Working Beyond Retirement: For Money Identity and Purpose

by LiveCareer Staff Writer

Who knew my father was a pioneer? He was one of those lucky folks who was able to retire early from the Bell System with a full pension. And instead of just retiring to his garden or the golf course he reinvented himself as a part-time professor consultant and speaker. And from what career experts are now saying this new form of retirement will become more of the norm especially as the baby boomers move into retirement age and reshape the image of retired workers just as they reshaped many other aspects of life and work.

In fact Marc Freedman author of Prime Time describes how the baby boomers will transform how society views retirement — bringing about a new image of aging retirement and the role of older Americans in our society. He cites statistics that show that in just a few years the number of folks over age 50 will surpass a quarter of the U.S. population. And the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that baby boomers are reaching the age of 60 at the rate of one every seven seconds. Many of these folks will be searching for something beyond a leisurely retirement.

For many retirement will indeed no longer signal the end of working but more so a career and lifestyle transition where the retiree has multiple options — such as continuing to work (though perhaps at a different pace) returning to school for additional training or education changing careers venturing into entrepreneurship becoming more involved in volunteer work or simply enjoying leisure and travel possibilities — a mix of working learning relaxing and trying new things.

Dr. Ken Dychtwald author of Age Power describes the transition between working and retiring as middlescence which he says occurs to people sometime in their 50’s to 70’s. Middlescence can be a time of confusion and frustration for many workers especially those whose identity is tied directly to their jobs. But it is also a time of growth and reinvention.

For some older workers of course retirement of any sort is not an option because of financial necessity. Whether stuck in low-paying jobs with little or no retirement plans or through poor planning or other financial hardships these folks need jobs just to survive. According to a U.S. News report only half the workforce has an employer pension plan — and many of those have one have not contributed enough to it.

So how can older workers facing retirement find a new job or career?

One of the keys of course is finding an employer that both respects older workers and offers job flexibility options. And there are already a handful of employers gaining a strong reputation for hiring and valuing older workers such as Bonne Bell CVS/pharmacy Farmers Insurance Group Hoffman-La Roche John Deere Radio Shack Volkswagen of America and Wal-Mart. Healthcare security retail temporary agencies and other service sectors seem to be the norm for older workers.

AARP an organization dedicated to people aged 50 and older suggests 10 positions suited for mature workers: bank teller consultant customer greater English instructor floral assistant home-care assistant mystery shopper security screener teacher assistant and tour guide. Read more. AARP also publishes an annual list of the best employers for older workers.

A worker nearing retirement age might also look to his or her current employer for options such as bridge positions phased retirement part-time employment telecommuting or freelancing. Learn more in these sections of Quintessential Careers: Telecommuting Job Flexibility and Work-at-Home Job and Career Resources and Jobs for Consultants Freelancers and Gurus.

Another option for older workers who want to work but also want variety and new challenges is to consider temping. Temporary agencies help place you with employers who need your particular skills. A wide range of temporary agencies is available so find one that meets your criteria. You can learn more about temping in this section of Quintessential Careers: Temping Tools Advice Strategies and Resources which includes links to these articles Temping in the Golden Years and Temping: An Option for Older Workers.

If you want to continue working — but in a new career field — consider taking the time for self-assessment and career exploration. If you are unsure of your next career field examine your likes and dislikes strengths and weaknesses and consider talking with a career professional. Get more direction in these sections of our site: Career Assessment Tools and Tests and Career Exploration Tools and Resources.

And for those who want to work but are lucky enough not to need the income volunteering is a wonderful option. Volunteering is a great way to stay active while also making a significant contribution to a worthy organization. Volunteering opportunities abound in every community. Senior Corps is one such organization assisting local nonprofits public agencies and faith-based organizations in carrying out their missions by matching seniors with opportunities. For more information on volunteering go to this section of Quintessential Careers: Volunteering and Nonprofit Career Resources.

