Retirement...Don't Sit on the Front Porch and Rock Your Life Away!

In retirement, Fran Buie is busier than ever… and having the time of her life.

After a 33-year career working in state government, Fran was ready for a change.

She found fulfillment by embracing lifelong interests and hobbies she had set aside for years… and helping others in her community.

As Fran says, we have limited time on earth, let’s do something worthwhile. We discuss that philosophy and also get into…

  • How to discover what you really want out of life – now

  • Ways to stay engaged and active in retirement

  • The unexpected value of your past experiences

  • The importance of having a Plan A – and a contingency plan

  • And more

Listen now…

Episode Transcript:

John Curry: Hey, folks. This is John Curry. Welcome to another episode of John Curry's Secure Retirement podcast. Today I'm sitting across the table from my friend, Fran Buie. I've been excited about interviewing her because she's an interesting lady. She's had a career with the state government and she teaches, she does artwork, she understands project management. Fran, welcome and I'm looking forward to hearing your insights today.

Fran Buie: Good afternoon. Thank you for inviting me. 

John Curry: You're welcome. Thanks for coming. Tell our listeners who you are. Who is the real Fran Buie and what makes you tick?

Fran Buie: Oh, dear. I worked for the state government. Department of Revenue was my last state agency that I worked for. I worked for state for 33 years. I retired in 2007 from state government, but I still had interest in doing something besides just sitting on the front porch and rocking my life away, so I had a plan and I had a contingency plan. My plan A was to think about the things that interested me, what I wanted to do as far as hobbies, what I wanted to do to give back to the community that has been very generous in supporting me for many a year, and also what could I do that would be a contribution to the community as well as other people. 

When I retired I was looking at project management. That was my last job. I was working with the Department of Revenue on the CAMS project, which was the Child Support Enforcement Management System. It was the first automated system in the United States for child support enforcement. We successfully launched that program and I was very honored and thrilled to be the manager for that when we started launching it. It is in complexity and breadth second only to American Express Worldwide, so it's quite a large program, quite complex, and has been successfully operated for several years now. 

I also had been teaching off and on for years at college/university level as well as teaching adults in outside things like the senior center. I work as an art teacher there. I have several galleries and I will teach different kinds of workshops at the art galleries and also volunteer with AARP. We do tax aid, we do income tax filing for senior citizens as well as others who walk in and would like us to do their taxes. I work doing volunteer work. I'm the art curator for the North Florida Fair each year. We just successfully completed that as well. 

John Curry: I'm worn out just listening to what you're doing. So much for being retired. 

Fran Buie: Well, when you retire I think you need to have a plan and a contingency plan even. My plan A was, I looked at the things that interested me. I had been working in art prior to going to work for the state and I wanted to go back to that. I started taking lessons just to kind of brush up my skills that I had kind of let lay while I was working for the state and I also was thinking of the things that I wanted to do to give back to the community, which is the tax aid program. Giving back to the community through people coming in wanting to have their taxes done as well as teaching. 

I worked with Bainbridge State College. I've worked at the College of Pharmacy at FAMU and at the College of Medicine at FSU teaching prerequisite courses and advanced life support systems, things of that nature. 

John Curry: What words would you share with people who hear you saying what you've done? 33 years of work. Some people hearing this are thinking, "Wow. You've done enough. Slow down. Just go sit on that front porch and rock." And then others would say, "I would love to be more like Fran to learn what my plan A is." We were talking over lunch, most people don't have a plan A. They don't have a plan, period, much less a contingency plan. That's been my experience of 44 years in business. When it comes to retirement planning, most people don't have a clue. It's kind of like, "I'm going to show up and all of a sudden magically Social Security will come in, my 401k, my pension fund with the state," or whatever. So what would you say to the people, two different groups here. One's saying, "Hey, you've done enough. It's okay to go sit on that porch and rock."

Fran Buie: No, it's not. 

John Curry: Why not? Expand on that?

Fran Buie: Why not?

John Curry: I know you enough to know I know the answer, but I want to hear this. I want to hear it out of your mouth. 

Fran Buie: I want to be active. I want to be able to contribute. Sitting on the front porch and rocking your life away, to me it's time wasted. We have such a limited amount of time on this earth, let's do something that is worthwhile that gives us some kind of value to ourselves.

John Curry: Significance. 

Fran Buie: So that whenever we're not here anymore, at least we have left some kind of legacy. That's pretty much it in a nutshell. I can't see not doing something that contributes to society and it helps yourself. It keeps your mind sharp, keeps your body in tune, keeps you active and viable, and gives you pleasure in living. What kind of pleasure can you derive from just rocking your life away?

John Curry: All right, let's take it to the extreme now. If the other person who's listening who says, "Wow. I like that. I like the fact that you're doing so many things where you're bringing value to yourself as well as community. How do I get started?" If you were sitting in front of 50 people who are thinking that way, what would be some of the things you would encourage them to do, their own little project management if you would, to start working on finding these interests like you did? How do they discover what they really want and who they are?

Fran Buie: What are you interested in? Are you interested in reading? Are you interested in photography? If you're interested in photography, can you take classes or have you developed that skill well enough that you could share it with other people? Are you interested in music? What are your interests and then find the community of other people that have the same interests and get involved.

Are you interested in healthcare? Hospitals and healthcare facilities are begging for volunteers to come in and just be there to help people who come in who need a kind word, somebody to pay attention.

John Curry: A smile. 

Fran Buie: Somebody to look at them. Yes, say hello. If you're interested in teaching, there's numerous agencies out there that are looking for people who have experience, life experiences. I can go to a college or I can even go to an adult education class and if they want to talk about business management, how to be a supervisor, some of the criteria that's needed so that you can get credentials to teach. You can go there and provide that kind of a service. It is asked, it's sought after all the time. 

Senior center, you can go into there. They have a whole array of different kinds of classes. Long-term learning opportunities that you can go in, and in fact, you can go into things like the senior center and other like-minded facilities and do long-term learning classes and sometimes you can find out, "Oh, well, I would like to pursue that particular realm of information or do that kind of activity." There's art classes, there's different kinds of crafts, there's photography. There's travel. Get in a group and go traveling if you want to see the world or see other states, other pieces of the country. That's always available to you. 

There's different associations. There's the AARP. Red Cross loves to have people come. Recent hurricane, the Red Cross was seeking volunteers. You could go out and help provide care for those victims of the hurricane. There's things like that that's always available and you come to these agencies and these opportunities with a world of experience because you have been in the work world and you can provide that to the agencies. You can continue to contribute. You'd be valuable. 

John Curry: I remember a trip I was on. I was riding with two people that are like a brother and a sister to me and I made this comment that I've never fully retired because I don't have enough other interests outside of my work. It's Steve and Marjorie and they were there with me when I had my heart attack and had heart surgery back in 2008. They shuttled me around, picked me up, and we'd drive and have lunch and talk, and I've never heard her be so harsh, but she just screamed at me. She says, "Are you kidding me? You like martial arts, you like to work out, you like the time with your grandson. You like to fish, you enjoy hunting, you enjoy just sitting around reading a good book. Are you kidding me? You've got plenty of things to do. All you've got to do is be willing to do it."

Fran Buie: Mm-hmm (affirmative). 

John Curry: There are other interests that I have, but for me, I don't want to ever fully retire. I'm in a business where nobody can force me to retire. They can't say, "Okay, you're 66 now, you've got to retire." They can't do that. I can work ‘til I'm 86 or 106 if I want to, as long as clients want me. But I am to the point where I'm pursuing other things. We were talking about this morning, as we're getting this time of year, taking more time off to go hunting and fishing and things like that with my son and grandson and my brother. 

I sometimes struggle with, okay, I do what I do for a living, but what are the things I really want to do? I have no desire to travel a lot anymore. I hate getting on airplanes now. I will take a trip to conferences, but for me to get on a plane and fly to Europe again, I have no desire to go to Europe. I'm trying to reevaluate what I want. I'm working on my plan A, so I'm getting just as much value from this as other people. 

