STRESS: the one thing you WANT to leave behind when traveling

Guest post by Elise Fee. Elise is a Life Expansion Coach who works with individuals who have a high standard of excellence and who are searching for grander possibilities in their lives. Is it your SITUATION that needs to change, or is it YOU? For more information about your possibilities, contact Elise here.

Your vacation: fun or stress?

You’ve been anticipating this vacation for months; you leave town in just a few days, so why are you frazzled and stressed? What happened to all the excitement and joy you had when you first planned your trip? Unfortunately this is an all-too-common and unnecessary experience for many travelers.

Elise Fee

Elise Fee

In our zeal to create the perfect vacation, we set our expectations high. Most of us expect, at a minimum, that the ideal flight will be available at the lowest price, the booking process will go smoothly and flawlessly, we’ll pack calmly and thoroughly, we’ll leave early and relax before our flight, the hotels and restaurants will be superb, the weather exquisite and picturesque (not too hot, not too cold, no rain), we’ll stay within our travel budget…. You get the idea.

And you know what happens next – something doesn’t go according to our expectations and then the stress creeps in. Then if something else doesn’t measure up, the stress heightens. I’m sure you’ve wondered HOW some people travel enjoyably, easily, and even maintain a sense of humor.

Do not let Fear make your decisions for you. Risk has a price and so does security.

Good news

I’ll tell you how.

They expect that some things will go wrong. They anticipate challenges and surprises. They roll with schedule changes, restaurants closing early, and other unpredictable nuances. In other words, they let go of their need for their vacation to look a certain way and they open up to the serendipity of new experiences.

The good news is that this is an inside job – it’s all about altering your way of looking at things, adjusting your mindset and shifting your perspective. And it can be done anywhere (even sitting on the floor of an overcrowded, noisy airport – in fact, ESPECIALLY there!) Even better is that you can find relief from your travel stress even when you’re first learning how to do this.

Gorgeous Sicilian Coastline

Gorgeous Sicilian Coastline

If there were any downside to this (how bad could it be when I’m sharing with you how to enjoy your vacation?!), it’s that it takes practice to really master this way of thinking and to live this way on a consistent basis. So be gentle with yourself (just as if you were learning a new language); practice frequently; and enjoy the process.

One final bit of good news:  as you may have already surmised, this skill can be used in any area of your life to reduce stress.

Technique 1

Let go of your need for things to LOOK a certain way. Instead, focus on how you want to FEEL, rather than the specifics of how the experience must SHOW UP. For example, get excited about feeling relaxed and pampered, rather than dreaming about a quiet beach and a margarita. Then if you arrive to find the beach is crowded and the drinks are watery, you can still satisfy your desire for relaxation and pampering by getting a massage. The result is you’ll end up happy, even when things don’t go as planned.

Rotating scarves and tops

Rotating scarves and tops

Technique 2

Accept things as they are. Stop resisting reality and you’ll stop stressing. For example, sure you wanted to get out on the 9 a.m. flight you booked, but it’s been cancelled and there is nothing you can do about it. Take a moment to breathe and then calmly look for alternatives. When you immediately let go of Plan A and are able to open up to Plan B (or C), you are moving with the flow of life; you are dealing with reality (instead of fighting it); and you will feel much better as a result. Begin to take pride in your flexibility.

Real-life example

Here’s an example from my own travel experiences:  Abigail and I were traveling to Sicily to visit a friend for 8 days. We couldn’t be more excited! When we arrived, our bags didn’t. Not one of them. It turned out they were in Milan, and because it was the start of a weekend, no one expected the bags to arrive in Sicily for at least 4 days (yes, that would be a full HALF of our trip without all the necessities we had so carefully packed!).

Abigail and I unwittingly modeled the two ways of handling this unexpected news. I was quite calm and actually laughed at the situation, not worrying because I knew we’d have fun anyway. Abigail, on the other hand, was bereft. She couldn’t stop thinking about all the items she had in her luggage…that she HAD to have. She was beside herself with frustration and irritation.

Outstanding treats of Sicily

Outstanding treats of Sicily

How this played out

Our friend met us at the airport and we took a languid bus ride up the coast to where she lived in a picturesque village above the sea. We stopped at her place to freshen up before heading out to explore, and she generously shared her clothes and toiletries with us. What we couldn’t borrow from her, we picked up at the local stores. We were never without anything that we needed.

As Abigail began to shift her attitude about the situation, we found great fun in visiting our friend’s closet each morning, picking out what each of us would wear, what new scarf we would try, who would wear the sexy leather jacket this time, and so on. This became a big part of our Sicilian experience, and it no longer mattered that we were rotating clothes or that we had on the same shoes in all our pictures. Once we embraced reality and moved on to Plan B, our vacation was fun and exciting, just like we’d hoped it would be.

A funny footnote to this story is that when our luggage finally arrived on the 6th day (of our 8 day vacation), we still kept up the routine of sharing clothes. It had become an enjoyable and integral part of our visit. And today, it’s a key part of the happy memories of our trip.