But why should you work or volunteer if you don’t have to? Experts suggest working helps older folks keep their minds and body active provide social interaction and relationships support their value system and work ethic find meaning to life and fight stereotypes that only the young are good workers.

How many boomers will keep working past traditional retirement age? Estimates range from anywhere from half to the vast majority with many boomers saying they plan to work because that’s what they want to do. And because many experts are predicting a talent shortage once these boomers retire — as both the public and private sectors brace for a mass exodus of workers by the end of this decade — there will certainly be a demand for experienced workers.

On a side note while there ought to be plenty of work for all job-seekers teens should be the most concerned about this shift. Many employers say they prefer seniors to teens because older workers are more experienced more reliable more polite more motivated and offer the most flexibility in working times.

CHEAP WINTER VACATIONS

LAS VEGAS

Forget the beach — set your sights on the desert. With so much competition on and off the Las Vegas Strip, a 4-star hotel can be booked for under $100 a night. Along with lower room rates, visitors can enjoy a quieter scene: There are fewer rowdy groups when pool-party spots and some nightclubs have closed for the season.

ORLANDO, FLORIDA

One of the best times to meet Mickey Mouse is during the winter. Do a Disney vacation in January or February and shorter lines aren’t the only benefit. A greater variety of affordable hotel and food options can be found, too. Visitors can take advantage of lower prices at the Disney Resort hotels during their “value season.” Visitors generally get some of the best bargains on tickets and accommodations from mid-January to early March, with the exception of holiday weekends.

PHOENIX

Arizona boasts winter temperatures mild enough for camping, hiking, and biking — not to mention amazing landscapes. A search on Google Flights generated round trips under $230 from New York and New Orleans, and under $150 from San Francisco in January and February. Pair that with a vacation rental for a very affordable winter getaway. Airbnb lists more than 300 Phoenix homes and apartments priced under $100 a night.

NEW ORLEANS

Go for the live jazz, Hurricane drinks, or the culinary scene in New Orleans. There’s always a lot to do. For those willing to brave the raucous crowds on Bourbon Street, the next Mardi Gras is March 5. A flight south in the winter is relatively inexpensive.

AUSTIN, TEXAS

At other times of the year, Austin is brutally hot and overrun by festival-goers. In the winter, the temperature is mild enough for a light jacket and the barbecue is just as good. Take a dip in the Barton Springs Pool (warm year-round), hike up Mount Bonnell, bike around Lady Bird Lake, and eat as much beef and Tex-Mex as you can stand before flying home. 

SAVANNAH, GEORGIA

Famous for its ornate antebellum architecture and cobblestoned historic district, Savannah is also a comfortably temperate destination in winter, making this perhaps a better time to visit then the humid summer months. Walk manicured streets and parks lined by oak trees dripping with Spanish moss, visit the Historic District’s Forsyth Park, explore Bonaventure Cemetery and its sculpture garden, and stroll along River Street in the Waterfront District, running parallel to the Savannah River.

Senior Hot Spots for a Vacation:

One benefit of being retired is the luxury of time. Many seniors enjoy a fair amount of flexibility, which means ample opportunity to save big bucks on travel. By vacationing during the off-season and pouncing on limited-time specials, savvy seniors enjoy discounts on food, lodging, transportation, attractions, and events. With so much incentive, why sit at home? Head to one of these budget-friendly destinations.

CHARLESTON, SOUTH CAROLINA

Soak up some Southern charm in genteel Charleston, named the region’s best city by Southern Livingmagazine for the second year in a row. Attractions such as the Fort Sumter National Monument and Gibbes Museum of Art offer senior discounts, while strolls along the waterfront and past gracious homes are free. 

BRANSON, MISSOURI

This vacation town deep in the Ozark Mountains is being talked up everywhere from Forbes to The New York Times. Take in country music shows and concerts, hit the links for a round of golf, cruise the lakes, explore the History of Fishing Museum, and just plain relax.

