April 27, 2015

It's Time

In about a week I will be moving to a new house in a new part of the Phoenix area. After thirty years in one zip code, Betty and I are taking my 2015 word, move, quite literally. Everything (almost) is packed and ready for the movers.

We will be living in the RV for the week between leaving the old house and being able to move into in the new one. While not really a vacation, it will be nice to take a break from cleaning and packing.

As April comes to a close, I look back on the past four months of the New Year and must pause. It has been a very eventful time, including the death of my dad, this move, taking Tai Chi lessons, watching over my youngest daughter's new cocker spaniel.....if this pace keeps up I will need to pick the word, nap, for 2016.

In two months we pack up the RV again and head to Portland for the summer. I doubt the new house will even be fully unpacked by then, but we have been planning this trip for 10 months, well before the thought of a move crossed our mind. It will be fun to hit the road again and have new experiences as well as see old friends.

I am also approaching the 5 year mark for this blog. It is time for the word, move to apply to these pages. It is time for me to move on to something else. It is time for Satisfying Retirement to retire.

Two books, contributions to three others, national magazine articles, 660 posts, 50,000 views per month, and over 1.7 million page views since the beginning: I feel good about what has happened here. I feel especially good, and eternally grateful, to those readers who have helped me make this blog a pleasure to write and so much fun to read and respond to the incredible comments (over 14,000 at last count). 

There has been a real community built here, folks with all sorts of opinions, ideas and insights. The quality and level of discourse has always been a positive. Unlike too many other blogs, we have always been respectful and supportive of each other, even when we disagree. That is too rare in today's world; the fact that it was alive on these pages is very satisfying.

I have no idea what I will be doing next. With settling into a new house and a new neighborhood, and then being gone until early September, I won't even have time to give it much thought until after Labor Day. Then, we will see.

I will leave the blog right here for the foreseeable future. Feel free to come back and re-read old favorites or spend some time reading posts you might have missed over the past 5 years.

Please feel free to leave a comment or your thoughts on this post. With my Internet link being disconnected this weekend I may not be able to respond to each, but know that I will read what you write and treasure your involvement.

My warmest regards, deepest respect, and a heartfelt thanks to you. My Satisfying Retirement would have been much less joyful and rich without these last 5 years of having you be part of my family.

Goodbye, and Godspeed.

April 19, 2015

George Harrison and Me

I have seen Paul McCartney live in concert three times and Ringo Starr once. I was at a press conference with John Lennon (and Yoko). George Harrison is the only Beatle who I never was able to see in person. As the "quiet" Beatle he seemed to attract the least attention and made the fewest public appearances after the group officially disbanded in 1970.

I am just finishing a fascinating biography of George that has given me a new insight into the man and his life: his struggles, his demons, his genius and his humanity. It is one of those books that I do not want to end. "Behind The Locked Door" by Graeme Thomson has been tremendous. It has given me a completely new understanding of the Beatles era, what that experience did to George, and how he attempted to cope with being one of the most famous people in the world after the Beatle era had passed and until his death in 2001.

How does his story fit into a satisfying retirement?  I have found two parallels with my life that seem to be worth detailing because you might find they resonate with you, too. I don't think any readers of this blog are in the same famous category as that of a former Beatle. The lifestyle of those four men was beyond belief. The pressures, the inhuman schedules they had to maintain, the insanity of living in a bubble with the whole world watching would have caused long lasting changes to virtually anyone. Even so, as human beings they shared much with all of us.

Right after the Beatles broke up, George had two major successes: the album, All Things Must Pass was a huge hit, and the Concert for Bangladesh was the first worldwide concert with charity as the focus. But, then he started to slip, in both creativity and in public acceptance. 

By the mid 70's his music seemed to be out of step with where music was heading. He began to sound like a curmudgeon, complaining about the state of popular music. By 1980, he was almost completely irrelevant as an artist. As technology and pop music styles evolved, his music remained locked in a time warp. Eventually he would start to make commercially viable music again, but for many years he railed against the changes and continued to record music that had little popular appeal. 

