Ten Ways to Welcome Spring!

We’re still in for some questionable weather and cold days, but slight increases in temperature and more frequent sunny days remind us that spring is just around the corner. As we emerge from the winter doldrums, there are plenty of things to do and getting out and about is more promising as safer travel conditions and more bearable temperatures begin to arrive. Though we still have some time before consistent days of lighter clothing, birds singing, and flowers blooming are here, there are still some fun things to do to prepare for spring’s arrival.

1. Explore Your Town – Take a drive and visit different areas of your town to see what it has to offer. Make note of local shops, museums, and restaurants that look interesting to visit later. Search your town, county, or municipality websites. Most will list local businesses and places of attraction. Call or visit your local Chamber of Commerce for more information on fun and interesting things to do in your own back yard. And be sure to keep an eye out for senior discounts!

2. Browse a Library – Local libraries are not only full of the classics and today’s bestsellers, they offer a host of movies and music to borrow. Couldn’t make it out to the movies because of the poor winter weather? Borrow a blockbuster. Want to try the latest CD but don’t want to make the purchase until you’ve tried it? Take it home for a spin. Don’t see what you’re looking for? Ask the librarian to see if the item can be ordered. Many libraries also offer movie viewings, book readings, and other interesting classes and seminars. Enjoy not only the materials the library has to offer, but its many opportunities for social connections.

3. Join or Start a Book Club – So you really enjoyed that book you borrowed from the library and wish you could share it with someone. Book Clubs are a great way to discuss your favorite books while enjoying time with others. Browse your local library or book store calendars to see what clubs might be available. Senior centers and local churches also sometimes host. Can’t find a club near you? Begin one with friends over coffee at home or meet in your local café!

4. Create Your Own – Visit one of the many businesses that offers painting, ceramics, or glass cutting. Make a new spring decoration for your home that you can enjoy for many springs to come. Exercise your creativity and enjoy the one-of-a-kind, uniquely-you finished product.

5. See a Show – You don’t have to visit Broadway to enjoy Broadway caliber shows. Many local live theaters host fun, high quality productions of Broadway favorites at lower costs all close to home. A quick Google search of “live local theater” should bring up theaters near you. Visit each website for production times and ticket prices.

6. Feed the Birds – With spring come migratory birds and their babies. What better way to observe and enjoy your local bird population than by attracting them. Place feeders around your property so that you many observe their beauty and behavior. Challenge yourself to identify as many types as possible or identify their calls. Visit the National Audubon Society’s website for tips on setting up feeders appropriate to your local bird population: https://www.audubon.org/news/bird-feeding-tips.

7. Be Childish – March’s old adage “in like a lion, out like a lamb” can certainly be true. Unpredictable weather at the beginning of March is its hallmark. This includes heavy winds. When March winds blow, let your inner child come out to play. What better weather is there for kite flying or blowing bubbles? Watching a colorful kite or cheerful bubbles dancing in the blustery March wind is a fun, inexpensive way to usher in spring. There are plenty of do-it-yourself kite instructions and bubble concoctions online, or simply visit your local dollar store.

8. Plant Something – You don’t have to feel overwhelmed with tending a large garden to enjoy the new life spring has to offer. Visit a local nursery to find some lovely plants, flowers, or bushes for outside or something simpler, but just as cheery, for inside. Your garden doesn’t have to take a huge amount of time or effort. Consider using containers to plant your outdoor favorites without the physical stress of kneeling or bending. Take a look at the Audubon Society’s website for local plants that also help support our avian friends! https://www.audubon.org/plantsforbirds

9. Exercise – As long as it’s okay with your doctor, there is no better cure for the winter blues than exercise. While you might have gotten some exercise at home during the long winter months, it might be a good time to venture out. Take a walk on warmer days or check in with your local pool or senior center for low-cost or no-cost classes. Chair yoga, swimming, or other low-impact exercises improve both your physical and mental health without being too exhausting. Click the link for a list of the Arthritis Foundation’s “arthritis-friendly” exercises: https://www.arthritis.org/living-with-arthritis/exercise/arthritis-friendly/

10. Start Spring Cleaning – While certainly not everyone’s favorite chore, there is something about the feeling of accomplishment that comes with spring cleaning. Feeling lighter and uncluttered helps the mind stay clear and lightens the spirit. Be careful not to tackle too much at once, though. Small blocks of time do add up and save you from feeling overwhelmed or exhausted. Check out Netflix for “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo” for encouragement and tips from the world tidying and organizing expert, or browse https://konmari.com for more information.

DOWNSIZING

According to the Social Readjustment Rating Scale, aka the Stress Scale, only the loss of a partner or divorce rank as more stressful than moving to a higher level of care, such as a retirement community or personal care facility.

