Category Archives: Getting Older

Why I’m Buying Experiences Instead Of Stuff

This was previously posted on another website. Since that site is no longer active, I’m reposting it here.

Trust me, the early marriage/career/kid portion of my life was super tight moneywise. Electricity was shut off for nonpayment, the mailbox was full of “reminder” notices, and every day was stressful. Payday would come . . . and the money would all go. It felt like I was working ridiculously hard with no personal benefit!

But then careers flourished, businesses started doing well, and the kids grew up and moved out. Money! We could go out to dinner if we felt like it. We could go on vacation and enjoy it! I could (and have!) travel the world.

My husband is very concerned about retirement. I am not planning to retire and seem to be doing my damnest to spend it all now. Yes, I realize that’s really dumb and I’m trying to be better.

One thing that we are enjoying doing and are doing well is gifting our money away. Want to know how and why it’s making my life better? Here are some of the things we do:

  • When my children were little we had a tradition of having “child’s name” Day. On that day, I would take the day off work, take them out of school (not every year, but sometimes), and spend the entire day doing whatever they wanted to do. For my son, it was Spring Training games with the Chicago Cubs! For my daughter, it was movies and shopping. I do the “days” with my local grandchildren now, but on weekends. They like to go to Dave and Buster’s and have lunch and play games for amazing (insert sarcasm here) prizes.
  • As the grandchildren have turned 13, I started the tradition of taking a pair of them (opposite families are close in age) to Disneyland for a few days. The oldest two kind of got screwed because I learned a lot about getting the most out of Disneyland after their trip, but it is an experience they all will remember for a long time even after I’m gone.
  • This year saw a new tradition as my oldest granddaughter graduated from high school. She was offered a piece of jewelry or a trip. She chose a trip to Sedona and we had a great time together. Selfish? Yep, but how else do you have several days of quality time with an adult grandchild?
  • For our son’s 40th birthday this year, we sent him and his wife on a bucket list trip to Wrigley Field and to see two Cubs games there. My son had a quadruple bypass at 32, so 40 is kind of a big deal around here. Of course, now we’ll have to do the same for his sister when she turns 40. My daughter-in-law posted this picture on Facebook during that trip:

Brent

Immediately when I saw the picture with eyes tearing, my comment on Facebook was “I see an 8-year-old boy in a 40-year-old man’s body looking over a baseball field that he has been waiting to touch since spring training games introduced him to a baseball team that became part of his heart (even the rebuilt one!)” This one moment was so worth it!

So what do I get out of spending the money I work so hard for in a manner that some people would say is “frivolous”? I get joy, satisfaction, the opportunity to show my love with experiences, memories, encouragement, and all the feels. All of that instead of more “stuff” that could be bought with that money filling an already full house and leaving the sorting of all the “stuff” to our kids when we’re gone.

Experiences are always preferable to the things on the Amazon wish list. And, of course, you will enjoy it even more if the experience includes you! Extra memories! Amazon wish lists are easy. Experiences are harder but worth so much more. If you ask one of my grandkids what they got for Christmas the year they turned 13, I guarantee they won’t remember. But if you ask them what they did when they turned 12/13, I do know what they will say . . . DISNEYLAND!

And experiences aren’t always costly. Experiences include traditions. Traditions like holiday dinners, “Santa footprints,” Christmas Eve pajamas, Christmas in July with $20 limit on gifts to exchange, just getting together with people you love to celebrate holidays, birthdays, or just life.

Honestly, I may regret it when I get old and have spent all of my money, but I’ll have great memories and I’m pretty sure one of my kids or grandkids will take me in. You can’t take it with you. While I’m trying hard not to be dumb and spend every penny (trying REALLY hard), I am going to spend as much as I can as long as I can making great memories for me and my family.

I’m NOT Too Old For That!

I'm NOT Too Old For That!I spent part of the past weekend at a work anniversary party. At the end of the night, I realized that several times that day I had said “I’m too old for that” to avoid things like dancing, walking fast and uphill, generally exerting any extra energy. Was I making excuses? You bet I was! Is it true that I’m too old for certain things? Of course I am! Things change as you get older, bodies change, bones hurt, it’s just not as easy as it was 20-30 years ago. But seriously, dancing? There’s ibuprofen for my arthritic knees. But the chances to dance to some great music with good people don’t happen for me every day.

Arizona is pretty flat, so the chance to walk uphill and see amazing parts of San Francisco also don’t happen for me every day. I need to spend more time and energy enjoying the things that aren’t my normal than complaining about being too old. By numbers, I’m pretty old. But I don’t have to embrace being old. Life is far too short to act old and be miserable. Every day is a gift and I need to make sure to treat them like that. I need to enjoy the bows and ribbons tying up every day. I need to enjoy the beauty of life and put my damn phone away and be present and pay attention to the beauty. There are bad and ugly things every day as well, and I need to look past those–while still looking at them–to the beauty that exists.  I need to stop using being “old” as an excuse for being tired, being lazy, and acting like a damn old lady.

I am not infirm–I have joint issues, but none that are completely debilitating. I need to move more to keep those joints remembering what it is they are supposed to be doing. And I just need to stop saying “I’m too old for that” because nothing will make that come true faster than telling my brain that over and over and over again.

