Where will you retire? (we found our perfect home where we least expected it)….

My book–Boomerang (2 Boomers Find and Leave Their Dream Retirement Home) will be ready soon. I’ve had a couple of readers get back to me with their impressions. It’s being formatted properly. And some people are patiently waiting–folks who asked “When’s it going to be ready, because we’re going on our own retirement home search soon? We’d like to use your journey as a guide.”

All readers will merit from the advice I offer as two who lived almost ten years in a town consistently named one of America’s top retirement towns. We didn’t just casually choose it, either; we spent years searching for the place we felt was “just right.”

Now, I offer my advice as a six-figure realtor for those who want to buy wisely….not like some who bought blind and lived to regret it. Some lost their entire nest egg–the money they saved over a lifetime.

Where’d we end up? I think you’ll be surprised to hear.

So, stay tuned. I’ll be doing public talks, too, designed to inform you before you buy. best-shot-white-squirrel-brevard-on-limb

See the little buddy in the photo? One of the remarkable aspects of the western North Carolina region we settled in–white squirrels. He and his buddies live at the music school in Brevard, NC. It would appear that North Carolinians (of all stripes) have good taste.

In this book, I’ll tell how we chose our community; what to watch out for, when buying; particular challenges in the South for Northerners; how we sold by ourselves (saving approximately $17,000); on and on. There’s lots of humor in the mix, as well.

The biggest plus:  You can use my tips for buying and/or selling anywhere–even in Rhode Island.

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Guest Speaker: Colleen Kelly Mellor

 

leisure-learning-guest-speakingKathleen Monahan of Leisure Learning, St. Luke’s, East Greenwich, says:  “Thank you for the outstanding talk.You positively affect the lives of your audience (that was the talk from the group at lunch.) You gave us energy and courage. We laughed out loud. No one fell asleep. You connected! A good quality, very hard to achieve.You are the best. I am so grateful that our paths have crossed.”

Janet Noke at Leisure Learning, says: Speaker Colleen Kelly Mellor demonstrates ‘professionalism, quality, timeliness.’  She’s ‘very entertaining and enlightening.’ “

“I knew who you were (from my columns in the Journal) but I never realized how funny you are, in person. I loved your talk!” another said.

‘Inspiring’….’Moving”.were other observations.

As a freelance journalist, I write Op-Ed articles (mostly on educational issues) that appear regularly in the Pulitzer-Prize-winning Providence Journal. But my work’s also appeared in Wall St. Journal, Asheville, North Carolina’s  Mountain Xpress, Scripps-Howard, World News, etc.

Now I guest-speak before audiences, encouraging them to take their life experiences and ‘go higher’ on a plane of self-discovery. My talks are spirited, humor-laced, and by all accounts, ‘rollicking good fun.’

My Grandpa and the Truck children’s books have been heralded by the top international truckers’ association (OOIDA) and Women in Trucking WIT). Teachers, librarians, parents and children love them, too. The trucker/hero and I have gone before audiences of 200 children to present our lively show. My childrens’ book website is www.grandpaandthetruck.com.

Along with guest-speaking and freelance writing, I complete “The Asheville Experiment,” about my husband’s and my move to Asheville, NC , an artist enclave in the Blue Ridge Mountains, a town consistently on lists of “Most Popular Retirement Towns in America.”

Our story will be a cautionary tale for all those considering leaving their native state and a “must-get” for any who consider purchase/sale of a home—anywhere.

Prior to being a freelance writer, I was a 30-year secondary teacher of English and Journalism and a highly successful realtor. I’m a 15-year breast cancer survivor whose experience with that dread disease became the Cover Story in Providence Journal “Lifestyles” Sunday magazine in 2002. Widowed twice by the time I was 45, I raised two daughters as single parent.

All this makes me the perfect vehicle for engendering hope in audiences to meet and harness the crises of their lives, as growth opportunities.

Now, in workshops and guest-talks, I address how to make the senior years the most productive of one’s life, for I am true embodiment of my beliefs.

I welcome your contact, regarding how I might give my hopeful message to your group.

