Booter Blog

Unabridged from my Bonus Years column in the Lifestyle section of The Sunday Capital, Annapolis, Maryland.

This year's Thanksgiving is special, as it also marks the safe return of my wife from a 1,500 mile Atlantic sailing adventure. Mary Sue joined three other friends on "Chill," a well-founded Beneteau 47, for a sailing venture from Annapolis to the British Virgin Islands.  After crossing the Gulf Stream and making landfall in Tortola, they sailed on to Virgin Gorda, arriving about the time the weather in Annapolis was reaching the freezing point.  Her shipmates are long-time neighbors and friends, owners Jackie and Dan Billingsley.  In 2007, shortly after their kids finished school at the University of Maryland, Dan retired after 38 years a naval architect for the US Navy.   That's when they decided to take off for the Caribbean...

Unabridged from my Bonus Years column in the Lifestyle section of The Sunday Capital, Annapolis, Maryland.

As I was sitting down to write today's Bonus Years commentary, my smart phone sounded a "ping" – my alert to an incoming news flash.  Because the pings are getting more frequent as the world gets messier, I nearly ignored it.  But then I took a peek:  "Comet landing a success."  Wow!  I didn't know that was in the works. Who was going to a comet, when I was thinking about going to lunch?  I thought comets were to be avoided – like the fine tableware items at Nordstrom, where you look but don't touch.  And what about "if you break it, you own it."  What if we landed too hard?  What if it breaks into chunks?  We sure don't want comets – or even comet fragments...

Unabridged from my Bonus Years column in the Lifestyle section of The Sunday Capital, Annapolis, Maryland

Let's talk about relevance and entrepreneurship. First, relevance.  When you reach your bonus years, you are at the top of your game – with lots of wisdom and many skills.  But there's often a problem.  In the words of Laurence J. Peter, author of The Peter Principle, "Old age is when you know all the answers, but nobody asks you any questions."  But not always, as you will see. Second, entrepreneurship.  "Entrepreneurs are people who follow their passion without regard for resource constraints" – my favorite definition of those risk-takers and job-creators who occupy a high place in the pantheon of American heroes. Today's story is about one of those heroes.  Her name is Jennifer Politte....

Unabridged from my Bonus Years column in the Lifestyle section of The Sunday Capital, Annapolis, Maryland

Back in 1997, I attended a day-long seminar on mentoring.  The things I learned at this event had a big impact on my thinking and my life – and are among the key experiences that cultivated my interest in aging, especially in how we think about and achieve successful aging.  The seminar concluded with an after-dinner program, where the speaker was the late Howard Hendricks (1924-2013).  Hendricks, a longtime professor at Dallas Theological Seminary and author of nearly 20 widely-read books, was also former chaplain of the Dallas Cowboys. Hendricks was a pioneer thinker in many areas – including aging.  As far back as the early 1990s, when the first boomers were more than a decade from retirement, Hendricks was among the first to write about...

Unabridged from my Bonus Years column in the Lifestyle section of The Sunday Capital, Annapolis, Maryland

The iconoclastic George Carlin – the stand-up comedian who based his humor on dissecting the English language – once quipped, “Those who dance are considered insane by those who cannot hear the music.”    I don’t think I fully understood what Carlin meant by "hearing the music" until I met Eileen Sutherland, known as Eileen Razzetti to her Maryland Hall ballet students and their parents. Razzetti was born in a Brooklyn Polish neighborhood in 1945.  She took her first ballet lessons when she was three years old – three times a week.  She loved dancing.  She used to "teach" her stuffed animals to dance.  As a youngster, she never sat still.  But she didn't fidget.  Instead,...

Unabridged from my Bonus Years column in the Lifestyle section of The Sunday Capital, Annapolis, Maryland

Last week, I received an email from a reader who said, "When you started writing Bonus Years a couple of ago, I was just beginning to think about retirement.  I was looking forward to what you knocked as 'years of endless leisure and amusement.'" He continued, "Then I retired –over a year ago.  During the first few months, I enjoyed my hassle-free, no obligations life.  However, my wife of 43 years – a stay-at-home mother for our first 20 years who spends a lot of time in volunteer work – was, shall we say, 'unsettled' by my being underfoot 24 hours a day.  I know from our conversations that she often views me not as 'retired,' or a 'partner'  but as an 'intruder' in a home she...

Unabridged from my Bonus Years column in the Lifestyle section of The Sunday Capital, Annapolis, Maryland

Some readers will be familiar with the name, Ezekiel Emmanuel.  The 57-year old physician is the director of the Clinical Bioethics Department at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda – and the brother of the more widely-known Rahm Emmanuel, the former Illinois Congressman, former chief of staff to President Obama and now the mayor of Chicago.   Given Dr. Zeke's responsibilities and his connections, what he thinks and what he says are more likely to affect the rest of us than the thinking and saying of our family physician. In a recent article in The Atlantic titled "Why I Hope to Die at 75" – and in an appearance last week on "Morning Joe" – Dr. Zeke explained his view that you and I, our families and...

Unabridged from my Bonus Years column in the Lifestyle section of The Sunday Capital, Annapolis, Maryland

The end of life.   At some point, the bonus years come to an end.  In the verse of the late American poet, Jane Kenyon, "I slept in bed / in a room with paintings on the walls, and / planned another day / just like this day. / But one day, I know, / it will be otherwise." But the science and technologies that made longevity one of the top achievements of the last century also had a side effect not anticipated.  The side effect is what Dr. Joanne Lynn, one of the nation's first hospice care physicians, calls "lingering death." In books and commentaries, Dr. Lynn, now a respected health policy guru, points out that just a few generations ago, serious illness arrived with little warning, and people either lived through it or died...

