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Retirement Blog Editors on StageofLife.comRead below for a welcome message from the Empty Nest & Retirement editors:  Suzanne and Greg. While thousands of writers and bloggers contribute their stories and essays to, we work closely with our retirement and empty nest editors who are here to comment on your blog posts, lend a helpful voice, and answer your questions about If you would like to meet all of our Editors working on the Stage of Life initiative or apply for an Editor position, please check out our Staff page and Contact Us.

Weekly Message from the Editor

Retirement Editor's Welcome

Freedom... Again!

By Greg Phillips, Empty Nest & Retirement Editor

As per my last Editors piece on the 1st of June, I am glad to report that life here at home has resumed to normal! Just as fast as he materialized, our son is back out on his own again, living in his own home now.  In the past month of his temporary living at home,  I have learned a few things:

* I really have kind of missed him!  At first, it was awkward, but evened thought when he was home he stayed to himself, it was kind of nice knowing he was in the other room!
* I really didn't miss the mess in our guest bathroom.
* I really missed our den; our sanctuary of peace.  And I felt a pain in my gut every time I walked into it the past month!
* He apparently eats less.  There was actually food stocked in our fridge and cupboard.  According to my grandma's logic this means he stopped growing?!
* He's not a party animal... thank God.
* The short term binding verbal agreement was he would live here rent free since every dollar was being spent on re-building the inside of his home.  But he would help around the house.  The chickens were tended to every night by him.   The chickens were tended to every night by him.  Did I mention that the chickens were tended to every night by him?
* Apparently, he must have been playing hookey during the high school business class chapter that discussed binding verbal agreements.
* I am proud of his accomplishments, especially that he has bought his first home at 22 years old. 

Among other things, this is insurance that I will not have to make another one of these lists again!

Yes, it has been an interesting month!  It's funny how 4 years of freedom, can affect a parent in such ways.  Yet, our love for him hasn't changed, and we still feel, barring a few issues as noted, that we brought him up right and he is quit successful.  Did I mention he never cleaned his bathroom or our den upon his departure?  Yeah... about that.  Did I mention he still has no hot water at his house... and that when he comes back for a shower the locks will be changed... hee hee!

Retirement Editor's Welcome

Are You Ready for Retirement?

By Suzanne Vosbikian, Empty Nest & Retirement Editor

My brother just retired from his job of over thirty years and is deliriously happy.  Obviously, he is still in the honeymoon phase and he should be happy.  Retirement was a choice that he planned for and he was both emotionally and financially ready.    He is fortunate to still be married to his childhood sweetheart and he has children and grandchildren to comfort him in his old age. 

He has some other things going for him like having a variety of personal interests and enjoying reasonably good health.  He liked his job and was very good at it, but when the time came to walk away, he was ready.  How is it that some of us just know when it's time, while others struggle with the decision.? 

His Successful Formula:

Financial readiness * Emotional readiness * Varied Interests * Companionship

A friend believes that some of us were" born to be retired."  He thinks that successful workers become successful retirees because of their positive nature and "can do" attitude.   I am not so sure.  I have known a few people who were very happy and satisfied with their jobs that have not adjusted well to retirement.  I think it takes more than a positive attitude.  In fact,  I think it takes balance, like the formula above. 

Not one of the parts of the formula will stand alone to guarantee a successful retirement, but put them together, and we have a very good chance of making this not only a successful time, but quite possibly the time of our lives.

When you add Good Health to the list, the possibilities go through the roof.  There are some situations that are out of our control, but to the extent that we can improve our health, that should be a high priority at any Stage of Life.

What do you think - why do some people seem naturally inclined to enjoy  retirement while others seem to struggle with the concept? 

Retirement Editor's Welcome

A Systematic Glitch

By Greg Phillips, Empty Nest & Retirement Editor

There’s an interesting scenario unfolding at my house as of late.  It is testimony to the fact that no matter how solid things may seem, there is always the possibility of it all changing.  Sometimes in rapid succession.  Which in this case had originally sent me into a tailspin.  I can comfortably say I am beginning to stabilize, however, not entirely.

