Friday, March 30, 2012

A Sense Of Belonging

Yesterday I shared some thoughts on having a sense of purpose in your life. The next pillar of well-being is having a sense of belonging. What does this mean? It basically means that you feel like you are part of something bigger than yourself. There’s a saying that “No man is an island”. Despite the feelings of loneliness that we all feel sometimes, the reality is that we are all connected to one another and everyone else on this planet. You disagree? Where do you think your food comes from? Did you grow all of it in your backyard? Of course, a sense of belonging is more than just the reality of connectedness with other people. A sense of belonging would also include a sense of acceptance and relationship. Most people are part of a family, a community, a city, a state, and a country. Beyond this they might also be part of a faith community, a political party, or other groups of people who share your beliefs or values. We have grandparents, parents, spouses, significant others, children, aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces, nephews, in-laws, neighbors, friends, employers, employees, and co-workers. Our sense of belonging can be gauged by the depth of our relationships with all the people in our lives. The more love and acceptance we experience, the more we feel a sense of belonging. I expect my family to love me. It’s part of their job description. Beyond that, it’s all gravy. Someone joked once that my team would jump off the 2nd Street bridge for me. I would never ask them to do that but I do believe that if I fell off the 2nd Street bridge into the river some of my co-workers would jump in the water to save me. When one experiences such a level of love and caring, one realizes that their life has value and acceptance, not to mention the joy of knowing other people want you in their life, all of which are the foundation for a sense of belonging.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

A Sense Of Purpose

One of the pillars of well-being is having a sense of purpose. What does this mean? I suppose it can mean different things to different people so all I can do is share one thing that gives me a sense of purpose. Most of my life I felt very ordinary and average. I was mature and dependable, if sometimes na├»ve, but rarely felt like I was making a difference to anything. I think many people feel like this when they are young and in the early stages of their life. When I began my 50’s I began to see myself differently. I started to realize that although I wasn’t better than anyone else, I was my own unique self. My personality traits, my life experiences, my education, and my inner drives began to work together to form the person that I am today. I started to be more assertive and passionate about my values and beliefs. I discovered that I have a gift for writing and communication. I started sharing the experiences of my life and the thoughts that came to me in moments of contemplation. I became less afraid to share who I am and what I think and feel. People began to tell me that my worldview inspired them, gave them hope, and comforted them. I began to realize that I might be what some would call a “Universal Man”. By that I mean that I seemed able to articulate thoughts and feelings that many people have within themselves but are either afraid to voice or perhaps cannot find a way to express themselves. Some people have accused me of reading their minds and hearts. I don’t know how I know what I know or how I am able to tap into universal feelings. Writing just comes natural to me. All of this has given me a sense of purpose. I now know I make a difference. I still see myself as an average guy but certainly not as a guy without worth. I know my worth and I know my purpose. How that purpose will play itself out for the rest of my life is a mystery I look forward to unraveling. Of course, within the workplace, I still have basic, sometimes mundane, responsibilities that need to be completed and goals that need to be reached. Purpose and goals are not always the same thing but they can be weaved together. My reality is that I discovered my sense of purpose primarily within the workplace. It is mostly through the encouragement and support of co-workers that I have been able to see my gift and sense of purpose.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Well-Being In The Work Place

Yesterday I had lunch with a friend who works for the same company as me but in a different building. We had some engaging conversation about work. Believe it or not, we did not spend the time complaining. We talked about Corporate culture, people’s attitudes about work, and what our company’s new vision of “life long well- being” might mean in practical terms within the workplace. He challenged me to think about this and put some thoughts on paper. I am not prepared to get detailed about this today but it is something I have been thinking about for a while. A vision is only a vision if you don’t experience it on a real and practical level. I remember when I was a novice in a monastery. The primary purpose of being in a monastery is the experience of God. Even as monks we wondered what that meant. We actually had discussions on the topic “What are the practical demands for the experience of God”? Today I would ask the question in a different way. I would ask, “What are the practical demands for the experience of well-being in the workplace”? Some might think the experience of well being and the experience of God are really the same thing. Before lunch was over I was asked what I would like my company and work experience to be like. At a high level, I would like the experience of being and working in my office so enjoyable and fulfilling that people at other companies with great jobs would still want to come to where I work and people who are already employed where I work would never want to leave, even when they are 61 years old, like me, and five years from retirement.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

