Thursday, December 22, 2011

Decking the Halls with Old and New

Every year, in our old home, we had two trees set up for the Holidays. One would be the “pretty” tree, as my daughter used to refer to it, which I used to set up in a formal dining room – really just for eye candy. The other, over sized tree, stood tall and wide in our family room…and that was the one with the character. That was the one that every year, we all decorated together – with a wide assortment of family ornaments, hand-painted masterpieces and representations of milestones that continued to grow as our family grew and the years went on. 

When we moved, I had no problem tossing the boxes filled with the ornaments that used to hang from the formal tree. I did however keep those sentimental pieces that had defined our Holiday tradition for so many years. Needless to say, the old wooden horses etched with my first daughter’s birthday, the old rain-deer crafted from pipe cleaners and even a dried up orange covered in cloves that has since lost its once warm scent, remained with me.
This year, when I pulled out the box the box of Christmas stuff that had made it to our new home, my young granddaughter was right there with me. Each ornament that we pulled from the box had a crystal clear memory attached to it – a story about her mother, her uncles, her grandfather and myself. 

As she listened (as well as a five year old could), in her hand she held that little rain-deer made of pipe cleaners that her mom had made back in first grade, looked up at me and asked, “Dee, Dee- can I make you a new ornament for your tree?” 
I couldn’t help but smile. There she was – this little girl, reminding me that while there is so much of the past to treasure – there is also so much of the present to live. 

That afternoon, amongst a tree full of memories past – we hung our most recent masterpiece – a wooden sleigh made from popsicle sticks with a picture of me and my granddaughter glued on top.  

And, I have to say, sledding down this thing called life has never more fulfilling…

Get In On It

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Mingle and Jingle All the Way

Happy Holidays everyone! The season is here and across all our communities, the wreaths have been hung, the lights have been lit, and we hope that all of your Holiday shopping and festivities have been joyful so far!

It certainly is a great time of year to be living in a 55 and over community. Residing in a community like this one, you’ll always have a close group of people around you – even if you’re loved ones may not be nearby.

At Jensen Communities, we encourage you to embrace this network of people –invite your neighbors to your home for a Holiday party, gather a group together for a festive feast, or join together to help those in need. Everyone here is at a similar point in life – and especially during the holiday season, there is so much opportunity to learn from one another, to connect and to share with one another all the inspiring memories, delicious food, and festive times.

So, go on, get dressed up, meet new friends, and lean on those around you and connect with your neighbors – you never know what the magic of the season might bring!

Joyfully Yours,

Jensen communities

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Givin’ a Little Something Back

I admit - there have been a lot of times in my life where I may have lost sight of what this holiday season is all about.  In the past, like many of us, I used to get caught up in day to day life around this time of year. I’d get easily stressed about the hustle and bustle of the season, wondering if I’d find and have enough money to get everyone on my list what they wanted for Holiday gifts; stressed by all the chaos and the overwhelming flood of family.

Maybe it’s the time in my life, but with Thanksgiving behind me and Christmas approaching, I’d like to do things differently and think that now might be the time to remind myself of what the Holidays are really about.

In the spirit of the Holiday season, I decided last week, to make a day a little bit less about me and a little bit more about someone who could use a little “lift” about now. So, I decided to take a few hours of my day to volunteer my time at our local food kitchen.

Just like it was when I used to volunteer as a little guy with my mom and sister, the moment I stepped into the kitchen, I was immediately brought back down to earth. As the line passed through and I filled up each plate, I was humbled – by the men and women, (most my own age,) who made me feel so grateful for my own life and for the chance to step back for a bit and really think about what matters.

Whether you give your time to a local children’s hospital, donate to Toys for Tots, or even reach out to someone you know who may not have a close support system around them, I encourage you to do it. Get out there and really experience what this season is all about. Not only will feel your own spirit lifted, but you’ll lift the spirit of so many others who may not have all that you do during this time of year.

A grown man lifted,

Flyin’ Free

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Family Values

Our Company founder and my grandfather liked to remind us that there was only one way for a company to go bankrupt: too much debt.  His cutting edge vision for building land lease communities using modestly priced factory built homes, coupled with his depression era mentality towards avoiding debt, help him to steadily grow the company from cash flow and kept Jensen’s on sound footing for years.  In the process, we have helped thousands of families live within their means in comfortable homes and nice neighborhoods.

