Saturday, March 17, 2018

Alone On A Saturday Thinking About Directions

Home alone on a Saturday morning, sitting on the sofa sipping coffee and reading a book about Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt, I take a short break to write some random thoughts that creep into my brain; thoughts that are interrupting my attempts to focus on the book.

Even though some details are new to me, I mostly know how the Roosevelt story ends. Obviously I don’t know how my story will end, nor can I know in advance what my life journey details will be.

I am at a crossroads that I bet many boomers reach in their 60s. The intersection seems to be in a large, open field where two highways cross, giving a person at least four directions to choose from in determining which way to proceed. Walk along a road north, south, east or west, step off the road and walk diagonally into the open field, or just stand there and contemplate the situation. That adds up to at least nine options. The picture in my head reminds me of a scene from the movie North By Northwest.

Being the over-thinker that I tend to be, I am just standing there in deep, unproductive contemplation. Being the planner that I am, I have thought through many options for my future. Being the procrastinator that I often am, I’m stuck at the crossroads, head filled with ideas, heart filled with possibilities, brain in motion, feet stuck in the middle of the crossroad.

I am also a rabid proponent of visualization. Early in my career, I pictured jobs and places; and that visualization led me to take the steps to eventually hold some very interesting jobs in very interesting cities. Visualization seems to have led my brain to take the necessary steps to reach my goals. Sometimes I planned those actions and sometimes the steps happened in the background regions of my brain.

I visualized a fun and loving relationship with a woman. I am now in one. I wasn’t looking, but that picture directed my brain to take the steps, even though I wasn’t really conscious that it was happening that way. I was just being myself, a mostly unfiltered version of the real me. Apparently that was more appealing that I had thought.

What seems to be happening now is this: I don’t have a clear picture of what I want my future to look like.  I am not always good at asking for directions. AARP says that this is the time in our life to do what we always wanted to do. Hmmm. I’ve mostly been doing what I always wanted to do for the past forty four years.

Now what? Keep doing it till the reality of my age kicks me out?  Stick with it till I burn out from the sheer quantity of what is expected of me, a quantity geared to a younger person with more natural energy?  Or do I exit to another chapter, on my terms and timetable?

I have glimpses of possible futures in my head. They look like partially developed prints from an old school photo dark room or a partially finished Polaroid picture.

I had role models in my youth, people who held the jobs or lived the life I wanted. At present, however, most people older than me are retired. They’ve planned well for retirement. I haven’t. They choose to not work. I want to work, just at a slower pace.

So here I am, sitting alone on my sofa writing about this AGAIN. Hope this repetitious theme isn’t boring you. If you’re a boomer, maybe you identify with this line of thought.

I am confident I’ll find the vision I need to pick a direction on this crossroad. I hope it won’t take a crop duster swooping down on me to kick me into the action needed to choose my next steps.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Road Trip Dreaming

“We’re going to get in our Expedition and drive north and west.”

That was the most exciting sentence between bites of veal parmigiana Saturday night as we chatted about travel and retirement with our only-a-little-older-than-us friend who now lives with his wife in an active adult community in Florida.

I visualized them driving their aptly-named vehicle north on I-95. Or maybe they’ll cruise along US 1 instead, enjoying the slower pace of the backroads. Their informal destination that week might be Maine, but they have no formal plan. They’ll drive for a few hours, stop when they see something interesting, check into a hotel or campground. At some point they’ll turn west and visit states as far west as the Dakotas, then maybe south through Utah or Arizona or wherever their whims direct them.

Their plan is to spend two months on the road. Two. Months. With no agenda other than discovery.

Back in the 1970s I had that same dream. I even bought a van with the idea of customizing it for a long road trip, maybe six months. Jack Kerouac’s beat generation meets the hippie generation.  On the road in my bright yellow van, starting east from New Orleans, in my case, then north, west, and so on.