For your next trip, take a bit of advice and don’t pack the stress. Stay open to whatever twists and turns your vacation brings you. And always remember to pack your sense of humor – after all, life is nothing if not an adventure.

Now that you know how to enjoy a stress-free vacation, where will you go next?

Posted in Guest Blog Posts, Heart Song, Travel Tips and Insight, Women's Work | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

My Life as an Expat in Chiang Khong

Guest post by Dianne Nobbs, a certified yoga instructor and recognized Swami. Follow her on Facebook at Mokshadharma Saraswati.

Even 10 or 12 years ago if anyone had suggested I would leave my country of Australia, my home, family, friends and go and live somewhere far, far away from everything familiar to me, I would have laughed and told them they were “barking mad.”

Yet here I am, a 64 year old foreign grandmother, living here in Chiangkhong, Chiangrai province northern Thailand. Where I come from, people like me are called “grey nomads,” although in my case it’s silver. Why Chiangkhong? Why Chiangrai?

Why not? It’s absolutely beautiful here in the north.

Silver Nomad, Dianne

Being an “Aussie” from down under, we have this beach culture and I do so love the beach. But then I grew up in the mountains and the mountains here are just as majestic and magnificent. There is something about the lushness of the countryside, the vivid green of the rice fields, the fields of corn, cassava, ginger, the great stands of teak and rubber trees that is pleasing to the eye. The abundance of tropical fruit and market fresh vegetables makes cooking and eating a pleasure. Even dieting is not too hard.

The weather suits me, as I loathe the cold. Yes, it rains a lot in the monsoon season, but the rain is warm. And even in the coolest cool season here in the north, I do not feel that bone shattering, chilling cold I often experienced in my own country in various places where I’ve lived.

 So really, what’s not to love?

The people are friendly the culture is different, interesting and quite fascinating, really, when you delve into it. The lifestyle is “laid back” compared to the 35 years of the “dash and crash” working life I had before I retired. Living here is very affordable for retirees. I am quite stunned when I go home and see the high cost of living even a “no frills” life in my country. And I am not a “no frills” kind of old girl.

Compare international retirement destinations, click here

The truth is, my husband and I wanted an adventure and new experiences. “Viva la difference!” and it is all here in Thailand, not there in Australia – at least not for us right now at this time of our life.

Sunrise over the Mekong River

It has not all been “latte’s and lazy living.” There have been unexpected challenges. We got a big shock when we found out we were not entitled to our old age pensions because Australia and Thailand do not have a reciprocal social security agreement.

I am not of pensionable age yet, but my husband is 66 and already a year over the age qualification. And he is still not eligible even though he worked 40 years and paid 50 cents on the dollar tax. That was a hefty blow to our daily economic situation. Any Aussies reading this and travelling in Thailand right now – beware if you have even a tiny dream that you would like to retire here and escape the cold of the southern states. Or if you want to live anywhere else in the world, check out the pension situation first. Or consider perhaps living overseas for part of the year.

Over the last 7 years we have tiptoed through the minefield of Thai laws, language, and cultural differences, with issues of etiquette and behavior so very different to our own. Yet we are still here. Give or take the odd day when we want to throw up our hands in horror and declare it is all too bloody hard and complicated… Then something nice or wonderful happens and all the doubts, disappointments and frustrations dissipate like the morning mists which hang over the hills of Laos.

Exotic water buffalo in Thailand

I wake up in the morning and I can see the Mekong River gliding past my house. I never get tired of the spectacular views up, down and around the river. I am greeted by my 3 little dogs and my husband chases them all out the door for a morning walk, I can have a quiet breakfast and then settle down to prepare my Cheeky-Monkey Yoga classes for the day. I feel comfortable and very much at home. It would be a great wrench to leave despite the things that make me “want to spit tacks.” Thank you Eartha Kitt for those words!

Naturally, there are a number of things I miss from home; my children, grandchildren my Mother and all my family. Yet it has still been a great experience and I am glad I am not missing out on any of it. I teach a little yoga to travelers and local alike and a little English, too. I am stumbling along trying to learn some more Thai language. I have a small group of lovely Thai friends, a nice little bunch of yoga students who keep me young, busy and active because they are all heaps younger than me.

I get around town on my 3 wheel tricycle. My husband and I go off together on the motor cycle with a saleng on the side (a “combo,” the English call them). It has bright yellow cushions because yellow is the favorite color of our King, we love our Thai King. From a western perspective, it probably all looks very quaint and odd, but to us it is very ordinary and every day. We have “Ziggy 2,” our Toyota truck which we take for long trips.

Dianne teaches yoga here

Anyone of you who love Thai food or like to bliss out and have regular Thai massages, pedicures, manicures, hang out at the salon and then take a nap in the afternoon – this is the place. Imagine the shopping! I could have shoes to match every item I have in my wardrobe. Well, except I do not have a wardrobe. Instead, I have a long bamboo pole that stretches right across the bedroom, and I have coconuts for door stoppers. Ours is not exactly material for “House & Home” magazine, but it all works for me.

