Smoky Bear and me

NextDoor.com-Reach out & touch someone!

Lyle, Rachel, Mike, Vicki and so many other wonderful people are moving to my area. They have either decided to move to a new neighborhood, city or state. Maybe they are recently retired and living their bucket dream list. Maybe some are newly single for one reason or another and making a fresh start. Some, are following the grandkids and are content to be in their shadow. Whatever their reasons, it takes guts to relocate. To put yourself out there and make new friends. It’s like dating again, except this time they are seeking friends and not romantic partners.  

Smoky Bear and meAs a single woman, I don’t have the luxury of teaming up with a partner to go friend hunting so I’ve created my own strategy. I put myself out there at local concerts. I listen to speakers at the local library. I volunteer for events when I see Volunteers Needed signs. I ride my bike and go to local coffee shops (and drink tea.) I go to the movies alone and check out the other patrons.  I keep doing the things that I enjoy doing but allow time for meeting new people and conversations.

And what do you know …  it works. I’ve met people at local free concerts and made hiking plans. I’ve met people in the lounge area of the movie theater and discussed books. I’ve sat in on speakers and stayed longer to connect with those others who linger and chat it up.

On my street, I know neighbors on both sides of me. One side of me lives a young couple with elementary school age children and on the other side of my house is a retired couple in their 80’s who travel the world like crazy. We are friends as well as neighbors. They will put out my trash for me. I will mow their lawn or look after their kids for them. I want more of that!

As a way to connect with people in other neighborhoods, I am a member of NextDoor.com. This online network connects people across neighborhoods and helps them stay informed about upcoming events and issues. It addresses neighborhood, public and government concerns. It gives me a way to reach out to others who might have the same interests that I do.

Last year, I sent a message on NextDoor.com to see if anyone played Euchre because I wanted to join them. Instead, I had more than 16 people reach out with excitement and desire to get together. The funny thing was they were all couples and I was the odd one out. At least I was able to hook them all up!

Another time, I was collecting crutches for a Rotary Club project and I put the request online and was happy to say I had a bunch of people happy to take crutches, canes and wheelchairs out of their closets and garages and put them to good use.

Also, I needed to get my hands on a copy of EnCompass the AAA magazine after I had tossed mine out. When I inquired online if anyone had it, I found to my delight that 4 neighbors were willing to part with theirs for my cause. I’ve asked for recommendations for services (car, cable, garage help) and in turn, was able to help others with recommendations. 

Perhaps this platform is the way to reach out and connect on a broader scope. The blog link below titled “Coping with social isolation, together”  by Sarah Friar touches on reasons to reach out and connect.

In order to make NextDoor.com a ‘movement’, others need to know it exists.  At the top of their page, I have the ability to ‘invite’ others to join. I can invite them via email or postcard. Once I click on the Invite Neighbors, up comes a map of everyone who is 1) already a member, 2) recently invited or 3) not yet members. I will go ahead and send out postcards and see if I can entice others to join.  So, that is my new task, challenge and adventure. Maybe they will toss the card, maybe they will be interested, maybe they don’t want to bother. That’s ok.

Reaching out is the main thing. And connecting is the best end result of all!

 

Resources:

NextDoor.com

NextDoor.com Blog : blog.nextdoor.com/2019/07/22/coping-with-social-isolation-and-loneliness-together

The Story of Retirement. Begin Here.happilyafterretirement.com/2019/07/14/the-story-of-retirement-begin-here/

Retired: Renting rooms to traveling nurses  happilyafterretirement.com/2019/06/30/8340/

33 Things to do when you retire: happilyafterretirement.com/2019/05/19/33-things-to-do-when-you-retire

 

 

RYLA sunrise hike

What I learned at Rotary camp…

… To trust, listen and allow.

Last week I volunteered as a Senior Counselor at a Rotary Youth Leadership Awards (RYLA) camp. Everyone told me it would be amazing. Magical. Life-Changing. Mind-Blowing.

Wow, it was even more than that! I learned so much about our kids, team building, leadership, friendship and trust. And I learned more about myself.

Trust the process:

The conferees (aka kids) were High School Junior age student who filled out applications and applied to local Rotary Clubs for scholarships. They applied for different reasons. Some to add to their transcripts. Some to overcome specific issues such as social anxiety. Some wanted to become leaders. Some because their friends said “They just had to go, it will change your life!” Regardless of why they applied, they left with leadership tools, self-confidence, understanding, awareness and new friends.

In the region where I am, there were over 181 participants in week 1 and a similar amount in week 2.

RYLA sunrise hikeThese kids were in constant motion. They had a schedule that began at 7 am every morning and kept them busy until after 10 pm each night. Every activity challenged them to develop communication and problem-solving skills, to learn from each other and work as a team. Each day included motivational, community and peer speakers with powerfully specific messages. One morning the entire group took a sunrise hike in silence. We slowly made our way to the top of a nearby mountain and sat to watch a new day begin. Some of them had never been on a hike before. For some, it was their first sunrise.

Every day was a different speaker with a different message that reminded these kids to remember to push pebbles, follow the Four Way Test, trust in themselves, honor their stories and follow through. The speakers overwhelmed them with words of hope, love and belief.

