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Veterans’ Day

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Exactly 101 years ago today at the eleventh minute of the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month in 1918 the War to End All Wars was over. 

That war cost around 20 million deaths and 21 million wounded.  Figures so devastating at that time, that many thought that man could not possibly engage in another such global catastrophe.  Such a thing was inconceivable.

We know that just one generation later, a mere twenty years, war again came on a global scale and the estimates of the fatalities in that conflict range from a low of 50 million to a high of 80 million. 

For us here today, our fathers and grandfathers made up the Greatest Generation. They survived the depression and left their homes and fought that horribly costly war. These men and women who fought the battles, produced the materiel that were used, and supported the troops from home, came back and got on with their lives and quietly set about building the future we now enjoy. 

What do the veterans of those wars have in common?

Veterans then and now feel strongly about the values they and their comrades fought and died for.  They feel strongly about the comrades they fought beside.  By and large they are quiet about the details of their service, because if you haven’t been there, there is no sense sharing the details or trying to explain to those who haven’t. 

Veterans know that there is tragedy, humor, and joy in war as well as boredom and terror.  They know that there is personal change and growth that is unfathomable and unavailable in any other setting or experience. They know that there is no other place that you can get this and no other price quite as high for the education. 

Veterans know that in this country they stand on the shoulders of the giants that came before us at Valley Forge, at the battle between the Serapis and the Bon Homme Richard. Giants that fought at the Alamo, at Gettysburg, at San Juan Hill, at Belleau Wood, at Pearl Harbor, at Omaha Beach, at Guadalcanal, at Pusan, at Khe Sanh, at Basra, at Kanduhar and at too many more big and small.  Veterans know the debt they owe to those who came before them; to each one who served in the trenches and equally to each one who supported them no matter how or where.

Veterans know that whether you volunteered for service, served under protest, or chose to support from home, each role was important and you found brothers you never knew.

Veterans know that courage is found in the most unlikely of folks and there is no way of knowing who will stand and who will not, until the guns fire and courage is required.

Veterans know that there is a debt to those who prepared us from childhood, who bravely sent us off to the unknown fates that awaited us, to those who trained us, and to those who welcomed us home and bound the physical and mental wounds and held us as we put war behind us. 

Veterans know that our comrades are a cross section of the good, the bad, and the ugly, but that while we might not be friends at times, there is an unbreakable bond that we share regardless of personalities. We also know that that bond exists for fellow warriors on the generation that came before us and that followed us.

Veterans who served and those who supported them, thank you, and I salute you with a grateful heart.

Your story – Dennis

I turned 72 this year, so I qualify for the demographic of Baby Boomer and I successfully survived the volatile 60s and 70s. Like most of you, during my college days and onto my graduate studies I watched seemingly endless campus protests and sometimes violent reaction of demonstrators and police.

Surviving all that, relatively in tack, I travelled as far as Australia and had several career changes including teaching, commercial real estate, working with delinquent youths and a couple medically related positions. Now I live in a small mountain community in western North Carolina and care take some vacation homes during the winter months when the owners are back in their warmer climes.

I am close with my two brothers, although many miles separate us. I am happily married to my second wife and have been for 35 years. Our grandchildren live on the west coast so we don’t get to see them in person, but we stay in touch electronically.

When I was employed full time, I never considered retirement. I thought that I would always be busy doing something, maybe even volunteering at a school or hospital. Now that my health and energy are winding down, I suppose that I’ll turn my business over to someone who wants to have a good start and probably look to those volunteer opportunities. I may also attend some classes at the nearby university.

I always thought that somehow I would retire with enough financial resources to be able to support us, but the recession of 2008 wiped out our savings and the position I had at that time. That made me look into the opportunities in the community in which we lived. Thus starting my caretaking service. Even before the recession, I thought that I was well received by my staff and coworkers and never felt resented because of my age or my inability to navigate the electronic and informational age as well as the most naïve ten year old.

Share your story with us: https://www.thesilverlife.com/to-retire-or-not-to-retire/

Your story – George

I am well past the official retirement age with absolutely no intention to retire. I attended a public (i.e. private!) boarding school in the UK and graduated from London University. I have a delightful younger wife of long standing.

I was born in the UK where I lived for the first 25 years or so before moving to mainland Europe which, at that time, was often rather quaintly referred to as ‘The Continent’. I became a Chartered Surveyor, an equally strange way to describe a real estate specialist who is most definitely not a broker although I did spend a very enjoyable few years as a real estate developer.