Whoever you are, and wherever you are, if you have a little dream about retiring to somewhere other than your own country – for whatever reasons – then nourish and nurture that dream. At least be brave enough get out a map, check out the possibilities and explore your options. Please do all your homework, tick all the boxes, and read all the serious stuff as well as the fun stuff. Warning! Especially the fine print. Pack the boxes with only what you need and bless everything. Then take a big breath in, a big breath out and take the plunge……………..

“You will never, never know if you never, never go”

Glimpse of Laos from lodge in Chiang Khong

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Challenging My Legacy

Guest post by Laverne H. Bardy whose humorous, often irreverent, slant on life in general, and aging in particular, draws a large readership. She has been syndicated with Senior Wire News Service since 2004.  Her book, How The (Bleep) Did I Get This Old? was released in January, 2012, and is a compilation of the best of her columns.

Today, I left the house without making my bed. This may not sound like a big deal, but for me it was the ultimate act of rebellion and bravery. My mother warned me years ago that such abhorrent behavior could result in consequences of epic proportion; like what if unexpected company shows up and thinks I’m a slob?  Or, suppose the Bed Patrol knocks on my door demanding a bed check, and news of my reprehensible housekeeping ends up as headlines?

In the twenty years I lived at home I can’t recall ever seeing my parent’s bed unmade. I’m convinced they slept on the floor.

Dishes never touched the bottom of our sink. My mother carried them from the table directly to the faucet, washed, dried and put them away instantly. On rare occasion a dish might find itself drying on the dish rack overnight, but that was only if someone other than my mother put it there and, trust me, they heard about it in the morning.

I grew up knowing that the beautiful Lenox dishes in our china cabinet were only for company; people we hardly knew and saw just a few times a year. These acquaintances also enjoyed sterling silverware, fine linen table clothes and cut crystal goblets. Libby jelly glasses, chipped Melmac dishes and mismatched silverware were what my mother used daily for those she loved and cared about.

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Two decorative towels hung on our bathroom towel rack at all times. We were forbidden to use them and instructed to use the faded, frayed ones that doubled as dust rags. The pretty ones were, once again, for company. I suspect that if I used them, I would have choked on the accumulated dust from so many years of hanging there, unused.

Don’t get me wrong, my mother was a sensational home maker. She was always cleaning something. My friends had colorful porcelain ginger jars, and attractive flower arrangements artistically placed on their bathroom counters. Our bathroom sink was adorned with a can of Ajax cleanser and a sponge because my mother saw fit to wash the sink several times throughout each day.

In our basement was a huge professional steam iron like one you might see in the back room of your local cleaners. It sat atop the pool table that came with the house because the last owners didn’t know how to get it out. My mother would smooth the legs of my father’s work pants as she placed them on the lower half of the large flat iron. She then pulled the upper half of the iron down, applied body pressure, and watched the steam escape. But that didn’t happen until she first dipped the pants into heavy liquid starch. When they emerged from the iron they resembled two slabs of drywall, able to stand, unassisted. I have no idea why my father bought this monstrosity for my mother, but years later I decided it was nearly as romantic as the toaster my ex husband brought me for our 10th anniversary.

We had a weekly cleaning woman. Every Wednesday before Lulu came, my mother thoroughly cleaned the house so Lulu wouldn’t think she was a slob.

Lulu was loyal, and conscientious, but she didn’t have too much going on upstairs. One day she complained that she didn’t like Daylight Savings Time because it made her tired. We explained that her body would adjust in a few days. Then she added, “The part I hate most is getting up at 2:00 AM to set my clock ahead or back, like the newsman says I should.”

The day is nearly over and neither surprise company nor the Bed Patrol have rung my doorbell. It appears that my willingness to gamble has paid off. And to think that rather than take such a chance my poor mother slept on the floor.

Other posts by this author:

Behind Closed Doors

Battle of the Bulge

How the Home Shopping Network Turned Me into a Zebra

Open at Your Own Risk

Up, Up and Away – Or Not

An Apple a Day Doesn’t Work

Vacationing with a Stranger

Help! I’m Drowning in Minutiae

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Relocating: How Do I Choose the Clothes and Accessories to Bring?

Hello Akaisha,

I am now a few months from taking the leap of faith and retiring while I still have energy and a dream. I saw my mother wither away after my dad died…she never traveled again!

I think I will be ok moving to Mexico as my home base and going from there. Although I am not quite ready to be a world traveler like you and Billy, I do know that that I am a traveler at heart and need to move to a place where I can afford to live and travel. I do need to make some decisions about clothes and accessories (shoes are my biggest vice).

How did you choose, what did you choose or did you do a clean sweep and got rid of everything? What do regret not keeping?

Would love your advice.

Ours is a casual lifestyle. Here we are in China!

Your friend,

Elizabeth

Hi Elizabeth!

Thanks for writing and Congratulations on your upcoming new lifestyle!

I must admit that our transition to being “homeless” and traveling on a more-or-less constant basis wasn’t as smooth as one would think. Initially we sold about 95% of our stuff — and because in 1991 this idea of financial independence and early retirement was all new and I had no clue as to what it might turn out to be — I saved a good deal of my working clothes, shoes, bags, scarves and accessories.

