thoughts: “Really? Do you think you’re the first person who ever thought of that? Why do I have to explain my name? Why is it any of your business? Can’t you just accept it?”

It has reached the point in recent years where I avoid new situations because I don’t want to have to deal with it. I am 70 years old. I have been asked these stupid questions since I went to kindergarten 65 years ago. I’m really sick of them.

When people persist, I just go silent, or I say, “Please, just accept it. It’s my name.”

When I go to Starbuck’s for coffee or to a restaurant where you have to give your name to be put on a list for a table, I give my name as Ann. It’s simple, clear, and not unusual. No one asks me to spell it. No one asks me what it’s short for. No one makes dumb jokes about it. I breathe a sigh of relief and wait for my turn to come up.

How I deal with other people’s names

Children’s name tags (Pinterest)

I NEVER ask anyone about his or her name. I just make sure I am pronouncing it right and move on. I assume that someone with an unusual name has experienced the same kinds of stupid questions and dumb remarks from other people that I have.

Why don’t people think before they speak? I don’t know. At my bridge group (which numbers over 50 people), I have to play cards with people I haven’t met  almost every week. All of us are senior citizens. All of us have lived a long time and experienced stupidity and rudeness from many sources. Yet, every one of them asks me the same questions every time I introduce myself.

Pretty soon I’m going to become Ann just to get through the afternoons at bridge.

Why it makes me mad to be asked constantly about my name

Why do I become so irritated about it? Because it goes on and on. It’s not just one person doing it. It’s the 65 years, day after day, person after person, singling me out as different, as “other”, as abnormal, that ticks me off.

Every day for 23 years of school, college, and graduate study. Every day as an adult.

 

 

 

Before you ask about my name — please don’t.

I don’t like having to explain myself in every new interaction. Why should I have to do this? Why can’t I be accepted without an explanation?

So please. Take my advice. When you meet someone, don’t make ANY remarks about his or her name. Just say, “It’s nice to meet you.”

You will make someone’s day. You will make MY day.

 

 

Keep Hope Alive: Women’s March 2017

The Women’s March

Three generations I met at the St Paul Women’s March, Jan. 21, 2017

The Women’s March in the U.S. and around the world on Jan. 21, 2017, gave me hope! A great amount of hope! Hope like I haven’t felt since the election of 2008 when Barack Obama was chosen to be our President.

I was excited to see so many people participate in the Women’s March. I was excited to see women of all ages, and a goodly portion of men of all ages too. There were children, dogs, banners, signs, pink knitted hats, chants, drums, and singing at the Women’s March in St Paul, Minnesota, where I marched.

Over 100,000 people joined in. What a sight it was.

Around the world, journalists estimated that a total of 5 million people marched to support their beliefs in equality, women’s rights, climate change, civil rights, free speech, science, social justice, immigrant safety, the value of our environment, animal rights, LGBTQ rights, reproductive freedom, universal health insurance, and many other causes.

Why did we march?

I believe it was because the election and inauguration of Donald Trump as President were frightening events to many women and men, and especially frightening to people of color. Trump has promised to roll back all the progress made by the Obama Administration in the beliefs I listed above.

And In the first week of his presidency, Trump has outpaced our fears. He has done more evil things than even the most pessimistic of us thought possible.

–He threatened to defind Planned Parenthood. Republicans in Congress introduced more than 100 bills to defund PP and/or restrict abortion rights and/or restrict insurance payments for women’s health costs.

–He made it illegal to provide financial support to agencies around the world who provide healthcare to poor women, if the agencies even mention the word “abortion”. The doctors and nurses can’t counsel women about their options or provide abortion procedures or the agencies will lost their funding. Reagan instituted this ban. Clinton removed it. Bush put it back. Obama removed it again. When the ban is in place, thousands of women die.

–He threatened immigrants to the U.S., both legal and illegal, and declared sanctuary cities would lose their federal funding.

–He insulted our close ally, Mexico.

–He attacked science. He gave an order instructing the EPA and NPS agencies of the federal government to stop tweeting and publishing scientific papers and reports.

Who could have foreseen that? Not me! It’s unimaginable.

Responses by scientific agencies

But our public servants in the science-based federal agencies did not acquiesce to this outrageous executive order. Instead, they started new Twitter accounts that they or their colleagues or allies controlled, so that they could continue to share science with the public.

One Twitter post from an alt site, Jan. 27, 2017

They planned a Science March on Washington to protest Trump’s actions. As of this writing, no date has been announced for the March. But around the world, scientists in other countries stated their intentions to march in solidarity with the American scientists.

Here are some of the new Twitter accounts:

@ScienceMarchDC      @Alt_NIH

@alt_fda             @Alt_CDC

@AltUSEPA           @Alt_NASA

@AltForestServ        @RogueNASA

@AltNatParkSer        @ActualEPAFacts

@BadHombreNPS       @AltHHS

@Altusda

The anonymous writers of some of the new Twitter accounts asked for artists to design new logos for them.  We’ll probably see the new logos in the coming days.

Responses by women’s groups and environmental groups

Women’s groups and environmental groups have responded to Trump’s and Congress’s actions with vigorous campaigns of phone calls, letter writing, petition signing, and visiting Congressional offices to express their opposition to Trump’s threats and orders.

Senators and Representatives need to hear our voices. We women are the majority In the U.S., and we need to stand up and act like it.

In addition to women’s groups and environmental groups like the Sierra Club, Defenders of Wildlife, Earthjustice, Greenpeace, and Center for Biological Diversity, some churches have announced plans to help resist efforts to roll back environmental protections. Clean water and clear air are needed by everyone, not just women and environmentalists!

An alternate National Park Service tweet, Jan. 27, 2017

We all want to keep our national parks and national forests and national monuments. We can’t let corporate greed be allowed to destroy these public lands through oil drilling, clearcutting of forests, oil spills from pipelines, forest fires caused by epic drought resulting from climate change, ocean levels rising, and other means.

This is the time to stand up and say “No” to Trump and the Republican Congress.

Trump’s first orders and proclamations

Here is a list of the orders and proclamations Trump has made in his first week in office:

–Signed an order to build a wall along the southern border of the U.S.

–Ordered a shutdown in Twitter activity at the Department of Interior, EPA, …

–Ordered the Affordable Care Act “burdens” to be eased.

–Cleared the way for the resumption of construction of the Keystone and Dakota Access oil pipelines through five executive actions

–Imposed a hiring freeze on federal employees for 90 days, with exceptions for military positions and national security.

–Withdrew the U.S. from the Trans-Pacific Partnership

–Ordered the government to withhold funds from sanctuary cities

–Asked for the resignation of the head of the U.S. Border Patrol

–Asked for the resignations of all senior staff in the State Department

–Reinstated Reagan’s anti-abortion Mexico City rule known as the global gag rule.

–Froze all pending regulations until they are approved by his administration

–Ordered the pursuit of undocumented immigrants by the director of homeland security

Banned all Syrian refugees into the U.S.

http://www.politico.com/agenda/story/2017/01/all-trump-executive-actions-000288

Washington Post report; 3 PM CT, Jan. 27, 2017

The marches are encouraging signs

For those who want to resist Trump’s attempts to take away our freedoms and destroy our country’s environment by selling it to corporate interests, the marches are an encouraging sign. They showed that thousands of people are not willing to let him do it.

But marching is just the first step. After we march, we must take action.

No one can do everything, but everyone can do something.

Here is a list of some of the actions you can take:

–Tweet

–Email

–Write letters and postcards

–Make phone calls

–Discuss the issues with your friends and neighbors

–Join additional marches when they happen

–Go to local meetings of environmental groups, women’s     groups, and civil rights organizations like the ACLU

Redouble your efforts to reduce food waste, reduce your energy use, and decrease your carbon footprint on the planet.

–Contact your Congressional representatives and local legislators and express your opinion and your outrage at Trump’s actions.

–Contact the organizations you care about that support women’s rights, LGBTQ issues, civil rights, immigration, free speech, science, social justice, and other principles that are under attack by the Trump Administration.  Send them money.  Volunteer for them.

Most of all, stay strong!

This fight is going to last a long time.  It won’t be over by summer, or by Labor Day, or even by the beginning of 2018.  The Congress and the Trump Administration have vowed to wreck President Obama’s legacy, and they are taking steps to do that.

What they are doing affects us all. We can’t let them get away with it.  Women are 54% of the citizens of this country.  Science is important.  Social justice is vital.  Our public lands — especially our National Parks — are part of the heritage of this country.

I hope you will be part of the fight.  Let me know what you are doing to save the principles we care about.

To Everything There is a Season

At the end of this week, our nation begins a new chapter. The inauguration of Donald Trump as President of the United States is something no one ever dreamed would happen.

It is unimaginable.  But it is happening.

I have been thinking about the momentous changes that could and probably will occur as a result of Trump becoming President and Republicans taking over Congress.

I admit I have done a lot of hand-wringing and worrying in the two months since the November election.  But now I’m able to take a deep breath and tamp down my emotions and ramp up my cognitive skills.

It occurred to me that this is not the first time that we have faced an incoming presidential administration that is vastly different from the one before.

During my lifetime, beginning in 1946, this has happened repeatedly. It appears to be a pattern. Why, I don’t know.

Since WW II, there has been relative global peace. Yes, there have been regional wars on every continent except ours.  We have sent troops, advisors, educators, military police, and other types of aid to many of these regional wars.  We’ve even started a couple of them.  I acknowledge that.  There has not been TOTAL world peace, but there has been RELATIVE world peace, compared to WW II.

Many in our nation have prospered beyond their wildest dreams during these 70 years. Others, not so much.

Technology has become more and more a part of our lives, from the invention of the portable phone, satellite phone, and cell phone, to the garage door opener, self-parking car, heart-lung machine, high-definition television, silent dishwasher, wearable fitness bands, internet, and on and on.