My wife and I went outside to take a much needed road trip down in the lower 48 back in the beginning of May.  Our son, who had a bit of a life change this past fall, had been house sitting for a friend of ours through the winter.  It was a nice set up…live in and take care of their place, rent free!  The timing of their return, his exodus and our parting for vacation couldn’t have been more choreographed even if planned this way!  And, as if not to upset the balance of things, this also occurred on the cusp of our son closing on his first home.  Now stick with me on this because we are going to move in real time here.

Friends coming home to their place on May 10th.  We left for vacation on May 8th. Sons house to close on…somewhere between May 12th and May 17th.  Son moves out of friends’ place and into ours to watch our house while we’re gone, on May 8th. Friends are now free and clear of the story.  Son closes on his own house on May 11th, one day earlier than expected.  We are frolicking on the Central California coast until our expected return of May 24th.  Son is/will stay in our place until then.  Partly because we want him to so as to tend to the dogs and the chickens, and partly because he kind of had no choice at the time.

I’ll get to that detail in a moment.

Here is where it gets weird.  We return on May 24th.  At this point I was going through ‘vacation detox’.  This is a state of denial that you actually are going to have to conform to life standards as usual, primarily because fun time is done and you just don‘t have a choice.  Like most detox programs can do, this put me in a state of discomfort and some irritability.  As we walked in the door, I knew deep down what was coming.  I tried to put it into the back recesses of my mind; another form of impending denial.  The first words to come out of my mouth upon entry, seeing our sons “stuff” scattered about, was, “so…where are you gonna live?”

It’s funny how there are moments in life where a simple question seems to slip into a state of suspended animation.  Like the question is asked, but all time seems to come to a standstill, all but you, who is patiently waiting for an answer!  Such was the case with my question that night.  In fact, the question wasn’t answered until well into the next day.  When I asked it again.

You see, son got one hell of a break.  He was hired to go into this cute little place near us, on 3 acres, to muck it out after a frozen pipe had thawed and flooded the unoccupied dwelling back in spring.  In a moment of clarity, he realized that this would be perfect for him…he wanted to own the place.  So, he talked to the property manager, she spoke to the owner, the owner said in fact they would be interested in selling to him, and with some details and formalities he indeed bought it for literally half of what the market value was!  Not without a hitch though.

The place was gutted while the transaction was being set up.  And, he would inevitably have to put it back together once he owned it, to make it habitable. Thus, the perfect doings with the exodus from our friends’ place…our vacation…and him staying at our house, and.  Yeah.  Him continuing to live at our house until he gets to a point of livability at his own.  Ooof.  Empty nesters now for about 4
years now, this is a huge temporary setback for our independence.  Certain recreational activities have been temporarily suspended, we‘re cooking for three…our sacred space, the den, his former quarters is now off limits to us… Seeing how this time of year it doesn’t get dark out at night, we have even had to resort to closing the curtains in the family room and announce we are going into
the hot tub…”stay in your room”!!  lol

It is a story still unfolding, and I’m sure with much to do in store.  I already had to have ‘the talk’ in the first 24 hours.  You know, the one about the best guests are invisible ones!  “You really need to clean up after yourself and make it like you’ve left no clues to follow, that you are here”.

The silver lining is that we are getting help with household chores in the interim. Nice trade off!  And, since good ol dad is finding time in his slammed schedule to help him renovate the inside of his place….at no charge…he is going to be helping here at home with some big summer projects.  However, I do have to say that I love(d) having my freedom!  Now, wifey is of course happy he is staying here, and if not monitored closely could bend towards a more long term accommodation.  But that is where our relationship has always had some good balance.  I am usually the one to bring back a sense of reality!  Or in this case…our house back!  Stay tuned…

Retirement Editor's Welcome

Get Out There

By Suzanne Vosbikian, Empty Nest & Retirement Editor

In case I have not mentioned it before, I love being retired.   In the past I have talked about the many reasons why, and today I will offer one more.  We no longer have to limit our vacations to one or two weeks in the summer, when the kids are out of school.  Other than costs, there really are no constraints for where and when we will travel.  Lately we tend to choose cruises, and for good reason. 

We just got back from a cruise to the South Pacific that we never could have taken while we were working.  Our ship was filled with retirees.  It was interesting to learn that this was the first cruise for some of them, while it had become "old hat" to others.  We met one couple who cruised for fifty-five days, went home for two weeks and got on our thirty-six day cruise.  Another couple boarded our ship in Ft. Lauderdale, twenty days prior to when we boarded it in San Diego.  That's  fifty-six days of cruising if you are doing the math.  I love to cruise but I don't think I could have done that. 

