Opportunity or Despair: How Do You Respond to Change?

One moment, I’m doing F.A.I.R. with business and then the next moment, my two biggest clients lose funding and cannot extend my contract.

These things happen, I tell myself. It’s a normal cycle as a freelancer. Just buckle down, regroup, and reach out. I’m good at what I do and there are plenty of opportunities out there.

That’s what I told myself—repeatedly—as the weeks flew by and no new clients accepted my proposals.

By July, half my client income was missing. The bills were more painful to pay. I reexamined my expenses and cut the fat from a budget that was already anorexic. The fears and doubts seeped into my brain, but I believed in myself.

Besides, what else was there to do? Cuss? Cry? Quit? I’m 53 and seeking employment elsewhere is more challenging.

Then on July 26th, I got the word that a third client had to postpone our contract until further notice.

“As soon as things change, Kris, I’ll get right back to you.”

As those words flowed from his lips, I wondered if it was as painful for him to say them as it was for me to hear them. The call ended on a pleasant note, but I’m certain neither of us were in a pleasant mood.

Winners never quit and quitters never win. –Vince Lombardi

While the desire to cuss and cry intensified, I clung to a thin thread of positivity. I KNEW there was light at the other end. I just couldn’t see it. That night, I stepped into the darkness to consult the Universe:

“It’s time for a change. Where am I going next?”

I failed to recognize that change had already occurred.

I stubbornly pursued the status quo. I had two strong leads that were ready to start in August. The time frame was tight, but I reminded myself that I will be fine.

Then within 20 minutes of each other on July 31, I received emails from both leads. The first said their business direction has changed and they needed time to reevaluate their goals. The second said they wanted to shop for similar services.

Funny how that happened on the eve of August. Except I wasn’t laughing. I cussed. I cried. I considered quitting.

I slept poorly. I had bizarre dreams. Then I woke up exhausted yet with a new realization: change pursued me. It was time for me to act rather than react.

Although my emails and calls were expertly crafted, using optimistic words like ‘rebrand opportunity’ and ‘a new direction’, I could read between my own lines. I was still ashamed. And now I’m asking parents, my partner, and my network for help—at my age!

No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent. –John Donne

Lesson (reluctantly) learned: accept and be grateful! I had several friends and family remind me of what I had already done for them and they were grateful to return the generosity to me.

Additional lessons learned:

Coping mechanisms

  • Remain positive. This is not the end; it’s a new beginning!
  • Seek the opportunities that arise during the storm.
  • Don’t let the storm stall you—lean in and surge forward.
  • Vent your frustrations. A little cussing and crying is acceptable; avoid letting it deprive you of sleep, nourishment, or self-care.
  • Call on your support team for help, love, & assistance.

Next steps

  • Determine what can be condensed or put on hold. As with the client that had to delay our working together, I had to pass on the same sentiments to my virtual assistant. The trickle-down effect touched at least 3 households.

Results

Although the recent events APPEARED dark, I now have renewed enthusiasm and a positive outlook as I continue to evolve. My support group and recent discoveries helped create a better, stronger plan.

Insights

Change changed me. While I fought for the status quo, I emerged with the knowledge that I have the creative power and energy to generate something better for myself.

I willingly accept!

How will you emerge on the other side of change?

Kristen Edens

Tempted to Co-Sign a Student Loan? Offer these Options Instead

I’m always unsure how to respond when my daughter calls or texts me. Sometimes she vents about her work, her boyfriend, or her daughter. Sometimes it’s about the unfairness of life. Often times, it’s about money—and if I can “lend” her a couple hundred. The most recent call was to ask if I would co-sign on a student loan.

Following my shocked silence, she continued to tug my heartstrings about her limited budget, costs of school supplies, clothing, day care, and for additional oomph—“and I’m not scheduled enough hours this week” into her plight. It’s no good to toss in my own anorexic budget because it falls on deaf ears. Besides, I want to help!

However, it just isn’t possible. According to a 2014 study by the United States Government Accountability Office, nearly 40% of federal student loan debt belongs to those over 65, whether their own debt or that of an adult child. Adding to the complications are our own struggles with eliminating debt, lowered income, caregiving for parents or a partner, and perhaps that same adult child living at home.

