Things Your Husband Never Gets Sick of Hearing…

 2014-07-25_08-57-11“Thank you.” A study from the University of California showed that those who feel appreciated by their partners are also more appreciative of their partners-so it goes both ways. The next time your husband does something thoughtful, even if it’s as tiny as remembering to put your wet beach towels in the wash instead of on the floor, say “thanks” instead of “Oh, good, you’re learning!”

SOURCE:  9 Little Things Your Husband Never Gets Sick of Hearing | Love + Sex – Yahoo Shine.

I am not going to bore you with all nine things men like to hear from their wives but to me this is a timely article.

As our marriages mature we often forget to compliment each other.  That seems to be the major contention with my spouse and I’m sure many of yours. This is also likely a significant part of why divorce is so common today. We just don’t show our appreciation for our spouses as we should. We don’t show that we value them and what they do.

Let’s all make a habit of telling our spouses thank you and that we appreciate them.

Don’t Get Stuck – The Series…. Opening Remarks

Stuck 1Several things have come together lately that take my focus to the decisions we make in our lives. With that in mind I am going to attempt a series of posts here at RJ’s Corner with the title above.

Every day we make hundreds of choices in our lives.  Many of them are things like what to eat, or when to go to bed.  I think most of us are pretty good at making those daily decisions. But I am convinced that many, including myself, are not so good at some of the higher level ones. We just don’t spend enough time thinking them through before we make our choice.  Being in my seventh decade of life, I have been through a gamut of choices. I will use this wisdom to reflect on how I did in that regard. In this series I hope you get some insight into your own travels and hope that you learn a little from my words.

The title “Don’t Get Stuck” should give you a pretty clear idea of where I imagine I am going with these posts.  The idea is to never think you are stuck with just one thing. There are always choices. Some might require stepping back a few steps to admit that you made a previously unwise choice and then going from there. Some might be having the guts to go forward into an unknown area.  Some might be better for you; some better for others. But, the choice is always yours.

I haven’t completely thought out this series yet so I don’t really know how it will conclude but I do have quite a few titles in mind.  In order to not bore you to death I will likely intersperse this series with my usual stuff.  I hope to learn a few things about myself along the way.  I would love to hear from any of you about possible  topics and also I would love to hear some of your stories in this area.  I very highly encourage you to ring in here.  If you don’t feel comfortable with letting others know who you are email me at or comment as “anonymous”. I will break my rule about accepting those types of comments for this series .

Some of us in our senior years think that our choices in life have pretty much played out. I don’t believe that for a minute.  Some of us think that due to the roads previously chosen some choices are not now possible. I don’t believe that for a minute either. Come back on the days ahead to see where this series goes and help me move it along certain paths.

Be forewarned that I am not a professional in this area.  I am not a self-described lifestyle coach or anything like that.  I am just a simple guy who has made many choices in life; some of them pretty good, some not so good and am willing to share them with you in hopes that you and I  might learn something from them.

Never get stuck in your life thinking that you are out of options.

Living Longer…

RIPI have come to a realization lately that these stories of all us old people living longer is a bunch of phooey. Here I am finishing up my second year of being on Medicare and when I read the obituaries in our local small town paper I see lots of people who are much younger than I am. That fact has kind of startled me and warned me that my years on this earth might be shorter than I have planned. You never know.

At our ages if we show up in tomorrow’s obit it probably wouldn’t bring a big surprise to anyone especially to those younger folks who are currently taking over the country.  Some might even be relieved that one less person is on the Social Security entitlement program. But I have been told by all those statisticians that I will live considerably longer than my parents and grandparents due to all the advanced technology and stuff.  I am a planner, I have always been a planner and I am planning on living another dozen years or so but maybe the big guy upstairs has different plans.🙂

In reality I think the biggest voice in the “living longer” stuff are the financial planners.  The more they can convince you to put aside and let them manage, the bigger their income. I was told I would require 90% of my pre-retirement income in retirement.  In reality the number is more like 60%, maybe even lower.  I admit that we are living more frugally than before but we are also living more satisfyingly.

In the end (pun intended) we will go when we go. None of us have a big part of that date. Yeah, we can maybe stretch it out a few more months if we spend hours a day at the gym and eat nothing but alfalfa sprouts but who really wants to do that?  I kind of think my DNA and genes have a more prominent role in how long I live.

Like it or not, admit it or not, as we get over a certain age our bodies start to deteriorate. That is just the normal scheme of things. Some like to delay the process with various creams and other snake oil type things. But in reality we all die sooner or later. I think those of us who are reconciled with that fact live a more comfortable and soothing life. Those who battle it to the end are doing just that; battling it to the end. I don’t want to be in that camp. Some day I will wake up to read my obituary in the paper. That is just the way it is……

You Either Write or Live


Cristian MihaiSome time ago I came across a blog from a Romanian blogger named Cristian Mihai that got my attention. On many of his posts he seems much too mature for his twenty-two years.  But then other times he seems to fit right in to that bracket.  He is an ambitious young man who has totally conquered English as his second language. He is also a self-published author.

Below is one of the posts that seems almost profound to me. He is talking about what it means to be a writer:

Source: You either write or live « Cristian Mihai. You have to take a step back, see things for what they are, and then write about them. You have to become an observer, you have to put your life on hold. You have to spend a lot of time inside your head, a lot of time all by yourself, in your living room, scribbling down one word after another.

Simply put, writing is a solitary job. And the inexorable truth is that solitude transforms you. When you sit down at your desk, you’re on your own. There’s only one question that matters: are you willing to pay the price? Are you willing to become a shadow? I’m just now realizing how much I want to live. You know, to see the world, to do stuff. How much I need to fall in love. I spent a lot of time just writing. Because, to be honest, there wasn’t anything else for me to do. It’s sad, I know, but it’s the truth. If writing were as simple as putting pen to paper, we’d have lots of brilliant writers. But it’s not as easy as it seems. It’s not just about perseverance and hard work, about dedication and ambition. It’s not about some x-factor, impossible to define. Some God-given gift.