Unabridged from my Bonus Years column in the Lifestyle section of The Sunday Capital, Annapolis, Maryland

The poet Robert Browning penned the famous lines, "Grow old along with me! The best is yet to be, the last of life, for which the first was made." I think of those lines often, as I grow older. I think of them because every day brings new experiences, new perspectives, a deeper understanding of this or that and, yes, new knowledge, new puzzles to solve, new challenges to meet. These lines surely apply to spouses or to life-long friends. Shared experiences over the years certainly enrich our memories…things we've done together, places we've seen, difficulties we've conquered, disappointments we have overcome. And hard times and even tragedies, too. Not all our shared experiences are good ones, but each of them, in its own way, enriches our...

Unabridged from my Bonus Years column in the Lifestyle section of The Sunday Capital, Annapolis, Maryland

Here's a bonus years issue about which many have commented: What do retired people say when they meet someone new and are asked, "What do you do?"  I have overheard all kinds of responses. Some say – often defensively – "Oh, I'm just retired."  What does that mean?  That response can cover a wide range of activities and many sins – from watching TV twelve hours a day to 40 hours a week of volunteer work or 60 hours a week of caregiving for a loved one. Another common response is, "I'm retired, but I am busier than ever."  For many that means "busy" doing things they enjoy doing, using their gifts, being productive, making a difference, finding satisfaction.  For too many...

Unabridged from myBonus Yearscolumn in the Lifestyle section ofThe Sunday Capital, Annapolis, Maryland

In life, Robin Williams made us laugh. Now, in death, at age 63, he makes us think. Robin Williams in death makes us think because he died by his own hand. "How could he," we ask. He had everything – including four Oscar nominations and one win, for "Good Will Hunting in 1998. In addition, he garnered nearly 70 other nominations and many wins for coveted awards such as the Emmy, Film Critics, People's Choice, Screen Actors Guild and other major honors and accolades. More importantly, Williams enjoyed the love of his three children and the affection, admiration and respect of millions of fans and many close friends. His legacy also includes giving back – for example, mentoring people like Ben Affleck and Matt Damon and entertaining American...

Unabridged from my Bonus Years column in the Lifestyle section of The Sunday Capital, Annapolis, Maryland

Somebody once said that retirement is like a permanent vacation. Whoever said that deserves the anonymity he enjoys today.  Reason: The unknown author either had no experience with a real vacation or he didn't know any of the retired people I know. This old saw came to mind this week because I am a "retired" person – or sort of.  Like so many others, I retired (twice), did a reboot and went back to work.  I am still working – some paid work and some volunteer work, some old career, some new career.  But my time is fully occupied, at least 40 hours a week, so I still take vacations. The difference now is I take more vacations – a week here, a week there, and often even a month around Christmas and the new year in a...

Unabridged from my Bonus Years column in the Lifestyle section of The Sunday Capital, Annapolis, Maryland

In 1967, Israeli politician and diplomat, Abba Eban, said, “You can always count on the Americans to do the right thing – after they have tried everything else” – an observation frequently but incorrectly attributed to Winston Churchill.  Regardless of who said it, the conclusion that American policy making at every level is a messy business is clearly spot on – including policies and programs to meet the income security, health and well-being needs of an aging society.  In fact, messiness is the way the Founders planned it.  The proof is in the Constitution, which sets up the separation of powers among the branches of government, the division of powers between the federal and state governments, checks and balances and the like...

Unabridged from my Bonus Years column in the Lifestyle section of The Sunday Capital, Annapolis, Maryland

Many writers assert that wisdom is the combination of knowledge plus experience.  However, truth be told, as I slide through my bonus years, I am coming to the view that patience and perspective (or discernment) may be the really important virtues that come with aging. Too many of the popular culture images of aging portray those in their bonus years as irritable, cantankerous and argumentative – think of Jack Lemmon and Walter Mathau in "Grumpy Old Men." "Grumpy…" makes me laugh, but I don't really know many grumpy old men – or women, for that matter.  Well, maybe a couple, but not more.  When facing a disagreeable situation, most later-life people I encounter are more likely to say, "No worries" than...

Unabridged from my Bonus Years column in the Lifestyle section of The Sunday Capital, Annapolis, Maryland

Some say that your life flashes before your eyes just before you die. I don't know if that's true, but I do know that the life of another will often flash before your eyes when they pass on. That happened to me two weeks ago when Mary Sue's mother died. She died peacefully on her birthday – 92 years old – in the presence of family after living a great life. I learned in a visit with her two weeks before her passing that she was ready to "go home." Louise and her late husband, Bernie Waldkirch, a family physician, were community stalwarts in the Green Bay, Wisconsin suburb of DePere. They were parents to nine children, devout Catholics and active in the community – family, faith, community and the Green Bay Packers, as they say in...

Reboot!

What do you do when your career is over but your life isn't?

Phil Burgess

Making later-life work

It’s better to wear out than rust out.”  That is the message of Reboot!  While American culture glamorizes the “Golden Years” of endless leisure and amusement, Phil Burgess rejects retirement, as he makes the case for returning to work in the post-career years, a time he calls later life.