Other VanOrden Posts

Saturday, September 22, 2012

The Most Rewarding Time can be the first 10 Years of Retirement

Senior perks are one of the upsides to “retirement”.  Last evening we were at a first-run new style theater with high backed cushy seats that rock. As we were getting tickets for Bourne Legacy, I just per chance asked if there was a senior discount.   The ticket lady was about to charge us full price, then looked at us and said, “Yes, at age 55”.  I was hopeful she didn’t think we were old enough.  But I told her we made it by multiple years, and she adjusted the charges to $15 total which as about what I paid per ticket in Alaska.  Senior status certainly has its advantages.

The same thing happened at the golf course recently.  The attendant had already rung us up but was kind enough to give us tokens for hitting golf balls on the driving range so he wouldn’t have to cancel us out and re-ring the new senior discount total.  I have to start accepting my new status and cashing in on all the “you poor old person” opportunities.

Speaking of opportunities, today we get to play grandparents for two of our favorite kiddo’s because both mom and dad are scheduled for work or otherwise. So flag football for our 7 year old grandson Liam, 2 games none-the–less, and golf driving-range for our 9 year old granddaughter Brynne. We are trying to break her into the lady golf craze as the next Paula Creamer.  She has a pretty sweet swing for a newbie.

So even with its aches and pains, I am getting used to my new found life.  I have to admit it is weird to wake up each morning and not have an iron-clad set of work commitments that make me get up and moving through the day.  I am not sure Jeannie likes me hovering around the house so much.  So beside working on getting used to a “fixed” income, and losing some more weight, and growing a new $1,000,000 nest egg with aggressive savings (see previous post and podcast), I am contemplating other goals.

A few days ago I almost threw my hat into the ring for the city manager’s job up in McCall Idaho for which I qualify due to my MEd Master’s degree in leadership and my experience managing personnel and large budgets for most of my first career.  We would have sold our home and moved to McCall within 12 months.  It’s a beautiful town up in the mountains covered with trees by a large picturesque lake with loads of snow every winter.  But we didn’t leave our beloved Alaska to live in snow country. “Golf, Grandkids, and Gardening” would have been impacted as well so I came to my senses and backed away.

My personality loves projects and challenges.  They always come with a cost in anxiety, health, and relationships.  I need something to do but it shouldn’t be high profile any longer.  I could do some part time adjunct professorial teaching at one of the local colleges.  I could continue to build my online brand by expanding my “Retirement Freedom” website and share with BabyBoomers how to double retirement income.  I could try my hand at authoring several books, the first being about my weight loss saga.

I am 60 years of age and figure I have 10 more good years of productivity in me before I go solely to the service and volunteering lifestyle.  The need for flexibility has become apparent.  A regular job would defeat the purpose of retirement from my first career and our move from Alaska.  So the contemplation continues and even increases as we settle into our new life.  Time is on my side as I press forward.

Monday, September 17, 2012

One of the nice things about living in a Warmer Climate is my Cravings for Carbohydrates have Decreased Substantially.

We are settled into a regular routine in our new home in Idaho, so I am going to restart my weight-loss efforts. We bought a brand new Schwinn elliptical machine for 50% off at Sports Authority. It is set up downstairs facing the TV.

Today I spent 40 minutes stretching, lifting weights, and on the Schwinn. I will increase my workout time to at least an hour over the next few weeks.  For today the endorphins are flowing and my body is feeling good, so I was able to launch into my day with renewed vigor.

In September of last year I began losing weight by going on a diet provided by my nephew Dr. Cliffton Brady. He is a weight-loss expert and chiropractor whose focus is on helping people get to maximum productivity by achieving optimal weight and health.  He has done a superb job as my weight loss coach.  

 In 6 months I lost 50 pounds. I felt healthier and stronger than I had in almost 20 years. I encourage anyone who has more than 40 lbs to lose to get a good coach.  Here is Dr. Brady's website: http://www.drbradycoach.com/gallery, or find a local Take Shape for Life coach.

I started at 280 pounds and in 6 months made it to 230 before I lost momentum due to an extended stay in the hospital by my wife.  When I am stressed I definitely eat more.  Immediately after Jeannie came home we were faced with the daunting task of packing and preparing our home for sale. We are so grateful to our friends in Eagle River Alaska who helped us get ready to move. They even helped loading our shipping container.

Selling a home disrupts all normal routines. Fortunately we had a great real estate team, the Les Bailey Group, which kept us informed so we knew when to stage our home and vacate, so potential buyers could tour.

Then came selling things on Craigslist, garage sales, painting, chipping driveway ice, cleaning, etc., which kept us busy and stressed. Finally, the actual move, a month of non-stop effort to load, drive, drive, drive, and unload.

Alas we are settled in and enjoying sunny 80 degree days and gorgeous sunsets. The stress is letting up and I am ready to diet, exercise, and lose weight.

So here is the good news---after losing 50 pounds in 6 months and taking a six month hiatus from exercise and diet, I can report that 30 of those pounds were permanent weight loss. I have established a new set point at 250 pounds rather than going back up to the 280 pound level where I originally started even with not worrying at all about what I've been eating.

On my previous nutritional plan I used a prepackaged food program to make preparation simple while I was still under time constraints since I was not yet retired. I recommend that approach to anyone who has struggled to lose weight and keep it off.

Now I have more time and we live where fresh fruit and vegetables are readily available. I will provide my own eating plan and use my well established habit of having 5-6 small meals per day and regular exercise to help improve my metabolism. One of the nice things about living in a warmer climate is my craving for carbohydrates have decreased substantially.

So on September 17, 2012, I start again at 250 lbs with 51 more pounds to lose to get to my original goal of 199. I originally hoped thought it would take one year, but now it looks like it will take two to get to 199 pounds. I have several friends who joining me in the weight loss quest that are doing as well or better than me. I appreciate how their commitment helps my desire to stay the course. Thanks to my friends for all the encouragement. Keep tuned for more lessons learned and updates.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

New house brings New Experiences as we Learn to Live in our “Mountain” Home

A  beautiful brilliantly multi-colored Pheasant sauntered down our sloped driveway yesterday morning while I was working on my computer looking out two large side-by-side windows toward the peak of our mountainside.  We can’t hunt in our hillside subdivision so I called for Jeannie to get her camera to get a picture of this magnificent bird.  We see Quail all the time on our property, but this was our first Pheasant sighting. 

Jeannie rushed outside as the bird moved alongside our home to the north. But it had gone down into a ravine to the thick mountain brush out of view.  We didn’t get a picture this time but we’ll keep trying.  The sheer size of the bird was impressive.  I haven’t hunted Pheasant since I was a teenager in Illinois.  I am dreaming of Pheasant on the table for Thanksgiving this year.

Here is a stock photo of what the bird looked like: 

Idaho is a different kind of beautiful from our previous home in Alaska.  Much dryer and definitely not as green as Alaska.  There are tradeoffs when you relocate. 

We enjoy hot days and blue sky most of the time.  The Payette River and numerous irrigation canals are filled to the brim with flowing water bringing life to this arid valley. 

Every sunset over the distant hills has been mezmorizing.  Once the sun is gone we open the windows to cool off the house and give the air-conditioner a break, with refreshing evening mountain breezes.

We have three acres to tame.  I want more grass around the house as a snake barrier, as well as large grow boxes for our garden.  Jeannie is already deciding what fruit trees she wants palnted.  Every day is filled with plenty of activity.  I'm not out to be a gentleman farmer but rather a productive organic food producer so we can save money and eat healthy.                                  

Saturday, September 1, 2012

3000 Miles to a New Life

We are  one month into retirement and busy as can be.  We love our new home here in Idaho.  We live on an arid mountainside looking southwesterly across a beautiful river valley about 45 minutes from downtown Boise.  Being from Alaska we are going crazy shopping at stores we have not seen for years.  Prices are superb in comparison to Alaskan products that are barged or flown north. 

Our property is over 3 acres of rock hard soil shared with wildlife we can watch from our deck.  The only trees on our land were planted recently by a landscaper.  They are picturesque but have to be watered by our extensive in-ground irrigation sprinkler system.  Yesterday I spent several hours checking each station making sure the oscillating sprinkler heads were operating properly.  I removed weeds that love our land and grow with gusto. 

With mountainside living we must deal with all the critters that have been at home here for many years before the house was placed on “their” property in 2006.  We are becoming familiar with quail, ground-hogs, wasps, snakes, hawks, humming birds, several species of poisonous spiders, and mice.  No bears or moose like our former home in Alaska.  Perhaps if I successfully establish a large garden
I will lure deer and elk onto our new homestead, and we hear coyotes in the distance at night. 

A few days ago the direct TV installer gave me some tips on dealing with rattlesnakes.  Not long after he showed me his footwear, I bought myself some steel-toed tough looking snake boots for working in the yard.  I spent some time moving rocks away from our house foundation to discourage snakes from cozying up to close for comfort.

Mountainside living brings not only new challenges but opportunities as well.  Every sunrise and sunset has been picture worthy.  There has been no such thing as pervasive low-lying grey sky.  The few clouds we see have been large cumulous formations mixed with brilliant blue patches of sky. Watching those clouds move across the valley brings a sense of peace and tranquility. 

Most days have been filled with brilliant blue expanses of sky without a cloud in site and temperatures between 85 and 105 degrees. There has been some smoke in the air from a wild fire northeast of here near Sun Valley Idaho.  But all told, we love living in our new home.  It is different than our last place in Alaska and brings us new sights and sounds.