MonthDecember 2016

Turtle Beach Sunset – (The pleasant surprise)


My wife and I are really enjoying the Florida warmth as the rest of the country deals with winter. We went to Turtle Beach the other day just because we hadn’t been there. It was later in the day and we decided to stay until sunset. The sunsets on the west coast of Florida are really great.

We were sitting in our beach chairs watching the ocean and enjoying the late afternoon sun when an unusual visitor joined us. This Great Blue Heron just trotted up the beach to within a few feet of where we were sitting and it was such a pleasant surprise.

Once he got in front of us on the beach he stopped and just watched the ocean. Now the three of us were sharing a little section of the beach but the heron wanted to be neighborly so he went to say hello to the two men fishing next to us. I’ve seen herons in the wild before and watched them stand for long periods of time waiting for a fish to swim by. This one was waiting for the fisherman to share their bait. The bird stood perfectly still for almost half an hour before one of the fishermen gave him a piece of bait. Then he resumed his vigil.

The sunsets on the west coast of Florida rival the sunsets on the beaches of California. We look out into the Gulf of Mexico where the water is often calm and the sun just sinks into the shimmering water. So I really get why this bird would be so patient waiting for the sunset.

I have never seen a bird act so much like one of the locals. After finishing up with the fishermen, the heron went back to waiting and gazing out to sea. Finally, an hour and a half later, the sun finally set and the heron just flew away. It was well worth the wait for all of us.

Plan to be engaged daily. Adjust the plan to be happy.

Retirement, It is just one more step in the adventure of life!

Source: Plan to be engaged daily. Adjust the plan to be happy.

Retirement transition Plan Inventory

retirement-plan-comicOver the last three years I have been making plans for my retirement.   I’ve been working for over 40 years and I know how to do that well. Not working is a new experience for me and I didn’t have a clue how to approach it. I read a lot of articles and a book or two that gave me some direction, but no real roadmap to take me from working to a happy retirement.

My wife and I are living in Florida and enjoying the time and the weather. Three years ago, we were living in Massachusetts and dealing with the pressure of work and winters. We still have work to do on the happy retirement but we’ve made a lot of progress.

While our process was disjointed and a little hit or miss, I can point to the major steps that we focused on to get us to the point we are at. To help you avoid the running in circles pieces that we experienced, I’ll organize this into logical steps that need to be completed. Addressing all of these is essential so don’t think that doing 7 of 8 is success. Some of them will evolve over time, but you need to have a plan to address them all.

These are the elements of your retirement transition plan inventory:

  1. Personal activity plan – What are you going to do with your new found freedom?
  2. Spousal/partner activity plan – What are you and your spouse going to do to make retirement a mutually happy experience.
  3. Get your life in order – We all have little messes in our lives that need to get cleaned up.
  4. Decide where you want to live – This is a complex question that depends a lot on many other items in your transition plan.
  5. Develop a retirement budget – This will allow you to assess the viability of many elements of your transition plan.
  6. Develop an investment strategy for your savings – This is an important aspect of a successful retirement.
  7. Perform a personal and family health assessment – The life you live in retirement is dependent on how healthy you are and how healthy the other members of your family are.
  8. Establish a calendar of events – Ideally, the inventory should be developed before you retire so that you have it as a guide to a happy retirement.

I will be expanding on these in future blogs, but want to offer them up as the major elements of the inventory that you will need to think about. Most of these elements are dynamic and will need to be updated and changed as our circumstances change.   So don’t think of any of these as a permanent plan. Just as in the life before retirement, we needed to adjust to the changing circumstances in our personal world and the world around us. But this is a place to start.


Living life in a race against winter (my wife turns blue and my balls don’t bounce)


Living Life in the Sun

As a retired New Englander, one of the most significant mental adjustments to life in Sarasota is that I no longer have to live my life in a race against winter. The tough New Englander will tell you that staying active outdoors in winter is just part of what life is all about. But many of those living in the six New England states hibernate along with the animals. My wife and I were among the latter group and I dare say the majority.

We love the warm months with the pool, walks in the woods and trips to the ocean. For us these activities are best at temperatures above 80 degrees Fahrenheit. I enjoy outdoor tennis and walks outdoors, but the temp needs to be over 50. Below 50, my wife turns blue and the tennis balls don’t bounce right. I can’t say that I’ve done the survey, but I would be willing to bet that we are in the majority in the greater Boston area.

Just north of Boston, where we lived, the temperature gets over 80 degrees most days for about 10 weeks. You can add another 6 weeks to either side of those 10 weeks when the temp is mostly above 50. So for a total of 22 weeks a year, we have comfortable weather in New England. That leaves 30 weeks a year where we are mainly shut-ins. When you’re working that means that you have 44 days a year that you will potentially enjoy the outdoors. Given the New England weather, a nontrivial percentage 25% to 50% depending on the year of those days will be taken by the rain or abnormal cold. So as a typical New Englander you have between 22 and 33 days a year to really enjoy living life in the outdoors.

With that little time to enjoy the outdoors, every nice day becomes a gift that you dare not squander by lagging indoors. There will be plenty of time to sit in a chair looking out the windows wishing the weather was nicer so that you could be on the other side of the glass. This becomes a race against winter for us less hearty souls. We jam the beaches, the parks, the ice cream stands and the amusement rides for those precious few days a year when the weather is nice enough to get out. But every year come November, the race is lost and all that we have are the memories of living life in the sun.

Today we live in Sarasota where it’s over 80 degrees and sunny almost every day. I’m sure that we will have to endure some days in the 70’s in January and February, but that’s well above the shut in threshold. Top it off with a limited amount of rain and we’ve gone from 10% outdoor days to 90% plus outdoor days.

Now the only problem is we’re still in the racing against winter frame of mind. Mentally we must take advantage of every beautiful day because we are trained to expect that to change. We dutifully watch the nightly weather to see if the temperature will be 81, 82, 83 or 84. Some nights it gets down into the 60’s. As winter progresses we are told it will get cooler, but not much.

I am sure that some aspects of New England’s weather will be missed. The fall foliage, the first winter snow, the flowers poking through the ground in the spring. But we have retired to Sarasota, so I have given that up. The tradeoff is that I no longer am  living life in a race against winter. That’s a win in my book.