 That said, it’s no wonder that so many seniors are hesitant to move.  Uncertainty and sentimental attachment to places and things can make the notion of moving less than palatable.  Add to that the work behind downsizing and things can seem quite overwhelming indeed.  This can cause delays moving until more care becomes critical. Sadly, folks will then only move out of necessity instead of by choice or enjoyment, making it even more difficult.

 Family members with limited options for supplying help worry as well.  They want to be sure their loved ones are receiving not only excellent care and services but are also enjoying themselves socially.  Yet helping Mom or Dad pack up and move is tough.

 It can seem like letting go of the things and places associated with happy memories is impossible as care needs change.  Hesitating to let go of their homes or possessions out of sentimentality is a common obstacle, yet the one bit of feedback I hear from folks over and over again is, “I should have done it sooner.”

 To help ease the worry associated with downsizing, this edition of The Tuesday Ten will give some helpful tips on how to handle your stuff while holding onto your good memories, as well as your sanity.

 1.    Use Your Time Wisely – Start downsizing before the need arises.  Planning on moving in a couple of years? Then now is the perfect time to start.  Once you do start don’t tackle your whole house at one time; it’s both physically and emotionally exhausting.  Instead, break your time up into reasonable portions.  Generally, two hours is enough time to make a satisfying dent in downsizing without causing too much stress.

2.    Say No to Maybes – When asking yourself whether you should keep something, ask yourself in the form of “yes” or “no” questions.  For example, when downsizing your kitchen, instead of thinking you may need a full service of dishes for 8 because your might one day host a large dinner party, ask, “Have I hosted large dinner parties in the past?” “Do I plan to regularly host dinner parties in the future?” “Would service for 4 be enough instead?”  Answering “yes” or “no” is a good way to help determine whether you’re thinking realistically and helps keep the “maybe pile” away.

3.    If It’s Not in Good Condition, Toss It – If it’s chipped, cracked, torn, or frayed, chances are it should be replaced.  Don’t hesitate to toss items that are not in tip-top condition.  Some folks will make the mistake of thinking they’ll repair or mend these items “later,” but surprisingly (or not so surprisingly) “later” never comes.  Don’t add to your burden of worry by keeping these items to fix “later.”

4.    Take Photos – Collections, knick knacks, bric-a-brac, tchotchkes, trinkets, whatever you call them, they can take up a lot of space.  Keep only those pieces most important to you and take photos of the rest.  The photos can then be placed in albums, still allowing you to sit and enjoy each item while keeping premium space free.

5.    Speaking of Photos… - Photos are wonderful.  They capture precious memories of good times.  They can also take up a lot of space and energy if they’re not classified in albums.  Loose photos add another big “TO DO” to your list.  Consider tackling those boxes of photos by either putting them into albums or converting them to digital media to view easily on a computer or digital photo frame.  Tech savvy?  Try creating photo albums online with your computer or smart phone via any number of excellent photo services, like Snapfish or Shutterfly.

6.    Give Now – Instead of gifting your loved ones with your most precious things when you’re gone, give them now while you are around to see their enjoyment.  Wouldn’t you rather see your daughter wearing your mother’s pearls now, rather than waiting?

7.    Host a Free Yard Sale – Have some things to discard but don’t feel like hauling  it all to donate?  Place them outside with a sign that says, “FREE! HELP YOURSELF.”  You’ll be surprised at how quickly things go. After all, who doesn’t love a “free” price tag?  This strategy helps thin the bulk out of items that may be tough to transport elsewhere, like books or records.

8.    Investigate Local Charities – Giving to charity is always satisfying.  It can help to know that your items will benefit someone either through re-use or re-sale.  Before putting all of your eggs in one basket, so to speak, call your local charities to see what items they will or will not accept, and whether or not they might pick items up at your doorstep.  Don’t forget to ask for a receipt for tax deductions!

9.    Ask Local Organizations or Your New Community – Have a lot of books to give away?  Call your local library.  Have a lot of clothing?  Contact a homeless shelter or transitional housing organization.  Have some sporting equipment?  Call your local athletic association or school district.  Many organizations have limited budgets and appreciate donated items to keep programs running.  Don’t forget to contact your new retirement community as well.  Often, they’re happy to use items in good condition, like furniture or artwork.  This can help you feel a little more at home in your new community.

10. Call the Pros – When in doubt, call the pros.  If you’re unsure of your items’ worth be sure to get in touch with someone who can help. Contact local appraisers or home downsizing experts for help determining the value of your items.  And don’t be shy about getting a second opinion.  When it comes to your valuables, you want a fair price. 

If all else fails, and your move is so overwhelming that you don’t know how or where to start, reach out to a senior move manager.  The National Association of Senior Move Managers is a community of professionals who are trained to help seniors transition to their next phase of living.  Visit www.nasmm.org for more information.

 Good luck on your latest living adventure!