I am a member of the Baby Boomer generation, a group of too many born at the same moment, caught in a game of musical chairs where there were simply not enough places at our chosen tables. Like so many other men and woman of my generation, necessity forced me into flexibility. As a result, I have been blessed with experience. Experience that might never have come to pass had I been fortunate or unfortunate enough to land in a situation early on and never left. I have been, in no particular order, an auto/diesel mechanics student, a high-rise window washer, a flight attendant, a fledgling singer/songwriter who got lucky, a recording artist and performer, and finally, a professional psychologist. Actually, finally is a poor choice of words; with my history I have no idea of what the next chapters may bring.
I am the boomer everyman, a fluid, energetic, and optimistic traveler on the road towards awareness and authenticity; the perfect product of a great healing after World War ll.
So if you think you're done at fifty or feeling tired, anxious, and unaccomplished at sixty, sick and lonely at seventy, or overlooked and invisible at eighty and beyond... think again.
And to you, Vince Lombardi, who said: "fatigue makes cowards of us all," uh uh, no way, not today!
It is sinful to yourself, the people around you, and the well-being of the planet, to sink into the ocean of apathy and oblivion. Dylan Thomas got it right: "do not go gently into that goodnight." If you have lost your passion, search for it. Death comes soon enough to us all. Experiential death need never appear. We spend a lifetime learning how to properly love, create, and give, and it would be a shame not to use those lessons, especially considering the hard cost of them to body and soul.
This is the time for great deeds and great love, to get out on the tightrope, start towards the other side or fall on your face. It really does not matter. Old clichés endure because they carry truth; it is not the destination, it is the journey! If you're on your own and you meet that perfect face, one that reminds you of your vital sexual being-ness, go for it! Even if you are rejected, I guarantee you will feel empowered for the effort. If you come up with the next great gadget, build it, and don't get stopped up with worry over not having enough gas to get your idea across town. If you break down along the way in your old jalopy, fine. You will be in the perfect spot to be picked up by your next new friend, or investor, in a shiny new Tesla. Make a fool of yourself in love and in life, whenever and wherever you can. Why? It's simply, more FUN!
Take the proverbial leap in the dark; set out on the path. Don't worry about getting there. I don't think I ever really thought out the consequences of my decision to go back to school at fifty; community college, undergrad, masters, doctoral program, and endless internships. If I had thought about it, I probably never would have began, instead, falling into a false funk of reality that shouted out, too old, too old, too bloody old!
Boomer Biology 101
It is one of the great eccentricities of Americans, that beautifully blind, naive notion, that we can simply decide to do something and will it into existence. While we might (or might not) think twice about taking on an impossible battle, the idea of long odds or attempting something that has never been done before is somehow familiar to us. Take this quality of Americanism, place it in a Petri dish with the circumstances of baby boomer birth and voila! It's Boomer Biology 101. It is how we make heroes as diverse as Rocky Balboa and President Obama. It is how I became Dr. Robert at 61 years old.
As George Eliot, who had to pretend to be a man to get her work published, apocryphally said: "It is never too late to be what you might have been."
If you’re retired and have time during the day, just take a look around. Your neighborhood may be the perfect place to earn some extra cash. Depending upon your community demographics, offering babysitting, dog walking, pet sitting or even errand-running services could not only bring in some extra income but also help you get to know your neighbors. If you live in an area that doesn’t have a need for those services, companies like Care.com – an online caregiving destination with more than 8 million members – can help you find part-time gigs for all of the above and more. All you need to do is fill out a profile online, and you’ll be able to send and receive messages to families who are looking for care.
If you have an extra bedroom or area in or outside your home – think room over the garage or carriage house – well suited for housing guests, renting out your home may also be a consideration, particularly if you live in a travel destination. Sites like AirBnB or HomeAway have become a part of the traveling zeitgeist and one-stop shopping for vacationers. All you have to do is set up an account and post photos as well as descriptions about the space and your area. You manage the bookings from start to finish, determine the lengths of stay and can even decide not to rent to someone if you don’t want to.
Do you dread cleaning your closet or hold on to things you never wear? Well, you may think twice once those forgotten frocks turn into dollar signs. Selling gently used clothes and accessories at consignment shops, like Plato’s Closet, is an easy way to quickly make some extra money. If it’s more than just clothes you’re willing to part with, Craigslist and eBay are still fairly simple ways to make a quick sale. Sellers beware, though. Depending what you’re hocking, the competition can be fierce. The keys to successfully selling your wares are often specific to what you’re selling. However, there are a few general pointers you should keep in mind: - Post pictures of the item - Write a detailed description of what you’re selling - Set a fair, competitive price - Be courteous and respond to potential buyers quickly and kindly
If you own a vehicle, selling ad space on the exterior – provided it’s well maintained – can net anywhere from $100 to $400 a month. Sure, you might get a few stares out on the open road, but the extra money in your pocket might make any lingering embarrassment disappear. Companies like Adz In Motion and AdverCar will give you price quotes based on the make, model and year of your car. If you own a vehicle but don’t use it that much, you can earn up to $1,000 a month by renting it out. RelayRides accepts passenger cars registered in the United States (except New York) that are model year 1990 or newer and have a fair market value of up to $50,000. What’s more, owners list their car on the site, set availability, pick a rental price and screen drivers. They also receive $1,000,000 in liability insurance coverage and 24-hour roadside assistance. Just remember to read the fine print and talk to an insurance agent about coverage before signing up.
Your favorite hobbies – like gardening, crafting, antiquing or even giving furniture a fresh coat of paint – can lead to extra income. People don’t always have time to pull weeds or plant flowers, so if you’re someone who enjoys putting his or her hands in the dirt, simple gardening may be a valuable service for you and your neighbors. Painting furniture is another one of those seemingly mundane tasks that’s not everyone’s cup of tea. If “upcycling” furniture – as in making over a piece with paint and new hardware, like knobs and brackets – is something you take pride in doing, you should consider turning it into a part-time job for friends, neighbors and even loved ones. Can’t pass a garage sale without stopping? Buying and selling antiques is another opportunity to make some extra money. Consider selling the antiques out of your home or setting up shop on Etsy, an online marketplace for crafters, artists and collectors.
Etsy is also a great space for letting your creativity run wild. Are you a crafter extraordinaire or a burgeoning artist? Etsy is the perfect place to sell your creations. If photography is your medium of choice, you could sell prints on Etsy or even license your pictures on photo sharing sites like Flickr, who has teamed with Getty Images – renowned purveyors of stock photography – to help users license photos.
Are you immediately glued to the television as soon as you hear the Law & Order theme song? You may want to consider signing up to be an online mock juror. Sites like eJury and OnlineVerdict give prosecutors the opportunity to “pre-try” cases before they take them to court for an actual jury to hear. Payment, qualifications and time spent on each case vary per site, so it’s worth reading the fine print before you sign up.
Follow Dr. Robert Lusson on Twitter: www.twitter.com/ralusson