Tag Archives: retirement living

Like Riding A Bike

Navigating social media is like riding a bike. The internet provides a highway to virtual communication and sharing of ideas and experiences. Riding it for information and entertainment requires balance, a skill essential in learning to ride a bicycle.

bikers-1-of-1

I learned to ride a bike without the benefit of training wheels. The bike belonged to my brother and had a bar running from steering wheel to seat. I had to throw my leg over the bike to get on the seat. The bike was taller than I so catching my balance mid-air took quite a bit of trial-and-error (and tears.) I practiced on an inclined, graveled driveway with little unexpected traffic.

My dad had promised that I would get my own bike once I learned how to ride one. I remember clearly the excitement and freedom I felt when he drove me to the bike shop and I biked home on my new-to-me blue Schwinn while he followed closely behind me.

My freedom to ride came with learning to ride responsibly and, perhaps, those lessons were the most valuable of all. I learned to look further down the road to assess what was coming up. I learned the consequences of riding through mud puddles and riding rough-shod over bumps and cracks in the path. I learned to never leave my bike out of my sight while out-and-about on my little adventures. Most of all, I learned where I could and could not go and how to make a decision if it was safe to stop and explore or best to just keeping going.

Those early-learned lessons serve me well now as I explore the world virtually. Using the internet to look up basic information and accomplish mundane tasks is easy to master. Social media, however, is much trickier and far more dangerous in many ways. Click-bait tempts frequently. Fake news beckons in my peripheral vision. Mixed among the advertisements and games and ‘like’ and ‘follow’ pleas are those tidbits that keep me signing in every day: family stories and pictures, a peek at friends’ adventures, cool stuff to try, good recipes, funny memes, great photographs.

It is a two-way street; I can post similar things to share with those who like and follow me. I can connect with groups of people who have similar interests and we learn from each other. The rules of etiquette and common conduct keep this virtual world mostly in order.

I have learned, especially on the sites where anyone can see what I post, to be wary of the inherent dangers that lurk in this virtual world. People can and will twist your words to mean something entirely different or take them out of context, or just dislike them outright. They even steal your words and pictures and claim them as their own.

An obvious solution would be to simply avoid these sites altogether and save myself the stress. Is the benefit worth the risk? I think back to why I learned to ride a bike in the first place: for the freedom to explore my world and learn for myself what is out there and how to think about it. How to keep myself safe. How to find my way back home again. That is also the lure for me to participate in the virtual world. So I will ride on!

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Elder – What?

What is this ‘elderhood’ thing anyway? The Baby Boomer generation is now crossing the 65-and-older line and, true to their anti-establishment leanings, prefer not to be called senior citizens, a name claimed by an even older group of people. Nor do they want to be called elderly. However, in many cultures, the role of the elder is very much respected and elders are sought for their wisdom and rich storytelling. The term Elderhood is now coming into favor as the designation for Boomers entering their post-working years.

This baby boomer, however, is more focused on the “hood” part of the term than the “elder” part. No one is particularly interested in my stories. Just as farmers coming in from field and barn are not tracking fairy dust or gnome gold on their boots, wisdom is not automatically bestowed upon me just because I have tallied up a lot of years. Few people seek my advice and even fewer realize they could benefit from it.

But the ‘hood’ part of the word is all about community and there I find my place. In our former home, we lived in a strong neighborhood with a significant population of families. Even though we did not have children ourselves, we were often included in the cul-de-sac activities and we welcomed the opportunity to watch the kids play and grow together. I was also part of a strong community at work.

Quilt Seasons Mystery Tour

Quilt Seasons Mystery Tour

Who is in my community now? I have learned that living in a smaller town has opened up many more opportunities to interact with people of all ages and stages in life. The boundaries of my community are no longer determined by a work schedule. The time my career consumed is now available for a much wider range of activities where I meet people of different interests. In the short time we have lived in our new home, I have made friends from a variety of groups and I see many more ways to widen the circle even more as I learn about new events to attend and take advantage of opportunities as they appear.

As soon as I was eligible for my Silver Sneakers membership, I began going to the gym regularly. I felt like a freshman in high school when I saw the older-than-me population in action. I see how aging progresses. Listening to their chatter in the locker room is teaching me that the golden years are often fool’s gold and shadows inevitably deepen. These people serve as the mentors and role models in my elder community to learn from as I make my own way through these years.

This time of year the media shines its light on the graduates who are now ready to start in earnest down the paths they see before them. Graduates are told they “have their whole life before them.”

I, too, “have my whole life before me,” but now it is not the achievements and milestones of youth and the productive years that define that phrase. Now I aspire to, and anticipate, the eternal life that is being prepared for me as promised by Jesus Christ. I no longer need career management skills; I do need to be ready for that day the Book of Life opens to my page and my name is called to join the community of believers who have gone before me. The elderhood is my place to love, serve and obey Him with the talents and energy I have during my remaining time this side of Paradise..

Greetings and Salutations

Hello and welcome to my blog. This blog has been created to chronicle the adventures and experiences of my new world, retirement. I have been a member of the elderhood since late February, 2015, and friends and relatives who will be following my footsteps in a few years have asked for a guide to help them navigate this important transition.

A a new life begins to unfold for me. Like the flowers in the header photo, I am ready to bloom for my final season of life. I hope that you will find my tales interesting and informative and that you will be able to learn things from them to benefit you as you grow through your own phases of life.Paula