I remind myself every day just how wonderful and valuable life is. Consistently, I tell people, “Life is good, even when it isn’t.” For me, 2019 has been full of challenges, but I still find joy and happiness in my favorite things, like spending time with family and friends and vacationing to exciting places, or by helping others. I love going to the beach, breathing in the salt air, and watching the sunrise or sunset while hearing the continual roll of waves.
What is the key to happiness? Robert Waldinger, Director of the Harvard Study of Adult Development, said in a 2015 Ted Talk, “Good relationships keep us happier and healthier.” Over 27 million people have watched this Ted Talk for keys to happiness. For almost 80 years (the longest running study on happiness), Harvard studied 724 men throughout their lives to determine what made them happy and healthy. They chose the men from two groups, all roughly the same ages; one group was comprised of Harvard sophomores, and the other group came from some of the poorest neighborhoods in Boston. They found that some of the poorest men were among the happiest, and some of the more wealthy were not. While I do find this study to be fundamentally flawed due to lack of women (wives were added in the last decade), I do agree with the conclusion that good relationships keep us happier.
Unfortunately, in the United States, the happiness factor has been declining. The 2019 World Happiness Report shows the United States is now the 19th happiest country in the world, down from 12th happiest is 2015 based on GDP per capita, life expectancy, social support, freedom to make choices, generosity of people around you, and perceived corruption levels. The U.S. life expectancy has also declined for three straight years. The top five happiest countries in the world are 1) Finland, 2) Denmark, 3) Norway, 4) Iceland, and 5) the Netherlands. We are often encouraged to “lean in,” work more, and be more productive; however, the people who fare the best actually “lean in” to relationships as good relationships keep us happier and physically healthier.
It’s never too late to start. My advice to live a healthier, happier life in retirement is to remove the conflict from your life. Remove yourself from the traffic, congestion, and long hours commuting; your new life awaits in one of Ideal-LIVING’s 2019 Best of the Best Planned Communities. Each year, we choose planned developments that create an environment to live your ideal life through rich social interactions and healthy lifestyles. Remove yourself from high tax areas, and find your ideal destination in tax-friendly states that also have great weather. We want to help you to spread joy and happiness in the world by finding that new lifestyle that allows you to explore new adventures and make new, lasting relationships.
Approaching retirement often means a move is on the horizon. Many want to be closer to the grandkids, enjoy easy access to a range of amenities, or soak up year-round sunshine. For Melton and Linda Graham, it was a desire to downsize from their lifelong family home that prompted them to start the search for a new location. Luckily for them, they didn’t have to look for very long before they found their ideal spot.
Viridian, close to Arlington, TX, had everything they were looking for and even a few things they didn’t know they wanted! “I wasn’t completely sure about going to live in a 55+ community,” explains Linda, “but the minute I went to Viridian, I thought to myself, ‘this is going to be perfect.’”
The master-planned community is in the process of completing its new 141-acre 55+ development, Elements. With the stunning natural beauty of the Viridian community as its backdrop, Elements offers a variety of homes designed by some of the areas finest builders, David Weekley Homes, Drees Custom Homes, and Lennar Homes.
Needing to downsize and find their forever home, the Grahams are now looking forward to the completion of their single level 2,500 square foot home. “It’s stylish and comfortable with a few age-in-place features to accommodate our time of life, such as wide doorways and extra spacious showers,” smiles Linda.
With a host of luxury amenities available, including a ‘pool that I don’t have to clean,’ Linda can’t wait to kick back and enjoy the good life without having to be responsible for endless repairs and maintenance. This ease and peace of mind create lots more time and energy for the Meltons to be able to visit nearby family, make the most of Viridian’s inspiring workshops, and relish the peaceful scenery.
This 141-acre neighborhood, conveniently located in the heart of the Dallas-Forth Worth Metroplex in Arlington, will feature beautiful courtyard and single-family homes in a variety of lot sizes, with homes designed by some of the finest builders in the DFW area: David Weekley Homes, Drees Custom Homes, and Lennar Homes.
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Congratulations to all of our competitors, and a HUGE thank you to our volunteers, sponsors, and staff. More than 100 competitors convened on the Dataw Island Tennis Center for the Annual Dataw SPLASH! Tennis Tournament, an event that benefits SOAR Special Recreation. The event is USTA-sanctioned and featured players of varying levels, from 3.0 to 9.0. Competition was fierce…but most of all fun! The pleasant weather encouraged spectators throughout the weekend, who came to cheer on neighbors, family, and friends.
