Find Your Passion OR Just Enjoy Retirement?

This past Sunday, April 9th marked the two year anniversary of my retirement. Boy does time fly!

As I hit that milestone and ask myself how well I am doing in retirement, I find that I am struggling with an interesting question. Do I need to discover and define my purpose in life in this new season OR is my purpose simply to enjoy my retirement years?

In these past two years, I have been searching for a mission, discovery of what inspires me, what gets me out of bed each morning.  Truthfully, I don’t know if I am any closer to this discovery than when I began.

Most of my friends are all retired at this point. I don’t know of any who have either searched for or found a defining new purpose for their life in their retirement years. Without exception from the outside looking in, it simply seems that for all of them their purpose is to enjoy their retirement. I see nothing wrong with that, don’t misunderstand. Most everyone certainly earns their retirement, and the right to do it as they see fit.

My friends, as well as most everyone else I read about in retirement, are all staying active first and foremost. More specifically, their days and weeks are filled with travel, fitness (usually at the gym), golf (mostly a male thing), reading, and for some, volunteering. The other focus of most retirements I’m familiar with is relationships. Retirees enjoy the ability to invest more time into their relationships both with family and friends. Put all of this together in some combination and retirement seems to be working very well and is being enjoyed by those whom I know. Personally my retirement is comprised of the same elements: relationships, exercise, reading, and travel. I’m enjoying retirement much of the time, but I feel my retirement is a bit incomplete. This explains why I have been involved in some introspection looking for what inspires me. It also partially explains why I have entertained the idea of finding a part-time position in the workforce.

When I began this blog I commented that I was entering my retirement without a plan, but that I hoped to come up with a plan for making my retirement the best season of my life. I also said that it would probably take me three years to figure it all out. So I feel that I’m right on schedule.

Thus, in year three of my retirement I’m going to continue to try to identify where my true passion lies. I will be patient. But failing that, I will redirect my focus to just enjoying a Lemonade Retirement, as my friends all seem to be doing!

Actually, I think my friends may all have the right idea – first, enjoy every day of the gift which is retirement. Why? Because just this week alone I learned that two of my friends who I haven’t seen or heard from lately are battling a very serious heart issue and lung cancer. Another close friend has been diagnosed with leukemia this week. And finally an acquaintance who got the school bus at my stop passed away at 69. Every day we and our family have our health is a blessed day, another day in our retirement to be thankful for.

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Folks, if you have been reading this blog for one month or 13½ months (the whole time), I want to thank you. This will be my last post, I am stepping away from the blog at this time. To be totally upfront, the blog simply has not gained the traction I had hoped for. My lack of social media skills was a significant contributing factor. But I’m sure the copy could have been more interesting as well.

Thanks for reading! Have a Lemonade Retirement and be healthy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Funnest” Weekend For This Retiree

You talk about a Lemonade Retirement! The extended weekend we just completed will go down as the “funnest” I will have in 2017 for sure. This is the kind of weekend you can only have if you are retired and not working.

On Friday for lunch, Suzanna and I met with our Baltimore-St.Lucia friends. Since ’94 we have been traveling each year to St. Lucia with two of our very best friends, the Stoners. Eleven years ago while in St. Lucia we met two other couples who are also from Baltimore. All four of the guys graduated from the University of Maryland around the same time (a long time ago). We had never gotten together as four couples in Baltimore in all that time, so we decided to finally meet for lunch and see what we all look like “with clothes on.” This was an overdue idea and a lot of fun.

For the rest of Friday, and about half of Saturday I was able to prepare for my rotisserie draft, which took place on Sunday. If you don’t know what that is, I won’t bore you. But I believe it is great fun and I’ve been doing it for over thirty years. It revolves around and coincides with the Major League baseball season, so it lasts for six months. Being able to study and prepare for 25-30 hours will hopefully increase my level of play and enjoyment for the next six months! How fortunate to have the time.

Obviously I enjoy sports, and this weekend we had the Final Four beginning with the two Semi-Final games on Saturday evening. After squeezing in church at five pm and a bit to eat, Suzanna and I settled in for two great games. All four teams truly did themselves proud, exhibited their amazing talent, and played great basketball.