Looking back, I should have sold or donated that stuff and if I found myself needing to work again, just spend $1,000 to get the basics and start over.

Boating in Laos. No high heels here!

What happened was that styles changed, my body shape changed, and things like high heels — for me — were not the kind of shoes I could navigate in on cobblestone streets and broken sidewalks. I had gorgeous snakeskin and eel skin bags and matching shoes — which, since I kept them — simply dried out without the joy of my wearing them to death.

My gallivanting lifestyle simply didn’t require this upscale sort of dressing anymore. It took me a very long time to let go — I hate to admit it — because I loved these classic items and always thought “someday…” For me, it was a fantasy that never made it into reality.

Don’t be surprised if in your new life, nothing will work quite the same way as it does in your native city or town. I can’t tell you how many times I wore my LOUD NEON and bright floral California clothing that looked SO FINE in California or Hawaii, but was simply out of place or made me a target in a colonial city in Mexico or South America.

Bare footin’ in Phuket, Thailand

Or, wearing gorgeous pastel yellows and corals in NYC which thrives on blacks, grays and leather. I wore cutsie cork colored open toed shoes in rainy climates which the mud totally destroyed or beautiful jeweled sandals while walking on the shore to the next beachfront restaurant while the waves lapped over my feet and the sand ground in between my toes… silly stuff!

Another difference in my lifestyle — but perhaps not your new one — is that we, by choice, don’t own a car. That means we go from the front door of our apartment or hotel room and walk to the Plaza to get a taxi or grab a bus or — depending on which country — jump in the back of a small pickup truck or hail down a tuk-tuk. Comfortable shoes are a must in these situations. Often I will join dinner parties where the women there have gorgeous, delicate, high end shoes on – but they have come from their front door, to their car, to the front door of the theater, fundraising event or restaurant.

They have a different mode of living and it’s all good — it’s just that I would hate to have to own a car to support my choice in footwear.

Walking down the gravel trail to the airplane, Laos.

Scarves and faux jewelry can be purchased in your new location. Those items are affordable and will “update” anything basic that you choose to carry with you from your previous lifestyle.

My strongest suggestion would be to choose bags and shoes that are the most comfortable, the ones that will go with the most outfits you own and then pick one or two things that you just “must have and can’t live without.” Remember that practical is paramount and keep whimsical shoes for special occasions.

Of course, all of these choices are up to you and the important thing is to be happy.

I know I’ve told you this before, but I am very lustful of your Zebra striped high heels and if you choose to leave them behind, please mail them to me. I promise you can borrow them anytime, but you might have to come to Cambodia or Nicaragua to get them! 😉

Every good thing to you, Elizabeth, and thanks for keeping in touch.

Akaisha

Don’t be pushed by your problems. Be led by your dreams.

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Spectacular Surprise Sixtieth

Canadian-born Jody Hanson often quips that she never, ever, ever wants to see snow again and that the only acceptable ice is in her vodka and tonic. Consequently, she made an active choice and has lived most of her adult life overseas: Nigeria, China, New Zealand, Australia, Morocco, Chile and Argentina. In 2010 she carved out a niche as a freelance writer and editor and now follows the summers.

Mirror image?

When I showed the Nurse – as we call her – the email from Scott she immediately squealed, “You have to go.”

Scott is my kindred spirit from Sydney. We are uncannily alike in so many ways that it is scary; think of a mirror reflection of me. Interestingly enough, we arrived at the same space from diametrically opposed directions. Fortunately, we do have our differences as otherwise our “sameness” might be illegal.

No arguments please

A man of few words, Scott does things simply because he can. Or doesn’t, even though he could, depending on the situation. He wrote that he had organized a surprise for my birthday. Peter — whom he knows from his Sandhurst days — owns the River Lodge on the Zambian side of Victoria Falls and I was to go there. And he ended his message with “Transport has been arranged for 11:00. No arguments please.”

What to wear, what to wear? I travel with a carry-on and have this idiosyncratic “rule” that if you don’t wear every item of clothing at least once you didn’t get it right. Yes, yes I know I’m becoming increasingly eccentric and/or neurotic, but you have to give me a break as I had just turned 60 that morning. So I proceeded to cobble together a Carmen-inspired outfit to go with the necklace I bought myself as a 60th present in Cape Town.

Jody and Scott at the Lodge, photo by Monique James

The driver appeared, the passport was stamped and another driver waited for me on the Zambian side. He carried on after the sign to the River Lodge and then turned left down a buffalo trail that had grass growing between the tire tracks. A helicopter ride perhaps? Scott owns a Bell and he knows I enjoy flying.

The Zambezi appeared before us. As I stepped out of the van Peter greeted me and said we would go to the lodge by boat. I clamoured onto the waiting jetty – graceful in such situations has never been my forte – and noticed a man with his back to me. He slowly turned around and there stood my 60th birthday present: Scott.

