four Steps to a thriving retirement

Hats the new owner gave us to combat the intense sun.

“Someone is sitting  in the shade today, because someone planted a tree along time ago.” (Warren Buffet). Now you have time and the World is your Oyster! But you won’t know it at first. In the beginning, retirement can be difficult as you step into the new you. It takes time to shape who you will be next. My advice, step in and out of many doors.  I was eager to start a blog named www.lifewithlarry.org to share  what I have learned over the years and my life experiences with my husband, Larry.  As a mother of three, and grandmother of five and as a former high school teacher, I gained wisdom about how to live a fruitful life.  Being a mentor to the next generation and using my talents and skills have been a priority. Now is the time to spend time with grandchildren if you have them or help children in your neighborhood. Of course, if funds allow, travel. I have reconnected with many through Facebook and have visited them personally. While I was still teaching, we connected with Vantage Financial in Arlington Heights, Tom Vislisel, who helped us with a financial plan for our future. It has worked very well for us in our retirement.

Now I have the gift of time. Time to develop interests and talents. I love waking up to the sound of birds and being able to have a second cup of coffee. I live by the PSSS acronym.  To be fulfilled, it is important to cover the following facets of your life: Physical, Social, Service, and Spiritual.

Physical/ I love the outdoors so hiking, biking, and skiing are some of my passions. I joined a health club to be able to use weights and as an avenue to meet new friends I have friends now from Brazil, Peru, Ecuador, and Mexico. They teach me Spanish and I help them with their English.

National Lake Shore

Social/ I started a book club. We meet once a month at Panera. There are 7 of us and we have bonded through our love for books and nature. We have gotten to know each other well. Each summer, we go to a WI summer home for two days and hike, bike, kayak, play tennis and discuss our books. I also joined Toastmasters both for social and intellectual enrichment. It’s important to get out of your comfort zone and try new things. Never, say I can’t. I keep my connections with teachers and friends by getting together for coffee. We open our home by having potluck dinners with themes like Italian or Mexican Night. I am both an extrovert and an introvert. I love being with people and I try to look at each one as I would an interesting book. What story do these individual have to tell me? How can I learn and grow as a human being? Yet, I need time to steal away and read a book, write and play my piano.

Service/ Finding My Passion through Volunteering My first serve was with Habitat for Humanity to help build homes after Karina. It took me 12 times to pound a nail into a wall. But in time, I got better. Then I took my love for playing the piano to the lobby of our local hospital. At first I was very nervous but with practice, I have improved as a musician. I also took advantage of writing opportunities with Compassion and Justice issues and writing clubs. My memoirs have been published in several anthologies. I’m a Guest Host for a Care Center which has prompted me to learn Spanish by doing a Duolingo App on my phone and Synergy Spanish on my computer. I join my husband and daughter by volunteering for www.humbledesign.org/Chicago. I would recommend trying many service organization to see what suits you best.

Habitat for Humanity Build

Spiritual/-At the age of 18 when I was searching for meaning and purpose in life, I looked up at the sky and told God ” I don’t think you are there: but if you are, please show me.” That night, I met my future husband and became a follower of Jesus Christ. The big change came when my focus was no longer focused on me but in helping others. I love reading Psalms, Proverbs, and  the New Testament. There is wisdom about how to live an abundant and fulfilling life. Over and over again, I see his presence in my life and in the lives of others who have been transformed by Him. I found God looking at His creation, not in a church. If you seek Him with your whole heart, you will find Him—–and your purpose in this life. It’s a big adventure for me.

A Celebration of Life/ 2019

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National Lake Shore

I heard a flock of sand hill cranes overhead beaconing the end of winter. I even saw three fox pups frolicking in our yard. Despite the April 14th snow storm, the trees are budding, the crocuses have pushed their faces through the snow and the days are getting longer. Yes, what looked like death is certainly now alive. Nature is such a beautiful picture of the resurrection of Christ. In the background, I love listening to Handel’s Messiah and the song, “I Know that My Redeemer Lives”. It is the perfect Easter message.

