August 26, 2023

Americans Off To Paris !


No, I am not Gene Kelly, and Betty is not Leslie Caron. Even so we are a couple of Americans off to France for a few weeks.

We begin with a two-day chance to overcome our jet lag and see some of Paris. Then, it will be time to board a long boat for an eight-day river cruise along the Seine River from the heart of Paris to Normandy. Every day features a chance to explore the towns and locations, like Monet's gardens in Giverny. 

Upon our return to Paris, we take a train to the city of Caen where a  private tour has been planned so Betty and I can explore some of the very deep roots her family has in parts of Normandy.

With a family connection going as far back as William the Conqueror,  her maiden name, Montgomery (or Montgomerie) is attached to several castles and large estates. We will have the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to explore her history and dig into family legends she has only read about on Ancestry sites. 

Her dad came ashore during the D-Day invasion at Utah beach and spent the next two years performing his military duties as an Army Captain, helping the Allies defeat the invading German forces. We will visit the beach he landed on, as well as visit the villages and countryside where he lived.

Finally, a train trip back to Paris, one night to catch our breath, and then a 16-hour trip home. Until then, this blog is taking a break. Look for a fresh post on September 11th, and then plenty of pictures and embarrassing stories of attempting to speak our very limited French.

Nous souhaitons bon voyage et bonne sante

(Wish us safe travels and good health)

August 22, 2023

I Bet You Missed This The First Time


Eleven years ago, dear friend, Galen Pearl, published 10 Steps To Finding Your Happy Place.  Because you were probably not reading this blog back then, her work is worth highlighting again.  I have read and re-read it several times and always find it inspiring and supportive. Here is the original post from September 2010.

It is always a pleasure to read a well-written book. That enjoyment is doubled when the message is important. This was my reaction as I read 10 Steps to Finding Your Happy Place (and Staying There).

Galen Pearl is a blogger and a friend. I was pleased when she asked me to take a look at her book. I expected it to be interesting. What I didn't expect is something that could be life-changing.

She uses stories of her fascinating, challenging, stimulating, and, at times, scary life journey to weave a narrative I couldn't put down.

With her blog of the same name as the jumping-off point, Galen uses a variety of sources along with her own insight to make finding one's happy place a real possibility. Blending many parts of her own life story, her studies of the major religious traditions, and her time living in Thailand and Africa, Galen presents a detailed yet very accessible thesis: you can find and inhabit your happy place regardless of the handicaps and obstacles placed in your way, by others, and by yourself.

Yes, she was a hippie wandering through Central and South America.
Yes, she was a salmon fisher in Alaska. And, yes, she was a law professor. If that weren't enough she raised five children, two with autism and two adopted from China. Galen has a story to tell. But, importantly, what she has done is taken the good, the bad, and embarrassing to share vital insight with her readers.

Frankly, I have a hard time picking my favorite chapters. Each is loaded with wisdom and tremendous quotes from the famous and infamous to help make her point. As a reviewer, I received an e-book version. My reader allows me to highlight important sentences, words, or concepts. I just counted the number of times I used this feature in Galen's book: 131 times. That tells me Galen reached me strongly.

She isn't hesitant to tell you exactly how she has made mistakes and chosen the wrong way before discovering the path to her happy place. But, in the spirit of full disclosure, I found the sections on choosing to be right or happy, and not judging others (and myself) to resonate the most strongly in my life.

All the proceeds from the sale of her book go to The Edwards Center in the Portland, Oregon, area, a non-profit organization dedicated to enriching the lives of people with developmental disabilities. They provide them with the chance to live, work and socialize like those without disabilities as much as possible – and to do so over the course of their lifetime. Galen's two autistic sons live at the Edwards Center and will for the rest of their lives. If this short teaser of the content entices you, I urge you to pick up a copy. Not only will you find her story fascinating, but you will be supporting a good cause.


As I was deciding to bring this post back from the archives, I received word that Galen's newest book has just been published.: Your Breath is Your Guru

The core premise is that our breath empowers us to listen to and trust our inner guidance with ordinary life stories, illustrating how easy it is to befriend ourselves with the gentle embrace of self-awareness and acceptance.

Note: my copy just arrived a few days ago. While I have barely started it, Galen has never disappointed before! I expect to be moved and have my eyes opened.

Galen has a new blog post address. If you'd like to check out what she has to say on a regular basis, click on

August 18, 2023

The Quiet Beatle and Me: Unexpected Influences


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 I was never able to see in person. As the "quiet" Beatle, he seemed to attract the least attention and made fewer public appearances after the group officially disbanded in 1970. For his tenacity, he developed into a superb guitarist and someone who seemed to be less influenced by all the fame. George held the most interest for me.

A few years ago I finished a fascinating biography of George. As we begin to thin out our belongings for a move sometime in the next few years, I picked up that book again. 