Listen and observe:

My role was to support my Junior Counselor (JC). The JC’s were in charge.  My job was to watch the group. To assist when needed but to stand back and let the JC lead our group. With each activity, the conferees  learned to speak up, ask questions, offer ideas , ask to see if others had input and they slowly turned into leaders. Sometimes it was really hard to be an observer! But to see the group get though an exercise by working together and supporting each other was rewarding. And to see a group fail and then listen to them debrief and figure out what happened, how they would do it differently and what they learned was worth my silence. The smile on my face said it all.

There were some amazing and sad stories that were shared. Topics such as school shootings, suicide, drug and alcohol abuse, bullying, violence, eating disorders and other heart-wrenching issues faced by these kids were touched on.  The world these kids face every day is so different from the one I lived in. As a kid, if someone said something mean to me, it stuck in my head and I played it over and over (yes, it’s still there to this very day) but now, when something mean is said, it is usually on social media platform for the world to see. Its life span is longer and once published, it’s out there forever. It’s hard to tell them that it doesn’t matter. Or that nobody will care. Or that nobody will know. Not in this day and time. Social media is often used as a cruel weapon that continues to wound.

RYLA’s leadership camp is compelling, impressive and rewarding. The end result for these kids was truly life changing.

Allow for continuous self-growth:

As for me, the wise and mature woman — WOW! Their stories showed me the crazy world they live in. And they reminded me that we all crave the same things, regardless of our age – acknowledgement, support, someone who believes in us, friendship and most of all …love. 


Resources:

Learn about Rocky Mountain RYLA

Rocky Mountain RYLA

Cassandra Sewell

Chris Natzke

 

Now what that I am retired?

The story of retirement: Begin here.

One day the building, place, store, cubicle, office, etc. where I used to go daily, and felt connected to … is no longer. I broke ties. They said good-bye. That place is no longer in my world.

Instead, my world is under my command. Get up and exercise. Or not. If not, no one will know except me. Therefore, it’s important to keep up a routine.

At first, I kept to my work-waking hours as a way of penance. That changed slowly. Now, I get up to exercise. To hike. To read. To walk before the heat of the day kicks in.

At first, I stayed in touch with my comrades. Then, it felt like they had lots to talk about and I talked about my walks, hikes, volunteering, books. Mostly I let them talk. I didn’t want them to feel bad that I was having so much fun. I let them talk so I could remember what I didn’t miss. I let them talk because they needed to.

Then, the lunches we promised to make kept getting further away. Maybe they didn’t want to hear about my leisurely life. My travel plans. My cooking lessons.

Now What?

Slowly I found others who spent long hours in the library. Who took classes, music lessons and shopped in the middle of the day. Regular exercise in the gym courtesy of Silver Sneakers is one of the best ways to connect with other retired adults. Silver Sneakers is often part of the insurance program which allows me to sign up with a fitness center, recreation center or gym and attend as if I were a paying member. There are over 9000 centers across the U.S. where I can use my card. Currently, I have gym memberships in six area facilities. When I travel, I look online to see if there is a location near where I am staying. It’s much cheaper to keep healthy than to pay for hospital care. Just saying.

Blogging, Podcasts, Videos:

After checking blog sites, youtube videos and podcasts across the universe and not finding one that spoke to me, I decided to speak to the world of retirees and see if they want to speak to me. I want to know how you organize your world. How you decide on your day. What does it look like?

Do you have a routine?

Are you part of a club? What kind? Cycling, reading, sewing, motorcycle, alumni, music, dance, exercise?

Have you given your time away to others? To ill parents, to grandchildren, to volunteering?

Do you have a ‘bucket’ list of things you plan to do? Are you actively doing them?

Are you willing to share any with me?

Breaking out of the Comfort Zone:

I have a super fun week coming up. It’s a brand new experience. It’s something I said “yes” to and now I am packed and ready to begin. If I have the energy, I will attempt to share it with you next week. It will certainly be worth the wait. You know how it is – scary, exciting, and compelling. Like jumping off a cliff into the beautiful blue water.

Resources:

No Comfort Zone Challenge: Kindness Received

Happiness – Care to Share?

Drop me a line!

 

La Vida es Bella

Retired: Try IVHQ – Volunteer Travel Organization

Last week my friend told me about her plans to volunteer abroad. She has made plans to travel with IVHQ read more below) and stay in Italy to care for cats. She is beside herself with giggles and is in the mental stage of the plot  – renting out her house, giving notice at work (retirement is looming for her), storing her car, putting all her other obligations on hold. Her feet are barely touching the ground she is so excited.

Ever want to volunteer in a meaningful way abroad? If so, check out International Volunteer Head Quarters or IVHQ. This organization has over 100,000 young and old volunteers working across the globe. This volunteer abroad program might be just what you are looking for if you have the desire to expand your horizons, stretch your mind, break through your comfort zone and most important of all… leave the world a big better place.

IVHQ works with local communities with a bottom up approach. Local organizations know the people, speak the language, purchase items from local vendors and businesses and get buy-in from the population who benefits.

The desire to travel and volunteer abroad can be a great experience if the organization is willing to step in and guide the volunteer across the many steps involved. IVHQ has destinations across the globe where you can volunteer for an affordable fee. The transparency in the fees makes you want to dig deeper and learn more. The registration fees and the program fees are listed for each country with a list of what other expenses might arise.

With an organization like IVHQ, the time to step up and go where you feel most alive is right now. Right?!

Resources: