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(Published: 2008-10-24)

I was lying awake early this morning worrying about my 401 K. Or what’s left of it. As a baby boomer contemplating retirement, I’m feeling a bit squeezed these days. Sort of like the ‘pig in the python,’ (which is exactly what I am….born in 1953). As I lay there in the dark I tried to reframe my perspective and put a positive spin on the current situation. Looking for the proverbial silver lining was a little tough, though.

There’s not been a lot of cheery news lately. After reading an article in last week’s Wall Street Journal titled: “Boomer Bust: How Will the Economy Rebound Without Post-War Babies Financing Their Harleys?” I was horribly depressed. One line was particularly memorable: “Now millions of Boomers are realizing that ‘hope I die before I get old’ was just a sarcastic line in a rock and roll song, not a life plan.”

Then there was the photo of the businessman outside of the London Stock Exchange gazing at a street art memorial (see photo) titled “In Loving Memory of the Boom Economy.” It reminded me of roadside shrines—those sad places along the road where people have been killed--where complete strangers leave flowers and stuffed animals in heaps that eventually rot away. Not a happy visual.

In true “Cheerleader of Possibility” fashion I was determined to reframe the situation. For some reason, I thought of David Letterman and his Top 10 Lists. They’re usually worth a few laughs. So right there, in the dark, I composed my list of 10 Trendy Things I could do to make myself feel better. Here they are:

10. Give vinyl another spin. As sales of CD’s sink, LP shipments have jumped (37% in 2007.) The NY Times says the LP is reliving a little of its glory days “providing a rare glimmer of hope in a hemorrhaging industry.” (Can we pass some of that on to the banking industry please?)

9. Pour a glass of absinthe. Once banned, the favorite beverage of van Gough and Toulouse-Lautrec is back on the market. It has a reputation as an intoxicating source of creativity and invention, and supposedly gives you a feeling of “relaxed alertness.” (Paradox, anyone?)

8. Bake popovers. Nothing is more magical than watching 4 simple ingredients coalesce into a giant steaming hot treat, right there in your own oven. (Note: all that hot air CAN be put to good use.)

7. Take up knitting. Knitting is touted today as the new yoga. Studies have shown that a few knit and purl stitches can help reduce your blood pressure. In celebration of their 130th year, Lion Brand Yarns is opening a Yarn Studio in Manhattan next month. The Studio, located at 34 W. 15th Street, is dedicated to “Inspiration, Education, & Innovation.” (I’ll take all 3 please!)

6. Buy a cornicello. Also called a horn of plenty, it’s a traditional Italian charm in the shape of an eland’s twisted horn that is meant to guard against the evil eye and lead to a charmed life. (One should do.)

5. Brew a pot of tea. RariTeas offers “blooming teas”—aromatic, herb-infused balls of white or green tealeaves that have been handsewn together into tiny balls. When hot water is poured onto these balls, they blossom into enchanting floral bouquets that reveal the flowers contained within. Choose from Serenity, Spirituality, and Loyalty. (Sounds to me like a good use of all that hot water we're in.)

4. Learn to play the harmonica. Speakers at the last two conferences I’ve presented at have used harmonicas as part of their gig. There’s something nostalgic and plaintive about the whine of a harmonica. And if it drowns out all that other whining, why not? (Or should I say: “Whine not?)

3. Take up calligraphy. Give your keyboard a rest. (If we have to write bad things about the economy, why not at least make it LOOK good?)

2. Light a Candela. Created by Vessel in 2001, a Candela is a rechargeable light that looks like a candle. A cross between a candle and a lamp, it gives off a low, atmosphere-setting glow that is eco-friendly and safer than a flame. (No reason to sit in the dark and pout when you can do it by Candela.)

1. Buy a Rolleiflex MiniDigi AF 5.0. Then, go photograph everything you are grateful for. The 3-inch-tall digital camera is retro cute as a button, but once you press the button (better known as a shutter), you get a dazzling and downloadable auto focused digital image. The hooded viewfinder lets you preview, then review your image. Like the classic 1929 twin-lens reflex Rollei, it’s WYSIWYG. (We could have used some of that with all the smoke and mirrors out there in the financial markets.)

Wacky or wise? Silly or serious? Escapist, or a way to embrace the new reality? You decide.

In Loving Memory...

Rolleiflex MiniDigi Camera

Robyn Waters is president and founder of RW Trend, LLC. She is the author of The Trendmaster’s Guide: Get a Jump on What Your Customer Wants Next, and The Hummer and the Mini: Navigating the Contradictions of the New Trend Landscape. Learn more about Robyn at All Rights Reserved.

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