My wanderlust was born during annual 2-week family road trips during an otherwise anchored youth. We visited neighboring Mississippi and Texas, plus Alabama, Georgia, Florida, New Mexico, Tennessee, Virginia and DC. My first solo road trip was during my first year in college.

My dream of a six month road trip was interrupted by career success, but my travel bug was ultimately fed by jobs in states as far from home as Wisconsin, Illinois and Maryland. I did drive back to New Orleans from those places often, so I found suitable substitutes, even if only for a week at a time instead of six months.

Since those early days of road trip dreaming, I've visited at least 40 of the 50 states. Some trips were on the road, some by train, some by plane.

I’m now at the peak of my career and I love my job, but I think about retirement literally every day. I don’t plan to ever completely stop working, but I still want to find a way to take that 6-month road trip. Or some long version of it. I have the perfect travel partner and she has a similar dream.

Somehow, someday, we will find the work-life balance formula that enables us to hit the road while we’re still young enough and healthy enough to enjoy the adventure. Maybe we’ll be sharing road stories and veal parmigiana with our friend and his wife in some little town in Vermont or Wyoming.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Society Questions

Were so many people always this ignorant and heartless?  Or is it just amplified by social media?

Many things triggered this question in my head the other morning, the end of the week during which 18 people were murdered in yet another school shooting; but the specific headline that got my attention was something about angry tweets directed at Lindsay Vaughn for not winning a gold medal in the olympics that day.

W T F ?!

Is all this ignorant negativity a new and growing thing? Is it Russian interference in our societal norms?  Is it because we have a rude, ignorant, heartless president?  Or are we just seeing this negativity more because it gets reported more in the news and spread more rapidly via social media?

And here I am spreading negativity too, by saying what I’m saying in this blog today?. Ugh. Next post will be more positive.

Then there’s the gun nuts dissing the protesting high school students. Rude. There are valid points if view on all sides of the gun issue, but no need for ridiculing grieving high school students who lived through and survived a senseless mass shooting. Sometimes 17-year-olds are wiser than boomers. Protesting boomers who were in high school and college at the time of their/our protests changed the world in largely positive ways. Maybe it’s happening again.

I’ve said this many times in this blog: nobody has all the answers to the difficult questions we face today. I often laugh, cry and scream simultaneously at the arguments some people make on tv and social media. Example: the jerk we’re supposed to call president rallies his vocal supporters against ‘chain migration’ when his own wife benefited from that exact practice.

Somebody please remind everybody that we are a nation of immigrants. Somebody please remember that our nation was founded on finding common ground in conflicting opinions.

I accept that some people at the ideological fringes of society have beliefs that are repulsive to me. They have the right to hold those beliefs and those ideas are fine if they don’t dominate the culture and don’t become the norm. I can’t accept that our alleged leader recklessly pushes some of those those same beliefs.

There is plenty of 50-year nostalgia this year about 1968. That was a scary and pivotal year. Assassinations of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr and Robert Kennedy; race riots, anti Vietnam war protests, many on college campuses. Ideological clashes between generations dominated the society conversation. It felt like the country was coming apart at the seams. The parallels between 1968 and 2018 are scary. We survived 1968. But the debates of 2018 are not only on tv like back then, but also on thousands of social media outlets. The nightly news coverage on three networks and a few dozen print outlets has been eclipsed by ‘opinion-as-fact’ on thousands of outlets in the palms of our hands.  Separation of fake from real, myth from reality, opinion from fact is harder than ever to discern and in our short attention span society we have less time and interest in intelligent separation of those contradictory positions.

These are important questions with complex answers. My question: how will we survive this?

Thursday, February 22, 2018

It Takes A Village and a Birthday

Do you ever see yourself as the person you were in your youth, with the same personality and self-worth beliefs you had as a child or a teen?  Then even when faced with evidence that you’re a much different person as an older adult, you sometimes are still surprised when others see you as the you of today while you think you might not be that you. 

