Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Snow Day

Yes folks, you know you are in Colorado when it was sixty five plus degrees and sunny on the weekend, and this appears outside your window two days later.

Through the dirty screens, as I wasn't ready to reach out the door this morning!
Having become a weather wimp in my middle age, these are the days that make my brain yell, "Snowbird next year".  Only...it was sixty five and sunny last weekend, and it will be fifty plus degrees and sunny again in just a few days (thankfully sunny days and elevation make the weather feel ten degrees warmer!). As an example, I have dirty screens because I use them year around and don't take them down in the winter. They were open last weekend and may well be this weekend for awhile.

So while i have committed to some warm beach vacations (and even a winter cruise) in my immediate and long term future, I can manage for this year (and other years) by knowing that my self enforced hibernation today is nothing compared to those who live in the Northeast, Midwest, and dark Northwest. 

This means that while I am willingly housebound today (and possibly part of tomorrow), I am keeping myself busy and warm. Today I am:
-Keeping the heat at seventy four at a minimum (it was at seventy five for awhile), and lowering it no lower than seventy since we have a brief spurt of ten degree weather overnight. Yes, I am willing to pay the cost for comfortable heating, and not having to wear three or four layers. I would cut many things before my heat.
-Eating real eggs, two pieces of toast slathered with butter and sugar and cinnamon and a glass of real OJ rather than my usual cutie or orange. My version of comfort food. 

-Staying in my sweats, fuzzy socks and thermal shirts. The chance of someone appearing on my doors step is fairly slim today.

-Pulling out a ham steak and potatoes for mashing, and being thankful that I am one of those people who stocks up. This snowstorm is a 48 hour deal that will melt in two days, but I could live from my pantry and freezer and feed company for a week if I had to.

-Downloading a new kindle book with no regard to price. Last year I spent way too much on kindle books and have vowed to use the library and access more free books. Sometimes, though, you just gotta do what you gotta do.

-Reading said book on my old faded, shared with a dog chair and a half. I'm searching for a recliner, finally. But it has to be a non rocking version (so the dog can jump in), and one where the seat is not lower than my knees when I sit down. It also needs to close up via a handle or lever, not by me using my legs (cause that will never happen. More about what's new with my leg another time).

-Watching my college student clear of our walk and driveway (it's still snowing) with the electric shovel purchased today and then going off to do a couple quick jobs. His college schedule fills up four whole days each week this semester, leaving him only snow days and Friday and Saturday to do odd jobs, snow removal or anything else. 

-Promising myself that I will either finish the current project on my sewing table and/or start designing a quilt with these fabrics and enter it into a challenge contest. 

-Really appreciating the fact that because I am retired, I don't need to leave the house unless I want to. No employer is going to suggest, for example, that because he or she made it to work, I should do the same. Volunteer and social obligations understand missing a day or rescheduling.

-Looking at this all-year seasonal ornament tree I got and trying to decide if I am going to make paper and fabric ornaments for my home, or donate this to my residential homeless shelter. Since I love to see their eyes light up, probably the latter.

-Thinking about a fire, but only halfheartedly. I am blessed to have a well insulated house, so it's really for ambiance rather than warmth and we keep it small using Dura-logs or pinion wood. 

Right now the snow is supposed to stop by dinner time. So tomorrow I should be able to head over to knitting in the afternoon, and may be ready for a hot toddy at happy hour.  Meanwhile, excuse me if I snuggle just  a bit!   



Monday, February 1, 2016

Exploring Colorado-Cherokee Castle and High Tea

You know, no matter where we live,  we have probably not seen everything there is to see and do in our own little corner of the world.  I lived in Washington DC for twenty years and still have not been to every museum and monument in that town. One of my goals is to try and take at least two trips a month to explore Denver or Colorado, and these week was one of those times.