I Love Music

I’m keeping it light today. I will not write about the true self or the false self or anything deep. Today I will write about one of my true loves. I love music. Music is an important part of my life. Music is to my soul like blood and oxygen are to my body. I cannot imagine a life without music. It is far more than just entertainment for me. It’s part of who I am. I love all kinds of music. I love Beethoven, Mozart, and Bach. I also love Muddy Waters and John Lee Hooker. My favorite jazz artist of all time is Miles Davis. I even love Gregorian chant when the mood strikes me. My true love, however, is rock and roll. I was about twelve years old when I went to my first concert. It was the original Beach Boys. I was thirteen years old when the Beatles were on the old Ed Sullivan show. The Beatles were the soundtrack of my teen age years. When I got married in my early 20’s I sometimes drove my wife crazy with my musical obsessions. My mother said to her, “Don’t worry, he’ll get over it. It’s just a stage he going through”. Well, I am a 61 year old aging hippie who is a Deadhead and I am still not over it. Sometimes my wife still says, “Will you please turn that down”! Music is still a stage for me. In fact, I have stood before many stages in many places and I have seen most of my musical heroes perform live. I still get excited when I see someone walk out on a stage and plug in an electric guitar. I told someone once that if I die and go to Heaven, and there’s no music there, I’ll have to leave.

Monday, March 26, 2012

My Birthday

I am currently sitting at home in my “Mancave” waiting on a repairman, for the second time, to fix my still almost new refrigerator. You’ve probably heard the statement “they don’t make them like they used to”. I think that might be a true statement. Let’s hope I receive world class service when he gets here.

Today is my birthday. I am sixty one year’s old. I don’t feel this old although my granddaughter told me over the weekend that my white beard makes me look like a “Paw Paw”. I believe it was the famous baseball player Satchiel Paige that said, “Age is mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it don’t matter”. Admittedly, I have a few aches and pains that I didn’t have, or didn’t notice, when I was younger. Someone once said that inside every old person is a young person who wonders what the hell happened. I think there’s a lot of truth to that statement. Although my body is sixty one year’s old, in my mind I am only twenty five years old and I have the immature behavior to prove it. Young people might find this difficult to understand but aging isn’t all bad. I actually have enjoyed growing older and, in some ways, I feel like I am in the prime of my life. I’m probably smarter and wiser than I’ve ever been although I am also probably more forgetful. I still love rock and roll like I did when I was a teenager although I don’t jump around as much when I go to a rock concert. Actually I’m pretty impressed with myself that at age sixty one I still go to rock concerts. My best friend from high school, who’s the same age as me, is much the same. We’ve got tickets to see Roger Waters of Pink Floyd at the Yum Center in June. We will hobble in together. The best thing about being my age is that I am still alive. The second best thing is that I am a grandfather. My granddaughter, Chloe, has improved and expanded my life in ways I never could have imagined. It has also been great to see my children grow up and become decent human beings. At age sixty one I am not in a big hurry anymore. It’s easier to be in the moment. Sometimes I get lost in the moment because I don’t know where I am. The one downside of aging, besides having more years behind you than in front of you, is the lack of energy. I am getting tired just writing these thoughts. It’s 9:14 AM and I already feel the need for a nap. Since I am at home, maybe I will do that while the guy fixes my refrigerator.

Friday, March 23, 2012

From The Archives

This week I received a very heartfelt email from a stranger. It was in response to something I wrote a few years ago and published on my blog. I have received a number of similar emails from other people all over the world. The attached reflection has been the most widely read article I’ve ever written and it has also generated the most response. I have been truly touched by the emails I have received. They have reminded me how much we have in common wherever we are on this planet.

