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Showing posts from May, 2017

The Portland Dilemma: How Would I React?

A few days ago two men were stabbed to death and another barely escaped the same fate on a light rail train in Portland. Their crime? Trying to stop a man from verbally harassing two young women with his anti-Muslim ravings. 

The deaths of the two men and the injuries suffered by the third are horrific reminders of the rage and anger that is both too visible and commonplace. Was this racist hate and religious stereotyping always there? Sure. But, now, it seems there is real danger that can instantly erupt with fatal consequences seemingly anywhere. 

For several days after the attacks I struggled with the question: What would I have done? Would I have stepped in or waited for someone else? Would I have dialed 911 or hit the emergency stop button to attract official attention? Would I have assumed that his hate would stay verbal and not escalate into physical danger for the young women? Would I have risked my life?

These questions prompted me to think about personal risk and public involve…

The 5 Skills Grandparents Need: Part Two

A week or so ago, 5 Skills Every Grandparent Needs listed two of the most important qualities you need if you are blessed with grandkids.  I made the point that how we raised our own kids is not always the best model for dealing with our child's child. A different skill set is often needed. 

Here is part two of that post, with the three additional attributes I suggest you have at your disposal. As always, I know this list isn't complete. If you are raising a grandchild, the five skills noted in this and the earlier post need to be expanded one hundred fold. You are a parent who also must bring some of the unconditional love of a grandparent to the child's life.  Or, you may live hundreds or thousands of miles away, making each visit that much more precious. 

I know from my own experiences that these five traits are vital. As always. you are encouraged to add something you have found to be very important in the life of a child.

1) Create Memories.   In a world of video games, …

Retirement and Insurance: Do We Need It?

When I retire do I need insurance is a question that I am asked with some regularity.  Well, that should be simple. You have retired. Your need for anything other than Medicare, auto, home or other health insurance is over, right?

Not so fast. 

There are at least five different insurance products that may be important to your retirement financial planning. Let's take a look at each one:

Medicare Supplemental InsuranceMedicare is a tremendous health insurance program for those 65 and older.  It is a blessing after years of dealing with the complicated mess that is the American health insurance system. Even so, you must be aware that Medicare does not cover some important expenses. The Original version usually covers only 80% of your expenses. While that seems quite generous, an expensive hospital stay or operation could means you are responsible for thousands, or even tens of thousands of dollars in costs. Medicare does not pay for most drugs. It doesn't cover long term care. 
To h…

5 Skills Every Grandparent Needs: Part One

There are an estimated 70 million Americans who claim the title of "grandparent." For those of us lucky enough to have our lives blessed with grandkids, skills that are needed may seem rather obvious. After all, we raised at least one child to have a grandchild (basic biology). So, what skills might we have missed in the Grandparents Handbook?

It is not so much that certain skills are missing, but how they are used. The way we raised our own kids is not always the best model for dealing with our child's child. I have picked five that have the ability to make this experience a joy instead of a trial. Of course, there are probably another dozen (or more) skills that could be added to the list, but I had to draw the line somewhere!

This is part one of the "skills" post. To keep things from getting too long-winded, here are the first two skills. I believe these to be the most important. In a week I'll round out the project with the final three skills.  

1) You are…

A Late Night Knock

"The knocking on the heavy, gray, wooden door was insistent even though it was well after hours, long after anyone should expect an answer at this address. Except for one rather forlorn street light a block away and a dim bulb by the outside entrance, this corner of the city was growing dark and deserted. Deserted, with the exception of whoever was knocking.

In a small room, with blaring music and soundproof glass, the resolute pounding would never be heard. The outside world didn’t exit. Here was equipment, small, scratched, vinyl records in organized stacks, a dangling microphone, walls covered with faded photos and posters of musicians, some important, some not. Every few minutes a switch was thrown and a voice spoke a few words heard by hundreds or maybe thousands of invisible ears. Only the non-stop blinking buttons on the battered, black, desk phone and the glow of various lights and switches assured the voice that what he was saying was not going unnoticed.