I remember it gave me a new insight into the man and his life: his struggles, his demons, his genius, and his humanity. It was one of those books that I did not want to end. "Behind The Locked Door" by Graeme Thomson was tremendous. There was a fresh 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.

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 late 70s, his music seemed to be out of step with where popular hit music was heading.

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 George over 40 times at his home in England. He recovered from those wounds but 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, adultry, 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 a while, 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 many years later (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. There is always a way forward if you open yourself up to new experiences and ideas.

2. Material possessions can never 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.

Rear cover photo from the biography of George Harrison

August 14, 2023

How Are those Hearing Aids Working, Bob?

About two months ago, the post, Pardon Me, Can You Speak up? detailed the reasons I was ready to consider hearing aid help. I could no longer avoid the reality of my turning up the TV to an ever-higher setting or that hearing people in certain environments was increasingly difficult. 

Studies from major health organizations were beginning to link hearing loss to other health issues, including dementia. In fact, John Hopkins Medical School released a report that suggests hearing loss may be one of the causes of dementia. This possibility was an important factor in getting me off my duff.

I searched for a choice that would improve the quality of my life and be affordable. The recent availability of over-the-counter options made the decision much easier.

I owe you an update.

After talking with my wife, who has worn hearing aids for almost forty years, remembering the types my parents used, and considering my own comfort level, I purchased a pair of Jabra Enhance Select 200 aids directly from the company's online store. The original post details some of the benefits and pluses of this particular brand and model, so I won't rehash all the selling points.

After 70 days, I can report I am very pleased with my decision. Even though this company gives me a 100-day return period, I have no intention of doing so. I have become a confirmed hearing aid user.

This model is the type that is known as over-the-ear. A thin wire with a miniature speaker is placed in the ear canal to carry sound picked up by the microphone in the part that rests behind the ear.  

Why do I not use the invisible in-the-ear style? Betty assured me that style blocks almost all outside sounds; Your own voice or chewing sounds are much more prevalent than the type I selected. The part that fits in my ear has made it possible for plenty of outside sounds to make their way to my ears so I don't feel like I am completely cut off from the world. She was right.

These aids are rechargeable, which saves both the expense and hassle of changing miniature batteries every 4 or 5 days. With a full charge, I can use them for nearly three days without slipping them into the charger overnight.

This model is Bluetooth-enabled. Spotify music, phone calls, and alerts to new text messages stream directly to the hearing aids. An app on my smartphone allows me to customize the sound for the environment in which I find myself: noisy restaurant, TV viewing, or even being outdoors. There is an equalizer that allows the user to boost base, midrange, or treble sounds depending on what hearing frequencies have been naturally lost.

Of course, the aids themselves have buttons that allow for many of these same modifications if a smartphone isn't available or you'd prefer to be more hands-on.

I readily admit it took a while to get used to putting the aids on properly. Several times I caught one as it slipped off my ear, or the thin cable didn't stay in my ear canal. With my glasses, do I put them on first and then the hearing aids or the other way around? I am still experiemting.

 All the extra sound takes some getting used to. The brain adjusts to the new normal of what your world really sounds like. After a few weeks, what is being fed into your head sounds the way it should, rather than overwhelmingly loud.

Interestingly, I have found that if I don't wear the aids for a few hours for a particular reason, my natural hearing ability has improved. Not enough to abandon the help, but I guess the brain makes adjustments based on what I should be hearing, even if my ears are au natural. 

Bottom line: the money spent and time devoted to retraining my brain has been absolutely worth it. I am entirely satisfied with the particular model I have purchased, but there are dozens of other options that are now available. The styles, prices, and features vary widely. 

If hearing aids are in your future, please take the time to do your own research to find what will work best for you. 

Questions and comments are encouraged!

August 10, 2023

Relationships After Retirement: Adjustments Straignt Ahead


This is the third and final in a series of posts that were written in 2013, looking at some of the major hurdles all of us have to conquer if we hope our retirement will be productive and happy. This time, I will detail some of the early problems Betty and I had to overcome as we made adjustments to our relationship after I closed my business.

Like many others my career involved a lot of travel. I was gone an average of 150 days a year for fifteen years. That meant 100,000 miles in airplanes every year, countless hotel rooms and cities that all looked the same. It meant Betty did most the "heavy lifting" in raising our daughters and keeping the household functioning.

It meant I would arrive home pretty much burned out and in no mood for any problems or disturbances. Of course, that was impossible. She never used the "wait til your father gets home" line on the girls, but there were still issues to be dealt with, house maintenance and repairs, bills to be paid, and a mountain of office work for me to plow through before the next plane flight. 

It helped that my office was in our home, so during those rare weeks off at least I was "home-home" to share some of the load. But, again, work tended to take over my time.

When we agreed I should let my business close down and start my retirement we had to reestablish a relationship. I had been gone so much Betty used to joke we had been married twenty-five years but had only been together for ten of them. 