So how can we avoid additional debt and/or risk while becoming the hero? Consider one or a combination of these ideas:

Buy books: text books are a huge expense for college students and, once tuition is paid, the sticker shock of books and supplies strikes. You can offer to cover these costs and take on the hassle of ordering, renting, shipping, and more. There are several text book rental sites available for some significant discounts.

Pay for a tutor: once your adult child has plunked down hundreds of dollars for a single course, it’s critical she passes! If your student starts to express concerns, suggest a tutor immediately and offer to pay. You don’t want your child to have to pay—or repeat—any class, especially with today’s tuition costs.

Offer to tutor: some coursework is basic (intro to math, English, science, history, etc,) so if your student needs help, offer to tutor. This can be done in person (if local to your child and her school), or virtually. Either option saves time, money, and highlights you as the lifesaver.

Become a student’s helper: offer to care for grandchildren in the evening, clean house, fix meals, handle sick children, walk the dog, and so forth. Offer the stressed student time off and gift your child with a gift certificate for a dinner and movie. Maybe offer a birthday gift certificate to a baseball game, a massage, or something special.

If you live out of town: many of the ideas and services above can be handled long-distance. If you are unable to help locally, search online for mother’s helpers, dog walkers, house keepers, and other needed tasks. These services are available at a reasonable fee and offer a win-win for you, your adult child, and the business owner.

An added bonus: with entrepreneurialism a hot activity for Boomers and GenXers, you can offer similar services to out of state students.

We love and want to help our children through their life journey, but co-signing loans adds an element of debt and risk few want to encounter. Implement these tips to help your adult child avoid deep debt with these ideas and be the lifesaver!

Kristen Edens
Making Midlife Better

Entrepreneurship Studies through ‘The Field of Dreams’

“Until I heard the voice, I’d never done a crazy thing in my whole life.”
– Ray Kinsella, played by Kevin Costner in Field of Dreams

What’s it like to be an entrepreneur? What drives us to transform our lives so drastically that it fills our every moment? Our lives seem to be running pretty normal, maybe even a little stagnant, when we’re driven to do something completely different. Out of character. Maybe even crazy.

For lead character, Ray Kinsella, in the movie Field of Dreams, starring Kevin Costner, it was to build a baseball field in the middle of his corn field.

If you build it, he will come

Is it the desire to build something we can call our own? Is it to solve a problem? To fill an emptiness? We may not know the reason behind it, yet we know it’s something we must do. It keeps us up at night, pulling us into unknown territory. Doubts, fear, and uncertainties battle with the drive to pursue this vision. For Ray, he feared turning into his father, getting stagnant, and becoming non-spontaneous.

What is your reason for choosing entrepreneurship?

And so the journey begins. The first obstacle is overcoming the ridicule from friends and family. Just as Ray encountered, we have our nay-sayers, yet we believe and continue on.

Next comes the financial reality. Ray and Annie knew it would be tough, but they pursued the dream. And depleted their savings account.

Many of us depleted our savings account and our retirement funds. The vision was new, exciting, and worth it, despite the risks.

Now we wait. Seasons pass and doubt takes hold. We struggle to remain optimistic, but the financial burden grips us tighter. Do we continue on or return to the way things were?

Then that first client appears! Just as Ray felt when Shoeless Joe first appeared on the field, we are excited, nervous, and awkward. We make mistakes, but we work through it. We take this opportunity to further study our client and refine our services.

Ease his pain.

As business owners, it is our responsibility to ease the pain of our audience and clients. We are driven to find others who else will benefit from your crazy idea.

Go the distance.

What must you do to find others who need you? What are you doing to reach out to them?

The pieces are starting to fitting into place. We’re excited. We’re motivated. It feels like heaven, but there are still obstacles and we seek guidance from those we know and trust.

“What do we do next?” asks Ray.

“How the hell do I know?” replies Terence.

Yet the discoveries continue and they nudge us along despite the roadblocks. We soon understand that it’s more than just what our clients need; it touches on an internal need that we can’t yet quite define.

