I am a parent to a teenage daughter. [Insert appropriate level of panic here.]
Personally, I don't think most people really know what they are doing when it comes to parenting. I always felt like there would be a magical day when I felt grown up and like I knew all of the secrets of the world. Suffice it to say that it hasn't happened. Regardless, I have a child, and she's growing up, so I've continued to make things up as I've gone along, and it's been going pretty well. So far, she's a likable, considerate person who gets decent grades, has a lot of interests, and has friends whose parents I don't hate. As an extra added bonus, she gets along with me as a mom and a tolerable adult figure. I consider that a win.
With that less than stellar resume of my parental qualifications, here are my top 3 pieces of unsolicitied life advice for my teenage daughter. Who knows. Maybe your child, or any random adult for that matter, will learn a little something.
1. You actually don't "HAVE TO" do most things.
There are some basic life things that we all have to do--but there's a whole lot that we actually don't have to do, but that we do out of obligation. Let me rephrase. You do not have to do everything people ask or tell you to do, like or try. You get to say no and you don't even have to give said person a reason why either. How cool is that?
You don't have to like a band, hate a person, identify as gay/bi/straight, try a drug, do a shot, dye your hair, eat food, take a dare or do anything physically that you don't want to do. People of all ages will try to tell you otherwise, and they are wrong. This also goes for hugging someone creepy, eating a dessert that a coworker made or having a second helping of casserole because someone says "You are too skinny!" People often want some sort of validation for how they live their lives, and they will try to get someone to affirm their own choices by choosing them, too. You don't have to be that someone.
The flip side of this is that other people also don't have to do everything you tell them they have to do either. We each get to make our own choices, and take a "No" or "No thank you" or "I don't think so" as a real answer. Set the personal boundaries that are right for you, and accept other people's boundaries, too.
2. Plan ahead--at least a little bit.
Children and adults alike each deal with "emergencies" on a regular basis--many of which wouldn't have had to be emergencies with just a wee bit of forethought. Many day to day "emergencies" can be mitigated by having your cell phone, $10 in cash, and your house keys.
On the low end, here are a few super-easy tips from me to you. Bring a towel with you into the bathroom. Brush your teeth before you put on your lipstick. Put on your knee pads before your wrist guards. A little forethought goes a long way.
On to bigger and better things. Many other perceived "emergencies" have only become so because of neglecting to look ahead a few days to see what is coming up or a general lack of communication. On Sunday, look ahead at your week. Give me a heads up that you have a band concert, volleyball game, birthday party or sleepover at least 2 days before it happens. If I have to fill out paperwork, or give you permission to do something, or figure out any logistics, make that a week. All those activities that you are involved it don't just happen. It takes a bit to get a doctor's appointment for an athletics physical or request a copy of your vaccination records or lay hands on the special whatever-it-is that you want to get whats-her-name for whatever thing it is she's celebrating.
Also, just know that if you don't plan ahead, I am at the point where I'm done making your poor planning my emergency. I've got things going on too--must of which I had to schedule and arrange to accommodate all of your activities that I actually knew about.
Overall, take responsibility for your own life because no one is going to care more about your activities than you do. Get a calendar and write things down. While I'm temporarily still your chauffeur, I am not your concierge.
3. Seek out help when you need it.
Everyone needs help from an adult sometimes. Everyone. You can talk to me, or if you'd rather, try out these people: your dad, your step-dad, my best friend, your best friend's mom, a teacher at school who you like. Talking to your friends is great, but sometimes you need an adult opinion. (I have 30 years of life experience on you--which means I've been through a few things that are totally new to you.) You are fortunate that you have many, many people who care about you who want you to be well. Even if you think it's the most horrible thing that anyone could ever do, let's talk and figure out what's next. Give me a chance to help before you do something extreme like running away, hurting yourself or hurting others. I am also happy to share my list of stupid things that I did as a child (and some after that) that I also thought were super horrible then that you will find laughably lame, now.
If you know of someone who you think needs help, tell one of us about that, too. I am happy to talk to your friends, their friends, other people's parents, or whoever else you think is struggling to help them get through it--whatever it might be. Life is often hard, and going through it alone makes it even harder. Let one of us help--which includes picking you up and helping you get out of a messed up situation at some god awful hour in the morning (which I will happily do whenever it is needed.) I'm also not going to yell at you or give you a hard time. Again. Here to help.
What is your top "adulting" advice for others?