THE MARITIMES, CANADA

The Maritimes are Canada’s eastern provinces: Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and New Brunswick. The region is a frugal choice for American seniors on a budget: The U.S. dollar is still a bit stronger than Canada’s loonie. Take a ferry from Portland, Maine, to Yarmouth, Nova Scotia (the fare is as low as $31 for seniors during the off-season) or drive north to New Brunswick.

There’s no shortage of outdoor adventure, including whale watching at eye level on a Zodiac boat. Halifax’s Pier 21, the Canadian Ellis Island, stirs memories for immigrants, and historic hotels such as the Algonquin Resort and Digby Pines Golf Resort & Spa may take seniors back to childhood vacations. Summer is the best time to visit, although that’s when prices are at their highest.

WILMINGTON, NORTH CAROLINA

City and seashore fun are rolled into one in Wilmington, which was hailed as one of the top U.S. destinations on the rise in TripAdvisor’s 2018 Travelers’ Choice Awards. It boasts three nearby beaches and a Riverwalk with shops and restaurants. Go at sunset for a memorable view of the Cape Fear River and walk down memory lane with visits to historic homes, museums, and the Battleship Carolina.

Many attractions are free, including two nearby state parks, the Wrightsville Beach Museum of History, the Hanover County Arboretum, and the North Carolina Azalea Festival.

PLYMOUTH, MASSACHUSETTS

Plymouth and the surrounding county are a choice destination for senior history buffs, especially in the spring before the crowds arrive. Pilgrim Hall Museum, the oldest museum in the country, displays artifacts that arrived with the Mayflower, as well as a piece of Plymouth Rock that visitors can touch. Historic walking and ghostly tin-lantern tours are typically offered April to November, and 17th-century houses that belonged to some of the original 101 Mayflower passengers are now museums and charge no or modest entry fees. Outdoor adventures include whale watching, harbor and lobster cruises, and journeys through the 100-year-old Cape Cod Canal.

YAKIMA, WASHINGTON

Yakima was selected as one of “America’s Best Small Cities on the Rise” by SmarterTravel. It boasts plenty of craft breweries downtown and more than 120 wineries (many award-winning) in the surrounding areas. Seniors will enjoy the small-town prices, farmers market, and “u-pick” farms. Mountain passes about 30 minutes away offer hiking trails along the back side of Mount Rainier. There’s white-water rafting on the Tieton River, fly fishing and tubing on the Yakima River, biking along various trails, and opportunities to spot wildlife in their native habitats.

A LIFE IN FAST MOTION

A body in motion tends to stay in motion, and at Leisure Care we know that life is just getting started at retirement. At Fairwinds – River’s Edge in St. Charles, Missouri, one Leisure Care resident embodies this idea, even in the face of daunting health challenges and devastating personal loss.

Lee Nunn was no stranger to adventure in his younger days. A paratrooper in the Army, he was part of a special ops unit working with locals to create havoc amongst enemy troops. He was also on the Kimpo air strip in South Korea when a MIG-15 Russian enemy fighter plane flown by a North Korean pilot defected to the South, a historic salvo in the opening rounds of the Cold War.

One of Lee’s fondest Army memories is being chosen as one of Marilyn Monroe’s bodyguards when she visited the troops in South Korea—cutting short her honeymoon with Joe DiMaggio in order to perform. “She wasn’t prepared for such a show—she only had one cocktail dress with her, which she wore for her performance, then quickly changed into warm Army fatigues for the bitter February temperatures outside,” Lee recalls.

Back in civilian life, Lee built a career at Lincoln Engineering and enjoyed spending time at the golf course. Lee and his wife Billie’s last home before moving to Fairwinds – River’s Edge was on a golf course. One of his guilty pleasures was playing golf every day except Mondays, and that was only because the course was closed that day. Billie used to say she had to take up golf so she could see him, and although she “couldn’t play at all,” they did have fun together.

He doesn’t like to brag, but he’s racked up four hole-in-ones, winning a Volkswagen GTI one year and a trip for two to Hilton Head the next. He claims he was the reason one organization closed down its hole-in-one prize giveaway! 

