Friday, February 16, 2018

The Educated Retiree

     Last year B and I took part in a series of discussions offered by the Foreign Policy Association called "Great Decisions." The eight-week program was offered at the senior center where we were living at the time, in Connecticut, and also where we were vacationing at the time, in Charleston, SC. So while we were away from home, instead of missing some sessions, we caught up with them in South Carolina.

     So this year, when we moved to Pennsylvania, we looked for a place where they offered the course. We didn't find anything near where we lived, so we approached our local Center for Learning in Retirement and . . . long story short, we will be moderating the course this spring at home, starting in March.

     In preparation for that, we are attending the sessions which have already started in Charleston. So far we've learned about Russia and China, and yesterday we talked about Turkey.

     The Great Decisions program is offered every year, all over the country, typically in a local library or senior center, or the community college. I'd encourage anyone who's interested in foreign policy, or learning a bit more about the world, to look into the program in their area.

     As you know, I'm all in favor of using retirement to enrich our lives and advance our education. So I wrote a piece for US News called 4 Ways to Further Your Education in Retirement. Here's how it begins; go check it out if you're interested.

     A couple of years ago I visited my sister in Jacksonville, Florida, as part of my annual snowbird trip. When I arrived she told me she and her husband would be busy one night. They were taking a course called "The 1960s and Vietnam" at the University of North Florida. She went on to explain that the university has a program allowing Florida residents, age 60 and above, to audit regular undergraduate courses with tuition waived.
     I asked to come along. So one weeknight in February we joined 20 or so undergraduates, along with half a dozen retirees, to listen to a lecture and participate in a class discussion about the Kennedys, the Johnsons and the Vietnam War. The 20-year-old students got first-hand reports about the 1960s from people who lived through the events. Two of the retirees in the class were Vietnam veterans who related personal observations about the conflict.

     There are many learning opportunities available to retirees for free or at a low cost. And there’s a bonus: You not only learn something, you also have the chance to socialize with other people who have similar interests. Here are four ways to further your education in retirement . . . 


Saturday, February 10, 2018

Sightings of Charleston

     I signed up for another photography class at our Center for Learning in Retirement, at home in Pennsylvania. Like the course I took last fall, the class culminates with each student presenting a portfolio of pictures centered on a particular theme.

     Since I'm in South Carolina, and not in Pennsylvania, I picked for my theme: historical Charleston.

     So here's a preview of the photos I've been taking. Of course, I'll be taking more, and culling trough them to choose the best, but this is my first effort. Any feedback you can give me -- photos you especially like, or ones you think are boring or cliches -- would be much appreciated and help me put this all together.

     We'll start out with a picture of East Bay Street, showing the elegant houses along Charleston harbor.

     And then a view across the harbor, out to Fort Sumter, where the first shots of the Civil War were fired.

     This is a view of the First Presbyterian Church of Charleston . . . with three doors, perhaps symbolizing the holy trinity?

     And here's a view down Broad St., a main thoroughfare in Charleston, taken from the Old Exchange Building, once a slave market and prison. Notice the British flag (Charleston was named after King Charles) and the American flag with 13 stars.

     So the theme is Charleston history. Two signers of the Declaration of Independence are buried in this churchyard: South Carolina governor John Rutledge (1739 - 1800), who was rejected as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and tried to commit suicide by jumping off a wharf into Charleston harbor, and another South Carolina governor Charles Pickney (1746 - 1825) who went on to become a U. S. Senator. But I was more interested in this grave, of Margaret Charlotte Elford, 1817 - 1860. The inscription says . . .

Leaving a husband with seven young children to lament their irreparable loss
She was
In childhood obedient
In wedlock virtuous
In prosperity humble
In adversity resigned
In sickness patient
In death happy

     And here's another photo from the graveyard which I thought was interesting simply because there's a daffodil blooming, in early February!

     This rather abstract photo shows the buried-and-recovered city wall from the 1700s, visible along the top of the picture.

     And this abstract photo is a close-up of a sweetgrass basket, traditional work from the local Gullah culture, still handmade and then sold on Charleston's city streets.

     And finally, two photos showing typical, traditional Charleston features. A gated private garden . . . 

     And the side porch of a house, with the front door leading not into the house, but onto the porch -- all designed to let the sea breezes through to cool off the home.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Sunset in South Carolina

      I have drifted north from Florida to South Carolina, where a few days ago I met up with B. The weather is sunny and in the 60s.

     I finished the project I was working on, and so now I'm back to being retired. And back to blogging. Congrats to Bob Lowry who, I saw, had a piece of his called "What Factor Determines the Success of Your Satisfying Retirement" picked up by the Olderhood website. How can you not want to click over to Olderhood and find out what it is?

     Which reminds me . . . don't forget that I have a list of "More Resources" way down at the bottom of my blog, referencing lots of other sites that might be helpful to us in retirement. Check it out . . . or really, check it out periodically to see what's going on elsewhere in the world of retirement.

     So anyway, last evening B and I together walked out to the pier and watched the sunset.

     This is the view at 5:57 p.m. yesterday, looking east.

     And this is from the same spot, also at 5:57 p.m., looking west.

          As Bob Lowry reminds us, none of us will ever have a problem-free retirement. But may we all have a happy and peaceful retirement.

Monday, January 29, 2018

Pobody's Nerfect

      The theme that resonates with me this week from our Baby Boomer bloggers is self-examination. We are all human, we all make mistakes. We procrastinate and rationalize our behavior and blame others for our own shortcomings. We all have our own biases, and look for information that supports our own view, but have a blind spot when it comes to seeing the world from someone else's perspective.

