Slow and Steady Wins The Race
By Dr. Lisa Cowley and Victor Westgate

Have you ever purchased furniture requiring you to assemble it?

Are you the type of person who assembles without following the directions or do you follow the printed directions one step at a time?

We must admit that we have jumped in without examining the proverbial “directions” and are taking a different approach. We have recently moved from one state to another and consider ourselves settled in now after about a year. Home improvements are basically done and now the to do list is what one would consider the normal tasks one has when they own a home; cleaning the windows, mowing the lawn and other maintenance tasks. Since we bought a home in a neighborhood that is not a part of a NORC (naturally occurring retirement community) or a 55+ community we have had to “wing it” so to speak. That is, there is no set coffee hour, club house or welcome wagon to roll out the carpet. In addition, we have no family who live in our town.

For us, taking the slow and steady approach, in regards to friendships and organizational involvement is for many reasons. When we first retired and moved to rural upstate New York, before this recent move, we jumped right in and in hindsight moved too soon to address environmental issues that concerned us. Individuals that we thought would be future friends showed us that they did not appreciate a recent newbie in their community being so vocal and as a result we found our relationships less than satisfying or rewarding.

So based on our prior experience here are some simple suggestions we would like to share with you when you move into a totally new community. We would not consider the advice to follow perfect or a perfect fit for everyone but we do think the suggestions that follow are very effective in making your new home and your community a good fit.

  1. Get to know your neighbors. In our post Covid world it is amazing how many of us have lost some of our social skills. Take walks through your neighborhood (having a dog is helpful) and introduce yourself. In following this advice, we discovered so many friendly and interesting people. One of the most pleasing discoveries is how much everyone loves this town they call home. Neighbors have suggested the best restaurants in town, a good dentist to use, as well as a good tax accountant. None of these finds happened overnight but in the months that followed the conversations and recommendations were excellent.
  2. Branch out from your immediate neighborhood and do some reconnoitering. Follow your inner guidance system, not the GPS, and get lost. Discover local museums, musical venues, walking trails, nearby parks and surprises that people who have lived here for years might not even know about. All your efforts are worthwhile and in and of themselves worth their price for admission. If you are skittish about getting in the car and taking a trip to nowhere, we have found in our local coffee house not only a local newspaper and free magazines about the area but several posters on the windows of store fronts advertising tons of fun things to do in the area.
  3. You may consider joining one or two local organizations that match your interests. Not only will you find out if the organization is one you want to give time to in the way of volunteer work, you will make new friends. We joined the Warren Preservation Society, Audubon Society of Rhode Island, and a few other organizations. We believe in these organizations’ mission statements but in keeping with the premise of this article we are in no way yet volunteering to be on their board. We have learned from past experiences that taking the lead in something you are passionate about too soon before you have fully done your research on can result in unwanted results. That being said, we have volunteered to be citizen scientists; for a three-month period of time, we collect water samples from our local river to monitor its water quality and to determine how healthy our river is over a ten-year span of time. In testing the waters, we are also getting to know our community and the people in it.

We have always believed in finding out who are our local, state, and national elected officials.

At present, we are actively pursuing the assistance of our state representatives in developing programs and presentations for those in our community about to possibly retire or change careers in the second half of life. Coordinating our programs on issues like re-affirming sense of purpose, helping others to be their own wellness coach, and moving the clock forward without fear with programs already in existence or a natural complement to those existing programs is using our time wisely and taking advantage of our elected representatives who are already in a position to “co-ordinate benefits” for those we call our neighbors.

Many hands are better than only a few and when you feel frustrated about community issues you are not alone and it’s usually best not to pull all the weight yourself. Whether you recently moved to a new community, are considering a move, or want to get to know your existing community more intimately, we recommend you dip your toe in first by reading the direction manual first and proceed forth with eyes and heart wide open.



About the Authors:

Dr. Lisa Cowley, a holistic chiropractor and nutritional counselor of 25 years, along with her husband, Victor Westgate, a high school educator of 34 years, are authors of Pack Lightly: Making Sense of the Second Half of Your Life. You can learn more at:


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