Sunday, March 31, 2013

At What Age Should there be Age Discrimination?

If 70+-year- olds are out in greater numbers skiing the slopes, why can't their peers remain on the bench? I'm not going to do justice to the judges' argument  here. But a lawsuit before Pennsylvania's Supreme Court seeks to let judges rule beyond the current mandatory retirement age. Is it good public policy to have judges ousted  at 70? Or is it age discrimination, as the suit contends?
Is 80 the new 65? Should the older make way for the younger ? And does merit have anything to do with it? (especially in PA, where judges are elected.)
Your thoughts?

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Free Rides Disappearing, Even For "Super Seniors"?

Dad, with his 70+ Ski Club badge
I remember how my parents (gone some 15 years) proudly sported "70+ Ski Club" badges on their ski jackets. It gave them access to many mountains  -- for free. And they took good advantage of it.

Now, so many boomers are on the slopes that a lot of ski areas have upped the age for senior discounts and freebies. Or abandoned them altogether.

This is good news. And bad news. The bad news is obvious -- everyone wants a break, especially when a one-day ski ticket at some places is approaching the $100 mark.  (At Steamboat Springs, it's $114 at the mountain!)

The good news is that we're schussing and wedeling at loftier and loftier ages.

A bit of research found that policies are, literally, all over the map, though there's a slow age-creep.
Most California resorts still offer discounts to those 65 and over.  But at growing numbers of places, there are no breaks until you reach age 70, when you fall into a new category, called "Super Seniors." (Love that phrase!) At that point, you're likely to get a discount, or maybe ski for free.
But increasingly,  you'll have til 80 for that free ride.

My father was still skiing at 80, and when someone asked him how he did it, he'd say, "It's not a problem. But you don't start at 79!"

Do you know of any other types of "senior discounts" that are being pushed to higher ages? Please comment at or email me at


Monday, March 18, 2013

Do You Feel That You Matter? ... Why? Why Not?

 What makes you feel validated?
Is it work? With pay or without?
Is it just making someone smile?
Do you need others to praise you, appreciate you, pat you on the back? 
Or do you have the ability to feel good about yourself, all on your own?
And then there’s guilt. Do you ever sit down to read a book in daylight?
Feeling validated was the topic at the third meeting of our
Project Renewment group —career women getting together to talk about our transition out of jobs.
This time, 15 of us  gathered in Sue’s living room. Listen in to what happened. Because the conversation was personal and candid, I’m just using first names.
But first,  a concluding observation from Jean:

I go to my book group and we have an agenda about the book, and I go to my French group and we have an agenda about speaking French… Here our agenda is our next step in life, our view of life, our perspective on things and it’s incredibly important.  These conversations will resonate with me.

On validation through work: 
This, of course, is the no brainer. It’s why we keep working, especially if we don’t need the money. And why it can be so hard to step away.

Dotty (former newspaper editor and writer of this blog): I had a lot of respect in my job and people would come to me and thank me all the time for the editing I did with them and the time I spent with them. And now I don’t really have that. And I knew when I was leaving my job that I wouldn’t have that. And I knew it would be hard to find the validation --maybe I’m needy that way.

Essie (works with children with hearing loss): Dotty, when you were talking about the validation, it made me think … I don’t think of needing validation but yet what I do is very fulfilling. Maybe it is validation. It’s not that somebody has to say you’re doing a good job.

Dotty: But you know you’re doing a good job. Your work environment is one in which kids and patients are thrilled that you’re helping them, and you know that. It’s not the words. It’s being in a situation where you know you’re doing the right thing….I think most jobs are that way. It’s when you leave the job and do the next thing...

Carol K. (former businesswoman): I had lunch with a woman who used to be my secretary…. How does she like retirement? She’s fulltime volunteering. She has a schedule the same as when she worked for us but now she’s volunteering.  I said, “So now you’re working fulltime and you don’t get paid?”

