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I’m not sure of the exact moment when retirement became something I think about, but I do know it’s not anything I thought about at all when I was a young mom raising my kids. Frankly, if I’d been thinking about retirement I’m not sure I’d have chosen to be a full-time stay-at-home-mom (SAHM) for ten years. Back then all I was thinking about was my children’s future, not my own, but I’ll never regret the time I gave to them.

Of course it helped that during those ten years I knew I was going to live and be young forever so retirement wasn’t anything that concerned me since I was way too smart to ever do something stupid like get old.

Womp. Womp.

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Does Thinking About Retirement Scare the Shit Out of You?

My lack of regret doesn’t mean I’m not aware there have been some serious financial consequences from being a SAHM for ten years. Every year Social Security sends out that annual report showing your lifetime earnings I see just what a personal financial impact those ten years with big fat zeros behind them might mean if I don’t take definitive action now.

And right now, I’m telling you, I think a lot about those ten years of zeros and what they might mean about my financial future, and what I can do today so that the second half of my life is as fulfilling as the first.

Unfortunately, most websites about retirement planning scare the Bejeezus out of me. All that doom and gloom about there not being any Social Security left for those of us on the young end of the Boomer spectrum is enough to make anyone just want to stick their head in the sand and keep pretending it isn’t going to happen. Maybe some people find terror motivating, but I merely find it, well, terrifying.

How does telling me that I’m doomed help?

Anyway, I can’t live in that place of fear and doom. I gots to have me some hope. Which is why I LOVE AARP.

I don’t just love AARP because they invited me to Miami to enjoy the Life@50+ National Event so that I could come back and report on the benefits of AARP membership to my readers. I love AARP because it’s the one place I can go that doesn’t freak my shit out about getting older.

Being at a national AARP event is a breath of fresh air for those of us facing the prospect of aging in an uncertain future economy. But the best part for me is how young I feel at a convention. You really do feel there that 50 is the youth of old age. And seeing all of the actively engaged people, no matter what their age, makes aging a lot less terrifying.

And I also love AARP because they know that I’m going to need every penny I have to make it safely through the second half of my life with dignity, and without become a burden to those two beautiful children I gave my youth to.

The Benefits of AARP Membership

AARP has so much to offer people over 50, but this is a blog post, not a novel, so today I’m just going to touch upon a few of the many membership discounts available to members of AARP.

First off, AARP membership only costs $16 a year. And for your $16 you will get access to thousands of unbeatable deals and discounts for the things you’re already buying.

For instance, thinking about travel? AARP’s got you covered.

For example, AARP members save up to $400 on British Airways

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And there’s great discounts on Vacations by Rail®

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And discounts on Norweigian Cruise

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Traveling Solo?

Are you single and think traveling isn’t for you because you don’t have a companion? Think again! AARP has an entire section of discounts and specials dedicated to solo travelingsomething I do a lot now as a travel nurse.

Speaking of traveling, my next contract is in San Francisco! I love this city. And I can’t wait to use my AARP membership advantages to save money on the things I love to do here.

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Click below on your gift card from me to you and join today. Start seeing what AARP’s Real Possibilities holds for your future!

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Lifeat50Miami

At the invitation of AARP, I’ll be attending the Life@50+ National Event in Miami, Florida next week as a social media champion. It wasn’t exactly easy squeezing in a 6000-mile roundtrip for a couple of days between shifts at the hospital, but since my personal mission and AARP’s corporate vision sync so well these days I took them up on their very kind offer.

My Mission and the Vision of AARP

Many years ago, I unintentionally–and apparently irrevocably–offended a friend when she came up with this notion that a little blog project she and I were involved with at that time needed a Mission Statement. She’d been out of the work force for over a decade and didn’t understand that I was suffocating in a dysfunctional corporate culture that espoused a flowery yet meaningless Mission Statement. I told her that the mere thought of having a Mission or Vision Statement of my very own made me throw up a little bit in my mouth.

Back then I didn’t see the point of a blogging Mission Statement because, as you all well know, my one and only mission for blogging was for the freedom to say the eff word on the Internet. It didn’t go any deeper than that and, no matter how you slice it, cussing on the Internet cannot be spun into any sort of meaningful Mission or Vision Statement.

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So I find it a little bit funny–although my old friend would probably disagree–that here I am, many years later, writing about Mission and Vision Statements here on my little blog. But, fear not, this isn’t about my blogging Mission Statement. My mission here is still mostly the same; find new and unique ways to say the eff word, but with this small twist:

As God is my witness, blogging will never, EVER, make me cry again!

Calamity as a Catalyst for Change

A Kiss in BarcelonaI’ve observed that human beings have a great capacity for tolerating a high level of misery as long as it’s comfortably convenient, and that no one voluntarily makes drastic changes in their lives unless something significant occurs that jolts them out of complacency. Only when faced with a crisis big enough that inaction becomes more distressing than action are most of us willing to become proactive about changing the direction of our lives. On January 1, 2012, Jeff and I experienced just such a crisis.

