Tag: retirement

Do You Spend Your Time Well?

♥ Have you ever wondered if you spend time well? That thought occurred to me after spending 4,000 weeks (80 years) on this wonderful planet. I spend endless hours watching mind numbing TV shows and too much time keeping up with world events. I cannot determine if I’m doing these things because I enjoy them, or because I’m searching for something to relieve the boredom. It’s almost as if I need the distraction, that I need something to make life more interesting. I don’t think that’s the reason because I can’t remember when I last experienced it. I keep a daily journal of my thoughts and activities and as I look back over them, I seldom see negative comments or signs that I’m not engaged in life. True, I do fiddle with my cellphone a lot and I take my iPad with me just about every place I go, but is that evidence that I’m fearful boredom will ensnare me due to not having something to do? I surely hope not.

I certainly get pulled away many times from whatever I’m concentrating on. It may be a familiar “ding” that signals a new email just popped into my inbox, or my cellphone playing Johnny Cash’s, “I Walk The Line”, alerting me to a new phone call/text message. Distractions are everywhere, all of them demanding my attention, requesting I do something or the other immediately. Is this the person I have morphed into, someone that’s so involved in today’s technology that life seems incomplete without it? I know that if I end up in the hospital for some unknown reason, none of those devices will care if I live or die. Only the people I care about and spend time with will care, so why am I not spending more time with them?

I think the answer is that it happens so slowly, sorta like the extra weight you gain, but goes unnoticed because it happens gradually. Will I change from a person who needs to be engaged all the time to one that values human contact? Has this modern way of living inserted itself into the deepest regions of my being, or is there still hope for me? The first step to changing your life is to recognize the need, and the second is to have the desire to make it happen. Sadly, I think I need gentle persuasion on the second part.

Mahatma Gandhi said, “Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.” Now, that’s the place I gotta get to 😊.        

♥I read an article recently that said simply, if you have a negative mind, then you will have a negative life. I know people that fit that description (no, it’s not you), and the odds of them getting out of that rut in life are small.

I too have been in that rut and had to fight to get out, so I’m living proof that it can happen. It is so easy for negative thoughts to creep into our mind and infect us with a sourness that leaches into almost all of our actions. Friends slowly disappear and few appear to take their place, and we’re left wondering why we are lonely. 

It’s hard to sit down and figure out what’s happening in your life and why you’re losing so many people you enjoyed being around. In my case, I was divorcing my first wife and the stress of the process was definitely taking its toll. It took quite a few visits to a psychiatrist for me, with his help, to regain my normally positive outlook on life. Since those visits many years ago, I always attempt to be positive about whatever difficulty I am facing. Of course, the pandemic made that difficult to do, but I soldiered on, keeping the old chin up and dutifully practicing the Covid- safe things that Dr. Fauci encouraged us to do.

My wife and I have experienced a whirlwind of changes in the last six months and I must admit they were necessary. Moving into a retirement community and selling our home was huge. It required us to see old friends less often, and make new friends to take their place as active participants in our daily life. We now eat our daily meal in the dining room at 6pm with newly gained friends (Jerry & Ruth), unless either couple made other plans.

In our previous life, my wife and I always had dinner alone while watching TV. Now we eat with someone we enjoy being around, and the conversation is always lively and fun. Who knows, maybe eventually, we run out of things to talk about and just sit there, chewing our food, saying nothing, but I don’t expect that ever happening around Jerry & Ruth 😊.

I remember reading this story a while back: A scorpion asks the frog for a ride across a river. The frog is leery, but the scorpion points out that if he were to bite the frog, they would both drown. Finally, the frog accepts the logic and as they approach the middle of the river, the scorpion strikes! As they are drowning, the frog pleadingly asks why he did it, and the scorpion blurts out, “I just couldn’t help it, it’s’ in my nature.”

Looking back at some things that happened in my life, I can easily understand the scorpion’s reasoning. Recently, I locked the emergency key for the safe, inside the safe, and when the batteries for the keypad died, I was forced to destroy the safe in order to remove its contents. Why did I do something so intrinsically dumb? I just couldn’t help it, it’s in my nature!

I took my wife to the grocery store the other day and, on the way home, we were gleefully gabbing about something and suddenly I realized we were arriving at our old home, not the one we just moved to in April. By the time I turned around and went back, I had made an eight-mile loop. I just couldn’t help it, it’s in my nature. I could continue reciting similar occurrences, but I think you get my point.

Rene’ Descartes said, “Except our own thoughts, there is nothing absolutely in our power.” This quote emphasizes our thoughts are our own and If we have a bad idea, then it is our responsibility to make it better. We should not blame our bad decisions on someone else, strictly because we created the decision. If the frog had listened to Descartes, he would have concluded that it was ingrained in the scorpion’s head to bite, regardless of the fact that it would cost him his life too. I don’t remember what I was thinking when I placed those emergency keys in the safe, but I take responsibility for doing something so destructively simple minded. I have power over my thoughts and over my actions. Somehow, I have to get better at both 😊.