Fran Buie: That's good. For example, the last couple of weeks have been fairly busy because, like I say-

John Curry: You're always busy. 

Fran Buie: Well, that's true.

John Curry: Hey, when we first started trying to schedule this thing, we started this back in October. You remember that, right?

Fran Buie: Yeah, it's been a while. 

John Curry: Yeah, and you said, "That won't work. That won't work. That won't work. That won't work. This'll work." That's how busy she's been. 

Fran Buie: Yeah, this is like in the first part of November, like I say, I did the fine arts division at the North Florida Fair and we took in over 400 pieces of art in two days and those had to be displayed, hung, and everything so that we could prepare for judging to come in. It was a juried show. That kept me fairly busy putting that together. Also, during the time, I am with the Tallahassee Community Chorus and we had our fall concert in November as well. Then we released the art the 19th of November and I went straight in to, I also teach art, continue teaching the art classes and then we just finished the Seasonal Celebration and we had two concerts back to back, one Saturday and one yesterday, down at Ruby Diamond Auditorium there on the FSU campus. 

It's a matter of just finding what interests you and pursuing it. It sounds simple, it's not. You have to really think fairly long and carefully as what really interests you. What's your passion? What is it that you always thought? When you were working, "Wow, if I had time I would like to do ... " Fill in the blank. Now you can. You don't have to work anymore, so now you can. Fill in that blank and do it. 

John Curry: Let's talk a little bit about your artwork for a minute. You love doing art and you said you went back to school yourself to start taking classes to get better. But you also sell your art now too, so you are doing something you enjoy doing and you make money doing that. 

Fran Buie: Yeah, I do. 

John Curry: Did you intend to do that or was that just, happened? How did that come about?

Fran Buie: It came about, really I went back to brush up my skills, didn't have any kind of thought about what I was going to do once I started getting a room full of paintings stacked one on top of the other. 

John Curry: You had to do something with them, right?

Fran Buie: And started teaching and during the time, I contacted a couple of galleries and they says, "Well, we would like your art." I says, "Great." So I started taking my art to some galleries and I let them sell it, but then I thought, "Hmm." And I will have occasional dues and sell the art myself. It supports my hobby because art, the canvases, the oil paints, can be kind of expensive and by selling my art, I am supporting that habit, if you will.

John Curry: Yeah, but you also get to see your art in other places. 

Fran Buie: I do.

John Curry: It's like, I have a piece of your artwork here and every day I see it, especially when I come back from getting water from the kitchen, it's just right there in that hallway, it just stands out. That has to give you a lot of sense of accomplishment and pride, I would think.

Fran Buie: It does.

John Curry: That when you see your work, you say, "Okay, I did that."

Fran Buie: It does.

John Curry: A visible representation of that work.

Fran Buie: In a juried show, I recently submitted some artwork that won second place and I'm really good friends with the person that won the first place. I told her she cheated me out of my first place ribbon, but that's okay. The challenge is on now and the two of us are kind of friendly competition. Let's see who wins first next year. 

John Curry: I can see you doing that. "You beat me this year, but I'm coming after you."

Fran Buie: Well, when she brought in her artwork, I looked at her and I says, "Well, there goes my first place. Okay, next year."

John Curry: Talk about the teaching. Is there someone who's listening to this that might go, "Wow. I have a lot of knowledge. There are things that I could ... " Because all of us have acquired knowledge.

Fran Buie: Right. 

John Curry: The question comes, how do you teach in today's world with social media and the internet, it is so easy to create information products. Whether you sell on eBay, Amazon. My book was published in 2009. It's also available on Kindle. There's no limit today to being able to teach what you know. Talk a little bit about that.

Fran Buie: No. A lot of people will go back, they'll get their education or teacher's certificate so that they can teach. You don't need to do that. A lot of times you can go to different organizations, the Red Cross, you can go to senior center. There's other agencies where you can teach a class and share your knowledge because a lot of the things that you share, your life experiences cannot be gotten in classroom, cannot be incorporated into textbooks. It's things that you pick up through working and those work experiences can sometimes be way more valuable than that college degree or that credential that you get by taking classes or passing exams. 

You can teach and it can be very rewarding. I love it whenever I am teaching a management class and I see the lights go on and the students start interacting. To me, then I know that I have done what I need to do. 

John Curry: I agree. Life experiences are more important than many times what you get in the classroom. You mentioned earlier while we were having lunch leading up to our podcast, talking about teaching a course to help people prepare for a certain exam. 

Fran Buie: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

John Curry: Are you studying just to pass an exam, or are you truly acquiring information and knowledge?

Fran Buie: Well, we have a couple of different ways that we go about it. I am the former president of the Tallahassee chapter of PMI, which is the Project Management Institute. What we do is, we teach a P and P prep class and it is simply, and we tell everybody, "You can take this class so that you can sit for the P and P exam," and that's what we're doing. We are teaching them how to pass the P and P exam. Now, my data is somewhat dated, but nationally the P and P exam, people sitting for it, there's a 60% pass rate, which means 40% of the people sitting for that exam are not going to pass the first time. So we're teaching you the skills to pass that exam.

However, a lot of times what you have are people who just want to be able to manage a project or understand the structure of a project and how they can be an asset in that project. And so right now I am developing the curriculum so that our local chapter can teach what we call Project Management Fundamentals. It gives you the structure and codifies the procedures that you go through in order to manage a project and increase the probability of that project completing on time and on budget. 

We do that. It is available to anyone interested in project management and how projects work and how you put them together, how you set up the sequencing of a project so that you can go from beginning to end and be successful. What you can do, what your contingency plans are, what your risk exposure is, and how you address these kind of issues whenever you've got a project. 

John Curry: Tell people how to learn more about that. So, when a class is available, if they're interested, they can attend it. 

Fran Buie: If you're interested, you would go to our website. It's PMITLH, it's the Tallahassee chapter of Project Management Institute, and look at the events calendar. Also, you can contact, there's going to be a listing of the board members with their contact information. You can contact them and you ask about signing up for classes and come in and attend the classes. 

John Curry: Tell us what project management is. What is managing a project?

Fran Buie: Project management is, well, let me back up a little bit. The state of Florida as well as approximately 27 or 37 other states in the U.S. have implemented statutory language that provides for projects. Now, a project can be any kind of unique product or service that is offered. For example, if you are wanting to develop a specific kind of system, software system, to monitor some kind of a function or a program, that would be considered a project. If a project is valued over a certain amount, say $1 million or $2 million, statutory language in many of the states in the U.S. require that there be a certified project manager both on the state side and on the vendor side. The P and P credential is quite valuable for that reason because there is a demand for project managers. 

However, a lot of people will not necessarily want to sit for that credential. It is a fairly tough test to pass and they may not have the number of hours required as a prerequisite for being able to sit for the exam, or they may just simply not have that kind of an interest. They maybe are an accountant, but they need to work with these project managers and be able to talk their language and so they want to have the project fundamentals. Taking that, they can learn what it is when we talk about risk exposure, what it is when we talk about contingency plans or want to mitigate something. We talk about different project management plans and how we sequence different things and project life cycles. 

The fundamentals course gives you all of this, kind of gives you an overview of what a project is, how it is operated by a project manager, what the steps are that they go through, the different things that they contemplate whenever they have situations occur. You go over budget, you go over your schedule, behind schedule, or you have an opportunity that comes in that would be good, but it's going to impact the project. How do the project managers deal with that? The fundamentals or the overview course gives you that kind of an insight as to the thought processes that go on. 

John Curry: I want to take that course myself. We say project, but project could be something as simple as, okay, we're going to, as a family, do this project in the backyard. We're going to build a tree house. That's a project. I'm thinking of some projects we've done with Boy Scouts where the adults and the kids go, "We've got this job to do over here," so somebody had to take over and become the leader. 