While a bit of an exaggeration, the point was valid. Betty had run the home front almost single-handedly for well over a decade. We had to figure out how I would integrate back into the system. By this time, both girls had finished college, left home, and started their own lives. So, it was time for Betty and me to do the same and figure out what we shared besides two fabulous kids.

One of the important changes we made within the first two years was a serious kick-start to our spiritual life. After twenty years in a church that no longer was helping us to grow, we changed to one that almost immediately reignited our shared passion in our religious life. 

From that also came something that had been seriously lacking in our lives: friends. Betty and I are both rather solitary folks. Within a few months, we had more people who cared about us (and us them) than in all twenty years at the previous church. We became involved in small groups, women's and men's ministries, and Bible studies. Together we found a deep need and filled it together.

I learned (very slowly...the process continues) to begin to accept Betty as just as capable as I in maintaining the household and handling problems. As the years passed, I became even more aware of her amazing gift to stay calm in the face of trouble and find a creative and workable solution to most problems without my active interference and "help."

Together we began to build a marriage that played to our individual strengths and what we did well together. Through compromise and some occasional loud disagreements, we have figured out what it takes to happily coexist and grow as a couple. Our marriage is a blend of two people whose personalities would seem to be at odds with each other. But, because of a shared belief in the commitment we made, it is working.

Getting a relationship to work for both spouses or partners is never easy. Retirement adds additional stress and the need for more adjustments. Be prepared for it, discover how the two of you best fit together and move forward toward that goal.

Last week we celebrated our 37th anniversary. So far, so good.

As a final thought in terms of other relationships, at least for me, retirement has meant more friends and closer relationships. Because I worked alone at home, when I wasn't traveling I never had the water-cooler, office friendships. I didn't have many friends overall, and none I would have considered close.

Since retirement that has changed. Now, I have a few dozen people I'd consider friends, and a few, both men and women, who I'd turn to in a pinch. Retirement has given me something I had missed for way too many years: other people I could count on.


That was our situation ten years ago. In re-reading this post, the biggest change in the intervening decade is the falling off of the friendships I referred to. Changing churches two more times and a move 40 minutes away from our longtime Scottsdale home shrunk our relationships back to our immediate family and a handful of folks at church. 

While the common wisdom is this situation should bother us, in fact, it doesn't. Betty and I are completely content with each other, family, a few dear friends, and more of the "Hi, neighbor" relationships.

Also, an important update: we celebrated our 47th anniversary in June!

August 6, 2023

Changing What is Acceptable

An online writing course I completed last year was interesting and thought-provoking. Each week there was a premise presented, something in our past, present, or future that was to be used as the foundation for a few pages of thoughts or observations. 

One week's challenge I did not complete, but decided to save it for this blog. The question seemed to be what we may ask ourselves from time to time. I will take a stab at presenting my answer, then ask you to add your thoughts to the overall topic of boundaries and how they may change during our retirement.

Q: What do you allow into your life now that you never used to? How has this changed your life?

My answer is Uncertainty. 

People like to joke that I was born 40 years old. As the first child, there were expectations, untested child-rearing approaches, the role of responsibility, and the projection of first-parent wishes onto their firstborn. Our home was loving, supportive, and not particularly free-wheeling.

With an engineer for a father and a school-teacher mom, lists, chores, and a childhood leaning on both Dr. Spock and what middle America was like in the 1950s meant an environment not rife with spontaneity. Even though my dad spent some periods of my childhood unemployed, that disruption in normalcy never filtered down to the children. We felt safe and steady regardless.

Deciding on a career path at the age of  twelve (really!) meant a lot of the unsettled nature of high school, and college was not there. I was laser-focused on where life was taking me. Yes, I did take time to be a normal kid, with High School band, Student council duties, a fraternity at college, and trying to figure out the female mind.

Marriage was always part of my plan; I wanted to help build a family that would be the center of my life. Since Betty and I just celebrated our 47th anniversary and we have two fabulous, grown daughters, that part of the dream did come to pass. Even so, a childhood of structure and self-imposed performance expectations meant I usually chose safety and certainty as the path forward. come. Certainty and predictability were my mantra.

Then, a shocking thing happened. I left the world of "this way or the highway." Slowly, like a newborn child, I started to invite something I now recognize as uncertainty into my days. With less time ahead of me than behind, it dawned on me that I had the mental, emotional, and even financial wherewithal to reorient the way my days unfolded. Now was the time. I could express myself, feed my inner urges, and no longer look to the world for approval or tell me what is the only path to follow.

The world is a mess and getting more so. It is easy to feel overwhelmed. It is not odd to think everything that is happening is out of my control, so my future is unsure and a little scary.

