"Summertime, and the living is easy," so said George Gershwin in the 1935 opera Porgy and Bess. Gershwin clearly lived a long time ago. Summertime brings a new set of challenges to midlifers and as Memorial Day -- the unofficial start to the summer season -- is upon us, we have some guidelines to get you through it.
1) Don't succumb to airline extortion.
Expect sticker shock at summer travel prices. It's simply a matter of supply and demand and demand is highest during the calendar weeks when schools are out. The dilemma, of course, is that your grandkids live 1,000 miles away and you want to see them. But a fast check of airline prices will remind you of just what living on a fixed retirement income means; some compare the experience to a bucket of ice water being dumped on their heads -- and summer plans.
You can try and compromise and remind your grandkids' mom and dad that it isn't the end of the world for a second grader to miss a few days of school in September, when travel prices are lower. Or you can avail yourself of the old adage that one person's misfortune is another's gain. Fares on Carnival Cruises, not having the best of years publicity-wise, are about 20 percent lower than what they were a year ago. Instead of bringing the kids to the farm in Iowa, why not make it a vacation for everybody and take them on a cruise? As an added bonus, cruises ships have kids' clubs, which takes some of the burden of amusing the little ones off you.
2) Don't overpack.
Overpacking is for twenty-somethings who think they need a different pair of shoes for every outfit. We are of the generation who knows better. We invented wearing tennis shoes with long skirts through Europe and learned how to ignore the disdainful glances of French women in Paris for doing so. Fine, let them enjoy their bunion pain down the road.
We are the generation that went to Europe on $5 a day and came home with change. While we may have traded backpacks for luggage with wheels, we know how to pack light enough to be able to shove it all in the overhead compartment and just bring along an extra foldable duffle for our purchases.
3) Don't waste those extra sunlight hours.
Summertime is when we should move our exercising out of the gym and into the out-of-doors. Spending too much time in the summer mid-day sun may not be the smartest move, but with the longer days, there's no excuse for not walking in the evenings or early mornings.
Those who don't change their fitness routines may be missing out on some of the benefits of sunlight: It lifts our spirits, wards off the blues, and helps us sleep more soundly. Plus we get the bonus of exposure of Vitamin D -- good for our bones. Vitamin D also boosts our immunities, reduces inflammation and improves neuro-muscular function.
4) Don't wreck your diet by accidental ignorance.
The abundance of summer fruits and vegetables gives us a wonderful array of healthier foods to snack on. But the trap we fall into is that some summer fruits are wolves in sheep clothing, diet-wise.
Fruit also has sugar -- lots of it. Cherries, tangerines and grapes are among the fruits with the highest sugar content, so eat in moderation.
5) Don't be afraid to wear what you want.
Summer is the body-bearing season. It's when the varicose veins in our legs remind us of their presence, the surgery scars wave hello from our tummies, and our bunions scream for notice when we expose them in sandals. So what?
Have you ever noticed how when you carry yourself with confidence, nobody notices those things? News flash: The fashion police unit was disbanded with the sequestration cuts. Spread the word.