Fran Buie: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

John Curry: Somebody had to take control and our job was to get the boys to do it, not us do it. Get somebody involved and get going and manage this project. That's what becoming an Eagle Scout's all about. They'd have a project and work toward that. 

Fran Buie: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

John Curry: So that's what went through my mind when you first used the phrase project management, because it could be something as simple as you doing it at home, or it could be a big complex multi-million dollar enterprise in the business world.

Fran Buie: Well, I have a friend who belongs to a group that go camping every year, or glamping they call it because they have these motor homes, gorgeous. She will sit down and map out where they're going to go. One year they decided they were going to tour the west and they had all the states that they were going. It is a project to sit down and figure out where the parks are that will support the particular kind of array of motor homes that they have, and dates, they'll sequence it and you've got to figure out what the cost is going to be for both the maintenance, the gas, the food, the campsites.

John Curry: And then the unplanned things that pop up. 

Fran Buie: And the unplanned things that pop up. Every year she's the P and P. I tease her. She says, "I don't want to manage a project." No, you do it every year. Because sometimes it's just nothing more than that tour during the summer, it's a project because you have to plan that. It just doesn't happen. You can't just kind of meander around and think, "Oh, that campsite looks great."

John Curry: Let's just pull in. 

Fran Buie: Yeah. Doesn't work that way. And sometimes it could be nothing more than a church bizarre or going to the Alternative Christmas that was held this last weekend. That's got to be planned. It just does not happen. Those are projects. 

John Curry: Right. Planning for a seminar, That's a project.

Fran Buie: Planning for a seminar is a project. It has a definite beginning, a definite end, and it's a unique service for that particular thing. That's a project. 

John Curry: I like to think in terms of managing your team. What are we trying to accomplish when it comes to anything? Your time, your energy, your attitude, your mission. What's your mission? Sometimes people will come in and say, "What would you like to accomplish?" "I have no idea." "What do you mean you have no idea? You drove across town to be here, you're going to be in an hour and a half meeting with me and my team. So what would you like to accomplish?" "I don't know. I haven't give a thought to my retirement or whatever to plan. 

Let's back up, because if we don't know what the mission is, we don't need to waste our time and energy. All it's going to do is screw up your attitude because you're going to get frustrated and I'll get frustrated, so let's work on your mission. Let's focus there. Let's determine what it is you want to accomplish and then we'll work backwards into it and in just a few minutes you can see them, all of a sudden they're like, "Wow. Okay, now that I have some idea of at least where I want to go, now I have a better attitude about it, I'm more open. Now I'm willing to invest the energy and the time to get the result.

Fran Buie: Retirement planning is a project.

John Curry: It's a big time project and it's a never-ending project because just about the time you think you've got it figured out, Congress will change the tax laws or they'll change Social Security or Medicare or Medicaid. So if some law changes that just all of a sudden blindsides all the work you did.

Fran Buie: Or you have some kind of life event that impacts that plan.

John Curry: Right. Unplanned life events we call those. 

Fran Buie: Mm-hmm (affirmative). We call them known unknowns. 

John Curry: Known unknowns, I like that. 

Fran Buie: Or unknown knowns. 

John Curry: Unknown knowns. Something's coming that you're not going to like, right?

Fran Buie: Yeah.

John Curry: What advice would you offer people who are still working that are listening to this and they're thinking, "Wow. I'm five, maybe even as far as 10 years, away from retirement." Talk to us a little bit about when did you start thinking about retirement to take on these other activities. You didn't just do it all of sudden when you retired.

Fran Buie: No. I knew that I was going to be retiring at a certain point in time and I had started thinking about what it was that I wanted to do, what kind of goals I wanted to achieve, what was on my bucket list. 

John Curry: Wait a minute, goals? What are goals?

Fran Buie: Goals. 

John Curry: Why would goals be important, Fran. You're retired. You don't need to worry about goals.

Fran Buie: Of course you do. If you don't have a goal, then what's your purpose? If you don't have any kind of objective, what kind of guidance are you going to give yourself? Again, if you don't have any goals, if you don't have an objective, you don't have what the end is going to be. How much money do I want, how much do I need to retire and be able to do X, Y, and Z, and how do I get there with that? 

My husband and I started planning our retirement fairly late, I think, because we were almost 40 when we started planning what we wanted to do when we reached 65 or whatever. Then whenever I was about 30 years into state government, I started thinking, well, what do I want to do, because in about three to five years I'm going to be getting out and I don't want to just fade away.

John Curry: Sit on that front porch and rock away. 

Fran Buie: Sit on that rocking chair. I literally started making lists. Project managers are really bad about making lists. I started making a list of the things that I wanted to do, the things that I was interested in. I was interested in art. I wanted to take that back up because I kind of let it languish. I have a degree in voice performance in music. I wanted to get back in to that. 

I had been teaching classes off and on all through my career because I had started out looking in the medical field, was going to become a surgeon, and there were things that happened in my life that had a pretty big impact on that, but I was already pretty much in to the health field so I wanted to carry on with that, which is partly why I was teaching advanced life support at the different colleges, and I wanted to go back to that. 

I had somebody approach me with tax aid because I work with numbers. As a project manager, you've got budgets. I had a lot of numbers and statistical experience and I thought, "Hmm. Well, that could be interesting," and so got added to my list. So whenever I started thinking about what I was going to do when I retired, I went to my list and I says, "Okay, this is what I want to do. Now, how do I go about accomplishing that?" 

That's when I started reaching out to the different agencies and I still remained active with the local PMI chapter, so I teach classes there for them. I had, actually, Bainbridge State College reached out to me asking if I would teach a project management class up there, which is why I started teaching that, although I teach life support at FAMU and FSU. 

John Curry: Interesting. It's interesting to me that you just said that some things you went looking for and some found you because somebody would say, "Hey, we need help with this. Take a look at it." That would imply you would have to be somewhat open and listen and attentive when things come our way, right?

Fran Buie: We do. Don't shut something down because maybe it's not exactly what you had in mind, but then that may not be the final thing either on a product.

John Curry: True, but do you have trouble saying no to projects you really don't want to spend your time and energy doing? Do you have difficulty saying, "No, thank you. That's not for me"?

Fran Buie: No. 

John Curry: Well, I guess not because you're so busy, it's easy for you to say no. But I know a lot of people who have retired and they get caught up in volunteering, doing things that they really don't like doing, but they feel like they can't say no and they can't say, "Excuse me, it's time to settle down."

Fran Buie: No. I mean, yes, I want to contribute, I want to be active, I want to be engaged, but at the same time I recognize that I need downtime too. You have to renew and regenerate yourself, so you have to take care of yourself. Part of taking care of yourself is also recognizing what's available to you, what kind of opportunities there are. 

John Curry: I just had a thought pop in my head. I think the title of this podcast is going to be, Don't Sit on the Front Porch and Rock Your Life Away.

Fran Buie: Good. 

John Curry: I love that line. That's a great line. Anything you want to share in our final three or four minutes to our audience? Carte blanche, anything you want to share.

Fran Buie: Embrace life. Don't waste it. Your time is precious. Use it the way that makes you happy, but also can give value to those around you, those that you care about, and the community in general. 

John Curry: I use to say, life's too short to not do what you want to do. Now I have a different view. Life's too long. I keep that heart-shaped pillow there to remind me of my heart surgery July 10, 2008. It reminds me that any given moment, my heart could stop, your heart could stop sitting here, but the bigger reason it's there is to remind me to have the heart big enough to challenge people and get them to think about some of the things we're talking about now and that's why I want to do the podcast, because we get a lot of good information out there. 

I had a lady call me yesterday, she said, "I was just listening to your podcast and it was awesome." It was Dr. Kubiak, Larry Kubiak, and if just one person hears this and they benefit from it, it's worth the time, and more than one will hear it because people, they do tune in and listen to it. I thank you so much for taking your time and sharing with us today and I think we should do this again. Somewhere in the future we'll pick another topic or do an update. 