Moving from their home on the course and into Fairwinds – River’s Edge was a tough decision, driven by Billie’s health and mobility issues. Still, it was Lee who wound up in the hospital not long after the move, with six life-threatening clogged arteries requiring open-heart surgery. Other health issues followed, then Billie became gravely ill. Lee moved into an apartment across the street from Billie’s nursing facility to be close to his wife during the last months of her life. After her death, withdrawn and depressed after losing his long-time partner, he made the decision to move back to Fairwinds – River’s Edge, a place they had both felt at home.

The couple had made many friends at Fairwinds – River’s Edge. Once back and settled in (with newly adopted rescue pup Lilly), Lee asked one of his lady friends out on a date. Darlene gladly accepted, and as a couple, they’re still going strong. For their first date, they went to a used car lot looking for a sports car. Getting out of the car, Darlene looked over to say something to Lee, but he was nowhere to be seen. He had tried stepping over an obstacle, and still getting used to his new orthotics, fell flat on his face. The paramedics came, and Darlene rode up front in the cab (wearing a leg brace on her own broken knee cap). The driver put her in charge of blowing the horn to help keep traffic cleared. Now that’s a first date to remember! 


Lee enjoying an afternoon in sunny St. Charles.

As a car fanatic, Lee bought a GTO, and on one of their road trips, he asked Darlene if she’d ever gone 100 mph. She said she hadn’t, so he “lit it up.”

“All I said was, ‘Wee!’” Darlene notes.

His next car was a flat black 2006 C5 Corvette, not the easiest thing to get in and out of, but he didn’t let that hold him back. These hot rods led to his “Richard Petty Experience,” something that had been on his bucket list until an offer by Leisure Care made it a reality.

He recounts, “I was driving around the track, and the escort kept telling me I needed to get over so the other cars could pass, and all I wanted to do was speed up.”

“I was driving around the track, and the escort kept telling me I needed to get over so the other cars could pass, and all I wanted to do was speed up.”

He said he “only” got to a top speed of 98. Only?! The worst part of this experience, Lee recalled, was climbing through the side window to get in and out of the car. “I’m not as spry as I used to be,” he laughs.

Lee hasn’t let his losses, his diabetes, heart surgery, or back issues dictate his life. He continues to enjoy his kids and grandkids, travel with Darlene, play golf, and go on outings with friends to Cardinals games, Pere Marquette State Park, and other great local destinations. And he’s got his eyes peeled for his next adventure rod: a vintage yellow truck he’ll gladly race all over town.

(as written on www.leisurecare.com)

Linguine with Shrimp Scampi

 

Ingredients:

Vegetable oil

1 tablespoon kosher salt plus 1 1/2 teaspoons

3/4 pound linguine

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 1/2 tablespoons good olive oil

1 1/2 tablespoons minced garlic (4 cloves)

1 pound large shrimp (about 16 shrimp), peeled and deveined

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves

1/2 lemon, zest grated

1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 lemons)

1/4 lemon, thinly sliced in half-rounds

1/8 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes

Directions:

Drizzle some oil in a large pot of boiling salted water, add 1 tablespoon of salt and the linguine, and cook for 7 to 10 minutes, or according to the directions on the package.

Meanwhile, in another large (12- inch), heavy-bottomed pan, melt the butter and olive oil over medium-low heat. Add the garlic. Saute for 1 minute. Be careful, the garlic burns easily!

Add the shrimp, 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt, and the pepper and saute until the shrimp have just turned pink, about 5 minutes, stirring often.

Remove from the heat, add the parsley, lemon zest, lemon juice, lemon slices, and red pepper flakes.

Toss to combine.

When the pasta is done, drain the cooked linguine and then put it back in the pot. Immediately add the shrimp and sauce, toss well, and serve.

Hot Tubs for Seniors

Seniors considering a hot tub purchase need a variety of information. Knowing the multiple benefits of hot tubs for seniors often helps with purchase considerations.