When Young People Die
A friend came to me recently after attending a funeral for the 18 year old sibling of one of her best friends. She expressed to me how difficult the funeral was for her and how helpless she felt to console her friend. She asked me what can be said in such a situation. It is difficult for anyone to find the right words in such a situation. I have been through similar experiences. When I was 29 years old, my younger brother in law was killed by a drunk driver. A few years later a child in my neighborhood died in a house fire across the street from where I lived. Another time the only son of a good friend died of cancer at age 20. When my youngest son, Nick, was 17 years old, his best friend died unexpectedly the day after spending the night at our house. Each time I felt helpless as I struggled to find words for a sister in law, a neighbor, a friend, and my son. It is always difficult to deal with the death of a young person. None of us understand why such things happen. If God has anything to do with it, I don't understand what He's thinking. What's his purpose? What's the point? Why is such sorrow brought upon spouses, parents, friends, and relatives? Sometimes I shudder when, in such circumstances, I hear people say, "It's God's will". I don't like to let God off the hook so easily. There is probably a very thin line between what God wills and what God allows. I will accept the fact that many things in life are a mystery and one can have lengthy theological discussions about God and evil and why bad things happen to good people. I don't understand everything that happens in life and I certainly cannot give my friend or others easy explanations for why 18 year olds die and other's live to be 100 years old. Do the good die young? Yes, sometimes. Do bad people live long lives? Yes, sometimes. Do some of us live long lives because we need a lot of time for a deep spiritual transformation to take place within us? This is very likely. Life really is a mystery. It is not likely we will solve its mystery this side of the grave. Through faith we believe and trust that our lives and the lives of others, no matter how short, have a purpose and life is not just a series of random, meaningless experiences. I must believe that life and pain have meaning and someday I hope understand it. Part of the mystery of life is that we never know when it will end. This should motivate us to live each day well and to the fullest.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Worry Is A Waste Of Energy

“Worrying is like praying for what you don’t want”.

I seldom worry. My life experience has been that most things work out as they should so why waste energy worrying? My lack of worrying doesn’t mean I don’t have concerns. I just see most concerns and obstacles as inconveniences and not as crisis’s. I have also learned that most worries are in our head and not based on reality. As Mark Twain once said, “I have been through many terrible things in my life. Some of which actually happened”. My experience of people is that many of them worry ceaselessly. I wondered why some seem to worry more than others. My observation is that women tend to worry more than men. Maybe I don’t worry because my spouse worries twenty four hours a day. According to one personality type theory that I have found to be very true, all the basic personality types fall into one of three subtypes, i.e., gut types, heart types, and head types. I am a gut type. I tend to react to life quickly and from my gut. Typically I over-react. Of course, I prefer to think of this as being passionate. Later, I think myself into being reasonable. Heart types are always wondering how they look to others and what others think. They often base their actions on how others will react. The third group is head types. This type of person lives “in their head”. Head type personalities are fear based personalities. When you think about this you realize that fear is in the head. Most of what we fear in our heads never actually happens in reality. The largest percentage of the general population falls into this category. This is why it appears that so many people are “worry warts”.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Spirituality Of Subtraction

Yesterday I mentioned something called the “Spirituality of Subtraction”. This is an idea that is difficult for the young. It should be. When one is young it is a time to build up and to accumulate. You acquire an education. You begin a career and perhaps start a family. You buy a house and fill it with stuff. Youth is a time of building and gathering. This is the point of the first half of life. More often than not, when we are doing all this building and gathering, we are also creating the illusion of who we think we are. This illusion is what some people call the “false self”. The second half of life is very different. One begins to tear down and let go. Sometimes, despite whatever education you have acquired, you may feel like you don’t know anything at all, but, hopefully, your knowledge has turned into wisdom. When you were young and thought that you were smart and knew everything, that was an illusion of your false self. The career that you spent your entire life acquiring may be slipping away. You may be losing interest in it or it may be losing interest in you. If you’re lucky you have some good relationships with people you love and who love you in return. As you are growing older your children are growing up. They leave your nest and continue their own journey of life. The changes you are going through will also happen to them eventually. At some point you will realize that you no longer need that four bedroom home and the mini-van in the driveway. Your priorities change. When you begin to de-construct and let go, many of your illusions are exposed and your “true self” begins to emerge. Most of you who are young will read this and think “What is he talking about”? Those of you past 50 probably understand me. None of this is good or bad. It is a natural process that we will all participate in with different degrees of satisfaction and pain. If you are interested in learning more about the idea of the false self/true self, or the “Spirituality of Subtraction”, I recommend the books of Thomas Merton and Richard Rohr.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Check Your Tires