My real estate career has taken me to many continents and countries. I greatly enjoy my work which invariably leads to long days and many interesting times.
My father retired at about 60 years of age and hated it. Over his shaving mirror he had pinned the motto, “The essence of hell is a perpetual holiday”. He soon rejoined the workforce and became a nonagenarian with full physical and mental faculties.

Perhaps taking my cue from my father I vowed never to retire. I have always considered retirement to represent several quick steps towards the final exit. Having said that, I have never planned for retirement and I have never had time for any hobbies or activities outside my professional life apart from continuing professional development which, these days, is an absolute requirement.

I have barely encountered any ageism as I continue to work and that which I have encountered may have been more perceived than actual. I probably think of myself as being around 50 years old and I try to be receptive to new ideas and to change. Thanks to having started to use IT about 25 years ago I am reasonably proficient in the considerable advantages it offers in the 21st century work environment.

My advice to potential retirees is to think long and hard. I have known many people who have retired into an early grave. Keep going, and maintain exposure to younger people – that was another of my father’s maxims!

Share your story with us: https://www.thesilverlife.com/to-retire-or-not-to-retire/

Fad diets: Quick-fix or counter-productive?

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Fad diets are generally defined as strict, kilojoule-controlled food plans that promise weight loss in the short term.

In most cases they will deliver, based on the principle that if energy input (food) is less than energy output (metabolic requirements and exercise) the body will breakdown its stores to provide energy for its metabolic requirements. Sounds straightforward, but there are many other mitigating factors to consider and short term gains can often be not only unsustainable, but detrimental in the long term.

Weight loss v fat loss: Rather than a question of weight loss, the discussion should be around fat loss. A well-muscled athlete can weigh the same as a sedentary couch potato but each has a different body composition. It is not muscle tissue that causes strain on joints, or increases the risk of type II diabetes and heart disease. It is fat, and in particular visceral fat, that gradually builds up over years, in and around our organs and blood vessels, that leads to chronic disease and obesity.

The Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) is a key factor in reducing body fat. The BMR is a figure that represents the number of kilojoules the body needs per hour, at rest. This is the amount of energy required to maintain all the body’s vital functions such as body temperature, blood circulation, breathing, brain function etc. The BMR is influenced greatly by one’s lean mass as muscle tissue consumes much more energy than fat tissue. Nourishing one’s muscle tissue through healthful food and exercise will naturally increase the BMR and promote fat loss. Fad diets that deprive the body of necessary kilojoules cause the body to conserve its energy stores and limit energy expenditure. The BMR is down-regulated, resulting in reduced body temperature, heartrate and respiratory rate as well as reduced capacity to burn body fat.

The question of protein: Proteins play a critical role in virtually all biological processes in the body. They are essential for the digestion of food, production of hormones and immune antibodies, as well as the building and repair of tissue. They provide structure to bones, muscles, skin, hair and nails, and they help to balance the pH of the blood and other body fluids. If a strict fad diet does not provide adequate protein in food, the body cannot make extra proteins from its fat stores. Most fats do not contain nitrogen (the defining element in amino acids; the building blocks of protein) so the body’s only option is to break down muscle tissue to supply the necessary amino acids. This results in weight loss per se, but has a detrimental effect on the muscle/fat ratio in the body.

The influence of hormones: Recent studies have shown that kilojoule restriction, in itself, is stressful to the body and causes an increase in the total output of the stress hormone, cortisol, from the adrenal glands. Cortisol simulates the breakdown of stored glycogen to glucose, to provide the body with sufficient energy to face the perceived “stress”. Elevated glucose, in turn, stimulates the secretion of another hormone, insulin, a well-known fat-storage promoter. Because of this cycle, it is argued that fad diets may actually have a counter-productive effect in terms of fat loss.

Unfortunately, we consumers are largely to blame for the continued popularity of fad diets, as we demand quick-fixes and immediate results. A more sustainable approach to fat loss is one where foods with low nutritional value such as packaged, processed and fast foods are removed and replaced with fresh whole fruit, vegetables and grains, and where meat products are treated as a condiment, rather than the centrepiece of a meal. Combined with sensible portion control and exercise, the body will gradually and naturally transform to a leaner, healthier state.

Your story – Louise

am female and was born in 1963. I am widowed and have two adult children, one of whom is employed and lives near me and one is a student a 40-minute plane ride away.

My kids are mostly independent and I love spending time with them and seeing them establish themselves as adults in our society. I’m immensely proud of their achievements and continue to marvel at their zest for life.