My darling sister-in-law had hinted before Christmas that she would really like a girl's day out, and since I knew there was nothing she really needed that was my gift for Christmas.  On Saturday, we went to our local Cherokee Ranch and Castle, where we had high tea and took an hour castle tour. Not wanting to drag along a second camera, I relied on my trusty phone camera for photos. As you can see my photography is improving-but slowly! 

A stock photo, taken from the website,with a view my camera simply would not take!

The history of Cherokee Castle (and Ranch) is fairly unique. Made up of several homesteads, the land was purchased in the 1920s by a family who then built a Scottish style castle to order!  The family died and/or moved away eventually, and in the fifties the house was sold to Tweet Kimble.  Tweet was a unique woman-on the one hand, she threw parties four nights a week. On the other hand, she was a cattle rancher who imported a unique breed (Santa Gertrude) of cattle from Kingman, Texas to her Colorado Ranch.  She went against the grain as these cattle were bred for flat, hot Texas weather, but she made a success of her ranch here in Colorado, and expanded interest of the breed around the world.

A painting of one of the cattle brought to Colorado from Texas

Tweet ( Mildred Montague Genevieve) Kimball was also well traveled, and brought back art from all over the world (mainly Europe).  Put simply, she lived like a monarch much of the time. This was a woman who threw parties for people like Princess Anne of England and then went out to the stables or to check on the cows in a cowboy hat and full length fur coat.  

When Tweet died, her will provided for the Cherokee foundation so that people could explore and see the castle, as well as the ranch, and all the collections inside are now open to the people of Colorado and all visitors.  In addition to tours, the castle holds a variety of events, from teas to music concerts, to readings and even weddings. And they still raise and breed cattle (for show, rather than for slaughter).

This  weekend we had the kind of weather that reminds me why I live in Colorado. The weather  was sixty five and sunny, making it feel like almost seventy as we are that mile closer to the sun.  It really was the perfect day to take my sister in law to the castle, where we had that high tea and tour. Now, high tea can be a one of a kind experience, and one I don't get too often. There were chicken salad and cucumber sandwiches, gourmet tarts and scones, and everything savory or sweet. I had a Chai tea that was spiced with mulling spices, while my sister in law stuck with English Breakfast tea.

Not the best photo but you can get an idea of the types of goodies we enjoyed!

The great hall, where we had tea.  The animal heads are behind me.

Another photo of the great hall.

We were seated at one end of the hall, and these beauties were almost above me!

After an hour of high tea and music in the great hall (while stuffed heads looked on from above), we began the tour part of our program. I'm not sure which was more impressive, the stunning views from the windows and balconies, or the amount of art that had been collected. We saw Portuguese blue tile murals, a medieval set of armor and beheading swords, a civil war gun, and an ebony dresser inlaid with ivory that showed all of Aesop's fables. I saw a painting by Winston Churchill, and a bed in which Charles II supposedly slept and so much more. In fact, I managed to tour the whole castle with the exception of the upper tower (steep steps and no railing of any kind left me well behind).

Portuguese Tile Mural of Horses (tweet also loved horses)

I took this picture across the room so it is not the greatest (all done with my phone). The ivory is inlaid.
World War One Gun -apparently her teenage boys thought it was fun to play with so she had it filled up.

Top half of an antique Bavarian Cukoo clock

A picture painted by Winston Churchill of one of his homes-covered in glass so there is a reflection

The balcony was closed because of high winds in the afternoon, but you can get an idea of the view from this picture.

Yes, this is midieval armor-and the bars are beheading swords
Tweet's burial place and memorial gardens on the huge estate!

Tweet's "intimate" dining room, with five leaves for entertaining

Happily, my sister also had a lovely time and enjoyed our girl's day out just as much as I did.  One of my goals for the new year is to explore Denver and Colorado by taking a couple trips every month.  Hopefully every adventure is as fun as this one!

This was a fun outing, and worth the 45 dollars per person, believe me!

For more information on Tweet or the Castle, check out this link!!