When his son (my Father) took over the Company reins he maintained those sound practices.  At that point we could take on some debt financing with a portfolio of communities that would assure lenders they would be paid back.  He continually developed banking relationships where our lenders would take the time to understand our business and how we chose to use leverage.  This strategy continues to work well today and has kept debt to a minimum and our Company sound even during these troubling economic times.
A family or retirees home is very typically their largest asset.  When equity has been built up over many years, it can provide a financial cushion and a resource.  Especially in retirement, we get to choose whether “we own our home” or “our home will own us”.  Too much home will not allow us to enjoy much else.  Owning a home that fits our desired lifestyle and our resources can provide freedom and independence.  There is no better way to retire.
Our Company’s financial strategy is one that has worked for many of our residents.  They live within their means, they use debt wisely and only for practical purchases like homes or vehicles, and define for themselves how they want to live.
With Thanksgiving behind us and the yearend holidays approaching, consider your family values and what is really important in your life.  Consider what your home is doing for you and the need for all the stuff in your home.  It may be time to right size your lifestyle to a home that is within your means and values.
Get in on the Good Life!®

Friday, November 25, 2011

I Give Thanks….For My Retirement Freedom

Every morning this Fall, I’ve started my day out with a brisk walk through the neighborhood.  Around 5 am, the world around me is quiet and still, and the air has a refreshing way of clearing my head, making it the ideal time for some personal reflection.

On my walk this morning,  I got to thinking about how truly grateful I am for the life that I’ve had so far – and for the life that I’m able to live with so much freedom, now. It’ll be almost a year since I made the move into retirement and community living, and since then I’ve had the chance to enjoy the simple pleasures in life with a matured appreciation and entirely different perspective than I ever had before.

The fact that I’m free to do whatever it is I want to do – whenever I want to do it – has made this part of my life so enjoyable.   Without the chains of obligation holding me down, I can pick up grandchildren on a whim and take them apple picking, spend a whole day chatting with my girlfriends over lunch, and even take off for a weekend for an enjoyable overnight somewhere out of town.

And the best part is – even though I’m retired, I still have the energy to do it all. I certainly don’t see myself slowing down anytime soon.  This time is all mine – and I’m enjoying every waking moment, with passion and energy of a teenage girl.

Get In On It

Thursday, November 17, 2011

“Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.” – The Whole Earth Catalog

With the recent passing of Apple CEO, Steve Jobs, it seems everyone – even those who didn’t know him personally, were inspired by his passion and his attitude toward life. He held an opinion that we encourage every day – to live life to the fullest, enjoy every moment, and never, ever settle.

At Jensen communities, we were especially touched by the words that Jobs shared through his closing words at the 2005 commencement speech at Stanford University. “Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish,” is what he cited from a 1970’s issue of the publication, “The Whole Earth Catalog.” While at the time, Jobs speech was being directed at the young 20-somethings of the esteemed universities’ graduating class, it’s clear that these words and the message they evoke, transcend generations. 

Whether you are still working and raising your family, transitioning your life into the golden years, or further along into your retirement, we encourage all of you to stay hungry…and stay foolish. Keep the energy of your youth within you. Instead of falling into the stereotype of how you should act at your age, be part of changing that perspective of growing old and define it for yourself. Continue to do what you love.  Enjoy the freedom that you have worked so hard for, and live the rest of your life to the fullest. Tomorrow is never a certain day for any of us – so today, do what you love and keep the youthful fire of passion inside you, alive.

Jensen communities

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

TGFG (Thank God For Generators!)

Storm Alfred provided the Northeast with an early look at winter on October 29th and 30th with six to twenty-four inches of wet heavy snow which caused severe damage to trees that still had many of their leaves.  Where leaves had already fallen, the damage was fortunately much more limited.  In southern New England, it was sad to see so many otherwise strong and well structured trees burdened by the weight of the fast falling snow.  Many smaller ornamental varieties were simply stripped of their branches.
Of course wayward branches and toppling trees mean power outages.  Jensen communities has been installing generators for our clubhouses for just such occasions and had fortunately done the same for our Corporate Office this past summer.  We feel it is important to provide our recreation facilities with backup power for community residents to use as a safe haven from the elements when power goes out.  They are not official storm shelters, but they’re well used after periodic weather events for residents to gather together for camaraderie (or commiserating!), cooking meals, charging battery operated phones and appliances, and even for sleep-overs.
It is also important that we keep our Corporate Office open as a communication center.  Residents need assurance that damaged trees will be attended to and fallen branches will be removed from home sites.  We become a clearing house for information that can be passed on to friends and neighbors in areas quieted by the storms.
One can argue that the climate is definitely changing and the frequency of storms is increasing, but the fact remains that FEMA asks us all to be prepared to take care of ourselves and our families for at least three days.  Please see their preparedness guide at  For many in the Northeast, three days was just the beginning.  We will all need to be sure to prepare for the worst (and hope for the best) with supplies, resourceful thinking and a backup plan (a generator or place to go) when power goes out at home or work.
Get in on the Good Life!®

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Flyin’ Free | Freedom for the Big Boys

Since my move, things just keep getting better. It’s Fall – and for all of you fans out there – that means one thing: it’s football season…the best time of the year to be a true sports fan. 