Fran Buie: Well, thank you for inviting me. 

John Curry: Thank you, Fran. Thank you so much.

2018-71422 Exp 12/20


The Right Type of Working Vacation

The average American gets only 10 days of vacation per year. Even worse, a recent study found that 24% didn’t use any of their vacation days, and more than half didn’t use all of their days off.

Larry Simmons is bucking that trend. After 40 years of working an 8 to 5 job this consulting engineer decided to “slack off.”

He and his wife, Carol, travel around the country in their RV when and where they want to. Thanks to the Internet, Larry is able to take his work on the road.

We discuss how to set up a “mobile office,” as well as…

  • The unique community you find in RV parks

  • How to get into national parks for free

  • Ways to try out the RV lifestyle without a huge commitment

  • The best-kept secret in the American West

  • And more

Listen now…


Episode Transcript:

John Curry: Hi, this is John Curry. Welcome to another episode of John Curry's Secure Retirement Podcast. I'm sitting here today with my friend, Larry Simmons. Welcome, Larry.

Larry Simmons: Welcome, John.

John Curry: I've been wanting to interview you for a long time, Larry. Because every time we get together, I'd hear you tell the stories between you and Carol talking about your travels with your motor home. So, I want to get into some of that, because as you know, we focus on retirement planning. And it's not just about the numbers, it's not just about money. It's what the heck will you do with your time when you retire? And sadly, too many people wait until some magic age to retire to do things, then they're sick, they're hurt, they can't do it, or worse, either the husband or wife dies.

And I've been fascinated by the fact that you and Carol didn't do it that way. You planned along the way, and you really engineered your work life to where you could do things and travel, and not have to wait until some magic retirement age. So, would you take a moment, Larry, and just share with our listeners a little bit about your background, Carol's background, and how you were able to make all this work, from the standpoint of doing the work you do, and doing the travel you do?

Larry Simmons: Well, John, I worked full-time for I guess, almost 40 years. Going to work every morning, 8-5. Then I began slacking off. I'm a consulting engineer, so when I decided that we were going to travel, I just did not take on as much work as I normally would. I now work with another company and I have the ability to do that when our workload gets kind of low. And then the most important thing that enabled me to do that, ironically, was the Internet.

John Curry: Yes.

Larry Simmons: The company I work for now, all my clients could email job information, auto cad drawings, and I would do the design in the RV, sitting there sometimes all day long on weekends, or at night, and crank out their drawings, and then email them back to them. 

John Curry: So, you had a mobile office?

Larry Simmons: That's what I had, yeah. And we have friends that we travel a lot, kind of caravan, they call it. He is a specialty advertiser salesman, so he can do all his work over the phone, similar to the way I do over the Internet.

John Curry: Nice. 

Larry Simmons: And he works at night. Sometimes we stop and stay a whole weekend at a campsite so we can do this work, you know. So, it worked out pretty good that way. I'm not fully retired. I still work. And we still have a home. A lot of people decide they're going to travel in an RV, they sell their home. But we maintain ours here in Tallahassee, and we go travel. Just recently, we had our longest trip, which was five weeks, going up north to Michigan and over to the west. We didn't get out too far west, because of the fires out there. So, we went down, visited Colorado, and then came back around, and came home. So anyway, we do enjoy our trips, weekend trips, are two or three nights. 

We go up into Georgia, we go down to go south. During the wintertime, there's still plenty of camps available because they're not full-time RV places. You pay 30 or 40 bucks a night. But they have them for people that are there for all during the winter. So, we're going to do some of that here, probably in January, just go South, maybe all the way down to Key West.

John Curry: Wow. Let's break this up in little pieces. You just covered a whole lot.

Larry Simmons: Yeah.

John Curry: You jumped from going on a five-week trip, I could just imagine people sitting there listening to this going five weeks? Are you kidding me? You're on the road for five weeks? And then you made a comment about weekend trips.

Larry Simmons: Yeah.

John Curry: So, let's back up just a little bit. Tell us how you and Carol got interested in even taking trips in a motor home. How did that come about?

Larry Simmons: Well, we had friends that bought one, and had it quite a few years before we decided to get one. They encouraged us to do it. And we traveled with them on a trip, and we saw the things that you can do, rather than go stay in motels everywhere. It's just the, stay in the parks, which are very nice. And it just kind of caught on, you might say. We just started enjoying the outdoors. And it's very good exercise.

John Curry: Yes.

Larry Simmons: You're always active.

John Curry: When you go to the parks, you and Carol do a lot of getting out walking, exploring the nature trails and things?

Larry Simmons: Yes, we do.

John Curry: That's what Pat and I did. When we first got a motor home, we bought what I call an old clunker. Very, very old one. But it satisfied our need to find out number one, would we like doing it, and then later we upgraded. But I was fascinated, matter of fact, every time I go to an RV park, if you had the hood open or it looked like you are working on something, you would have three or four people come over and offer to help. Is it still like that?

Larry Simmons: Oh, yeah. We just had a recent experience. We were in Monument Valley, and one side of our Coach was facing towards the southern sky, which we had the sun directly. Well, I let out the awning, and it malfunctioned, it wouldn't come back in. So, they were very nice there at the camp. We were there for only one night, and it was full the next night. So, they sent a crew over there, and they got a ladder, and they got up there and screwed it back together for me, and off I went.

John Curry: Nice. You mentioned Monument Valley. While we were having lunch you mentioned that. Tell the folks a little bit about Monument Valley. It's a pretty well-kept secret, from what you were saying. So, share a little bit about that.

Larry Simmons: Well, it's an area, and part of it is in the northeastern Arizona and southeastern Utah. Most of it is in Utah. And it's just an area of the country that's not a lot of hotels, and not a lot of shops. It's just small-town areas there. And we traveled through there. And they've shot a lot of movies out there. It's a beautiful place to go. And they do have ... there at one of the towns, they do have a hotel. You have to make reservations in advance. I see a lot of tour buses out there. So, it's just a place that is just not on the way to go anywhere. If you were going to the Grand Canyon, you normally wouldn't go by Monument Valley, because you've got to go across a lot of back roads, you might say. So, it's really nice. We've been there three times.

John Curry: And you were telling us earlier, it's not a national park.

Larry Simmons: No, it's not. It's all private owned. But it's just south of all of the national parks in southern Utah. There's five of them, I think, and we've been all five of them. 

John Curry: That's good. Talk a little bit about, you were talking earlier something about a golden pass, or something that's available-

Larry Simmons: Yeah, if you're 62 and above, you can get what's called a Golden Age pass from the National Park Service. I got mine at the gate of Yosemite National Park. We were driving up the gate and-

John Curry: Memorable.

Larry Simmons: Yep. And I just told guy I wanted to pass, and you fill out a little slip or form and hand it to them. And I think they mail it to you. You have to show them a driver’s license. But anyway, the National Park's free, most of them. Some of them are not, and I don't know why. But, and all the national monuments.

John Curry: And let's be clear, this is not because of having a motor home, this is anybody can do it?

Larry Simmons: No, that had nothing to do with it. No, you can drive in the car. You have to go through them in a car, anyway-

John Curry: Right.

Larry Simmons: ... most of the time.

John Curry: Right.

Larry Simmons: But it also gives you access to the Corps of Engineers Parks. And they built quite a few of them around the country. There are four of them, I think, up the Chattahoochee River in Georgia, you can go up to. And there's one in, north of Atlanta, and there's ... I don't think Florida has but one. But most of these parks were built by the CCCs in the 30s. But with that pass, you can get into them and stay a couple of nights for like, $15.

John Curry: Pretty cheap trip.

Larry Simmons: Yeah, it is.

John Curry: Pretty cheap. I asked you earlier to think back and be prepared to talk about one of your most memorable trips. You started to cover it, and I wanted you to hold it a little bit, but you said something about possibly, the first trip you took out West in an RV, because it reminded you of when you were a little boy. Tell us about that.