Then on Sunday twelve teams assembled at a nearby country club in the Baltimore area for our annual Crabcakes Rotisserie League Baseball Draft. It’s an all day affair and most of us consider it the best, most fun day of the entire year. Two guys traveled in from Florida, one from New York city, one from Roanoke, Va and one from Columbus, OH. Three of the guys are local on-air sports talk show hosts. So it’s a big deal to all of us involved. Yes, it does involve an investment of close to $1,500 per team, and there is a financial distribution, of course, at the end.

Then came Monday. While I could never top Sunday, Suzanna and I nonetheless did something pretty special. We got an early morning start and drove to Lancaster, PA for six hours of baby sitting with our 5- 1/2 year old grandson Luke. It was great fun. Luke and I invented a ball game we play in the living room. We are both very competitive! He beat me two out of three in the morning. Then for good measure, we played one short game just before we left to come home. Another close loss for me resulted.

As we got ready to go out to lunch I noticed one of Luke’s school papers tacked to a cork board. It read:

  • I LOVE MOMMIE AND DADDY.
  • I LOVE BASKETBALL.
  • I LOVE SOCCER.

We got in the car; and I told him I saw his paper. I said, “you love Marms (Suzanna) too, don’t you?” His reply: “Yes, and I love you, too.” Wow. What a way to spend a morning and an afternoon!

Oriole Mark Trumbo Hits homer in 11th inning to beat Toronto on Opening Day, 2017.

That would certainly have been enough for the weekend, but there was much more happening later on Monday.  At 3 pm, the Orioles opened the 2017 baseball season against a rival team, the Toronto Blue Jays. In a very exciting, well played game, the O’s won 3-2 in eleven innings on a walk off home run. In addition, in the top of eleventh inning Manny Machado made an incredible play to get an important out! I caught half the game on the radio on the drive home, and then watched the second half on television.

Finally at 9:20 pm the Final Game of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament tipped off. I thought the game was disappointing, and I’m not sure the referees had their best night. North Carolina beat Gonzaga, otherwise it would have been a perfect weekend, albeit a very, very long one.

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Since I continue to struggle with whether or not to work, and if so, what and how much, this weekend was instructive for me . It was memorable, meaningful, and just plain fun. How different it would have been if I were working.

Lemonade Retirement: 2016’s Final Chapter

To be happy in 2017:
Let go of what’s gone.
Be grateful for what remains.
Look forward to what is coming next.

This wisdom is perfect advice for me this week, and I suspect many Baby Boomers who are in their sixties. Is it of any value to you?

In just a couple of days we will close out another year, this time 2016. And then, of course, we will welcome in the New Year. It blows my mind  that this is the 70th one of these for me. Good gosh!

“Dear Lord. Please help me to slow this train down. Its speed is dizzying. Can we not apply the brakes? Just a little bit; please!”

I have said before in these pages that I expected life to slow down in retirement. I am not that busy, so why hasn’t it slowed down? Instead the opposite is true. I will never understand this.

So we are about to turn the page on the calendar and begin the year 2017. But first, 2016 was significant for me for two main reasons. 1.)  As I mentioned earlier, I turned 70 years of age in 2016 (I am part of the oldest Baby Boomer class, the class born in 1946). Obviously, 70 is quite a significant mile marker in anyone’s life. It is probably the last decade where many of us can hope to have a full ten years of relatively good health.

And 2.) 2016 was my first full year of retirement. My adjustment to this new season, which began in April, 2015 continued. So how is it going? Not badly; but I’m not “there” yet. Twenty-one months in, I still miss the structure which work gave to my life. And admittedly, I also miss the window envelope which I received every Thursday.

Becoming 100% comfortable with being fully retired takes some people longer than others. For me I’m guessing it will take about three years. I read and write, I get quality time with family and friends, and I exercise regularly. But that is not quite enough, and I feel that something is missing. I have not totally given up the idea of working part-time. At times part time work seems like  it might be the missing piece of my puzzle. At other times it seems unlikely to happen. 2017 many hold the answer.