Colleen Kelly Mellor

My other website where I offer my children’s books: www.grandpaandthetruck.com

ckmellor@cox.net

***Please subscribe in top right hand of this site, to get future posts and alerts as to when “The Asheville Experiment” is ready (a humor-laced book for home purchase/sale anywhere, and especially for those going out-of-state.)  Children’s books are ready now. Guest-speaking dates open. Let’s have fun!

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Our Japanese Nights, Wheat Fronds, and a House That Was Meant to Be……………

kerry in geisha gearA Letter to my grandchildren (one of many in my campaign to keep connection, while they’re so far away….)

Dear Luke, Sam, and Finn…

Our home is light-filled and it  just seems “happy.” I’ve lived here for 27 years and Grandpa has lived here for 16 years (he moved in and took care of me when I became sick.) But Grandpa and I have been together for 26 years in all….

I love my house…the back gardens where we put the troll house, the arbors, the plants…the trees…the bird feeders…the pool—the scene of the “Great Dolphin Races.,” when you boys came to visit and race the inflatable dolphins in the pool.

Anyway, I think the house is magical because I think it was “supposed” to be my house. I’ll tell you why….

When I first bought this house, I was told I lost it—that another person had come in with a higher bid—AFTER the realtor told us our offer had been accepted (two other people wanted this house.) I was so angry. We had offered full price- with no conditions.

After a couple of days of bitter disappointment, I got the call that said this house was ours after all. An amazing thing happened. The guy who tried to buy couldn’t get financing (the money.) So, we won the house.

When we moved into this new house, my mother (remember—the one whose grave I brought you to last summer– your Mom’s Nana) gave me a fancy plate she’d bought in an antique shop. The plate had wheat fronds in the background.  There were two children in the picture—one a girl of about 16 and a smaller child of about 6 (so—a ten-year gap in ages of siblings. Sound familiar?). The wheat fronds on the plate were identical to the wallpaper all through our new house. Another thing? I’d never seen wallpaper like that anywhere but in this house.

Occasionally, in the house where your Mom grew up (and later Amanda, too), we used to have “theme dinners” such as Japanese night, etc. That’s when the kids HAD to dress like the ethnic group whose food we were celebrating. On this occasion, I believe Mom’s friend Rachel joined us (she was at our home a lot). Your Mom (in pic at top of this post), dressed in a floral sheet, wrapped around, with her hair and face done up like a Geisha. Amanda was dressed as small Asian child, too….And we all had to use chopsticks.

So, look at the plate my Mom bought as house gift before she’d ever seen our new home..The figures on it look like your Mom and Amanda and the wheat fronds look like  the wallpaper of the new house.

I swear:  when I saw this plate, it gave me chills.

Today, the wallpaper is gone and the walls are painted. But I will always remember how this house came to be mine and how it reflects your Mom and Amanda.

I believe houses can be happy and spirit-filed, just as I believe some houses are sad and they take on the troubled personalities of their inhabitants. In fact, I even think some houses are evil and that doubtless is the theme of many a horror story (I’m thinking author Stephen King here cuz he’s written that type of thing in his books.) By the way, your Mom tried to meet the horror writer once, when we were on vacation at Key West and he was staying at the same resort. She had just won a big award in our city—the top essay contest, and since he was a writer, she wrote him a short note, asking to meet him. He never responded.

That was a pretty interesting trip, for your Mom and I were out (she was 12 or 13), walking along a street in Key West when all of a sudden, a torrent of rain came down from ???, a storm that cause flood waters to rush down the street, and the bamboo blinds in the restaurants swung out in the wind. We took off our shoes so they wouldn’t get destroyed and we waded through knee-high waters. We were laughing. It was quite the time.

In fact, I bought a Japanese silk jacket on that trip that I still have today (it’s in pic) it. It looks like the one the girl is wearing on the plate.