Cruising appeals to me and apparently to a lot of retirees for a lot of reasons:

It is a great way to get a "taste" of many destinations without the expense and frustration of flying

There is no thought involved, with the exception of what to choose from the menu at dinner

Sight-seeing at each port is made easy through the ship Excursion desk

It does not require a lot of packing - especially if you use the laundry service on board

It is a wonderful way to socialize with people who you might never see again (no strings attached)

Some ships are like a floating "Club Med" and others are more understated - your choice

Staterooms are attended twice a day

Room service is always available

You can dress up or dress down for dinner - formal nights are becoming a thing of the past

You can watch a movie on the big screen, play Team Trivia, listen to a lecture or take a computer class

You can sit in the sun all day and do nothing

Ice cream and chocolate cake is always available

Cruises offer history,  geography and cultural lessons - at no charge  :)

Need I say more? Get out there.  Plan a year in advance or catch a last minute deal.  You are retired and your time is your own.

Retirement Editor's Welcome

Nothin' Left to Do But Smile, Smile, Smile

By Greg Phillips, Empty Nest & Retirement Editor

Once again it is the time of year for us Alaskans to celebrate the end of another long dark and cold winter, and to lavish in the lengthening hours of daylight, currently around 16 hours, and the fortune of sunshine!  Last summer was a wet, dreary somewhat downer of a time for most of us.  It seemed as if the winter past had drug itself into the summer and several months later we were still dragging on with the next winter.  Like on long winter that never seemed to end!  However, we have had more sun in the past month and a half, than the past year combined, so… woo-hoo!  While most of the country is baking, raining or ‘springing’ away, we still have night time temps dipping into the late teens and early 20’s …and the snow still hanging around… not melting fast enough for those of us eager to get on with the outdoors!

It was a long winter with some pretty interesting hardships, disappointments, a few really sad events and some exciting ones as well.  All in all this winter weighed heavy on me.  I found little to no time to do any of the things I like to do for self fulfillment, and although blessed with the fortune of plenty of work, basically did nothing but work!  Along with work, the long hours and days of plowing snow, what typically is enjoying for me, actually found me tired and lacking the motivation to…push on…pardon the pun.  Many have told me I’m experiencing burnout.  Go figure.

But the summer promises some potential for fun…  Salmon fishing on the river til 2:00AM, a halibut trip or two out into the bay, surely will find me some peace. Along with our projects here at home, I am praying for some sense of accomplishment!  Why, after looking at stacked boxes of  laminate flooring under the counter top and living on plywood for the past two years, I actually made the time this past weekend to install them!  Huh…me, doing my own project for a change… But let me tell you, I am hoping it is the beginning of a summer time trend. Getting my own stuff done!

To boot, both our kids are buying their first houses locally, at 22 years old, with the promise of their growing career paths in front of them!  Talk about proud! Ironically they both close on their homes this week and the other next week. Excited and proud of their accomplishments, the home improvement and honey-do lists are already being put together for handyman dad.  And for handyman husband too! And the battle of whose home of the three will get the most attention from…handyman dad/husband!   I’m kind of getting exhausted just thinking of it!  Yikes!!

The hope is that I will be able to find some balance.  Summer does things to people here.  You really don’t want to sleep much with all of the daylight.  It is common for people here to be working their gardens, firewood, or other outdoor projects into midnight and later.  And, it is common to have to mow the grass two to three times a week as well.  You can literally sit and watch it grow!  Cool thing is you only have to mow for a few months before the cooler temps come and eventually the ground begins to freeze.

That’s my story!  What’s yours?  Everyone depending on their location in this great United States of ours, experiences some kind of shift from winter into summer.  I bet people in Arizona can talk about going form hot…to hotter!  In any event, here’s to all of us that stomached winter with the promise to live for the summer! It ought to be interesting, at least for me, to see how it all pans out!

Retirement Editor's Welcome

Looking Back

By Greg Phillips, Empty Nest & Retirement Editor

Lately, I’ve been doing some looking back.  Being an empty nester now for about 4 years, I have experienced many different emotions on this subject, through this period.  Overall, the mere fact that we are free to run amuck, naked if we so desire, and not worry about having to behave is so grand…still…even after 4 years! All the way down to the refurbished former bedroom of our son.  It is now a den/music room.  A room of good chi, and a place that is 100% ours, pet free, clutter free, to do and feel as we like, be it listen to or make music, or just sit an have deep meaningful talks and relax.