Cheryl S. (former librarian; volunteer): I was never a workaholic. I don’t know how you do it all. I wouldn’t want to work that much because then something has to give. I like my house looking a certain way. Cooking is like an artistic outlet. I like to cook meals cause I’m kind of old fashioned, too…

Sue (former breast feeding consultant, now studying to be yoga instructor):  I haven’t worked in awhile. … In certain circles I feel judged. I feel I have to say "but I’m doing this and I’m doing this and I’m doing this." Or I might have to say, "My five year plan. ... "I have to justify my time. That’s one piece of me that has to do that. 
There are other things that I give thanks for. Because I have time, I’m not chained to a position. I’ve been able to help people one on one. People that are sick, having chemo. I was able to help my mother for six months straight because I didn’t have a job I had to go to.
 I find people need something and I often get called and I’m able to say yes.  I say yes so often…. and I don’t have to consult with anyone. On the other hand, I was offered a job part time, the salary was ridiculously high, more than I would ever dream of being paid per hour, and I didn’t really want to do it because it wasn’t about the dollar. If I looked at my finances… they’d say you’re crazy that I retired. Nobody thinks I have enough. But it’s all about what is enough and what you want to do with your time. And it’s really hard sometimes when you’re feeling judged and you have to justify your time. Sometimes you really have to take that breath and stand tall and be yourself. And it’s hard. It is hard.

Betsy (psychologist): You want to feel valued. No matter what it is that you do.

On finding validation in yourself 

Renee (teacher): You have to do a lot of talking to yourself to validate yourself and say this was a good day.

Marlyn (psychologist): You have to get up every day, whether you’re working or not, and say, “What do I value in life? “ and set an intention of what you’re going to do. …You need your own set of
 priorities and to remember what they are and set an intention that “today I’m going to help somebody” or “I’m going to do my yoga today because that’s what I value.” If [doing nothing] is what you value that day, then that’s what you’re setting out to do. You have to say what’s important to me and live your day according to that.

Jean (college instructor and volunteer English teacher): I teach English to Russians. I have been doing it for 16 years and it is as rewarding and gratifying as the much more prestigious teaching that I do. If I go somewhere and say I teach … these old people from Russia, it’s going to sound like, what are you doing there? … But  I love these people. They get a lot from me. I get a lot from them. It is totally gratifying, rewarding, satisfying. And I get more out of it than they do, I’m sure. But that is not the prestige job.

Dotty: There are tasks I do all day long that make me feel good about myself. Even researching what products should go on my deck and spending weeks putting it on. And then going around and saying, ‘Doesn’t the deck look great? … and that’s one of the reasons I can’t relax because reading a book isn’t validating to me. Sitting there fooling around and having fun isn’t validating. So it’s not that I don’t do that once in a while, but it’s not what’s driving me.

Sue: Why is it that the eye of others looking at us becomes our judgment of ourselves? …Why does somebody else have to validate what we do?

Marlyn: Or the question is more, Who do you want to have validate what you do?

Carol K. : I need validation from others much less than I used to. I got exhausted. Trying to be … is exhausting. Plus, it’s not always rewarding. ... I realized one day that I should do for my grandchildren only what brings me pleasure. If I’m having fun with them, then that’s why I should do it. Because if I’m doing it so they’ll love me more, or if I’m doing it so they’ll appreciate it, or I’m doing it because I’ll be the favorite grandmother, it’s not going to work. ... Now if I want to be with them, I’m with them and I have a terrific time with them. And I know they love me and I love them, but my motive is shifted. It’s different now. And it feels better; it’s more authentic. And that way I’m not disappointed because I have no expectations anymore.

Sue: Is it not a gift to walk down the street and smile and to get one back? Did I not just do something? And if I look at my day -- I walked around smiling -- did I do any more or less than the doctor who sat in his office all day and saw 22 patients and asked the same questions?