Social change has come for many — slowly, yes, but it has come.

Things weren’t always like this, as anyone over 40 can recall.

Yin and Yang in Presidential Administrations

In those same 70 years since the end of WW II, we have experienced a yin and yang in presidential administrations.

So what does “yin and yang” mean?

Credit: Wikipedia

Let’s think about yin and yang in presidential administrations.  In our country, we have just two large political parties:  Democrats and Republicans.  Their occupation of the presidency has alternated regularly since WW II.

Just take a look:

–Harry Truman (Democrat) served from the time of Roosevelt’s death in 1945, to Jan. 1953.

Credit:https://view.publitas.com/inland-empire-museum-of-art/presidential-images-americas-leaders

 

 

 

 

 

 

After Truman, we had Dwight Eisenhower.  Eisenhower (Republican) served from 1953 to Jan. 1961.

Credit: Inland Empire Museum of Art

 

 

 

 

 

 

After Eisenhower, we had John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson.

Inland Empire Museum of Art

Kennedy (Democrat) served 1000 days, from Jan. 1961 until he was assassinated in Nov. 1963,  and Johnson (Democrats) served from Nov. 1963  to Jan. 1969.

 

 

Inland Empire Museum of Art
Credit: Inland Empire Museum of Art

After Kennedy and Johnson, we had Nixon.  Richard M. Nixon (Republican) served from Jan. 1969 to Aug. 1974, when he resigned in disgrace.

 

 

 

Then Gerald R. Ford, Nixon’s second Vice President, was sworn in as President and served until Jan. 1977.

Credit: Inland Empire Museum of Art

 

 

 

 

 

 

After Nixon and Ford , we had Jimmy Carter. Carter (Democrat) served from Jan. 1977 to Jan. 1981.

Credit: Inland Empire Museum of Art

 

 

 

 

 

 

After Carter, we had Reagan.  Ronald Reagan (Republican), served from Jan. 1981 to Jan. 1989.

Credit: Inland Empire Museum of Art

 

 

 

 

 

 

George Herbert Walker Bush  (Republican, referred to as Bush 41)- the only President that breaks my pattern — was elected right after Reagan and served one term, from Jan.1989 to Jan. 1993.

Credit: Inland Empire Museum of Art

 

 

 

 

 

 

After Bush 41, we had Clinton. William Jefferson Clinton (Democrat) served from Jan. 1993 to Jan. 2001.

Credit: Inland Empire Museum of Art

 

 

 

 

 

 

After Clinton, we had Bush 43.  George W. Bush (Bush 43, Republican) served from Jan. 2001 to Jan. 2009.

Credit: Inland Empire Museum of Art

 

 

 

 

 

 

After Bush 43, we had Obama. Barrack Obama (Democrat), served from Jan. 2009 to Jan. 2017.

Credit: Inland Empire Museum of Art

 

 

 

 

 

And now….

And now, after Obama, we will have Trump, a Republican in name only.

Donald J. Trump, a Republican since 2012, has switched parties at least five times over the last 30 years, according to U.S. News.

Credit: Inland Empire Museum of America’s Leaders

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thus, there has been a back and forth between Republicans and Democrats throughout my 70 years.

The nation survived each Republican administration, although each one placed our nation in debt and into regional wars.

So, for some reason, we have continued to alternate from one party to the other.  Since 1972, each Democratic President reduces the national debt and puts in place revenue streams that would balance the budget eventually.  Then each Republican cuts taxes and makes the debt balloon once again, through what Bush 41 called “voodoo economics.”

Not only foreign policy and economic policy are affected by the yin and  yang of presidential administrations.

Domestic policy is also strongly affected by the back-and-forth swings. Civil rights, women’s rights, social justice, environmental issues, and many other causes advance and retreat as the administrations change.

One aberration in this trend is the second Nixon administration, the one starting in 1972, which saw Roe v. Wade decided, and the Environmental Protection Agency established.

Under Obama, great strides in social justice, environmental justice, and use of alternative energy sources have been made, but a lot more need to be made.

However, the incoming Republican administration opposes all the ideals that I hold dear: social justice, women’s rights, minority rights, marriage equality, preservation of the environment, alternative energy, saving endangered species, climate change, national parks – you name it.

To Everything There is a Season

Which us brings us back to the Bible quote that I used for the title of this post:  “To everything there is a season.”

This comes from the book of Ecclesiastes, the 21st book of the Old Testament, RSV, Chapter 3, placed right after Psalms and Proverbs in the Protestant version of the Bible.

To everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die;
A time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal;
A time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, an a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
a time to rend, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.

So maybe the coming four years are that yang of the yin and yang:  our time to break down, weep, mourn, cast away stones, refrain from embracing, lose, rend, speak, hate, and make war.

We can oppose what the Congress tries to do, by civil disobedience, protests, petitions, marches, speeches, demonstrations, and resistance.  We can try to stop the worst of it, and work hard to stem the tide of reactionary backward movement for the next four years, until the time comes to elect a new President more in tune with the 52% of the electorate that voted for HRC.

It’s important that we try to be good citizens of our nation, and that means obeying the laws, building rapport where we can, and working for the principles we believe in.

To everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under Heaven.  Even Donald Trump.

 

The truth about climate change and you

We’ve all heard the terms “climate change” and “global warming” for two decades or more.

We’ve seen the scientific explanations, the ice core samples from the Arctic, the endangered species like the polar bear, the horrific hurricanes, floods, heat waves, and wildfires of recent years.

But unless you live in California, Colorado, Florida, Louisiana, or New Jersey and have personally experienced severe weather events, you may have been wondering how climate change and global warming will affect you.

I’ve been studying this and I’m prepared to explain the truth about climate change and you.

In this post, I’ll tell you what I’ve learned about the personal effects of climate change.  I found out that what you will experience–

  • depends on where you live
  • depends on your age, gender, and health status
  • depends on your type of job, if employed
  • depends on what investments you have, who manages your pensions if you have them, and what income sources you have
  • depends on your sources of energy
  • depends of your sources of water
  • depends on what you eat/your diet

Once you know the truth about climate change and you, you may decide to make some changes in how you do things.  If you do, then you can feel confident that you are doing your best not to make the situation any worse than it already is!

No single individual can alter climate change, but together, we can reduce its severity.

Climate change where you live

If you live on or near the East Coast, Gulf Coast, or West Coast of the United States, or on the Alaskan coast or in Hawaii, you will experience damage to your coastal property and nearby roads and bridges from rising sea levels and increased storm surge.  You will see increased temperatures all year round.

According to NASA, the ocean levels will rise between 1 ft and 4 ft by 2100, and have already risen several inches in the last decade.  The increase in ocean levels is due to the accelerating loss of sea ice and the melting of glaciers around the world.

Oceanfront property will gradually disappear as ocean levels swallow it up inch by inch.  High tides will be higher.

Damage caused by Hurricane Sandy, Queens, New York. Credit: Alamy

Hurricanes and typhoons will be stronger and more intense from now on, leading to greater damage to property and infrastructure from wind and water. You may lose your house in the next giant storm.

Damage to roads, bridges, wastewater treatment facilities, electric utilities, homes, and businesses in coastal areas will result in higher local taxes, insurance costs, and utility fees as state and local governments work to repair destruction caused by weather events.  Your budget will be affected by these increased costs.

Coastal wetlands and marshes will be inundated by seawater, resulting in a loss of sea lands by tribal groups, extinction of local marsh-dwelling species, loss of habitat for ducks and other waterfowl, amphibians, and freshwater mollusks.

Hurricane Katrina damage, Louisiana. Credit: Videoblocks

Governments in the coastal areas will experience higher costs for providing temporary shelter and supplies for people displaced from their homes by weather events.

If you live in the woods and mountains in the northeast, upper midwest, west, or southwest, you will see trees flowering earlier than usual, plant and animal ranges shifting to the north, increased insect activity attacking and killing trees (like pine bark beetles), more forest fires, fewer ski days in winter, more droughts, and higher prices for energy, transportation, and insurance.  You will see increases in local and state taxes as local and state governments need more money to keep up with the loss of tourism dollars, fight fires, remove dead trees, repair roads, and deal with increasing unemployment. Your budget will be affected.

Bottom of Almaden Reservoir near San Jose, California, 1/21/14. Credit: Slate.com

If you live near a major body of water – as 53% of Americans do – you will see a decline in river and lake levels and an increase in sea levels, and increased acidification of lakes, rivers, and oceans.  Increased acidification ofwater means more fish will die.  Fewer species of fish can survive in acidic conditions.  Fewer fish and fewer fish species mean reduction in income for tourist-based businesses such as resorts, cabin rentals, fishing guides, bait shops, hotels and motels, boat sales, restaurants, and convenience stores in vacation regions. Fewer fish and fewer fish species may mean changes to your diet if you are accustomed to eating local fish.  The economic losses lead to lost tax revenues.  Local governments will have to raise their property tax levies, which affects your budget.

Less water in the Great Lakes means decreased tourism as well as habitat destruction.  Tribal groups will see decreased wild rice harvests and more difficulty in maintaining traditional ways of life for tribal groups based around the Great Lakes.

Dead and dying salmon on the way to spawning grounds. Credit: Dreamstime.com

Less water in lakes and streams means reduced stream flows.  Salmon are especially vulnerable to reduced stream flows, and will find it difficult to reach spawning grounds.  Warmer water makes salmon more susceptible to predators, parasites, and disease.  When water reaches 72 degrees F, fish kills result.  Heavy winter floods can wash away salmon eggs and gravel spawning beds.

Shipping routes (such as the Ohio, Mississippi, and Missouri Rivers) will be interrupted as they already have been, as river levels drop, leading to higher costs for shipping by railroad and by truck, and increased costs for gasoline and diesel fuel.

If you live in an agricultural area, then you will see rising temperatures seriously affect crop yields.  The growing season will lengthen.  Precipitation patterns will change.  As crop  yields shrink, prices rise.  Feed for cattle, sheep, goats, hogs, chickens, and turkeys gets more expensive.

Livestock, especially cows, are affected by rising temperatures.  The dairy industry will be powerfully affected by climate change.  According to the NASA report cited earlier, cows produce less milk when temperatures rise above 77 degrees F.

The wine industry will see reduced grape quality.  Flood damage to crops and property will drive insurance costs up.  Farmers will see reduced yields in wheat, soybeans, and rice.  Corn may benefit from higher temperatures at first, but then insect damage will increase, leading to more herbicide application.  Rising costs of production will mean fewer acres of land under cultivation, resulting in higher food costs for consumers.

Climate change has already had a serious effect on pollinators:  bees, birds, butterflies.  Without pollinators, we won’t be able to produce most fruits and many vegetables.

Many of the foods and crops we rely on need or, at the very least, benefit from bee pollination. Here’s a list of some of those crops.

  • Alfalfa
  • Almonds
  • Apples
  • Asparagus
  • Beans
  • Beets
  • Blackberries
  • Blueberries
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Buckwheat
  • Cabbage
  • Cantaloupe
  • Cauliflower
  • Celery
  • Cherries
  • Chestnuts
  • Chives
  • Clover
  • Cranberries
  • Cucumber
  • Currants
  • Eggplant
  • Flax
  • Garlic
  • Gooseberries
  • Grapes
  • Horseradish
  • Kale
  • Lettuce
  • Mustard
  • Onions
  • Parsley
  • Peaches
  • Pears
  • Plums
  • Pumpkins
  • Radishes
  • Raspberries
  • Rhubarb
  • Squash
  • Strawberries
  • Sunflowers
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Turnip
  • Watermelon

If you live in a large city, especially in the Southwest (Phoenix, Albuquerque, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Denver)  then according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), you will be affected by rising temperatures that are increased by the urban heat island effect.

Credit: Mohave Electric Co.

Longer and more intense heat waves mean power outages for you, as people turn on air conditioners and run them longer.  Air quality will decline as carbon dioxide concentrations increase in city air.  More people will die from heat stress:  the elderly, children, those with disabilities, those suffering from respiratory conditions, pregnant women.  More people will suffer from stomach and intestinal illness following power outages as bacteria increase in warm environments.

If you live in a rural area, then you will be affected by rising temperatures and reduced state budgets for road maintenance.  Transportation costs will increase due to higher energy costs and scarcity.  Diseases carried by mosquitoes, ticks, and fleas will increase.  Herbicide and fertilizer runoff into streams and lakes will increase in heavy rainfall events, leading to flooding contamination of water supplies.  Wells will run dry and access to clean drinking water will decrease.  Your costs for taxes, food, gasoline, heating fuel, and other necessities will rise.

Climate change and your age, gender, and health status

Extreme heat affects health.  Medical professionals know this.  Public health officials prepare for it as summers approach each year.

Climate change makes summers hotter as well as increasing ambient temperatures all year round.  Your age, gender, and health status determine how you respond to increased temperatures in your environment.

Credit: Clipartfest.com

The truth about climate change and you includes your age.   Heat stress disproportionately affects older Americans and young children because these two extremes of the human life span are not as good at handling heat stress as adults 18-49.

According to the EPA report cited above, your age will determine how you respond to temperature and weather events.  Children and older adults need to spend more time indoors in a cool basement or curtained room away from the sun’s heat, drink plenty of water, and reduce their physical activity.  Poor air quality also affects children and older adults more than adults 18-49. Asthma, smoke from wildfires, airborne allergens, ozone concentration, and other particulates (dust, sand, sea spray) are serious problems for older adults and young children.

If you are an adult over 50 or care for young children, then you will be affected by climate change through higher air temperatures and poor air quality at some point, if you have not been already.

Your gender also affects your response to climate change.

Studies have shown that women disproportionately suffer the impacts of disasters, severe weather events, and climate change because of cultural norms and the inequitable distribution of roles, resources, and power….”(http://www.prb.org/Publications/Articles/2012/women-vulnerable-climate-change.aspx)

Women are more often responsible for caring for children and the elderly, for carrying out tasks that are more difficult to do in hot weather, such as laundry, cooking, cleaning, yard work, and transportation.

Women are more likely to die or be displaced as a result of natural disasters.  They are more likely to be poor and have less access to resources than men.

Your health is one of the most important factors in determining how you will fare in the coming years of climate change.

People with chronic conditions such as diabetes, arthritis, asthma, COPD, heart failure, etc., are affected by heat stress, humidity, and poor air quality.  Those with allergies to spring pollen or ragweed also suffer more during weather events that include high winds.  If you have a compromised immune system because of chemotherapy or a immuno-suppressant drug regimen, you can be in danger from the bites of mosquitoes, ticks, and fleas because of the diseases they carry from animals to humans.  Extreme weather events also cause stress and loss which affects those suffering from mental health conditions.

Your ability to adapt is an important asset during climate change.  If you can take steps to safeguard your health by following public health guidelines, doctors’ orders, and common-sense principles like staying inside at high noon, drinking plenty of water, avoiding sugar, and taking part in appropriate exercise, then you are more likely to suffer minimal health effects from climate change.

Climate change and your job

If you are employed, self-employed, an active sports person, or volunteer at outdoor activities, then climate change can affect you through those pursuits.

People who work outdoors in recreation or tourism jobs, mining, farming, transportation, construction, building maintenance, road maintenance, fire fighting, garbage collection, gardening, law enforcement, and education are at greatest risk for heat-related and other weather-related death or injury.  Paramedics and student athletes also suffer during heat waves and severe cold events.

If you work at one of these jobs, play an outdoor sport, run or walk for exercise, then you must plan for how you will protect yourself during times of extreme heat, cold, wind, rain, air pollution, and dust.  These climate change episodes will occur.

If you prepare yourself with the proper clothing and protective gear, arrange your schedule as much as possible to avoid exposure to these weather extremes, limit the time you are exposed if you must be outside, and get recommendations from your public health department or physician, then you are more likely to survive the worst parts of climate change weather events that affect your job or other activities.

Credit: Minnesota DNR

In addition to your job or outdoor sports, climate change will affect your recreational pursuits.  Hunting, fishing, bird-watching, hiking, riding, skiing, skating, swimming, and other outdoor recreational activities will be affected by climate change.  Hunters will see fewer deer, elk,  and waterfowl available, with shorter hunting seasons and smaller bag limits.  Fishermen and -women will see fishing seasons shortened or even cancelled, as they were in Minnesota in recent years, due to the severe population crash of walleye.

Climate change and your investments

I am not a financial planner or advisor.  But I have investments and I receive pensions and distributions from a 403b and other sources.  Anyone who is retired, disabled, or soon to be either of these will depend on investments and pensions (your own or other people’s) and/or part-time employment for income to live.

So it’s important to think about what effects climate change will have on your investments and work possibilities.  If you have control over how your money is invested, then you will want to look into it immediately.

From my research, here is what I learned about the future of investing.

According to the EY Report, climate risks will be felt in the following ways by investors:

  • PHYSICAL:  damage to land, buildings, stock, or infrastructure owing to physical effects of climate-related factors, such as heat waves, drought, sea levels, ocean acidification, storms or flooding
  • SECONDARY:  knock-on effects of physical risks, such as falling crop yields, resource shortages, supply chain disruption, as well as migration, political instability, or conflict
  • POLICY: financial impairment arising from local, national, or international policy responses to climate change, such as carbon pricing or levies, emission caps, or subsidy withdrawal
  • LIABILITY:  financial liabilities, including insurance claims and legal damages, arising under the law of contract, tort, or negligence because of other climate-related risks
  • TRANSITION: financial losses arising from disorderly or volatile adjustments to the value of listed and unlisted securities, assets and liabilities in response to other climate-related risks
  • REPUTATIONAL: risks affecting businesses engaging in, or connected with, activities that some stakeholders consider to be inconsistent with addressing climate change

Whew.  That’s a lot of risk to take in.

Let’s think of some examples.  Let’s say I own stock in a portfolio of mutual funds that invest in shopping centers in Florida.  What are the chances that my shopping centers are going to be affected in some way by climate change — in other words, that they are at risk?

Looking at the list of six kinds of risk, I see that the PHYSICAL risks (damage to land and buildings) are great, since Florida is prone to be the target of hurricanes and flooding, and because much of Florida is only 3 feet above current sea level.  I might think about selling my shopping center mutual funds and buying something else.

Stock graph by Clipart Kid

Let’s say I own stock in a coal mining company.  Coal mining has been declining in recent years as alternative energy sources have increased (solar, wind, hydro, geothermal), and the costs of production of coal have increased.

Coal mining is also perceived as “a bad thing” by environmentalists and is declining for that reason as well as because of legislation in some states that mandates that electric utilities reduce their use of coal.

Looking at the six kinds of risk, I see that the POLICY risks may affect my investment. Financial impairment of my coal company might result from changes in local, national, or international policy responses to climate change.  I might think about selling my coal company stock and buying something else.

But what?

According to my research, certain sectors of the economy are going to experience increased demand due to climate change.

For example, the EY Report cited above suggests that the following groups may benefit:

  • manufacturers and operators of renewable energy assets
  • energy efficiency technology
  • carbon capture and storage
  • batteries and other forms of energy storage

while other industries may suffer because they are heavy users of fossil fuels.  For example:

  • chemicals
  • steel
  • industrial manufacturing
  • construction
  • transportation

If I buy and sell commodities, then it would be important for me to know that various government reports indicate that certain crops will be affected by climate change:

  • wheat, soybeans, and rice yields will decrease due to higher ultraviolet radiation, diseases, insects, and weeds
  • U.S. food production overall will decrease by as much as 27%
  • livestock production will decrease (hogs, cattle, goats)

Since I now know that there will be serious health consequences from climate change, I might want to ask my financial advisor whether I should invest in hospitals, drug companies, ambulance manufacturers, and products used by hospitals. Your investments may vary, but it’s worth looking into what they are and how they might be affected by climate change.