Bitchy McGrumperson Is Not Welcome Here

bitchyIt’s been a very rough holiday season for me. Not only was I completely overwhelmed with new work responsibilities, but part of getting older is that your kids are also older and have their own lives and traditions. This year, and for I think the first time in my adult life, neither of them was able to share Christmas with me. We are doing a late Christmas celebration with my son and his family this weekend, so I’m feeling better about it.

In the meantime, I feel like I have been Bitchy McGrumperson. And that made me think about how some conversations I have with friends are all me complaining. While I feel like I need to release that somewhere, holding conversations with friends that are full of my complaints isn’t fair to them or to me. I would love to have positive, uplifting conversations with my friends. And I will.

Another piece of getting older that has been really hard for me is that my husband has been going through his hunting and fishing stuff (and trust me, there is a TON of it) and getting rid of a lot of it because he physically can’t do it anymore. He’s been hunting and fishing since he was a teenager and it has been difficult for both of us to face the fact that there are things we are just not able to do anymore. Some of us haven’t admitted it yet and are doing everything possible to continue to be able to do it all but realistically there are limitations.

I don’t want to be old. It has been more obvious to me lately that I am getting there. Sharing television shows that I grew up with with friends who have never seen them (like who has never seen The Partridge Family??), hearing music by groups that younger people don’t even know, looking at a Christmas tree (or two) full of ornaments from the last 43 years that bring back a rush of wonderful memories, but remind me that I’ve been decorating a tree for 43 years. It all has come crashing down on me this holiday season.

But the new year is a chance to check in and make changes to things that make you unhappy. I just this week found a new song on my iPod that I hadn’t paid attention to before–A Beautiful Day by India Arie (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pZNavhGrzJ4). If you listen to the lyrics, it is an amazing message. In fact, I think it will be my 2018 anthem that I will listen to every morning on the way to work to get my head in the right place. Work should calm down some, my kids will continue to get older and have their own life traditions, my grandkids will continue to grow and start new traditions in their lives, friends will come and go, and life will go on. I fully intend to be part of my family’s traditions (by force if necessary) and I have promises of continuing with old family Christmas traditions this next year because my kids were unhappy to miss out on them, so 2018 promises to be another amazing year.

Age is something that I have no control over, but how I treat people, how I allow others to treat me, and how I treat myself are all in my control. I will make a real effort to take charge of my own life and be happy where I am. Bitchy McGrumperson can take a hike. Life is far too short to spend it bitching and complaining and feeling  like others are in control of my life. Here’s to an absolutely remarkable 2018!

You Know You’re Old When . . .

So a few events lately make me think I might actually be becoming “old.” I refuse that position, but the signs are there. Here are some that I know of:

You're Old

  1. You go to the movies and qualify for the senior discount. If it is more than $.50, I might even admit that I qualify, but for a small amount, that admission is totally not worth it.
  2. You see those “Who Remembers” and “Share if you know what this is” posts on Facebook and you actually do remember and actually did own those things. All of them!
  3. You realize that you were raised without lots of things people take for granted these days, including:
    • No cordless phones, in fact, it was kind of cool to have a really long cord so you could go into the pantry or a close room with a door so you could have a “private” conversation.
    • No party lines. We had a party line when I was growing up. That meant that you had to pick up the phone and listen to see if another household was using the shared line. I feel sorry for the people who were on our party line. There were five of us kids and once we were in junior high and high school, one of us was on the phone all the time.
    • No phone numbers with letters. I vaguely remember when I was young giving your phone number as Woodman 4-1234 (or whatever your phone number was). The “Woodman” were the numbers associated with the “W” and the “O,” which were “9” and “6.”
    • No remote control–like at all–no remote. The only “remote” control was your parents making you get up to turn the channels–all 5 of them (if you count the UHF channels)–with a dial that clicked through one at a time, because if you went too fast, your dad would surely be yelling at you that  you were going to “break the damn TV.”
    • No rabbit ears. When all the TV you had was airwaves, you had to have a set of “rabbit ears” that were inside antennas that you could adjust, put aluminum foil on, and adjust again to get a good picture. Unfortunately, we couldn’t talk my little brother into holding them juuuust so and standing there so they didn’t move and we had a perfect picture, so we usually watched a less than perfect picture.
    • No device to be in contact with your parents. We actually went to school without any contact with our parents (or anyone else) unless we were in the principal’s office or with the school nurse and they called your parents. Then once we got home, we dropped our stuff, did homework if we had it, and ran outside to play. Usually you were expected back home either when you heard your mom yelling your name out the door or when the street lights came on (the universal signal to “get your butt home”).
    • No research materials at home. We had to go to the library to do research for school work. If you had encyclopedias at home, they didn’t include accurate information for very long, so most families did not bother.
  4. You remember riding in cars with no seat belts, including lying down in the back of the station wagon or on the shelf in the back window.

But the inspiration for this list was when I was at Disneyland recently and we were waiting in a very full waiting area for our dinner reservations, a younger (probably in her 30s) woman asked me if I wanted her seat. I declined and looked at my daughter, who was doing her best to stifle a laugh. This was a real dose of reality for me. I like to think I don’t look my age, so when someone obviously thinks I do, it was really painful for me. But at least she had good manners. I’ll have to focus on that.

This list is my no means complete. Another problem with getting older is that your memory really does go. All those years and all those people saying it and I did not believe it, until I started forgetting things. Like a LOT! So I’m sure I’ve forgotten some major signs of getting old. What are the things that make you feel like you’re old? Please list those in the comments.