I am so thankful that Cornelius, a centurion in the Roman regiment, existed in Christ’s time, because he gave us a picture of God’s love for all mankind. He and all his family were devout and God-fearing. But they were not followers of Christ. He gave generously to those in need and prayed to God regularly. As a result, an angel spoke to him and said, “Your prayers and gifts to the poor have come up as a memorial offering before God. He was then instructed to get in touch with Peter who was visiting Simon, the tanner. At about the same time, Peter was praying and had the same vision three times where he was instructed to eat meat that was forbidden to the Jew. He then heart a knock on his door and was instructed to go to the house of Cornelius, a Gentile. When Peter saw that God was opening the door to the Gentiles, he said, “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism, but accepts men from every nation who reverence him and do what it right. Then he told them the good news of peace through Jesus Christ. As a result, before he finished speaking—the gift of the Holy Spirit was poured out on them, as recorded by Dr. Luke in Acts 10.

We are thankful to the Hebrews, who faithfully and accurately penned the Old Testament with the prophecies of Christ. (See Isaiah 53, Psalm 22, and google the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls for examples.) Also read Acts 10. “You will seek me and find Me, when you seek me with all your heart, “(Jeremiah 29:13.) This is the perfect time to do your own search.

Just like nature is filled with a diversity of flowers and trees, so God has many ways to call his own to himself. Most of us have a thirst for more than this life can offer. We know deep inside that the end of life is not the end. It’s written in our hearts.

Cook Up a delicious life

“Catch on fire with enthusiasm, and people will come from miles around to watch you burn,” said John Wesley. Add humor, purpose and service to your life and cook up a tantalizing dish that is sure to bring happiness and joy. The first ingredient is humor.

My husband Larry and I were hiking in Olympic National Park in Washington a few years ago and having a surge of energy, I went ahead through a circular tunnel leaving my 6’2” husband behind. While in the tunnel, I got the idea to hide at the end and jump out and scare him. It would be revenge for throwing my pillow down the hall in the middle of the night or stuffing my pillow case with shoes. I hid myself among the rocks and waited for the sound of heavy shoes. In my mind, I timed it perfectly, 5,4, 3, 2, 1. “BOO” But instead of being Larry, it was a 6’5” Englishman yelling, BLOODY HELL at the top of his lungs. “I’m so sorry,” I said, “I thought you were my husband,” which gave him little comfort. But I had time to hid my almost 5′ frame in the rocks like a little gnome and still scare Larry. We laugh often about this memory.

Now, I don’t recommend scaring Englishmen, but I do recommend more laughter in our lives. Physically, laughter triggers the release of endorphins that cause a sense of well-being. Children laugh on an average of 300 times a day whereas we laugh a dismal 17 times a day. What has happened to our childlike spirit and to our smile? We are robbed of our joy by worry when studies show that 85% of what we worry about never happens; And if it does, we find we have the coping skills to deal with the problem. As the days grow longer and Spring opens up its beautiful arms to us, take time to enjoy God’s creation. “Laughter is the sun that drives winter from the human face,”Victor Hugo.

While reflecting on God’s goodness, remember the second ingredient for a fulfilled life— purpose. In a normal life time, the heart will beat 2.5 billion times. What is your heart beating for? What is your vision and passion? Your talent is God’s gift to you. What you do with your talent is your gift to Him. Carve out time to develop your gifts and surround yourself with people who will help you develop them.

Now my third and final spice is service. “Service to others is the price you pay for your room here on earth,” said Muhammad Ali. I volunteer at a Care Center. As a guest host, I have so many opportunities to step into the lives of those in need. The beauty is that our Care Center can help a client not only get food, but dental, eye care and legal services if they qualify. We also find them jobs and a place to flourish in church. But the best gift is an empathetic listening ear. Our motto is James 1:19 “Everyone should be quick to listen, and slow to speak”…..It’s such a rewarding feeling to see a person enter with little hope and leave with a sparkle in their eyes knowing that God holds their future in His hands. Our aim is to change the world. Now that is a lofty goal. “In this life we cannot do great things, we can only do small things with great love,” said Mother Theresa.

Now you have the ingredients to cook up a vibrant life of humor, purpose and service. As we dedicate each day to Jesus, he will open the doors for us to impact lives. It’s an exciting and meaningful job. “We make a living by what we do, we make a life by what we give,” Sir Winston Churchill