All of us bloggers are writers to one degree or another. I can see myself in his words. Being a blogger is to put yourself forward for others to see.  I do try to take a step back to see things for what they are but since we are all the products of our experiences that sometimes proves difficult.  I admit that I spend a lot of time “inside my head”. When I do the first write of a post I often times later scramble back to my keypad several times to tweak a word or two that I have been thinking about.

I know blogging is not up to the rigor of writing a novel or biography but there still is a price to pay. I too love to write and spend quite a bit of time on my ever growing blog lists especially in the winter months when there is little else to do.  Cristian now resides on my blogroll to the right. It is interesting to see the different thought process between me a senior citizen in the U.S. and a young man from Romania.  I follow him daily. Sometimes it is only a cursory look and other times, like the post above, I spend time to almost absorb each word.

Regret Becomes Less Common…..

I can only say with 100% certainty how I personally feel about things. I won’t speak for others in that regard. I will admit that as I am getting older I am strangely happier and more settled in my life than I ever have been. This is despite the fact that my body continues to tell me I am over the hill.  When I ran across this article this morning it told me that I am not alone in this regard. Here are some of the words from the source:

Source:  Good news about aging: Get older, feel better, study finds – Vitals.

“We were astounded by how physical disability and self-rated successful aging went in diametrically opposite directions with aging,” Jeste told NBC News.  The results also suggested that the more resilient people are — or able to cope with acute stressors — the better they aged. Conversely, people who reported higher levels of depression were less likely to say they were aging well.

The new results are consistent with previous research that shows that people are depressed in middle age, but then become happier as they get older, Jeste said.  That may be because older folks likely have grappled with the most contentious questions of life — work, family, finances — and come to some resolution.   “As people get older, they are less bothered by negative stimuli,” Jeste said. “You take things in stride. Regret becomes less common.”

As pointed out here I think one of the big factors is that I just don’t have much regret about things as I used to. I accept that “life isn’t fair” and that sometimes we don’t get the breaks we think we deserve. I used to fret over such things but as I am getting older they just don’t matter much anymore. They are just not important anymore.

It took me almost six decades of living in this world before I finally found out who I am. I hear of others who discovered that secret, or at least they think they did, much earlier in life. But, I kind of think that I am more typical than those folks. It was not until I settled into my retirement that I knew what my life was supposed to have been about all along. It is never too late to discover that.🙂

Personal PeaceMy body continues to degrade on a seemingly weekly basis now but I am not stressed about that. I try to take care of myself. I watch my weight and try to walk at least three miles each day. But due to compression fractures in my back I am no longer able to lift much weight. Due to my deafness and aging I am not as steady on my feet as I used to be. And, of course, my daily regimen of pills increases in a regular basis. I accept the fact that I am getting older; I just don’t fret about it any more.

I know young people can’t understand how old people can be happier when they face so many health issues. It is all a matter of contentment.  Don’t try to convince me that I need to do whatever I can to look younger. I am past that vanity point in my life. I know where I am going now. Eventually I will die like everyone else. That really doesn’t scare me much anymore. I just enjoy each moment now and don’t fret over how many of them are left. I am at peace with myself and that is what makes me happy now.

Act Your Age!!!!

I don’t know how many times I have heard the title of this post. I defiantly don’t want people putting me in a pre-defined box! I guess that makes me ornery but I really don’t care. When someone says act your age they are really saying lie back and do what you are supposed to do. What a bummer man….   Besides that just which age do you want me to act.

  • In my mind I feel like I am thirty-something but with the wisdom of a sixty-something. Yeah, my body seems to constantly remind me that it is older than that but I defiantly poke back against it on a regular basis.
  • My spiritual self thinks I am in my prime. I have struggled for many years with my place in the universe of God.  I have only recently discovered, at least to my satisfaction, where I belong. But, I feel I still have many more years of discovery ahead of me. So spiritually I feel almost like a babe-in-the-woods.
  • Intellectually, I know much more than I did decades ago. When we are teenagers we all seem to think that we know more than our parents. But, as the years pass we realize that mom and dad really did have some life lessons that we could have benefited from if we had taken the time to listen and take them to heart. Now that I am on the back side of the hill I seem to have the wisdom that I so adamantly desired in my earlier years. So, where am I intellectually? Hard to say… I still have many more things to learn and I hope I never grow out of that. I have asked “why” my whole life and I intend to ask that even on my deathbed.
  • Emotionally I imagine myself still in my peak years. I don’t let things bother me as much as I used to. In my younger years women totally intimidated me because I just didn’t understand them. I still don’t understand them but it doesn’t bother me anymore🙂
  • Chronologically I guess I am in the last 15% of my life. But that doesn’t really mean anything. I have always, or at least mostly believed in quality not quantity so I hope the years I have left will be the best ones. At least that is what I am striving towards.  With all this wisdom and peace I now have I think I can still accomplish much in my life. I see those who are younger around me who seem to be following very troubled paths. Maybe I can just help them to find out what it took me years to discover. That is if they will listen, and they probably won’t. I didn’t when I was their age….

Betting against death


On the other hand, some people advocate drawing Social Security benefits at the first opportunity. Doug Carey, who founded the financial planning software firm WealthTrace, says Social Security doesn’t see itself as an odds maker, but it does require you to bet on your longevity. He offers this chart as proof. It graphs the break-even point for a person who earned the inflation-adjusted equivalent of $70,000 per year for 35 years. If this person waits until 70 to claim Social Security and lives until at least age 90, he’ll accumulate almost $162,000 more in benefits than he would if he had claimed at 62. But there’s a possibility of losing the bet and getting nothing.