Climate change and your sources of energy

Is your home heated by oil, natural gas, propane, or electricity?

Does your vehicle run on gasoline, diesel, or electricity?

Have you installed any solar panels or geothermal systems?

Do you buy wind energy from your utility?

Up to now, you may have thought that your answers to these questions were not important.  But today, they are.

Fossil fuels are the biggest producers of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide that are accelerating climate change.

Reuters photo, published in Minnpost

The things you do every day, like turn lights on and off, run your dishwasher, wash clothes, watch TV, and read this blog on  your computer, are using electricity.  How is your electricity produced?  Is it provided to your local utility by a coal-fired power plant?

If so, then YOU are causing climate change to worsen by using this electricity.

You and your family may want to have a discussion about how you can increase the role of sustainable sources of energy in your life.  Have you studied ways that you can support wind and solar energy?

Credit: NewportSolarri.com

The states of California, Arizona, North Carolina, New Jersey, Nevada, Massachusetts, New York, Hawaii, Colorado, and Texas are the top 10 solar producers (in 2015, according to SELA.org).

Do you live in one of those states?  If not, what is your state doing about solar energy?

How about wind energy?

As of December 2015, the top 5 wind producing states were Texas, California, Iowa, Oklahoma, and Illinois.

What is your state doing about wind energy?

Many utilities are offering consumers the option of purchasing sustainable energy instead of, or in addition to, energy produced by fossil fuels.  Have you checked your utility’s website recently?

Climate change is here, and most countries in the world have agreed to reduce their use of fossil fuels.  This means that fossil fuels will become less available and more expensive.  Now is the time for you to make changes in your use of energy.  The costs of fossil fuels are not just in your electric bill or gasoline charges for your vehicle.  Their production affects our air quality and water quality also.

Climate change and your source of water

One of the ironies of climate change and the precipitation patterns it affects is that fresh water is becoming scarce.  Yes, even though we see huge rain events and floods, fresh water is disappearing.

Water supply and water treatment issues are now very important.  The droughts that have hit California, Nevada, Arizona, Oregon, Utah, Idaho, Washington, and New Mexico are severe and ongoing, according to https://weather.com/climate-weather/drought/new/severe-drought-states.  

Agriculture is the biggest user of water – responsible for 80% of U.S. water use.  States like California and Washington are agricultural-producing states that serve the nation.  If they don’t have enough water, then their food production will decrease and our costs to buy food will increase.

Six western states have 56 million people (California, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, Utah, Colorado), 90% of whom live in cities, according to the EPA Report/Southwest cited above.  All these people are at risk of water scarcity due to drought.

Credit: Valley irrigation pivot.

States like North and South Dakota, Iowa, Nebraska, Minnesota, Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas are using water from aquifers (underground water basins) for their agricultural production.  Some of the aquifers are being depleted by growing municipal use as well as agricultural use. When there is prolonged drought, the aquifers do not get refilled.  Once they run dry, then what?  (For more information, see Against the Grain by Richard Manning.)

The droughts in the western states are particularly worrisome because they mean that the western aquifers are not being recharged by rain and snowfall.

People in rural areas of the U.S. generally get their water from private water wells.  Towns and cities get their water from rivers and lakes.  When the depth of the water table underground increases, then it is harder for people to get water in their wells.  When river and lake levels decrease, then there is less water available for the town and city populations to use.

Where do you get your water?  What is your level of confidence that you will have access to clean water during the next 30 to 50 years?

Climate change and what you eat

Did you know that what you eat also contributes to climate change and water shortages?  That’s a big part of the truth about climate change and you.

Unless you’ve been living in a cave for the last 20 years, you’ve probably heard that beef production is both the biggest cause of habitat destruction and the largest user of water in the agricultural world.

According to Gracelink.com, certain vegetables, fruits, and nuts use way more water than other foods.

Credit: Los Angeles Times graphics

If Americans (the biggest eaters in the world) changed their diets and ate foods that use less water to produce, then our current water shortages would be less serious.

Let’s look at the list of foods and the water required to produce them, according to the websites just cited.

Biggest Water Users (per pound of food)

beef                            1,800 to 5,000 gallons
chocolate                 2,847 gallons
butter                         2,044 gallons
olive oil                      1,729 gallons
pork                             1,630 gallons
cheese                            896 gallons
chicken                           815 gallons
eggs                                  573 gallons
olives                               522 gallons
rice                                    403 gallons
tofu                                   244 gallons
bread (loaf)                  240 gallons
avocados                       220 gallons
mango                             190 gallons
corn                                  147 gallons
peaches                          142 gallons
bananas                          112 gallons
turkey                              100 gallons

Least Water Users (per pound)

lettuce                                15 gallons
tomatoes                           22 gallons
cabbage                              24 gallons
potatoes                             30 gallons
oranges                               55 gallons
apple                                     83 gallons

If you alter what you eat, you can save water and reduce greenhouse gases, all at one time!  Here’s an example of a new vegetable-based meal.

Credit: SimpleTruth.com

This meal used far less water and far less carbon to produce.

So, what can you do?

Now that you know the truth about climate change and you, what should you do in response?

There are MANY things you can do.  Some of them, you probably are already doing, like recycling, reducing your use of packaged and processed foods, changing from old-style lightbulbs to CFLs or LEDs.

But wait – there’s more!

Here are some more things you can do to reduce your personal contribution to climate change:

–Turn off computers, TVs, peripheral devices, cell phones, and anything else that uses electricity when you are not using them, and ALWAYS at night when you are asleep.

–Make a real effort to use public transportation (buses, trains, light rail) whenever possible.  Rearrange your habits of shopping so that you can take a bus or light rail instead of driving alone to a store. If you are able, use a bicycle or walk to your destinations.

–Drive less.  Do you really need to make that extra trip to get batteries? Plan ahead!

–Buy energy efficient appliances, like dishwashers that have a no-heat dry cycle.

–Stop using paper plates, plastic plates, and other disposables. Take your insulated travel cup with you to buy brewed coffee, if you must buy it instead of making it yourself.

–Buy local food.  Plan your meals a week in advance.

–Produce food yourself!  You can grow beansprouts in your own kitchen, tomatoes and peppers on your patio or balcony,   etc.

–Use your contacts to find a farmer who produces organic beef, chicken, lamb, or pork, and buy your meat directly from him or her.

–Reduce the amount of meat that you eat.  Start with one meatless day per week, and work up to three or four per week.

–Support candidates who are serious about reducing greenhouse gases, starting with your local city council or county board.

–Buy products made from recycled materials:  computer paper, toilet paper, paper towels, clothing, outdoor furniture, bags/totes/backpacks/wallets, activewear, hats, toys, sunglasses, building materials, and on and on.  Check this website for ideas: http://bgm.stanford.edu/pssi_5rs_buying_recycled_products

–Figure out how to reduce your costs by 10% next month by using less, eating differently, driving less, using less electricity, buying recycled items, walking more, using library books instead of buying books, making Goodwill, ARC, Saver’s, and other thrift stores your new go-to shopping destinations.

–Switch your investments to sustainable industries and companies that are green.

You can do this.  You and your family and friends can help stop the acceleration of climate change through your daily behavior.  I hope you’ll give some of these ideas a try!

Let me know what worked for you!

I BEGIN MY LIFE OVER (PART 4 OF MY JOURNEY)

Yes, I made it.  I reached the top of that mountain.

If you’re a faithful reader of this blog, then you know that I’ve been talking about moving since 2011 – when I had a heart attack and got a stent put into my LAD (left anterior descending artery) to keep me alive.

My house in the woods

At that point, I suddenly realized that there were a lot of things that I wanted to do that I hadn’t done.  Time was running out.  So in 2011 I decided to sell my home and move to Colorado, where I had wanted to live since I was 18 and saw it for the first time as an adult.

Fast forward to now:  I tried to move to Colorado in 2011 and 2012 — I even made an offer on an 1880s miner’s cabin in Leadville — but the spirits had other ideas.  My house didn’t sell the first year, or the second, etc., etc., until the sixth year:  2016.

And then suddenly it sold.   I had to get out in 30 days.  I wasn’t ready.  It was a nightmare.

Lucky for me, a friend stepped up and offered me her rental home to live in for as long as I needed it.  I estimated that I would need it for one to three months.

It ended up being almost four months. But now it’s over.  I begin my life over after a long journey.

How I did it

How did I do it?  How did I finish my move from 4000 sq ft of single-family house and garage on six acres of woods in a rural area, to a 900 sq ft condo on the second floor of a multi-family building in a first-ring suburb of a major metropolitan area?

Through grit and determination, that’s how.

It was strictly “I think I can, I think I can”, and “I, the Little Red Hen”, and “inch by inch, row by row”.  Every day during this process I had to give myself encouragement.

It was actually quite a lonely process.  For some reason, I thought people would line up to help me, but they didn’t.

I made a lot of lists:  what to sell, what to keep, what to give away, vendors to contact, people to notify, tasks to be accomplished, what  I needed in a new home, and on and on.

This is a long story, so you might want to get a cup of coffee before you read the rest of this saga.

My month-by-month process of moving

JulyI called a moving company as soon as the purchase agreement for my home was signed in July 2016.  The moving company sent an estimator a few days later.  He walked through the house and garage with me and determined how many boxes of stuff I would have, and the size of truck that would be needed to haul the stuff to his warehouse for storage.

I knew I would need storage because I  had no place to move to.

That was the next thing I did:  look for a place to live.

I soon found out that I could not afford any of the single-family houses available in the metropolitan Twin Cities.  Next I looked for apartments that would accept pets.

Again, nothing I could afford, and nothing that would take a dog and a cat.

