Other VanOrden Posts

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Glue that Makes Humans what They Are

I’ve been thinking a lot about change recently.  I am preparing a sermon for our Church congregation to be delivered on Sunday January 1st.  Its purpose is to help congregants prepare to set individual and group goals for the New Year 2012. 
Changing is one of the coolest things we do in this life.  Change takes a commitment level that makes most of us uncomfortable, especially as we get older.  Organizations that don’t change usually fade to insignificance pretty dang fast.  But life without change becomes stagnant and even purposeless. Change seems to be part of the glue that makes humans what they are. 

Years ago I learned this truth.  What the mind can conceive and believe it can achieve. Change spawns in the deep recesses of the mind. Belief is product of determination.  Being willing to work hard makes determination exponentially real.  It expands as we press forward and see progress. 

I once decided I would become the best basketball player north of Chicago.  This was in 1965.  I was all of 13 years old at the time and very bitsy at 5’.  My older brother had been a 3 year starter at our suburban Chicago high school in Libertyville Illinois. I felt the need to carry on the family tradition and determined to do so.  I became a gym rat.  Then once back home I would dribble the basketball for hours in our cement floored basement.  Freshman year I made the “A” team at a whopping 5’2” tall.  I played but did not start.  But the dream persisted and I grew 5 inched in the summer and made the sophomore team.  It looked like I would start.   I kept working on my skills.  My vertical jump improved.  By junior year I was almost 6’ and could dunk a volleyball…my hands were never big enough to palm a basketball. 
I did not become the super star like my brother had been but I did score 28 and 29 points in games during my high school career.  I had moments of brilliance.  I was satisfied that my dream had become reality to the level my body would allow.  I just didn’t have a 6’2” John Stockton hiding under my skin. Most of the dreams I have conceived have come true, marrying a beautiful California girl, raising a large family, being a Bishop, a Stake President, and a teacher in the worldwide LDS Church Educational System.  I am a believer when it comes to dreaming big and making it happen by working hard.

My latest two dreams are reshaping my body by losing 80 pounds and retiring with dignity to a financially secure life.  As is usual with me, I am working on these with my usual gusto.  So my encouragement to all is to look to 2012 with enthusiasm and great expectation.  Do something unsuspected.  Move toward accomplishing your biggest dream. 
My friend Marc Cameron (Otte) has worked many years to hone his writing skill to become a nationally known novelist. This year he arrived with the publishing of his newest book, “National Security” and the dream continues to grow.  So whatever you really want to do, make 2012 the best year for stepping forward. 

Monday, December 26, 2011

New Year’s resolutions that Bring Deep Change

Most of us have some aspects of our lives we have attempted to change many times to only be disappointed when it doesn’t happen as we had hoped.  Deep Change is much more dogged than setting a goal.  Once we learn how to apply Deep Change we are empowered to go anywhere we wish. 

The process has some similarities for all of us.  It starts with envisioning ourselves in the future.  It depends heavily on our personal confidence.  How much do we really believe in ourselves?  Deep Change is wrapped up in our own psychological and spiritual moorings.  What morals and standards do we live by?  Is it OK to cheat our neighbor a little bit, or are we committed to being totally honest?  A thousand little things shape our ethics.  It is who we are. 

On occasion life gets too complicated and we give up on the Deep Change concept.  We let life live for us by just trying to get by, one foot in front of the other, a day or even an hour at a time.  But then the creative juices start to flow again, and we feel a desire to do something more with our lives.  

New Year’s resolutions that cause Deep Change can happen.  Deep Change demands new ways of thinking.  It is major in its impact.  It relies on absolute disconnection from a habit of the past.  When done right, it is irreversible.  Deep Change means risk taking and surrendering control.  I sometimes call this jumping off the “faith limb” while hoping we will  land safely.  There are ways of assuring success. 

I try to take time daily to meditate on the day and week ahead.  I find a safe quiet place and relax for a few minutes then go in my mind to a warm deserted beach where worries are far away.  I prayerfully consider my future endeavors. Then I free my mind of stress by a transcendental technique using my own mantra.  That is when I am able to envision what is ahead “outside” of the box so to speak.  I dream big and say to myself, why not.   

I have a Podcast that is 12 minutes long I am posting in a few days that explores Deep Change more. It will be posted first to those who are part of my email group (see box to the right of this post).  The Podcast outlines steps to make Deep Change happen.  I hope it is helpful to those who might be considering “resolutions” for 2012.  I am encouraging all of us to not simply set some goals but to demand Deep Change of ourselves. 