Driving home from a movie on Saturday afternoon I thought I had a flat tire. I pulled my car into a parking lot and walked around the car. I also got down on the ground and looked under the car. I couldn’t see anything wrong. I started driving the car home and began noticing a vibration. Even more mystifying was the fact that none of my car’s sophisticated warning systems indicated there was a problem. By this time I am looking at my wife and saying, “Do you feel that”? In my world there is always a chance that whatever I think is happening is really all in my head. At least that’s the consensus of my family most of the time. Yesterday I took the car to the dealership where I bought it and where my son works. Eventually, my son walks into the waiting room and says, “Dad, I don’t know what you’ve done but there’s a chunk of asphalt stuck to your tire. We’re scraping it off as best we can and hopefully the tire isn’t damaged”. The good news is that the asphalt was removed, the tire was saved, and I was happy. Sometimes our lives are like this tire. We’re rolling along, minding our own business on a beautiful day, and then something happens that makes our whole life seem out of whack. More often than not it’s due to some burden or problem we’ve picked up or created. Rarely does the acquisition of anything make us happy. I have found more happiness from letting things go than from taking things on. Some have called this a “Spirituality of Subtraction”. So, as you go through your life today, check your tires. You may have driven over a freshly repaired pot hole like I did and acquired a chunk of asphalt on your tire. Scrape it off and your life will roll much smoother.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Life Is Moving On

In my living room my wife and I have one of those electronic picture frames that contains several hundred pictures from our family’s life. The pictures change every few seconds and they do this twenty four hours a day. However, it seems like every time I actually look at the frame it is always showing the same picture. In the movie “Groundhog Day” the actor Bill Murray seems to be living the same day over and over and over. I’ve also noticed in my daily life that I even seem to see the same strangers every day at the same time doing the same thing. It is very easy to think and believe that life never changes but we all know that it does. My two sons are no longer little boys. They are grown men. People are always asking me, “How old is your granddaughter now”? When I tell them they usually reply, “No way”! When I look in the mirror I see my father with a beard. I was in my 30’s when I began working for my employer and now I am in my 60’s. For a life that never seems to change, much has. Is all this a bad thing? It all depends. If you’ve gone from point A in your life to point B and you can’t remember any of the journey in between, that might be a problem. As I’ve said many times, I try to practice mindfulness so I am awake and present to the moment and I can tell when the current moment moves to the next moment. I write these reflections so I can remember the moments of my life that have passed. Someday my granddaughter and other members of my family can go back and read my stories and they will remember events and occasions long forgotten. My advice to everyone is this. Slow down and pay attention to your life. Write it down. Remember it. If you’re in a rut, climb out. If you always turn right, turn left once in a while. If an opportunity arises to do something different, do it. Drive home a different way. Occasionally go out in your yard in the middle of the night and look at the stars. You won't regret it.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Chloe: Jedi Knight In Training

When I was getting my jacket and lunch container from the back seat of my car this morning I couldn’t help but notice the empty packages from some toys my wife bought my granddaughter. These packages were not from Barbie dolls. They were the remains of packages that contained Star War’s action figures. Chloe is now totally into Yoda, Luke Skywalker, Chewbacca, C3PO, and R2D2, to say nothing of Jabba the Hutt. Chloe is no tomboy. She’s all woman. She has a definte style in clothes and she knows exactly what she wants to wear and how she wants to look. This goes for her hair as well. She is also an adventurous woman. Her current love of all things related to Star Wars is a Deja Vu experience for me. I’ve already been through the entire Star War’s experience with her Dad. In fact, I know that at one time I had purchased every Star Wars action figure, space ship, and creature. If I still had all of them I could put them on eBay and probably retire by the end of the day. My son loves having a daughter who enjoys Star Wars more than Barbie dolls and who also shares his penchant for adventurous activities like four wheeling in the woods. I enjoy having a granddaughter who loves dinosaurs, adventure films, and rock and roll but who is still innocent enough to find humor in SpongeBob Squarepants.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Believe What You Experience

One of my former teachers once said, “We don’t think ourselves into a new way of living, we live ourselves into a new way of thinking”. The great teacher, Buddha, said, “Believe what you experience”. It’s been my experience of life that we often start with an answer and then we build a question. We want things a certain way so then we try to manipulate reality to match our desires. Such manipulation may get us what we want but the side effects can be damaging. Rarely do we just let life unfold. The fact that it’s done that for millions of years doesn’t seem to deter us in our desire to be in control. Most of us try to live according to whatever belief systems we have chosen to embrace. How would life be different if we believed according to what we have experienced? This is a door that can swing both ways. If you’ve never experienced love, it’s difficult to believe in it. On the other hand, if all you’ve known is abuse and hatred, the idea of love can give you hope and lift you by your bootstraps to break the cycle of despair. As always, for me it’s about balance. We need something to believe it. However, if we’ve never had the experience to support and strength our beliefs, they will eventually fall by the wayside. Belief must be balanced with the experience of what we believe.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Listen To Your Body

