Pondering Retirement

My brother, younger than me by a year retired last week under the “55 Year Rule”. He retired early, probably added years to his life as he had a job that was a daily burden. Maybe trading time for less of a payout?

His unexpected retirement got me to ponder, the math and the timeline of my eventual retirement. Next month I’ll be 59 1/2 and I could retire and start taking distributions from my 403K then in 2 1/2 years start social security. I am also a 10% disabled vet and get a little monthly check for that. I would be just fine if I went this route.

However, I’m at the peak of my earning power, and that means more money going into my 403K and every year I work is a year less that my 403K has to last. I’m still supporting my daughter for at least one more year, maybe two. I’m a “Systems Analyst” and I don’t mind going to work.

I have no infertilities, have not been sick in over three years, on zero meds and I am in peak physical condition. I am aging well and hope to live long and strong.

I would say that 62 would be the earliest that I would retire, mathematically 65 would be better.

Living in Italy a little north of Bari would be the dream. I envision that my retirement will be nothing like the life that proceeded it. Surely you don’t work hard all of your life for more of the same?

“I kept my head down for so long that I forgot what it feels like to stand up. It feels damm good!”

Destination Addiction

Destination Addiction is the idea that happiness is in the next place, the next job or maybe the next partner. Until you give up the idea that happiness is somewhere up the road, it will never be where you are. Sound familiar? Maybe the present make you anxious and uneasy, leaving you waiting for tomorrow and unable to enjoy today. If your tomorrows have left you disappointed, then you had better work on fixing your today.

It’s cliche but often said that everything happens for a reason. These reasons can be catalysts for change and sometimes these changes are hard, sometimes they hurt. But in the end, it’s usually for the best. And so we learn that life is not some kind of bucket list or a collection of accomplishments but rather what we experience and the people we touch and who touch us.

Let us learn from the best teachers we have, namely our heartbreaks, our empty pockets and our lonely beds.

So stop and smell the roses, take that trip, kiss those lips, write that book, be a friend, take that chance and dance your dance, because as Lennon & McCartney wrote “In the end, the love you take, is equal to the love you make.”

DNA Surprises

As I started planning my 2020 trip to Poland and searching for more details as to where my Grandfather was born, I started a family tree at Ancestry. I able to find most of the information that I wanted. I found my grandmothers maiden names, “Gonzales and Archuleta” and all sorts of interesting tidbits. When my grandfather was born, Poland did not exist as a nation as it was occupied by Russia, Germany and Austria-Hungary. He was born in Nisko which in 1897 was part of Austria and is east of Krakow, just about two hours by car. In 2020, I”ll spend a week in the Krakow area, soaking up the culture, food and drink before moving on to Italy.

Growing up, I was always told that I was 75% Spanish and 25% Polish. So I decided to have my DNA tested. I ordered a AncestryDNA Kit from Amazon. The kit arrived in two days courtesy of Amazon Prime. I filled the tube with saliva and mailed it to Ancestry and waited for the results.

Three weeks later, The results were in and I was surprised! Here what I found out!

Italian 21%

Native American 21%

Polish 15%

Swedish 13%

Spanish 10%

Irish/Welsh/Scottish 8%

Poland was invaded by Sweden in the 1700s, thus most Poles have Swedish DNA.

I never expected to be part Italian. I call Italy my adopted home because out of the 20 countries that I have been to, Italy is where I feel most at home.

Good thing I never let my ethnicity define me!

“Surprise is the greatest gift that life can grant us.”

~ Boris Pasternak

The Disadvantages of Being Physically Fit

Social Impact

It may sound like a bit of a joke but the reality is that becoming physically fit can affect your social relationships. Fitness is not just about eating a certain way or exercising a few times each week; it demands a complete change of lifestyle. This could make it difficult for you to maintain existing relationships and to form new relationships.