Retired law professor and Social Security expert Merton Bernstein says the longevity bet odds are bad, so claim early. “You never know when the bell will ring. I subscribe to the Woody Allen principal: ‘Take the money and run.'”

The above info doesn’t seem to be offered by many financial planners but it is a fact that sometimes taking social security at 70 is a losing proposition.  It seems like social security, like so much else in the world, is a betting game. The break-even point between taking it at 62 verses waiting till 70 is around 80 years old.  If you die before 80 you are actually losing money if you didn’t take it early.  I took it early and here is why.

My dad died at 77 and his dad died at 76 so I expect to croak about the same time.  One thing the graph above doesn’t take into account is if you save the money that you collect early you are actually extending the age out a little further. That is the case for “normal times” but of course these are not normal times. Interest rates are at practically 0% so if you want to make money on saved social security today you must gamble yet again, this time on the stock market!

Long story short, sometimes there is good reason to as the article says “take the money and run”. I am 65 years old now and my health has been significantly deteriorating for the last few years. I expect that by the time I am 70 I will have some pretty significant health issues to battle. I would rather have the money now and spend it while I can appreciate it than gambling that I can joyfully use it later.🙂

Many have little savings as retirement looms

Source: Many have little savings as retirement looms –

Ravages of the stock market. The people Redmond encounters most who are lacking sufficient retirement savings weren’t necessarily delinquent or negligent. Many had money saved but were wiped out by the sour stock market in the past decade and poor investment strategies, Redmond says.

That’s what happened, in part, to Robert and Connie Cabana of Tampa, who are both in their 60s. Robert built up a sizable 401(k) working as a financial executive at Verizon. Connie was a business assistant for a local irrigation supply company. Connie was laid off four years ago; Robert was let go three years ago.

But the serious hit to their retirement, which wiped out half their 401(k) savings, resulted from the stock market and an overexposure to risky stocks, they say. Now, 75% of their 401(k) is gone, and they have “very little” left, Robert says

I can remember in the early 1990s wondering if I would have enough to retire on. Fortunately for me the 1990s Clinton era was a prosperous one. My savings more than doubled during those years. I was never one to take a lot of risk so I was pretty much unaffected by the melt down that occurred in 2000 as I got most of my savings out of the markets before that happened. But I did have a friend that insisted that the “good times” would go on forever. He, like the people in this article, lost a good portion his 401(k).  I haven’t heard from him in years. I wonder how he and his wife are making out in their retirement?

I can remember the stories from the pundits about how people are not prepared for retirement throughout all my adult life.  First there were the oil embargos of the 1970s then there was the savings & loan fiasco of the 1980s followed by the melt down of the era and now due to deregulation the near meltdown of our entire financial structure. But this is the first time I have seen times remain as dreary as they have for more than ten years now. I can see the “malaise” has grown exponentially since President Carter’s famous speech.  Maybe if we had actually listened to President Carter and freed ourselves of dependence on foreign oil back in the 1970s we would be in much better shape today. Who knows what that alternative history might have been if one of our past presidents had been brave enough to make that happen! Who know how many young lives would have been spared if we didn’t need so much middle eastern oil?

Will any future generations ever be prepared for a secure retirement? It’s hard to say.  About the only thing you can do is keep putting a little of each paycheck back and hope for things to get better. There is not much else an average guy can do.

Hello Plavix Generic…..


Source: The 10 Biggest-Selling Drugs That Are About to Lose Their Patent – DailyFinance.

I am one of millions of us seniors who is on some very expensive prescription drugs. I currently spend over $1,000/year on Plavix alone. But that is about to change. In May 2012 Plavix will lose is patent exclusivity. That will open the door for an inexpensive generic. The above article show ten high cost drugs that are in the same situation.

To the right is also a mention of this from Money magazine in April 2011. I have had it pinned on my bulletin board since then.  Check them out. Maybe your costs in this area will be reduced as well. But of course something else will increase in costs to make up for this savings. It always does  :)

Living Debt Free….

The average consumer carries over $16,000 in credit card debt. And there is usually a mortgage and probably a car loan in the pile too. They say the total personal debt of U.S. consumers is over $11 trillion.  Unfortunately many of those are middle aged and moving into their retirement years. With all this debt they are obviously not putting away much for their later life.

It is quite startling how much debt many seniors today carry into their retirement! Four out of ten carry a mortgage with them into their golden years. Almost five out of ten carry a $6,000 credit card debt!  My father taught me to “put money away for a rainy day”.  While that message stuck with me it obviously didn’t with many of my cohorts.

What makes one person maintain a lifestyle that is debt free while another piles it on? My father and his generation were called Depression babies as he was  six years old at the onset of the Depression of the 1920s. My grandfather had a pig farm and was not seriously affected by the depression but I still remember Dad’s stories about some of his neighbors who were very much affected. Depression babies like my dad did not like debt but for the most part they are all gone now and quickly being replaced by us baby boomers. From the evidence it looks like many of us have not followed in our fathers’ footsteps about being debt free. Why are so many so ill-prepared for their senior years? I’m sure part of it has to do with “wanting it now”.

For some who are on retirement’s door it is already too late and that means they have to keep working whether they like it our not. Unfortunately, even among this group, there will be those who because of health or other issues will not be able to work in their senior years. What will happen to them. Most likely they will be trying to live on basically Social Security benefits which average usually a little over $1,000 per month. What would happen to those if even the Social Security safety net were removed?  According to some in the audience at the latest Republican presidential debate we should let them die! I hope and pray we never become a nation who lets that happen! But sadly I didn’t hear of anyone on the stage renouncing that idea!

I see the results of trying to live on Social Security alone weekly at the soup kitchen I volunteer.  Our lunch and dinner guests increase by about 25% the last week of the month when the checks are running out. We all would like to say “that happens to others” but I’m sure the “others” did not believe it would happen to them either.  No matter how close to retirement you are it is never to late to be reigning back some expenses in order to save a few dollars.