Above all, and eye opening reality to our son, is the mere success at our ability to survive without him at home!  There was a time in the beginning we both believe….oh hell, we knew for a fact, that he honestly thought we would be unable to do the chores around the compound, and really be able to survive on our own without him around.  He convinced himself that he did everything around here. Really?!  Sitting back and watching his own personal progressions and achievements has made us proud of him and given us both the feeling of accomplishment in the way we raised him.  Especially at making him “do everything around here”…chores.  A simple concept.

Looking back, I have no regrets really.  We provided well for him.  Taught him all we knew about morals, respect, accountability and responsibility.  Most of all we spent time doing things as a family, taking him on trips, and keeping ourselves, as a couple, in check to be able to be there both as sound minded and supportive parents.  Too many times anymore, I see and listen to younger couples we know, and how they comment on wishing their kids were grown up and out of the house.  How they drive them crazy…   They seem too busy to take interest in their kids and it is so much easier to let Facebook and gaming baby sit and raise them.

I have a friend a couple weeks back, who’s wife made him, by executive order, take a couple hours out of his work day to go to their kindergarteners’ parent/teacher ‘roundup’.  He was just so upset and did nothing but whine that he had to take time in the middle of his day to take interest in his boys’ schooling.  It was unbelievable to me, and I had to take advantage of the opportunity to impart some wisdom from personal experience and perspective, on how he really needs to look at it as spending quality time with his family, and be involved while he still can. Some of those times for me were the best!  It all goes by too fast and one day he will wish he had taken the time if he fails to take it now.

Looking back, I can honestly say I wouldn’t have changed too much.  The best part of it all is, lately,  hearing little comments by our son on how he understands “why we did things the way we did”.  Or, how he “really appreciates how we were sometimes hard on him or made him challenge himself”.  He see’s how other kids he grew up with don’t have the benefits of responsibility and common sense because their parents did little parenting and were more of friends to their kids.  These and other little affirmations that we did ok as parents, are so self satisfying. Just the open channels of communication that were developed throughout his childhood into adolescence and still to this day remain in place, is a testimony to success!

Yes, looking back, it was all worth it.  Why is it now that I am taking more of a retrospective look at it all?  Who knows!  Just a period in my life I suppose. Maybe a step of my own personal growth as my role of supporting parent morphs into a new form. But I guess the only thing I can say about it is that at least I am not agonizing on not spending ‘more time’ with him and my wife as a family, or ‘not doing all the things I wish I had done‘.  Because I did, man!  And I’m pretty stoked at it all and what a wonderful, responsible and good hearted man he has become.  And the fact that he aimed his sights on achieving his independence and working his goals.  It made way for his own personal successes, now, so early in his life.  And, the ability for us to…run around naked!!  Woohoo!

Retirement Editor's Welcome

Basic Black

By Suzanne Vosbikian, Empty Nest & Retirement Editor

Being retired comes with a lot of benefits, but the one I love most is that my wardrobe has been reduced to a few basic items - shorts, tee shirts, jeans, and sandals.  Most of my shorts are navy, black or beige while my tee shirts are white, navy, ivory, and black.  Having a "uniform" of sorts makes it easy to get dressed in the morning and I tend to wear the same five or six outfits over and over until they wear out, then I replace them with like items.  Most of what I wear on a regular basis fits onto two shelves and a short hanging space in my closet.

I have a few tennis clothes, golf clothes and exercise clothes that correspond to those respective retirement activities.  And,  I have a few "dress up" clothes.  That category is the least important to me these days because we rarely  go anywhere that requires formal attire.  Most invitations we receive state "smart casual" as the dress code.    In Florida that means a pair of black slacks and a nice blouse accessorized with tropical jewelry and sandals with a slight heal for me and a Tommy Bahama shirt with black chinos and loafers for my husband.  