I do. I was a shy kid with few close friends. I was a bit of a loner too. I was ok with all of that.

The irony here is that I chose radio as a career. I’ve been in radio most of the past 44 years. I’m not particularly shy anymore and I love being around people. I have many friends but only a handful of truly close friends; and most of those close friends have been friends for decades.

My birthday was last month and I was pleasantly surprised at how many people acknowledged it. Actually, I’m surprised by how many Facebook friends I have. Ok, FB friends aren’t always close friends, but I’m proud to say I know or know of all 400+ of them. I don’t accept FB requests from people I don’t know or have at least some connection to.

I’m touched that I received more than 100 ‘happy birthday’ acknowledgements on FB. I also received a dozen texts, emails and phone calls. Ten coworkers surprised me with a Happy Birthday serenade in my office (and ice cream cake).

Bar friends knew it was my birthday when I dropped by for a nightcap. One I barely know bought me a drink and the owner gave me a glass of wine or two.

I felt very loved as I wrote this paragraph (back on my birthday). I know people like me but this outpouring is very special. Sometimes when I’m jealous of friends who have many close friends, I need to remember how I felt that day. Even though these hundred are not all at the level of friend I could call at 3:00 AM with a problem, many of these people are probably closer than I give credit for.

My first birthday greeting came via email from Hawaii. That person has been a close friend for 44 years. My second came from a nearly 10-year friend in North Carolina. Another text came from a friend of 35 years who lives in Colorado. That afternoon I got a birthday text from a Louisiana friend of 50 years and an email from another Louisiana friend of 52 years.

The point is this: I am blessed. I have friends of various degrees and so many of them took a few moments to send a greeting. The cumulative effect is amazing. That’s my village, my tribe. They connect the dots from the person I was at past points in my life to the person I am now. Life is good.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Crazy Sh*t

At 9:15 one recent morning, while sitting on the toilet (where writing ideas seem to pop out), I silently and reluctantly admitted to myself that in some ways I’m tired of my job. I love my job, but I’m burned out on the quantity and constantly frustrated by the multi-person scrutiny of much of what I do.

Problem: I’m not in a position financially to leave this job. Psychologically too, because some of my ego and identity is tangled up with career.

However, like I mentioned, I love my job. That definitely complicates this line of thinking.

I’m at the top of my game. I get regular praise for some parts of my work and my confidence level is pretty high. I know my weaknesses as well as my strengths and I rarely assume I know it all. I’m always ready to learn new things and I’m fairly open to change.

Hooray for me.

The search for purpose and meaning in life is a common characteristic of boomers. Many of us hit our ‘coming if age’ point back during the ‘age of Aquarius’. Idealism, dreaming the impossible dreams and expecting to live those dreams were often part of our sociological DNA.

Boomers were often ambitious dreamers who thought up some crazy shit, then made it happen. I’m writing this essay on my phone. Go back in time to 1968 and tell somebody you’re writing an essay on a phone and they’ll say you’re crazy.

So every day at work I willingly and happily write scripts that showcase the excitement of being in a crowd at a Luke Bryan or Keith Urban concert, obsess over which song clips in my promo commercial will motivate fans to spend crazy amounts of money to be in that crowd and second-guess myself as I edit those things together in a way that will lead the listener to keep listening to my radio station for a chance to win free tickets to those shows and meet the singers.

I high-five myself when one of those promos sounds great and I thank God that I actually get paid to do this stuff. Then sometimes I wonder what propose or meaning there is in making the perfect edit between “Crash My Party” and “That’s My Kind Of Night”.

I’m happy if I can successfully create that audio image and I try to visualize the joy on a fan’s face as they meet Keith or Luke.  I try to remember that one perk of my job is that I have met Keith and Luke. And Brad, Toby, Blake, Miranda, Jason.