Medicare Here I Come … (Part 2)

This is the second of two posts about my experiences with recently joining the Medicare System. The first post gave you the types of plans that are offered to those who turn 65. There are a number of decisions that have to be made during this enrollment process. I have to warn you up front that this is really pretty boring stuff. I put it off as long as I could and if you are not that close to Medicare I would probably advise you to just skip this post😉

The first decision I had to make was to decide whether to enroll in my pension  Advantage Plan. This really ended up being no decision at all. Since I was a management employee my previous employer was under no contractual obligations as far as my health care plan was concerned.  Over these eleven years the cost of my healthcare insurance through them has increased over ten times what is started out. When I looked into their  Advantage plan it turned out to be nothing but a stripped down Part D coverage  and nothing else. If I join this Advantage plan it would preclude me from getting a Medigap policy. The decision was therefore easy to decline their coverage and go out on my own.

So, the next thing on the list was the Medigap policy. I spent over a three weeks on this task. I studied hundreds of pages of various insurer’s plans and then chose one. I will not say which one I chose but in reality there is generally not much difference  between one Medigap insurer and another. The real choice turned out to be which of the various Medigap plans I would choose. They are defined by Medicare and are identified by letters between “A” through “N”.   Some covered only when I would spend so many thousand dollars. Some have differing levels of co-pays.  Some cover almost everything Medicare does not cover.   When comparing what I paid last year for private coverage and what I would pay starting next month for Medicare coverage I choose Plan F.

The final decision was what Part D (prescription) plan I would choose.  Most of this decision process involved studying how much I would pay for my current prescriptions. Fortunately there are software programs that allowed me to enter my prescriptions and see what each plan would pay. Again most of the plans were pretty equal but I did save about 15% by going to one insurer.   One of the gotchas on Plan D is that the insurer can change anything he want anytime during the year so there is no guarantee as to what he will pay in the future.

So now I have my Medicare card with Part B, my Medigap policy, and my Part D cards in hand.  What is the final result?  Now that I am on Medicare and all these other plans my medical insurance costs will be about 50% less in 2012 than they were in 2011.   That is a far cry from the annual 25% increase year over year for the last eleven! Was it worth all the work to get here? Absolutely, but it certainly could have been easier.

So here I am  ready for October 1 and ushering in the final thing that makes me an “official” senior citizen.  Bring it on!!

Medicare Here I Come…. (Part 1)

I will soon move onto the Medicare roles. It has been quite a journey to get here so that is what this and the following post will be about. I hope the post might help some of you out there who will be going through the same thing in the coming months or years.

I want to make it very clear that I am not by any means an expert in this area so what you will be getting is an ordinary guy’s view of these plans. In this post I will try to explain the options. The next post will give you my personal experiences with the process of choosing and enrolling in the system.

First the basic definitions (from a pure layman’s understanding):

  • Medicare Part A –  This includes coverage for Hospital stays and the like. This basic plan is provided at no costs to me and covers approximately 80% of most hospital charges. I am left to pay the remaining 20% of out pocket.
  • Medicare Part B – This covers doctors, testing and things like that. Part B if I choose to enroll (which I and most others did)  costs a little more than $100/month to new enrollee’s. Again it covers about 80% of the costs and I am left with the remaining 20%.
  • Medicare Part D — This is the plan that was started  in 1993.  It focuses on prescription drug costs. Depending on which drugs you take it covers varying degrees of the total cost of my medicine. When I reach a certain level of costs it quits  paying anything. At a future point beyond that is starts up again. This area where I would pay 100% of the costs is called the “doughnut hole”.
  • Advantage Plans —  These plans, which are intended to take the place of Part D plans and usually cover some of the uncovered costs of Part A and B or even replace Part B. These plans are sometimes offered by companies as part of the their pension plans.  People who enroll in Advantage plans typically cost the Medicare system about 10% more than those who stick with the traditional plans. If a person chooses to enroll in an Advantage plan they are not eligible to enroll in Part D or any supplemental plan (see the next bullet).
  • Medicare Supplemental Plans (also called Medigap Plans) — These are plans that are offered by private companies, under Medicare rules and reviews. They cover to varying degrees the uncovered parts of Part A and B.  The Medicare system has defined almost a dozen options that companies can provide to those who choose to join them.

So that in my nutshell is what the Medicare system and plans are all about. Now on to some of the things I have learned about all these options. While Part A is basically free to me the 20% out-of-pocket can be very substantial. For instance when I had a heart event about five years ago the one hour spent in the angioplasty operating room and associated hospital stay and doctor’s charges cost about $40,000.  So my out-of-pocket would have been $8,000! Since my event was somewhat minor I’m sure the costs of other procedures can exceed $100,000 in many instances.  $20,000  out-of-pocket would put quite a hit on my or almost anyone’s retirement savings.

Given the above example of the costs for just one medical event I and most people choose to enroll in some sort of supplemental plan. Those plans vary in costs from about $100 to a few hundred a month depending on coverage.  Like the Part D plan, the costs of the supplemental plans is pretty much left to the private insurers. They can raise their charges with little or no review by others.

There are literally hundreds of companies who offer various plans for supplemental insurance as well as Part D coverage. It is up to each senior to determine what plans to personally have.

With all these basic definitions now covered, next time I will be talking about my personal experiences with navigating this system and how I came out in the end.

Looking Back On My Favorite Personal Posts….