The presents keep coming

We meandered back to the lodge, getting close to some hippos in the river and watching four elephants – two standing and two laying – under a tree. Very African safari stuff. Peter said the animals in the area know the sound of his outboard motor and aren’t scared, which is why he can get so close.

As I walked towards the lodge, a blond woman came towards me with her arms held out and said “And I’m Monique James.” Surprise number two as I’d introduced Scott and Monique to each other years ago. And I got to meet Sarah, a delightful woman Scott has known forever, who had come along. 

Lunch was served in the gazebo. I will leave it to your imagination to droll about how good it was. Peter whacked the cork off the third bottle of champagne with the bottom of a wine glass. It cracked the glass perfectly so that it broke cleanly with the cork still embedded. The force of the bubbles kept anything from going back into the bottle. Scott sniffed and said it really should have been properly executed with a sword. I asked Peter if he had practiced on bottles of Baby Duck before moving on to Verve. He shot me a look that answered the question.

A birthday cake – complete with candles — appeared. I kept blowing and they kept relighting. Scott had brought them with him to make me puff for my wish.

Victoria Falls from the air – photo by Monique James

A rocky start

After lunch we piled into the lodge van and headed to the helicopter field for a 30-minute flight over Victoria Falls. The first attempt had to be aborted as it started to rain. Walking away Scott and I looked at each other as the pilot’s rocking-landing had been so bad even I noticed.

On the second go we flew over the falls — breathtaking panoramic view — and then followed a gorge. I was a touch twitchy as we were close to the rocks. Even the slightest ding in a propeller and it would have been a fast drop into the white water below. Scott critiqued the ride and said it was the “weightlessness” drops that had worried him.

Lounging perfection moves into delightful dinner

High tea was waiting when we returned to the lodge. Monique decided to nap, Sarah had a pedicure and Scott wanted to fish so I went to the dock with him. After one cast a boat arrived so there wasn’t even enough time for a one-that-got-away story to develop.

We moved to the lounge in Scott’s stilted tree-house that overlooked the Zambezi. It was literally on top of the water, but the pet hippo who hangs around the lodge didn’t make an appearance. It was a delightful time. The four years since I’d left Sydney had slid away the moment I saw Scott on the boat and we had picked up where we left off. I draw on his strength and energy. He thinks I have some sort of spark embedded.

In the evening, Trudy from the lodge joined us for dinner in the gazebo. We regaled each other with stories and opinions not often found at a dinner party. She was a touch wide-eyed and confessed that her assumptions had been challenged. On the walk back to the lodge to escape the mosquitoes I stage-whispered to Scott that it was a good thing we hadn’t included accounts of our truly outrageous antics as it might have hospitalized her.

A border goodbye

At 21:15 Peter arrived to whisk me away to the border. I was on a day-pass and had to cross before it closed at 22:00. Scott knows he is a central person in my life, and I wanted to remind him of that as we walked towards the van. He came back with “It will have to wait until the next unexpected catch-up. And no, I won’t be giving you any notice for that one either.”

My surprise sixtieth can only be described as spectacular. And, frankly, Scott is the only person on the planet I know who would do it simply because he could: flights, accommodation, meals, a helicopter trip and a birthday cake with trick candles.

Magic.  

My only regret is that I returned Scott’s sweater just before the van pulled away. He laughed and said, “Now that you’re going to be in Cambodia it is easier to see you as I’m in and out of Asia regularly. The plan was to collect the jumper for your 61st.”

That constitutes cruel and unusual punishment!

Other articles by this Author:

The Lighter Side of the Black Market

Santiago Cooks

Galapagos on the Cheap

Posted in Guest Blog Posts, Heart Song, Women's Work | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Behind Closed Doors

Guest post by Laverne H. Bardy whose humorous, often irreverent, slant on life in general, and aging in particular, draws a large readership. She has been syndicated with Senior Wire News Service since 2004.  Her book, How The (Bleep) Did I Get This Old? was released in January, 2012, and is a compilation of the best of her columns.   

I was sitting with a group of old girlfriends; old being the operative word. We meet at each other’s home, with our husbands, four times a year. Weather permitting, the men play golf while the women stay behind, wolfing down chips, nuts, cheese and crackers, and kvetching about how impossible it is to lose weight. Over the years our conversations have moved from breast feeding and potty training to impossible teenagers to the aches and pains of aging.

On this particular afternoon we were raving about our talented, beautiful grandchildren and complaining about our husbands, and their sex drives that showed no sign of dwindling. We wondered how it was that aging had zapped them of energy for yard work, and housework, but they were always up for sex…(pun intended).

Our husbands would probably blush if they knew what we talk about when they’re not around. They probably think we discuss shoe styles, recipes and fifty ways to sexually satisfy them. Those topics, seen slashed across covers of women’s magazines, may be addressed in the Thirty Something circle, but they rarely cross the lips of my Down And Dirty Well-Over-Sixty girlfriends –- especially if a bottle of Merlot is involved.