So why am I whining about my job?  It’s an awesome job and I’m lucky to have it. But is there propose or meaning in it? There are people in my county and country experiencing homelessness, domestic abuse, gun violence, cancer. Am I helping them by obsessing over audio edits for 40, 50, 60 hours a week?

Is there a better, more meaningful way to spend my time?  Have I earned the right to retire? Can I live on part time pay? Am I not realizing that making those audio pieces might actually be improving somebody’s life, maybe entertaining them a little, giving them hope that they might get to go to a concert that they otherwise couldn’t afford to go to?

This is some crazy shit to think about. The setting that started this line of thought that day is nuts too. 

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Boomer Bucket List

Have you ever made a bucket list? The concept is to make a list of things you want to do before you “kick the bucket” (die).

Most bucket lists seem to include crazy, once-in-a-lifetime activities that people keep putting off because daily life gets in the way. Skydiving seems to be on many lists; NOT on mine, by the way.

As we get past 50 years old, we can psychologically see the end. We’re at the 50-yard line and see the end zone. We see a light at the end of the tunnel (and hope it isn’t a train). Ok, no more analogies.

Time takes forever as a teen, but speeds along as an older boomer. We are running out of time to do those things we put off doing.

I’ve been very fortunate to have already done many things that might otherwise be on my bucket list. A partial list: see an Atlantic Ocean sunrise (many times), a Pacific Ocean sunset (once), swim in the Gulf of Mexico, photograph a moonrise, see the Grand Canyon, catch the view from the top of the Empire State Building and the Sears Tower, fly in a hot air balloon and a helicopter.

A career bucket list item from my youth was to host a nighttime music and entertainment radio show heard in many states. I did one better: hosted a show heard in 50 countries.

I’ve lived in many cities, owned several interesting cars, loved some unique women, held a variety of jobs, met many famous people.

Any time I think my life has been boring, I try to remember that despite my relatively calm, reserved personality, I’ve had a pretty exciting life, so far.

I truly believe there is more to come. There are things I still want to do, personally and professionally. I do have a bucket list. My challenge is overcoming some complacency - ok, more accurately, some laziness.

One of my favorite movie lines is: “get busy living or get busy dying.”  Maybe that should be my mantra for this year. Yours too, if you think along these lines.

Some random items on my latest bucket list:  learn Italian, visit Italy, revisit the Grand Canyon, host a tv show, publish a book, interview an astronaut, witness a rocket launch, take a cross-country train trip, meet Garth Brooks and tell him how his music helped change my career, marry again but get it right this time, take a month-long cross-country road trip, turn this blog into a podcast.

Every one of those things is challenging yet possible. I could probably dream a lot bigger but I don’t have to. It’s my list.

What’s on yours?

That’s all for today. Time to get busy!

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Doctor Visits

If you’re a baby boomer, you probably already know that you’ll be seeing the doctor more often now than you did in your 20s and 30s. Ten years ago, I had one doctor and a dentist. Now, at a little past 60, I have at least six doctors and a dentist.

Sometimes I laugh internally as I enter the waiting room for some of my doctor visits because I am often the youngest one there. A little mental giggle almost surfaces as I observe a row or two of gray-haired patients with their canes. I say ‘almost’ because I also walk with cane, because of MS, and my hair would also be gray if I didn’t color it monthly.

I accept my evolving medical status but I still struggle to accept my senior status. Except for living with a relatively mild form of multiple sclerosis, I am in pretty good health. However that does not really reduce a nagging fear of what the future holds. Will my health deteriorate? Will the MS get worse? Can I ever retire? If I retire from full time work, what will I do for part time work?

This line of thought was triggered by a visit to my urologist recently. There were six gray-haired men in the waiting room, three accompanied by wives and two walking with canes. Key words in my doctor conversation were prostate, pee, bend over, viagra, come back in six months. Geez.