Friday, January 29, 2016

A Rocky Mountain High-Retirement That is!

Over the Christmas holidays, we drove to Dallas for Christmas.  Since it was scheduled to be eighty degrees both on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, we stowed our coats in the back of the car, rather than in the back seat.  As we were approaching the beautiful downtown center of Amarillo, my son said to me "Oh, It will be fifty degrees in Amarillo, so we will be fine.". He of course, was thinking of fifty degrees in Colorado-where you are a mile closer to the son, and it is partly sunny every day. A sunny day in Denver means you wear a hoodie at he most,k and often stow it in the car.  Car windows may even be rolled down.

Unfortunately, we were no longer in Colorado. We were on the windy plains under dark skies, and in Amarillo at fifty degrees, I was reaching (literally) for my anorak in the back of the car.  Fortunately it was almost eighty in Dallas - at least for two days. Then of course, there was a killer tornado, then freezing rain, then seventy degrees and sunny. All within five days. You really have to love Texas weather.

This weekend, it is supposed to snow, and not just light dusting.  Not something I love.  But you know what?  Last week it snowed for a day straight, giving us  a half a foot of snow.  The thing is though, by about one the next day, my car was completely clear, and without my cleaning it off. 

Many long time readers know that although I wanted to be closer to family, I did have some real hesitation about the weather.  The truth is that there are days when I stay inside due to the snow, and in fact I have looked at least briefly at snow birding. But for much of the year the Denver weather is perfect for those of us who like the four seasons, and I'm not the only one who thinks so.  Retirees are flocking to Colorado. And to Utah, and to Boise.  Don't get me wrong, there are plenty of retirees who still head to the Florida, Arizona or other southern areas. The Austin and Hill country areas of Texas have doubled their number of retirees.

I can only guess the reasons for relocation to some of these areas. Most of my retired friends come from the true cold cold north (Pennsylvania, Michigan, New York, the Dakotas and New England), but I have other retired friends who have moved from Texas and southern climes as well. The sunny-ness level is certainly a positive, as is the access to so many things to do without being in a huge city.  It is one can be "out in the suburbs" and reach downtown Denver with ease.

When I moved north, my plan at that time was to at least consider the snow bird lifestyle. During the first two years,  was determined to stay in Denver, not do too much long term traveling, and spend my time acclimating and making new connections. I have done that, and am prepared to do some more serious traveling (or vacationing, as I will spend a week at the beach)  beginning in late spring and early summer. 

One of my planned trips is to vacation for at least a week in the Corpus Christi area of Texas, stopping in San Antonio on the way and Houston on the return.  While there, I will  be checking out the various snowbird and retirement sites, including some I have checked out online. If I ever do snowbird, it will surely be on the water. 

In truth though, I think that will not be the choice. In the future, I'll be sure to take a couple weeks, perhaps twice each time, in the winter and early spring, on an as needed basis. As for snow birding, I don't think it's for me, at least anytime soon.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Thoughts on Widowhood

One of the things I've been meaning to write more about on this retirement blog is widowhood. It's something I rarely touch on, and it's probably overdue. I've been planning a series of blog posts on the topic that will cover from the time my husband became ill, until now.  Meanwhile, while I have lots to write about, two people have asked me specifically about how to talk to or include widowed friends.  Also, in the past year I've seen some family members and friends who have lost spouses and significant others, friends and relatives seem unsure how to deal with the widowed person that they know.

So,  since I'm crazy busy in the middle of a project, here are just a few stream of consciousness thoughts on my perspective of widowhood, that may be of value in no particular order.

First, someone on another blog (forget where) said that we live in glass houses, and it's true. We are judged by how we grieve. We are publicly judged by how we deal with our pain.  We should read a book on grieving, grieve longer, have gotten over it sooner, not laugh in public, laugh in public. Those stages of grieving are rough outlines at best, and rarely happen in specific order or on a time table. My husband died in 2006, and while I have an active, full life, I still went to a grief seminar here in Colorado, since I have moved.