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Small Miracles---A Christmas Story by Jeannie Snow VanOrden

SMALL MIRACLES---A Christmas Story 
By L. Jean Snow VanOrden
Sharon grabbed the glass of milk just in time to keep it from toppling over.
            “Mark, quit playing ‘Jingle Bells’ on the glasses!  This is probably the last meal you’ll have for quite awhile so you better make sure you don’t spill it all over.”

            Mark dropped his spoon.  It clanged to the floor and he dove under the table to retrieve it. Their waitress, her name tag said “Jen”, refilled their water as she passed by.  She set a paper cup full of crayons and three kiddie placemats on the table.  Jen stroked the baby’s white-blond hair and cooed,

            “Oh, she’s such a doll, what’s her name?”

            “Actually, his name is Michael.  We just can’t bring ourselves to cut off his beautiful curls.” Sharon slid the high chair closer to the table to get it out of the way of the restaurant traffic.  “Wouldn’t you know, “she thought.  “They would seat us right by the kitchen.”

            Sharon fingered the five ten-dollar bills and hand-full of change in her coat pocket.  It was the last of their money.  One more big meal and then they’d have to wait until they were paid for hauling the load that Steve was picking up.  Between now and then it would be crackers and cheese and the last few cans of juice and formula they had in the truck.

            They had spent the last week living out of the cab of their semi-truck.  Three kids and two adults traveling across country looking for better trucking jobs.  Steve heard that there was plenty of work out of Denver.  They sold everything they could, packed the rest in the truck, and headed west just in time to leave family, friends, and everything homey and familiar behind right at Christmas time.  They had engine trouble outside Oklahoma City.  Nothing on a big rig can be fixed without spending gobs of cash.  Now, at last, they had been able to land a job just outside Denver.

            Andy’s Freeway Diner was draped in shiny green and red garlands.  Tiny artificial trees lined the booth walls and silver snowflakes glistened on the branches.  Christmas carols played just above the din of clattering dishes.  Outside a thin dusting of snow was beginning to fall.

            “Well, at least we’ll have a white Christmas,” grumbled Sharon under her breath.

            “I want Daddy!” wailed Rachael. 

            And then all Sharon’s efforts to rescue it failed as Rachael’s three-year-old fist crashed down on her glass of milk.  White liquid spread across the paper placemats, under the silverware, and dripped down the edge of the table.   Sharon grabbed a handful of napkins and threw them on the growing puddle.  She felt as if the whole diner full of people was staring at her unruly brood.  She was dead tired and famished.  “Where was their food?”

            As if she had heard Sharon’s mental scream, Jen came out of the kitchen carrying a huge tray of platters.  She balanced the tray on the edge of the table while Sharon finished mopping up the milk.  The delicious smells started her stomach growling: crisp, savory bacon, steaming hash browns, scrambled eggs, and piles of fragrant pancakes with syrup.  Jen emptied the tray while Sharon quickly arranged the food in front of the children.  Pacified by a mouthful of pancake soaked in syrup, Rachael ceased wailing.  Mark commandeered a strip of bacon.  Sharon felt short five or six arms as she tried to serve, feed and keep disaster at bay.  Finally, with everyone satisfied and quietly stuffing their mouths, Sharon turned her attention to her own plate.  After she had savored a couple of heavenly bites, Steve burst through the restaurant door and crossed the room with hurried, deliberate strides.

            “Daddy!” cried Rachael, reaching her arms up to greet him.

            “Give me the fifty dollars.”  His tone left no doubt that he was dead serious.

            Sharon reached into her pocket and grasped the moist bills protectively.  “You have got to be kidding!  We’re eating already.  How will I pay for all this?”

            Steve’s tone softened slightly, “Look, they won’t load the truck until I pay for some kind of loading permit.  The permit costs fifty dollars.  They won’t wait for the money until I get paid at the other end.  No permit, no job, no income.  There’s nothing I can do about it.  As soon as I get the truck loaded, I’ll come back here and we’ll figure out something.  I don’t see that I have any other choice and I’ve got to hurry back or we’ll lose the contract.”