“It would kill some men to get that close to a dream and not touch it.”

Now we’re faced with the toughest decision of all: do we quit or continue? We’re frustrated. Tired. Near desperate. The uncertainties return.

“I’ve done everything I was asked and never asked…what’s in it for me?”

Then we understand. We discover the reason the journey began: the need to give back. The need to right a wrong. Solving a problem. The puzzle is solved and our soul is whole.

“It was you.”

We realize the pursuit made us better, solved our pain, and in the meantime, solved the needs of others. We are transformed.

“Is there a heaven?”
“Oh yea. It’s a place where dreams come true.”

We reach that heaven when we go after our dream—no matter how crazy.

If you build it, they will come has become a clichéd mantra on how not to build a business, particularly a website. However, dig deeper into the meaning of Field of Dreams, and you’ll understand it defines what it takes to find our purpose. It’s a story of the persistence and dedication needed to build a business.

What does your field of dreams look like? Where are you in the process of transforming?

Kristen

Photographs & Memories: Reviving Family History

“A photograph taken today is a lifetime of yesterdays preserved for all the tomorrows.” – Author Unknown

Life moves fast and we capture it as we can. Weddings. New baby. Kindergarten. Graduation. Family reunions. For many generations, the family photo album or shoebox was the way to collect these memories. Now the trend is for selfies and cell phone photos.

How many photo albums or shoe boxes do you have? I have many! As the daughter of a genealogist, I was trained to document and date every picture. As a story teller, I told each picture’s story through a series of clever captions. (I never pursued ‘scrapbooking’, however, because that was just too time consuming. Does scrapbooking even exist anymore?)

How often do you revisit your photographic treasures?

It wasn’t until illness hit my previous father-in-law (I don’t like the prefix ‘ex’) that my daughter was overcome with grief. He was recently diagnosed with bone cancer following a series of TIAs and recent falls. Although her relationship with her father is strained, she wanted to remember. She wanted to smile. She wanted to release the sorrow. The solution: digging out the family photo albums.

Did pulling out the photo albums help?

YES!

We laughed. We cried. We laughed even more. We recalled favorite stories. We put together different viewpoints from the same event and scraped together vague memories from almost-forgotten family stories.

It was refreshing. It was cleansing.

And I highly recommend it!

Do you want a similar experience? Create your own opportunity with these suggestions.

Gather family around. Typically, a holiday or event such as a wedding brings the generations together, but why wait? If family is geographically close, create your own event. Invite them to bring their photo albums and their brain. It doesn’t matter if the brain is young or old; everyone will have something to contribute. If the family is scattered geographically, there are plenty of online conferencing and screen sharing options that conquer the distance. Use them!

Bring a box of tissues. You’ll need them for tears of sorrow as well as tears of mirth. As my daughter and I discovered, there were more mirthful tears.

Bring your cameras. With everything digital, the process is faster and easier. If you are gathering digitally, screen shots will suffice. The younger generations can conquer the technology easily.

Record the stories. In-person or online, document the stories. Keep the memories alive. Tie them in with the photos.

Get ready! You’ll make new discoveries about yourself and your family. Something that puzzled you for years will now make sense. Those things that were shameful or embarrassing ‘back then’ can now air out. It will be liberating and relieving at the same time, plus will clarify the whys and the reasons of the time.

Forgiveness will be easier. With discoveries and clearing the air, strained relationships may have a chance to recover. Family ties that were frayed can heal and become strong again.

Following our mother-daughter walk down memory lane, my daughter thanked me with a swipe at her eyes. “This is the best gift ever. I needed this.” She confessed that she has nothing of her daughter’s early life to share and photos on Facebook are soon lost forever. She wished she took the time to create photo albums.

My advice to her: it’s never too late.

Advice for the rest of us: rally the gang around and get ready for discovery.

Kristen

Why Do Our Elders Hold onto Paper?

“One Man’s Trash is another Man’s Treasure.” – English Proverb

Last month, I spent a busy weekend helping my mother clean out her garage. Of the ‘treasures’ we sorted through, there were several boxes labeled ‘important papers’. Dipping into these boxes revealed something amazing: nearly 6 decades of bank statements, check registers, cancelled checks, and receipts.