I say again, we all grieve differently. By a year and a half after my husbands death I had given away his clothes all except a few personal items and t-shirts. Other people hang on, and do what works for them. I never cried when my husband was ill, but during his illness our dog (then about thirteen) became ill. On the half hour drive back from the vet, where he was left to be treated, I cried all the say home. There is no time, where it is appropriate to move on. We all react differently..

Don't just be "there" during the first weeks or so.  Those first few weeks are often not the worse time of the grieving process as you are involved-with kids, family, funeral  planning, decision making, thank you note writing.Eventually, though, family may have to return to where they live, the busyness stops and THAT is when your friend needs you for the proverbial long haul.  When you think the worst is over is when your widowed or widower friend is going through their worst and most difficult time. Six months is generally the most depressing and dangerous time for survivors, and the one year anniversary can be devastating.

Don't be afraid to talk about my husband or wife, even if it makes you or me uncomfortable. The most offensive thing is for you to avoid mentioning his name, or cut off conversations when you start talking about him. It hurts me when you act like he never existed. Casually bring him or her up in conversation when appropriate, and on occasion (only if you know it is 100 percent true), say things like , "That would have made John crazy".

The best things you can say are "I'm Sorry", or "How Can I Help You" (and mean the latter). The worse things you can say are "I know how you feel", "I know what you are going through", "I know how hard this is for you", "It was for the best", or "It's a blessing".  Even worse is "You'll find love again", or "At least you had him/her for so many number of years". Even if any of these are true,  please keep these thoughts to yourself.  We all know you mean well, and it can be difficult to know what to say.  Still, less is more in this area. Also, don't ask how much money he left me, if I still cry, if I have started dating............!! Say "I miss him too", or "I know you miss him".

Instead of just commiserating or offering sympathy, help me. Say, "What can I do?" and mean it. I am overwhelmed and often frozen. Bring me a casserole, and not just during that first week. Take me to lunch and make sure I eat. If I still have kids at home, take them somewhere for a few hours.  If you are a professional or have a skill, offer it up. None of this applies to women only. In fact, traditionally women are better at finding support and neighborhood connections than men. 

Don't be afraid to invite me to your party or event, even if everyone else is a couple. Might I get emotional about that? Possibly. But I would rather be with friends I know, and it's not like I lost all my social skills or need for your friendship when my husband died.

 Know that I am not fine, even if I look fine and you think I talk normallyBe the friend you always have been, even if I am unable to do so.  Know that for the first full year I am barely keeping up. I may miss engagements. I may not call you or I may turn down your invitations.  Eventually though, I will come out of that pit again, and I will need those friends. So even if I said no to lunch, ask again next month, and the next, and the next.  This is not the time for tit for tat friendships. If I am not the friend I was, be understanding during that first year, and take up my slack if you need to.

Widowhood does not get easier with age. Younger widows do not have greater problems. They may have more logistical issues with young children, but widowhood is not easier for me because I am older, have grown kids, may know other widows, or lived a long life with my spouse.

Remember my anniversary or his birthday.  I'm going to have no problem remembering his death, but I still welcome anniversary cards, and celebrate his birthday every year. My children post their dad's picture on Facebook every year on his anniversary.

Even if you were close to my spouse, realize that I will do things now as I recover and make a life for myself that may not be what my husband would have done or would have chosen for me. I realize this sounds counter intuitive. I need to make decisions now that are best for me, and those often will not be the same decision I would have made with my husband. There is a different dynamic, there are different priorities, and frankly, I may not have the resources that I did when married. To use a silly example, my husband would never have purchased a brand new SUV, and certainly not as big a one as I have. He would have cringed. I once knew a person who criticized her late friend's wife every single time she made a purchaseI am not disrespecting my husband by making different choices (In spending, lifestyle or anything else) than he would have or than I would have when we were together as one. 