For years there has been a hushed battle between couples married thirty or more years. Most men in these relationships continue to want sex on a regular basis – like once a day. Women also enjoy sex on a regular basis; but more like once a month. This issue may have remained under cover, so to speak, were it not for the creation of Viagra, and Senator Bob Dole’s candid television talks about it back in 1999. These two events enlightened the world to the fact that older couples not only “do it” but are intent on doing it clear into senility. This new drug has caused men to pound their chests and howl like Tarzan, while their Janes can often be found hiding in fetal positions, on the floor of closed closets.

The accepted theory is that man’s desire for sex is nature’s way of assuring propagation. Towards this goal God, in His infinite wisdom, created Little Helpers, in the form of Playboy Magazine, Fredericks of Hollywood, Victoria’s Secret, and the Wonder Bra, and since when do men need a special bra to ensure that they’ll notice women’s breasts? Recent years have brought a litany of additional male enhancement drugs, with Viagra still leading the pack.

I thought I’d spice things up by asking my girlfriends direct questions about their sex lives. We’re pretty candid with each other so I didn’t think they would object. Each has been married over forty years, with the exception of me. I had been married for twenty three years, divorced for twenty three, and was now remarried, for five years. We were all anxious to talk; mostly about our timeworn libidos.

“He wants sex every damn morning,” complained Vicki. “I can’t sneak out of bed fast enough. His eyes barely open and he lunges for me.”

“Well,” Michelle chimed in, “I’m still asleep and looking like a raccoon with yesterday’s smeared eye makeup, and morning breath that could win a war but does any of that matter to Don?  Nooooo. ‘There’s only one thing I’m interested in,’ he said, ‘and it doesn’t involve your breath or your face,’ he winked.”

“‘Doesn’t it bother you that I’m not mentally here to enjoy it with you?” I asked him. ‘Not at all,’ he answered. So we compromised. I told him he could do whatever he wanted with me so long as he didn’t wake me up me in the process.”

“I’m afraid to sleep with my back to Bob,” said Vicki. “I did that once and was rudely awakened when he bulldozed me onto the floor in the throes of passion.”

Denise smiled. “The best thing that ever happen to me was Al’s blood pressure pills. They render him helpless.”

“I’ve always enjoyed sex,” I admitted, “but somewhere along the way my sex drive plummeted. I knew it wasn’t fair to Marc. My gynecologist suggested adding a little testosterone to my estrogen prescription, confident it would perk up my libido. It didn’t. But it worked out great. My voice dropped an octave, and I grew facial hair, so Marc is no longer interested.”

I continued probing. “Do you think another man, other than your husband, might be capable of turning you on?” I asked.

“Absolutely.” “Damn tootin’.” “You betcha’.” They each responded positively.

“So,” I continued, “it’s not that you have lost interest in sex; it’s that you’ve lost interest in sex with your husbands.”

“It would seem that way,” said Michelle. “After 48 years with the same man it’s like a robotic dance,” she continued. “One. Two. Three. Moooan.”

“It’s like a new dress,” said Sondra. “After wearing it a few dozen times it’s hard to get excited about it anymore, and you find yourself wanting to head to the mall for something new.”

Michelle jumped back in. “Viagra is killing me. Since his retirement, I swear, sex is Don’s new hobby. I begged him to find something else to do; something that doesn’t involve me, but he flashed an evil grin, and said it’s more fun with me.”

“A form of Viagra is now being used by women,” I said. “Some believe it helps and others say it doesn’t. It’s hard to know because it’s difficult to measure impotency in women; we don’t get erections. And there’s so much more to deal with like difficulty getting aroused, painful dryness,………….. ……………..” “……..and it can take so long to reach orgasm you’re both certain the Messiah will come before you do,” interrupted Michele.

Everyone laughed and shook their heads in agreement.

Nothing was solved at this gathering, but I think we were happy to discover we were not alone in the way we felt.

How comforting for men to know that when their sexual desire no longer matches their performance ability, there will always be doctors, scientists and the FDA working overtime to restore their joy and pleasure. It seems to me that if God could create majestic mountains, magnificent oceans, and men with sex drives that last far beyond child bearing years, He could have put more time and effort into spicing up aging women’s sagging libidos. As it is, the playing fields are not equal.

Other posts by this author:

Battle of the Bulge

How the Home Shopping Network Turned Me into a Zebra

Open at Your Own Risk

Up, Up and Away – Or Not

An Apple a Day Doesn’t Work

Vacationing with a Stranger

Help! I’m Drowning in Minutiae

 

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That’s Life

I walked right into this one.

It was the Tuesday after Easter and Felicia, our maid, showed up to clean our sunny studio apartment which we rented for our short stay in Chapala, Mexico.

Easter is a BIG deal here in Latin America. If one is looking for topics of conversation with locals, it’s always safe to ask about family, church holidays, and the weather.

The beautiful malecon in Chapala

“Did you have a good Easter?” I asked.

Felicia’s blank look took me by surprise.

“You know, there’s Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday, then Easter. Did you have a good Easter?”

“No,” she said. “I had to work. I work every Sunday. All day. I take the bus to Guadalajara and clean this lady’s house.”

I couldn’t help myself. “Even Easter?” I asked incredulously.