Currently I am reading, “Down The Great Unknown” by John Wesley Powell. It’s about his 1869 Journey down the Colorado River and through the Grand Canyon.

I just finished, “Wheelmen” by Vaness O’Connell & Reed Albergotti. It’s about Lance Armstrong and the Tour de France and the doping that all the cyclist try to hide from race officials. The race lasts for 3 weeks and covers 3,000 miles. I gave it 3 stars.

My Life’s New Chapter

   Well, this past week has been a busy one. We are still doing things that will make the move to our new, “cottage”, easier. We will spend three nights in a small apartment the retirement home provides us, while the movers spend two days packing our stuff and then 2 days unpacking it. The one thing I know for sure: Our life will change radically. I know that some of you reading this have already made the change and are perfectly comfortable with it. I know because I have been in your home and witnessed the contentment on your face. But I’m confident you had apprehensions when the process started. So many things to let go, so many memories brushed aside, like the pollen collecting on our sidewalk.

   My wife and I have gone from not eating out at all since March 2020, to eating out every day (dinner at the retirement community). I asked her the other day how it felt to know she would never have to cook another meal. She smiled, said nothing, but I could sense some sadness in her eyes. Sorta like me, knowing I’ll never mow another lawn, pick up pinecones and gumballs, or sit in front of my workshop after a hard day’s work and smoke my favorite cigar. Our new home is a “smoke free” campus and ‘cuffs await anyone that fractures that rule. I think the sadness comes from knowing that they are “last” things we’ll do. Sadness comes in all forms, and some are much more impactful than others. We just have to know the difference. I wrote a missive on August 16, 2013, titled, “Remember Your First?”, and it’s about things like, first kiss, first sex, first time driving a car, etc. So, here I am now, writing about “Last”. Amusing and sad. If you would like to read it, then click here.

   When all is said and done, we should be sleeping in our new cottage on April 22nd? That’s when the newest chapter of our lives begins. When we sit down in the cavernous dining room to eat our dinner, I bring up the calculator on my smartphone and total up the calories for my meal (each item has it listed), and my selection is based on not allowing my total calorie count slide past 600. Maybe a little, but not by much 😊. So far, I have been able to keep my weight in check, but the fight has just started and there’s a lot of rounds left. We’ll see who won the fight in a year. I read an article online written by a woman who weighs over 400 lbs (here) and I felt so badly for her. With so much good food available, it is so easy to gain weight. Sometimes, I think it is like David fighting Goliath, without the slingshot. Anyway, the fight continues. I am determined that my family doesn’t have to hire six of the strongest men from the local gym to carry me out of the church 😊.

   My youngest great-granddaughter (Taylor-15) sent me a text the other day and said she wanted to write some missives for my website. I was delighted to tell her I would love for her to do that. I also informed her that 99% of my readers are adults and that she should write with that in mind. Who knows, maybe I have a budding writer in the family. I suggested she spend some time observing her grandmother (JoAnn) writing her missives for my website, and reading some of mine, to get an idea of what I post there. Hopefully, she will have something posted soon. I’ll keep you updated. Since September 2017, I have had 161,000 visitors to my website. Hopefully, a lot of them will read her missives.

   JoAnn has a new missive titled,” Let’s Play Fetch” about cats here, and I have rotated some of my “WoWs from The Past” if you are interested.

   Wherever you are on this wonderful planet, I hope life is as good for you as it is for me. I know I am blessed and I’m sure you feel the same. If you have the time, drop me a line, I would love to hear from you…. Tommy    

Life is all memory, except for the one present moment that goes by you so quickly you hardly catch it going.  — Tennessee Williams,

Brain Change

⌘ What would you do if you could walk into a store and purchase a new brain? What if you could transfer all, or just part, of your current knowledge to that “new brain”? You could select your IQ and the personality you wanted, and even select the amount of compassion and caring you desire to have in your new “noggin”. It would be more resistant to age and disease (Alzheimer’s) and be entirely compatible with all bodily functions. Just like everything else for sale, you could purchase various upgrades (a quicker brain, allowing you to have instant recall–think Jeopardy) or you could have any language of choice embedded. For even more money you could add a secondary language. Pay a little more and you could have up to 5 of them.

Then, you could choose to be an expert in any field you desire for more money, saving years and lots of money on an education. Oh, did I mention a calendar is included free? You would never have to keep a physical record of appointments, meetings, family get-togethers, etc. There would be a little section of your frontal lobe set aside for those things, and you could move them in and out at will. 

Lastly, you could have them include the blueprint on how to treat the opposite sex, but that would be really costly. In my opinion, that should be the basis for the “New Brain”, the very first thing embedded, a necessary awareness needed by everyone. It would be analogous to selling a car without a motor. 

Now we get down to the nitty gritty of the question: would we do it? Would we purchase a new brain, with all the enhancements mentioned above, if we could? Although inviting, I’m inclined to think I wouldn’t do it. All those things would certainly have improved my life and made it more enjoyable, but it wouldn’t/couldn’t make me the person I am today. Would my family and friends love that new person as much as they love the person I am now? Should I risk it? Could I be confident that God would be okay with it if I became a better disciple? 