And finally, it has to be said.  I am not interested in marrying again, and if I was, it would not be the husband of my best friend or neighbor.  Fear not the widow or widower.  Widows especially often never choose to marry again (widowers choose to be married again more often and earlier than us female counterparts). And if I am considering dating, I will let you know. You do not need to include a single male in the neighborhood dinner party, at least for my sake.

And there you have it, my off the cuff, first thoughts of the morning on widowhood.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Setting a Few Retirement Goals

Here we are in the new year, but I have yet to set New Year's Goals, resolutions or even pick a word for the year.  Call me unfocused! I guess that while I do have goals, dreams and things I want to get done, I'm not sure I'm up to planning for, or committing to a year of doing much of anything.

Still, there are those things I want to get accomplish in retirement, and I have jumped back into my post holiday schedule. I'm signed up for OLLI classes on The Wyeth family as well as a memory writing boot camp. My knitting and crafting and book groups are back in full force, as well as my other retirement activities and commitments. I've even picked up a new volunteering gig, doing the same things I do now (educating and providing programs) at a second residential shelter.

Even I find I need to set a few goals each month, and roughly map out my days (at least those few routine must get done tasks part of my day). These goals don't include my exercising, prayer times, meetings, quilting or other stuff that I do all the time-those seem to flow pretty easily. These are the extra things I want to get done before February is finished.  I will of course blog about this as I fit them into my schedule-at least whenever possible:

  • Be present in whatever I am doing (If I had a word of the year, it would be present). Do one thing at a time, and do it and enjoy it fully
  • Read one non fiction and one classic book this month and blog about them
  • Write at least five full pages or journal entries in my family history for the kids ( I am committed to writing every day for half an hour, but these are finished projects I want to have done, in book or notebook form)
  • Adjust the blog to show the creative stuff. Mondays will be make it Monday, Fridays will be frugal retirement related and Wednesday will be-whatever I'm moved to write about.
  • Complete one charity quilt this month for the kids at the shelter. 
  • Do the physical planning for one road trip (train trip to California) and one Destination Drive (To the Gulf Coast for a week via two different directions there and back). Do everything but make exact reservations as I am still working on dates.
  • Make a weekly outing (February is fairly festival-less and fair-less so this month requires planning), and plan one day trip/overnight. So far I am going to high tea and a castle tour with a friend, and taking myself to the movies and lunch alone.
  • Plan out my activity themes and projects for the residential shelter craft nights for six months out.
  • Partake in the 365 day photo challenge, if only so I increase my skills with my phone camera.
  • Get a legs only massage (another post is coming on my poor legs, as I now have an additional issue
  • Take advantage of restaurant week twice
  • Make one Piece of clothing
  • Make Valentine gifts for everyone in my various groups and clubs (I was not there for any of the Christmas parties/Gift exchanges but got things given to me when I returned)
  • Take the test to become a licensed food handler. Colorado has cottage food laws, and I would love to had homemade decorated cookies and the like to my little income streams here and there.
And there you have it, the things I hope to get done in retirement in January and February. Like I said, this list doesn't include the basic things that I write down and try to do daily, such as walk, meditate, try and keep my house under control. It doesn't even include the things that I do all the time, without thinking, like sewing and quilting and reading mindless drivel. I wanted to keep it short and sweet, and who knows after this month to come I may need to keep it even shorter and sweeter.

For now though, I'm off to the proverbial races, starting with a half hour of writing about my mom....

Friday, January 15, 2016

Medicare, Oh Medicare-The First Steps

 As often happens when I write, I learn things along the way, including things about the current article or post. So it has been the last couple of days.  I write about myself, not necessarily as a road map to others, and this article was about MY transition to Medicare. However, I do like to be as accurate and informative as possible. To this end, I have learned that as I read it, those of you in the market place need to resign your medical insurance and move to a Medigap or Advantage plan. Those people who have insurance from other sources outside the market (generally meaning through an employer can keep their current insurance as I have been doing, depending on your employer. While people who have employer based retiree insurance include federal or state employees, there are other corporations who meet that criteria.  Hopefully, this is a little more clear when it comes to the general population. As for me, my plans below remain fairly clear.