After the kids left home, my husband and I had just been getting by. I had my blog and all my internet friends keeping me company and help me escape my unhappy reality, and I left my husband mostly to his own devices. Hours and even days would go by where I’d ignore him with my nose in my laptop laughing and carrying on with the intangible. On the surface, I felt like we were very happy; underneath the surface I didn’t want to look too closely. At least not until that fateful day in 2012 when the walls of our tunnel came crashing down around us and we were spit out into the realization that just getting by wasn’t enough for either of us.

We determined that staying together meant our lives needed purpose and meaning and joy, for both of us. Neither of us could stick our heads into our own private escape worlds where we pretended that somehow it was all going to work out even though we weren’t doing anything constructive to make it so.

Despite my innate aversion of corporate culture lingo, my husband and I developed what would be our vision for the second half of our lives. Creating this vision for our lives wasn’t a planned thing, but more like a process of elimination that included two fundamental premises:

1. Neither of us want to be unhappy.

2. Neither of us want the other to be unhappy either.

After a lot of intensive counseling, and armed with the above two truths, we recommitted ourselves to each other during our 25th anniversary celebration. Then I had major surgery on my lady parts. In September, I launched a doomed business venture, and by December of 2012 we made the decision that I should quit that dysfunctional corporate job that was making us both so unhappy and we should walk away from our irretrievably underwater mortgage.

Despite some serious emotional setbacks experienced during and after the failure of my business, I am proud that both my husband and I have stayed very focused on what matters. In truth, the failure of my business was a direct result of its inability to fit into the clear parameters we’d set back in 2012 that our choices need to make us both happy.

Priorities Matter. 

We only get one life, and it is up to us to define our own priorities. Maybe society says we should have a big house, or a job that’s secure no matter how it makes us feel inside. Or maybe society tells us that we should want to be our own boss, pursue fame, popularity, or even influence. But the way I see it, if you are taking medication in order to maintain your sanity so you can have the things society says you should have then maybe it’s time to set some new priorities.

Using mutual happiness as a guideline, here are the top three priorities my husband and I set in 2012 against which all our decisions are measured:

1. Joy – Does this decision bring us both joy? 

2. Peace – Does this decision foster mutual contentment and peace of mind? 

3. Retirement – Does this decision move us towards our financial goals that include a reasonably comfortable retirement where we’ll be able to continue pursuing priorities 1 and 2?

If the answer to these three questions is yes, then it’s a go. But if the answer to any of them is no, then it’s a “Hell No!” and we move on.

A Dream Home Shouldn’t Be a Nightmare

ParkGuellChloeandTickOn Friday, we became the proud owners of 2.5 acres of land where we’ll build our dream retirement home next year. It’s going to be a tough year for us as we both work very hard making the money we’re going to need to make all of this happen while staying committed to joy and peace so that our marriage doesn’t fall out of balance again.

It is because of my priorities that I’m going to Miami to attend Life@50+. When I went last time, I was stunned to find out that AARP is not a club for old people. Today’s AARP realizes that retirement won’t look like it did for our parents and grandparents. Today’s AARP is for people like me and my husband who are busy actively creating the second half of our lives. Membership in AARP opens the door to a world of discounts and other resources to help people over 50 make the most of the second half of our lives.

I hope you’ll follow me in the next few days on Twitter and Facebook as I travel to Miami to check out what’s going on with today’s AARP. Find me at #AARPDiscounts!

And just for fun, I’ll be hanging with some cool people including a couple of my favorite bloggers, the GypsyNesters, who just released their best-selling book, Going Gypsy.

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How Dare Kate Be Prettier Than Us!

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How to Be Happy

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My Daddy was a Soldier

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It’s all in Your Perspective

In honor of 2015, I thought I’d host a little bloghop on the topic: “Your Guiding Word for 2015″. If you want to participate all you gotta do is grab the linky code (yes, that’s what it is called) at the bottom of this post, insert it at the bottom of your post in the […]

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A Year of Grieving Ends

I’ve cried my last tear. I just finished reading Joan Didion’s book, The Year of Magical Thinking. This heart-wrenchingly sad book is about the few days leading up to and the year following Didion’s husband’s sudden death from a massive heart attack while her only child lay in a coma in intensive care. Didion explores […]

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Another War No Woman Can Win

I love irony, specifically this definition by Mirriam-Webster, “a state of affairs or an event that seems deliberately contrary to what one expects and is often amusing as a result.” Except irony is only amusing if you are in on the joke. See, last week, I received a little known beauty treatment known as “hand […]

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Is Blogging Healthy?

The point of blogging for me has always been that I write something true, because, the way I see it, there’s already enough bullshit on the internet that the world certainly doesn’t need me adding more to it. The problem is that I just don’t know if it’s healthy for me to blog anymore; if […]

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