When did I become a ma’am? Turning 50.

August 6, 2018  
Filed under Feature Stories

By Karen Sturtevant

 

 

As I approach the half-century mark, I can’t help but spend a bit of time reflecting on my experiences of wandering along my life’s path. My, how time does indeed fly. A coworker recently remarked, “The days go slow, but the years pass so quickly.” She was right.

 

If we are parents, one way we mark the passage of time is when we marvel at our offspring remembering their first steps and day one of kindergarten then wondering how she got from there to a college campus in a blink of an eye. My six-foot tall, handsome nephew, Ben, starts university in the fall.  To me, he will always be the three-year-old tiny toddler. We count our wedding anniversaries (or divorces), the number of years we’ve lived in the same house, decades of employment, therapy and diets, career changes, gaining of friends, passing of family.

 

I’m finding that things once thought silly and stupid are now acceptable. When did that shift happen? Programmed radio stations have changed from rock to talk. An exciting Saturday night means cuddling up with my rescue pup and reading a good book. Who needs to go out? I pay more attention to remedies for achy joints and Sunday Morning commentaries. And, when did that age spot appear? It looks like Mickey Mouse ears. Bird watching was for old people, but I now notice the songbirds in the morning and saw an owl take flight just the other day. By the way, when did the print on everything get so small?

 

When I was a growing up, middle age meant being a gray-haired grandmother with apron fastened and lard at the ready just in case a batch of homemade donuts were needed. Fifty was frumpy. Fifty was, well, old. If 40 is the new 30, is 50 the new 40? Does it all really matter anyway? Full disclosure: I wear an apron (with cute images of coco and cappuccino in fancy cups.)

 

The world is a different place than it was when my grandmother and mother turned 50. We are more skeptical, less trusting. Our schedules are stacked; our eyes heavy. We’re pulled this way and that and find it hard to say no. At this age, if we’re on the right track, we have evolved as individuals, as citizens of the world. We’re more concerned with happenings in the Middle-East than with what shoes go with what scarf. We watch our 401(K) balance with the same intensity we once used in obsessing over celebrity gossip. We know that beauty magazines make us feel ugly and the new mascara being peddled by the latest Barbie doll won’t fix our real-life problems. We pay attention to supermarket flyers, stock up on bulk sugar and glass cleaner and make room for extra paper towels because they were ‘on sale.’ Instead of stepping on the overturned alien-looking beetle, I now right it and watch as it goes on its merry way.  We pretend we know how our new laptop and smartphone work. We have privileged person’s problems, and aren’t we fortunate for that?

 

Recently a trip to my post office box yielded a surprise of sorts…I was approved for membership in the AARP! The letter was accompanied with an embossed name card of my very own. Was I ready to admit this was the year I turn 50? My social media newsfeed now tempts me with eye creams and skin tightening ointments. The checkout person now calls me, ‘ma’am.’ Me, a ma’am?

 

When I was younger I often thought it took a confident woman to go out in the world with no make-up, hair piled in a messy rat’s nest and attire fit more for the dump than public scrutiny. On any given day, when social norms don’t deem it necessary for matching earrings and belt, I am comfortable in ripped jeans, oversized sweatshirts and sport wild, askew hair. Ironed pants not necessary. Matching socks be dammed. At almost-50 those unwritten rules are no longer are priority to me, naps and good coffee are.

 

What is important is not the newest green accessory or coolest e-gadget (although nice) but the way we treat one another, the lens in which we see the differences, the possibilities of each person, each situation. I like to think I am a better and caring person in my older todays than my younger yesterdays. I am surely not the superhero my dog thinks I am, but I’m trying. Imagine a world where respect, honesty, and manners were the rules (think Dennis-the-Menace-days) not exceptions. That’s the place I wish for in my next 50 years.

 

Whether a person leans far left or is flung right, deep down, when the multiple layers that make our complexities are peeled back, we have commonalities: to be heard, respected, valued, safe, loved. At five or 50, we share more traits than we realize. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could embrace and appreciate one another rather than warring in hopes of being the last one standing and dying with the most toys?

As I power walk toward the next half of the century mark, I hope I will continue to grow into a person who sees the light in others, stifles judgment and gives the benefit of the doubt. It’s an everyday challenge, but I think I’m up to it. After all, I am a member of the AARP and have the card to prove it, even if it is being used as a bookmark for those wild Saturday nights.

 

 

Where to Retire

June 14, 2018  
Filed under Aging Parents, Feature Stories

And Things to Consider When Deciding

By Melissa Erickson

In addition to being a huge financial decision, retirement is not only a question of when, but where. Careful consideration and weighing all the factors are imperative to avoid a costly mistake. Read more

More than ‘downsizing’

June 14, 2018  
Filed under Feature Stories, Home & Garden

By Melissa Erickson

Explore ‘rightsizing” to find your perfect home.