I'm not a huge AC/DC fan, but being from a small town with a bowling alley, I have heard a fair amount of AC/DC in my time. Regardless, I do love a good cover, though--the more unexpected, the better. Check out these three fun covers of the song "Thunderstruck" as I'm guessing AC/DC never imagined it could be.
Turns out there are actual words to "Thunderstruck." In this version, you can even tell what they are--although there is no guarantee that all of these words align completely up with the original lyrics. It's even better when played by a Finnish band and features a banjo, an accordion, an anvil and a set of spoons.
This guy does covers of popular songs on a piano in a church. It's surreal hearing Thunderstruck sound beautiful.
My high school orchestra (who I swear could not play any song quite SLOW enough) would have been way more fun with these two. It's not everyday you see an intriguing Creation cello duo. I wonder how many bows these guys go through in a show. The Louis XVI era dress makes this rendition even better.
Previously I posted about indoor roller skating rinks that are open year-round in the Twin Cities area. Now, let’s talk about other skating options:
BYOG: Bring Your Own Gear (and Wear It!)
For these roller skating options, there’s no equipment rental. Instead, you need to have your own skates, and your own safety gear (knee pads, elbow pads, wrist guards, helmet, mouth guard) as well. In some cases, safety gear is required, but in all cases safety gear is just plain a good idea.
Wear Safety Gear Outside
Personally, I fall down a fair amount because I’m trying a new skill, doing something involving contact or dodging small children—and that’s inside on a floor designed for roller skating. Outside, it’s a whole different experience. Now you have things like heat, cold, rain, wind, puddles, uneven terrain, rocks and potentially traffic.
When skating indoors, even just at a roller rink, I always wear some kind of knee pads. Always. Outside, I recommend wearing closer to full gear. You may feel like a dork for a bit, but injuries suck, and sitting on the side of a trail bleeding is not cool at all. Regardless of heat, I also suggest wearing leggings of some sort. Falling on even a thin layer of material is much more pleasant than having your bare skin scrape across pavement (as my daughter learned the hard way).
Skating Outside=Different Wheels
That’s right. Indoor skating and outdoor skating require different wheels. Who knew? Well, now you do. In short, roller skating wheels vary in how hard they are and for outdoor skating, you need softer wheels to absorb the shock of uneven terrain. Wheels are labeled with a durometer (or hardness) number. The higher the number, the harder the wheels. Wheels considered outside wheels typically have a durometer of 78a. Hybrid wheels (appropriate for both inside and outside) are typically 84a. 88a and above (the scale goes to 101a) are for skating indoors.
Given that super quick description, get thee some outdoor wheels. As a frame of reference, I picked up wheels that are a 78a, for myself. I also have dedicated outdoor skates, which were my starter roller derby skates. I I know myself well enough to know that I was not going to take the time to change my wheels each time I wanted to switch from skating outside to inside.
For my daughter, who currently has 1 pair of roller skates until I figure out if her feet are done growing, I got a set of hybrid, or indoor/outdoor, wheels with a durometer of 84a. Again, I’m not changing her wheels every time we skate, and the extra grippiness of having softer wheels indoors for her is not the worst thing as she learns new skills.
Where to Skate Outdoors
Now that we’ve had the safety gear and outdoor wheels talks, here are ideas on where to actually get to the outdoor skating:
Special Indoor Skating Events in the Twin Cities
Here are a couple more options for skating. These are inside events where you need to bring your own skates and safety equipment. They only open at special, scheduled times:
Find a Skating Buddy
If you're in the Twin Cities area, and looking for a buddy for skating related fun, check out the Skate Dates group on Facebook.
Many times, when you ask someone how they are "BUSY!" is a common response. Some wear "busy" like a badge of honor. "Busy" indicates that you are so good at pretty much everything that you are constantly in demand. While it's definitely nice to be wanted, it's also exhausting to try to do everything all the time for everyone.
As someone who was formerly a member of every group and an organizer of every event--to the point where it way way more work than fun--I've learned a thing or three about managing my time to increase my overall happiness.
Time Management Skill #1: Saying No
People talk a lot about time management as a way to squeeze the most life into every waking moment. I used to try really hard to do everything I thought I *should* do. (The word “should” is a hint that perhaps I didn’t want to do some things very badly.) Want to know a little secret? One of the real tips for effective time management is deciding what you’re not going to even consider doing.