            Sharon slowly drew the fifty dollars out of her pocket and handed it to Steve.  Then he was gone.  She could hear the roar of the truck’s engine as he pulled the oversized beast out of the parking lot.  She had planned to take the children to across the street to the mall after they finished eating.  They were going to window shop to kill time until Steve met them at Santa’s Village near the main entrance.   Now she would have to keep the children entertained right here at the table for a couple of hours.  And how would they pay?  Could you really was dishes to pay for a meal?  They had been through lean times before but never this close to the edge.  She felt thoroughly humiliated:  noisy children, spilled milk, and now completely broke.  She tried to eat but her once ravishing appetite was gone. 

            “Here, Mark, you can have my bacon.”  Sharon slid her plate over.

            “Mommy, what’s going to happen?”  Mark looked pale and worried.  It hadn’t occurred to Sharon that he might understand what was going on, that her five-year-old son tuned into the conversation.  Suddenly her distress about paying for the meal fled.  It was the anxiety in Marks sweet face that upset her most.

            “Mark, help me get the baby and Rachael fed.  I’ll have Jen bring us some new placemats and we’ll keep busy coloring and eating until Daddy gets back.  And Mark, maybe you could say a little prayer in your heart to help us stay calm.  Everything will be all right, I promise.”

            “Just great, now I’ve made this a test of my son’s faith,” she thought, bitterly.  She was playing a game with God.  “Hey, if I’m not good enough for your help, my little son’s faith is on the line here.”

            She suddenly felt too tired to worry anymore.  “Just take a deep breath,” she thought.  “We’ll take this one minute at a time.”

            She looked over at the baby.  Scrambled eggs covered his face.  His eyes drooped and his head nodded.  Sharon spread a baby quilt on the booth seat.  She gently cleaned Michael’s face then wrapped him in the quilt.“One blessing already, he will nap for at least an hour.”

            Mark and Rachael continued eating quietly. Sharon decided she may as well enjoy some hash browns and orange juice after all.  It cheered her immensely to have the baby asleep and the other two children settled down.  Thankfully, no one seemed to be paying any attention to them now that their noise had subsided. 

            “Look, Mommy,” Mark nudged her harm.  “I drew a picture of Grandma and Grandpa’s house.  See here’s Grandpa sitting by the fire and there’s Grandma decorating the Christmas tree.”  Sharon nodded absently.   Her mind was now caught up in memories of Christmas back home.  Whatever had possessed them to take off  like this?  It had seemed like a great opportunity to get trucking business going better.  But now it seemed more like a disaster. Back and forth her thoughts flew.

            “Stop!” she thought.  “What’s done is done.  I’ll go crazy rehashing what can’t be changed.”

            She took a deep breath and blew it out.  Their plates were just about empty.  Rachael stuffed the last of her pancake in her mouth then stretched out on the seat and put her head in Sharon’s lap.  Sharon covered her with a coat.  She glanced out the window.  The snow had changed to large soft flakes.  The breakfast rush was over and the diner was quieting down. 

            “Another blessing: they won’t be unhappy with us for taking up valuable space.”

              Just then, Margie swept out of the kitchen and up to their table with another tray.  She began setting out three large mugs of hot chocolate topped with tall swirls of whipped cream. 

            “Wait, I didn’t order these. I really can’t pay for them . . . “  Sharon protested. “Or any of it.” She thought.

            “No problem, don’t worry about it.”  Jen broke in.  “Look outside, right out front.  See the white-haired couple getting into that red pick-up.  When they paid for their breakfast, they paid for yours and threw in the hot chocolate, some sandwiches and a dozen donuts to go.  They said to tell you it’s an early Christmas present.”

            Sharon watched as the red pick-up truck pulled out onto the snow-covered highway and disappeared into the storm.  She hadn’t wished for or expected anything like this.  A miracle for her little family so complete and faith restoring had been beyond her energy to imagine.  Perhaps all the more miraculous because of that.  She felt a surge of relief and gratitude wash over her.  “Thank you,” she whispered out loud.

            “Mommy,” said Mark.  Can I drink my hot chocolate?  I already said a thank-you prayer.”

            “Yes,” said Sharon, still gazing out at the falling snow.  “Yes, Mark, you can drink your hot chocolate now.”


By L. Jean Snow VanOrden

Copyright 2005

Friday, December 2, 2011

Taking Charge of Our Destiny

This is not a promotional for my weight loss program.  Read all the way through so you know what it is really about. 

When I started my quest to get healthy by taking back control of my weight, I have to admit, it has became one of the most satisfying things I have done in many years.  I have never been this successful in grasping control of my eating habits and losing weight. 