Learn how to determine the right size and best style, along with details such as choosing an appropriate location. Understand how to purchase the best hot tub for you, not the one a pushy salesperson wants you to purchase. Discover how accessories potentially fit into your hot tub purchase.

Learning about maintenance, parts and repairs are important aspects of understanding costs associated with a hot tub purchase for seniors. Safety is a crucial factor in hot tub considerations.

Hot Tub Benefits for Seniors

There are multiple benefits associated with hot tubs. Several sources tout the benefits of hot tubs for seniors, including:

  • Back pain relief
  • Arthritis pain relief
  • Soothes body aches and pains
  • Helps lower blood pressure
  • Provides stress relief
  • Improves restful sleep

When seniors experience back pain, the pain possibly leads to reduced mobility and other issues. This is true whether your back pain is due to age-related spinal degeneration, arthritis, sciatica, osteoporosis, or another cause.

One way that seniors potentially find relief from back pain is by enjoying a hot tub. LIVESTRONG cites information from the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, indicating that heat, “Alters the sensation of pain.” Hot tubs deliver heat to large areas of the body such as your back, providing possible relief of back pain.

Seniors with arthritis potentially benefit from a hot tub. Several sources cite information from The Arthritis Foundation, indicating that regular hot tub sessions help keep your joints moving, while increasing strength and flexibility. Another benefit is that hot tubs help prevent further joint damage.

Doing too much or too little possibly affects muscles and joints, producing pain and stiffness. A Clinical Advisor article lists hot tubs as one of the treatments that “…Help with sore or achy muscles.”

Lowering your blood pressure is another known benefit of hot tubs. The NIH published results of a study where researchers concluded that after just 10 minutes in a hot tub, their study participants with hypertension, ranging from 46 to 83 years-old experienced significantly lower blood pressure readings.

Seniors experiencing stress sometimes find relief from the soothing benefits of their hot tub. Do you experience problems falling asleep or staying asleep? Discover the benefits that hot tubs have in providing restful sleep, allowing seniors the benefit of waking up feeling refreshed the next morning.

Some seniors enjoy benefits of the hot tub jets when exercising in their hot tub. As with any exercise program, consult your doctor before exercising in your hot tub.

Types of Hot Tubs

Seniors cannot simply run to the nearest hot tub dealer and purchase any hot tub. You have to know which type of hot tub is best for you based on your needs, desired features and planned location.

Outdoor Hot Tubs

An outdoor hot tub is likely an ideal option for many seniors. Make sure there is enough space so that the hot tub sits on a completely flat surface, preferably a concrete slab.

Consider privacy concerns when planning the location. Do you want your neighbors peering out their window while you enjoy your hot tub?

Size matters when considering a hot tub purchase. Is the hot tub just for you or you and your spouse? Will you invite grown children, grandchildren or others to enjoy your hot tub? Mention the number of people using the hot tub when making your purchase.

You need a safe walkway to your hot tub. Seniors often locate their hot tub close to their house, particularly if living in a colder area. When the weather changes, you do not want to have a long walk to your hot tub.

(SeniorLiving.org)

 

UNHAPPY FEET

(If you’re among the 1 in 4 Americans 45+ with foot pain, it’s time to take the right next step)

One of the most momentous sports injuries of all time wasn’t a gruesome knee tear or a blown-out shoulder.  It was Joe DeMaggio’s heel spur, a painful bony protrusion said to have ended the New York Yankee’s career in 1951.  But DiMaggio’s foot troubles didn’t end there. In 1990, nearly 40 years after he hung up his cleats, the athlete sought treatment again:  He couldn’t play golf or even walk.

“Foot and ankle problems are not life-threatening, but they’re lifestyle-threatening,” explains podiatrist Rock Positano, director of the nonsurgical foot and ankle service at New York City’s Hospital for Special Surgery.  Foot pain often is the triggering event that leads to musculoskeletal problems like knee, hip and back pain and ultimately to falls, loss of mobility or worse.

