bucket list


Bucket List Category: Reconnecting

As readers of this blog know, I believe people of retirement age should spend their time doing exactly what they want to do. That means continuing to work if they so desire (or must for financial reasons), traveling, taking care of grandkids, lying around by the pool, golfing, fishing, volunteering, or pursuing any of the items on their bucket list.

While my wife Trisha and I have been taking a break from many of our normal activities over the last several weeks, we have been able to pursue a few of our bucket list goals. While we did spend a lot of time taking long walks and relaxing in the Florida sun and traveling to historic places in the southeast, it was our bucket list pursuit of reconnecting with old friends that really made our time away special. 

During the Viet Nam era, I served in the United States Air Force. After my technical school training I was assigned to Kelly Air Force Base in San Antonio Texas. After that, I was assigned to a NATO base in a remote area of southern Italy. My friends and co-workers were all young and it was a crazy time in our lives. A few of us got married and we all supported one another. With little money in a small Italian village, it was a no frills life to be sure.

Of course, that was a lifetime ago, but during our recent travels we were able to reconnect with some of those wonderful people from our past. First, we met Duane and his wife Barb at a Daytona Beach restaurant in the shadow of the raceway. It was for lunch, but we spent over four hours catching up and telling war stories. He and Barb had married since we last saw Duane so many years ago and he is now retired. She was terrific and we had a great time getting to know her and hearing about their family and life together.  

After a brief time in Savannah, we traveled on to South Carolina where we met our friends Dan and Marian. These folks were newly weds when we first met in Texas, and we later lived in the same little apartments over an electronics shop in the Italian village of Mesagne. That was over 40 years ago, but we were able to pick up where we left off as though it was yesterday. There wasn’t enough time to catch up completely, so after another week of travel, Trisha and I invited them to Florida where we spent four days having fun and simply spending time together. It could not have been better.

Of all the categories on our bucket list, catching up with friends and family is certainly one of the most rewarding. Is there someone in your past with whom you would like to reconnect? Get to it. Let me know how it worked out.

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 The Bucket List Boomers

 When a person loses such a good friend as my wife Trisha and I did last week, it makes you stop and re-examine your own life. That’s a good thing. At any time of life, but especially as a senior, its beneficial to assess where you are and make the necessary changes. Here is a chart I created to make my own assessment:

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Alright, it’s a funny chart, but it does have some validity. As one ages, and/or retires, it becomes very easy to fall in to ruts, misdirect energies, and even disregard  passions. While it’s often complicated at this time of life, given family and other responsibilities, Trisha and I have formalized the process planning and pursuing our personal bucket lists. I guess you could call us “The Bucket List Boomers.” 

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On our lists we have a number of places in the U. S. and the rest of the world we would like to visit. We also have a number of “crazy” activities such as paragliding off a mountain in Brazil, and more free base jumps as the one we did in Auckland, New Zealand last year. But we also have other interesting activities. We have a couple of great charities we love and set personal goals for our participation. I’ve also made a list of all of my childhood heroes that are still living and have been actively trying to communicate with them in the hope of meeting them in person. I’ve already met and/or communicated with a few and its been great fun.

Other personal items on my list includes becoming more proficient on my guitar, and possibly learning another language such as Italian. I use the term “another language” loosely because I’m not exactly fluent in Spanish, but can make it work when in Mexico. 

A bucket list can be whatever you want it to be. Such a list is beneficial because it helps you focus your time and energies in a productive way, and Trisha and I have found it to be very motivational. As C. S. Lewis once said, “You are never too old to set another goal, or to dream another dream.”

Let’s all become “Bucket List Boomers.”

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Successful Aging is Living With Passion

For those of us living the second half of life, the reality of our mortality is always in mind. In just the last few months, my wife Trisha and I have lost four friends and one family member. As young persons, we probably all lived in that wonderful state of feeling immortal. Of course, it wasn’t true even then. As we grow older we become acutely aware that our time on this planet comes with a certain expiration date.

Given the responsibilities and unforeseen setbacks of life, it isn’t possible to live every minute exactly the way we might choose, but we should give it everything we’ve got. As a famous radio psychologist used to say, “This is your life, it’s not the dress rehearsal.”

Living our lives with as much passion as possible is certainly one of the principles of successful aging. Even as a young person, I was always struck by the differences in people’s lifestyles. As I age, I’m even more aware and curious about the lifestyles people choose to live.