Look closely at the plate…Do you see the child searching in the field of wheat fronds? (Maybe it’s younger sister Amanda? While Kerry looks on. )

jacket--japanese

plate--asian

P.S. Your Dad is below in one pic, holding one twin in front of wallpaper wheat fronds. Whose top of a little head is in front of first photo of Mom, pg. 1? Clue….She’s got red hair and is pretty young.jim sweeney, twin, and wheat frond wallpaper

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Kinship with Ratso….

midnight cowboy dustin and texan

In the 1969 movie “Midnight Cowboys,” Dustin Hoffman’s Ratso Rizzo, a New York street conman befriends naïve Texas cowboy played by Jon Voight. The latter’s character had gone to the city to hustle his living but finds himself out-hustled by the crippled Rizzo who also suffers from TB or pneumonia—result of a tough street life.   

I always remembered this movie….

In 1985, while teaching school, in one of the worst years in my personal life, I lost  20 pounds…became ill… but kept trying to go into school and do my job. Sometimes, I’d stand at the chalkboard and proceed to cough, uncontrollably. My kids (7th and 8th graders) would say “Miss Mellor (you’re always a “miss”—no matter how many times you’ve been married,) you’ve got A-mmonia.”

Finally, I went to a doctor who confirmed what my kids apparently knew: “Mrs. Mellor…You’ve got pneumonia.”

During that period, I felt a kinship with Ratso Rizzo for his vulnerability…his weakened condition…the life situations that can kill.

That year I seriously doubted whether I’d make it.

From “In the Shadow of Princes”…a future book, about a girl raised in a family of male superstars….

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House with an Evil “Soul”

Last night, at the Poetry read, “Synergy,” at North Kingstown Library, I asked how many believed a home took on the spirit(s) of the occupants. Half the room’s hands went up.

I then told them I lived in an evil house, in Edgewood, Rhode Island, for 8 years, a period of time when my family suffered greatly.

Last night was my first foray into a public reading of my own poetry before an audience.

Here’s one of my poems:if my mind

 

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The Monster Beneath: What You’ll Learn in “The Asheville Experiment”

contamination at CTS--visual graphHow many of you (honestly, now) know what a Superfund site is? And how many of you know that Rhode Island has 12 designated sites (the “Dirty Dozen.”) But 200 more are named as “toxic sites.”

Yep, that’s the big, scary elephant in the room, in all real estate transactions…..The one that most would-be buyers of property do not even know about. Buyers confront even more risk if they buy out-of-state or in regions of even their own state which which they’re unfamiliar.

Picture above shows a a toxic underground plume heading towards residential area, right out of Asheville. The EPA has done testing that shows high levels of TCE, a substance known to cause cancer. People in the area most at risk? Those whose water is from wells. But the air shows sign of vapor toxicity, too.

The nearby,gated community of $700,000 homes suffer from what’s now general knowledge. Why? They’re right next door to that Superfund site.

Will it affect their ability to sell? You betcha, for people like me do know about Superfund sites. And I am most concerned with the health of my family, friends, and myself, as well as my investment.

In my book, “The Asheville Experiment,” I show how Paul and I could have been hapless victims like those who lost life savings, because they didn’t realize. It happens all the time–across the nation.

So, get ready. I’ll give you lots of useful tips from my years as highly-successful realtor. My book, “The Asheville Experiment,” will be the best bang for your buck–I guarantee it.

Sign on to get advance notice for a copy and get one for friends/relatives who will move. You couldn’t give them a better book to protect them in what is arguably their biggest investment–their home.

And pls., consider coming to my TedTalk at Salve Regina University, on March 25th. I post the link to facilitate you in getting tickets.

http://tedxsalveregina.salvereginauniversity.com/

 

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My TedTalk Info (to be held at beautiful Salve Regina University)

Here it is–the information several of you have asked about, and thank you for your colleen kelly mellor cropped face sidewaysinterest. Along top row of the site, you’ll see “Purchase Tickets” and also a “Speakers” category, too. By the way, some were confused at the phrase ‘by invitation only’ on some websites. Let me be clear:  All are invited, provided they buy a ticket. The link is as follows.

http://tedxsalveregina.salvereginauniversity.com/

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I Embark on a Letter-Writing Campaign

My grandsons (3 of them) are as far away (in Seattle) as they can be from Grandpa and me, so what do I do? I write letters to them, including photos. I kind of know what will interest them…and always include humor. I will be speaking about this and a whole lot more in my upcoming TedTalk at Salve Regina University, on March 25th…

Here’s my most recent letter…..Just remember, I am writing as if I am talking to little kids (cuz I am)…

Some Day in March…. 2017

“Little Miss Sunbeam”

When I was a girl, a new kind of white bread came on the market named Sunbeam Bread (kind of a stupid name) but everybody loved it because it had no holes…In other words, its texture was all smooth. The commercial on TV was of a little girl with her blonde hair pulled up in a ponytail. Well, your Mom looked like her, so lots of my friends called your Mom “Little Miss Sunbeam.”