Larry Simmons: Yeah, I had an uncle that lived in Washington State, and my grandmother lived in Bellflower, California, outside of Los Angeles. So, we took a trip out there, and went across the northern United States in a car. And then we went through Yellowstone, we went out to, by Grand Coulee Dam, and Rocky Mountain National Park, and went to Washington State, and then went down the West Coast, Los Angeles. And then kind of made a circle and came back around through Arizona, through Texas, and back home.

John Curry: You were how old, then?

Larry Simmons: I was seven.

John Curry: Seven?

Larry Simmons: Yeah.

John Curry: That's a big trip for a seven-year-old.

Larry Simmons: Well, it is. I think that whole trip took about three weeks. But anyway, we did that. And of course, since then, I did not have the opportunity to go back and do it again. But we did take, before the RV, we would take vacation trips flying. We flew to Colorado and then went to Steamboat Springs, and places like that. But I would be flying in a plane, looking out the window, thinking of all these things we can see between here and there. 

John Curry: And you were missing it, because you're in the air.

Larry Simmons: Yeah. And there it is. Even though some people say no, I don't want to go in an RV because I can go in the car just as easy. Well, you wouldn't normally go there if you were flying and renting a car. You would have a certain radius that you'd go. And I know people that have flown into Denver and gone all the way up into Wyoming to Yellowstone and back, and around. But you travel all the way across the United States, you see things that you don't normally know that, you don't even know they're there until you come upon them. 

John Curry: I haven't traveled near as much as you have by motor home, but the trips I have taken, what I love the best about it was the spontaneity. You're driving down the road, all of a sudden you see something, you say, "Wow, let's stop and explore that. Let's do this, let's do that." So sometimes, the things that just happened were more fun for us than the things we had planned.

Larry Simmons: Yeah, that's true. You have to ... First of all, if you're travelling in RV, you have to know where you're going. Because you can't get on a road that won't support 15 tons.

John Curry: You got any stories you can tell us about that, about taking the wrong turn or something?

Larry Simmons: Oh, yeah. It happens quite frequently, especially when you're using a GPS.

John Curry: Yes. Tell us about that.

Larry Simmons: Well, the second trip we ever went on in an RV, we went down to Crystal River. And they had a park that was not on US 19, it was back off of that, I'd say a mile or so. And the GPS took us back in there, and went around, and we wound up in the very rear of the shopping center. It says, "You are here now."

John Curry: Shopping center.

Larry Simmons: Yeah. So, we figured it out fast, that wasn't where we were going to stay. So anyway, it also finds roads that have been closed. We went into a private residential country club type place, and pulled through the gate. And the guy said, "You can't go through here." Well, I was pulling a car, which I couldn't back up. So, I had to get out and cut the car loose, and my wife had to drive it. And I had to turn it around in there. That took, with a 35-foot RV, it took some room to do that, and some time. So, you'll have those kinds of experiences.

John Curry: Let's pause here for a second and ask this question. For someone who's listening to this, and they're like, "Wow, that's fascinating. I've considered it," what are some of the things that you would advise them to consider before they just make a big leap and go buy an expensive motor home? Should they rent one first, go with some friends like you did? What thoughts do you have?

Larry Simmons: Yeah, there are rental places. Most of them that I have seen in the RV camps are this Cruise America rents them. But they rent what's called a Class C, which looks like a truck. It's actually a truck frame, which has an RV section on the back of it. And they're not very big. And so, sometimes people will go in these, and they're not comfortable, so they don't want to go back. But I guess you'd have to go to a dealership or something, and go in and look at one, and see all the features they have and that, to see just what size you think you want. Because you're going to have basically, the same problems with all of them. If you get anything over 25 feet, you're going to have, you can't just park anywhere.

John Curry: Right.

Larry Simmons: You got to have a place to pull over if you want to stop and get out. And mainly for me, we stop in a rest area. We stay, in towns we go into shopping centers. And we can't park on the street, but if we want to go around a particular town, we have to stop at a shopping center, cut the car loose, and drive around. So, that's kind of how you'd work that. And then, of course, we have gone into town, cut the car loose, and went out and stayed all day, down at a national park or something. Driving through it. And so, we try to plan the trip to where we spend the night as close as we can, and then drive the rest of the way.

John Curry: Walk us through a little bit on how you and Carol determine when to take trips, and where to go. I know you have children, you go visit them. So, tell us a bit about that. But then, go beyond that and, do you just, you see something on television, say, "Let's go there"? Or do you read about some of them?

Larry Simmons: Well, I have to look at my schedule, because I still have work to do. And we kind of plan it in advance now that ... For instance, if you're going to Glacier Park, we've scheduled to go up there twice and we haven't made it yet. Of course, you have to get your reservations ahead of time, because it's way out in the middle of nowhere. And they have several RV camps there, so you kind of had to find out the time of year that you could go, and not be overrun by crowds of people. We always thought in traveling, we'd go after school starts so there's not as many people traveling. But September and October are two of the busiest times of year for all these RVs.

John Curry: Why do you think that is?

Larry Simmons: People got more time.

John Curry: Interesting.

Larry Simmons: Yeah.

John Curry: So, you'd think that kids are back in school, so there back with the kids. But they're not, taking time off.

Larry Simmons: I don't know.

John Curry: Interesting.

Larry Simmons: We went several years ago to Grand Canyon, and we couldn't even park. We drove up there from Flagstaff, little town to the east of Flagstaff where we were staying in an RV park, and we drove up there. And there wasn't a place in the parking lot. I found a place and pulled up off the curb on some rocks. We had to walk down. 

John Curry: You just made me think of something that you mentioned while we were having lunch, and that is, and I'm going to throw it out and then I want you to explain what you meant by it. You said, "You have to learn what your Coach is capable of doing." Expand on that.

Larry Simmons: Well, you have to know first of all, weight. I have to be concerned about the weight. There are weight restrictions on, especially when you get off the interstate highways or off the US highways. And then, my Coach is 12' 6". And my rule of thumb is, don't go under, try to go under anything less than 13'. 

John Curry: So, 12' 6", meaning the height of it?

Larry Simmons: The height of it, yeah. And in several cases, the width, if they have an obstruction in the road or working on the road, you got to be ... But I always look at it like, you got kind of three-dimensional. You got to look both ways, and then you have to be aware of what's overhead. And so, that's one restriction. The other thing is that, you go into someplace and you don't have turnaround space. And some places do have signs, that says there's no turnaround for RVs. And I have been down a road and had to cut loose and back up the road. 

John Curry: Because you weren't paying attention to the sign?

Larry Simmons: No, because they just didn't tell you.

John Curry: Didn't tell you?

Larry Simmons: No, they didn't tell you anything about it. And so, you don't want to travel off the road to go see some site. The road may be okay, but you get up there and there's just absolutely no way you can get it off the road into the parking lot.

John Curry: You have to back up 30 miles.

Larry Simmons: Yeah. So, things of that nature. Just know what it can, if you purchase one, you'll find that out fairly quickly.

John Curry: Yes.

Larry Simmons: You say, "Well, I want to stop at this restaurant in a little town, but all they have is street parking." Well, I parked and took up three or four parking spaces.

John Curry: I remember the first time I did that. I forget the little town I was in, now. It was in Texas, because I bought a motor home so I could take my mother and my son. My son was about eight years old at the time. We were going to take her back to Texas. I almost had the name of the town. Granville, I think it was. There was no place to park, so I ended up parking on the street, and I took up two parking spots. And a local police officer came over, and he said, "Sir, I'm going to give you 10 minutes to move that. I know it's hard to find a place, but that is your problem, not mine." And I said, "Well, what's the price of the ticket?" 