Several months ago  we booked a thirty-five day cruise of the South Pacific as an anniversary gift to us.  We have cruised many times before, but never for this duration so packing is particularly challenging given my current "retiree" wardrobe.  Most of us have a closet full of clothes but nothing to wear, (as the saying goes) so I thought I'd start there and see what would turn up.  For the next two hours I played dress up/fashion show in my closet, sorting items into piles labeled YES, NO and WHAT WERE YOU THINKING. 

What I discovered was that I have double the number of pieces needed for those TEN FORMAL NIGHTS (seriously) and enough of what I will need for daytime wear.  My tenth grade Home Economics teacher would be so proud of me.  She always told us to buy quality over quantity - "one really good black dress will serve you better than three inexpensive, trendy ones".   Being consistent with color choices helps a lot too.  All those black, beige and navy shorts will look just fine with the stack of white tees that I unearthed from the depths of things forgotten . 

Everything I found in my closet will pack neatly into one medium suitcase and one carry-on bag.  Packing basic colors makes it easy to coordinate separates and eliminate unnecessary items (ladies, think shoes).

Since flights and the cruise already costs a small fortune I am happy to contribute to the bottom line by eliminating additional clothing expense.  I may have to splurge for laundry service at least once, but at $20 per bag I think it will be worth it. 

An added bonus from this exercise was that I thoroughly cleared my cluttered closet, filled three bags that will be donated,  and can now re-organize everything when I return.  Of course I will continue to wear the same five or six outfits, but oh well.

What about you, has retirement altered your clothing choices or budget?

Retirement Editor's Welcome

The Bookmarks of Hope

By Greg Phillips, Empty Nest & Retirement Editor

Some years ago, in the fall of 2006 to be exact,  I read a story that absolutely grabbed me.  I can’t describe the feeling of being ‘grabbed’ by something you read about, but I can tell you that my reaction was immediate and of heartfelt urgency. A young girl, 12 at the time, was going through chemo treatment for leukemia at Children’s Hospital in the lower 48, a great distance from her home, familiar surroundings and the friends she knew.  Thousands of lonely and scary miles from her life in Alaska.

Now, the unique thing is that we weren’t even living in Alaska at this point.  We were actually in the process of relocating there, from our cabin high in the Sierra-Nevada mountains of California.  Part of this process for us, was that we received the local paper 3 times a week, from the small community we were moving to.  I remember that upon reading her story, two things went through my mind. First, was that our son was turning 16 that month and the thought of, “oh my God this could be my child” was very present.  Memory serves me correct, that the other, was the heart melting smile of hers from her picture in the paper, and knowing that this had to be one of the most daunting and indescribable moments such a young person should never have to endure.

As I read on, there were two people in her community that were named.  A friend of the family trying to drum up community support, and another, a local community figure that was donating proceeds from book sales at his book store, to a fund set up for her at the local branch of Wells Fargo.  I was inspired by the outreach of support, and  instantly knew I wanted to do something.  My first thought:  Donate cash to the fund set up at the bank.  My second thought:  We’re about to undergo the sale of one home while simultaneously purchasing a home in Alaska.  Move across 2 states, another country and an ocean to get there, and starting at $0.00 income when we land. “Cripes, man!”  “We can’t afford sending cash“…just wasn’t an option.  This is when another more resourceful thought came to mind.

Being an artist, a potter, dabbling in gemstones and native American beading with seed beads, I decided to contact the bookstore owner, and convince him in letting me donate and send a dozen or so beaded gemstone bookmarks to him, with the sales of such going directly to her Wells Fargo fund.   Original thought was some of my pottery, but shipping costs made that idea obscenely difficult.  Besides… bookmarks in a bookstore…a no brainer!  Coincidentally, I was making and selling  these unique bookmarks in local shops in the mountains where we were and they seemed to sell like hotcakes.  Thankfully, he agreed, and I went to work for the next few nights, intricately spinning out bookmarks.  After they were sent off, I decided to make one especially for her personally.  Just a little something to let her know there were people praying for her and hopefully bring her some comfort.  Boxed with a hand painted water color  ‘get well’ card my wife had made for her, I got the room number and address to the hospital she was in and sent our small care package, with the hopes it would bring a little brightness into her world!

I never really knew for sure if she even got our package.  But 2 weeks later, I did get an email that the bookstore had auctioned off a couple of  my bookmarks, at a fundraising dinner being held for her, for $200, to be put directly into her fund. The rest of the bookmarks eventually sold in the bookstore…sales going into her fund.  My urgent act of goodness succeeded!  And I would never to this day forget that mission of support, or that smile of hers.