After John Lennon's murder, George Harrison became almost invisible to the outside world for fear of a similar attempt on his life. All the security that surrounded him did not help. He nearly died in 1999 from a horrific attack by a knife-wielding lunatic who stabbed him over 40 times at his home in England. Even though he recovered from those wounds, brain cancer killed him less than two years later.

My tie to this story and his life? For the last 6-8 years of my radio consulting business I did not evolve. I stayed with the same message, the same ideas, and the same approach that had proved so successful for me through the 1980's into the mid 90's. Even though my industry had changed dramatically, I stopped learning and listening. I didn't change my message or my methods. As a result, my business slowly slipped away until, in the same year that George Harrison died, I found myself faced with retirement, several years before I would have felt financially more secure. I had been passed by. I had stopped changing and found my approach irrelevant.

The second part of George Harrison's life that I found relatable was his search for a spiritual answer to life's complexity and difficulties. Famously, George ended up captivated by Indian philosophy and religion. His support of Hare Krsihna, Eastern religions and love of the culture and music of that part of the world were well known and a dominating influence on his life. 

At the same time, his lifestyle was often at complete odds with his professed belief in simplicity, moral boundaries, and the importance of staying centered on God. His use of drugs, casual sex, alcohol, and living in a 122 room mansion indicated a man torn between two worlds: the material world and the spiritual one.

While I lived the lifestyle of a rock and roll DJ in the 1960's for awhile, it was never even remotely like the excesses of a former Beatle. Even so, I was lost spiritually for many years, trying to make my way in a world that kept score with money and possessions. Not until nine years ago (I was a late bloomer!) did I finally figure out what was really important and really deserving of my dedication. My spiritual life became vital to my sense of well-being. My faith became real. The material world became much less important.

If you have any interest in the Beatles, George Harrison, or the story of a man who made it to the absolute pinnacle of success only to find it lacking, I suggest you read this book. But, even if you don't find the details of his life worth following, I think he has left two important lessons:

1. Life never stands still. If you don't evolve you will be left behind and risk becoming bitter, unfulfilled and marginalized. But, there is always a way forward if you open yourself up to new experiences and ideas.

2. Material possessions never can buy happiness. We are part of a much bigger story that has to do with trust and faith in something bigger than ourselves. Living strictly in a material world is a dangerous place to be.

courtesy TM Blog

April 7, 2015

Paperwork, Paperwork, Paperwork

Many of us are dependent on the Internet, smartphones, Kindles....all manner of electronic devices that keep us informed, help us pay our bills, even entertain us. Electronic medical record keeping is starting to replace written patient files and reports.

But, if you think that maybe the expression "paperwork" is not long for this world, think again. As the last several weeks have reminded me, death and home buying require mounds of paper. The wonderful world of computer-based information retrieval and processing remains somewhere in our future.

Since my father passed away in early March I have had to:
  1. Fill out stacks of papers at the mortuary
  2. Apply for more than a dozen copies of the official death certificate
  3. Sign forms when his death certificates were finally ready to be picked up
  4. Fill out a form and provide a copy of the death certificate to Social Security
  5. Sign more forms and provide a copy of the death certificate to close out his checking account.
  6. Fill out a form and provide a death certificate to the Veteran's Administration.
  7. Sign dozens and dozens of papers and provide a stack of death certificates to begin to deal with his trust and investments. 
  8. Alert the Post office about a change of address
Since we decided to sell our present house and buy another we have had to:
  1. Sign and initial a 13 pages selling contract
  2. Full out a 12 page detailed report on all known problems with the property
  3. Prepare a counter-offer form.
  4. Sign a counter to the counter offer
  5. Sign multiple forms for the Title company
  6. Agree to have a lock box put on the property
  7. Initial and sign a multi-page offer to buy contract
  8. Fill out and sign another dozen forms from the Title company for the purchase
  9. Sign paperwork to order a home inspection on the new home
  10. Sign agreements for service termination and service start up.
  11. Complete at least 8 on-line change of address forms (on line!)

My dad's situation will require at least another 60 days to wrap up and then file an estate and personal tax return next year. The house sale and purchase will require several more hours of paperwork signing on closing days, plus anything the various utilities and divers license people throw at me. 

America still runs on paper and ink. No matter how powerful the Internet may be, our trees remain in danger: we use a lot of paper.