Occasionally I look back over some of my previous posts and discover that they defined a milestone in my life. I wanted to bring this one forward again as one of those moments. This was the point in my life where I discovered I really am a “senior”. Somewhat disturbing at the time but an accepted norm today.
January 2, 2010 By RJ 

As you know I have been spending much of this holiday season scanning in photo albums from the past. It has been quite a journey so far and I have not yet gotten into all the wedding photos yet ;) . This has been a defining moment for me! I suddenly realized that I am not middle-aged anymore. We all hang on to that term as long as possible it seems. We just dread the term “seniors”.  I have previously lived in that term as I do sometimes buy off the senior menu at restaurants but I have always thought I was cheating then.

After looking at hundreds of photos from 25 years or more ago I have finally come to the realization that most of my life is behind me. When I told Yvonne (my wife) that we both looked a lot better in the photos than we do now she said “but we look much better in our hearts and souls now”.  I have to agree with her on that one. Sometimes she is quite the sage.  Although we still have our spats from time to time our love for each other has certainly grown in both our hearts and our souls.  I am at a place in my life where I feel quite satisfied indeed. The daily 9 to 5 (which was really 7 to 6) is behind me.  I am doing things now that I, at least in my heart and soul, have wanted to do my entire life.  I am much closer to my Lord and Savior both physically and spiritually and I am actually following his words as much as I can.

So, here is to life!  Yeah, I do have less looking forward than I do looking back but the journey still forward is indeed a fulfilling one.   By the way, the picture above is me when I was doing test set designs. I never realized it back then but I was a pretty good-looking fellow even if I say so myself.  It was a rewarding period of time but nothing compared to what I have today.  Thank you Lord for each and every day you give me.

Taking Naps….


I enjoy waking up and not having to go to work.  So I do it three or four times a day.  ~Gene Perret

I don’t know anything about the author of this quote but the message strikes home with me🙂  One of the first things I did when I retired was to take off my wrist watch and shut off the alarm clock. I had spent so much of my life to a slave of the clock I couldn’t get away from it fast enough. As it turns out I have never put the wrist watch back on over these eleven years but I do have to set the alarm from time to time. Most often that is to assure that I make a doctor’s appointment.

I do enjoy my afternoon nap but I don’t take three or four of them as Mr. Perret seems to. It is just nice to be able to shut down in the afternoon once in a while. This nap time has become a ritual for me. It goes something like this. I turn on the TV and pull up a DVR episode of something I have seen at least once before (that way it doesn’t pique my interest so much to keep me awake). I lay on the family room couch and my dog Beulah soon joins me.  Since Beulah is a full-sized Basset Hound she takes up much of the couch but most time she gives me enough to allow me to be somewhat comfortable. Since I am a person who can almost sleep standing up it doesn’t take me long to be in never never land. This condition usually lasts for between ten and thirty minutes. It seldom lasts any longer as that is about the amount of time that it takes Beulah to start kicking me during her dreams.

I don’t always get an opportunity to take a nap, especially during the summer months when the growing grass beckon to be mowed and the weeds shout out their dominance in my veggie garden. But, like Mr. Perret I certainly do enjoy them.

A New/Renamed Category…

I got a little bored today so decided to play around some with the blog formats here. One of the categories on my corner was “Waiting 4 God” but that seemed to be a little too nondescript for what it has morphed into. This category is about life in our senior years but the old name could be taken to mean any of a number of things. One of my themes in life is “Simplify, Simplify, Simplify” so that is what I did. This category is now called “Seniors Only”. I know that name is pretty exclusive and it is not meant to be but almost everything in this category will be geared toward those of us over fifty and specifically those of us who are living in our supposed retirement years (although retirement is far from what actually happens to most of us; we just move on to new and different things).

We all like to have some things that focus on us. For the most part much of life that others younger than us are yet to face, we have already been there and done that. What you will find here is mainly things ahead instead of things behind.

My artsy side is also working up some post headers for each category so that there is no mistake on what category each post is intended to occupy. That will come alone as they are ready.

So, here is to all you fellow seniors out there. Come back often and check out the “Seniors Only” part of my corner. I promise you it won’t be boring. As to those under fifty I won’t complain if you take a peek too.😉

Seniors Only — The Ever Diminishing Senior

I shrink a little more each day. I am among a rather small percentage of men who suffer from severe osteoporosis. That along with three compression fractures that were caused by falling on ice about eight years ago has caused me to lose more than three inches in height. But now it seems I am also losing muscle mass as well. Here is an interesting article about that subject.

Below is a quote from the article:

Why muscles wither with age is captivating a growing number of scientists, drug and food companies, let alone aging baby boomers who, despite having spent years sweating in the gym, are confronting the body’s natural loss of muscle tone over time.

It seems that the ever diminishing senior is a fact of life for me. I go to the YMCA on a regular basis, but maybe not as regular as I should lately, but as the quote above says it doesn’t seem to do a lot of good.   Maybe I can look forward to yet another pill that will stop this trend.😉

To get to the point of this post, what are the lessons to be learned from these types of things.  I think they are several:

  • Despite all the medical advances the aging process will not be denied. We seniors need to accept that as time goes by we will be less mobile than we are now.
  • Realizing that aging is a natural phenomenon don’t put off things that you might not be able to do in the coming years. If you have dreams of doing something rather physical in nature you should consider doing them sooner rather than later. I know personally my mind thinks I am still a thirty-something but, of course, my body constantly reminds me otherwise. Listen to your body.
  • Accept that you will have increasing infirmities as the years advance. Yes, some of us will be fortunate enough to live well into our nineties with little or no physical limitations but don’t count on that happening.
  • We need to keep up a regiment of regular exercise and a good diet in our senior years but even though that might postpone some conditions it will likely not prevent them from happening.

The media and the advertisers are constantly telling us seniors to: dye out the grey in our hair, remove the wrinkles from under our eyes, make our teeth ridiculously white.  They tell us that if we do this we will be young again. Don’t buy into that rhetoric. It is like chasing the wind. You will never catch it. Besides I have earned every one of my grey hairs so why deny them?