After the kids move out on their own, many adults consider downsizing to a new home, possibly moving to the city or to a beach town away from it all. Why downsize, though, when the better option is to rightsize? Read more

Keeping Your Relationship Hot After 50!

October 19, 2017  
Filed under Aging Parents, Feature Stories

The day I met the first senior referred to me by a local doctor, she timidly opened the door to my boutique and stage-whispered, “Is anybody in here, dear?” And thus began my work as a clinical sexologist with the most underserved yet largest buying demographic in the United States — baby boomers.

According to AARP, 10,000 baby boomers turn 65 every day in the United States. In my work as a clinical sexologist, I had an excruciating lack of understanding of the sexual needs and often complex issues facing post-menopausal women in our society. I, like so many other pre-menopausal women I work with, incorrectly assumed that most doctors speak candidly to their senior patients regarding what to expect when menopause hits. Imagine my tremendous shock when I heard that fewer than 10 percent of doctors invite a conversation about sexual function either during or after physical exams. What I have learned is that senior women are suffering in ways that younger women need not worry about. Common issues including painful intercourse, atrophy and the lack of moisture that normally plague women once estrogen is scarce are now compounded by experiences with radiation, chemotherapy and medications for overall health, leaving women bewildered and seeking answers. Read more

There’s an App for That

October 19, 2017  
Filed under Feature Stories

Hunting has gone hi-tech. While the thrill of the hunt is a primitive pleasure, advancements in technology allow for better precision and efficiency. Look no further than your own smartphone.Here are some smartphone applications that will enhance any hunt. All are available on both Apple and Android phones. You don’t need all the apps, so consider how you would like to develop your hunt before choosing. Read more

Tips for Preventing Robo Calls

May 15, 2017  
Filed under Feature Stories, News

RobotBy Justin Lavelle

In today’s landscape, it is not uncommon to receive multiple robocalls a week on both your landline and your cell phone, even though you’ve registered your phone numbers with the Do Not Call Registry. They’re offering everything from lower credit card rates to free vacations and medical alert devices. It’s not only annoying, but some of these calls come with a high probability of scam. Robocalls can be scams run by con artists who are trying to trick you out of your money and they simply ignore the law. Here are tips for putting an end to robocalls:

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The Dahlia Bequest

May 15, 2017  
Filed under Feature Stories, Home & Garden

Photo by Fred Kenney

Photo by Fred Kenney

By Fred Kenney

When my father-in-law passed too soon in 2015, he left many legacies.  I experience his faith when I’m with his wife of 60 years and with his daughter, my wife. I hear his passion for a good debate or deep conversation when I’m with his son.  I see his enthusiasm for a great book, love of an adventure and appetite for good food in my kids. And for me, his love of gardening is alive and well when I sink my hands into the dirt each spring to replant his dahlia bulbs.   Read more

Dealing with Dahlias

May 15, 2017  
Filed under Feature Stories, Home & Garden

Dahlia Myrtles FollyWhen & Where to Plant

For best results, dahlias should be planted from mid-April through May for most areas with ground temperature reaching approximately 60 degrees. In general, about the same time you would plant your vegetable garden. Dahlias need a sunny location to thrive. An area that receives at least 8 hours of direct sunlight is best. Less sun equals taller plants and less blooms. Exception for hot climates, they will need morning sunlight, afternoon shade. Read more

The interest in tiny homes is growing

May 15, 2017  
Filed under Feature Stories

Bob Greel, Kate Ziegler and Anderson Page from Tiny House Crafters LLC, sit on the stairway/storage unit in one of the company’s homes. (Contributed photo)

Bob Greel, Kate Ziegler and Anderson Page from Tiny House Crafters LLC, sit on the stairway/storage unit in one of the company’s homes.
(Contributed photo)

By Stephanie Choate

Some Vermonters are looking to something small as the next real estate trend in Vermont—something tiny, in fact. Read more

Volunteering in retirement makes life ‘a joy’

May 15, 2017  
Filed under Feature Stories, Health & Wellness

The United Way’s Foster  Grandparent program places volunteers in preschool, elementary school and middle school classrooms.  (Contributed photo)

The United Way’s Foster
Grandparent program places volunteers in preschool, elementary school and middle school classrooms.
(Contributed photo)

By Stephanie Choate

Retirement provides the luxury of time to spend with family, on new interests or traveling. But sometimes, retirees can find themselves with a little too much time on their hands.

After a career with the City of Burlington, Margaret Ruttledge of Winooski wanted something to do.

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