Recently a friend wrote an article called Listen To Your Body. Basically the article was about knowing your body and discerning when you need to listen to it. Most of us are always pushing our bodies to the limit. Some with physical activity and exercise and others with abuse. Sooner or later your body will push back. When we are young it’s usually a whisper. When we get older it’s often a scream. I had a very busy weekend with little downtime. I ate too much food that should never has crossed my lips and I had too little rest. I got up yesterday mentally prepared to start a new work week. While my body wasn’t exactly screaming, it was talking loudly. It was basically telling me that it needed a day off with few demands, minimal activity, and lots of couch time. Normally I would ignore such a request from my body. Yesterday, however, I decided to listen. My body actually wanted to stay home again today but my work ethic dragged me into the office. I’m sure by the end of the day my body will once again be screaming for some couch time and I won’t put up much, if any, resistence.

Friday, March 09, 2012

Complaining

To hear complaints is wearisome alike to the wretched and the happy.
-Samuel Johnson

I really try not to complain. My basic approach to life is one of gratitude because I know I have been blessed in many ways. When I am seduced into complaining it is usually because I think something is stupid, a waste of time, or has no value that is apparent to me. When I do complain I sometimes become obsessed with whatever I am complaining about. I know that it sometimes starts to annoy other people and most of the time wears me out too. It’s so much better to be happy and content. Everything in life doesn’t have to be perfect in order to be happy. However, to be happy one needs to spend some time occasionally counting your blessings. Too often we focus on what’s missing in life and we don’t spend enough time acknowledging what goodness is in our life. When I avoid the negative it is relatively easy for me to be happy. Generally, it doesn’t take much to make me happy and I am usually content with whatever is available. Although I sometimes think I am a complex person, my basic needs are rather simple. Although I like nice things I don’t think of myself as a materialistic person. Happiness is found direct proportion to our gratitude. When we are happy and content with life we don’t usually complain. The less I complain the less I exhaust myself and others.

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Asleep At The Wheel

I must be asleep at the wheel, or perhaps I was blinded by the four inches of snow we had earlier in the week. This morning I finally noticed that the daffodils are blooming along Interstate 64. For me this is the event that truly signals the beginning of spring. Last night when I was setting out my recycle bin I also noticed a sweet aroma in the air. I must assume the trees and bushes and flowers in my neighborhood are in great anticipation of bursting forth in bloom. My next door neighbor has honeysuckle bushes along the side of his home. In the springtime when I open the windows of my living room, their fragrance fills my home. Although I love snow, and I believe the starkness of winter has its own beauty, I also love spring when the winter chill fades away, the sun shines and I can feel it’s warmth on my face, the air is fresh and sweet, the birds are singing, and the flowers are blooming. The new life of spring and the awakening of nature from its winter sleep, fills me with hope and new enthusiasm for life. It reminds me that life goes on and is always re-inventing itself. The new life of spring reminds me that I must also do the same.

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Your Life Is Your Message

I saw this thought yesterday on Facebook and really liked it. It is very true in my opinion.

Your life is your message to the world. Make sure it’s inspiring.
-Unknown

I guess it is human nature to wonder what people think about us. I know I sometimes wonder what people really think of me. I have my fans but I’m fairly certain that I drive some people crazy and there are other people who simply do not get me. Imagining myself as a human billboard, I also sometimes wonder what message people are seeing when they observe me. I am not a very outgoing person and I don’t usually show a lot of emotion. I wonder if that is interpreted as me being arrogant or in a bad mood? Occasionally I also have moments where I feel giddy and slap happy and then I tend to be comical. Is that interpreted as “Michael is such a jovial person”? I believe the message of my life can best be determined by the things I write. I have written over 1000 “daily thoughts” throughout the years, not to mention the hand written journals I kept before there was email, the internet, and blogs. If anyone wanted to know the real me, I think it’s in the writing. It may be the only thing I am truly comfortable doing and it’s where I believe I am most honest even though I can't always be as honest as I would like. However, it’s not just the writing. Hopefully, the majority of my actions in the last 60+ years, and my faithfulness to my commitments, also say something. The writing, my actions, my faithfulness to commitments, and the daily encounters with others may or may not be inspiring but they are my legacy and my message to the world.

