Thought Provokers

Great quotesYou must constantly ask yourself these questions:
Who am I around?

What are they doing to me?

What have they got me reading?

What have they got me saying?

Where do they have me going?

What do they have me thinking?

And most important,

what do they have me becoming?

Jim Rohn


Like these thought provokers?  Find hundreds more in Thought Provokers: Questions You Need to Ask Yourself BEFORE You Retire

Eight Things Grandparents Can Do to Connect with Out-of-Town Grandchildren

Did you know that recent studies have shown that almost half of all grandparents in the U.S. live more than 200 miles away from their grandkids? The world may seem smaller in a day and age of technology and instant messaging, but it can feel extremely big when you ache to see your kids and grandkids, and they're just too far away.

However, fortunately, technology presents quite a few options for keeping in touch with far-away grandkids. Here are eight things grandparents can do to connect with out-of-town grandchildren.

1. Skype

Skype can open up whole new worlds for grandparents. You don't have to have webcams for this, although, if you do, it opens up the possibility of video chat. All you need are two computers with high-speed Internet connections. In fact, you can even do Skype with some phones that have Internet access, too. Camera phones allow for video chat.

2. Google Hangouts

Google Hangouts is a lot like Skype. You can chat from your desktop or laptop computer, and it has video options - as long as you have the hardware. Also like Skype, you simply download Google Hangouts from the internet.

3. Social Networking

Facebook, Myspace, Pinterest, and other social networks provide a convenient platform for out-of-town grandparents to keep up with their grandkids. This approach may be particularly helpful with grandchildren of pre-teen or teen age.

4. Online Photo Albums

The Internet offers lots of options for storing your photos. Family members can then share the password to their photo album, and grandparents can log in any time to see the latest pictures of their grandkids.

5. Telephone Calls

The telephone may be considered old-fashioned in this day and age, but it's still a perfectly legitimate and, for many grandparents, comfortable means of communication. Try scheduling regular phone calls, maybe once a week, to keep in touch. Grandparents can read selections of stories over the phone to young grandchildren, and older grandkids can have special topics and subjects they talk about with grandparents. Many grandkids like to hear stories about when their parents were kids!

6. Tape Recorders

Another old-fashioned but fun approach is for grandparents to make tapes. Grandparents and parents each need a mini tape recorder, and grandparents and grandchildren can mail audio tapes back and forth and play them on the tape recorders. Usually, all you need is a padded envelope to mail such tapes. Agree to mail them at regular intervals.

7. Online Chat/Instant Messaging

Most email platforms offer instant messaging and chat. If yours doesn't, you can download specific chat software such as Google Chat. Again, all you need is a computer or modern cell phone with Internet access.

8. Email

It's easy to forget one of the simplest types of technology for staying in touch. Email can accommodate pictures and videos that you can include with the message, too. 

Keeping in touch has never been so easy!

Buy Less and Be Happier!

No stuffThe notion of buying less and being happier runs contrary to the more popular concept of 'more (and bigger) is better'. As more and more people become disillusioned with all their 'stuff', the idea that buying less can actually make you happier is beginning to take hold. (And, let's face it, with what's happened to pensions and interest rates over the last few years, some retirees just don't have a choice!) 

Here are some suggestions on how you can buy less and be happier:

1. Distinguish between needs and wants. Before making a purchase, ask yourself why you're buying it. How will your life be better with that particular item in your home? Can you afford it? Does it have a practical use?

2. Spend time, not money, with your family and friends. This is the key to being happier with buying less - you will cultivate more meaningful relationships instead of spending money on stuff. Think in terms of relationships, not things. This may require a shift in priorities and, for some, may mean learning to put people ahead of material items. If you accomplish this, life will be much more fulfilling.

3. Learn (or relearn) to refurbish and fix used items, and learn to create and build. Often, these times of creativity can also be times when you come together with friends and family to get a job done. In other words, DIY can help you be happier! 

4. Pay cash or write a cheque whenever you buy something. This is a safeguard against debt, which is, of course, one of the biggest robbers of happiness there is. You'll be much happier buying less if you can also look at it as way of incurring less debt.

5. Change your perspective about the role of stuff in your life. Think about the big picture before making purchases - will owning this item make me a better person? If I buy this electronic gizmo, will the world (or even just MY world!) be the better for it?