 About feeling guilty

Carole S. (former teacher): I want to feel validated that I retired. I still feel a little guilty about that. …I didn’t retire on my own terms because I had a health issue. But it was time. … I still feel a bit badly. It took the longest time for me to get used to my clock. I’d go by the school calendar. … It took a long time for me to get over that. Now I just want to know if I’m doing the right thing. I think I am.

Betsy: I found that as I mature or age or however you want to put it, self-validation is more important … making my own decisions and not feeling guilty when I’m at work because I’m not with my family and not feeling guilty with my family because I’m not doing more work, which had been the pattern in younger years. I like going to the office because I get gratification from it for the positive effects for others I’m involved with. But also, I like being able to say I’m going to spend a week or two with my kids and grandchildren and just enjoy it and not feel terrible that I don’t have billable hours. And I do feel fortunate that I don’t feel pressure to bring in the paycheck…. I’m not counting on it to buy groceries. Most people in this world don’t have that choice. And I’m grateful.

Essie: I’m working part time -- working full time. When I had a full time job, I worked all weekend. Now I have a part time job and I work all week. … Why is it always my job that has more work than I can handle? This is me, not the job.

Renee:  I talk to friends and a lot of us are hard on ourselves. One friend retired and she said it was such a difficult year. She might want to read a book but she didn’t feel that she could. After a lot of head work,

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Thoughts on Early Explorations

Easing into the next great thing?

Here are some thoughts on starting the process early, while you still have your day job.

This NY Times article was written by a longtime freelancer for the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

If 115 is Old, What's Middle Aged?

Jiroemon Kimura,  116th birthday coming up (photo by AP)
Here's a sobering, or thrilling,  thought:
More and more people are living to be 115.  And a whole new generational class has emerged of  "super-centenarians" -- people who have made it to 110 and beyond. (There are 57 such people-- 53 women and 4 men -- counted by the Gerontology Research Organization, though some say there are hundreds alive whose ages have yet to be confirmed. See this extraordinary list of the earth's oldest).
All of which raises some big questions of our time: When does middle age start? What's the definition of "old?" And, what will you do with your life between now and then?  
I spent the morning looking at the data (and some disturbing photos of what really, really old age looks like) after hearing the news that  Misao Okawa, of Japan, turned 115 on March 5 and is now the world's oldest female, according to the Guinness World Records.
But she's not the oldest person. That title has been held, since Dec. 17, 2012 by a countryman, Jiroemon Kimura  who was born  April 19, 1897. (Okawa was born 11 months later, on March 5, 1898.) Kimura's advice is to wake early, eat small portions, and read the paper, which he does with a magnifying glass.

Let's hope Kimura -- a rarity as a man holding the oldest person title -- hangs on awhile longer. Since 2010, which is as far back as I looked, no one has worn the world's oldest crown for more than 8 months.
Here's the list:
Kimura succeeded Dina Manfredini, of Iowa, after she died on December 17, 2012 at the age of 115 and 257 days. Manfredini only held the title for 2 weeks.
Before her, Besse Cooper, who died Dec. 4, 2012, was the world's oldest person. Cooper, of Georgia,  lived four months past her 116th birthday, a feat she attributed to minding her own business and avoiding junk food. She was actually declared the oldest woman in 2010, but wrongly so. 
Maria Gomes Valentim, a Brazilian, was discovered to be six weeks older and took Cooper's title away in 2011, when Valentim's age was verified. Born July 9, 1896, Valentin was world's oldest, officially that is, for just a month. She was 114 years, 347 days at her death, which restored Cooper to the record books.
Before Valentin, a French woman, Eugenie Blanchard, who died in 2010, was the oldest person on earth. She was 104 days shy of her 115th birthday and lived on the island of Saint Barthelemy.

According to the official list of the Gerontology Research Organization, only 12 people are still alive on the planet who were born before the year 1900.  Another sobering thought.

So, when does middle age start? What's the definition of "old?" And, what will you do with your life between now and then?  

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