At first I thought if I get through my normal weight loss threshold of about 25 pounds that would be good.  Then I went blasting beyond that to over 40 pounds off. 

The holidays became a short bump in the road, and quite frankly so did my doctor who thought I was losing too quickly. He was kind of stuck on the old thinking that 2 pounds a week is best.  I have survived those glitches and now I am losing again quickly once more. I average losing 3-5 pound per week. My motivation stays high since I see my body changing.   It has caused me to trust the food program I am on and my exercise routine.  Since over 20,000 doctors have recommended this program, my commitment is high.    

My body feels so much better when I am following my program with exactness.  I have more energy and get so much more done each day.  Weight control and eating right have become my medicine for a continued productive life and my body which will turn 60 this coming summer.  

So my new mantra is going to be “60 is the new 40”  now that I am transitioning from a career that I have enjoyed for almost 35 years into my “retirement” career.  Studies show that most Baby-boomers are simply moving from a lifelong career into another way of helping make ends meet.

The transition time frame can be from a few months long to several years as Baby-boomers strive to get it right.  The current investment climate is so uncertain due to economic and political unrest, but the upcoming election should correct the lack of stability we have endured these past several years.  America will rally once more.

If I was a younger and still raising a family, I would look forward with great expectations for my future.  I would live simply and invest cautiously to provide for my family and future.  I would get as much education as possible.  I would embrace the cyber-culture to make sure I connect with the dominate force in the market place and thereby assure myself and family of a diversity of opportunity. 

When my oldest son quit his secure electrical engineering corporate career to start his own cyber business and writing career, I worried for his future.  That was almost a decade ago, and during a recent visit I learned he is taking steps to take his online business from a successful 7 figure endeavor to 8 figures over the next several years.  That’s right, from a $1,000,000 business into the 10’s of millions. I guess my worries were not well founded. 

So to the younger crowd, “diversify your interests and education”.  Dream big and make it happen.  Believe in yourself and press forward with confidence.  Along the way take good care of your body so productivity stays high. 

Take good care of your family and give them the best time you have available, always.  Don’t let other pursuits get in the way of loving your spouse and children.  Take time daily to be creative.  The best ideas have not yet been made reality.  It takes vision to make the future better than today.  And don’t forget to include an element of spirituality in your regular creative process.  Onward!   

Saturday, November 12, 2011

I Awoke to the Sweet Savory Smell of Thanksgiving Stuffing

This morning I awoke to the sweet savory smell of Thanksgiving stuffing.  It had floated all through our house and filled every nook and cranny.  There was no hiding from it. The juices of my mouth began to enjoy a sumptuous imaginary, all the trappings, holiday meal.  Wait, its November 12, not Thanksgiving yet.  What’s up?   

I hustle down stairs to the kitchen and discover Jeannie in her element as Chief-Chef of our homestead.  My salivary glands are now in full swing.  She tells me she is preparing some food for the Ward Thanksgiving Dinner tonight at the Alpenglow Chapel. Part of me is disappointed I can’t partake of the feast sooner.  Then I remember, I am on a weight loss plan and shouldn’t be partaking at all.      

I am still on my weight loss eating plan.  I have become accustomed to eating 6 small meals a day and have appreciated the way my body feels when I eat smaller meals.  There is less of the over-full “bloated” feeling.  But since I am a food-grazer, and nibble at everything that is available, the holiday season is a particular challenge. This time of year, there are exotic foods available non-stop in our home.  

I thought I could keep up the weight loss during the “holiday” season.  My goal was to lose 10 lbs in November and then another 10 lbs in December.  So I now have admitted to myself that it was a bit ambitious, therefore it is time to revise my goal.  I have two choices: 
             1)      Try to lose some weight, any weight, during the holidays, even a pound or two will do

2)      Do my very best to not gain weight during the holidays.

I have already lost 41 pounds.  I still have 40 more pounds to lose in order to get to my ultimate goal of 199 pounds.  If I tread water during the holidays, by keeping the current weight loss but not gaining any back, I could consider that a success.  So the super-human goal of losing weight during the holidays is set aside.  But I will be vigilant in weighing myself and working-out to make sure I don’t start to gain. 

Thank you for all you encouragement and feedback. 

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Deep Change is Inevitable

About a year ago I decided I needed a new project on which to focus my life.  I was released as a stake president responsible for about 3000 members of the Mormon Church, our children were basically all “raised” and established in their own lives, my wife and I survived major health challenges, I was approaching the conclusion of a 34 year career with the same educational organization, and our finances were in pretty decent shape with sufficient resources for our needs. 