Two of my various doctors are around my age and they have empathy and humor. That’s the good part. The not-so-good part is that they’ll probably retire in the next few years and I’ll have to start over with other doctors, some of whom might not understand first hand the psychological aspects of accepting aging.

I whine about this stuff, but I am grateful that my health, social support network and insurance are all good. I live within a fifteen-minute drive of all but one of my doctors and the two health groups that my docs belong to are among the best on the east coast.

Optimism and balance are my main guides for the future. It would be great if aging was more simple but I know it isn’t. I’ll just deal with it. Life is good.

Monday, January 29, 2018

A Recent Sunday

Sunday morning. Ham and egg sandwich and coffee at Panera. A small ‘to do’ list but no timeline. Me and the love of my life sitting across from each other sharing laughs and dreams.

What would it be like to recreate this scene every day and not just on Sunday?  Especially the ‘no timeline’ part. That’s one of the pictures in my head when we dream of retirement.

We are not the ‘sit on front porch rockers’ types; we want do some kind of work for as long as we can. Part time work. Escape from the rat race work. Meaningful work.

Sunday is my recharge day and has been for decades. A relaxing day creates a mental environment perfect for dreaming; perfect for erasing the busyness of the preceding week and designing a potentially exciting coming week.

Conversation, reading, listening to music, running a few errands, sipping wine. Hanging with friends. Laughing. Dreaming. The perfect Sunday.

I want more of those.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018


A sampling of quotes from an American hero:

“The ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad people but the silence over that by the good people."

“Only in the darkness can you see the stars.”

“The time is always right to do what is right.”

"Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.”

- Martin Luther King Jr. 

Monday, January 15, 2018


A warm, but bulky coat. Gloves. A wool hat. DataWatch card on a lanyard. Office door keys. Laptop backpack. A Baja Fresh bag with a chicken rice bowl. A grande Pike Place blend cup of Starbucks coffee. A walking stick.

That’s what I wore and retrieved from my car in the parking lot at work late one recent morning. It was 11 degrees outside, 43 in the parking lot.

Many people I know think I have a lot of patience, that I’m calm under pressure and that I don’t get angry very often. My take? I have plenty of ‘acceptance’; but the older I get, the less patience I have. And the more often I am angry.

Maybe ‘patience’ should be my keyword for 2018. That would be a worthy goal.

A moment before I struggled to exit my car, strap on all my crap and head for the elevator, I told myself I should take my time and accept that it’s cold, I have several items to take up to my office and I’m a 60-something man who walks with a walking stick because I have MS. I can’t change the weather, can’t change the fact that I was hungry enough for lunch and currently can’t change my walking difficulty.

I CAN change my reaction to those things. I can have patience and accept them, take my time and just deal with them.

The reason I was just getting to my office at noon was that I had accompanied the love of my life to a doctor appointment during which she and I learned about treatment options for her recently-diagnosed breast cancer.

My gf has effing breast cancer and I’m going to whine because I’m wearing a bulky coat and walk with a limp?!  No.


My MS is annoying and I sometimes feel lost as I deal with that and aging. Sometimes I am angry because of limitations due to age and MS. But my MS is nothing compared with most people living with it. It’s just annoying. And everybody ages.

Breast cancer is a serious matter. The good news about hers is that it’s the most easily treatable kind and the designation is ‘stage 0’. In other words, it’s more annoying than anything else and the survival rate is 98%.

She refers to it as a bump in the road.

She and I give each other emotional strength and we found each other at just the right time in our lives. Our regular advice to each other during difficult times is: take deep breaths.

Deep breaths equal patience. Taking a few slow, deep breaths leads to a slowing down of the crazy activity or thoughts that are stressing us at any given moment. A deep breath allows us to stop and think, to regroup momentarily, to consider options for how to react to a situation.

Exercising some patience produces the same results.

I’ll contemplate this a little more before declaring a decision, but at this moment ‘patience’ is the leading contender for my keyword of the year. Patience seems to be a worthy and significant goal for the new year.