As far as retirement is concerned, how do you retire from your hobby? I have always had a love of anything to do with computers and am self-taught in most things IT after high school in the Netherlands, after which I started work at the bottom rung of the ladder as a typist for a well-known multinational. Being a large company with large budgets, the computer age started shortly after my employment and so I was able to witness the birth of computers in the workplace and consequently have the opportunity to further my career with them.

I moved to Australia in 1987, worked in secretarial jobs until moving to Tasmania in 1993. Having privately dappled in what was then called “Desktop Design” (graphic design) in Sydney, I started my own business in web design in 1999 after speaking to an IT friend who told me this Microsoft Frontpage thing was easy and I’d have no trouble working it out.

I don’t think I wish or that I even could, fully retire. As my personal circumstances have changed considerably over the last 2-3 years, I am now re-evaluating what I want to do with the rest of my life. Travel will be a big part of this, but so will continuing to work part-time in some form.

My typical working day starts at around 9 am till 2-3 pm when my dog gets all my attention. I work from home and vary my working hours according to my social schedule, which is not something I want to give up. My work allows me to be flexible whilst still enjoying friends, family, social outings, exercise, my dog, and travel. My job does require continued self-training in order to stay up-to-date with new techniques, rules and algorithms and all things internet.

I’m not sure ageism is a consideration in my work – I think some clients may be surprised at my (advanced!) age when we meet personally. Most of my client contact however is via email/phone.

I’d love to pursue my hobbies more (Yes – this is my work!) – singing in a choir, socialising with friends, amassing a considerable Tasmanian shell collection which I would like to do something with one day and more travel.

On a recent visit to Hawaii, I purchased a ukulele and it is my goal to learn to play this beyond the C, Am, F and G7 chords!

I embrace change and am happy to go with the flow. Keeping an open mind and continuing to grow and learn is something I will never stop doing as long as my health allows it.

Share your story with us: https://www.thesilverlife.com/to-retire-or-not-to-retire/

Why sleep is vital to mental wellness

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Sleep is such an integral part of life that most of us don’t give it a second thought.

That is until you’re not getting enough of it. An occasional poor night’s sleep isn’t unusual, but when chronic sleep deprivation enters the picture, your mental wellness can take a nosedive.

If you imagine your health as a house, sleep would be the foundation that supports everything about the basic structure. How you think, feel, and respond are all heavily influenced and dependent on the quality and length of your sleep cycle.

During sleep, the body doesn’t shut off. The brain’s cleansing mechanism, called the glymphatic system, has a 90 percent increase in activity during the sleep cycle. Brain cells shrink so that spinal fluid can be flushed through the interstitial spaces throughout the brain. This process removes waste that’s created throughout the day. Lack of sleep prevents this process from taking place, leaving your communication pathways clogged.

Sleep also affects emotional regulation. The two major players in your emotional processing and stability change how they function during sleep deprivation. The amygdala, where emotions are processed, becomes hypersensitive and over reactive to negative experiences.

Normally, these emotional responses are tempered by the prefrontal cortex, the brain’s logic center. But, without sleep, this part of the brain essentially goes dormant and emotions fluctuate sporadically. The increased irritability, aggression, and anxiety associated with sleep deprivation are all linked to these changes in the brain.

Your mental wellness can be further damaged by the physical effects of sleep loss. Inadequate sleep causes the body to release extra hunger hormone while dropping levels of satiety hormones. The increase in hunger isn’t tempered by a full feeling until well after you’ve overeaten.

Food cravings change too. The brain’s reward center gets overstimulated by high fat, sugary foods. Saying no to those cookies, candies, and chips gets infinitely harder when you’re tired. For that reason, obesity, diabetes, and high blood pressure are often connected with poor sleep. Your self-esteem, confidence, and health all affect your mental wellness and lack of sleep can certainly cut into how you feel about yourself.

That may sound like a lot of bad news, but the length and quality of your sleep cycle are conditioned to respond to your habits and behavior patterns. Lifestyle changes both big and small can boost your mental wellness.

Healthy sleep habits are built one day at a time, and they begin the minute you open your eyes. A consistent sleep/wake schedule is essential to better sleep. Your circadian rhythms, a series of biological and physiological processes that control patterns of behavior, rely on the Earth’s day/night light cycle to regulate the release of sleep hormones. But, they also respond to your behavioral patterns.

If you go to bed at 9 pm every night, the brain automatically adjusts the release of sleep hormones to follow your schedule. If you wake up at 6 am every morning, your body adjusts the beginning of the wake cycle accordingly. The more consistent you are, the better your body adjusts and responds to the hormonal changes that control your sleep cycle.