While my mother was reluctant to recycle, donate, or pitch physical items, she refused to relinquish her ‘important papers’ to the same fate. While I grumbled about some of the forgotten documents (great-grandmother Rebecca’s laundry clients), Mom insisted she needed to go through things in her own time. I grumbled, but agreed.

Yesterday she called with good news, “Krissy, honey, I just found our tax returns from 1959!” That was the year she and dad married. She also found every tax record since.

While we discussed the reason for keeping these records, she admits that keeping them for so long was not necessary, but at the time, it’s what she and dad thought was expected of good, hard-working citizens.

Secondly, my mother is a genealogist. All of this represented family history and carried emotional ties to the past. Although saved, forgotten, and dragged through 10 moves, she recently shredded most of it…without my input or influence.

If you find yourself helping a parent or other elderly relative with a paper hoard, here are suggestions to manage the heap.

  1. Be patient. Discuss, reminisce, and understand the significance of the papers. My father grew up poor so it was critical to keep track of every penny.
  2. The papers represent proof. Tax returns provide proof of employment. Receipts provide proof that a young couple could afford a new car. Because of that value, a 50 year old car receipt has great significance.
  3. Realize it is more than numbers for our elders; it is history unique to their era. We do not understand how life was back then. The best we can do is understand their motivation. While they may not understand our lifestyle and beliefs, we do want them to respect ours and offer them the same courtesy.

When faced with the need to thin the mountains of paper memories, ask your elder these questions:

  • Why is this important to you?
  • Why do you want to hold on to this? (Avoid mentioning that it has been buried in the basement for 40 years; it won’t matter).
  • Who would be interested in these items?

Following these exercises, the older adult may gain a little more perspective and can make thinning decisions more wisely. If the collector still refuses to reduce or eliminate the stash, avoid the argument. Instead, make an attempt to organize. It’s easy enough to toss when they pass on.

Enjoy the history lesson and let it pass. Someday we will have the same conversation with our children or grandchildren!

Kristen

 

A Cry for Help: Requesting Caregiving Support

“All that I need
Is to cry for help
Somebody please hear me
Cry for help
All I can do
Is cry for help”

–A Cry for Help, song & lyrics by Rick Astley

The year was 2012: my partner was 53 when health issues began creeping up on him. It first started with an diabetic ulcer, which he chose to ignore until it became almost too late.

The second emergency progressed until he could barely walk. It took me over 6 months to get him to the hospital with the threat, “Either you go NOW, or I’m moving out! I’m not going to watch you die!” December 29, 2014 he was admitted to the hospital. The result: emergency surgery to repair a ruptured disc. His prognosis wasn’t good: paralysis or death. Again, he waited until the last minute to take action.

During that time, my partner and I often discussed his health, his progress (or lack thereof), my concern for his well-being and my ability to assist. Choices needed to be made. His decision was to do what he could with the time and finances he had. With an intense hatred for the health insurance industry, his choice was to wait until catastrophic insurance kicked in to take care of medical needs. Tough love kicked in and I mentioned that I couldn’t build a business and care for someone who couldn’t care for himself.

Also during this time, I consulted with friends and family on how to help. Against my partner’s wishes, I informed family members of health updates, medical procedures, medication compliancy, and, most importantly, my need for help!

While I received verbal support and appreciation for all I was doing, there was no offer for help—either financial or physical. I tried to get everyone to rally together to let him know we love him and want to help, but I couldn’t get anyone to rally.

By March 2016, he was in so much pain and couldn’t work anymore. He was relying on me more and more and had failed to mention that he was behind in rent.

My panic skyrocketed!

It was time for serious intervention so I called his closest friends and siblings. In tears. Desperate for help. Most were unable to help, but offered their sympathy and understanding despite me saying I had to leave him. I received some unexpected financial support, which helped with the immediate crisis. Still, I made a tough decision as to my own well-being and business, which were seriously suffering.

Then I called his adult children, who up until this point were grateful for my involvement in his life, even though they weren’t too fond of me. That’s when all hell broke loose:

“I thought you loved Dad! Now you’re leaving him?”