      While for most of my life, I’ve been enjoying every kick off and every tackle of my favorite team- I admit, the games this season, have been more enjoyable than ever. Now that I’ve rid my life of a bunch of time-sucking things that used to take away precious Sunday hours – like cleaning the leaves out of my gutters, raking leaves, mowing the lawn and getting lost in an all-day garage cleaning project, these days, Sundays are on the up and up. Now, I can do what I want – when I want, without much of anything holding me back.

      This weekend, I’m heading to the big game with a crew of my buddies. We’re packing up the grill and stocking the cooler with favorite foods and libations, and going out bright and early to do a little tailgating. We were even able to score seats right behind the fifty yard line.

                                                                                     Sure, we may be a bunch of burly old men – hanging out with our team sweatshirts and baseball caps- but deep down, we’re still boys, with the same passion and zest that we’ve always had.  In our early 60’s, we’ve been called off the sidelines – and I’ll tell ya, life can’t get any better than this…

  Still in the game.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Happy Holidays! (Already?)

Let’s be honest, you make the promise to yourself every year that you’re going to get out there and start your shopping early – and yet somehow, time slips away. This year, save yourself the stress. Make each day leading up to the Holidays truly enjoyable, with some “Early Bird” Holiday tips that will send you merrily on your way into a stress-free Holiday season.

Make a plan!
Start by putting together an organized list, to outline the major things that you need to spend money on from now until December 25th.  Start with the basics like:


…And then break all the major categories down into more detail.

Shop Now!
Believe it or not, October is your best time to start your shopping. This month, most stores are beginning to stock their freshest holiday shipments, so you really do have the best selection to choose from.  Plus, starting this early eases the pressure and gives you the time to really put thought into each gift.

Shop Smart!
Make a budget and stick to it. Take the time to scour the internet for exclusive online deals – it really is worth the time. When the rush of the Holiday season is over and you aren’t paying off credit card debt until April, you’ll be glad you put your savvy shopping hat on from the get-go.

This year, don’t just say you’re going to get ahead and start early – get out there and get it done! When all the busy work has been checked off your list, you’ll be floating in Holiday bliss – enjoying some quiet time in front of the fire or the company of great family and friends.

Here’s to the most successful Holiday season yet!

Get In On It

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Get the Most Out of Your Holiday Gift Giving

As the Holidays get closer, the thought of funding all the festivities and gift-giving can be overwhelming. We’ve gone ahead and compiled some quick tips to get the most for your money during the Holiday season.

Facebook: If you’re an avid Facebook junkie, you may already have seen how your favorite retail brands provide sale information and special Facebook discounts.

Online Coupons: These days, online coupons are hotter than ever. Be sure to check out sites like,,, and where you can actually sign up to be the first to receive promotions and coupons, via email, from retailers of your choice.

Off-Price Retail Shopping: What’s better than finding your favorite designer styles at nearly half the price?  Shopping stores like Homegoods and Nordstrom Rack let you get some classy gifts for a nice price.

The Sale Rack: Shopping the sale rack doesn’t make you a thrifty gift giver – it makes you a smart one. So, before dropping a pretty penny on an item that will likely drop up to 70% off its price in just a few days, check out the clearance and sale racks first!

There are all kinds of ways to get the most for your money and be the best gift-giver, party thrower, and decorator around – all you have to do is take a little time to dig the savings out of the red and green clutter.

Happy (early) Holiday planning!

Jensen Communities

Thursday, October 13, 2011

It’s Budget Plannin’ Time

It’s been a busy few weeks getting everything moved in and set-up in the new place, but already things are looking up. I feel really at home in this house. Selling my old home and moving into a community was a huge home run for me financially. I’ve streamlined my expenses and now, to continue moving along on the right track, it’s time to get how I use my income in order. It’s time to get a plan going, to reassess where I stand and where I want to be, to ensure I’m in a solid place for my future.

As far as my current financial situation goes, I’m doing okay right now. I’m lucky to have a steady income, but I know that you can never tell with full certainty what the future will bring. Especially after I stop working, I want to be able to take care of what I need to take care of and still be able to do the things I love – without being strapped for cash. 