Yet, for the last ten years or so of my retirement, I have almost no fear of that reality. I have lived long enough to both understand and accept the uncertainty of living. Being unsure all the time becomes stimulating and freeing, not constricting. I can try new things, and abandon others, that no longer satisfy. 

I believe whatever is thrown at me, my wife, and my family, we will not crumble. There will be a workaround, some path forward, that will work for us. 

Yes, things may start to look different. The effect of climate change, political instability, systemic racism, or even assaults on what seems "normal" may take their toll. I, or a family member, may develop dementia and forget who and what we are. Our country's time at the top of the heap may not last. 

Then I look back at all the changes my world has experienced and survived, all the uncertainty of simply being a human on a small rock hurtling through an ever-expanding universe, and I think of the expression from my youth: "What, me worry?"

There is likely to be at least some grief, sadness, and pain awaiting me in the future. I know my personal world will probably be severely tested. Yet, I have faith I will ultimately respond and embrace the future, whatever it will be. 

To be alive is to understand change is the only constant. Uncertainty no longer sends me scurrying for a safe spot.

August 2, 2023

Time Management & Retirement


For most of us, retirement means an extra 50 hours or more a week to fill. Work and commuting no longer define our daily schedule.  We become responsible for effective time management. The "success" of our satisfying retirement will depend, in large part, on how we learn to use that extra 2,600 hours a year.

This is part of a series I published in 2013 recounting the first few years of my retirement. Last week was a review of the financial struggles and decisions my wife and I faced. Soon will be a post about another biggie of retirement: relationships. If not properly addressed, marriages can either bloom or whither under the stress of full-time retirement.


This post recounts how I struggled with, and finally became comfortable with, the use of my extra time. I won't say the "mastery of the use of my extra time" because it continues to be an issue for me even after 12 years.

As regular readers know, I spent a good part of my working life traveling. Time management was a critical part of my business. I had to balance dozens of clients as far apart as New York City and Honolulu, keeping them happy, all while attempting to maintain my home life. I had to find enough time for chores around the house, family vacations, and attending my kids' various school functions and performances.

I became the master of the to-do list. I'd have my weekends planned six months in advance. I'd even go so far as to write something on the list just so I could cross it off and feel a sense of accomplishment (silly, right?). While this approach allowed me to juggle a lot of different responsibilities while working, it was a dangerous path into retirement.

Like a lot of men of my generation whose wives stayed home to raise the kids, when I stopped traveling and working, I was entering a world that had functioned smoothly without me for quite a while. My job was to integrate into the system, not blow it up and start all over again.

Wrong Choice, Bob

Of course, being a guy, I chose the "blow it up" option....not my best decision. It took me a few years to understand that the finely tuned system I had inherited was that way for a reason. I had to grasp the critical importance of the three different types of time: us, you, and me. Woe to the person, male or female, who doesn't understand that virtually all of us require some time to be alone with our own thoughts and interests.  

I have tried the two basic approaches to making the best use of my time: fully scheduled and completely unstructured (the go-with-flow approach). 

For the first few years, my daily calendar looked just like my work calendar: 15-30 minute blocks of time assigned to various tasks and activities. I scheduled the normal stuff: gym, paying bills, reading, chores, etc. But I also scheduled time for relaxing, napping, and reading. If I didn't really want to read at 2:15 on Tuesday, tough. It was on the schedule.

Surprise, surprise, this was a no-go. Not only did I feel pressured to meet a made-up schedule, but I was doing almost everything just so I could check it off the list.

Then, I made a valiant effort to use the go-with-the-flow system. I'd wake up when I wanted, eat when I was hungry, and do what I wanted when I wanted. This was even worse. 

Without a structure, I didn't know what to do. Days would simply pass without meaning or memories. I think I was even more nervous under this system because I didn't have anything to tell me how to account for my time.

Finally, a system for me

 Finally, I settled on a time management system that I continue to use: a blend of schedules, to-do lists, and free flow. I need the comfort of knowing what I want to do today. I like a list that helps me remember to tackle tasks that I should do. And I need to be able to move anything from today's list to tomorrow, next week, or next month and feel OK about it.

Previous posts have detailed the struggle many newly retired folks have in this area. Fear of boredom or being unproductive are common. The loss of set daily parameters catches many off-guard, myself included. 

It takes time to understand how to use your time in a way that is satisfying to you. There is no one way to manage your day after retirement. I have discovered no shortcuts through this process. Each person finds his or her own mix of structure and freedom.

When we were younger, we seemed to have all the time in the world, so we ignored its passage. When something isn't valuable, you don't keep track. Retire, and time becomes very, very real. Its passage is either a joy or a burden. Days pass so quickly that you lose track, or they seem to crawl from moment to moment.

That difference can make or break your satisfying retirement. A time management system that works for you is a skill you must master. And part of that mastery is having a passion or interests that keep you engaged, excited, and motivated.

But that is a subject for another time.