“What kind of a person are you for abandoning him? You are a wretched, selfish person!”

Of course, these comments were filled with much more insulting words and phrases.

I was devastated. I questioned my worthiness, my abilities, my future. And I wasn’t even married to him.

“Why must we hide emotions?
Why can’t we ever break down and cry?”

–Rick Astley, A Cry for Help

The result: I told him of my conversation with his friends, siblings, and children. I told him I was moving out, of which he wasn’t pleased, but he understood. He took action to apply for financial programs and disability services. He purchased tools to assist with daily living. He maintained regular doctor checkups and is now consistently keeping up with his medications. I am eating, sleeping, feeling better, and back to focusing on my business. We are still ‘a couple’, but living under different roofs.

Before you find yourself in a similar black hole, here’s the advice my partner and I discussed on how others can cope:

Keep family informed. The caregiving recipient may insist others don’t need to know everything, but it’s important they know what’s happening, the progress, any complications, and updates. This will prevent accusations of, “Why didn’t you tell me that sooner?”

Seeking help. It doesn’t need to be around the clock, but visits during hospital stays, important work meetings, or offering the caregiver a weekend getaway is a must for the caregiver’s wellbeing.

Put feelings aside. You may not like a family member or vice versa, but constant animosity only intensifies the situation.

Avoid criticizing the caregiver’s attempts to help or request for help. If you disagree with a method, discuss it with those involved. Name-calling and back-stabbing build a wall that helps no one.

Ask the caregiver what they need. Time, support, and finances are the biggest caregiver’s needs, but as mentioned above, sometimes all that’s needed is time away. Or a shoulder to cry on.

Ask the caregiving recipient what they need. The recipient may have certain wishes too. Get clear on whether or not that person seeks or wants assistance and find a compromise to accommodate both. This is TOUGH!

Seek out resources. With family caregiving on the rise, more resources are becoming available to help. You can help the family caregiver by doing the research for him/her!

Acceptance. Be aware that there is only so much you can do as a caregiver. Do what you can but know that you can’t force people to participate, comply, or help.

As with all things in a relationship, communication is the key to success. For caregiving to be a success, open the discussion with family before the need becomes a reality.

Kristen

A Different Family Reunion: Moving Past Heartache and Disagreement

It’s too late when we die
To admit we don’t see eye to eye
–‘The Living Years’, song & lyrics by Mike & the Mechanics

Is there anything that gets you thinking about your own life more than a funeral? Last week I attended a friend’s funeral and compared the planning lessons learned from my father’s funeral.

While planning is a top priority to reduce stress and allow time for grieving, another overlooked necessity is overcoming family discord.

Every family has issues. Every family has someone that has fallen out of favor or holds a grudge against someone else, for whatever reason. At the time of the grudge-inducing event, emotions are high, tempers are short, and pride is set in stone. While peace is attempted, it often fails and carries on for years, even decades.

At my father’s funeral, I had an opportunity to repair my relationship with my brother Bill, after 40 years of silence. All I know is that when I was 13, I stuck my tongue at him and I haven’t been forgiven. At the funeral I hugged him, told him I missed him, and promised to call when he got home again. I felt optimistic that the years had melted the pain and we could return to being brother and sister. Unfortunately, it wasn’t meant to be. He never answered my calls. He eventually sent me a message to quit bothering him because he wasn’t interested in talking to me anymore.

As we get older, we’re often driven to re-examine our relationships.

  • Do we miss someone?
  • Do we need to apologize to someone?
  • Do we need to forgive?
  • Are the issues that initiated the anger still important?
  • Do the years melt the discord away?

My story is no different from yours or anyone else. We try. We keep on trying. We don’t give up. Maybe a few more years is needed.

I wasn’t there that morning
When my father passed away
I didn’t get to tell him
All the things I had to say…
I just wish I could have told him in the living years
–‘The Living Years’, Mike & the Mechanics

Instead of waiting and wondering, start now. Attempt to make peace while everyone is still living. If you keep trying, it’s better than the regrets of, “I wish I would have apologized before he died.”