In September, I turned 64. No sooner did my birthday approach, than I began to receive slews and slews of Medicare information. So much information in fact, that I double checked my birthday and age. I mean, why were all these folks sending me all this stuff???

I now know that this is the norm. In one way it makes sense I guess, because you don't want to wait until the last minute to get your financial ducks in order, after all. Still, a year ahead did seem to be a bit "whack" to me, as the kids say. And of course, many those pieces of mail were medical advantage plans trying to "sign me up".

Even so, I've been doing my due diligence.  So far, while I can see how things could be confusing to some, it is nothing compared to the research my adult kids have had to do to get coverage through the state system (These kids are perfect examples of why health coverage should not be tied to employment. One is self employed and the student, and the other only offers care for people who work 40 full hours. My other kid is getting a grad degree in OT and works about 35 hours per week).

Anyway, the bottom line in all of this is that at this point, I will be signing up for parts A and B, ignoring parts C and D, and keeping my current health insurance rather than getting an advantage plan.  My current medical premiums will double from 120 to 240 dollars beginning in September.

Confused?  Me too. In fact those readers who are a bit older and I probably know much, much more about this process than I do. If so, feel free to share opinions and your experiences with medicare-please.

I used two primary reference sources as I began my journey.  First, I went to the federal government health and benefits website (as opposed to the medicare website).  As often happens, their information was concise and to the point.  I also referenced the NOLO book, Social Security and Government Pensions, a book I need to delve in more directly.

From my federal website I learned that my federal drug benefits are at least as good as those offered by Medicare Part D.  I have the option of dental, eyeglass coverage and the like through the Feds, so I probably will not need part C.  And finally, my former employer requires that all beneficiaries sign up for both Part A (Hospital) and Part B (medical).  The end result? By keeping my full coverage insurance and signing up for medicare A and B, I should be good for the future in Medicare.

I could have dropped my full coverage insurance and move to a Medicare Advantage Plan.  Right now, as I understand it the advantages of doing so have to do with drug coverage (which I have) and an out of pocket ceiling, which I will also have.  Medicare will pay first, my current insurance second, and my co-pays with my current insurance are $20, my deductible is $750 and my out of pocket max is $5000.

At the moment (knocking on wood), I feel fairly comfortable as to where I am going. That said, I need all the input I can get and will continue to research until that sign up day arrives.

What about you. Do you have an advantage plan?  Original Medicare?  Are you happy with what you have?  Do share!

Monday, January 11, 2016

Single Retirement-Making Connections

My plan in the New Year is to go back to blog roots a bit in terms of finances and living richly in retirement. However, I'm also going to be writing a lot more about women in retirement, single retirement, and widowhood (which I've never really dealt with much on the blog), as these are things I get so many questions and comments about.

Making connections when you move or travel is a concern for everyone, married or not. For single folks though, especially newly single folks, the challenge can be even greater.  Even with family near by, most of us are looking for at least some kind of outside connection or social life now and then. For retirees, who don't have the built in socialization of work contacts or socialization around school or children, it can be an added strain. We need to create not just a network of friends, but also develop one or two of those close and strong relationships that can substitute for family.  Our own little support group, if you will.

Although I consider myself social, this was certainly a challenge for me in more ways than one.  We all need one or two of those really close supportive "tell each other everything, I can call this person in the middle of the night" relationships.  The thing is, for many of us, this is our spouse, partner, or significant other, depending on your relationship and terminology.  And so it was for me. My husband was generally the only one I told deep dark (and light and humorous and serious things to). I had plenty of other friends, but they were of the social kind. As one woman put it, I have church friends, knitting and quilting friends, and travel friends and neighbors.  But none of those were best friends with whom I could or would share the other stuff. 

