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Blog: Organizing for Boomers

The calendar shows it's the kick-off of summer this weekend. June 21st is the longest day of the year. This is when the sunset is at its all time latest. This is when it feels frivolous and fantastic to be looking ahead at the summer. This is when we all want to break out and sing that great song, "Here Comes Summer-School is Out, oh, Happy Day!"

The problem is this summer we don't have a lot to cheer about, what with gas prices at their all-time record highs. It's enough to make us turn back the clock six months or so when gas was only $3. and something Gee, doesn't THAT sound like a bargain now?

When previous summers meant long car trips on the weekend or a one-week or multi-week trip to visit several super sites across the states, we may have to rethink our love affairs with the automobile and the open road. We just may have to think differently and smartly.

Here are seven ways to eliminate or reduce some of that gas pain:

1.   LET'S TRY OUR FEET-LET'S WALK: I know this may seem radical to some folks, but walking can get us from place to place. This was happening long before the automobile was invented. Depending on where you live and if you are in a community with services within walking distance, this could be a good alternative for some folks on some days. There are neighborhoods (and even in San Diego County) where you can easily walk to buy groceries, get coffee and dine. Go to www.walkscore.com and see how your neighborhood rates on a scale of 0 to 100 based on estimates of walkability. I just did it and my neighborhood score is 69. See what your neighborhood score is.

Maybe you're thinking of moving. This calibration might come in handy as you start to select certain neighborhoods. While the website acknowledges that the scores do not take into consideration mass transit availability, it might be a starting off point for someone who wants to get off on the right foot!

2.   RIDE A BIKE I can hear you shouting from here! You said you haven't ridden a bike since you were a kid. Hey, it's summertime. Time to feel like a kid again, only this go-around, wear a helmet. One never really forgets how to ride a bike; we just might be a little rusty. Maybe rent one first so that the body can engage in remembering the activity, or borrow one from someone in the neighborhood. Take it for a spin just around the block, and take note of all the things you never notice when you drive by: the beautiful trellis of roses on the sweet yellow house, the father sitting on his porch serenading the family with his singing and guitar and the older person just sitting there looking out the window, hoping someone will look up and wave and smile. The world doesn't seem as hurried on a bike and maybe your world can slow down just a bit if you try this.

3.   TAKE A TRAIN-Wow, there's a wild idea for Southern Californians! We are definitely getting better in this department than we have ever been, but we sure have a long way still to go. Fifteen years ago there seemed to be very few train commuters here, but with the Coaster and now the Sprinter in San Diego and the Metrolink in LA we are getting the hang of this here. We've also got the Red Trolley cars which cover areas in San Diego where there is no train. Take a look at these maps and schedules. Leave the driving to someone else and enjoy the ride! In other parts of the country trains are a way of life, but, here we've always felt like the King of the Road, driving solo on the freeways. We've always wanted to be the King of our Castle (inside our car, insulated from the rest of the world), but look what that's costing us in gasoline, aggravation and gall stones!

4.   CONSIDER A CAR POOL Oh, I don't think so, you're thinking. I want to be in charge. I want to decide when I arrive and when I leave. I want to remain King of MY Car! Just take a little peek at this possibility. You might surprise yourself with getting to know a colleague better, reducing your stress by sharing a little about your day or life, and finding the drive go by in half the time.

5.   TELECOMMUTING Instead of five days in the office, explore the possibility of telecommuting one day from home. With advances in video conferencing, instant messaging and other communications technologies employers can adopt this model as a cost saving measure and a way to boost morale for employees. Those employees can experience less gas pain than the rest of us because they aren't having to hang out at the gas stations refilling as often.

6.   PLAN YOUR ROUTES CAREFULLY Take a closer look at your routes. Are you driving here and there and here again just to placate the whims of your children? Look closely at your errands schedule. Have all errands written down and, if it helps, number the errands in the sequence that makes most sense and uses the least amount of gas. Take turns with car pooling responsibilities and be sure all parents are participating in some equitable way.

7.   CONSIDER ADJUSTING YOUR WORK SCHEDULE FROM 5 EIGHT HOUR DAYS TO 4 TEN HOUR DAYS This schedule has you on the road one less day. Think what that could save you in miles, meltdowns, and migraines. It's an idea worth exploring, depending on what kind of work you do. Hospitals have been doing longer work days for their employees for a long time. A full time shift for many of them is 3-12 hour days. Just think about that-they only have to be out there slugging it out with society three days a week.

It looks like the gas pains are here to stay for awhile. So rather than belly aching all summer at the pump, try one or more of the suggestions above. Let me know at which way(s) you tried and how it went for you. After all, here comes summer and I want it to be super for you!

Making Your Space a Special Place

posted on: 6/20/2008 12:30:00 PM by Sue Crum
category: Special Populations

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Organizing for Boomers

by Sue Crum

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About Sue:

Sue Crum knows and understands the life of a Baby Boomer all too well. Having served as the filling of an Oreo cookie for many years, she has reinvented herself in San Diego as the owner of The R.E.D. Team, Reinventing Everyday Designs, doing professional organizing, real estate staging, and interior redesign.

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