Really, the goal of my plan is to help me be a little more in-tuned to what I’m dropping money on these days. Instead of spending $400 on a new fishing pole, I’m going to hang onto the ones I have longer. The newest technology is not as important as being able to spend time with a line in the water. Instead of getting lunch out every day, I’m actually buying groceries and enjoying fixing some meals in my new home. The way I see it is, if I can cut back in small ways, I’ll have that much more in my pocket for when I really need it or really want to spend it.  The more I can sock away now – the more relaxed I’ll feel a few years down the line, down by the lake, with a pole in my hand. 

Does anyone have any tips on how to stick to a plan like this?

Flyin’ Free

Thursday, September 29, 2011

At a “Freedom Party,” Everyone Wins.

I have to say, the ever-growing amount of “stuff” that we all seem to accumulate, even in the shortest amount of time, is truly mind blowing. Despite going through a major purge before the move into an active adult community, somehow in the last few months, I’ve actually begun to see that old clutter pile up again. I admit…while there have been some new additions since I moved, there are also some items from my old home that never quite made it into the dumpster (and truth be told, they should have). Somehow, they managed to find their home in our new home, doing exactly what they had done before the move - taking up space and collecting dust. 

After 8 full months of prioritizing my new experiences over the material collections in my life, I’ve never been more accepting of the fact that “things” are only “things”. I’ve realized that if I could sell even just half of the things that I don’t use anymore; the things that aren’t serving much of a purpose, I could score myself a nice little pool of money to actually put towards new retirement adventures- like a trip away or a nice dinner out.

In revealing this thought to a friend of mine in a recent conversation - she mentioned to me a creative way to say “farewell” to the clutter: “A Freedom Party,” she called it…and here’s how it works:

-Gather a group of people together from your community to hold a “multi-family” tag sale. This way, she said, getting rid of your stuff won’t be such a traumatic blow. When you do it as a group, the group support helps to lessen the emotional effects of the process

-Plan a “sign-making” night (wine and cocktails included) where you all get together a few days before the big sale to construct your “freedom party” signs together

-Split the cost of all supplies needed (price tags, sign materials, etc.) a local newspaper ad to promote the sale, and even lunch and beverages for everyone for the day(s) of the sale

-Make it a real “party” by including balloons and other party favors. Not only will this make it more fun, it will distract you from focusing on what you’re losing, and remind you of what you’ll be gaining (“freedom” from unnecessary “things”). The party d├ęcor will likely also attract a bigger crowd to your sale.

What could be better than creating a whole social event around getting rid of all our old stuff? It certainly sounds like a great idea to me. You and your friends could laugh together at the things “you just couldn’t get rid of,” share the memories that you have from each item, enjoy a few cocktails, and actually make some extra cash off this stuff!

While I haven’t yet coordinated one of the parties myself, I’d love to know if you have – or if you’re planning one soon. Fall is certainly a great time for tag sales…(I mean, “Freedom Parties”), so if you do end up putting together a sale like this, please let me know how it went! I’ll even leave with you this little ad that you might just be able to use to promote your sale!

Getting older stings…
but things…are just things.
So come by our sale,
and we’ll tell you a tale…
of the memories behind
that old teacup you find.
For whatever we sell,
From that lamp to this bell
You’ll help this old crew
Move away from the past
and on to the new.

The Junk-Be-Gone Master,
Get In On It

Thursday, September 22, 2011

There is Pride in Ownership

Buying a more accommodating home does not mean that you have to compromise in the quality of your neighborhood.  One way Jensen communities® ensures high standards is by requiring that all homes are owner occupied.
Subleasing or investor owned homes can lead to poorly kept homes and a higher turnover of homes within a community.  Homes may be rented for various reasons as well as for varying terms.  Having a new neighbor every year when the lease renews does not add to community cohesiveness.  When someone is renting, they are not as committed to taking care of the home’s exterior or landscaping other than the basic requirements.  Unauthorized additional friends or family members may live in an adjacent rented home without the landlord’s permission.  In the worst case scenario, living next to a party who must be evicted can bring some real unwanted attention and activity to your neighborhood.  Investors may also be more likely to walk away from a troubled loan than an owner who needs to live in the house.
Without subletting, you know that those around you have a similar investment and will take an equal amount of “pride in ownership” in their home and yards.  When you own where you live, people tend to do the “extras” that make a house a home.  We all take pride in where we live and like to show our home off in our own personal way.  Flowers, decorative fencing, landscaping beds, stone walls, special house siding and the like put our individual touches on our homes.
Neighborhoods take on the personality of their owners and social norms develop that set the tone and patterns.  Cutting grass at the same rate, good parking habits, and keeping noise to a reasonable level shows respect.  Keeping clutter from building up around our homes, taking trash barrels in after collection, and other such activities all create an inviting environment in which we want to live.
These qualities become more important as we seriously consider where to live as we near retirement.  They are especially essential on a smaller home site with homes closer together in a private community setting.  As you consider where to live next, look at the pride in ownership in your new neighborhood.
Get in on the Good Life!®