And he looked at me and he goes, "Oh, so we're going to negotiate now?" I said, "No, sir, I'm just curious as to what it's going to cost me for the ticket." He said, "Well, we're a small town. It's only going to be $20." And I said, "Well, once you give me the ticket, is there any limit on how long it sits there?" He looked at me, he goes, "You know what, sir, just leave the damn thing where it is." So, no ticket. He walked off. And my mom started laughing. She goes, "Son, I can't believe you did that." I said, "Well, think about it, Mom, where am I going to park at?"

Larry Simmons: Yeah, where are you going to park, yeah.

John Curry: So, my mindset was, "Okay, if it's up to 50 bucks and he's not going to tow it, hey, I'll pay the ticket." But he didn't, he ended up not giving me a ticket. And he walked away and left it be. And we saw the little town, got back in the motor home, and drove off. That just popped in my head, remembering that. My son thought that was hilarious. "My daddy almost got arrested over parking a motor home." But that's the fun stuff, too, the stuff that you get to do. You meet people that you would not have met otherwise.

Larry Simmons: Yeah.

John Curry: And most of my RV experience was buying a motor home to go to the FSU football games and tailgate. Then I would travel some, but not much.

Larry Simmons: Well, you know, I was asked that question 10 years ago, "Bring your RV out here." I said, "All right. That sounds real good. One question. Where are you going to park it?" All those RV places they have off of Jackson Bluff Road, and they're all taken up. There are people that rent those, and has probably got a reservation for a long time.

John Curry: Yes.

Larry Simmons: You can't park on the street, and you can't park at these apartments. Where are you going to park it?

John Curry: One time, you could have. But you can't do it now. I know years ago, when I was going to the games regularly, I had a reserve spot. And you had to reserve it well in advance, for the season.

Larry Simmons: Oh, yeah.

John Curry: But I had a season pass, so I could just drive up there to the same spot each time. I don't know how it is now. I haven't done that in probably, eight years, so I don't even know. But I know they were in high demand. I do know that. 

Larry Simmons: Yeah.

John Curry: So, let's go back to some of the trips. Talk a little bit about your children. I think you have some in Oklahoma, and some in Maryland?

Larry Simmons: Yeah, I have-

John Curry: So, talk a little bit about how you plan trips to go see the family.

Larry Simmons: Well, if I'm going west, I go out and see my son. He's in Tulsa. We schedule it ahead of time. And I'm fortunate, I can stay in his driveway.

John Curry: Your own private lot.

Larry Simmons: All I’ve got to do is plug it in. He doesn't have sewer connection, but I don't need it. But if I go north to Maryland, my daughter's in Westminster, Maryland. And the closest RV park is 15 miles south of her, so, right off of I-70. We have to park there, and go up there and plan a day and visit, and then go back. And then her daughter lives over there north of Baltimore, my granddaughter, on the north peak of the Chesapeake Bay. So, it's quite a trip. That's about an hour and-a-half trip up there, to see her. So anyway, we plan these trips, and go by there and see them. 

John Curry: Talk a little bit about some of these weekend trips coming up in the future. It sounds to me like you got some of those in mind. Tell us a little bit about that.

Larry Simmons: Yeah, we just go and relax. We walk, and we have kayaks. If we decide to take them, we can put them on the car. And we just have a relaxing weekend at the Corps of Engineers Park, or some other park. But if you're going to someplace like Orlando, my son and his family are going to be down there in January. We are going to go down and see them. But as close as we can get to them is about 20 miles. I don't know the exact name of the town. Carol made the reservation. But that's about as close as you can get to Orlando.

John Curry: That's still better than driving four and-a-half hours one way.

Larry Simmons: Oh, it is. Yeah, it is.

John Curry: That's good.

Larry Simmons: We can go down and visit a day, and come back and spend the night. 

John Curry: Larry, we'll wrap in just a few minutes, here. But talk a little bit about what advice you would offer anyone who, they're still working, they're looking for something to kind of do when they slow down some. Just go back and recap a little bit about what your advice would be for someone who wants to explore the idea of possibly becoming an RV'er.

Larry Simmons: Well, you're going to have to get in one, and go out and try it yourself. There's different options. You can get a used one. But it's just like buying a car, you've got a lot of different options on it, and you have to decide what you want and go look at them. I don't know what else to say. There's a lot of people buy them and get in that day, and they take off. They don't ask anybody anything.

John Curry: Right, I've seen that. And I also have some friends who bought one, and they realized, "Oh, my God, we made a mistake," and didn't like it. But because they were having difficulty selling it, they started using it and getting into it, and got comfortable with. And they took a lot and did some traveling and then later sold it. They said, "We've done all the traveling, and we sold it." And I've seen people who will buy one that's too small, or someone who'll buy one that's way too big for them and then they're stuck with it, over they're trying to find some happy medium. But I think you're totally correct, you just have to go look good at the lot, look at different ones.

Larry Simmons: Yeah.

John Curry: You can have friends who have one. Sit in it, check it out.

Larry Simmons: Well, I see ads on the Internet. I'm on there looking for maybe, some accessory or something about the RV. And they'll advertise it, and they may let you take it off for a few days and use it, see how you like it.

John Curry: Right.

Larry Simmons: But you have to realize, you're really driving a truck.

John Curry: That's right. Big truck. 

Larry Simmons: Yeah.

John Curry: With a big box around it. That's right, that's right. Larry, anything else you'd like to share with our listeners today? Just anything that's popped into your mind since we started? Any thoughts at all?

Larry Simmons: No, it's just a different type of traveling than most people are used to. Even if you're traveling in the car, you're still limited by having to get reservations in places. And to me, it's less stressful, in a way. Carol can get up and walk around, go to the back if she wants to, and do what she wants to. So, it's handy that way. But other than that, somebody's just going to have to get it and try it.

John Curry: You know, you just reminded me of something. I have a little motor home, now. It's a small one, that we just use for hunting. But I remember, I would get in the motor home, and just before we would go out the back gate, the minute I turned that key on, I would just feel relaxed.

Larry Simmons: Yes.

John Curry: And even now, just moving the motor home from the house out to the hunting property, I find that getting on the interstate, just driving that motor home just from here over in Leon County to park it what, 20-something miles away, 30 miles. But I had forgotten about that, because I haven't driven that thing since February. My son drives it occasionally.

Larry Simmons: Yeah.

John Curry: But just the fact that you're behind the wheel, you're driving, it's almost like there's no care in the world. Until something breaks, of course. Then you're like, "Why did I buy this thing?" Before we go, share with us, because we can't have it all be a pipe dream.

Larry Simmons: Yes.

John Curry: So, tell us about maybe, one or two challenges you had, either a breakdown or something along the way, that was a little frustrating. Give us a little tidbit.

Larry Simmons: Well, I haven't had a lot of that.

John Curry: Good.

Larry Simmons: Most people have road insurance similar to AAA, only it's through an outfit called Good Sam's. And if you have a problem with it, which I did one time with a tire north of Atlanta, you just have to, you had to get off the road and you called the company, and they supposed to send somebody out. But it's just not quite that easy for them. They shop it around. So, we stood out there all day long while they shopped it around to find the best price for them, not us, which is kind of irritating.

John Curry: Right.

Larry Simmons: So, they have to pull it off the highway if you're going to change a tire, because there's just no room to get to it safely on the shoulder of the road. So, things like that, that you got to be aware of. But I've only had two, in 10 years, I've only had two problems, two problems with tires. One of them was the last trip. I was up to 66,000 miles on the rear tires and I blew one of them. And I was within a mile of the RV park, and I was able to pull on in there.

John Curry: Nice.

Larry Simmons: And they came out there and changed it in the park. 

John Curry: You were lucky on that one.

Larry Simmons: Yeah, I was. Because I could've been in the middle of a busy interstate, and then something like that, and it was very dangerous.

John Curry: That's a lot of miles, too, for the tires.

Larry Simmons: You don't ever want to try to change one yourself. Well, the one I've got, you don't even carry a tire with you. You got to tell them what you've got, and they've got to bring it out there to you.