“Yes. I have to work, I have no choice. My husband is sick.”

Oh boy. Emotionally, I didn’t want to be here. I tried to have a light, friendly conversation on a safe topic and here I am, right in the middle of it. Many times the husbands of these working class people have back problems from the manual labor they do. I just assumed that was the issue, but I couldn’t retreat from the conversation now. Should I just pretend I didn’t hear her response or that I didn’t understand her Spanish? Or maybe I should be rude, turn my head and not continue our chat.

The pier at Lake Chapala

But you know that’s just not me. I had to move forward now that I was here, and the only way out was through.

“Oh… problems with his back?” I returned. “How old is he?”

“No. No problems with his back. He’s 45 years old and has been sick since he was 37. He has seizures. Do you know about Epilepsy?”

I wasn’t really expecting this. Yes, I was familiar with epilepsy and seizures but the people I knew had the disease contained with medication.

“He can’t work because he never knows when he’s going to have an attack. He falls, hits his head. He doesn’t remember things. He takes 9 pills every day for this, but nothing works.”

Now it was my turn to look at her blankly. I really didn’t know what to say.

Felicia continued. “He has no more upper teeth or lower teeth because the falls knocked them out. And the left side of his tongue is gone because he bit it off.”

I had no more words to say. I had no answers. Not even suggestions.

“That’s life,” she said as she went back to mopping the floor.

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Orthopedic Care in Guatemala

Guest post by Lori Shea, Owner, Guatemala Medical Travel.  Lori first arrived in Rio Dulce, Guatemala aboard a sailboat in 2005 and had a home and business there for two years. For more information on Cancer therapies visit her website.

With no conscious effort at all, our bones, joints and muscles engage as one miraculous mechanical unit. They propel us forward, as intended, with perfectly syncopated balance and strength. That is, until the pain starts.

Sometimes it’s a dull ache in the hips or a “slippery,” unstable feeling in the knees that gives you concern. Ibuprophen and other anti-inflammatories can work wonders to reduce discomfort. However, when the pain keeps you up at night, and it’s difficult to rise from sitting, it is time to see the doctor.

About hips

X-rays may show loss of the cartilage in the hip socket and a “bone-on-bone” appearance. Bone spurs and bone cysts are commonly seen on detailed diagnostic scans like magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or computed tomography (CT) scans. The goal of hip replacement surgery is to relieve pain and increase the mobility and function of a damaged hip joint, and is usually considered only when other therapies, such as physical therapy and pain medications, have failed.

Minimally invasive hip replacement allows the surgeon to perform the hip replacement through one or two small incisions. Patients usually have less pain compared with traditional hip replacement surgery, and rehabilitation is faster.

Total hip replacement, called total hip arthroplasty, is a common orthopedic procedure also; it involves removing the head of the thighbone (femur) and replacing the ball-and-socket mechanism of the hip with artificial implants.

Hip prostheses consist of a ball component, made of metal or ceramic, and a socket, which has an insert or liner made of plastic, ceramic or metal. The femoral component is generally cobalt chromium combined with titanium, which induces bone growth into the implant. The ceramic head of the acetabular cup is coated with bone growth inducing material. The implants used in hip replacement are bio-compatible—meaning they’re designed to be accepted by your body—and they’re made to resist corrosion, degradation and wear.

Do not let Fear make your decisions for you. Risk has a price and so does security.

Leading experts

In Guatemala, Dr. Guillermo Claverie is a leading figure in the field of orthopedics. He has over 25 years of experience and performs 500 total hip and knee replacements per year. Dr. Claverie has documented high success rates with private patients from all around the world, and with local Guatemalans who benefit from low-cost surgeries through his charitable foundation, Fundaorto. The Guatemalan-American Foundation for Advanced Orthopedic Surgery was founded by Dr. Claverie and his wife in 1999.

US prices on left, Guatemala prices on right

Arthroscopy is a common surgical procedure in which a joint (arthro-) is viewed (-scopy) using a small camera. During the procedure, your orthopedic surgeon inserts the arthroscope (a small camera instrument about the size of a pencil) into your knee joint. The arthroscope sends the image to a high-definition television monitor so that your surgeon can see the structures of the knee in great detail. Arthroscopy is a very effective tool that allows your surgeon to feel, repair or remove damaged tissue.

In the prestigious and modern Multimedica Hospital in Guatemala City, Dr. Álvaro Collia has specialized in traumatology, orthopedics and sports medicine for over 11 years. In his practice, he normally treats 300-350 cases of shoulder, hip and knee problems per month. Dr. Collia performs about 20 total hip and knee replacements every month with nearly 100% successful results and patient satisfaction. Since 2010, Dr. Collia has been researching both minimally invasive surgery methods and stem cell therapies in order to offer his patients the most cutting-edge medical treatments available.

Durable and flexible materials used

The materials used in artificial joints vary, depending on the type of joint being replaced and how the joint needs to function.

Hip joints, for example, need to be sturdy and able to bear your body’s weight. Knee joints need to be flexible as well as strong. In general, the components must be durable, flexible and able to function in the body without causing an immune system reaction.