In the “prescription” for happiness in 2017 which began this blog, step 2 is “Be grateful for what remains.” I have been thinking about this this week with a very thankful heart. “What remains” for me is truly overwhelming! Suzanna and I have three daughters, each of whom are flourishing in their own lives and with their own families. While we well know that this may not continue forever, we are extremely thankful for the present. In addition, our marriage is strong and wonderful, and we both have our health. With these blessings in hand we feel certain we can figure out the rest.

I sincerely hope that in your life, like mine, much remains to be grateful for, and that 2017 will be a wonderful year.

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Two weeks ago, in “Shooting Holes in the 80% Rule” I listed many of the savings we will all enjoy in retirement, allowing us to live well on less than 80% of our pre-retirement income. I invited readers to let me know of additional areas of savings beyond those I listed. Here is what I received:

  1. Downsized home.
  2. Exit cities and/or states which are expensive to live in.
  3. Stop providing financial support to adult children who are out of school.
  4. Give up pay TV channels and packages.
  5. Take out telephone land lines.
  6. Travel at off peak times and take advantage of last minute deals, both of which can easily be done in retirement.
  7. Create a budget, your money is precious!

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  With that, thanks for reading in 2016 and please consider returning in 2017.

Happy New Year. God bless!

 

 

 

Another Retirement Gift: Continuing Education

My retirement has been much busier than I expected it to be with three main activities filling most of my hours. Those activities include reading, writing a blog, and visits with my 89-year mother, all of which have, for the most part, been quite enjoyable.seniors picture on a small bus

Nevertheless, I have expressed to most people who have asked, that I feel like I need one more thing to round out and give a bit more structure to my retirement schedule. Structure is something working all those years gave me, which clearly is something I enjoy and prefer.

About a month ago I was asked by a friend if I might be interested in taking a course in Taxation. Although I am aware that many seniors enjoy going back to school in retirement either for credit or non-credit courses, I had never given it any thought whatsoever. Several of my friends, in fact, have also gone back to college in teaching capacities as Adjunct Professors. Rather than going back to school in any capacity, my thinking has instead been focused on whether I wanted to find some part-time work, for pleasure and/or income.

This idea of taking a course on Taxation intrigued me at several levels, even while recognizing that normal people would prefer a root canal to a course on this subject. My thinking was as follows:

1.  My degree is in Accounting, and while I took the mandatory  Tax course back at the UM, I never used it after graduating. Hence, it has always been a “part of my game” which is badly lacking. This would be a chance to shore that up.
2.  As anyone who reads this blog knows I consider myself a student of Retirement. I want to do my retirement well and hopefully be of some help to others. There are many tax issues facing retirees, and so this course would most certainly be useful in upcoming decisions.
3.  Perhaps I will be comfortable and competent to do my own tax return, which I haven’t done since 1977. This will save us several hundred dollars, which certainly has appeal.
4.  And finally, by taking this course and then passing an exam with the State of Maryland, I will have the option to work in the field, either for myself or someone else on a seasonal and/or part-time basis. I do not know for sure at this point if I would want to do this, but I am sure this will become clear to me in due time.

So, it felt like “the stars lined up” and I enrolled. At this point, I am beyond the midway mark and it’s been quite intense. But I’m enjoying the experience of being in the classroom setting, learning, and being tested (every chapter ends with a test). Of course, I also like the structure taking this class adds to my retirement.

While I haven’t completed the course as yet, it is crystal clear that the U.S. tax code could hardly be more convoluted and complicated. It is crazy. You may remember that during the recent Presidential campaign candidate Trump promised among other things to simplify the tax code. Great idea. He said H&R Block may be put out of business as it was his goal that taxpayers could simply file their taxes with a postcard. I don’t know if that can be achieved, but simplification does need to be a priority. People shouldn’t have to hire professionals and pay hundreds of dollars to file and pay their taxes.

I believe I will be open to the idea of taking other courses in the future. If the subject matter resonates with me like the Taxation course has, I’ll give it a try.

P.S. Through chapter 18 my average is 84 – not too bad considering the subject matter and my rustiness.