My favorite Mark Twain quote is:

I am old; I recognize it but I don’t realize it. I wonder if a person ever really ceases to feel young. I mean for a whole day at a time

I wonder if I will ever feel my age?

Remaking Yourself in Your Senior Years…

The condition called midlife crisis is pretty well documented. That is where a person is beginning the second half of his life and realizes that things aren’t going as planned. The response to that sometimes is constructive but often is isn’t. When people throw off their spouses, get a sports car, and look for babes (hunks, I guess for you ladies) to party with that is not a good thing in the vast majority of cases.

I am convinced that there is a similar but often more constructive change that occurs to people as they move into their retirement years. I would not call this condition a crisis, it might more appropriately be called a reformation. That is you have an opportunity to reform who you are and will be for the rest of your life.  This state occurs when we realize that the life decisions we make are no longer in control of outside forces. This realization often comes as a shock to many entering their senior years and sometimes takes quite a while to come to full realization. In some cases the result, like its mid-life crisis cousin, is that the person gets carried away and jumps off the deep in so to say. But I think eventually saner minds usually  rule.

I know from a personal perspective I grappled with this yet unknown freedom for quite some time before I took it by the reigns.  How you approach this possible reformation often times relies on what basic type of person you are. If you are primarily focused on yourself this new found freedom might take the form of endless golfing, fishing, boating or any of many other similar activities. If you are more of an altruist it will take the form of helping others. Often times a healthy balance between the two modes is what is most successful and gratifying.

Whatever you choose depends on what you want to accomplish in your remaining years or maybe what kind of legacy you want to leave. But don’t miss out on redefining who you will be in your senior years. This change in life might just be the most gratifying thing that will ever happen to you.

Senior Aspirations…

Once a person reaches their senior years should all the aspirations have been completed? First of all I guess I should make clear just which definition of the noun I am talking about. The aspiration I am talking about is:

strong desire, longing, or aim; ambition: intellectual aspirations; a goal or objective desired

[Aspirating or taking a breath is something all of us need to do. To stop doing that is to literally stop living🙂 ] Now with all this silliness taken care of let’s move on the to topic at hand.

When we talk about aspirations it is typically about our youth. Things like “he aspired to be president one day”. But is it proper or healthy for seniors to have aspirations too? If you ask the younger population I’m sure most would say that seniors should have already accomplished everything they dream of before that time in their life, so the answer would probably be no. Of course I can’t answer this question for all seniors but I can answer it for myself.  I continue to have dreams for what I want to accomplish with my life.  I hope that I never comes to the day when that isn’t the case.

One of the perfect, and probably most used, stories about senior aspirations was Colonel Sanders who started up his chicken business  after he turned sixty-five. There are many seniors who have accomplished great things in their later lives. But what about us more common seniors? Of course that answer lies inside each of us but I think it is healthy for all seniors to dream and aspire to future goals. No, we don’t have to start a multi-billion dollar fast-food chain but what about aspiring to make a difference in your local community?

I will reluctantly give you a couple of my personal aspirations as examples. I personally aspire to help those in the community around me to have at least a few good meals every week. I do that by cooking a couple of days a week at a local soup kitchen and providing many of the ingredients that are missing from even the most elementary recipes.  I don’t aspire to end world hunger but if I can ease it just a little in my community…  I also aspire to being a better follower of Jesus Christ on a day-by-day basis. Part of that is by making Christians  aware of things that they might not normally  think about. I do this via my blog.  Without these aspirations, and a few other similar to them, I’m sure that life in my senior years would not have nearly as much purpose for me as it does. But with these aspirations I can’t wait to wake up each morning. I feel I have accomplished more in my senior years than I have any other period in my life.

I am not giving you my personal examples of aspirations to boast or to make you feel somehow inadequate and I sincerely hope you don’t take that to be the case.  I am only giving them to you as maybe a little incentive to , if you haven’t already, make up a list for your personal life in your senior years. We can all make a difference in this world no matter how old we are.

One of my favorite quotes is from Gandhi

Whatever you do will be insignificant, but it is very important that you do it.

The most significant accomplishments in the world are made in very minute steps by ordinary people like you and me. Singly they might not seem like much but put together with others they are mighty indeed. Get off your couch and aspire to contribute something in your senior years.

The Rites of Retirement….

One of the rites of retirement is being able to take a vacation pretty much whenever you want.  Well, my wife and I want! We will soon be heading out for our Canada and New England trip. This one could take up to a month of our time. That is another privilege of retirement, we can take as long as needed.  We have a house sitter who will take care of our animals and such as long as we are gone.

We plan on going into Canada via Wisconsin and then traveling the interior to Ottawa. Then up the St. Lawrence seaway to Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island. Coming back we will go through New England to NYC for a visit to Ground Zero and then westward toward home. This is going to be one of our freestyle vacations in that we don’t have a day-to-day itinerary planned. My wife loves it that way; me not so much. So I have been sneaking in some plans for some of the major cities such as Ottawa, Montreal, Quebec, and Charlestown.

On our last major trip in 2009 I pretty much blogged everyday. I can’t make that promise this time as I just don’t know when we will have internet connections and even if I want to take the time to do it.  But I am an avid journal writer so it’s not much of an additional chore. I still refer to the blog entries (found here under “In The Slow Lane/On the Road” to remember our daily adventures on that one.

I took two years of french in high school but that was almost 50 years ago so I don’t think that will do me much good in Quebec. I know they are a pompous bunch in that city so even though they might know English they often stubbornly refuse to speak it there🙂 .

So if you don’t see as many of my posts as usual you will know why. We think we are safe from winter storms being we are going in July but you never know.  Yvonne, who packs for everything will probably put some blankets and such in our trusty HHR for this trip.

And the journey goes on….