Months later, we relocated …feet on the ground and running, we went to work reconstructing our lives in a new land.  Through the coming years we would make friends, establish ties and rebuild new lives for ourselves.  From time to time throughout the years, this girl would go through my mind…I never forgot her name or what it stood for to me.  It pains me to say this, but I wondered if she had even survived that horrible ordeal.  Thinking back on it now, maybe that was the reason I never tried to find out.   I was afraid to know.

Two weeks ago, one night while sitting on the couch watching TV with my wife, this girl crossed my mind, yet once again.  For some reason on this night, it dawned on me that a girl who had worked for my wife this past summer, whom we both still had contact with, goes to the same high school that she would have gone to and was what I figured from memory, close to the same age.  I almost didn’t send the text…not sure if I wanted to know or just leave well enough alone.   But I did, and so came back the text of shock.

The next night, almost completely unbelievable to me, not only that it was happening so fast much less it was just happening at all…I had the privilege of actually speaking on the phone to Ericka, the girl whose smile melted my heart, whose story touched me so many years ago.  The girl that so courageously beat that which tried to bring her down!  She is a survivor!

I can’t adequately describe  the warm fuzzies that went through me to actually hear her voice!  What I had done back in 2006 was selfless act.  Never did I think nor expect that I would one day actually be so happy to hear someone’s voice!  We arranged to meet each other, ironically…of all days, on Valentines Day.  My wife and I had an absolute wonderful evening with her that night.  I being the fortunate one.  First time in my life I had two beautiful young ladies for a Valentines date…at the same time!  It indeed was a very special evening!  One thing that I brought home that night, is that I feel as if a circle was made complete, and that a friendship was born.

This fall, she will start her first year of pre-med schooling to become an Oncologist.  We were so impressed to hear of her career path and goals!  Most especially when one considers the relevance of such a choice!  We are proud of her and the decisions she has made for her life, and her motivation to see through her goals.  To know she is very much healthy, successful, and enjoying her life is priceless!  To be a small and simple part of it, is an honor.

And, turns out, she did in fact get our gift while she was in the hospital and still uses that bookmark I made for her, even today.  She mentioned that she remembers how unbelievable it was to her that a couple from California that didn’t even know her, would do such a kind thing for a complete stranger!  Well, Ericka, I guess my response is simply this:  Maybe there never really are ‘strangers’ in our lives in our times of need.  Only caring people...a gift...that God has brought to us.  Having had this experience is a blessing to me.  One that I am very thankful for and will hold close forever! <3  ;-)

Retirement Editor's Welcome

Paint Your Own Sky

By Suzanne Vosbikian, Empty Nest & Retirement Editor

I recall a quote from long ago by a  forgotten author who stated, "don't let anyone else define your world, they will make it too small." That is sort of the way I feel about retirement.  The standard formula for retirement in my area of the country is to buy a house in a gated community and be surrounded by other retired people, play golf three times a week and attend social gatherings within the community.   This is protocol from October through April when everyone will head up north to escape the hot and humid summer months.  Rinse, repeat.

Not having a blueprint to follow for retirement, we tried the predictable  route for a while and finally realized that we were letting someone else define our world.   And, indeed it had become too small. 

After making a "not so graceful" exit from what we considered to be chains by that point, we began to really think about who we are and what makes us happy both separately and as a couple.  We came up with a solid list of things that separate us from the  "one size fits all" retiree.

Curiosity - our natural curiosity broadened to areas that we now have time to pursue. 

Passion - we wake up excited and enthusiastic about our life choices every day.

Confidence - we are confident with our abilities and we welcome new experiences.

When we broke the mold and started living retirement life from our own definition everything changed.  Life "outside the gates" is an interesting place.  Within the first year we made new friends, got involved in several volunteer organizations and added biking, walking, weight lifting and dance classes to our exercise routine.  We started traveling more and found great discount web sites for show tickets, restaurant coupons and hotels.  We found free or almost free community concerts and art shows, made regular visits to our local farmer's market and spent more time beach-combing.   At home we completed woodworking and other home improvement projects and we rekindled our love of cooking together as we prepared everything from simple meals  to elegant six course dinners.   We began to clear clutter and excess from our living spaces.  We connected with other active retirees via the Blogosphere  and on-line writing groups such as Stage of Life.  We joined a community garden project  to learn to grow organic vegetables and attended cooking classes that promote healthy eating.  On the more adventurous side, I  went skydiving and zip lining with our daughter and I have plans to take scuba diving lessons in the near future in preparation for a cruise to the South Pacific. Rarely have we declined to try anything out of our comfort zone.   