6. Take time to find out what true happiness means to you. When you're not trying to fill some imagined void with material things, it gives you some breathing room to figure out just what makes you tick. Accumulating stuff is probably not what really makes you happy. Dig deep and learn something about yourself. Keep a journal, meditate, spend time alone...

When you begin to cultivate relationships instead of buying more and more stuff, you might just find that you become much happier.


If you're due to retire in the near future, my free eCourse, The 6 Stages of Retirement, will give you a birds-eye view of the retirement process so you know what to expect. It includes a list of the major pitfalls at every stage of the process and self-coaching questions to help you avoid those pitfalls...

Online Dating 101

For many retired people who are looking for love, online dating makes sense - with today's busy schedules (even in retirement!) and widely varying lifestyles, finding someone to date 'in real life' (IRL) may not be feasible. The Internet offers the chance to meet people who might not otherwise cross your path - especially when you're no longer out at work every day and, consequently, may not be meeting that many new people.

But the world of online dating can seem intimidating, especially if you're new to it. Here are some tips for getting started with online dating.

It's Okay to Be Proactive

For some, being proactive about finding a partner may seem like a sign of weakness or simply 'not the way they were raised'. But relying on chance is getting less and less effective in an era where people seem to gather in front of their computers in the evenings more than they go out and about. These days, it's okay to be proactive about dating, whether you're male or female.

Choose Your Site

As you begin to look around for the right online dating site, check with your friends who are also looking for love online. They are excellent 'filters' who will tell you what the pros and cons of the various sites are. You can also do a search for reviews of the sites that interest you.

Some sites do more 'filtering' than others, so if you're very cautious, you might want to go with the sites that have many detailed questions as part of their joining process. If you're more relaxed and open, you might prefer a site that leans more towards letting the members sort things out themselves.

Your Profile

As you begin to fill in questions and talk about yourself, dating experts point out that it's good to avoid statements that are too general or cliched (such as "I enjoy spending time with family"). Remember that you are one of many thousands on the site, so make your profile specific and unique. Instead of the bit about spending time with family, mention how you love to spend time with your crazy niece (or whoever) and how that makes you feel.

Your Picture

Many people agonize over this one, and it's understandable; that's the first thing people see when they look at your profile or are matched with you. But your picture should, above all, be something that is typical of you. It's not a great idea to get dressed up in an outfit that has nothing to do with your personality type or interests, for example.

You can get away with a decent self-portrait, or have friends and/or family take your picture. It's also a good idea to have more than one picture on your profile, and to have a variety of pictures (some just your face, others full length, etc.). Above all, make sure the pictures are current - there's nothing more disappointing than meeting someone and realising that the photo they posted was 10 (or 20!) years out of date!

Be Patient

Even if you've heard of someone who met the love of his/her life within 24 hours of joining a dating website, such stories are the exception, not the rule. Experts point out that it can take many weeks to find someone you'd want to get to know better and you may need to take a break and re-join later. Just like IRL dating, you have to sift few quite a few potential matches before you find the right one!

10 Ways to bond with your grandchildren

Whether you are the grandparent of an out-of-town grandchild or one who lives in the same town or even neighbourhood, it can sometimes be challenging to forge a bond with them. If you feel at a loss when it comes to connecting with your grandkids, here's a list of ten bonding ideas and tips you can try:

1.  Find some activities you can share

Are you a grandpa who likes to work on engines or build things out of wood? Maybe you can do a project with your grandson or granddaughter which involves making or building something together.  You'll be building memories at the same time! Or maybe a shared interest in photography or sport will get you the two of you out and about together? 

2. Beauty treatments

Grandmothers and granddaughters can make a day of it by going to get their hair or nails done, or getting a makeover at a makeup counter. Some grandmothers may be great hair-stylists, and can style their granddaughter's hair. You can build some wonderful, fond memories this way.

3. Cook together

Some of the fondest memories kids have of their grandparents involve cooking. Maybe it's a favorite cookie or dessert recipe, or a special afternoon spent learning how to barbecue. Whatever it is, making and sharing food and passing down family recipes are great ways to bond.

4. Texting

Long-distance grandparents can form a bond with grandkids by texting them, now and then. Texting can involve pictures and videos, too, if you have the right phones. Grandkids can take a picture of the woods they're walking in, the coffee shop they're sitting in, or have Mum or Dad film the play they're in - then send the pictures and videos with a text.  (Just don't worry too much about the 'text speak' and missing capital letters that are part and parcel of texting!)