Your body also needs to be able to fully relax to fall and stay asleep, and the conditions in your bedroom can make or break your comfort. Old, saggy mattresses are a common culprit of nighttime discomfort. However, even a new mattress can cause problems if it doesn’t support your preferred sleep position and weight.

The bedroom should also be completely dark to prevent any light, both natural or artificial, from suppressing sleep hormones. Turn down the thermostat to a cool 60 to 68 degrees, and block out as much sound as possible. If you live on a noisy street, you may need to invest in a white noise machine or download a white noise app.

You may have individual comfort needs that need to be considered too. Conditions like anxiety, PTSD, and ADHD may benefit from a weighted blanket while someone with scoliosis or arthritis may benefit from a memory foam mattress topper. The key is to customize comfort to your unique needs.

You can also use a regular bedtime routine to further enhance the quality of your sleep. Bedtime routines help you transition from awake and alert to calm and relaxed. For those struggling with stress or anxiety, that transition time can shorten the amount of time it takes to fall asleep. Activities can include anything that relaxes your mind and/or body like a warm bath, reading a book, or listening to quiet music. The routine will be most effective if you start it at the same time each day and perform the activities in the same order.

Sleep is a foundational part of your mental health and wellness. By making it a priority, you’re putting your health first. With time, new habits will make sure that good sleep is a normal part of your life. A strong health foundation lets you build an active lifestyle with mental and physical energy to accomplish all of your goals.

A league of their own

There was a wonderful movie made in 1992 called, “A League of Their Own” which told the story about the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League.

This wonderful movie got me to thinking about when I saw the fist flying fight on prime-time news, which took place among parents while watching their little kids play baseball.

What a show and what an example our “adult” parents are setting for their kids. Parents screaming at the umpires, screaming at their kids, yelling at other parents and generally just being obnoxious asses while the little kids on the playing field are supposed to be having a good time, playing outside and enjoying, well, just being kids.

The American past-time has now turned into a bar throw down where parents come to a game eager to challenge the umpire, the coach and even their own kids.

I came up with an idea to end this charade of baseball for the betterment of our kids, teaching sportsmanship and fair play.

Here it is… a league of their own. First, we ban parents from watching their kids play baseball or really any sport. Then we form a league just for parents with coaches, umpires, and any riff raff that shows up at the given time. The rules are simple: just play ball in a caged off ball field… lined by bleachers, but here is the kicker: The crowd that is flown in to sit in the bleachers, at the expense of the parents, will be the audiences that watched live, the Jerry Springer Show. These paid onlookers can bring beer to the park; they can throw stuff at the players and umps, and just act as stupid as they do on TV. When the game is over, they can boo both teams and rush down onto the field and just enjoy a real bar room brouhaha.

Now mind you there is one more rule… the entire game and all the “trimmings” must be taped and then viewed by the local PTA, and each parent with their children. We can monetize the event by making it a “pay for view” television special.

Is my analysis and solution, ludicrous? When you see the parents fighting on national television kicking and punching, I really don’t think so. This is where we have come… Sports that make the young kids nervous that their parent is watching and giving them stomach aches and migraines just before they take the field.

To the parents – this applies to you…. Have you no shame?

Take it for what it is…. It’s just how I see it.

When Spiderman and Captain Marvel couldn’t help

Stan Lee, a legend as one of the creators of Marvel Comics and some of its greatest superheroes, died almost a year ago, but where were these titans of the galaxy when he needed them?

In news headlines a few weeks back, we now find out that Lee was a victim of elder abuse by a business manager who has just been indicted. How is this possible? Stan Lee, although 95 when he died, was not some “nobody” who folded into anonymous retirement without children or friends, where he was never missed.

He was still going to events and galas up until a year before his death. Do we live in a time where old age simply means anonymity, where we just disappear? How come no one checks to see if a friend or associate is OK, comes to the door, and says hello or just checks in?

We live in a fast-paced world where we do not do the things we used to do…simply see if someone is OK. Believe it or not, “mailmen”…that’s what we used to call them, would check on a home if there seemed to be an issue with mail delivery.

Elder abuse is a major problem with the change in demographics. Families live apart and there is no one to check to see if an aging parent is OK. Caregivers are not “vetted” carefully, and then when you find one, we never check up and follow through to see what’s going on. Finances, credit cards, checking accounts…. these are the tools of the perps, and then there is an embarrassment.