 To be clear, those other casual friends are just as important, and can be just as difficult to make-and can also be supportive. When my husband was ill, my quilting group made a complete quilt with hearts all over it and with all kinds of biblical quotes. They were also wonderful at distracting me and allowing me to remain silent without questioning or nagging. For the serious stuff, I relied on my church a bit, and on my "casualty" mentor who was a much younger widow with two kids. She understood things like my frustration with people who say " I know what you're going through", or "It's all for the best".  Folks, trust me-even when it's true, try to keep those phrases out of your vocabulary.

I moved to Dallas so that my son could be near my in-laws for a few years (they were wonderful about telling stories and including my husband in conversations, telling my son about the time he and a friend climbed out on the roof of the middle school and became stranded, for example). They however were older or very busy with their own thing, and once I was settled into my house, could not be supportive or social on a day to day basis, which left me mainly on my own (my son was off at college in Phoenix).

One of the advantages to being a church goer (besides worshiping God of course) is that, depending on the church, you often have an instant connection. I chose a church that had a welcoming committee and a fair amount of social events-ones that just required me to show up. By jumping into the dinner group, for example, I had a monthly outing where all I had to do was bring something to eat, and I met a completely different group of people each month. In this case, the church also gave me my "support group" as well.

One of the (few) things I miss about moving from Texas to Colorado almost three years ago now is my old women's group. I've mentioned those women on more than one occasion on this blog, usually casually in passing. A small group made up of women of all ages, we were all divorced or widowed. Every two weeks we met for sharing, meditation, companionship, and food (of course).

Whether it was because of specific connections or that the group was church based, I am not sure. The bottom line is that we had strong connections even though we often did not see each other in between the two week period. This particular group of friendships developed faster and were deeper than, say,  the gals at the neighborhood quilting group, or the local dinner group.

It was also supportive at another level. For example, when one of our older members had a knee replacement, she needed to go to rehab instead of coming home as she lived alone.  We took turns visiting each day, brought her everything she needed, helped her get settled when she was at home, and more. This is just one example. Put simply, this group acted as "family" in crisis situations.
When you don't have the built in option of looking in home or next door for relationship (deep or otherwise), you have to step up and find or make the kind of connection you need. In my personal experience, making those contacts is kind of a "start from what you know and go from there philosophy". I mean, because I was a church goer, as soon as I moved to Colorado, I began exploring churches, looking for a church home, which in my case is not the closest church.  Then, I began looking for groups of people who liked to do the things I liked to do, slowly perusing meet up groups and the calendars of the local papers.

 I liked to knit and there was a knitting group that met at my local independent bookstore. Was it difficult to go the first time? Absolutely. But once I got there, the worse was over. I've now gone to happy hour with that group, gone on some all day field "trips", had Christmas parties and more. While these relationships are mainly casual, there are some folks with whom I could see myself getting more deeply involved.  The problem is stepping out of the box, that first or second time. Not always easy, but the rewards afterwards are worth it. Something I keep trying to tell my son-a guy who needs some social interaction and is funny as hell, but is very much not confident making that first step.

My closest, deepest friendships now are with family, which is why I decided to try living in Denver for a few years.  I still have those friends in Dallas, and even if we don't speak as often as I might like, I know that they are "there" for me.  And if I decide that Denver is not the end of the line, and I want to retire on the Texas coast, I know I will make that friends and support group wherever I go. It may take time, it may take effort, but it  can happen.

My level of social activity may be different from yours. I'm comfortable alone at home for fairly long periods of time, and in fact on occasion deliberately schedule myself for things like OLLI classes because in addition to learning for learning's sake, I know I also need to get out and be among people-people I often see class after class.

No matter your social and friendship needs, change can be an open door. You get to keep at least some of the connections and make new ones.

Trust me. Retirement is an Adventure!