I have to give it some more thought. I know this could not happen in my lifetime, but it will probably arrive at some future date–maybe for my great-great grandchildren.   

Alfred Lord Tennyson said, “Hope smiles from the threshold of the year to come, whispering it will be happier.

” Maybe it will include a “New Brain.” 😊

⌘ I keep a journal of my daily activities and I have done that since the mid-90s. No, I don’t have a physical journal, I have an electronic version and I enjoy it immensely. Anytime I want to find out when something occurred, I activate my trusty journal and within seconds, there it is, telling me what I want to know. It’s amazing how often it corrects my memory, but its most important purpose is to reconnect me to the person I was back then. The first entry for the day tells me the weather and the temperature for that date, then what I was doing and thinking. How cool is that! Often it will include names of people in my life and my interaction with them. So many of my family and friends have moved on, or passed away, and new ones have stepped in to take their places and help me make a life that is enjoyable and purposeful. All of them helped shape me.

That begs the question: how important is it to recall your past, and how does it possibly help? For me, that’s easily answered. It gives me a lot of pleasure to look back on my past. The other day, as my wife and I resumed our efforts to downsize and get ready for our move to a retirement community in late March, we ran across a box filled with my Mother’s collection of newspaper articles about my sports accomplishments in high school and suddenly memories that were archived long ago come flooding back: I could see the bright lights over the football field that all three local high schools (Garden, Grundy, Hurley) shared for Friday night games. Our “Home” bleachers were always filled, and I knew every single person sitting there. Many of the fathers paced up and down the rope line that separated the fans from the players, urging us to do great things. There was tremendous excitement everywhere. Our cheerleaders, who were decked out in green and white (our school colors–go Garden Green Dragons) and were some of the prettiest and smartest in our school, were located just down the line from the players’ bench. They could effortlessly whip our fans into a frenzy! The year was 1958 and I, a 17-year-old senior, was having the time of my life. 

Now, as an 80-year-old man staring down at Mom’s collection, there was a blast of silence. Where had all the time between those years and now gone? Had I lived, a rewarding life filled with happiness and caring, or had I selfishly wasted too many days? Was I guilty of always waiting for tomorrow, or had I made each day count? Looking back through my journal helps me decide. When I come across a day without an entry, I’m always disappointed. To me, that now is a wasted day. If I failed to make an entry, I’m always suspicious that it wasn’t noteworthy. 

What happens to my journal after I transition over to the other side in a few years? Hopefully, my daughter and three granddaughters will one day take a glance. Maybe 75 years from now, my three great-grandchildren will want to read what I have written. I have 178 missives on my website, and they will survive for many years. You know the old saying: once you put something on the web, it stays there forever. 😊 Well, I’m not sure about the “forever” thing. Winston Churchill said, “You make a living by what you earn; you make a life by what you give.”

I hope I have done that sufficiently. The Bard gave me pause when he wrote: “I wasted time and now time waste me” –Richard II. Sadly, I’m inclined to believe that’s true. 

⌘ As I mentioned above, we are moving into a retirement community in about 40 days and have to downsize from 3,400 square feet to 1765 square feet. Both of us have been “collecting stuff” for 60 years. Admittedly, a lot of it should have been discarded many years ago, but some of it will be hard to let go. I think it will be easier for me to toss things than my wife, but it will be stressful for both of us. Our retirement community coordinator has assured us that the firm they recommended will do everything (pack, move, unpack) and all we have to do is sit back and watch. She says her company will pay 40% of the cost. We will live in one of 32 cottages located around the perimeter of the center’s compound and will be next door to a couple who attend our church. Our friends have assured us the move will be gratifying. 

I downloaded a piece of software (Room Arranger) on my PC that allows me to draw the dimensions of our cottage’s floor plan and, after measuring the size of each piece of furniture, place it with confidence in each room, rearranging it at will to see how we like the placement. The hardest part was drawing the floor plan to specifications. I have completed placing the furniture in all the rooms, and with my wife’s approval, we know exactly where everything will go. 😊    

I know I will no longer be cutting the grass, getting up gumballs and pinecones, or putting down fertilizer and grass seed. My wife will no longer need to keep up with her yard/gardening chores, or cook, because they furnish us one meal a day (dinner), and we eat mostly cereal/toast/oatmeal for breakfast, and sandwiches for lunch. Our life will differ vastly from what it is now, and I think we are ready for the change. There will be more time for reading, writing, taking long walks, and weightlifting. Of course, travel will be high on our priority list after restrictions are lifted, and we will be glad to visit our far-flung family and friends. I think the biggest aggravation for me during the battle with COVID-19 has been the inability to see all the people we love. But I know that those people who have to work face a totally different set of problems and mine pale in comparison. Kinda makes me feel like I shouldn’t complain. 

Albert Camus said, “In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer.” Now that’s a thought I want to hold on to.

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