Seniors, or old people as the millennials see us, are embarrassed to find some help, or appear to need help…. that embarrassment leads to trouble with a capital T. When we feel embarrassed about our age, or what we can’t do anymore, the door is open to the perp who wants to” help.”

Is there a magic antidote to rid ourselves of embarrassment for getting older? The answer is no. The antidote is to believe that people, including our children, understand us, our reluctance to rely on others and the desire to remain independent.

Here is my answer…. what the world needs now isn’t love sweet love…. it is patience and listening for the signs of someone needing just a little help, who may be too embarrassed to ask.

Spiderman wasn’t there to help Stan Lee, but you don’t have to be a superhero to just listen for a sign that someone is asking for help, and then swoop in from your web and help.

Take it for what it is… It’s just as I see it.

Where have all the tough guys gone?

I love old movies, especially old Westerns.  I love the tough guys – not the actor who plays the tough guy on screen, but the actual tough guys.

Lee Marvin, with the gravelly voice, sustained an injury during World War II, or Charles Bronson’s icy stare, also a veteran of World War II; James Arness or as I liked to remember him, Marshall Dillon, awarded the Bronze Star and Purple Heart during the invasion of Anzio… now those were tough guys!

I’ve had a long running quest in my head to find the toughest guy in the house. I’ve seen tough guys in fights, and even had a few scrapes of my own, but I’ve never been able to find this tough guy I’ve created in my mind.  Was he just in my mind?

Why the quest, you ask?  Honestly, I don’t know. I’ve simply always been fascinated by tough guys – whether men or women.  I was attending a Memorial Day celebration – a beautiful day where the stars and stripes were boldly flying everywhere.  Then, I saw someone that made me think that this was going to be the day I found him.

He was smaller than I imagined, and his shoulders were slightly stooped as he sat in the corner with a walker in front of him.  His baseball cap was tattered and worn, but I could clearly see that it said World War II veteran, so I approached him.

He slowly, and even reluctantly told me about his experience as a medic during the invasion of Normandy. He had only been nineteen years old, but he took his job seriously.  When the bullets were flying overhead, he helped his fellow men. He didn’t cry, although he was admittedly scared. He didn’t pout, whine, or make excuses. He simply did the job that he was there to do.

It was when he finished his story that I knew I’d found him; the toughest of the tough.  This man was a real-life superman before Hollywood produced a 200-million-dollar movie, yet there he was in an old worn out ball cap.

Tough guys like these veterans are scarce these days, they’re almost gone– so when you see one, shake his hand.  Thank them. These guys, of the greatest generation, are the real heroes, and authentic tough guys. Meeting this man made me hope that our current generation, mine included, can meet the challenge.

Take my advice for what it is… It’s Just, AS I SEE IT!

All we have to do is ask

I had an interesting client this week… We spoke about issues concerning her estate planning, and after our appointment, she proudly displayed her brand-new cell phone to show she was ‘hip’ to technology. (“Hip” is a word used during days of Elvis — meaning we’re cool – apparently, it’s making a comeback, but I digress). In any event, she was now ready to enter the new appointment date in her phone.

There was much fumbling, rumbling and ranting about the good old days – you know, when a phone was attached to a cord that plugged into a wall.

I asked her if she knew how to call 911, if there was an emergency. She seemed startled, as if I was trying to be a wise guy. What kind of a question is that? Of course, she could call!

I said, “show me.”

After entering numbers and commands for what seemed to be an eternity, she said, sheepishly, “Maybe I should ask my grandson to show me how”.

Now this client is not a stupid person. She is an intelligent woman who is smart enough to know how to plan for the future. But right now, the future was a cell phone, which she could not properly use. What good is a smart phone if it can’t be smart when you need it?

I felt the need to test a theory. I asked my grandson to download an app on my phone that would directly reach 911, without my fumbling, if I were alone on the floor.

Sure enough, he said, “Pop Pop, no problem” and it was done.

911 is a universal number. It’s in our head all the time. But, like the telephone plugged into a wall with a cord, it needs a tune up. Actually, we need the tune up.

Our phones are only ‘smart’ if we know how to use them. We need to know how to dial 911 without looking for the phone manual, which is probably in many languages, except the one we need.

So, folks, let’s seek help from the ones who are experts… the ones who don’t pass judgment on our failings, and the ones who would do anything for us.  Let’s ask the grandkids the best ways to contact 911 on any type of smart phone we use.

Take my advice for what it is… It’s Just, AS I SEE IT!