I’m delighted Boomer Cafe published my One Word Resolutions post. Check it out by clicking here.
As Lady Boomers it’s inevitable we will be facing transitions as we venture into this next chapter of our lives. Last Sunday was one of those transition points as my church bid farewell to our Associate minister, Karen Barker Duncan, who is retiring to the west coast of Florida. Karen joined our ministerial team on September 15, 2001. Maybe because we were in need of hope in the aftermath of 9/11, we launched a program called The Jeremiah Project, an after school and summer arts enrichment program for at risk middle school aged students in our community. Karen was the grant writer extraordinaire, I was the art director, and her husband Roger, the director of our computer center. In the ensuing years, we have served well over 2,000 kids. These were and are kids who don’t have computers in their homes or access to art programming in schools or art centers.
One of Karen’s gifts is helping people identify their own gifts. She did that for me. She encouraged me (ok, maybe nagged) to seek commission status in the UCC (our denomination) as a minister of the arts. She was at my side throughout the commissioning process. My story is by no means an isolated one. There are countless others of Karen quietly urging, supporting and encouraging her parishioners. The thing about Karen is that she doesn’t possess the kind of ego that often gets other clergy in trouble. She didn’t feel the calling to stand up and sermonize, preferring instead to develop programming to enrich our faith community. She’s funny, self effacing and loving.
I have a lump in my throat as I write this post. I realize this is Karen’s transition as she ventures off into her new life, but it feels like one for me as well. I gave Karen and Roger a sculpture I created entitled “Beauty and the Beach”. The sentiment behind the piece is that the beach (where she will be living) is a place of acceptance and equality regardless of age, income level, color, or species. Just like the sense of place I felt with my Karen friend.
I’m a fan of Boomer Cafe and honored they published this storyhttp://www.boomercafe.com/which-generation-experiences-the-most-stress/
According to a February article in the Huffington Post, Millennials in the Millennial Generation (also known as Generation Y, those born in the early 1980s through the year 2000) are the most stressed out demographic group. A competing article, however, in The New York Times, also published in February, crowned Boomers as the demographic group most injured by the current recession and its aftermath.
As a Baby Boomer with Millennial children, I was curious as to what my peers thought about this issue. I was fascinated by the findings of a new BoomerOpinions survey asking the following question: Which of these two generations (the Boomers or the Millennials) do you think are undergoing the most stress as a result of the recent economic crisis? Fifty-one percent of the Baby Boomer respondents said they believed both generations were experiencing equal amounts of stress.
The data from this survey revealed Boomers are experiencing considerable anxiety about their adult children. Don’t forget these are the parents of the kids in the Millennial Generation, and Boomer parents tend to only be as happy as their saddest child. 41% say they consider it at least a somewhat serious problem that their children have incurred student loans; 45% say their adult children have been unable to find a job of their choice. Baby Boomers haven’t been labeled “Generation Squeeze” for naught. Thirty-one percent (31%) are caring for aging parents, while 33% are supporting adult children.
Admittedly I’m a little biased given my status as a Boomer, but in a stress competition, I would have to say Boomers win. They not only have to worry about their own financial plights, but those of their children as well. No matter how much our kids love us, they generally will assert their own needs before anyone else’s. Thus, their stress is focused on their own individual situation while Boomer anxiety is divided between themselves and their children. But, even if Boomers win in this contest, I don’t think the prize is one worth coveting.
If you are a Baby Boomer and would like to participate in BoomerOpinions online surveys, visit
http://boomers.micropanel.com/ to sign up. It is a cool site.
A good deal has been reported in the media about members of younger generations failing to find employment following graduation. We’ve also heard it said retirees are earning virtually no interest on their investments/savings. But data from the Labor Department indicates Baby Boomers are the greatest victims of the latest recession. According to a recent article in the New York Times, Boomers (those born between 1946 and 1964) have lost the most earning power of any age group. Household incomes among members of this group are down 10% from what they were three years ago. Retirement savings and home values fell just as Baby Boomers were cresting toward retirement. Not only is their income on the decline, but 31% of this age group are caring for aging parents and still parenting (and supporting) adult children. According to the NY Times article, Boomers have earned the nickname- “Generation Squeeze”. Loss of health care often accompanies the loss of a job among Boomers not yet eligible for Medicare. Economists at Wellesley College suggest life expectancy could decline by as much as three years for this demographic group largely because of limited access to health care. Aging Boomers often work two and three part-time jobs to replace previous salaries. The stress and extended work day/week further contributes to compromised health.