John Curry: Makes sense.

Larry Simmons: Yeah. So then, I've had some problems with ... Well, I had a belt go, and they had to come pull it into the dealer. You'll have maintenance problems. Maintenance ... It's a house on wheels, so, you've got maintenance-

John Curry: That's funny.

Larry Simmons: ... just about everything. 

John Curry: That's funny. I appreciate your taking the time we've shared today.

Larry Simmons: Yeah.

John Curry: And folks, I hope you enjoy these type of broadcasts. Because we enjoy doing them, because we love hearing stories of people that are planning ahead. They're not just work, work, work, and then what do I do when I retire, sit in front of the television. They're taking action. They're driving, seeing things, seeing our country. And I hope that some of the things that Larry Simmons has shared today will inspire you to do the same thing. Larry, thank you so much.

Larry Simmons: All right, thank you, John.

John Curry: Thank you, thank you.

Announcer: If you would like to know more about John Curry's services, you can request a complementary information package by visiting johnhcurry.com/podcast. Again, that is johnhcurry.com/podcast. Or, you can call his office at (850) 562-3000. Again, that is (850) 562-3000. 

John H. Curry, Chartered Life Underwriter, Charter Financial Consultant, Accredited Estate Planner, Master's in Science and Financial Services, Certified in Long-term Care, Registered Representative and Financial Advisor of Park Avenue Securities, LLC. Securities, products, and services and advisory services are offered through Park Avenue Securities, a registered broker-dealer and investment advisor. Financial representative of the Guardian Life insurance Company of America, New York, New York. 

Park Avenue Securities is an indirect wholly-owned subsidiary of Guardian. North Florida Financial Corporation is not an affiliate or subsidiary of Park Avenue Securities. Park Avenue Securities is a member of FINRA and SIPC. This material is intended for general public use. By providing this material, we are not undertaking to provide investment advice for any specific individual or situation, or to otherwise act in a fiduciary capacity. Please contact one of our financial professionals for guidance and information specific to your individual situation.

All investments contain risk and may lose value. Past performance is not a guarantee of future results. Guardian, its subsidiaries, agents, or employees do not provide legal, tax, or accounting advice. Please consult with your attorney, accountant, and/or tax advisor for advice concerning your particular circumstances. Not affiliated with the Florida Retirement System. The Living Balance Sheet and The Living Balance Sheet logo are registered service marks of the Guardian Life insurance Company of America, New York, New York. Copyright 2005-2018. This podcast is for informational purposes only. Guests speakers and their firms are not affiliated with or endorsed by Park Avenue Securities or Guardian, and opinions stated are their own.

2018-71424 EXP 12/20


The Top 5 Questions About Health - Answered

With all the misinformation out there about health and nutrition, it’s hard to know what you can do keep your body and mind in tip-top shape.

Dr. Sam Graber specializes in helping people stay healthy and looking great now… and for years to come.

This retired chiropractor turned health coach is a big advocate for “real food” that hasn’t had the nutrition processed out of it. And she doesn’t believe in dieting.

We talk about how you can get started on a more healthy lifestyle and maintain it in the long term.

  • Listen in to find out…

  • The trusted advisor you need for your health – it’s not your doctor

  • The unexpected factors that increase your chances of dementia

  • The better alternative to dieting

  • How you should exercise (it’s easier than you think)

  • And more

Listen now…


Mentioned in This Episode: www.drsamgraber.com

Episode Transcript:

John Curry: Hi folks. John Curry here with another episode of John Curry's Secure Retirement Podcast. You know, I talk all the time about retirement is not just about money. You can have all the money in the world but if you're not healthy, so what? It would be a lousy retirement. I've been looking forward to this interview today because I'm sitting across the table from a lady named Sam Graber, Dr. Sam, they call her. And she's going to talk with us today about some of the crazy things that people have never asked her in her 25-year career. So, Sam, welcome.

Dr. Sam Graber: Thank you. I'm happy to be here. 

John Curry: I'm glad you're here and I'm looking forward to learning more about your topic. But first, would you please tell our audience who you are, what your background is, and why in the world you're sitting here sharing information to help people have a better health and retirement?

Dr. Sam Graber: Sure. The last part, why I'm here sharing it, this information, is because it is an absolute passion of mine. I've always been one of those people that feels like I want to be helping. And so, years, and years, and years ago I decided to go to chiropractic school because I thought that would be such a good way for me to be able to help people really improve, not only their health but the way their body feels, the way they look, all these great things. Over time, I practiced for 25 years, and I enjoyed every minute of it. But I felt like I was kind of being restricted by just being within that specific profession because people just see you as a back and neck and headache doctor. But really my passion was so much more. So, I have been obsessed with nutrition for practically 30 years because I really know that that's where everything's at.

So, what brings us across the table from each other today is we met last month at one of our business masterminds and it was instant, where it's like, "Wow, you do the wealth, I do the health. They are so intertwined." So, after a 25-year career in chiropractic, I retired two years ago to do online coaching 100% of the time. So now I take care of people in a different way. I mostly help them take care of themselves. I teach them what to do. I give them the exact steps to take. I help hold them accountable because that's a big part of it is you know, we've all learned things, and I heard someone the other day call it shelf-esteem. You know you take a class, you take all these notes, you put it in the book, and it goes on your shelf, and you don't do anything with it.

John Curry: I like that, shelf-esteem.

Dr. Sam Graber: Don't you like that? Now I'm remembering, it was Jack Canfield. And he is, you know, he's the Chicken Soup for the Soul guy. But it's a thing where we sometimes know what we need to do, and just when we think we know what we need to do, as far as our health, we read some report or some headlines that say, "That's bad for you now."

John Curry: Well, let's address that for a moment.

Dr. Sam Graber: Let's do it.

John Curry: Because I guarantee you, people that listen to this are in the same boat that I've been in.

Dr. Sam Graber: Sure.

John Curry: Okay, caffeine is not good for you. Don't drink coffee. Then you see another article or a research, they say coffee is great. Don't do this. Don't do that. You know what I came up with after my heart surgery 10 years ago?

Dr. Sam Graber: What's that?

John Curry: The hell with it. I'm going to do what I want. But I'm going to do it in moderation.

Dr. Sam Graber: Yeah. Yeah.

John Curry: I'm going to eat what I want. If I want a bowl of ice cream right now, I'm going to go find a bowl of ice cream. I'm just not going to eat the whole box of ice cream. 

Dr. Sam Graber: There you go.

John Curry: Like I did when I weighed 282 pounds.

Dr. Sam Graber: There you go.

John Curry: ... that?

Dr. Sam Graber: Yeah.

John Curry: So, I'm just totally convinced that, 65 soon to be 66, that we don't know how long we're going to live. I teach my clients assume you're going to live to be age 100 so we know that you don't outlive your financial resources. But you could die today. You could die of a heart attack now. 

Dr. Sam Graber: Absolutely.

John Curry: I could.

Dr. Sam Graber: Yeah.

John Curry: You know? So, we've got to have a balance there between I could die today, not likely, or I could live to be 100 years old, not like either, but it's somewhere in there, maybe 80s or 90s. But if I don't take care of myself, with the nutrition, and the exercise, then I'm in trouble.

Dr. Sam Graber: Yes.

John Curry: And you made a comment about health and wealth.

Dr. Sam Graber: Yes.

John Curry: I think it was Benjamin Franklin who gets credit for saying, "Healthy, wealthy, and wise."

Dr. Sam Graber: Absolutely.

John Curry: So, we've got to be wise with both of those, with our wealth and our health. We don't have to. You know, the choice is ours.

Dr. Sam Graber: It is. And in this day where you really can get any bit of information you want, and you can find a "diet" that will accomplish whatever your goals are. But most people, when they go on a diet, they're just grumpy. And they don't like it. And it's something to rebel against. And it makes them feel just like they're having to do something they don't want to do. I work with people and help them figure out, well, what really makes you happy? Like what is the exercise you enjoy? Because the best kind of exercise is the one you're going to do.