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Priceless!

Yesterday we had almost four inches of sun when I woke up. Today it is 70 degrees. It's springtime in Kentucky!

This past Saturday I went with my oldest son and my granddaughter to see the dinosaur display at the Fairgrounds. I think I was as eager to go as she was since we both love dinosaurs. My wife was not feeling well so we left her in bed. I’m not sure what was the scariest, the T-Rex or the thousands of small children all gathered in one place. For an introvert like me who cherishes his quiet Saturday mornings with my coffee and newspaper, it was quite an adventure. Of course, I always enjoy doing things with my granddaughter because she is so full of life while most of the time I feel like I am out of gas. We had a great time but I admit that I was in need of a nap by the end of the day.

Breakfast Bar at Frisch’s: $30.00

Parking at the Fairgrounds: $8.00

Tickets to the Dinosaur exhibit for one adult, one child, and one senior: $32.00

Extra tickets for the “Special Exhibits” and inter-active displays: $20.00

Two small toys at the “DinoStore: $15.00

Watching Chloe’s excitement and seeing her joy: Priceless!

Monday, March 05, 2012

Bittersweet

Normally I would be giddy with joy for the beautiful snowfall we had overnight. This is the first, and very possibly last, real snowfall we’ll have this winter. However, I know that last night’s snowfall has only added to the misery for all the people affected by Friday’s tornadoes. The severity of the damage, and the loss of life, brought back memories of the spring of 1974 when much of Louisville was leveled by a similar outbreak of tornadoes. The awesome power of nature reminds us how little we are in control. It also reminds us of the fragility of life. In 1974, and during Friday’s tornadoes, I was unaffected. Once again I am grateful to have been spared and I feel sadness for all those who homes were destroyed and most of all, for those men, women, and children who lost their lives. Events such as this should remind all of us to cherish life, cherish those we love, and to always be grateful for all the good things we have and for all the bad things we don’t have.

Friday, March 02, 2012

Leadership

The Merton Institute for Contemplative Living has been studying the idea of leadership in the writings of Thomas Merton. While Merton did not specifically address the issue of leadership, his writings prompted the following questions:

How is the inner life of a leader integral to leadership style?

How are core personality traits reflected in the way a person leads?

The Institute identified the following six key characteristics of a leader.

1. Compassion

2. Courage

3. Humility

4. Relational

5. Clarity of Vision/Intuition

6. Openness to Change

In my opinion, these characteristics support what many refer to as “Servant Leadership”. True leadership is a life of service. In our society, especially in politics, leaders more often than not seek their own self-interests and the promotion of their personal values rather than serve the needs of the people they represent. In history, the greatest leaders have been servants not dictators. Leaders should be compassionate, they should be courageous, they should be humble, they should be people oriented, they should be visionary, they should intuitively know what is the right thing to do, and they should be open to the change that supports what is right.

Thursday, March 01, 2012

Buddhist Economics

One of my co-workers gave me an article on “Buddhist Economics” by Jim Grote. It contains some intriguing ideas, especially about retirement. It says that some life planners are counseling their clients to “focus less on retirement and more on finding meaningful work, and perhaps not retiring at all”. The article quotes the actor/comedian George Burns, who lived to be 100, who supposedly said “Do something you love and you’ll never have to work a day in your life”. Let’s be honest. Most of us dream of retirement because we have spent years of our lives doing work we do not love. We do this for a number of reasons. Some people work only for money. Some people don’t know what they love. Other people can’t make enough money doing what they love to support a family in today’s challenging economy. I have a friend who is a retired Methodist minister. He refers to his retirement as his “re-firement”. Too many of us have a narrow view of retirement. I think for most people retirement means no longer having to work. Retirement should be more than not working. My friend is using his retirement to re-fire and renew himself by doing meaningful work that he did not always have time to do when he had the demands of full time ministry. Another idea in the article was the idea of voluntary simplicity. Instead of always wanting more stuff, learn to live with less. A simple life is much cheaper than a life filled with many things and coupled with the desire for even more things. I am not advocating poverty. A life without the basics and the essentials is not a satisfying life. I think the Buddhists are on to something. A simple life filled with meaningful work, where money is not the primary motivation, would be a great retirement. This is the kind of life I hope to have in the final season of my life.