2nd Quarter 2018 Benefits Corner

By Lezley Barth

Lezley Barth Captioned

Age is Just a Number

Thinking back to your youth, do you remember how excited you were to turn 16 so you could drive a car?  How about 18 or 21 to become a legal “adult.”   As the years flew by our ages seemed less fun.  Then, the big FOUR OH NO.  Where did youth go?  The next pivotal age was the magic 65 when we officially qualified for MEDICARE. YEH!

But regardless of our attitude on each birthday (I now consider them a blessing), age is just a number—more flame on a cake!  It doesn’t speak to what really matters—our character, integrity, life experiences, and value to society.  If we are in good health, our age shouldn’t restrict how we manage our lives, how we look, how we feel about ourselves, or how we contribute to the lives of others. 

Below are some suggestions for shifting the focus from age to the bigger picture of being the best we can be.

  1. (1) Start with your general health since it is of primary importance and foundational.Ensure you see your primary care physician at least once per year, and more as required.He/she will be concerned about your health issues and medications, diet, exercise routines, sleep patterns, and substances such as tobacco and alcohol.Your physician will guide you on these subjects.If general health is not an issue, you can turn your attention to other topics.


  2. (2) Develop an Action Plan that encompasses your overall goals and the supporting TO DOs, along with proposed completion dates for each based on their priority.Post the Action Plan where you see it regularly to stay on track and in control of what needs to be accomplished.As items are completed, log the date and check the item off the list.Add other important items to the Plan as they arise.
    1. (a) Action Plans can include items such as: Create/update Will or Trust, organize and summarize, important documents for the family including key contact information (attorney, executor, pastor, accountant, bank/safe deposit box location and number), scan and label old photographs, renew Passport, have the house painted, etc.
    2. (b) Don’t forget to include items from your bucket-list that will lift your spirits and give you something to joyfully anticipate (i.e., travel to “X” destinations). 
    3. (c) Sort items not returned to the closet rod into five stacks—for donation, dry cleaning, laundry, mending, or to be thrown away or used for rags if too “well loved.” (Note:Inspect all pockets before donation or cleaning/laundry. Money, jewelry, keys, cell phones, and credit card receipts with personal information have been found there.)
    4. (d) Next are shoes, handbags, and coats.Look at each with a critical eye for condition and currency. Address repairs, as required.
    5. (e) Finally, underwear/lingerie, and nightwear.Remember, you want to feel good about yourself and remain attractive around the clock, so it’s probably time to do a little refresh here as well to lift your and a significant other’s spirits.


  3. (3) Document your support system--the family and friends that surround you.Your support system is comprised of multiple circles of people you care about that also care about you.These individuals should be positive and dependable.The communications within these circles should be two-way for the system to thrive and have mutual support benefits. It will help to draw and label the circles referenced below, retaining it for future reference and ongoing refinement.
    1. (a) The first circle includes family and friends very close to you.These are deep relationships with those you trust, with whom you can confide with confidence, and can be relied upon at a moment’s notice. Contact is typically more frequent.
    2. (b) The second circle includes those you know well such as your neighbors; or friends in your church group; social club; or women’s, men’s, and civic organizations.The majority of these individuals would respond to a request from you or lend support in times need.Contact is generally less frequent than family and close friends but is more frequent than acquaintances.
    3. (c) The last circle includes acquaintances with whom you wish to stay in contact, but less frequent (an example is former classmates from your high school or college).


      Periodically review the status/frequency of communications with those in your support system, ensuring you are a proactive participant and support those that need you.  Over time you may need to evaluate, modify, and/or expand your circles to maintain a healthy support structure.  The latter can easily occur if not nurtured and through natural attrition.


  4. (4) Stay busy.This is key in maintaining an active mind and body.Research shows individuals are typically happier when they are involved in meaningful activities.And for many, it prevents loneliness from occurring if separated from friends, family, former colleagues, or a previous residence. Retirees can easily fall prey to this condition when transitioning from very active roles into their retirement years.
    1. (a) Remember to proactively schedule some “Me Time” on your calendar rather than allowing it to occur randomly or only between scheduled activities decided by others.This will help you feel in control of your life.“Me Time” can be quiet time for reading, going to the gym, yoga, or a movie, taking a walk, a round of golf, shopping, etc.