Replacements for hip and knee joints include portions made from metal, such as stainless steel, titanium or chrome and cobalt alloys. The patella or kneecap replacement is made of a strong, durable plastic called polyethylene. The zirconium implants are made of metal that has gone through a process that allows oxygen to absorb into the metal, creating a ceramic surface. These implants incorporate the benefits of a smooth surface with the benefits of a hard material, making it an ideal option for both hips and knees.

Artificial joints have improved greatly since they were first introduced around 40 years ago, and all the finest high-tech Biomet implants are imported to Guatemala direct from the manufacturer. There are new types of knee replacement parts that are highly flexible, allowing the knee to bend up to 155 degrees. The pieces are designed to fit perfectly together and to function as closely as possible to a natural joint. Special bone cement is used in some cases to hold static parts of the artificial joint in place.

While traditional implants last about 15 years, those made of these newer materials potentially can last up to 20 or 25 years. Guatemalan surgeons, with many years of global training, extensive practical experience and cutting-edge technical instrumentation, are striding gracefully and confidently into the future.

Other articles by this author:

Buying Medical Care vs. Buying Medical Insurance

Cancer Treatment in Guatemala

Stem Cell Therapy – The Future

To watch an insightful and instructive video on Guatemala Medical Travel with interviews of both Doctors and Patients, Click Here 

Interview with Lori Shea, Owner, Guatemala Medical Travel

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Questions on Continuous Care in Latin America

Hi guys,

My husband and I just love all of the info we get from you! We are in the investigation phase of our plan to live abroad and one of the things we haven’t been able to get any info on is Continuing Care in other countries, especially Latin America. We’re all going to reach a point in our lives where we won’t be able to live independently anymore and what happens at that point?

If we have chosen to move to another country, get involved in the community and make new friends we probably won’t want to come back to the US, plus the cost of care here is already astronomical. Who knows what it will be in another 10+ years. What plans have you and Billy made for such a time? We don’t have any kids to take care of us at that time, but I would imagine that there are folks with kids who still would not want to come back to the US to live.

Thanks for all you do!

Linda

Reduce your cost of living. Pay less for medical care. Find better weather. Create a healthier way of life.

Hi Linda,

Thank you for writing to express such kind comments about our work here on Retire Early Lifestyle. We very much appreciate it!

Your question about Continuing Care in other countries is an excellent one. Especially as we Boomers age, the receiving of live-in care or having assisted living facilities available would simply be the next phase of our age group receiving medical attention.

We may be young at heart, but we are all aging.

What we can tell you from our observation and experience is that the countries which are supplying Medical Tourism on one level or another as a business enterprise, are very aware that we are a large consumer group. It is in their best interest to prepare for a wave of Americans who will need this next level of care.

We know that there are some enterprising Expats who are renovating houses and providing for convalescent nursing home services (I believe there is one located in Ajijic, in the Lake Chapala area). Some of these specialize in stroke victims or Alzheimer’s patients. There are local services in larger towns and cities (Ensenada, Puerto Vallarta, Rosarita, Puerto Escondido, Guadalajara, all located in Mexico or Antigua or Guatemala City in Guatemala) which can envision this business opportunity and are organizing in-home nursing assistance where you pay by the hour.

To learn more about the benefits of medical tourism, international dentists, hospitals, clinics, and insurance click here

Towns and cities where there are larger groups of Expats would be the places to look for these up and coming needed services. Our aging is the next swell of business opportunity, and medical professionals will want to capitalize on this. And I would certainly look into the already-organized volunteer groups in any community to find out the latest news and projects. They will know what’s going on – if anything – on this topic.

On a smaller, more personal level, one could live almost anywhere in Latin America and – after becoming involved in the community somewhat – you could hire a local to take care of things like housekeeping, shopping and cooking. This would be more affordable than you would now imagine with nothing comparable available in the States. I would contact the hospitals and clinics in any area where you are living and arrange with them for nursing care. They would know of nurses available for hire or perhaps put you in touch with someone who could facilitate this. Don’t forget, there are still doctors in Latin America who make house calls and actually have your best health interests in mind. These medical professionals will arrange for what you need, and this is something for which Billy and I can personally vouch.

I would say in general that this is probably still a fairly fluid situation at the moment but not a vast desert with no answers in sight.

Still, for most people, the language barrier, cultural variations and the differences in food will be a daunting challenge. And it seems as people age, they become less flexible of mind and that in itself poses a problem.

For info on bio-nutrition, Naturopathic Doctors, sports medicine, preventative care, leading edge medical approaches click here

The solutions for this next stage will come about, I have no doubt. I don’t believe that they are fully in place now, and there might be some bumpy roads to traverse in the meanwhile. But if you think about it, there are thousands of resourceful people who all want this to happen, and so it will. It will be a partnership with those of us who require this assistance and those who are able to provide it.

I hope you find my response to be useful and please feel free to write any time. In your travels, if you find any viable information yourselves, we would love to pass it on to our readers.

Wishing you all the best,

Akaisha and Billy

 For other related stories and information click here

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