So then I looked for condominiums and town houses all on one floor that would allow a medium-sized dog and a cat.

The condo building where I live now.

I found exactly ONE such development and quickly made an offer on a two-bedroom condo.  The seller rejected my offer.  So I made an offer on another unit in the same development.  And then the waiting game began.

The second offer I made in July was on a “short sale” property.  The owner tried to avoid foreclosure by asking the mortgage holders to allow the property to be sold for less than its value.

In my case, the owner had two mortgage holders and the condominium association standing in line for money owed.  My realtor estimated that it would take about two months to resolve all the issues and get the title to the condo cleared and ready for me to buy it.

So I applied for a mortgage.  That process was terrible and I am still angry about it.  I worked with a company where I had been a customer for nearly 30 years, so I expected smooth sailing.

July – October. There was no smooth sailing.  To make a long story short, it took more than four months and mountains of paperwork to get my mortgage approved – and I have a credit score of 834.  It was a freakin’ horror show.   But it’s over now.

After more than four months of waiting, I got a closing date for the purchase of the condo.  I wired the money for the down payment.  The closing was cancelled.  This happened four times (although I only had to send the money twice).

When the closing actually took place, the seller did not show up.  So I signed all the papers but one that the seller was supposed to bring, and went home to wait for the last paper.  That took several days, plus an electrical inspection by the city, and more paperwork delays.  But finally, on November 8, the condo was mine.

August.  Oh, by the way, I had to move out of my house on August 28.  I rented a storage locker in the town where I would live temporarily in my friend’s rental.  I put my computer and files, a card table and chair, a suitcase of clothes, a few cooking pans, boxes of canned food, and other things I needed to live for 1 to 3 months.

The movers loaded up my things on August 29 and took everything away. I took my dog and cat to their familiar boarding kennel and  went to an inexpensive motel in a third town.  On September 1 and 2, I moved into my friend’s rental and brought the pets there.

September, October, November.   For the next three months I worked at my part-time jobs, sent more and more paperwork to the mortgage company, and waited.  And waited.

When I finally took possession of the condo on November 8, I hired a handyman recommended by another of my friends — thank God for friends!  I put him to work painting the walls and trim and removing the old carpet and flooring.  Then I ordered new carpet and vinyl flooring to replace those badly worn materials. Next,  I got a telephone line and ordered cable TV and internet service.  I picked out new appliances and donated the old ones to my handyman’s cabin.  At last, I  arranged for the movers to bring my furniture during the first week of December.

I was still living 170 miles away and working my part-time jobs.  I did  a lot of driving and pet boarding while I was being the general contractor on the remodeling project.

The condo living room with its new carpet. Before the movers.

Meanwhile, the carpet store ordered the wrong carpet, but fortunately that selection was back-ordered. When I found out the mistake, I got the store to order the right carpet, and  shipped it over the weekend of a major snowstorm.  But it arrived on the 24th of November, and the installers put it in on the 25th.  It was beautiful, just as I had hoped.  The vinyl flooring arrived late, so I had to postpone the appliance installation.  But workers got it done just before Thanksgiving.

All this time I was living in the condo part-time, and at my daughter’s apartment part-time, and up north part-time.

During November, when I had to work up north, I would drive up from the Twin Cities, stay a few days, work my half-day, take my dog to the boarding kennel, and drive back to the Twin Cities.  Then after a night or two, I would return to the rental up north, after picking up the dog. It was stressful. My poor kitty stayed alone at the rental at least two nights a week.

After a week of unpacking.

December.  December came.  After the movers delivered the furniture to the condo on December 2, I brought the pets down. I  began moving out of the rental housing one car-load at a time.

I had  many carloads of things at the rental housing — clothes, books, computer equipment, pet needs, tools, food, cooking equipment, TV, radio, basic furniture, and a set of antique living room furniture that I had bought for the condo.  I had to find a place to donate my twin bed   after my last night in the rental on December 16. And  I had to unpack boxes and put things away in the condo and walk the dog 7 times a day. Literally.

There wasn’t enough space for my possessions.  Even though I had given away and sold mountains of stuff, there was still too much.  So back I went to Goodwill and ARC, giving away even more things.

Oh, I forgot to mention that I had rented a 10′ x 10′ storage locker 15 minutes away from the condo. I needed the locker to hold the items (mostly books and American Indian items from my 20 years of study and participation in activities).   The moving van went to the storage locker after delivering my furniture to the condo, and unloaded my storage items.

I had to give away some items from the storage locker to make room for items from the condo that I could not part with yet.  That process is continuing.

I begin my life over

As one of my blogging colleagues put it, moving is not only a physical process but also a mental and emotional process.

During my six-month journey from my beloved country home to the condo in the metro area, I needed motivation and encouragement.

Facing Problems image 3
You can do it!

I went back and forth between sadness, relief, excitement, anticipation, dread, discouragement, and confidence.

To get through the days, I relied on my  favorite sayings like “I think I can, I think I can”, and “I, the Little Red Hen, planted the wheat, harvested it, threshed it, ground it to flour, and baked the bread, and now I shall eat it.”

I also relied on ideas like “inch by inch, row by row, I’m going to make this garden grow”, especially when I felt discouraged and faced with seemingly insurmountable obstacles.

I found a web post that was helpful in providing more quotations that were motivating, including this one:

“The first step towards getting somewhere is to decide you’re not going to stay where you are. –J. Pierpont Morgan

And I remembered one of my favorite Bible passages:  Hebrews 12: 1, “Let us also lay aside every weight…and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us….”

I was confident that if I just kept going, eventually the work would be done. All the things I needed to move would be moved.  I would be done working up  north, and I could settle into my new home and begin my life over.

I’ve moved many times before, started over before, and I knew I could do it.

And that’s what I’m doing now, beginning my life over, in the last week of December 2016. Everything took longer than I expected, and was more difficult to complete.  But now there is enough floor space in my apartment to walk around. And more —

  • I  unpacked this computer and set it up.
  • I cooked a Christmas dinner for myself.
  • I visited the local senior center and found a bridge group to go to.
  • I submitted applications for two volunteer opportunities.
  • I’m ready for 2017 to come.  Not ready for what it may bring, but ready to look out the window and see what there is to do.
  • I’m registered for the Women’s March on January 21.

Are you faced with moving?

If you have to make a journey like this, to downsize and simplify your life, then let me tell you that you CAN do it.  I recommend that you get some people to help you.  I didn’t have anyone to help me, and it got very lonely at times. Often I felt despair and hopelessness because I had no help.

If it had not been for my friends Suzanne and Cherie, I would not have been able to complete my journey.  Reach out to your friends for help!

I also recommend the making of lists, which helped me to complete the process.

Other retirement bloggers have chronicled their stories of moving, and they can be helpful too: (https://satisfyingretirement.blogspot.com/, http://postworksavvy.com/moving-brings-mental-challenges/

And I’m sure there are other blogs that you would enjoy and learn from. Don’t be afraid to acknowledge how you feel about moving. Seek encouragement where ever you can find it!

Also take a look at one of my previous blog posts about making a senior housing choice.

I’d love to hear your stories about moving.  Please leave a comment!

 

The best ways to live worry-free in uncertain times (Part Three of my journey)

Causes of my uncertainty

Right now, I’m living in the midst of ambiguity.  I find myself worrying almost daily about my future.  I don’t WANT to be worrying, but I am doing it.  I don’t know what tomorrow may bring.

Girl with suitcaseSo I’ve decided to find the best ways to live worry-free in uncertain times — the times I am facing right now.

Here’s my situation of uncertainty:

  • I’ve sold my house, but I don’t have a new place yet.
  • I’m living in temporary housing in a new town through the generosity of a friend.  Don’t know the neighbors. When I move again, I won’t know a new set of neighbors.
  • I don’t know where I’ll be  three or four weeks from now – here or somewhere else.
  • I’m lonely and have no friends nearby.  It’s isolating.
  • I don’t have my “stuff”; it’s in storage.
  • The seasons are changing from summer to fall to winter, and In Minnesota, that can happen overnight.  When I wake up tomorrow, will it be summer?  Will it be winter?  Who knows?
  • I don’t know whether I’ll be able to keep my dog when I finally move into a new home.
  • I have questions about what I’ll do with my time, once I move from here and have to give up two of my three part-time jobs.  More uncertainty.

In other words, I have no certainty about my day-to-day life.  I can’t plan anything.

This is a difficult and troubling situation for me – a planner with a capital P!

The best ways to live worry-free

I’ve reached the point, after 5 weeks in temporary housing, where I’d like to get control of my worrying, and get rid of it.  So how can I do that?

1. Acknowledge that worry doesn’t change anything and doesn’t help the situation of uncertainty.

Credit: telegraph.co.uk
Credit: telegraph.co.uk

Of course I already know this.  You probably do too.  Worry is pointless and a waste of time.  I can’t count the times I have said to myself, “Stop worrying.  You can’t do anything about this, so forget it.”  And sometimes that works!  Sometimes just telling myself that worry doesn’t change anything will allow me to move on to other thoughts.

2.  Instead of worrying, make lists of what’s going right.

Yeah, I already make lists.  I’ve got lots of lists.  I’ve got lists of people to notify of my change of address, items to sell or give away (more than I’ve already done when I moved out of my house), bills to pay, furniture to buy for the new place, installers to contact, and so on.

It’s not that I don’t have lists.  I do have them.

It’s that I haven’t been making the right kinds of lists.  I need to be making lists of things that are going right.

For example, right now my health is pretty good.  Right now, the sky is blue and it’s warm (today, anyway). Right now, I have enough to eat and a roof over my head.

Even though it’s someone else’s roof.

Time image 4
Credit: www.exoticpets.about.com

Right now, I have enough clothes to wear and good shoes.  I have relatives who care about me.  I have friends (not here) who care about me, even though they are many miles away.