  5. (5) Stay relevant.This is important in making a contribution, continuing to grow, and remaining vital.The new linkages and interests below have further benefits in adding to your circle of friends and potential support system.
    1. (a) Volunteer your current talents to an organization.With years of experience, skills, and abilities, you offer value to others.This saves an organization significant expense and time for what you already know versus hiring and training someone.It’s also an opportunity for you to give back, mentor someone, and grow since weexpand our horizons when we teach or interact in a different environment.
    2. (b) Add another dimension to you by learning something completely new; i.e., genealogy, photography, woodworking, bridge, financial planning, bowling, etc.


  6. (6) Look your best, to feel your best, to do your best.This “re-imaging” process also involves an examination of your wardrobe.For some reason (perhaps dating to the clothing trauma experienced by Adam and Eve in The Garden), human beings have an irrational attachment to clothing.We hang onto items until our closet rod collapses from the burden.Absolute truth: With few exceptions, the space a garment occupies in a closet is a lot more valuable than the garment itself if it hasn’t been worn in the last six months to a year.


    By following these simple steps, not only will you look and feel current (instead of stepping out of a remake of Saturday Night Fever) but you will also have room for some new things each season to significantly lift your spirits and keep your wardrobe up to date. 

    1. Take an unemotional, detached view to your wardrobe.This is not the time to think of $$$ previously spent or you will keep it all!An objective opinion from someone other than a spouse may be helpful in this process.See (b) below for sorting suggestions.Then, ask yourself these questions:
  7. (7) Dress each day as if you’re expecting the Publisher’s Clearing House to come to your front door with a cameraman in tow.The reason is simple.Everyone passes a mirror in the bedroom and bathroom many times a day.When you see yourself it impacts self-image—the better you look, the better you will feel, and the better impression you will ultimately project to others.Self-image is more powerful than you think, so much so it even affects our demeanor when we speak on the telephone and are unseen by the other party.As an example, a friend of mine was married to a police officer. When she called home, she knew that he had dressed for work and was wearing his uniform because he spoke more succinctly and authoritatively.


  8. (8) Freshen up.Have a high-maintenance day complete with a massage, facial, manicure, and pedicure to feel like a new man or woman.These services can go a long way to lift your spirits and are as close as your local spa.Even teeth-whitening can take years off.Or if the little lines or sagging are affecting the way you feel about your appearance, amazing products and procedures are available through medical professionals for both women and men.Many are now minimally invasive, relatively painless, and have virtually no downtime.They can make a huge difference in your outward appearance, self-image, and confidence.A medical consultation is often free of charge.


  9. (9) Be positive.Everyone prefers the company of someone who is positive and upbeat than an individual who is always negative, complaining, and brings the atmosphere down.


  10. (10) With an Action Plan and control of your life, a polished self-image, positive attitude, and caring spirit you can be a change agent.Do a good deed each day, show kindness and compassion, lift others up, lend a hand, be a role model, give to those in need, pay it forward, and lastly, take time to be still and just listen to someone.Make a difference in the world—you truly matter!No one who receives these gifts from you will care how old you are.Age is irrelevant because …
  1. (a) Is the style still fresh, or is it dated or tired?
  2. (b) Is the garment appropriate for me?
    1. (1) Is it too young for me (Does it make me look ridiculous—that I’m trying to recapture my youth, I borrowed it from a granddaughter, or in a delusional moment shopped at Forever 21)?
    2. (2)Is it too old for me (Does it add years to my appearance)?
      1. (a) Is the shape/fit right, or worth the cost of alterations, and will I get it done?
      2. (b) Is the color flattering for me (if not, you will never feel right in it)?
      3. (c) Is the general condition of the garment good?
      4. (d) If I keep this garment, will I wear it soon? 

Age is just a number—more flame on a cake!  Enjoy each birthday the best you can be.


Lezley Barth, Chair, CRA Benefits Committee

Phone:  816-506-0026, Email:  lezleykbarth@gmail.com