 

 

Retirement Living to the Max – Friends and Travel Part 2

With 125 miles to go to our destination: Neebish Island, on the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, we departed Gaylord, MI at 9 AM Saturday morning, the 27th. Fifty-eight miles into the last leg of our trip, we reached the Mackinac Bridge, our first noteworthy sighting on the trip. This impressive bridge is five miles in length and is the 17th longest bridge in the world. It is also “the longest suspension bridge between anchorages” (whatever that means) in the western Hemisphere. It spans the Straits of Mackinac and connects the Upper and Lower Peninsulas of Michigan. The Straits of Mackinac connect Lake Michigan and Lake Huron. In short, this is an impressive, eye-catching junction. “Water, water everywhere…”

Once on the Upper Peninsula, it was about an hour further north to the ferry crossing at Barbeau, Michigan. We had informed Steve and Anne that we planned to be on the noon ferry. Our arrival was on schedule and our three and a half day visit began.

A bit about Neebish Island. Neebish Island is the easternmost point of the Upper Peninsula. It is 21.5 square miles and sits in the middle of the St. Mary’s river, which connects Lake Huron and Lake Superior. Upbound vessels, many 1,000 feet in length and laden with ore, pass by Steve and Anne’s front door pass on the east side of the island headed for the Soo locks and Lake Superior. Downbound vessels pass on the west side of the island. We were impressed with the cleanliness of the St. Mary’s river, particularly as compared to our rivers and bay at home in Maryland.

Mackinac Bridge Pic 2 for Lemonade Retirement
The 5 Mile Mackinac Bridge.

 

 

map of neebish island
See routes upward and downward bound on each side of Neebish Isle.

The year-round population on Neebish Island, due to the severe winter weather, only numbers 90. Interestingly, when I mentioned my trip to Neebish Island to two of my friends, one a lifelong resident of the Lower Peninsula and the other born and raised on the Upper Peninsula, neither had ever heard of it. Steve says that is because there is nothing on the island, no hotels, restaurants, stores of any kind, nothing. So, what a wonderful, secluded, unspoiled place!

And a bit about Steve and Anne’s summer home property: Like many of the properties on the island, it has been in Steve’s family for many years dating back to the very early 1900’s. Then in 1936 a second cottage was purchased on an adjacent lot. This second cottage was purchased by Steve’s grandmother as a graduation gift for Steve’s dad who comple14316835_10206523711842572_6939707960825340348_nted his degree in Naval Architecture at the University of Michigan. Obviously, the early cottages have both been expanded and updated over the years. The result is two character-filled summer cottages, roomy and comfortable. Both cottages face the river with large windows and large screened porches, affording perfect views of Canada just across the river! Suzanna and I, thus, had our own space, making it extremely comfortable for us, as well as Steve and Anne.

I hope I have painted a picture of a very special and wonderful place. And to me what is particularly terrific is that Steve retired about fifteen years ago, and so, he and Anne have been able to enjoy this beautiful place for four and a half to six months a year for all of that time. I sense that they are humbled by it all. I also sense that they especially enjoy sharing this relaxing experience with their family and friends.

The visit itself was dominated, as you might guess, by food and great conversation. Anne’s excellent cooking skills were much on display beginning with lunch upon our arrival. The rest of Saturday consisted of getting comfortable with our surroundings and then steaks on the grill for dinner.

Sunday began with services at the tiny Presbyterian church to which Steve and Anne belong. It’s the only church on the island and it turns out that Anne is the organist and Steve the greeter and usher. Think thirty to forty attendees. The church is only open about half the year, so pastors have to be recruited two weeks at a time. But it is not too difficult to find pastors willing to come in exchange for a two- week vacation and a small stipend.

Sunday afternNeebish Island Churchoon consisted of a light lunch and more conversation and reminiscing. Later in the day, Anne prepared another wonderful dinner, this time of shrimp and cheese grits. We were joined for dinner by Warren and Carolyn, two of their best friends on the island. It was enjoyable for us to get a glimpse of their life on the island by meeting many of their friends. Besides at their home and church, we met several at the ferry crossing, where people coming and going from the island queue up fifteen to twenty minutes prior to making the crossings.

TO BE CONTINUED