About 24 percent of people over 45 suffer from foot pain.  By 70, that number’s more like 50 percent. But foot pain is not a normal part of aging, says New Jersey-based podiatrist Alan Bass.  “I never say to my patients, ‘You’re getting older and these are just things that are happening.’”

DiMaggio’s injury and a failed surgery during his playing career were the big impetuses for nonsurgical musculoskeletal foot and ankle interventions in this country, says Positano, who successfully treated the retired player with a specialized brace.  

Today, thanks in part to Joltin’ Joe, it’s easier than ever to resolve foot pain, often with orthopedics rather than by going under the knife.  Here are some common places it may strike, and how to strike back.

SOME SOLUTIONS

BE A SHOE SNOB:  Up to 72 percent of people wear shoes that don’t fit.  That’s in part because your arches can drop as you age, lengthening your feet.  In older people, wearing shoes that are too narrow has been linked with corns, bunions and pain; shorter shoes are linked with other deformities such as hammer toe and claw toe.

GET ON YOUR FEET:  The more you sit, the more you deactivate your glute muscles—and proper foot function requires strong glutes, hips and abs, Splichal says.  Exercises like hip bridges and planks encourage not only tummy work and hip extension (counterposes for sitting), but also help you practice getting up and down from the floor—something research has correlated with longevity.

FIGHT FIRE WITH FOOD:  Inflammation can play a role in foot pain.  For an anti-inflammatory effect, fill up on omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids via nuts, seeds, legumes, vegetables, fruits, olive oil and fish.  A happy consequence: Mediterranean-type diets have been linked with reduced body weight, which can reduce force on the foot, relieving pain.

GO BAREFOOT:  The nerves on the bottom of your feet are even more receptive than those on your hands—but stuffing your feet in shoes all day deprives them of the sensory stimulation they need to help your body move.  Barefoot exercise such as yoga and Pilates, and walking around barefoot at home, can help. 

PLAY BALL:  Rolling your foot on a lacrosse or golf ball for five minutes a day provides the stimulation your foot craves, improving stability and movility by releasing tendons and fascial connections, says New York-based trainer Michael Ryan.

 

(Written by Cassie Shortsleeve for AARP Bulletin, May 2019)

Llama Trekking in the Rockies

(Woolly pack animals help an avid hiker indulge her wanderlust)

Ten to 20 years ago, I would happily strap on a 30-pound pack full of camping gear to trek into the coastal or mountain wilderness of Northern California for a multi-day trip.  Now in my 50s, I still have that old stamina and wanderlust, but the prospect of tackling steep mountains while carrying a heavy backpack for days at a time is simply no longer an option, so I had assumed my trekking days were over.  

That was before last summer, when I discovered llamas.  They’re “the backpack that walks,” as Bill Redwood refers to his specially trained animals.   The founder of Redwood Llamas, based in Silverton, Colorado, Redwood has been running multiday guided llama trekking tours since 1986.  He says many of his clients are over 50—“backpacking enthusiasts who, because of aging backs, sore knees and muscles, want to ease the weight.  Llamas solve that problem.”

Llamas are sometimes called the camels of South America.  Both animals belong to the Camelidae family, but llamas are smaller and don’t have humps, and you don’t ride them.  They’re renowned as low-maintenance pack animals.

I learned that on Redwood’s five-day full-service trek deep into Colorado’s Weminuche Wilderness ($1,550 per person), all I needed to carry were my seven-pound day pack and water.  The llamas would tote all our gear, including the tents, sleeping bags, chairs, grill, cooking pots, food, water filters for mountain streams, and even the wine and beer. I was still nervous about my endurance, but Redwood assured me that I could do it—and, considering the llamas, I agreed.  

Our small group of nine hikers, three guides and 12 loaded llamas trekked through a high mountain paradise of pristine alpine lakes, vast wildflower meadows, sloping green valleys and snowcapped peaks.  It’s easy to see how the sure-footed wooly pack animals become indispensable, allowing you to hike mountain peaks at 12,000 to 13,000 feet along twisting trails. I huffed and puffed a bit, but because I wasn’t carrying a heavy load, I was able to focus on the route and take in the postcard-worthy panoramic views.  