As an example, there is a Subway sandwich shop I sometimes visit at lunchtime. For years, the same Afro-American lady behind the counter greets her customers with a wide smile and genuinely affectionate greeting. Her positive attitude and passion for life puts everyone in a better frame of mind. I’m sure the routine tasks of her job aren’t particularly fulfilling, but her customers love her and I’m sure she realizes her life is enriched by those positive and life affirming interactions. I’m also sure as many customers stop in to see her as for the sandwiches. I’ve even run in to a celebrity or two at her counter.

On the other hand, I’ve met people with wealth beyond my comprehension and other extraordinary gifts that appear to lead miserable and completely boring lives. What gives? While it may be cliché, “life is what we make it,” seems to be  an accurate truism.

So, how do we live with passion?

First, growing older means we all will have suffered loss in our lives. Overcoming the inevitable tears of life is something we must conquer.

We can live passionately by loving those around us. Be it family or friends, the richness of our lives is defined by our relationships. This doesn’t mean we have to love everyone. We should simply treat people fairly and with respect. Love is an active verb. We should shower those we care for with appreciation and affection. 

Enjoying the simple things in life is another key. Very few of us can afford the time or money for a life of continuous great adventures. Passion can be found by appreciating the simple everyday blessings in our lives.

Another way to live passionately is giving of ourselves by volunteering or donating to worthwhile causes. During this holiday season, the opportunities to help those less fortunate abound. We will always get more than we give.

On a more self-indulgent note, we can formalize the process of living passionately by making up a list of the things we still want to accomplish in our lives. We can learn to play a musical instrument, speak a foreign language, meet someone we admire, reconnect with old friends or family. The choices are many and ours to make.  

I would even add it’s more than acceptable to get a little crazy when making up our list. Remember, it’s our life to live. The possibilities are endless and we don’t need approval for anything we want to do. (At this point I began to write out and share some of the “crazy” activities I’ve engaged in and then thought better of it. Some things are best left unsaid.) The point is, especially in the second half of life, we should thoughtfully and methodically pursue our dreams and passions. It’s now or never. 

Let me leave you with a favorite quote:

A few can touch the magic string, and noisy fame is proud to win them: Alas for those that never sing, but die with all their music in them!   Oliver Wendell Holmes

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Retired-Life New Year’s Suggestion

We’ve made it to the end of one year and about to set sail into a new one. We should look to this new year with enthusiasm and a positive attitude. While it’s great to have memories of our past, it’s better yet to have aspirations, goals, and dreams for the future. Rather than making new year’s resolutions, I suggest everyone  take a moment and write down three things they would like to accomplish this year. Get crazy. Is there someone you would like to meet, contact, or reconnect with. Is there some place you would like to visit, far away or close by. Is there a goal you didn’t achieve long ago? Get out there and do it. Do you have lots of “stuff” taking up space somewhere? Simplify your life and give it to someone who can use it. It might change their life and will make you feel great.  

There are no wrong answers here. These things don’t have to be philanthropic in nature. Do something great and fun for you. Is there a performer you’ve always wanted to see or meet. Is there an event you’ve always wanted to attend. As they say at Nike, “Just do it! Of course, there are always a million reasons not to do something. But this is not the dress rehearsal, it’s your life. Let me know what you decided to do in 2012. Happy New Year.   

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These are two different views of time. I wonder if the old Stones still think time is on their side?  The obvious fact is, none of us, young or old know how much time we have left on mother earth. It then follows we should  spend our time in ways in which we give some serious consideration. Just yesterday I watched a young mother walk by my window holding the hand of her precious young child. It caught my eye because she walked by twice, and during the entire walk, her cellphone never left her ear. The child looked tired and a bit confused. I could not help but think someday she will regret not savoring every minute of time she had to spend with her young son.

Remember, The Cat’s In The Cradle, a song about a father who didn’t have time for his son, then when he got old, his son didn’t have time for him? That song was written and performed by Harry Chapin. He and his wife co-wrote the song about their relationships with their own fathers. As luck would have it, it’s believed Chapin had a heart attack while driving and died in the resulting traffic accident. He was 39. On his tombstone are the words from one of his songs: “Oh, if a man tried to take his time on earth, and prove before he died, what one man’s life could be worth, I wonder what would happen to this world.”