Where To Live in My Senior Years…

A couple of posts ago I talked about how I chose to spend my fixed income in my senior years. One thing that has a huge effect on how I would spend my money was where I was going to live. When we chose to come back to Indiana for our final years this had a huge effect on our finances. Compared to California and many places within fifty mile of an ocean the hinterland is very affordable in deed. The house we have now is a renovated 1925 farm house that has been expanded to more than 2400 square feet. It sits on almost 2.5 acres of forested landscape. If we were to find a similar place in a higher expense area this house would easily cost four times more than what we paid for it. No we can’t drive to the ocean from here but when we did live so close to the Atlantic we seldom went there more than four or so times a year. I could easily spend the saved money going to a luxury hotel along the coast that many times a year and still have mucho left.

Sometimes I wish I could get away from the winters in the Midwest but my wife loves them so we will stay where we are.  But really I do appreciate the change of seasons; they change my daily schedules. I do more writing and reading in the cold months and more lawn care in the hotter months. This keeps boredom at bay, at least for me.🙂 One nice thing about being a retired senior in the winter months is that we can choose not to have to get out when the weather is bad.

What we choose to do with the extra thousands  and thousands of dollars is up to us. We have no heirs to leave our estate to even if we did wish to do that. So instead of locking our assets up into an overly expensive house due to where it is located we keep them more liquid to have fun in life.

What To Do About Medicare??

No this post is not about how to gut Medicare as seems to be the topic of today. Instead it is about my personal travels of getting signed up for it. As I announced before I am at the head of the herd of the Baby Boomers so I will be joining Medicare this year. As a result I am starting to try to figure out all the ancillary policies I need to get.  The free side of Medicare is really only Part A. (Note: I don’t intend to bore you with what all these letters and things mean so maybe you will be inclined to hang around this post a while longer.)🙂  Anyway I have to pay some for Part B and my pension plans says I need to get that so that is a done deal. But then comes the other things. Do I go out on my own and get Part D and a “supplemental” policy or do I continue to stick with the policy that my pension plan offers?  That is the primary question I guess I have to cover in the next few months.

I have been on my pension plan for about over ten years now. It has gone from about $40/month when I started to more than ten times that amount this year. I just don’t know how getting on Medicare is going to change their policy coverage and amounts. Since my birthday falls on the same month as the pension plan insurance renewal info is available I guess I will have to make some quick decisions about this change in my life.

Even though she might not like it I have to admit that my wife is older than I am so we have already addressed some of these topics before. For her it was cheaper to drop off the “covered spouse” portion of the policy and go it alone. Given the fact that my pension plan still frequently states that, since I was a management employee and not under a union contract as my hourly friends were, they are under no obligations to continue to provide me with healthcare assistance maybe I should just dump them and get it over with. But since they keep complaining about it maybe they do put in at least a little of their profits into my coverage.

Whoever said living in retirement was a simple life obviously never considered all the complications of senior healthcare.  I guess I should be thankful that Medicare will be even there for me. At least I think it will be unless the Republicans try to “fast track” replacing it. I paid into it for over thirty years so I think I should get something for all that money I paid in. I know the politicians borrowed it for other things but how is that so much different from the treasury bills I currently hold in my retirement portfolio? Oh boy, maybe I should be worrying about that too!!

I’m sure my Canadian friends who might be reading this post are getting a laugh out of all of this since they have universal coverage both before and after retirement these types of issues don’t exist for them. Maybe someday the U.S. might actually learn something about this for our northern neighbors. But I kind of doubt it.

And the journey goes on….

Retirement Rule #77

Spend your fixed income on what is important to you, not today’s marketers.

Ok so this is kind of bogus post in that I don’t know what the 76 retirement rules might be that precede this one.🙂 But that doesn’t make this one any less important. One of my blog buddies proudly states that he has given up cable TV. I salute him for that if that is important for him but I choose to do otherwise. But I do see his point in several aspects. It seems that much of what is on cable today is nothing but a giant marketing scheme.

There are so many home improvement type shows on cable that it seems to dominate the bandwidth. Almost every one of them tells us how to spend more and more of our money on things that we “need”.

  • They want us to believe that if your kitchen does not have cherry cabinet, granite counter tops, and stainless steel appliances then it is absolutely mandatory that you immediately remodel to make that happen.
  • They want us to believe that if your back yard does not include a water feature, a fire pit, and at least some formal dining area that you should immediately contact your landscape architect.
  • They want us to believe that if your car does not have dvd players front and rear, in-dash GPS, and 0-60 mph in under six seconds that you should rush to your car dealer to make that happen.

I put a lot of the blame of the average $10,000 credit card debt that the average family carries on these types of things. And it seems that seniors are not exempt from these situation. Everyday I see yet another senior on one of these programs who proudly announces his latest remodel or new car or other such major expenditure. It is almost as if life cannot be complete without everything that the marketers say we “need”. Maybe if more of us were like my blogger buddy we wouldn’t be susceptible to these types of ploys.

Getting back to the rule #77 it is up to you how you spend your discretionary money while in retirement. Don’t let today’s marketing schemes tell you how to do that.

  •  I don’t put a lot of emphasis on how my neighbors view my lifestyle.
  • I still drive the stripped down pickup truck I bought in 1992. 
  • We haven’t done any significant “home improvements” in more than ten years now.
  • We are just as likely to eat out at McDonald as we are an up-scale restaurant.
  • We don’t take fancy vacations to the Bahamas or Hawaii on a regular basis.

Why not? The reason is that those sort of things are just not that important to my wife and I. Most of our vacations, and we do take several a year because that is what we enjoy, are made by car. We travel a couple hundred miles and then look for a place to stay. Our home, although it doesn’t meet 2011 design standards feels very comfortable to us.  While my wife does spend more than I am comfortable with on her flowers each spring I accept that because her gardens are one of the things that are important to her. I spend more than I probably should on “techie” things because that is what I enjoy.