Right now, I can walk to a few stores and a movie theatre.  The grocery store is 5 minutes away by car.  And my car runs well.

And so on.  These are the kinds of lists I need to make – the ones that celebrate what I DO have, and not what I don’t have.

3.  Live in the present moment.

I read recently a saying attributed to Dale Carnegie:  “Today is the tomorrow that you worried about yesterday.”

What that saying pointed out to me was that it is the present moment that is important, not the future or the past.  The present moment, right now, is all we have.  THIS moment is the one that is important.  The future may be uncertain, but we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.  Today is ours to enjoy or to waste.  And I decided not to waste it!

4.  Find joy in simple things.

Can you cook a good meal?  Then do so, and enjoy every bite!

Are there pretty sunsets where you live? Then plan to be outdoors or to look out the window when sunset is coming up.

Sapa 2015@0Does your dog or cat have soft fur?  Then reach down and pet him or her, and enjoy the feeling of the fur on your palm.  Tell him or her how good he or she is, and see the love in your pet’s eyes.

Are you breathing well?  Close your eyes and take three deep breaths.  Feel the comfort of being alive today.  Give thanks for it.

Do you have a favorite sweater, shawl, or vest?  Get it out and put it on.  Feel the warmth and comfort of familiar clothing.

Are there pieces of music that you enjoy listening to or playing on an instrument?  Listen or play once a day.  Pay attention to the feelings that the music stirs up in you.  Don’t let your mind wander.  Listen closely or play expressively.

Do you enjoy wearing perfume or inhaling the scent of flowers?  Put on your favorite scent, or plan a walk in a garden, indoor conservatory,  or florist nursery that has blooming plants. Breathe deeply and feel the pleasure of the scents that surround you.

5.  Realize that you can’t know everything.

Most people like to know and understand what’s going on around them.  One scholar described it this way:

The human mind is, for the most part, set on being in the know. We don’t like being uncertain or confused, we seek answers and explanations, a pattern we can recognize to make sense of what’s happening around us. In the face of an elusive solution, or a murky, messy problem, a lot of people are ill at ease.

Untitled designMy current situation is the epitome of this:  feeling uncertain and confused, seeking answers and explanations, trying to find a pattern in what’s going on (which is NOTHING!) in my long wait for a new home.

But what I have to learn to accept is that I CAN’T know everything.  Even if I could plan each and every day, I still could never anticipate what life is going to bring.  I need to develop tolerance for ambiguity – for NOT KNOWING.

[Tolerance for ambiguity] means staying in uncertainty, or staying with the question, despite the discomfort of not knowing the answer, or not knowing where we’re headed. It requires relinquishing control – even though a solution isn’t always guaranteed – to make room for new and emerging connections to crystalize into a clear direction. It also means accepting the fact that there might be numerous ways of answering the same question, each with different but potentially positive results.

I need to understand that there could be many possible answers to my uncertainty about the future.  And I could find positivity in many of them.

The author of this essay on tolerance for ambiguity recommends trying to stay neutral, curious, flexible, and patient while uncertainty reigns.  These can be good attitude goals.

6. Work toward these attitude goals:  Stay neutral, curious, flexible, and patient

So how do I do that?

Staying neutral means that I must control my mood swings and stop alternating between extremes like giddiness and despair.  Instead, take a step back and go for rationality.

A Red Fox curled up at dusk to sleep for the evening in a cold winter snow.
A Red Fox curled up at dusk to sleep for the evening in a cold winter snow.

Staying curious means that I must stop catastrophizing (expecting the worst) and stop living in a dream that my new place will be perfect in every way.  Instead, I’ll remain curious about what it will be like to move into a condo in a new city that I’m only partly familiar with.

Staying flexible means that I must not make a lot of decisions without any facts to support them.  Instead, I’ll think in terms of options and possibilities.

Staying patient.  Ah, yes, my most difficult challenge.  I am NOT very patient, sometimes.  Other times, I can be very patient.  So it’s time once again to work on patience.

Remaining worry-free

And what about you?

If you’ve read this far, you probably are dealing with some uncertainty as well.  What’s the source of your uncertainty?

For many people, uncertainty can come with a job change or job loss, with retirement, with a health issue, with moving (like me), with a death in the family, with divorce, with a relationship issue, with a change in financial circumstances, or many other possibilities.

Whatever the source, uncertainty can really mess up your emotions.

I hope these suggestions for the best ways to live worry-free in uncertain times will help you.  They don’t fix the problems, but they offer a way to make it through till the picture becomes clearer.

Living worry-free is a choice.  It may not seem like it to you, but it is.  You can CHOOSE which thoughts to think and which feelings to feel.

If you decide to make use of the best ways to live worry-free in uncertain times, then I believe things will go better for you.  You’ll use your present moments well, find joy in simple things, and encourage yourself to be neutral, curious, flexible,and patient as you wait for your future to come into focus.

Let me know how these ideas work for you.  Please comment!

This is my temporary home (Part Two of my journey)

My temporary home

If you read “The Truth about Downsizing and Relocating”, my post from August 2016, then you know the difficulties that I’ve been facing as I sell my large rural home of 13 years and try to move into an apartment-sized condominium in an urban area.

Credit: cheapmoving tips.com
Credit: cheapmoving tips.com

If you didn’t read the previous post, I’ll review it briefly:   after having my home listed for sale for six years, I suddenly got an offer to buy it in late July.  I had to move out in 30 days. I was not able to conclude a purchase of a condo within that time period.

To my great relief, a friend loaned me a rental home in the town where I have worked part-time for 12 years.

I moved out of my home after it was packed up, and stayed at a motel, while my pets moved into a boarding kennel.

I watched my household goods disappear into a giant moving van and head down the road into the distance on Aug. 29. While homeless, I spent four days in the motel.

I arrived at my temporary  home with a few carloads of clothes, books, and kitchen equipment on Sept. 1.

I am grateful to my friend for offering to let me rent her former home for a few weeks or months while I wait for a permanent place to live.

What it’s like to deal with all the changes

My current dog Shunkie, who is 10
My current dog Shunkie, who is 11

My temporary home is plenty big, but is not “home”. I am enjoying living in town for the first time in 24 years, with the conveniences that a town of 4,000 people offers such as a grocery store 5 minutes away, other nearby stores, and a movie theatre. I can even walk to work at one of my part-time jobs.

But my pets are unhappy, and I can’t help them. My cat is confined inside, which she resents. I know this from her crying and running restlessly from room to room jumping up onto windowsills. She is calmest when I open a window and she can lie on the windowsill and breathe the outside air and look out at the birds, squirrels, and insects.

My dog has a fenced backyard to live in, but can’t roam the woods as she did during her whole 11 years of life at my former home. She has to go on a leash everywhere we walk together. She looks at me constantly, asking, “Can we go home now?” She can’t understand that we can never go “home” again.

And most likely, I will have to give her to another family when I finally move to a permanent home/condo. She doesn’t know that either. But I do, and it grieves me.

Moving is one of the most stressful things you can do.

Girl with suitcaseMoving means change.

You change your residence, change your living conditions,change your financial state, possibly take on a new mortgage, change your social activities and leave neighbors and friends behind, change your recreational activities, and change your eating and sleeping habits.

That’s a lot of change in a short time – just a few days — as you move from one place to another. Stresses like those that go with moving can put you at risk for illness.

I felt very unsettled during the first week in my temporary home.

I have had to develop new habits to take care of my dog: regular walks so that she can go to the bathroom. I have to collect the results in plastic bags and dispose of them. This was never necessary when we lived in 6 acres of woods.

I’m letting her in and out of the house more frequently. She is an outside dog (her choice), but has been very clingy since we left home, and follows me from room to room to keep an eye on me.

And it’s now just the pets who have to change their habits.  There are a lot of changes I have had to make in my temporary home:

  • The new kitchen has taken some time to get used to: an electric stove instead of the gas stove I am used to, no operating dishwasher, very little counter space to fix meals, a whole different set of cabinets and drawers to store the few utensils I brought with me, and new locations for canned goods and staples for cooking.
  • The new bathroom has no shower. I’m not physically able to get down on my hands and knees and put my head under the bathtub faucet to wash my hair, so my plan is to visit the local health club and arrange to take showers there a few times a week.

My friend’s brother installed a shower head on a cord that connects to the bathtub water supply, but I have to get into the tub and sit down before I can use it. It’s difficult to get out of the tub at my age.

  • The house has six steps to go up and down every time you leave or arrive. This is hard on my knees.
  • There are very few electrical outlets (something I took for granted), so I can’t have any lamps (there’s no place to plug them in). I have to rely on the overhead lighting (very elegant in this Craftsman house).
  • I had to buy a twin bed to sleep in while I wait here for a condo to become available, and I’m used to a queen or king. There’s no headboard.
  • I have no chest of drawers to keep my few clothes in, so they are stored in piles in two suitcases on the floor.
  • The keys don’t work in the front door – only in the back door. There’s no latch on the back fence gate, so I have it tied closed with an old dust rag.
  • I don’t have a comfortable chair to sit in.
  • The basement stairs are steep and narrow, so I’ve decided to use a nearby laundromat instead of the basement washer and dryer.

And on and on.

I’m not listing all these things just to complain or get sympathy. I’m listing them as examples of the myriad changes I’ve had to make in just a few days – going from a comfortable, fully furnished, familiar place to a completely empty, strange place.

If you are moving, or you have a friend or relative who is moving, then it’s important to understand that a person who is moving needs someone to listen to her.

Venting the enormous feelings that build up during a move is vital to surviving it. Change is hard. A friend or relative with a listening ear will help the person who is moving far more than packing boxes for her.

The immediate future for me

As for me, I don’t know how long I’ll be here. Probably one to three months.

I don’t know for sure where I’ll be going when I leave here.

It’s a lot of uncertainty!  Damn it!

So I suppose it’s not surprising that I find myself weeping almost daily as I confront my situation.

