Crossing milestones and investing with your heart in life | December 2017

The year two thousand and seventeen was one of milestones for me.   I turned 60…and 250.

Two hundred and fifty pounds, specifically. This was an all-time high for me, and it came in mid-summer.  I went on further to hit new highs — or lows, as it were — until I went to the beach and a guy with a harpoon and peg leg kept harassing me. Adding insult to injury, I was rescued afterwards by a group of no good do-gooders from Greenpeace that kept trying to push me back out to sea.

The final straw was when my daughter brought out her sunglasses because I had “more blinding surface area than the sun.” It’s a cruel world… but alas, the statement “Deal with it” is something we all need to learn in life. Preferably at an earlier age than 60.

Reaching this other milestone was a bit of a struggle itself. I obtained neither a red sports car nor a redheaded dream girl half my age, but I flirted with both in my mind. (The price tags made them both turn into nightmares eventually.)

As a kid, I considered “60” to be – somehow — officially old age. Given that I’m there now, I decided to rethink the whole concept. Besides, we are all living longer these days, right? Being a math nerd (I am a financial advisor, after all!) I first went to the numbers. Well, that didn’t help. Unless we know a lot of people that are 120, 60 is not middle age. I haven’t figured out how to reverse aging, either. But I am working on that exercise and diet plan.

Other items of note occurred during this milestone as well. As I’ve mentioned to you before, the middle child got out of pharmacy school, is gainfully employed, and is living on her own. Woo-hoo – success! The youngest is still on the payroll for college tuition, but I’m coping with this by simply being in denial.

I also resigned from my Sunday School teaching job as of December 31st. I’ve taught an adult class for around 12 years, with a year off in the latter third for a little recovery time. Whether your faith is in things seen or unseen, please bear with me for a moment — I promise not to get all theological or proselytizing on you – but it got me to thinking.

For most of the time, I was the youngest in the class. Most of the students were 25 to 35 years older than I am. It was kinda cool that my ninth-grade civics teacher and my seventh-grade physical sciences teacher from public school days were in the class. “Now the shoe is on the other foot,” I told them, laughing maniacally (in my head, anyway.) They were not intimidated. Many relationships that formed in our youth never change.

Back to our topic – this got me thinking about this season of Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hope, Peace and Joy. It is almost a cliché when we say the gift of service is more of a blessing to the giver than to the recipient. However, that saying never rang more truly than it did during my teaching experience. Now, don’t let me mislead you; it was challenging to be tied to that weekly commitment, being there in that classroom on Sunday instead of away enjoying the mountains or the ocean. But I always (okay… almost always) loved the experience and the warmth of heart that remained when the day was over, and the job completed for the week.

This being me to a word or two about Clarice. She was the girls’ gym teacher at Lake Wales Junior High while I was attending there. As such, I had no interaction with her, well… other than for her to yell at me to stop running in the halls during class changeovers!

As her “Sunday School” teacher much later in life, I got to know one of the kindest, wisest, and sweetly spirited people I have even known. I could describe another dozen of the class members in the same way. Also, because of the general age of the class members, I saw many of them – almost 20 of them — through their last days and the transition out of this life. If you haven’t been through it, it’s difficult to understand what a gentle and rewarding time that can be.

Yes, I often chafed at the weekly work load but I found such deep reward in the bigger picture. I won’t segue into how this might relate to financial matters, but you likely get the idea.

What I really want to say is: Have a Merry Christmas — and in life, invest with all your heart.