Our large home seems a bit large and extravagant.  Most home repair sand upgrade projects are complete or in the works.  Our debt load is about where we hoped for this time of our lives.  We are closing in on major transition from our parenting years to empty nesting with psychological challenges that go with not being needed quite as much by family or community. 

We have been so oriented toward serving others that we can hardly imagine just taking care of each other without some form of outreach to the society around us.  We don't want to make the mistake of imposing ourselves in the lives of our adult children in such a way they may “tolerate” our interest and intrusiveness.

Though we have deep abiding connections with the main culture in our lives which centers in Mormon beliefs and sociality, we understood very well the tendency of any religious organization to use faith as a controlling force to shape life and thinking.  After ten years as one of the leaders of the LDS Church in Alaska, with a Mormon population of almost 5%, my influence has dropped to negligible, and appropriately so.  I think it is the way all Churches should operate.  Periodic change in leadership is good.   

We have always wanted our faith to be inclusive and accepting, as well as comfortable.  My leadership style tries to make this happen.  For a Church that had to be isolated during its pioneer beginnings, the Mormon faith has made some significant strides in an effort to be inclusive.  They take an active role in community issues.  They reach out to assist those in need without expectation of conversion or commitment.  I think the motives have been purified and are Christ-like.  It is a positive trend.

So back to the subject at hand:  What to do with our time and future?  It has become apparent that spending more time taking care of each other as married partners of over 37 years, is appropriate and necessary.  At first it seemed a bit self serving and selfish.  But it has actually become fun. 

As far as community outreach is concerned, I have considered politics which is one of my interests and hobbies.  I have also considered extending my career and taking on a new project for the LDS Church Educational System.  I have always enjoyed new projects that are a challenge.  I was trained as an organizational behavior catalyst at BYU and UAF, and have always enjoyed that challenge.

On the other hand, I could “retire” and start my own business to continue to secure our future in times that tend to make hearts faint when it comes to financial matters.  If something doesn’t change, I best not count on social security income even though I have contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to the federal tax and redistribution scheme.  Frankly, I have never really planned on getting much back from SS, even though it is not an “entitlement” welfare program in our case, since it’s our money from earned income with contribution from us and our employers. 

Many of the Baby-boomer generation are taking on “retirement” careers.  I could get a job as a school principle in the local school district for about $100,000 a year, but that would be heavy stress during a time when reducing stress-load is important or I could substitute-teach for the local school district and earn $25,000 to $30,000 a year. I could get a job as an adjunct professor for the University system which would be intertesting and fun.  But you would be amazed how poorly they are paid.

I am enjoying writing and have two books in the works.  But making money writing is unlikely.  Since I have two college degrees and a lifetime of experience, the possibilities are almost endless.  But when I start considering the lifestyle we want, I realize I need to have control of my time and commitments.  So gradually the options have been refined over the past year. 

One of my main projects recently has been a concerted effort to improve my health.  I had ballooned to 280 pounds while I put all I had into being a Church leader.  The time and emotional commitments didn’t allow for self preservation.  In hindsight I wish I made more time along the way to take care of my own health. 

But now I am progressing toward the best health I can have for my age and body type.  This quest is one of the most satisfying projects I have undertaken.  It is a great reinforcement to watch my body change and even improve.  It seemed selfish at first, but now I realize I will be much more useful to my family and others as a healthy person. My successes have brought on a desire to “pay-it-forward” and help others with weight-loss and related health issues. 

My blog entries about my weight loss journey have been the most viewed of all my posts.  The interest has been huge and even surprising to me.  My weight-loss mentor has complimented me by asking if I would consider becoming one of his practices health coaches.  He does this professionally as a Doctor of Chiropractic Medicine.  His business model is sound and the motivation is good.  Though it will never make me wealthy, it could help many people.  So I am considering it as a part-time retrirement endeavor. 

So the refinement continues as I approach retirement.  It’s not easy to give up a career I have been with for 34 years.  But change is good especially at this point in our lives. Its inevitability has become less daunting as we get closer.  I look forward with enthusiasm to what the future holds for Jeannie and me. 

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Retirement, Freedom, and Responsibility---not Mutually Exclusive

I just returned from a Doctors appointment with my primary care physician.  I have lost some weight, and all my tests look good so I am cleared to be a normal human for the next several months.  I was impressed with the idea that in reality it is not my doctor that makes me healthy, it actually is my responsibility. 