Dataw Island Tennis Center last year was named an “Outstanding Tennis Facility” by the USTA, one of just four private clubs to receive this recognition. Each year, we enjoy sharing our facility with players from throughout the region for SPLASH!, a weekend of camaraderie and competition.
Congratulations to ALL competitors, and especially to Dataw Island’s own who won and/or were finalists in their divisions:
Men’s 3.0 Singles
Scott Hammond, Finalist
Men’s 3.0 Doubles
John McShane and Floyd Washburn, Champions
Steve Brown and Nigel Sewell, Finalists
Men’s 4.0 Doubles
Michael Chambers and Joe Costigan, Champions
Pat Sewell and George Fiorella, Finalists
There is a place off the South Carolina coast, near the charming town of Beaufort, where nature and luxury share center stage. Shaped by the Intracoastal Waterway and a rich Southern history, the gated golf community of Dataw Island is a pristine parcel of 870 acres waiting to be discovered.
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All In: Sustainable Gardening (and Living) at Babcock Ranch
Sustainability is a way of life at Babcock Ranch and it’s planted firmly in the garden.
By: Jamie Penn
It’s not at all surprising that residents of America’s first solar-powered town care where their food comes from, or that they want to be a part of the process. The only surprising thing about living in the garden at Babcock Ranch (about an hour from Naples), says community garden consultant, Whitney Tucker, is that residents can make things grow this time of year.
“It’s not easy, but it can be done,” said Tucker. Southwest Florida is known to get a little too steamy early to mid-summer for most varieties of vegetables. But, cherry tomatoes, like the sweet and savory yellow “Everglade,” many types of peppers, and most herbs can hang with the Florida heat. While summer isn’t the optimal time to grow along the Gulf-side of the panhandle, every other time of the year is, says Tucker. And, an eight-month optimal growing season is pretty darn good. Year-round harvesting includes tomatoes, bell peppers, yellow squash, zucchini, microgreens, and herbs.
Running the Show
There is one varietal harvested on Babcock Ranch land, however, that is more plentiful during summer months (as well as every other month) than in any other planned community in the country. 440 acres of land at Babcock Ranch is covered in 343,000 glistening blue, sun-loving solar panels that serve to produce 74.5 megawatts of power, enough solar energy to power the entire town. And, those numbers will soon double on land adjacent to current solar fields.
While this staple crop requires very little water, the farmland that provides produce for two restaurants and a general store does. Because Babcock Ranch is a 100% sustainably-developed community, Tucker said zero percent of well-generated freshwater is used to irrigate crops. All irrigation is sourced from wastewater and reused water located on the Ranch.
Sustainable is as Sustainable Does
Sustainable development is all about minimizing your impact and footprint on the natural environment. Whitney Tucker and her previous employers at Herban Gardens (Kitson family-owned) have been all about sustainable development since the inception of Herban Gardens. Tucker, age 26, worked for the Kitson family for over 10 years, starting her learning of “everything she knows” about growing microgreens and sustainable and organic gardening in general. She’s now a full-time employee at Slaters Restaurant and works as a community gardens consultant for the Babcock Ranch H.O.A. Herban Gardens continues to farm a large plot of land on Babcock Ranch, accounting for produce provisions for both restaurants.
“It’s pretty perfect, because I’m always on call, but I never feel like I am,” Tucker said. Community gardeners often come in to dine so that they can get a few garden tips. “I love being a part of their enthusiasm,” she said.
It’s residents like the Graham family, Tucker says, that remind her how important this process is. The Grahams visited Tucker recently at Slaters just so their four-year-old daughter could tell her that she got to eat the very first cherry tomato that she helped to grow.
The Grahams are one of 16-20 families growing and harvesting in Babcock Ranch Community Gardens. Twelve 4 ft. x 5 ft. metal containers and eight 4.5 ft. x 16 ft. are available to all residents on a first-come-first-serve basis. Thyme trails over metal and rosemary, and tomato plants still hold strong in raised garden plots in the heat of the summer sun next to acres and acres of solar panels. And, a teaching garden, planted and tended by Tucker, is available for all to watch and learn.
“It’s important to residents that they know where their food comes from when they sit down to eat at Slaters or pick up a few things from the General Store,” Tucker said. But, it’s another thing altogether, she said, when they get to learn how it all works as a family, and to reap the benefits of their labor.
“It feeds them in a different way,” Tucker said. “And, they constantly express how grateful they are to have access to it.”
Along with Herban Gardens’ farm plot, there are several tenant farmer plots, as well. A bee farm and a large-scale tomato and watermelon farm are among them. The honey from the bee farm provides honey for the general store and replaces sugar in all recipes used at both Babcock Ranch Restaurants.