Each guide led a roped string of four llamas.  At the campsite the guides would tie the llamas near the tents, where the gentle animals would munch on the grass buffet and rest upright or kneel for the night.  

On the last day, after four nights in sublime solitude under starry skies, our caravan descended 6.5 miles to the pickup point, in Cunningham Gulch.  Redwood was there to greet us all. Sweaty and mud splattered, I was smiling ear to ear. He grinned back and said, “See, I knew you could it it.”

Written by Gig Ragland for AARP Magazine, April/May 2019

Two-Wheeled Therapy

(After a devastating breakup, language teacher Angela Wolz cycled her way to emotional health)

Several years ago I fell in love.  We dated long-distance for two years, then I shut down my business in Florida and moved in with him in a tiny town in Ohio where I knew no one.

Slowly, he showed a side I hadn’t seen, a side that was frightening.  And then, by chance, I discovered he’d been courting other women. That was it.  I left him and returned to Florida, mentally and physically drained. My faith in my judgment and in the goodwill of others was gone.  Even the thought of looking for a job made me tremble. Fortunately, I had a friend to stay with and some savings to live on.

In those dark days, it was my bike that saved me.  I set off every day at 6 am and rode until noon—until was so tired, all I could do was sleep.  Soon I was cycling up to 300 miles weekly. Then I decided to attempt the longest mountain biking route in the world—a 2,700-mile stretch from Canada to the US/Mexico border, following the Great Divide.

There are many dangers along the way—the risk of injury, wild animals.  People, on the other hand, are rare; sometimes you see no one for three or four days.  When I would run into someone, they would always ask if I was scared. I wasn’t; I felt I had nothing left to lose.  But some were scared for me, especially one couple, Darryl and Suzy, whom I’d met in Colorado. They gave me their card and said, “If you have any problems, call us and we’ll come get you.”  Sure, I thought.  

Two weeks later, when I arrived in Pie Town, New Mexico, Darryl was waiting for me.  He and Suzy had been worried, he said. They’d been looking for me for 10 days. I couldn’t believe that anyone would care that much.  But they weren’t the only ones: Everyone I met on that ride was kindhearted. By the time I reached Mexico, my belief in myself was restored, as was my faith in humanity.

And I began to wonder, Could biking and time spent in nature do the same for others?    In 2017, I organized a women’s empowerment ride for nine women suffering from trauma, divorce, grief, addiction or PTSD.  Most of the women had never even been on a bicycle. We trained hard for a few months, then took four days to tackle the 100-mile White Rim Trail in Utah’s Canyonlands National Park.  It was challenging, but worth it—so much so that I decided to keep organizing such rides. The process of going from nonrider to trail finisher gives women the power to say, “If I can do this, I can take care of myself.”

(As told to Elaine Appleton Grant in the AARP Magazine, April/May 2019)

BACON RANCH PASTA SALAD

Ingredients

  • 1 (12 ounce) package uncooked tri-color rotini pasta
  • 10 slices bacon
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 3 tablespoons dry ranch salad dressing mix
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic pepper
  • 1/2 cup milk, or as needed
  • 1 large tomato, chopped
  • 1 (4.25 ounce) can sliced black olives
  • 1 cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese

Directions

  1. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil; cook rotini at a boil until tender yet firm to the bite, about 8 minutes; drain.
  2. Place bacon in a skillet over medium-high heat and cook until evenly brown. Drain and chop.

In a large bowl, mix mayonnaise, ranch dressing mix, garlic powder, and garlic pepper. Stir in milk until smooth. Place rotini, bacon, tomato, black olives and cheese in bowl and toss to coat with dressing. Cover and chill at least 1 hour in the refrigerator. Toss with additional milk if the salad seems a little dry.