I have been going to the same primary care physician in Eagle River Alaska for the last 13 years.  I have also been using the services of the same chiropractic physician for all that time.  I used to go to doctors to have them tell me what to do, but one day woke up to the reality that they simply listen to my concerns and complaints and then suggest a course of treatment. 

I started to pay more attention to the medications they wanted me to take and studied the accompanying materials about potential side affects.  I researched my own ailments to become more adept at giving “input” to the doctor. 

I once laid on the floor of our bathroom for most of the night so sick I couldn't make it back to bed.  I thought I was having a heart attack, but in the morning my wife Jeannie googled my symptoms and determined I was having a gall stone attack. She took me to the emergency room and we told the doctor I was having a gall stone problem to which she responded, “Let me do the diagnosing”.  After confirming the gall problem, I was so sick they kept me in the hospital and pumped me full of an anti-biotic for a few days prior to removing my gall bladder. 

As I have accepted that I am no longer as young as I used to be, I’ve become more proactive and even aggressive in taking care of my health.  I no longer feel guilty for taking time to “work out”.  I protect my “energy” level to make sure I have the inclination to walk, hike, or do some other kind of aerobics almost daily (I take Sunday off).  I even walk when I golf so I get a 4-6 mile hike in while I frustrate myself trying to improve my golf game. 

I use a holistic approach to staying healthy.  Stretching daily to get my tendons and bones working has become one of the most important things I do every morning. I try to get to my chiropractor regularly for a tune up.  Deep tissue massage helps my arthritic body.  Jeannie uses a daily yoga routine for stretching.  We use a combination of medications and supplements to keep our bodies happy and useful.  Suppleness seems to be the elixir of life for my aging body.  My mind is more alert and creative when I have taken time to exercise early in the day.  

So I encourage everyone to be more in tune with their body.  My website has a link to a holistic approach to health from a doctor who is a modern-approach chiropractor. I know him personally and he is a very smart guy.  He is quickly becoming one of the frontrunner health practitioners in the country. He has a great weight loss and wellness program. He has learned how to use the internet and other modern  social media to help people.  His site is comprehensive and easy to navigate.  Here is the link. http://drbradycoach.com/  It will be worth your time.  

“Take good care of yourself so you can by happy and serve others” is one of my mantras. Join our email group by going to the link below.  Free exclusive bonus material goes out regularly to our growing email group. 

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Taking Charge of your Destiny---Boomers and Un-Employment

Very useful for those within 5 years of retirement.  This is one of the reasons I encourage Baby Boomers to develop a new career that make them the boss as they prepare for "retirement", so they can control time and income.  Click on the title to see the article.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Free Podcast "7 Pillars of Safe Retirement Freedom"

You can get access to my 12 minute Podcast "7 Pillars of Safe Retirement Freedom" by cyber-joining our group of like-minded people helping each other prepare for the future.  I am currently writing a new book with key principles about how we can make the future more secure. These principles will help anyone at any point during their career.

I guarantee you will benefit by spending a few minutes with us.  Join us and you will receive the link to my "7 Pillars of Safe Retirement Freedom" Podcast.

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The Online World of Communications---Don't be left Behind

My personality has a component of being duty bound.  I was raised in the home of a career military officer who took duty to God and Country very seriously. Therefore, I tend to take on new projects with gusto.  As I conclude my 34 year career as an educator I have been researching all aspects of retirement. 
Since another part of my personality loves the proverbial half-full glass approach to living, I usually see positive in situations, especially in life altering events, such as retirement.  As I listen to comments from friends, I sense concern for their future. 
A third component of my personality is my love of educational process.  It is a creative process for me, and creativity is akin to spiritual functions in my life.  It is invigorating and uplifting.  I have been creating an online community to share what I am learning with friends, students, and colleagues.  I have over 2500 friends on Facebook, and in just the past couple of weeks I have had over 1000 views of my Safe Retirement Freedom Blog.  
In addition to many friends who are closing in on retirement, I am sharing what I am learning with my younger friends, many of whom are former students and just starting careers.  Often I think, ‘I sure wish I had known this when I was young, I could be so much better prepared now.’
The online world has brought us into a whole new era of communication.  It has been changing the way the world goes round.  Social media was the key element in the overthrow of a dictator in Egypt.  Every month more people are shopping online.  Many businesses struggle if they do not have on online outlet. 
A major component of my Internet world is the commenting and interaction I am enjoying with friends.  Much of my research is driven by questions and comments.  When permission is given, I will share success stories submitted by followers and friends on my website and Blog.  I hope you will share, as you apply creative pro-activity in your life. 
This is Part #2---BELIEVE IN YOUR OWN CAPABILITIESDream great dreams and explore new territory.     