I always appreciate being asked to help out, attend a function or be a part of a group. Now, I find other ways to help that involve a time commitment I'm willing to make. Do I want to volunteer to run a junior roller derby bout? No, but I'll donate items for the silent auction. Do I want to organize all of the volunteers for the school fiesta? No, but I'll volunteer for an hour to sell tickets or just contribute money. I've learned to say no to things that I'll end up dreading, and to say yes in a way that I won't hate.
Saying no is freeing. It's beautiful to be invited to an out of town wedding for a passing acquaintance and politely decline to attend. It's nice to not to go to every single class my daughter takes and feel like I'm a bad parent if I don't pay close attention to her every move. It feels good when I take care of myself by not committing to go to multiple events on a given day because it's just too much all at once.
I've also gotten better at realizing that I don't need to give an excuse or an explanation for saying no. I get to just say "no thank you" or "that's not my thing" or "I have a conflict" and that's enough. I get to manage my time, priorities and energy as I see fit--and everyone gets to be okay with that.
Time Management Skill #2: The "Stop Doing" List
In life, all of us have received a talking to regarding the value of sticking with things. I came equipped with way to much of that skill. I am the queen of work more, try harder and overachieve. I kept on dating someone way after it was clear that the relationship was going nowhere. I stayed involved in organizations long after the benefit to me was gone out of a sense of obligation (and probably of my own importance). I stayed in jobs that had stopped being interesting because it was easier to stay than it was to find something I'd like more. I've kept going with lots of things because "I'm no quitter!"
Today, I am proud to be a quitter. It's just a matter of figuring out when it's time to keep trying, and when it's time to call it a day.
I decided to end a marriage when there was nothing else constructive I could do to make it work that would not seriously impede my own happiness and self worth. I quit volunteering to run an art festival when I realized it was a source of stress instead of a source of joy. I quit a part time job because the hours were terrible and my time was more valuable to me than the small amount of pay I was receiving. Knowing that you don't actually have to finish everything you start is an important life lesson to learn.
My "stop doing" list was a welcome relief to obligations I was taking on for no good reason. I stopped getting together with friends who weren't fun. I stopped going to family gatherings where my drive time was way longer than time I would get to spend with individual people at the event. I quit finishing books that I started reading, but didn't like and stopped watching tv shows that lost my interest. I also quit denying the fact that I need a fair amount of alone time to maintain my happiness.
Quitting really is freeing when you don't view it as failure, but a non-judgmental ending that opens up the possibility of new beginnings.
Time Management Skill #3: Trying New Things
Really? How is trying new things a time management skill? For me time management is really happiness management. Part of my ongoing happiness comes from learning and trying new things. Now that I've freed up time by saying no and quitting things that no longer serve me, I have time available to try whatever appeals to me at the place I am in life.
Recently, I tried soma yoga, started a roller derby skills class and decided to go roller skating with my daughter weekly. I now block off time to blog and read. I also spend time with my husband, go to movies at my favorite local theatre, schedule much-needed introverting time and hike new trails with my best friend. Over time, I'll hang on to what I still enjoy, move on from what I've discovered isn't my thing. Maximizing my time (whatever that looks like to me) makes me feel better.
What About You?
Many people think of retirement as the magical day when they no longer have to work. The reality is that retirement is not just a one-time event. Instead, retirement is a phase of your life that could last decades. Part of the challenge of planning is making sure that you have enough saved in your retirement account so you can enjoy yourself without outliving your money.
My Experience with Retirement Planning
In a previous life, I worked as a corporate trainer supporting a group of Financial Coaches in one organization’s Retirement Planning Group. The goal of this team was to help people prepare to retire. This included financial coaching conversations about topics including saving, investment options, health care, and the million factors to be considered when figuring out the logistics of retiring. In addition, we also focused on helping people envision the lives they want to lead, and figuring out what financial resources would be necessary to make those retirement dreams a reality.
A Note on the Use of The Information in this Article
Here is my disclaimer regarding the content in this article. (We all know there has to be one of these just to set the record straight.) The ideas included are for educational purposes only, and should not be construed as financial advice. Concepts covered here are overly simplified examples of basic retirement related information. Please consult a qualified financial professional to learn additional details about each financial concept and to help you figure out what is right for you.
Just Tell me the Magic Number
Now, let’s get back to an often asked question about retirement planning. Many time, when having initial conversations about retirement, people just wanted us to tell them what they perceived to be a very simple question: How much money do I need to save for retirement?
One Common Answer
Sometimes, articles on retirement planning suggest a simple answer that even includes an actual dollar amount: $1,000,000.
That’s right. ONE MILLION DOLLARS!