I took your Mom everywhere with me for at the time I was raising her by myself. In the morning, we had to go off together at 6:30 (I taught junior high school, so we had to leave VERY early) and I brought her to her babysitter’s—Maryanne’s house, in a nearby town. She was only one year old.

One day it was so pitch black that I didn’t see the car parked in the road across the street (it was usually never there) and I ended up backing into it–slightly. Not enough to do any damage but it was a real wake-up call.

Other times the gasket (that’s a rubber sealant) around the front window leaked in rainstorms and the water puddled up on the floor, and it FROZE. Now, we were really in a jam, because I had to pull up the accelerator, to get it unstuck from the floor, before I could drive.

I took your Mom to Maryanne’s house every morning for four years.  Maryanne had five of her own children and they were all well-behaved. I liked Maryanne very much and I wish I had a picture of her today. I wonder, too, if your Mom remembers her.

Now, back to the car. It was my Chevy Malibu and it was a greenish/blue color—my very first car which by this point was showing signs of wear. It had 200,000 miles on it and in that day, that was a lot of mileage. It used to break down 3 times a week…every week. That’s when your Mom and I would be stuck along some road, waiting for help from someone to pick us up, get the car to the local fix-it gas station…whatever. It was a constant problem with that car but I couldn’t afford a new one.

Finally, after a year of this torture, I got enough money for a down payment to buy a little yellow Datsun—the cheapest car on America’s highways.

Now, what happened with us in that car? Two years after I had it, I was out (with Kerry) to meet a friend at a Chinese restaurant. We heard this awful racket on the tin roof of the restaurant and I wondered what it was but not enough to get up and see. We stayed for an hour or so and when we left, your Mom (she was 5 now) went bounding out the front door, only to skid on her butt for several feet. Apparently the noise was hail and the ground was coated with ice. That meant the roads were, too, which was dangerous cuz we had to go a half hour to get home.

So, I started up the car and slipped/slid out of the parking lot. I was terrified. Slowly, I inched along and the car wipers went jeht (I’m trying to make the sound of the wipers)…jeht…jeht…jeht…back and forth and then suddenly ….JEHT to the left and that wiper never came back. Bigger problem still? It was on my driver side! So now I had icy roads and no visibility on the driver side.

Because the car was so little, I could reach my hand out and try to use my hand as a wiper as I drove. Well, you know what my hand had to look like by the time we finally got to our apartment  15 minutes later…a frozen paw of a hand, curved from using it as a wiper. It took me a while putting it under warm water to thaw it out.

Yep, we had some pretty rough times in those days, but everyone considered  Little Miss Sunbeam the group mascot for I was the only one of my friends who had a small child and she went everywhere with me (well, almost everywhere). The women baked cookies for her, a man I knew at school who had a candy shop as a second business used to bring candy treats for her. And many people helped us out when we were in trouble—which was often.

Here’s the real Little Miss Sunbeam and here’s a photo of your Mom and me one Mother’s Day when I was young and skinny and she was little–about the same age as when she skidded off the restaurant steps onto her butt.

little miss sunbeam with bread   kerry and Mom mother's Day when she was little

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Full Blown War

From “The Asheville Experiment” asheville skyline

I’d put up this neurosurgeon’s arrogance for weeks, and I was simply having no more of it. Friends told me “Oh, just let him go…They’re all like that” (neurosurgeons, that is). In other words, it was sort of expected that with their level of skill, we in the public were supposed to tolerate such behavior, as if it were a necessary corollary.

But I’d had it. He’d insulted me (suggesting I might need valium when I reacted to Paul’s crazy behavior after his heart and lungs shut down,) and he tried to discharge Paul– as if nothing were wrong with him. That’s when I lowered the boom.