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Jeannie's Cancer Saga---Survivor

Jeannie is home and resting on so many meds I can’t keep them straight.  This is how Cancer Survivors live, coping with the aftermath of bodies that have been ravished by chemo-therapy, radiations, and surgery.  It is said that if we live long enough cancer will eventually get us. I certainly hope medical science wins the battle to conquer it soon.

Jeannie has the additional complication of Rheumatoid Arthritis since 1995 and is on advanced medication (shots) to help with quality of life.  Her body has been about as resilient as it can be.  She doesn’t complain or blame anyone.  She lives day by day with a positive attitude trying to keep me in line as she cares for children and grandchildren.

In April 2007 Jeannie was diagnosed with Oral Cancer.  She has never used alcohol or tobacco and yet she got Oral Cancer---how weird is that.  Previously, in February, she contracted shingles, which often happens with an underling cancer. The explanation perhaps---her immune system was compromised for years by arthritis medications.

Just in case you are not aware of her story it is recorded in her online journal/blog at  http://www.embattledchristian.com/culturewar/?p=755.  She writes beautifully.  All her posts during those long months are her cancer journey. 

We recognize that we are all given our own challenges.  Many are far more intense than ours.  But since her struggle became a public event due to our visibility in the community, perhaps someone will be helped by reading Jeannie’s story.  Her words are full of honesty, humor and faith.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Wealth is Within Our Grasp

For some years I had responsibility to help families in trouble financially.  They would come to me hoping the Church I represented could assist, and we usually did.  The first step was to look closely at their budget.  Frankly, most did not have a real budget.  They knew what they earned each month but didn’t have much of an idea how much they spent, nor the detail of what it was spent on.  

I would have them give me a few of their bills to get them by for the next month.  My first requirement was to keep copious track of all income and expenses for the next six weeks, and we would speak again at that point. 

Many never had to come back for more help because just the simple process of tracking their money helped them get their situation under control.     I would meet monthly with those in deeper financial trouble.  We would carefully go line-by-line through their expenses. 

Generally they were in deep trouble because their credit cards were maxed-out.  I would have them cut up their credit cards. Some months or years later, I would help them learn how to use the right credit-cards and never fail to pay off the balance every month. Credit cards are a financial tool, not a debt accumulation machine, as the companies would have you believe.  NEVER, NEVER, NEVER allow a credit card balance to move forward into the next month.  Pay it off on time EVERY TIME.    

As we reviewed their expenses, on every item I would ask questions.  Such as: is there a way to lower this expense?  Do you really need two cell phones?  Do you really need a data-package with your cell phone?  Do you need cable TV with all the bells and whistles?  Do you have to go out to dinner weekly?  Is there a way to cut your mortgage expense without destroying your credit or family well-being? 

My experience helping families with these challenges taught me that even those doing fine with their finances could save more each month if they would go line-by-line through their budget and ask themselves, how could I cut this expense. 
Our personal rule-of-thumb has been to factor in our budget 11% to charity, and at least 10% to retirement savings, 5% to an emergency fund, then live on the other 74%.  The interest you earn never stops working for you, day or night.  Your money works for you even when you sleep. 

After making the young-couple mistakes during early marriage we have followed this process for thirty years and thereby have managed to accumulate a nest-egg for our retirement years.  We look forward to the future with excitement even if Social Security never comes through.  Wealth is within our grasp by budgeting and simplifying our lifestyles.
Wealth can only be accumulated by the earnings of industry and the savings of frugality” John Tyler, 10th President of the United States.  


Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Inflation Proofing a Retirement Fund is not Hard

Inflation Proofing a Retirement Fund is not Hard
“Through global diversification and disciplined rebalancing, you can get the inflation pickpocket out of your wallet and rest assured that no matter which way the economy slides, you stand prepared to emerge a winner.”  See the article for more information and suggestions on how to protect your retirement fund. 
Click on the title…

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

How to make $1,000,000 with $300 a Month

This one is for my younger readers ages 18 – 45, and perhaps a few parents who may wish to forward this to their children.  But it also has worked for retired people who started this program when they retired. They have such a nice nest-egg to leave as an inheritance for family.  They have lived well in retirement, not laviously but well.  This always works. 