Dashed Expectations

During my three year body transformation journey I looked forward to my new jacked body. After all, how many 59 year old men have abs? I’ve found that in my dating age range which is around 45 to 55, that most women are intimidated! While they might enjoy looking at a rock hard lean body, they don’t want to date one! A common feeling is that their bodies won’t measure up, that they would feel pressured to get into shape. While there are men who feel this way, I think that in this day and age that most men including your writer, do not see women as a collection of body parts but rather see women in all of their awesome entirety.

Schedule Crunch

One of the most cited reasons for not exercising is that people are already too busy. Having to carve out an extra 30 minutes to an hour for exercise could be a real challenge for many people. While it is completely possible to do so, it will require you to make some changes.

Often, though, people find they spend a lot of time doing non-essential things – like surfing social media or watching TV – that could be converted to workout time. Or, your only free time might be at a difficult point in the day like before you go to work or right after work. Either way, you will have to rearrange your schedule.

I can assure you that the advantages of being physically fit far outweigh the disadvantages of not being physically fit.

“A dream without a plan is just a wish.”

~ Katherine Paterson

Long Term Relationships

There are couples that stay together forever, that are still in love and are each other’s best friend. If life is an adventure to be shared, why is such an adventure so elusive to so many people?

That’s a question that I can’t answer. Approaching this from a man’s perspective, I can point out things that were missing in my relationships and collectively they could be the keys to a successful long term relationship.

1. Marry your best friend”, that’s the key many will say. Still it’s not without some complications. You may not be attractive to your best friend or maybe you’re afraid that if it doesn’t work out that you’ll lose your best friend. The “key” in this instance is that if you and your partner are not best friends one year into the relationship then it’s not going to work because the next “key” is dependent on you and your partner being best friends.

2. Trust, easy to say, hard to do. Trust is mutual, it’s two way or it’s not trust. Jealousy breeds from lack of trust. How do you know who has your back? Would they take care of you if you were sick? Respond in an emergency? You can’t follow someone’s advice if you don’t trust them? Could someone really be your best friend if you did not have mutual trust?

3. Financial Intimacy, bet you never heard that one. Think this works without mutual trust? Money issues drive divorce, even more so than infidelity. How can you bare your soul if you can’t bare your bank accounts, if you’re hiding spending? Why is it harder to say “ours” than it is to say “his and hers”?

These may not be the usual things mentioned in relationship seminars and I could be totally off base (after all I”m a dude) but the happiest long term couples I know, have made it big league with these “three keys”.

Time

“Ticking away the moments that make up a dull day
You fritter and waste the hours in an offhand way.
Kicking around on a piece of ground in your home town
Waiting for someone or something to show you the way.

Tired of lying in the sunshine staying home to watch the rain.
You are young and life is long and there is time to kill today.
And then one day you find ten years have got behind you.
No one told you when to run, you missed the starting gun.”

That’s the opening lyrics of “Time” by Pink Floyd. The anthem of my life so to speak.

What value can be attached to time? You can’t save it for later and time does not build up interest. Time can’t be purchased but it can be given freely, for example when someone spends time with you be aware that they are giving you something of high value.

My exhortation to you is to value every moment and take nothing for granted. The conversations, the moments of silence, the shared laughter. When you travel, try skipping the tourist sites where you’re running to and fro, a picture here and a picture there. In exchange spend time in local eateries and pubs, in vintage bookstores and shops. I guarantee that is not a waste of your time.

You are always only one decision away from a totally different life!

To Travel is to Live

With my cousin.
The Bride and Groom

This year and next year I will be having fun doing short trips, usually in conjunction with the weekend while I wait for my 30 day trip to Italy, Poland and Croatia in 2020.

As I write, I’m sitting in the San Francisco airport waiting for my flight to take me home from one of these shorter trips.

I thoroughly enjoyed myself, flying out here for a family wedding as well as making some time for myself. Yesterday I did a 90 minute hike along the beach in Pacifica, CA. Got to watch the sunset on the Pacific. Quite amazing how fast the sun disappeared once it hit the water!

“To move, to breath, to fly, to float, to gain all while you give, to roam the roads of lands remote, to travel is to live.” ~ Hans Christian Anderson