Doesn’t that sound like a CRAZY amount of money? Certainly, if I had a million dollars, I’d be rich—and for sure able to do whatever I wanted in retirement.
One Key Factor: How Long Will Retirement Last
The trick with retirement is that it may last a really long time—think 30, 35 or even 40 years. When we’re working, we get more money every couple of weeks as long as we stay employed. In retirement, though, we start with a big pile of money and our goal is to figure out how to not run out of money while we’re still alive. So how do we do that?
How Much Yearly Income Could You Get from $1,000,000?
One common strategy for attempting to not outlive your retirement money is the 4% rule.
In super-oversimplified terms, the thought is that if you withdraw 4% of your total account value annually, there’s a pretty good chance that you’ll have enough money to last you for 30 years. (Notice that the word “guarantee” is nowhere in this statement. There are no guarantees. There is only planning as best we can and adjusting our plan as we deal with the challenges life throws at us.)
Basically, if you start with $1,000,000 in retirement savings, and use the 4% rule as a guide, in your first year of retirement, you would withdraw $40,000 worth of income. If you’re for real using the 4% rule, you’d adjust what you take out each year based on inflation—meaning that you’ll typically end up taking out a little more each year.
How Much Do You Need?
Translating $1,000,000 into about $40,000 a year puts that amount in perspective. Depending on your lifestyle, you may need to save more, or less, money for retirement. One commonly recommendation for figuring out much income you need is to anticipate that you’ll need to replace approximately 85% of your pre-retirement income. If for example, your pre-retirement income is $50,000 per year, 85% of that would be $42,500. (Again, in this super-simplified version doesn’t consider other sources of retirement income, like Social Security, or inflation.)
One way to estimate the amount you may need to save is to take what you anticipate to be the annual income you want, multiply that number by 25, and use that as your overall savings goal. If, for example, you decide your annual desired income from your retirement account is $75,000 per year, $1,875,000 could be your desired retirement savings goal. (Again, in this super-simplified version doesn’t consider other sources of retirement income, like Social Security, or inflation.)
So Now What?
Check out these resources to give you another take on these topics. Don’t take my word for it—keep learning more so you can make the best decision for you.
Finding New Music
A while ago, my husband and I stumbled upon a channel on our Roku called DittyTV. This station features videos by Americana musicians. Here are videos by three of my favorite groups that I've found recently.
Shawn James & the Shapeshifters
This video features Shawn James without the Shapeshifters. He's just a guy, in a room full of weird stuff singing an amazing song and playing all of the instruments by himself.
Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats
Any guy whose band is called The Night Sweats has to be okay. The song is fun and the video has a Blues Brothers movie feel.
The Dead South
I love these 4 Canadians dressed like Amish guys in this quirky video where they are playing in multiple atypical concert locations.
Standard Personal Financial Advice
When it comes to basic financial advice, we all know what we're supposed to do. Spend less than you earn. Save for retirement. Pay down your debts. This covers the what, and a little bit of the how, but skips the most important part: the why.
Your Values Impact Your Budget
When figuring out how to budget your money, you need to know what you care about and how that influences what you spend your money on. Without thinking thorough the why, you may catch yourself spending money on things you don't really value just to keep up appearances--or because you think you should spend on those things.
Most of us inherently know what we care about, but we have a hard time putting it into words. Fortunately, Think 2 Perform offers a free, online tool that can help you name and prioritize your values. For me, this tool helped me translate my ambiguous thoughts about what matters to me into a few helpful terms.
Here are my top 5 identified values:
What Those Values Mean to Me
Here's what each value tangibly means to me:
How Values Translate to Spending
So how do those values translate to how I choose to spend my money? Here are a few examples on how this manifests itself :
So Now What Should You Do?
My daughter and I started roller derby earlier this year. Suddenly, roller skating on a regular basis became a priority. I asked around with the Twin Cities Junior Roller Derby Parents, and got a few ideas on places to roller skate in the area.
In short, there are 5 roller skating rinks open year-round in the Greater Twin Cities area. Click here for general tips on roller skating rinks, and a few notes on each.
How To Decide Where To Skate
For me, when figuring out where to go, it comes down to a few key factors:
Roller Skating Center Possibilities
Cheap Skate, Coon Rapids, MN
Roller Garden, Saint Louis Park, MN
Saints North, Maplewood, MN
Skateville, Burnsville, MN
Wooddale Fun Zone, Woodbury, MN
Find a Skating Buddy
If you're looking for a buddy or group for skating related fun, check out the Skate Dates group on Facebook.