Eventually, the p…

Is That All There Is?

If the title reminds you of a song by Peggy Lee, you are definitely a boomer retiree. In a rather bleak view of life, the lyrics suggest that if this is as good as it is going to get then let's dance and party before the final disappointment of death. During a time of upheavals in the late 1960s, this was a top 15 hit for Ms. Lee. 

Why such a bleak title and introduction to this post? Take comfort, dear reader, the song's mood is not reflective of mine. I am not in the throes of despair. I do receive emails on a rather regular basis, however, that express at least some of this feeling about retirement.  There are three primary concerns: What did I do? I loved my job, I will run out of money, or my spouse is driving me crazy.

I certainly understand these concerns. I flirted with similar ones after leaving the workforce 16 years ago. I didn't think I was ready financially, emotionally, or socially...pretty much a clean sweep of feeling unprepared. Eventually, everything sorted…

A Force That Powers the World

Most of us are junkies for this. We thrive on at least one fix a day to stay happy. We have had this need since we were toddlers. We are junkies for it. We like being told good things about who we are. We need the strokes. 

We need to be told someone else cares, or noticed us. This force is the power of affirmation. Receiving it from others feels good. It validates much of what we do. The word, affirmation, means to state that something is true. In this context it means to praise someone for something. It tells you someone else noticed something positive they want to bring to your attention. 

Affirmation fulfills our basic need to feel relevant, useful, and needed. So, if this is a deep seated need we all have then why is it too rare in most of our lives, most of the time? Good question. I've given this topic some extra thought since my small group from our church had a lively discussion on the subject. All of us admitted we are quick to receive compliments, but much slower to hand …

5 Things We Can Stop Worrying About

Have you ever seen the movie, The Curious Case  of Benjamin Button? The lead character, played by Brad Pitt, gets physically younger while the rest of the world ages. Eventually, it does not turn out well for him. He dies as an infant but with old age dementia. 

In real life, there are actually some advantages to getting physically older, which is good since we don't have much choice. Here are five that came to mind:

1). We don't care nearly as much about how we look in a bathing suit (or birthday suit). When we were younger, the effort expended to drop some weight before summer began was a common occurrence. Time spent jogging or at the gym become a fixed part of our schedule. Looking younger than our years was important. Face creams and lotions are a multi-billion dollar business. 

While the health aspects of staying in shape remain important until we shuffle off our mortal coils, the reason changes. We are more concerned with our interior health than our exterior appearance.


A Financial Safety Net for Retirement

Having a Satisfying Retirement without a budget is pretty much like jumping off a cliff without a parachute. You may survive but I wouldn't recommend it. I believe quite strongly that a budget is absolutely essential to a financially secure retirement lifestyle.

Whether you are already fully retired, working part time, or still a few years away from leaving your job, it is never too early to build a retirement budget. You may hate the idea of keeping track of what you spend. You may think you know what you income and outgo are. But until you put in on paper (or in a software program) you are playing with fire.

So, what goes into a budget? How different is a retirement budget? Are there categories that were important when you worked full time that can be dropped when you are retired? How do you plan for retirement?

To give you some idea what might belong in your post-work budget, I will use mine as a sample. Since your situation is likely to be different please just use this as a star…

Letting Go: How Do You Know When It's Time?

A few weeks ago comments left on the post, Saying Goodbye to The RV Lifestyle, prompted me to write this one. The questions centered on knowing when it is time to let go of something in one's life, when an attachment to something should be severed. When do we know it is time to let go of whatever it is that may be holding us back? I thought those were very important queries to think about and worthy of some discussion.

We are creatures of habit. Most of us are happy when our world is settled, and predictable. This doesn't mean we aren't active and involved, rather we have some anchors in our existence that are comforting. I would suggest that even those who travel a lot each year still need the security of a home base, a familiar place where they can refresh and recoup. 

But, when is it time to let go of a part of our life that has been dependable up to now? How do we know when it is time to cut the cord and move part of our life in a different direction? See if you agree wi…