We have lived this somewhat free-form  and very satisfying lifestyle  for the past five years and are now ready for a new adventure.  It will be fun to see where the tide takes us next. 

Our brand of retirement won't suit everyone, and it shouldn't.  Just like realizing that restricting our time to playing golf was not right for us long term,  you will sort through options until you find what makes you happiest.  Health issues, finances and changing interests will likely dictate many of your decisions.  The tricky part is in realizing when to make changes.  Not one of us want to wake up ten years from now and feel that we have not fulfilled our dreams of retirement.  If the time feels right, then it must be. 

Life is good- smile at the future.  

Retirement Editor's Welcome

365 Days

By Greg Phillips, Empty Nest & Retirement Editor

Much like Wile E Coyote, I like many other Americans this morning are waiting to hear that long drawn out whistle that fades into the open void of some canyon, followed by a ‘poof’ of  dust.  Yes, when most of us read this on Wednesday, we will either all have made like lemurs and run off ‘the cliff‘, or barely been saved by the courageous and gallant actions of our leaders, who have somehow gotten us to this point in the first place.  Have you ever stopped to think of just how many cliffs we are facing these days?

2013 will hold hope for most of us.  Hope for a ‘better’ year.  As many of us look back on 2012, or at least for those of you who do, you will relive the triumphs, be thankful you are washing away the failures.  Something about a fresh breath, new start and a new year.

For many Americans, this past year has created a void in their lives that will almost certainly be in their souls forever.  While Newtown was tragic, we must remember also those who have suffered on a smaller scale.  Those that the mainstream media will never tell you about, or if they do will surely be over-ridden by another headline and gone in a day or two.

There was the little boy who was killed in a car turnover on a local isolated back road last year.  He may have lived if his mother had put him in his seat belt.  One of the first responders to that scene, our #2 kid, went through some suffering of her own that day.  My prayers go out to that family and all involved, as we transition into the new year.  What about the many kids killed everyday by drunk drivers?  Have we all become so accustomed to this type of tragedy that we give little thought to it, or it is no longer really a type of story to report on?

Tragedy isn’t something that is left solely to our young ones.  A story which shocked me last week, that many probably have not heard of are the two first responders in New York, who arrived on scene and were killed by the man who had made the emergency call, as they entered the home.  This struck a nerve with me personally.  One of them had only been with the fire department for two years, and was also a 911 dispatcher.  This was a little too much like home for me.

Let us not forget the thousands of young men and women which have given their lives in the name of our freedoms, preservation of our constitutional rights which it seems these days have become more of targets at a political shooting gallery.  This type of loss is one that I will have melted into my soul forever.  Maybe one that just makes each year fold into the other for me, because he is gone.  And oddly, I always felt that he had been here on this earth before…he was wise beyond his young life.  He like many others believed in the freedoms so many Americans, today, are taking for granted and pissing away.

Whatever this new year has in store for you, take time to remember.  In our fast paced, real time society it is so easy to forget.  Our incredible Editor, Suzanne, had made a list of things in her lest piece that she was going to be more aware to do in the name of making a difference, this coming year.  Many people I have spoken with this past year have all stated the same thing; that this has been a hard year levied with many things we would all like to forget.  So it makes sense to try and push the goodness we have to those around us!

To those who use the suffering of another to push their already existing agendas, “shame on you”!

What we all need in this country today is a good dose of  love, togetherness and more of the old family values that many of us on this stage grew up with.  To those fore mentioned tragedies and the many others all around us we must all somehow work towards unity and the kind of change that will make a difference in the longer run. ‘Feel good’ speeches sugar coat the bitterness of the day, but they wont make it go away. Now is the time to remember your neighbor, your friends and to be there in ways you may have never been before.  These types of thoughts and actions will be a good start to a change that will hopefully evolve with every new year.

Read Past Editor Letters