Here it is: 

Start saving $300 per month as soon as you have a job where your employer will match your savings into a tax deferred retirement fund with at least 66% of your dollar amount, so you have a total $500 per month going into savings.  You can do this, $300 is just not that tough.  If self employed save $500 per month of your own income.  If you are retiring it will take about $450 per month.  You'll never notice it's gone, and it will just keep growing. 

So $500 per month for 30 years at an average of 10% growth rate per year, which a good financial consultant should make you. 

Result: if you start at 18 years old, you end up with $1,130,000 saved by the time you are 48 years old.  You are a millionaire and can retire early if you wish.  So start saving as soon as you can and leave the money alone for your retirement nest egg. Inflation-proof the fund by withdrawing only 4% per year which allows it continued growth.   

If you are retired you will leave a million for whoever you so choose.  What a great surprise for the kids and grandkids. 

The rest of the story makes it even much more appealing.  Sign up for our Safe Retirement Freedom Blog for more secrets to early and secure retirement.  Look in the box to the left of this post to join our group.  

Sunday, September 18, 2011

How to Retire When You Choose


Please join our fast growing group of like-minded  Babyboomers helping each other get to retirement sooner and with more security.  Sign up for email notifications and/or become a member of S.R.F. Blog.  I guarantee your satisfaction or you can opt out easily.  Taking a few minutes 2 or 3 times a week to check the latest updates will generate ideas that will help you make retirement happen as soon as you had hoped or sooner. There are ways to do this safely, whether you plan for 20, 25, or 30 years of retirement income.  We have been doing the research for 5 years now and we love to sharing what we have learned.    

Sunday, September 11, 2011

More Reflections and Looking Forward

Getting healthy has dominated my thoughts in recent days.  But today I find myself reflecting on ten years of living with the added stress of the War on Terror.  Some of my friends and family have been to the Middle East fighting this war.  So far they are still all with us. 

My son-in-law is a Captain in the Marines and has spent more time helping with this war than I like to contemplate.  His wife, our daughter Heather, has spent many months alone with two of our grandsons, now three.   Sometimes she is able to come home so we can provide support while Captain Cruz is away, but not always, so thank-goodness for cell phone and Skype video calls.

Our five children are in various stages of establishing a life for themselves in a double dip recession made worse by our current federal administration.  Fortunately they all have careers, or a job while finishing college.  For me this struggle at home is a domestic battle between the freedom of capitalism and the oppression of social progressivism.  The first produces jobs and hope.  The last brings stagnation, pessimism, and welfare dependence.
Mr. Obama evidently thinks if he says the same things louder and more forcefully in high profile gatherings like a Joint Session of Congress that we will eventually see his point of view.  It’s sad that he hasn’t seen the results of his past 2 ½ years in office as the economy stays in peril. 

One of the greatest things about America is that we can recover relatively quickly once the freedom returns to dream for the future.  Businesses will invest again, jobs will increase, and money will be available to get something done.  Hope will be reestablished as the magic of being American.  The atmosphere for growth will once again lead the world economy.  Instead of trickle-up-poverty we will have steady improvement of the standard of living in our country.

I look forward to the next ten years.  Most of them will likely be governed by a conservative mind-set.  I am sure it will be a better time for America.  The projects at ground-zero in New York will be completed.  Like the former twin-towers, Jeannie and I will go to NY to stand on the top and gaze off toward the Statue of Liberty and think about how fortunate we are to be Americans where we have the freedom to pursue life, liberty, and happiness.  The future is bright. 

Thursday, September 8, 2011

This was my first Podcast, ever--- Click below for the "Seven Pillars of Retirement Freedom"

This was my first Podcast, ever----My Website is now renamed the Safe Retirement Freedom Blog. Learn the Seven Pillars of Retirement Freedom.  Sure wish I had known these many years ago.  I should have started applying them 15 years earlier, but they have still done magic for our pending retirement.  The Podcast is about 10 minutes long.... Click on the link below...

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Thursday, September 1, 2011

Relaxation and Meditation Brings Peace of Mind & Body

For a few moments of quiet reflection, click on the picture to the right and scroll through the photos of beautiful scenery.  Breathe deeply and let stress float away.  When those worries creep back in as you go through your day, close your eyes if you are not driving, take a couple of cleansing breaths and remember your morning session of feeling peace.  Enjoy...