In a sustainable environment, renewal and repurposing are consistent. And, at Babcock Ranch, it’s in everything residents do. It’s at the base of every program that’s created and in the blueprint of every house built.
Tucker says there’s no better way to experience sustainability’s progressive cycle than to hover around the table at a monthly S.L.E.T. (Slaters Babcock Ranch Eat and Talk) meeting.
Residents buzz about new sustainable solutions on the horizon and what they can do better and more consciously as a community. They ask questions – i.e., how and where to recycle X.Y.Z., or when and where to find organic and sustainably-produced products. And, Tucker is always there to mediate.
“It’s a pretty inspiring thing to watch,” she said.
New solar-powered town near Fort Myers in sunny Florida promotes active, healthy living with 50 miles of trails to get out and explore. Take in 9,000 acres of preserved green space, farm-to-table restaurants, community gardens, and the Healthy Life Center that align with the Babcock Ranch vision with a focus on wellness and sustainable living. Residents can choose from a mix of affordable, moderate and luxury residences that blend with the natural environment.
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Rebecca and Russ Bafford waved goodbye to their Utah snow shovel a couple of years ago and moved to the Lone Star State to get warm, get close to grandkids, and to fill their retirement days with meaningful new friends, scores of activities, and the safety of a gated community.
After much research in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, they settled-in at Robson Ranch, an idyllic 55+ community in the northwest suburb of Denton, and one of seven Robson Resort Communities in the southwest from the respected developer.
An engineer by trade, Russ appreciated an extra measure of quality construction at Robson Ranch as soon as the couple first toured the Model Home. Says Russ, “I noticed the foundation slabs were steel post-tensioned, which means they won’t heave or twist, which makes for a stable house that won’t settle.”
An accomplished classical, gospel, and jazz pianist, and a recording artist who has released five CDs, Rebecca appreciated the 12-foot ceilings and 630 sq. ft. great room of their Rialta home plan, more than ample space to embrace her grand piano.
The view from the Great Room looks through the Bafford’s covered outdoor space to a tranquil greenway, then beyond to the development of a third nine holes of golf at the community’s Wild Horse Golf Club. And, while the couple doesn’t play golf, they do enjoy the excellent fare and Texas ranch decor in the Wild Horse Grill, “The best restaurant for miles,” according to Rebecca.
They’re also very active in the community, as Rebecca is vice president of programs for the Robson Ranch Women’s Club, where she’ll both arrange for speakers and help manage charity events, socials, monthly luncheons, and more. She’ll also tickle the ivories from time to time at community gatherings.
And, Russ can practice his craft in the woodworking studio at the community’s stunning Creative Arts & Technology Center. He is also a regular at the sprawling new Pinnacle Fitness Center. Other amenities at Robson Ranch include one of the premier pickleball and tennis complexes in the country, three pools (including an indoor one), the Cimarron Sports Club, and a 17,500 sq. ft. clubhouse.
The Baffords venture the 45 minutes into DFW for church on Sundays in Dallas, and frequent performances at the Fort Worth Symphony, home to the prestigious Van Cliburn International Piano Competition.
You can learn more about Robson Ranch online at www.robsonranch.com.
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA at historic Independence Hall during autumn season.
King Charles II in 1681 granted the region to William Penn, son of a famous admiral and a devout Quaker. He wanted to simply call the colony “Sylvania,” from the Latin silva meaning “forest,” but the King added “Penn” to honor William’s father.
Retirement income, including Social Security and military benefits, is exempt from taxation for Pennsylvania residents age 60 and older.
Pennsylvania is one of four American states founded as a “commonwealth,” an English term meaning “a political community created for the common good.” The others are Massachusetts, Virginia, and Kentucky.
Home sweet home in Washington Crossing, Pennsylvania
There are nearly 60,000 farms in Pennsylvania covering more than 7.5 million acres. On the list of state agricultural productivity, Pennsylvania ranks No. 1 in mushrooms, No. 2 in apples, and No. 3 in Christmas trees.
The Crayola Factory in the Lehigh Valley produces nearly three billion crayons a year.
Spring is on the way!
Up to 20,000 visitors celebrate Groundhog Day every year on February 2nd in Punxsutawney, the self-proclaimed “Weather Capital of the World.”
World-famous Martin guitars and other stringed instruments have been made in Nazareth, PA, since 1838.
A State of Firsts
America’s first magazine (1741) and daily newspaper (1784) were published in Philadelphia, while Pittsburgh was home to the nation’s first baseball stadium (1909), automobile service station (1913), and commercial radio station (1920).