I told him:  “This man is NOTHING like the man I came in with!” And he’s not leaving until he’s had a psych-neuro evaluation and an EEG.”

You see, I knew the dread result of someone merely taking home a seriously-compromised patient from the hospital. I watched our neighbor deal with her wheelchair-bound, almost comatose husband for years. She did the exhaustive work, almost alone, for years–all because she took him home.

But our medical crisis story and how I handled it, successfully, is just one of the items I share so any consumer can use.

That…and much more (laugh-out-loud funny episodes, useful information if you’re a buyer or seller of any home, life in a new region of the country)…is coming in  “The Asheville Experiment” (soon to be published.)

 

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I’ll Be Doing a Ted Talk

I’m a little nervous. Why? I just landed a plum opportunity on the guest-speaking circuit–I’m invited to give a Ted Talk before a Salve Regina audience. The date? March 25th…2017.salve-regina-university

The subject of my Ted Talk? (because some of you have asked:) Each of us is a compendium (at 60+) of all the experiences, trials, situations we’ve met and mastered. Why not take that life knowledge and share it with others, motivating them to ‘go higher,’ either in writing or in guest-speaking and motivating especially-older audiences.

How you reinterpret the crises/hurdles can become the bricks in building your new career. Utilize them as such.

We live in an age-ist society. I challenge that notion that we seniors are ‘done.’ I’m living proof of the opposite, and I am intent on going higher to the next plateau of my life, undeterred by age.

And yes, I’ll give details of where…when…in weeks ahead. Ted Talk is at beautiful Salve Regina on March 25th.

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I’m Clearly Intrigued with Neighbors….(this is why)

37-glen-aveThey lived across the street in a modest home to which they added an entire third floor. “A playroom,” the wife added, “some place where the kids could enjoy a train set.” I thought it very extravagant.

But that’s the way they were in recent years. As cross-the-street neighbors, we had a window on their newly-opulent world. There was the time he bought all those stretch limos and parked them all over, until we, the neighbors, complained. One couldn’t run a business out of his home:  our neighborhood was zoned “residential.”

She showed me her beautiful 3-carat turquoise ring one day, as they readied to take the kids on their third visit to Disneyworld.

There was the beach house, a huge, weather-shingled, sprawling Victorian poised atop a high point of beach in East Matunuck, Rhode Island. They bought that, too. A house clearly worth a fortune.

And they were building their dream home, in a tony neighborhood of nearby upscale East Greenwich. A stone tower was its signature architectural trait.

All this on his postal worker’s salary and her 10-hour a week job as psychiatric nurse to a prominent psychiatrist.

She had the audacity one day to say this to me:  “You can do all this, too, if you go back to school and become a psychiatric nurse (I was a mere teacher.) The pay is good.”

Yes… well… so is the pay for embezzlement.

That’s what we’d all discover. Their penchant for the good life clouded someone’s judgment, for he’d been writing big checks to himself, at the Post Office, where he was in charge of accounting.

Despite the fact he’d been doing this for years, his crime was discovered far later than the initial thefts, meaning he’d only be held responsible for $1.9 million, instead of the $3.5 million and more they suspected. The rest was irretrievable because of the statute of limitations.

He’d go to prison for 3-4 years.

The towered house? It’s another’s property now.

The couple were divorced shortly into its building and she got it in the divorce settlement instituted somewhere in its construction.

But during the divorce hearing, the psychiatric nurse listed on her “needed assets” some extravagant figure for clothing allotment…an amount inappropriate to her financial situation in life….something like $7,000 a month. And she claimed a need for $4000 a month for child support.

Both figures were unsustainable on his income of $49,000 and her $8500 part-time work.

The judge questioned it.

And the house of cards began to unravel.

(Photo above is of the Catallozzi home, 63 Glen Ave., in Cranston. We were #40, right across the street.) And here’s a link about this true story from the New York Times. The Catallozzi crime figures in the annals as the biggest embezzlement ever, of the United States Postal Service.

From “In the Shadow of Princes,” a story of my life, by Colleen Kelly Mellor….

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