What first step can you take?

Kristen

Funeral Planning: Sooner Rather than Later

A hard reality of getting older means we must face our mortality and that of our loved ones. November 2015 my father died and this week, my partner’s mother died. Both parents had been suffering from various illnesses and deterioration. While our families knew the end was coming, one family had planned far in advance and one had not. It’s a difficult time made tougher by lack of planning.

The unplanned family:

  • My father’s death occurred 8pm on a Monday evening. The hospice team contacted a funeral home recommended by my mother’s church since she had none pre-arranged. When asked why she didn’t arrange things ahead of time, she said, “I didn’t want to admit your father was dying. It was too hard to take.”
  • I contacted family members secretly since mom was not ready to talk.
  • Within minutes, calls of condolences began to arrive along with the funeral home requesting information.
  • My mother was too distraught and ‘needed time’ to process what had just happened. Prepping was deferred to Tuesday morning.
  • In the meantime, friends & family members were calling me from across the country needing details from the deceased’s last minutes to funeral arrangements. I became overwhelmed and deferred family calls to my uncle. Thank goodness for the firestorm of social media!
  • My father’s sister took charge on finding hotel arrangements for out of town visitors early Tuesday.
  • Very little sleep and eating occurred between Monday evening and Saturday morning, the time of the funeral. My uncle arrived a few days in advance to console my mother and assist. I got a decent meal midday Thursday.
  • Emotions slowed the planning process. The pastor and funeral director asked my mother questions about favorite music, favorite passages, themes, and more. Each question stirred memories and turned on the waterworks for my mother, further delaying the process.
  • My mother needed to transfer funds to cover funeral costs, with a resulting time delay that slowed the process and increased her stress.
  • My brother arrived Friday and began barking orders after things were already settled. Tension escalated as he found fault with details he felt he should have been consulted on.
  • The day of the funeral arrived and was a special, although emotional event. I slept 12 hours that night.

Does that give you the heebies? If you prefer a stress-free approach to funeral planning, address the topic now—for yourself as well as family members. Here are the benefits to pre-planning, as experienced by my partner’s family:

  • The parent decided the details of his/her funeral in advance, from clothing to be worn to the music chosen for the event. Services were paid in full at the time of planning.
  • Grieving family members are given time to grieve. Emotions were still high, but the pre-planning reduced the stress.
  • Contact people and phone trees were in place. A pre-designated family representative made the call that started the process. It also helped the funeral director and related services to have a primary contact.
  • Surviving family members managed friends, family, and minute details without an overload of stress. The family representative delegated tasks.
  • The day of the funeral arrived and was a special, although emotional event.

Attending any funeral gives us a hard reality check which has us considering our own arrangements. Start the process now with these additional tips:

  • Make sure everyone knows what you want.
  • Listen to family’s complaints but stick to your preferences.
  • Write your obituary. Update as needed.
  • Prepayment eliminates a rush for funds.
  • Update styles and preferences every 3 to 5 years.

End of life isn’t easy but the more you plan ahead, the more you are assured your last wishes are honored and the process is less stressful for our loved ones.

Kristen

Helping a Parent Downsize: Simplify the Process to Maintain Sanity

“The best things in life aren’t things.” – Art Buchwald

Downsizing is one of those life events you hear everyone else talking about, but when it suddenly enters your family circle, it often comes as a shock.

December 2009, my 72 year old father fell, suffering severe traumatic brain injury and paralysis. My mother, 70, was suddenly alone in a 3-level home, with 8 large rooms, 3 bathrooms, and 2 acres of land to care for. It became overwhelming in a matter of weeks which initiated phase one of her downsizing.

My family is among the growing population of those engaged in downsizing activity, whether due to health, financial, or other reasons. Whatever the situation, it’s an emotional, energy-draining time for all involved. If you are helping a parent downsize, here are several tips to make the process easier.

Start with goals

It’s a huge undertaking to weed out years of accumulating all those beloved things. Establish a plan before you begin.

  • How much time do you need?
  • Who is available to help?
  • Who can contribute labor, resources, or finances?
  • What services will you need to help?
  • Where will your parent go once downsizing is complete?

