Blog, Inspiration, Life Lessons

4 Ways to Choose a Pair of Shoes (or make other important decisions)

Remember Imelda Marcos from the Philippines and the international commotion she stirred up because of the thousands of pairs of shoes she owned? At the time,I was much younger (!), it was more than a little interesting to me as I contemplated the choice of that many shoes and a closet big enough to hold them. But at this stage of my life, I find I react to the abundance aspect of this incidence with aversion rather than envy or even curiosity. Don’t get me wrong, I love and appreciate a cute pair of shoes, in fact I always notice the shoes people are wearing. And I certainly don’t begrudge anyone having a choice.

For instance, recently enjoying a wonderful Mozart concert at Symphony Hall in row 10, I found myself scanning all the feet of the orchestra members. All black shoes, of course, but there was a multitude of different styles from comfy walking-shoes to 6-inch stiletto, pointed-toed patent leather with red undersoles! My mind wandered to why the specific styles might have been chosen and musing over the possibility of connection between shoe choice and personality style…all to the rhythm of Mozart!

My recent purchase of a summer sandal has been the surprise contact point of several conversations lately. I knew I was in need of replacing my favorite sandals this season so began noticing other women’s sandals and planning for my new pair. I ended up choosing a Wolky® shoe …VERY comfy and good for walking, but cute and red! Everyone needs a red pair of shoes, right!?

Well, more than a few times lately these shoes have solicited comments, “Oh, I like your shoes? Where did you get them?” “Nice shoes! What brand are they?” And then a short conversation follows about how important comfortable shoes are, especially for Vibrant Old Women.

One of these conversations ended by my inquiring friend saying, “I used to choose my shoes by style and color, but now they have to be comfortable. My values have changed I guess…it’s all about comfort and all I need is one really good pair!”

One pair? Hmmm…maybe two, or three…I”ve been thinking about this: I have so many choices today, in almost every aspect of my life. What are the values that drive my decisions at this stage of life?

  1. Comfort and Health (Will this enhance my well being or hinder it?)
  2. Cost and Fitting my Budget (Will this cause financial stress?)
  3. Necessity rather than pure desire (Do I need it? Do I have room for it? Am I just filling up space?)
  4. Delight or Pleasure (to me or someone else)

Less seems to be my new abundance…”less is more” sort of thing. My beloved deceased mother-in-law saw it differently though. In her final stage of life, she saw her choices as her last chance to have and went “all out” in a rather delightful way. On her 80th birthday, she asked for a diamond and sapphire bracelet even though she had many beautiful pieces of fine jewelry. She knew what she liked and wanted more of it! (Shoes were about comfort for her, btw.)

Values are personal. They define who we are and how we live. What are your values at this stage of life?

How do you choose a pair of shoes?


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Blog, Inspiration, Life Lessons

One Sure Way to Ruin Retirement

I remember when I would set goals and sub-goals and sub-sub-goals. I had a 5-year plan and a 10-year plan and a 25-year plan. I often thought about  what kind of person I wanted to be, where I wanted to be and what I wanted to have done by the time I was 50 (that seemed like old-age to me then!). I liked to set these long-range goals then work backwards to the present with action steps and timelines. I strived to be the best I could be and tried hard to make each day count. The more I did the better I felt about myself.

I used to read many self-help books, like The Total Woman by Marabel Morgan, 1973, that gave me an exhaustive plan for being the perfect superwoman I wanted to be. Right now, today, I hyperventilate just thinking about it!

This past week I opened more than a few emails telling me there were 10 things (or more) I needed to do in order to be successful.  I took one of them seriously because I thought maybe I could add a little zip to my laid-back-self if I followed a “simple” early morning check list for purposeful living. It started easy enough with just three things you must do to begin your day successfully, but then it went on to add how-to steps under each one and then bullet points under each of those. It didn’t take long before I felt tense and wanted to close my i-pad and run for more coffee!…not at all what I consider “simple”. In fact, I felt like re-naming the article, “An Intense and Complicated Way to Ruin the Beginning of Any Day”.

Instead I smiled to myself. Goal setting is good. Taking advantage of the days that are given to us to live life to the fullest and in the best way we can is good. But this Gran Finale time of life is when we get to say what makes each day successful. We can work our lists at our own pace, or not work them at all. There’s not a manual or a Retirement Police that say a successful retirement must look a certain way.

BUT one sure way to ruin a perfectly glorious retirement day is to should myself with a list of things to do that ‘someone’ says will measure my success or purposeful living index. I should do this, I should do that, I should be this way, or be that way, or go there, or say that, or buy that, or not eat that… I should… I should.

I thought of Winnie-the-Pooh and something I remembered him saying:

“What day is it?”, asked Winnie the Pooh

“It’s today,” squeaked Piglet

“My favorite day,” said Pooh”

I think he might respond the same way I did to the grandiose 10-ways-to-be-successful lists.

 “What I like doing best is Nothing.” (said Christopher Robin)

“How do you do Nothing,” asked Pooh after he had wondered for a long time.