Truth be known, I actually take a very libertarian view of how one should spend his or her time. If you choose to lie on a tropical beach and ponder cloud formations, that’s fine with me. I do, however, hope that people give their choices due consideration. As we grow older the sands truly do run through our hourglass more quickly.

Is Journalism Dead?

Have you heard about the George Washington University sports story reported on their website? The writer of the story spent six paragraphs describing the GWU baseball team’s 2-0 loss in a recent game. Finally, in paragraph seven, the writer finally shares the fact the opposing pitcher had pitched a perfect game, only the eighth perfect game pitched in NCAA Division 1 history. Here is the link:

Strong Pitching By GW Not Enough In 2-0 Loss To No. 1 Virginia – GEORGE WASHIN

Funny

The elderly married couple had argued and fought their entire life together. Finally, they had gotten so old they had to move to a care facility. They still continued to argue and fight. The management of the place called them in and informed them the arguing and fighting would have to cease or they would be thrown out. Sensing the seriousness of the situation, the wife suggested to her husband they kneel and pray for one of them to die. “What then,” said the husband. “Then I’m going to move in with my sister,” replied the wife.

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As we age, I’m sure we all can recall specific individuals who have had a significant influence on our lives. In my case, one of those people is a man by the name of John Goddard. Perhaps you’ve heard of him. I first encountered Mr. Goddard in junior high school when he was a guest speaker. Briefly, he was born in 1925, and when he was 15 years old he sat down and made a “life list” of 127 goals. Still living, when he made it into the 21st Century, he checked off accomplishment 109 on his list. Among his other notable accomplishments: living with most of the world’s primitive tribes, climbing many of the highest mountains, rafting the great rivers, flying many different aircraft while setting speed and altitude records, and . . . well you get the idea. Hearing this kind of thing as a young man, I couldn’t wait to get home and write out my list. You know what? I did pretty good. Like most people, the military, marriage, family, and career came into play and put much of my list on hold. I did, however, learn to fly, learn to play a guitar, form and play in my own rock band, sail a schooner, appear on a television show, meet several of my idols, appear in a movie, and guys (I’m a bit embarrassed this was on my list), I actually dated a Playboy Playmate. O.K., so my list swerved a bit off course. The point is, I was inspired to do things I might not have done if I had not heard Mr. Goddard’s inspirational message.  

Now retired, married for over forty years with three sons and five grand kids, I’m more inspired than ever to continue working on my “life list,” or at this point in life, what is now referred to as a “bucket list.” As an example, one of the items on my original list was to see a rocket launched from Cape Canaveral. I used to get up at 3:00 a.m. as a teenager to watch the launches on television. It took me a long time, but a couple of years back, with my wife Trisha, I finally got to experience a launch of the space shuttle. It was better than I could have imagined. So much so, we returned for the next three launches. 

As Trisha and I continue to add to our list, we have evolved into an interesting life style. Not every item on our list has to be something dramatic or expensive. Beyond the list, every day we try to do something new and interesting. Taking a new walking path or exploring a small town we’ve never been before is fun and very rewarding. Some might think we are crazy for our mini-adventures and activities. A couple of years ago, we were watching our favorite television show, The Amazing Race. It’s a show where two-person teams get clues to the next location and race around the world in hopes of winning a million dollars. Like goofy teenagers, we stayed up almost all night trying to replicate the props used on the show such as the clue box, the clue envelope, the destination mat, etc. We even created a life-sized mock-up of the host. The next day we went out, set up our video camera in various locations, and ran our own amazing race. Why did we do this? Well, first of all, we laughed all night and had a blast creating the props we needed from home-made materials. Secondly, when we set up our clue box and then raced to it ripping open the clue envelope, we actually heard passers-by exclaim, “They’re filming The Amazing Race!” It was pure fun. Crazy? Probably. The fact is, in life we all have so many difficult and challenging times. Growing older brings on its own set of obstacles. Experiencing new and interesting things and just getting a bit crazy at times is good for us. It gives our lives some much needed balance. Besides, it sure beats the heck out of watching cable news or soap operas.

Now the question. What’s on your bucket list?

Great Link

Be sure to visit Trisha’s web site for great recipes and cooking tips.

          

                              Trisha’s Dishes “Leftover Magic”

 

 

 

Photo of the day

After her bath, granddaughter Juliette joined mommy at the dinner table. Oops.