5. Video chat

Skype and Google Talk are great ways to stay in touch with out-of-town grandkids. Try to schedule some time to 'get together' for a video chat once a week (or whatever works with your schedule - just try to schedule it into a regular time-slot, so your 'get together' doesn't get put off or overlooked).

6. Crafts

Seasonal crafts or just fun 'make-it-yourself' type crafts can be great fun for grandkids. Cigar box (or tissue box) guitars, pinhole cameras, paper snowflakes, sewing, knitting, etc. are all fun crafts grandparents can share with their grandkids.

7. Gardening

Growing food, repotting plants, planting flowers and seeds... gardening is a wonderful way to share a skill and hobby that's generations old. Then you can share what you've grown with each other (and other people too).

8. Letter-writing

The old-fashioned art of letter-writing can be revived and cultivated whether your grandkids live out-of-town or not. Letters also make wonderful keepsakes for the future, too - to be read again, years down the road, and have all the memories come flooding back.

9. Games

Games can be played long-distance or right at home. Video chat and even the telephone are great ways to include grandchildren in a night of board games, card games, or even sports. Parents can take a mobile or cell phone to the grandkids' soccer game and shoot videos and take pictures, then text them. Or just have Grandpa and Grandma on the phone during the game.

10. Volunteer together

Grandparents can take the grandkids to the local RSPCA or humane society and volunteer to walk the dogs.  Or maybe volunteering at a local soup kitchen or food bank would be more appropriate. Teaching your grandkids about the importance of community is a life-long lesson and a wonderful bonding idea.

Happy bonding!

Five strategies for helping grandchildren get along with each other

If you’re like most grandparents of more than one child, you probably get tired of hearing, “He touched me” or “She’s on my side of the car”, when the little darlings come to stay with you for any length of time. You may also get weary of the bickering and name-calling that are so prevalent with siblings.

Even though these ideas are not the only ones grandparents have come up with, the following five strategies for helping siblings get along may be just what you need to get a little peace and quiet in your home.

1. Establish house rules about acceptable behaviour and be prepared to follow through with agreed-upon discipline if they break the rules. When your grandchildren know what's expected of them and that you will dole out discipline when necessary, they may be more willing to stick to the house rules.

2. When the bickering starts, separate the children so you have a chance to talk with each one on their own. Ask them to slowly explain, without calling names or blaming the other child, what caused the disagreement. Acknowledge their feelings and try to understand what is underneath them.

Explain to your grandchildren that, even though you understand their feelings, the way they handled the situation isn’t acceptable. Are they jealous because their younger sibling gets to do something they weren’t able to do at their age? Are they angry because their older sibling took something away from them? Suggest that they think about what was said and done, how things could have been handled differently and how they can make amends.

Once you've determined the underlying cause, and the children have had a chance to think about things, you can help your grandchildren make peace and get along better - at least until the next time.

3. Try to focus on each child’s strengths rather than on their weaknesses. Try giving your grandchildren tasks that play to their strengths and allow them to show their accomplishments. Give them a reason to feel good about themselves without having to compare themselves with the other children in the family. Celebrate their uniqueness and ask them to cooperate rather than compete.

4. Obviously you know that each child is an individual but sometimes it's important to verbalize it. While you may enjoy Amy’s singing voice, you also appreciate Todd’s willingness to help cook. Be sure you let them know that you love each of your grandchildren as much as the other and that you don’t have favourites; however, because each child is different you may appreciate different things about them. It may also be helpful to explain why you decided to let one child do something while the other one is told they may not.

5. Encourage them when you see them doing something nice for their sibling or when you catch them playing nicely together. Sometimes hearing “It was very good of you to let your brother play the game instead of continuing to play yourself” or “Thank you for reading to your sister while I was cooking dinner when you wanted to watch television instead.”

These five strategies for helping siblings get along are by no means exhaustive. You may find some strategies work better for your family than others. Remember to use what works and scrap the things that don’t. When your grandchildren understand that you're serious about their behaviour and their getting along, it may be easier for them to follow the house rules and finally get along with their siblings.  Well, at least until you can hand them back to their parents!