Years ago when I was about to retire the financial planners told us that we would need at least 80% of our pre-retirement income to live in our retirement years. But because of what we think is important that number ended up being less than 60%. If we followed the latest trends we, like our neighbors, might likely had needed that other 20% or maybe more.

Don’t let others decide what is important to you in your senior years.

Mom and Dad Are Getting a Divorce?????

The title to this post seems to be more frequent the last few years. When the kids are grown and out of the house (sometimes those are two totally separate events🙂 ) then Mom and Dad make the announcement that they will no longer be living together. This often comes as a shock to the kids but maybe it shouldn’t. When Mom and Dad got married twenty-five or more years ago they were at one state of their lives. They had fallen in love and that alone is an overwhelming experience.

But as the years progressed Dad took an interest in certain things and Mom took an interest in certain things and they were just not the same things. In other words they grew apart. Maybe Mom turned into a resolute homebody who totally enjoys puttering around the house and her garden and plans to spend the rest of her life in that mode. But Dad moved in another direction. He is more into traveling and seeking new adventures and the “stay-at-home” life is unthinkable to him.  As Mom and Dad grew older they knew they are growing in different directions.

And then comes a life milestone to make them realize they have different priorities. For some that time might be as mentioned above when they become “empty nesters” but it also might happen when they retire. It may come when their parents die and they get a strong sense of their own mortality. But at some point Mom and Dad realize they are very different people than when they were newlywed. Put simply, they have different overriding priorities for the remainder of their time on this earth.

So the logical conclusion is to go their separate ways. Some do this and maintain a close friendship with their spouse; for some the separation is more stressful. Many can find some sort of compromise to avoid this state entirely but for some the wants/needs for the future years is just too different.  So, if your Mom and Dad want to get the family together for an announcement don’t be too surprised if the above is the topic of the conversation.

And the journey continues…..

I am what I am…..

Popeye 1I’m sure most of you seniors out there know the source of the title of this post but I’m also sure many of the younger generation don’t’.  It was a favorite quote of Popeye The Sailor Man. It goes something like this “I am what I am and that’s all that I am.. I’m Popeye the sailor man”  This saying has become somewhat of a mantel in my life lately. It seems that even after twenty five years of marriage my wife is still not done trying to change me into someone more to her liking. I guess that is one of the more prime purposes for wives throughout their lives. They must keep improving their husbands.

I know she doesn’t want to come to the realization that I am mostly like her in that I am now pretty much fixed in who I am. At this point in my life I don’t see a lot of need to make many changes. I have certain routines that make my senior years what they are. I don’t think of myself as being in a rut but more like I want to look forward to certain thing happening on a regular basis.  But I also enjoy the more adventurous thing that come along.

So when my wife “suggests” that I change something that I have been doing for pretty much all of my life I come back with “I am what I am”. I know in a previous post I made comments that in order to maintain marital happiness I let my wife be right most of the time. The key word there is “most”. Sometimes a fellow just needs to put his foot down. After all, I am what I am.

And the journey continues….

Seniors are a Complex Group of Individuals…

I am going to do something unusual here and do a post primarily by merging the thoughts of two posts of my fellow bloggers. I read these two blogs back to back today and could not get over how well one message meshed into the other. The first one is by Bill Birnbaum from entitled Senior Citizens and Technology. The second one is from Quaker friend Raye from entitled Time For A “Station I.D.” – When Speaking Of Personal Experience

Let’s start with the first post. As the title implies Bill was talking about how senior citizen’s deal with technology. Before I start I want to tell you that I enjoy each and every post that Bill puts out. He is on my automatic watch list. Here are some excerpts from his post:

That fellow on the airplane represents the common stereotype – that senior citizens are resistive to technology.  Seems to me though, senior citizens aren’t so much resistive to technology.  It’s simply that they insist that any new technology they might adopt serve some useful purpose.  They ask, “What can this new technology do for me?”

Bill went on with the story about how he is struggling to decide whether to move to a smartphone and also get a GPS for the car.

After I read the post I looked around my office. I am typing on a quad core desktop unit with a 22 inch flat screen display as well as a 32 inch hdtv display hooked to it. Beside that is my Samsung Moment Smartphone plugged into its charger for the night. Just to the left of that is my netbook which I have connected to yet another 20 inch flat screen. This one, when it is not being used on road tripes, is constantly running a digital slideshow of my 12,000 plus pictures (half digitized from the old film world and half taken with my Canon 12.1Mb Rebel Xsi DSLR camera that sits on the shelf behind me. Also on that shelf is my Kindle loaded with scores of books I am in the process of reading. And this is just in my study! I won’t bore you with going through the rest of the homestead. Suffice it to say that this senior is not at all resistive to technology🙂 I embrace it just as easily as the younger generations today.

Then I read the post by Raye. Here is part of it:

Sentences that begin with “Quakers do” or “Quakers believe” or similar, and then proceed to fill in with their observations are very likely painting with too wide a brush.  Those who identify themselves as Quakers are a large and complex bunch of groups and individuals.  I understand that trying to be precise in language can be cumbersome and frustrating.  But it seems to me that going to the trouble of adding phrases such as, “in my experience,” “Quakers I have met,” “I read in an article by so-and-so,” gives more integrity to the communication.  Friends I have met who belong to certain monthly or yearly meetings don’t fit neatly together in one theological or cultural lump.

So here I sit trying to combine these two posts. Let me say that like Quakers, I believe seniors are indeed a large and complex bunch of groups and individuals. It is hard to pin us down on just about anything related to living. Some like Bill are more adventurous and some like me embrace technology as soon as it comes available. Some are like my wife who is completely happy in life with just her mystery novels (paperback versions) and her 3,000 piece puzzles spread out on her hobby room table. I know Bill will agree that sometimes we senior bloggers like our Quaker brethren paint with just too broad a brush.

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