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

It is Good to Have Help with the Heavy Lifting!

Hurricane Irene raised havoc all along the East Coast.  It is bad enough to weather the storm; the work can be grueling getting our homes, yards and lives back in order.
This doesn’t get any easier the older we get.  Cleaning up the yard from the storm, fixing the roof shingles, cutting down and removing limbs and downed trees, unclogging stopped up drains, and all the other “joys” of homeownership after a storm.
An advantage of living in a private 55 and over community is that the management team is always around to do the heavy lifting.  While people may be responsible for their own homes and yards, contractors are hired to do the major tasks of removing tree limbs and downed trees.  A coordinated effort takes place to methodically clean up the entire community after a storm or hurricane.  Don’t get me wrong, there is no magic, just a professional and attentive effort from the staff that make a big difference in the time and energy it takes community residents to get back on their feet and put the neighborhood in order.
Getting power back on can also sometimes be aided by the number of homes affected.  When an entire community can be restored by repairing a few key connections, it may and usually does get attention sooner in the priority list.
With many of Jensen’s communities along the Eastern Seaboard, we saw our share of Hurricane and Tropical Storm Irene.  We welcome you to tour our communities and see how quickly we bounce back.  In the meantime we thank our residents for their patience while we get back on track, our employees for their extra effort to take care of our customers and the many linesmen who will be working for weeks to restore electric service.
Get in on the Good Life!®

Thursday, September 15, 2011

It’s Back to School Time (and that means you!)

With August turning the corner into the early days of Fall, we’re sure you know at least a handful of busy parents and anxious students getting ready to get back to school. But, how about you? Have you ever considered hittin’ the books again, and taking a class or two in a subject that you’ve always felt passionate about?

At Jensen Communities, we truly believe that learning should be a lifelong process.
In fact, there’s no better time than now to enroll in a program where you can take on a new skill, meet new people and keep your mind rockin’ and rollin’. During your retirement days, you not only have the time to spare, but you have the life experiences to know what truly makes you tick, and what kinds of new things might bring you joy and pursue a passion that you were never able to.  

Not sure how to even begin going back? Colleges and universities all over offer opportunities through Lifelong Learning programs or continuing education.  Courses include anything from traditional academic programs to more lifestyle oriented classes including:

·         Literature
·         History
·         Religion
·         Philosophy
·          Science
·         Art
·         Architecture
·         Economics
·         Computers
·         Finance
·         Jewelry making
·         Photography 

For the most part, these courses don’t even involve tests or grading. They are simply courses, for the pleasure of taking courses and learning something new. It doesn’t get much better than that!

Classes for the Fall are filling up, so hurry.  Contact your local college or university and inquire about the continued education classes or workshops that they might be offering. Also, don’t forget to also ask about senior discounts, tuition or fee reductions and even government provided tax break benefits, which will make this experience even sweeter. At certain community colleges, you might just have the opportunity to sit in on a class for free –all you have to do is ask!

Happy learning everyone!
Jensen Communities

Thursday, September 8, 2011

It’s happening…it’s really happening.

Wow. I guess this is it. The last time you heard from me, I was pretty overwhelmed with the decision on whether or not I was okay with moving out of my home and into something more practical for this stage in my life. Over the last year or so, the restless nights were plenty- this was certainly not an easy decision. 

More recently, after sitting down with my family, weighing out the pros and cons and talking very realistically about the future, a certain sense of peace came over me when I realized that my whole family was actually on board with the move and in fact, even encouraged it. At that point, it was almost overnight that the decision was made. The very next day, I started exploring the options and the packing-up, throw-away and give-away process began.

After about 3 weeks of “cleansing,” I’ve just about finished clearing through it all today. The last of the boxes have been duct-taped, labeled and piled up in the garage, ready for the moving truck. And while the house is looking pretty bare… I have to say, this future of mine is looking pretty bright.

A new adventure awaits…
Flyin’ Free