But after I’ve wiped my eyes and blown my nose, I realize that I will manage to get through this.

It’s a difficult time, but I’ve been through worse.

I’m working on ramping up my attitude of gratitude for what I have:

I am fortunate to retain (at least for a while) my three part-time jobs. They are familiar and keep me in touch with colleagues that I’ve known for some time.

I am fortunate that I have sold my large home and no longer have to do cleaning, outdoor maintenance, snow clearing, etc., for that property.

I have enough money from the sale to make a good down payment on another home (the condo), and to use some of the money for investing.

 

As one of my favorite movies  proclaims, “Everything will be all  right in the end. If it is not all right now, then this is not the end.”

Facing Problems image 7Gratitude, stress reduction, and patience are the things I need right now.  I’m working on all of them.

 

 

 

 

The Truth about Downsizing and Relocating

When your house has been on the market as long as mine has (6 years), it comes as a shock when it finally sells.

This is what happened to me one week ago:  I got an email saying that  a purchase agreement on my house was now in effect and requesting a closing in 30 days.

At the time, I was living in a tent in the mountains of southern Colorado, taking part in my annual archaeology volunteer experience.

For the last six years, I’ve been slowly giving things away and selling things, so that I could be ready for downsizing and relocating.  But so much time passed that I began to feel hopeless –  the house would never sell and I would never move.

But as I read the email in my canvas tent in Colorado, my emotions ranged from shock to denial, as the early stages of grief generally do.  I could not believe IT HAD FINALLY HAPPENED!  My house is sold.  I have to move. I’m going to lose my home in the woods.

But where will I go?

Finding a new place to live

hand-truck-564242_640I had looked for a new place for one day earlier this summer, and had made an offer, but it was not accepted.  I was outbid by another buyer.  I had no opportunity to look further for housing before I left on my archaeology trip.

So now that the house was sold,  I REALLY had to find a place to live, and quickly. I  had to do something!

Next, I felt panic, and my thoughts raced forward like this:

  • I will have to sell or give away about half of my possessions.
  • I will have to store the rest because I have no place to live.
  • I will have to find a place that allows dogs and cats.
  • If I can’t find such a place, I may have to give up my pets.
  • I may become homeless and live in my car for months!
  • I’ll have no address and no phone!
  • I won’t be able to get mail or phone calls!
  • I  may never find another suitable place to live!

This sequence is known as “catastrophizing.”  This is the thought process that takes place when you’re in shock and  you don’t have the information you need to make good decisions or plans.  Instead, your mind and emotions combine to come up with the worst possible outcomes and horrible things that could happen, i.e., catastrophes.

Fortunately, I recognized my catastrophizing and put a stop to it.  I told myself that since I was currently living in a tent in the wilderness, there was nothing I could do about my house sale, or my quest to buy a new house, so I might as well put it out of my mind and just enjoy the last day of archaeology camp. I could spend the upcoming 20 hours in the car driving home thinking and planning to my heart’s content.

Which I did.  For 20 hours.

I came up with a plan for the next two weeks:

  • Call my realtor and spend the next weekend looking for a home and making an offer.  Apartments are out of the question, and I don’t need assisted living.
  • Contact two lenders and get pre-qualified for my new mortgage.
  • Call an auctioneer and make arrangements for a truck to pick up the furniture and household goods that I’ll have to sell.
  • Contact two moving companies and get estimates on packing, moving, and storing my possessions.
  • Start sorting my stuff and taking loads of it to Goodwill if it’s not saleable.
  • Make a list of who should be notified that I’ll be leaving in 30 days.
  • Find out what do to about my mail.
  • Find out what to do about my phone.
  • Find out what to do about my satellite TV subscription.
  • Contact the utilities (gas and electric) and get their instructions for stopping service.
  • Figure out where I could live on a temporary basis after I move out of my house, but can’t get possession of a new place.  This could be one to three months.

You can see from that list that I had a lot to do for both downsizing and relocating.  They are two different processes, but are closely related for many people.

I am working on both processes, but they are complicated.

Downsizing

table and chairsAs a retired person, I know I don’t need all the “things” that I still have in my home.  Getting rid of some of the “things” that we have surrounded ourselves with during a lifetime, moving out of a large home,  and moving into a smaller abode is now known as “downsizing.”

Downsizing is typically done by empty nesters – adult couples whose children have grown up and left home to pursue their own lives.  Empty nesters find that they no longer need four, five, or six bedrooms and a lot of bathrooms.  Many choose to clean out the family home, get it ready to sell, and move into an apartment, condo, or smaller house.

Single adults like me also choose downsizing.  We  decide that we no longer need a large home to host adult children and/or their families, give parties, hold gatherings or meetings, and so on.

Sometimes young families choose downsizing.  It’s  a way to get more time to spend with children and reduce the amount of time spent taking care of a house and yard.

We can use downsizing as a way to set priorities.  As one author put it, “Think of downsizing as a way of looking at your life and deciding what’s important in it.”

Also, as we age, we may become less able to shovel snow, mow the lawn, till a garden, climb steps, clean the house, do other maintenance like painting or gutter clearing, or rake leaves.  We discover that we could move into a housing situation where little or no maintenance would be required, such as a condominium association. This sort of downsizing is related to a  person’s ability and mobility ratings.

Downsizing can have advantages like

  • freeing up time previously spent on home maintenance,
  • freeing up money formerly spent for higher utility bills and taxes that come with a larger home,
  • decluttering a home environment, and
  • providing a new perspective on how to live.

But downsizing is difficult for many of us.  It can be traumatic.  For me, choosing which of two china cabinets to keep is agonizing.  One is my mother’s, and one is an antique that I love.  How can I get rid of either of them?

And what about the file drawer with research projects that I started but never finished?  How can I dispose of  plans and notes that took hundreds of hours of work?

And my collections.  I have a collection of American pressed glass, and a collection of photo albums, and a collection of American Indian art.

Then there’s my jewelry – 6 jewelry boxes of necklaces, earrings, pins, and bracelets.  There’s virtually no chance that I will need all this jewelry in the future.

I felt paralyzed by the need to make so many decisions that end up disposing of things that I love.  This is part of downsizing. It has to be overcome and dealt with.

That is hard, but possible.

And then there’s relocating.  This also is difficult.

Relocating

Screen Shot 2015-07-19 at 6.47.29 PMMoving out of a beloved home or even a home we don’t like entails a lot of logistics, thought, effort, and emotional turmoil.

Relocating is more than just deciding to live somewhere else.

Americans move fairly often.

Between 2012 and 2013, 28 million Americans 15 and older moved — that’s 11 percent of the population in that age group. But when you take a closer look at who they were, you see there’s a lot more to it than age. The wealthiest individuals are the most likely to stay put: 7 percent of Americans with an annual income of $100,000 or more moved, compared to 13 percent of those earning $5,000 or less.

Moving and relocating are complex.

They mean giving up routines and habits:  how we walk around in our current spaces vs. how we will walk in our new spaces, traveling on different roads to get from one place to another, using different forms of transportation (e.g., cars vs. city buses or light rail trains), learning where stores and services are located in a new community, changing doctors, adjusting to a new climate, learning a new address and phone number, finding new sidewalks or walking paths for our daily walks.

They can mean losing close touch with friends and relatives.

They can even mean giving up beloved pets.  This is a painful situation  which I find myself facing.

I found out that it’s almost impossible to find a condominium association that allows dogs.  I managed to find one, but it only allows dogs up to a certain weight (which my dog exceeds).  How can I give up my companion of 11 years?  On the other hand, my dog will hate living in an apartment, which is what a condominium is, really.

My current dog Shunkie, who is 10
My  dog Shunkie, who is 11

My dog is used to living in the woods on 6 acres of land.  She spends her days chasing chipmunks, rabbits, squirrels, and birds; sleeping under evergreen shrubs or in the sun; walking in the woods; sniffing everything.  She sleeps at night outside in a doghouse.  What will it be like for her to stay in an apartment almost all day and all night?

Sapa 2015@0Cats are welcome in most condo associations.  I’ve read that cats are attached to place more than to people.  So it will be disruptive for my cat to be taken to live in a new place. But she will adapt.

When I move back to the city, I’ll have to give up two of my part-time jobs.  I’ll also have to learn new places to buy things I need and find new people to provide services.  There will be uproar.  I will feel disoriented.  Knowing that I should expect to feel overwhelmed for a while is helpful.

But hey – most people through the ages have lived in far smaller spaces and with far less stuff than I have.  They have survived.

This is not my first move.  I’ve  moved three times in the last 30 years.  I know that I will survive my next relocation, and that gives me confidence.  The average person moves 11.4 times during a lifetime.  According to my calculations, I have moved 12 times already in my life.  This one will be number 13.

Americans move for many reasons:  job change, wanting a bigger house, wanting a smaller house, changing marital status, retirement, health issues, chasing a dream, wanting to get out of a neighborhood they don’t like.

My reasons:  I want a smaller place that’s easier to take care of, I want to get away from home and yard maintenance, I want to be in an urban area, and I want to be near family.

What you need to do to downsize and relocate successfully

If you have a good plan, you can accomplish almost anything.  Here is the series of steps that I’ve read about and used in my moves.  I’m using this set now also.

  1. Credit: thebrandingmuse.weebly.com
    Credit: thebrandingmuse.weebly.com

    Go through your home room by room.  Clean out every closet, shelf, and cabinet one at a time.  Then put back just the minimum you need to sustain your life.  Do you really need that melon-baller?  How about the sequinned top you bought for possible holiday parties that never took place?  And the three camping coolers in the garage:  can you get by with one?