Before I started roller derby, I roller skated maybe once a year—maybe. Now, with my daughter and I both working on specific skills, we’re roller skating about twice a week and sometimes more. Just know that going to the rink is a whole different experience when you’re working on your skating skills than when you’re just there chaperoning birthday party.
Roller Skating Rinks: The Basics
Roller skating rinks are typically open for 2-6 hour stretches. Admission is per person, with an additional fee for renting quad skates or inline skates. Many rinks also have rink assistants (think a walker made from PVC pipe to help newer skates) available for rent. In the greater Minneapolis/St Paul area, the price of entry is around $6 per person (as low as $2 and as high as $8) and skate rental is about another $3 on top of that. Skating rinks may also have additional attractions like mini golf, laser tag or a children’s play area--often available for an additional (or separate) entry fee.
Roller rinks play “clean” music, typically top 40, but with special nights sometimes featuring oldies, classic rock or Christian music. Rinks usually have carnival games (whack-a-mole, skee ball) where you try to win tickets to exchange for fabulous prizes including all manner of toys that glow in the dark until nearly the end of your trip to the roller rink. There is food for sale of the pizza and nachos variety at a concession stand, and alcohol is not available.
More Than Roller Skating in a Circle
Personally, I’m happy to roller skate in a circle, by myself, for hours and be perfectly happy. However, as not to bore the general public, plain old boring roller skating is not the only thing on the agenda.
Every half hour or so, there is usually a game that roller rink attendees can play. Popular games include the limbo, 4 corners or red light/green light. Depending on the rink, occasionally there may be hokeying and/or pokeying, chickens dancing, electric sliding or whatever other “follow the directions” songs may be popular. There may also be times with more intense light shows, or theme skates like partner skate, adults only, skating backwards, or opposite direction skating.
A Cautionary Tale: Roller Skating on the Weekend
Pretty much all the rinks are open Saturday and Sunday afternoons, which are the busiest times. This is also prime time for children’s birthday parties. Consequently, if you are interested in becoming a better skater for, say, roller derby, you have very different goals from many people who will be there on a typical weekend. The average birthday party attendee is an elementary school aged child with little to no skating prowess--meaning they have no qualms about jumping in front of a group of skaters and fall spectacularly with no indication of what’s about to happen. In addition, on any given day, there will be at least one child who thinks that it’s the funniest thing ever to skate against the crowd and scream with their hands on the sides of their face ala Kevin in Home Alone.
The upside of weekend roller rink skating for an aspiring roller derby athlete is that agility training is built in. You will most likely not be practicing your transitions and crossovers, but just trying like crazy not to hurt yourself or the children who unwittingly throw themselves into your path. Personally, I now have mad skills for dodging wayward children and I have the uncanny ability to fall while sometimes even managing to shield the child who caused my fall, as well as myself, from injury.
If you do venture to a roller skating rink on a weekend, just know what you’re getting into, and mentally prepare accordingly.
The Joy of Skating When Its Less Crowded
On a whim, any day can be crowded at a skating rink (think day care field trip) but a few are less likely to occur. Here are my super-secret strategies for having a more pleasant skating experience.
We know that weekend days are birthday party palooza. Simply by skating on weekdays you can ensure a smaller crowd. Some rinks even have reduced rates on nights that are often less busy. In addition, in the summer, many rinks are open during the day for a few hours, typically around 12 Noon-3 pm. For me, the biggest trick has been figuring out which rinks are open on which weekdays and planning my schedule accordingly.
Adults Only Skate
If you don’t want to trip over small children, adults only skate is the answer. It may be later at night, or in the middle of a Sunday morning. There may even be adults only skates with varying age ranges—some of which may be over 20, while others may be reserved for those 40 or older. Regardless, there is more of a chance of skating with a crowd that hast at least some understanding of the existence of other people and the relative value of not blindly skating into them.
When Most People are Elsewhere
I am not a fan of crowds in general, and oftentimes, I plan around major events so that I’m where other people are not. I look for times when people have a greater chance of being somewhere else, and try to skate at those time. For example, when the weather is perfect outside, during a long holiday weekend when many people leave town or when there is a big event, I may very well be at the rink enjoying the sparse crowd and perfecting my backwards skating.
I learn for a living. I distill my research into useful blog entries. Geek, parent, knitter, yogi, writer, educator, businessperson, health advocate, & skating nerd.