     Here's one silly-but-true example. I came to Florida for my winter break. Duh . . . where else would you go?

     Well, Meryl Baer went to New York City.

     As she recounts in her post Winter Escape to the Big Apple, she walked, she ate, she saw Broadway shows, toured a museum, window shopped, and spent too much money (hey, that's something we have in common!). So visit her post for the New York experience, without the New York prices, and then after taking a center row seat at Come From Away Mesmerizes you might think . . . yeah, New York is the perfect place to go in January!

     On a more serious note, do you have a dream or goal but just keep procrastinating and putting it off? This week Sue from Sizzling Towards 60 & Beyond, challenges us in Don't Keep Saying One day -- Make It Happen to stop waiting and substitute "one day" and "if only" with "I can" and "I will."

     Meanwhile, many Boomers are saddened by the lack of civility in our world today. So much for the peace and love we'd all once hoped for, says Carol Cassara of A Healing Spirit. She suggests that consciously Seeing with the Eyes of the Soul can allow us to look past our differences and our "stories" and find at least a sliver of common ground.

     She also recognizes that by the time we reach midlife, we begin to see that mistakes are really opportunities for learning. Most of us Boomers have been around long enough to know this only too well. So now Carol is celebrating mistakes on her post Mistakes Are the Portals of Discovery and she's collecting people's comments on mistakes they have made that turned into important life lessons.

     Over on Unfold and Begin, Jennifer Koshak provides encouragement to people who want to or need to start over, people who may now have an empty nest, who have lost a job, who just want a change. In What She Did After a Layoff Jennifer interviews a woman who was laid off from Head Start and finds out how she dealt with the emotional impact and found the motivation to move forward.

     Meanwhile, Rebecca Olkowski from BabyBoomster went to the 2018 Women's March in Los Angeles. She offers her perspective on the march -- what and who she saw, and how others may have misconceptions about it.

     And Rita Robison, consumer journalist, writes on The Survive and Thrive Boomer Guide about the "foxes guarding the henhouse" as Trump Chooses Former Pharmaceutical Company CEO to Head HHS.

     But perhaps Kathy Gottberg has the solution, or at least an approach we can all learn from. It's a common practice, she says, for lifelong learners to pick one word to focus on as an intention for the new year. Now in My Word for 2018 she has picked her word -- and explains why it is important and relevant to her life, and maybe yours.

     So what is your word? Action? Healing? Civility? Understanding? Opportunity?

     I hope it's not: Flu. We've all heard about the severe flu season this year. Well, apparently it's hit Colorado along with, probably, 49 other states. So Laura Lee reports from her sick bed: Boomer Flu Is Virulent and Deadly. Don't worry, you can safely read her blog without being exposed to the virus. And we can all find common cause in wishing her well, and a speedy recovery.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Nostalgia -- When Is Enough Enough?

     I'm on my annual Snowbird trip to Florida -- I've been to Florida almost every winter since 1972, the year I came with my fiance to visit her mother for a brief Christmas holiday. Only now, being retired, I'll spend three weeks in Florida. And with B's son living in Charleston, SC, I will follow my three weeks in Florida with another month in South Carolina. Or, as my sister who lives in Jacksonville calls Charleston . . . the North.

     I think I know why I like to visit Florida, for the warm January sun, the sea breezes, the swaying palm trees. But now I think I know why I wouldn't want to live here.

     It all comes down to the entertainment.

     I admit, I occasionally like to listen to music from the '50 and '60s and '70s.  B and I go dancing about once a month, and the music often comes from the 1940s (Fox Trot) or 1950s (Swing). B dragged me to see Mamma Mia! a few years ago and I enjoyed the music and the dancing. (I did not go back with her when she went with a friend to the Mamma Mia! sing-along.) Now there's a sequel coming out Mamma Mia -- Here We Go Again! She'll probably want to go to that one as well, and I will probably go with her.

     A couple of years ago I also went to a performance of "Lennon Reimagined" by The Nutopians, a relatively small-time engagement held at a local venue in suburban New York. I enjoyed it a lot.

     But at some point, isn't enough enough? Looking around for something to do here in Florida, I couldn't help but notice the entertainment offerings advertised in the local newspaper. Here's what's coming up for the next week or so in the Sarasota area:

     The Doo Wop Project -- five guys singing harmonies from the street corner
     Paul Anka -- not a cover band; the real thing
     Cabaret -- a remake of the '60s musical
     In the Mood -- a 1940s musical revue
     Michael Feinstein -- celebrating Sinatra, Dean Martin and others
     Creedance Clearwater Revisited
     The Vogues -- remember them? "You're the One," "Five O'Clock World"
     The Shake, Rattle and Soul Fest -- featuring an Elvis tribute band
     Jimmy Buffett tribute
     Stayin' Alive -- tribute to the Bee Gees
     Morrison and Joplin Review
     Born to Be Wild Party -- featuring a Rolling Stones tribute
     Barry Manilow -- again, the real thing, straight from the 1970s
     Paisley Craze -- The ultimate '60s party band
     Tapestry -- a tribute to Carole King
     Scarborough Fair -- a Simon & Garfunkel experience

     I mean, did they miss anybody? Like I say, I like nostalgia as much as the next person. But I wouldn't want to be steeped in it, like they are in Florida, week after week, month after month, for the rest of my life, to the exclusion of everything else in the world.

     I don't mean to be anti-Florida. I'm not. After all, I come here every year. I just think there's something to be said for living in the real world, and not cordoning yourself off into the retirement world . . . at least not full time.

     That being said, here's a John Lennon mashup that I like, just two old guys singing their hearts out . . .