  2. And what about all that furniture?  Most of it won’t fit in your new home situation.  Measure the furniture you have decided to keep.  Will it fit in your new apartment, condo, or townhome?  If not, you have a choice of what to do with it:  sell, donate to charity, give away to friends or relatives, or send to the landfill.
  3. Assess the new storage areas you will have in your new place.  What will fit?  Do you need to reduce the three boxes of Christmas decorations to one box?  Should you sell or donate your cross-country skis, and just rent when you want to ski? What about luggage?  Do you need three suitcases?
  4. Go through your current storage areas (attic, basement, garage) and dispose of whatever you can that is no longer needed. Give items away to thrift shops, Freecycle, or neighbors.  Where I live, you can put unwanted items out on the edge of the street and people will come and take them away.
  5. Sell your expensive or large items at a yard sale, consignment shop, eBay, local auction house, or Craigslist.
  6. Organize your remaining possessions as you pack to  move.  Label everything.  The things you plan to store should be in accessible storage containers, like plastic bins. The boxes and bins that are going to specific rooms should be labeled for their destination, such as bedroom, bathroom, kitchen.
  7. Move your furniture into your new home first and place it where it should go:  bed in the bedroom, recliner in the living room, dining room chairs in the dining area.  Then move the labeled boxes into their respective rooms.  The items to be stored should be placed in the storage areas last.

8.  When you are getting ready to move to your new home, spend some time doing reconnaissance.  Where are the grocery stores?  Where are the drug stores, hardware stores, veterinarians, dentists, farmers’ markets?

Drive around or ride public transportation and find the stores and services that you will need right away.  Get a bus schedule.  Call the city offices and get information on water and sewer connections.  Ask what TV and telephone services are licensed in the city or area.  Find out where to register to vote.

9.  Changing addresses is a HUGE job.  You’ll have to contact every creditor, every friend or relative you want to keep in touch with, every online retailer you use, your former post office, your new post office, and on and on.  Make a list.  It will save you time.

10.  Meeting people is the next challenge.  Introduce yourself to your new neighbors. Find out where people go for coffee or out to eat.  If it’s part of your life, find the places of religious worship, AA meetings, senior centers, dog parks, gyms, schools, and places where clubs like Lions and Rotary meet.  You need to create a new circle of friends and acquaintances to be a support network, and that takes time and effort.

My transition

I found a condo to buy, but I can’t get possession right away.  I have to wait one to three months.  This set off a cascade of panic, fear, list-making, internet-searching, social media discussion, and success: a friend offered a house I can rent affordably for the time I’ll be homeless.

What a relief!

You will hear from me again in a few weeks, after I’ve made it to the transitional house with my dog and cat and computer.  I’ll be pretty busy packing my belongings and supervising the moving van, cleaning out my current home, and dealing with lenders and closers.

Wish me luck!  More later on downsizing and relocating:  my experiences.

 

Women over 60 share the truth about how they spend their time

Have you wondered how  women over 60 are spending their time after they retire from full-time work, careers, or homemaking?

Maybe you or a loved one is approaching age 60 with concerns about what it will be like to be 60 or more years old.

How do YOU think about older women?  Do you hold stereotypes about women over 60 that are anything like these? 

  • Older women spend all day watching TV
  • Older women are playing golf in Florida or Arizona with their husbands
  • Older women are disabled and sitting in nursing homes
  • Older women are ill and don’t care much about the world around them
  • Older women are traveling on cruise ships with friends
  • Some other stereotype

Well, you may be surprised to learn that these stereotypes are not true for many older women!

Women over 60
Credit: FabulousAfter40.com

Of course, some women over 60 ARE playing golf, cruising, watching TV, or coping with a chronic illness. But not all of them.

In this article, you’ll find out the truth about how  some women over 60 are spending their time and how their thinking about aging has changed.

You may find that you are excited about the possibilities for freedom and self-expression after age 60!

 

Here’s how I got my information:

I recently asked a dozen women friends of mine from all over the U.S. to complete a survey about their activities before and after they turned 60.   I think you’ll be amazed about what those who sent back completed surveys revealed about their lives.

–Some of the women are Baby Boomers, and some are part of the Greatest Generation.

No real names or identifying information are used in this article. Everyone gets to keep her privacy and anonymity! I’ve used pseudonyms to refer to my friends’ information.

If you would like to share your information with me, please take the survey that you will find here:  Senior Women Questionnaire, and then scan it and email it to me. If I get enough new surveys, I’ll write another post with those results!

And now, the truth about how some of your peers are spending their time!  This information came from the completed surveys I received.

Each woman had a demanding career that took a lot of her time.

 

After age 60, the women decided to spend their time doing activities they enjoyed but did not have time for when they were working.

What have you wanted to do for years?
Credit: wsj.com

–Barbara worked for a Community Rehab Program that provided guidance for people with disabilities. After age 60, she spent her days in her home music studio creating tunes and soundscapes on a synthesizer.

–Anna taught high school in an urban school district. After age 60, she sold her urban home and moved to a rural area, started a business selling European quality jewelry and Asian handicrafts, sold that business, moved back to her original urban area, and began Permaculture training. She now is head gardener at a senior living facility.

Women over 60
Senior Citizens’ Quilting Circle, 1973

–Frances was a 6th grade teacher in a small town until she married. After her marriage she was often called to substitute teach. When her daughter was grown, she spent a lot of time on her handwork including knitting and other crafts, in bridge groups, visiting with friends, and in traveling around the U.S.

Women over 60
Some women enjoy travelling.

–Carol worked as a teacher and coordinator in a large urban school district. After age 60, she did educational counseling, volunteer work at church and Rotary, attended cultural activities, and travelled internationally once or twice each year.

–Deanna taught accounting at a state university. After age 60, she continued to teach, traveled, took acting classes, and performed in plays.

Women over 60
Credit: health.harvard.edu

–Grace quit work at 51 to care for her mother who had ALS. After her mother died, Grace cared for her husband until he died of cancer. Then it was Grace’s turn to be cared for, as she faced mental health issues. She met a new partner and they enjoyed life briefly until he too became ill, and once again she served as care giver. After she turned 60, Grace faced health issues. Today, she works with other women in recovery and spends time biking, rollerblading, walking, reading, and gardening.

 

Many of the women found that turning 60 gave them time and space to do what they wanted to do and be who they wanted to be.

After age 60, women felt free to be themselves.

–Carol wrote, “The best thing was being able to find out what I wanted to do, having sufficient resources to do those things, and then doing them.”

–Anna’s best thing was “more time to pursue life-long interests [and] the opportunity to live with the most interesting people I have ever been around!”

–Barbara’s best thing was “freedom to decide how I spend my time from moment to moment.”

–Helen loves being able to do as she pleases with no one to answer to — “not kids, not a husband, not a boss, just me!”

Women over 60–Ellen’s best thing was “free time.”

–Grace’s “best thing” is “using my authentic voice more often. I’ve always been outspoken, but I think I am even more outspoken now than I have ever been.”

 

Some of the women had husbands or partners, and some did not.

Some were widowed and are spending their senior years alone.

Frances’ husband died when she was 59. “That changed my life completely,” she wrote, but she did not elaborate. Frances is now over 100 years old.

Women over 60
Credit: 2013.phillytechweek.com

–Carol’s husband died last year, when she was 73. She is doing her best to live life to the fullest, including increasing her consulting, traveling, time with friends, and volunteer work.

–Deanna’s partner also died last year. She is hoping to move into a retirement community in the next two to three years.

–Helen has been divorced for 30 years and has enjoyed both solitude and being with friends.  She is going to move to a major city soon to be near family.

–Anna has enjoyed 17 years of retirement since she stopped teaching. Her husband died many years ago. In 2005 she became reacquainted with a man she had known in the past, married him, and cared for him during his last illness until he died in 2009. She moved into a retirement community in 2014 and is very busy.

–Barbara and her partner are enjoying retirement together at their home in the South.

–Grace’s husband died when she was in her mid-50s. Later, she met a new partner and they enjoy traveling around the U.S. and Canada.

 

Some of the women over 60 found ways to express themselves in the arts.

Finding artistic talent in themselves was rewarding to the women who completed my survey.

–Grace started to play the cello when she was 65.

–Deanna began taking acting classes and performing in plays at a local theatre.

–Anna is becoming a better weaver and learning to spin.

–Helen  became a freelance writer.

What have you wanted to do for years?
Women over 60

–Frances continued to knit and do crafts.

–Barbara became more adept at her synthesizer, working with sound and harmonics, studying acoustics, physics, and sound design.

 

Many of the women wrote about what they wished they had known about aging before they turned 60.

It’s only recently that Americans have started to show interest in aging, especially Baby Boomers!

–Frances wants other women to know that after they are 60, they are still young enough to keep active, and they should never lose their faith in God.

–Ellen would tell other women, “The best is yet to come!”

–Carol advises women, “Embrace it. This is the time to truly be yourself and do the things that provide stimulation and contentment with people you choose to be with.”

–Anna wrote, “Whatever age you are, insist upon defining yourself. Don’t allow others to do this for you!”

Women over 60
Credit: www.ism.org

–Barbara said, “Aging is an opportune time for expanding spirit toward a greater understanding and acceptance of self and others. The biggest obstacle is clinging to the past. Everything you do, everything you think – must be questioned.”

–Helen wished she had known how free she would feel to be herself and not care what other people think.

Women over 60
Credit: www.suzannemunshower.com

–Grace’s advice: “Women should know that we become bolder as we age.”

–Deanna wrote, “Sixty is the new thirty! I read somewhere that one should lay the groundwork for staying fit during this time.”

 

Women over 60 are feeling freer and more in control of their lives and choices.

As I learned from the completed surveys that my friends sent, women over 60 are doing an amazing array of activities:  acting, writing music, helping others, playing the cello, teaching, travelling, volunteering, starting new businesses, gardening, doing handwork, writing, mentoring other women, and on and on.

If we let ourselves welcome this and succeeding decades, then we women over 60 will enjoy our lives to the fullest.

How are you spending your time after you turn 60?

I’d love to hear from you!

 

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