“Well, it’s when people call out at you just as you’re going off to do it, ‘What are you going to do, Christopher Robin?’ and you say, ‘Oh, Nothing,’ and then you go and do it.

It means just going along, listening to all the things you can’t hear, and not bothering.”

“Oh!” said Pooh.”   -A.A.Milne

No Shoulds!

From what ‘shoulds’ has retirement freed you? How do you feel about giving them up, or not?

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Blog, Inspiration

Retirement is an Outdated Term

I remember loving to spend the summers with my retired grandparents. There was such a wonderful rhythm to their lives. They did the same things over and over, and each week looked like the previous one. My grandfather was a retired hog breeder who now had time to read, take a walk everyday, smoke his pipe after each meal and stay up on the national news. My grandmother was the homemaker and continued her domestic chores of cleaning, doing the laundry, and preparing meals.  They didn’t own a car. They lived simply in an apartment. They had groceries delivered and didn’t venture far from home. They seemed to know their roles well and were in a very stable and predictable groove. This was their retirement.

Retirement looks quite different today. We have many choices. Travel is expected and our culture has created the term  snowbird for those of us who go south for the winter. There are retirement centers and retirement homes and retirement condos, retirement excursions, assisted living for retirees, discounted movies and Y memberships, Senior Discount Days at malls …

If you google “retirement photos” you will find mostly photos of couples, looking very fit and vibrant, basking on a beach, sitting by palm trees sipping cocktails, or playing golf. Very glamorous!

What comes to your mind when you hear the word retirement?

A V.O.W. friend of mine says when she hears the word “retirement”, she thinks of retiring to bed, and envisions sleeping. “I think I’ll retire for the night” kind of thing, only it’s “retire for a few years!” In fact, she says, for her the word has given her permission to sleep more, a little snooze mid-morning, an afternoon nap, then early to bed.

Every time I hear the word, I get a mental image of a cast-off, like old tires, used and tossed aside, maybe in the dump heap, piled high. There’s just no good place for them. Useless. Done. Finished. Retired!

I would like to get real about retirement. I would like to know who decided that the final stage of adult life should be called “retirement” and why. I would like to know for sure how it feels and looks for you.

First of all, many retirees are single, for various reasons, and live alone.

Second, many, maybe most, retirees don’t have an affluent bank account that enables lavish excursions to beach resorts and exotic places.

Third, leaving one’s career in order to “retire” creates a void in life for many of us who loved our work, and even though we have a long list of things we thought we wanted to do when we didn’t have to work, we just can’t get started on them so find ourselves a little bewildered.

You probably know by now, if you are a regular reader of Vibrant Old Woman, that I am never afraid to rename something, or reframe something that feels negative or doesn’t quite fit the situation. Often the simple act of renaming infuses new life into an old object or a worn out practice. I think we should experiment with doing just that with this old term retirement.

How does the Gran Finale of Life fit for you? For me it compares to the final act of a drama or opera, or the final chapter of a good novel. It does not disassociate itself from the other chapters or from the storyline. It is the time when all the pieces come together and tie things up, so to speak. It is the time when we say “Ah, I see who I am!” because we can see the continuum of events and hear the whole melody.

Changing the term gives me a sense of anticipation about how I’m going to define my final stage of life, my time without the 9 to 5, without the definition of a job title or designated role. I don’t need to fit into an already established concept. I can be free to declare to myself, mostly, that this is truly my time to live as I want to and be who I truly am.

I, for one, am going to invigorate my thinking about my life by retiring the term retirement. I’m not using it. From now on I’m declaring that I left my wonderful job several years ago to begin the Gran Finale of my life!

How about you? Are you retired? Or something else…way more wonderful?



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Blog, Inspiration

A Good Laugh

Today I lost it! I couldn’t catch my breath I laughed so hard. It really wasn’t that funny. It was something else, like the timing and the way it was said, the inference, the context. But at the time, it seemed hilarious. And I needed it. So, maybe that was what it really was: I just needed to laugh.

There’s something amazingly intriguing about laughter, to me. It feels so good and seems to relax the whole body, while at the same time, it’s uncomfortable and kinda hurts! You remember as a child when you really wanted to be tickled so you could laugh hard, but when you were being tickled, you yelled “Stop! Stop!” and wanted to push the tickler away?

Sometimes I feel that same way while indulging in a deep belly laugh. I hate the loss of control, yet love the loss of control!

But one thing I know is that laughing clears my head and releases me from introspection and analysis and worry and anxiety and sadness.  I become unaware of my physical state, forget about my wrinkles and achy joints. Time stops for a moment and my spirit is set free. Its a spiritual experience to laugh wholeheartedly and be transported from time and space.

Spiritual, yes, but also physical…Someone I heard somewhere sometime, said, “..the diaphragm, thorax, abdomen, heart, lungs—and even the liver—are given a massage during a hearty laugh. That’s a good internal workout!”

Check out this article and read the actual effects on our body when we laugh.

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