Wow, as a Lady Boomer I find these statistics more than a little depressing. But they made me think of another article I read, also in the New York Times entitled, Goodbye Golden Years. Harvard economist, Edward Glaeser cited statistics similar to those above. He noted, “Retirement seems out of the question for increasing numbers of Americans who are saddled with debt and whose savings evaporated during the recent bust.” But rather than wallowing in depression and self doubt, Glaser suggested that what American Baby Boomers need is more entrepreneurship.
Glaser pointed out that West Palm Beach, a retiree haven, has the highest self-employment rate of any metropolitan area in the nation, consistent with other areas in the country attracting older Americans. Self-employment makes sense because it allows for more control over working hours and conditions. And our generation loves control.
Many of us have spent years waking up at 6:00 am to be at a job we found depleting. If we are not going to be able to kick back, drive a golf cart and play bridge all day, lets envision a different kind of retirement for ourselves. Here are a few suggestions:
– Develop an exercise plan; join a YMCA or other gym; walk or ride a bike. We are going to need to stay healthy for this next phase, and exercise is a critical component. Make sure your employment endeavors can accommodate your exercise schedule, so you don’t have to be going to the gym at 5:30 in the morning.
-Choose an enterprise that fits your circadian rhythm (internal clock) one that allows you to arise and go to bed at a time best suited for you
-delve into your psyche through journaling or quiet reflections; explore what you have a passion for. You may want to undergo a personality assessment to discover a field that suits you.
-Make it fun. We are the generation who invented rock and roll. We like to have fun.
I’m not trying to offer Pollyanna platitudes here, but I also think we have to make chicken salad out of chicken #### (expletive deleted). This economic recession has adversely impacted virtually everyone I know, including myself. But I do think we have to find some element of goodness in the midst of adversity.
Now is your chance…Here’s to meeting your entrepreneurial self this year.
I’m delighted Boomer Cafe published my post on creativity. Check it out at Boomer Cafe
Thirty-seven percent (37%) of participants in a recent BoomerOpinions poll reported that their financial situation had grown worse over the past couple of years, with 29% saying their finances had remained about the same. The same survey found, however, in spite of current economic woes, 76% of these Boomer respondents are likely to travel on vacation during the next year.
I was heartened by these findings and think these results speak volumes about who the Boomer Generation is and what it values. Yes, we have been hard hit by the economy. We’ve had to reduce spending on non-essentials, but we obviously don’t regard vacations as non-essential. Spending time with our families and extricating ourselves, even a bit, from the squeeze of stress is a priority of ours. So, how can we be the responsible people we are and not have to take out a second mortgage to afford a getaway? One solution might be Homeexchange.com.
Last Thanksgiving my family and I vacationed for a week in the mountains of Taos, New Mexico. We skied, hiked, dined, and browsed our way through galleries filled with turquoise and terracotta pottery. At least half of our week was spent beholding the beauty of the sage brushed landscape and mountains from our floor to ceiling windows stretched across the back of our vacation home. This three bedroom adobe style home perched on the edge of a reservation was available to us at no cost.
The Holiday, the romantic comedy starring Cameron Diaz and Kate Winslet who exchange their Los Angeles and rural England homes over the Christmas holiday inspired us to join an online site called Home Exchange.com. We were able to trade our beach place for the mountain house in Taos at no expense to either party. We have successfully exchanged homes on five occasions. Rather than cramming five people into two hotel rooms where we are forced to eat out every meal, we have a kitchen, living room, and multiple bath and bedrooms at our disposal.
Financing a vacation may sound like a luxury during times of economic distress like we are undergoing. Carving out time from stress and schedules may not be a luxury but rather a necessity for our psychic well being and that of our family. A home exchange worked for us and might for you. Check it out at Homeexchange.com