Family assistance

Family members are spread across the country (and further) and may not be readily available to help. Involve everyone in the planning process and request their feedback. When can each one visit? How much is everyone willing to contribute—physically and financially?

Before

Who gets what?

Before you donate, recycle, or throw away anything, begin with an inventory review. Every family has something of sentimental or monetary value and it is best to establish who wants what in advance to reduce or eliminate family friction. Once treasures have been claimed, move across the family tree. There may be a college student, a newlywed couple, a divorcee, or new parents that may need the items your parent is eliminating.

Hire experts

House cleaning crews, yard care providers, and handymen are experts that can help with various tasks. My mother hired a cleaning lady who helped pack boxes for donation

Find volunteer help

Community, church, or scouting groups may offer volunteers to pack or haul donated items. Make sure they are reputable service providers to avoid theft or other problems.

After

Recycle, donate, and throw away

Recycling: many cities and states offer a wide range of recycling services. Earth Day events (occurring in April) offer opportunities to recycle and donate a vast assortment of items. Search your area to find local recycling resources.

Donation Centers: schools, churches, homeless shelters, animal shelters, nursing homes, non-profit organizations, and civic organizations have an ongoing need for donated items. Contact these for their latest requests. My mother donated her baby grand piano to a local nursing home. The nursing home was ecstatic to receive such a gift and Mom was thrilled to find a happy home for the piano.

General Advice to help parents downsize:

  • Gentle, steady pressure is best. Getting angry or demanding will cause harm, create tension, and slow progress.
  • Work within a parent’s physical ability: the process is emotionally & physically draining. Help set goals and offer to help as often as possible.
  • Let parents make as many decisions as possible. They’re already emotionally involved; giving them the lead will lessen the heartache.
  • Get out of the acquisition phase and into the thinning phase sooner rather than later. Discuss with parents will acquire their stuff or what they would like done with it once they are no longer around. This is a good exercise for all of us.

Downsizing a household will stir up a lot of emotions for everyone involved, but the sooner you discuss the process and plan, the easier it will be when it occurs.

Are you or a parent downsizing? What were your experiences? Do you have suggestions to add?

Kristen

Retirement: A New Vision for 50+ Entrepreneurs

Growing old isn’t for sissies. –Bette Davis

It was a short-lived dream: graduate high school & college, find a corporate job, work for 30 or more years and then retire. From there, kick back on a sunny beach or a mountain vista and visit the grandchildren on their birthdays.

My parents groomed me for this version of retirement and I pursued it with intense determination. However, the economy, reality, and change forced everyone to rethink ‘the ideal’ vision. Dreams of beaches and mountain tops fizzled as many of us were tossed into survival mode. What options were available at that time?

  • More education? Reality—too expensive.
  • Oddball jobs? Reality—not enough to cover bills, plus FIERCE competition.
  • Entrepreneurship? Reality—risky, but a possibility.

I chose the latter, as did many of my peers. According to the 1997 Kauffman Index of Entrepreneurship, roughly 15 percent of new entrepreneurs ranged between 55 to 64 years old. That figure grew to 24 percent in Kauffman’s 2016 Index.

This time period also saw a surge in caring for elderly parents while our adult children moved back home. Many of us survived by cashing in some or all of our retirement funds.

Results:

  • We’re embarking on new career paths of our own making. According to the Intuit 2020 Report: Twenty Trends That Will Shape the Next Decade, 46 percent of the work force will be freelancers by 2020.
  • Family members are moving in. Another report by Housing Perspectives states that multigenerational living in the US will increase by 46 percent over the next 20 years.
  • We’re recouping the retirement funds sacrificed for survival. Although finances are a concern, we’re happier, less stressed, and have more freedom as we build our own business opportunities.
  • We’re establishing a new vision for retirement: We’re encouraging entrepreneurship for our children and grandchildren.
  • Innovation programs and services are growing across the country to assist and encourage entrepreneurship and economic development.

It’s been a tough decade, but we’ve emerged with new plans, goals, and visions. What are you doing to redefine your retirement?

Kristen