I started The Retirement Whisperer blog to explore what retirement means to people of my generation, to get myself ready for this step—only a few years away now—and to pass on to others what I learn along the way. (That’s why it’s a blog instead of a diary!) I kicked off my website and Facebook page in January with a post titled “Retirement Reflections #1 – Transitions.” Since then I have posted twice each week—a long post on Sundays and a shorter series of “Tuesday Tips” on, you guessed it, Tuesdays. I work full-time, so writing and posting to my blog is sometimes a bit of a scramble. To gain a little perspective I intend, at the beginning of each calendar quarter, to step back and reflect on how I’m progressing on my journey. This may seem self-indulgent, but I hope I’ve been clear that the purpose of this website is both to furnish practical inspiration and to inspire. If I can inspire you to reflect on your journey by talking about my own, that’s a good thing.
(Before I talk about my own progress, I’ll mention the blog post from the last three months I’m most proud of, and that’s a report on how the Men’s Sheds movement is growing in the United States. This concept, born in Australia in the 1980s and growing like mad in Great Britain and Ireland, is a remarkable social and civic innovation that I predict will become huge in the United States over the next decade while positively impacting the lives of thousands of American men—and women, too).
In a February post titled “What is ‘successful retirement’?” I proposed keeping five dimensions in mind as we answer this question and design our own retirement plans. Here’s an “audit” of how I’m doing on each of these dimensions:
I’ve been a runner for 45 years and along the way have run two marathons, a bunch of half-marathons, and more 5-milers and 5Ks than I count. I’m 20 pounds below the Clydesdale class, but I’m definitely a plodder, and the extra weight I carry may finally have caught up with me. Early this year I began experiencing a lot of knee pain and, in February, gave up running and began a weekly schedule that includes two long walks, two sessions on the elliptical trainer at the gym, and one session on the rowing machine. My knees feel a whole lot better and I have to admit I don’t miss running—walking satisfies my urge to get out and see what’s happening on the streets and in the woods near my home. I also lift weights three times a week and, inspired by Olympic figure skater Adam Rippon’s regimen, I’ve been giving more focused (and badly needed) attention to my abs. On the diet side, I’ve been inspired by a book I’m reading called “The Longevity Code.” I’ll share what I’ve learned from that book in a book review and other posts later this month and quarter.
I already know this is the area I’ll have to work hardest on in retirement. So, dear reader, I’m committing here and now to organizing a guy’s book club within the next three months. (I’ll report here how it goes!) On the plus side, I get together with a couple of different friends once a month or so for coffee, one of whom I’ve known since middle school. Just a few weeks ago he and I had lunch with another friend of ours from out of state we hadn’t seen in nearly 50 years. Facebook is under attack right now, but I can tell you this: if it wasn’t for Facebook I probably wouldn’t be in contact now with that old friend, and this reunion wouldn’t have been possible. But something even better topped that experience. I’m married to the warmest and loveliest person I’ve ever met, and the “social” highlight of the last three months was celebrating our 20th wedding anniversary with a romantic weekend away and gourmet dinner.
I love the steep, early part of a learning curve, and starting a blog has been both stimulating and, at times, frustrating. I use WordPress for this website. It’s intuitive enough that anyone can use it, but it’s also as complex and sophisticated as you want to make it. I know I’ve still got a lot to learn, that I’ve just scratched the surface of what’s possible. While going beyond the basics can be technically puzzling, it’s been a lot of fun and I’m committed to learning more about WordPress and making at least one significant technical enhancement to the site each quarter.
When I wrote my book “Master Class: Living Longer, Stronger, and Happier” and the manuscript deadline loomed, I adopted a writing schedule that included several mornings each week and a full day each weekend. Keeping to a regular schedule of blog posts for The Retirement Whisperer has taken me back to that time and has been a good reminder that the creative live isn’t about waiting for inspiration! If you have a creative outlet in your life, or want one, it’s something to keep in mind. Whether your art is painting, quilting or writing, just do it! Self-discipline is actually what drives inspiration, and I’ve enjoyed getting back into the creative rhythm in the last three months.
When I launched The Retirement Whisperer I vowed not to avoid that subject-some-of-us-would rather-not-talk-about, the other end of retirement. Looking back at the last several months it has, unfortunately, been a promise all to easy to keep. The mother of a work colleague died after a long illness and, this weekend, my wife is out of town for her aunt’s memorial service. But this wasn’t the worst of it. Just a month ago my wife’s 44-year-old cousin died suddenly and unexpectedly. An emotionally wrenching yet inspiring funeral followed; hundreds of people attended and this young man was eulogized as “everyone’s best friend.” For someone like me, who can all too easily withdraw into an interior life, it was an important and timely reminder of the importance of making connections and simple acts of human kindness.
So, where to next with The Retirement Whisperer? Here’s what’s brewing:
- More interviews and reporting (like the Men’s Sheds post) from the innovative frontiers of retirement. Look for a report on the “aging in place” movement and other topics in the next few months.
- More practical information about getting started on specific pastimes or hobbies you might be interested in taking up in retirement. Look for the first “5 Keys to… “ post before the end of April.
- I’ve been reading a lot about dietary science and I’m working on a blog post tentatively called “10 Miracle Foods for Retirement.” I may even try to eat only those 10 foods for a full month and see what happens!
- And, or course, more book reviews, more news from academic research, more Tuesday Tips and, three months from now, more Retirement Reflections!
Is there a specific topic you would like The Retirement Whisperer to research and write about?