John Curry: Absolutely. And if you enjoy it, you're going to do it.

Dr. Sam Graber: Yes, exactly.

John Curry: I want to come back to that in a moment when we'll get into some of your specifics.

Dr. Sam Graber: Sure.

John Curry: But right now, we're going to address this for a moment. From the standpoint of dieting, I don't believe in diets.

Dr. Sam Graber: Me neither.

John Curry: I think they are a waste. I'm thinking of one of my dear friends right now, I know at least on four occasions, he's lost 50 pounds or more. He'll lose it and he'll gain more back than what he was.

Dr. Sam Graber: Yes.

John Curry: And he and I talk about it all the time. He said, "John, you have dropped ..." Firstly he said, "You have lost over 60 pounds." I said, "Nope, haven't lost any weight at all." He said, "Yes, you have." I said, "No, I have released 60 pounds."

Dr. Sam Graber: I like it.

John Curry: Because if you lose something, you go looking for it. 

Dr. Sam Graber: Oh, yeah.

John Curry: I'm damned sure not looking for it. Okay? It's released, be gone. 

Dr. Sam Graber: Be gone with you.

John Curry: That's right. So, I think this also comes down to words have power. Okay? It's how we talk to ourselves. The self-talk in our heads. And how we see ourselves. You talked about shelf-esteem.

Dr. Sam Graber: Yeah.

John Curry: Well, there's the self-esteem and we are our biggest enemies. And that's why what you do is so important. See, I'm a financial coach, you're a nutrition coach and a fitness coach, in a lot of ways.

Dr. Sam Graber: Absolutely.

John Curry: And we'll circle back on that for a minute.

Dr. Sam Graber: Yeah.

John Curry: But tell us a little bit about what you want to get covered today because I was intrigued because folks, I don't know what all she's going to cover. This is going to be interesting.

Dr. Sam Graber: You can never know with me.

John Curry: That's true. But I do know this is going to some things that you said that people have never asked you. And I think you have your own top five list.

Dr. Sam Graber: I do. I do.

John Curry: So, can we just launch into that and just go back and forth?

Dr. Sam Graber: Sure. Imagine us here on the night show when David Letterman used to do his top 10? Where here's my top five.

John Curry: All right.

Dr. Sam Graber: And these are the five things that nobody has ever asked me in 25 years of practice. 

John Curry: Ok

Dr. Sam Graber: Number five, I can't wait to retire and move into a nursing home. I want to have to follow the rules of some corporation the rest of my life. Independence is so 2013. 

And number four, I can't wait to spend my retirement in doctor's offices. Those waiting rooms, they're my favorite place to hang. No one has ever said that. 

Number three, walking on my own, who needs that trivial ability? I'd rather rely on others for everything I need, even a trip to the loo.

And number two, I want to invest wisely so I can blow it all on medical costs that could have been prevented, and easily at that.

And, drumroll. Number one, I want to forget my kids. No one has ever said that. And that one is the most serious to me because there is such a fear of that. And it's a valid fear. But unfortunately, we've been kind of misled to think that it's a flip of the coin. You're either going to get dementia or you're not. And if you get it, oh, I am so sorry. I am just so sorry. There is nothing you can do about it. That's all false. There are a lot of things you can do to stack the deck in your favor. And 99.999% of it comes from what you eat and what you don't eat. And not as well, just what you eat, or don't eat, but when you eat and don't eat.

John Curry: Okay, let's talk about that in more detail.

Dr. Sam Graber: Let's do, yes.

John Curry: Do you mind if we just start there? I don't know what your order is on your list.

Dr. Sam Graber: No.

John Curry: Let's start there because most people that are listening to this, and most people that I meet with, when I'm in the office working, I see four, sometimes five people per day. 

Dr. Sam Graber: Sure.

John Curry: And then, on Mondays, I'll have five or six, sometimes seven telephone appointments.

Dr. Sam Graber: Okay.

John Curry: It's amazing to me the topics that will come up. It's never just about the money. And if it is just about the money, I always circle back and say, "Wait a minute, if we get you to where you have zero financial pressure, zero, life's good. You got the money, you got the time. So, you got money, you got time, will you have the health to be able to travel and do the things you want to do?"

Dr. Sam Graber: Right, yes.

John Curry: It comes back every time. So, talk about some of this ... One more thing first.

Dr. Sam Graber: Yes, absolutely. 

John Curry: The two things I hear all the time in people's fears about retirement, it's either running out of money, income, or not being able to afford their health insurance premiums or health care, or fear of going in a nursing home. That's why I want us to come back to what you just said. You said, "If somebody starts taking care of themselves now with what they eat and fitness." Take that thread and run with that for a few minutes.

Dr. Sam Graber: Sure. Sure. And it comes down to also having a trusted advisor because I know everyone who's under your tutelage and your mentorship for their finances has a trusted advisor. We think of having a financial advisor. We have maybe an investment advisor and retirement advisor, I know that's all you. And we have these people out in our outer world advising us on these tangibles I should say. But then we don't have people advising us on the intangibles which in essence can be tangible. Things like our health. You know, we don't have someone looking at us holistically.

We've got our doctor we go to for a problem, a check-up, et cetera, et cetera. Get your blood work. Okay, looks good, no Hs, no Ls, boom, you're fine. But really, there's patterns that are always being revealed. And there are behaviors that we do that we know based on nerdy science stuff that, I am 100% geek. I am always researching. I'm always learning. What is the validity of this data? And how does that data apply to people, my people? But when you really drill down about it, there are a few things that you can do on a consistent basis, that can clean out the gunk that gets built up, especially in our brain. 

And one thing I often remind people is that your body is a brain transport system. That's what it's designed for. All those muscles, they generate energy for your brain. Everything that happens in your life happens on a brain level, for memory, for being able to coordinate things, everything is in your brain. So, I am ... It's a little different approach. I don't really do a lot of this weight-loss stuff because to me that's not important. And I'll get back to that if we can. It's more about feeding your body what it needs, how it needs to be nourished. And when you do that, with the focus on your brain, it's amazing what your body does with that.

So, it basically comes down to the science of it has been there for decades. The science of how to truly feed the human system is there. But we've monkeyed it around with all these different programs and diets, and you know, eat this, don't eat this. We've processed the real out of our food. 

John Curry: We're killing ourselves.

Dr. Sam Graber: Oh, my goodness. I mean, this processed food, John, is off the charts.

John Curry: Killing.

Dr. Sam Graber: And so many people, they don't eat any real food. Everything comes from a box. It's been processed in some way, shape, or form, whether it's been chemically added, or chemically extracted, or heated to the point that what would be naturally available, whatever would nourish them, is dead now because it's been heated.

John Curry: Or a bag.

Dr. Sam Graber: Or a bag. Yes. And it's just, it's amazing. So, when I help people get back into eating real food. And you can be a foodie or not. I'm a total foodie. I love food. I love to cook. It's not necessary to be healthy. You can find different ways to get real food, simple recipes. When I have a client, I give them, you should see what I give them, it's amazing, recipe books. They get taught how to cook. You know, because they need to know how to cook. You do need a little of that. 

John Curry: Okay, I'm sitting here looking at you, watching the passion here, but I'm also realizing there's some people on this podcast that are probably like me, some man, especially, in his 60s or 70s, maybe even their 50s, saying, "Ah, hell, here we go again. So, now I've got to learn how to cook this or do that."

Dr. Sam Graber: Sure.

John Curry: So, break this down for the people who, number one, don't want to do it. Or don't know how to do it. 

Dr. Sam Graber: Sure.

John Curry: Because I've learned, I prefer to cook my own meals. I don't like going out. I will, but when I cook it, I know what I've got.

Dr. Sam Graber: Yes.

John Curry: And I know what's in it. And I know what's not in it.

Dr. Sam Graber: It's very important.

John Curry: So, break this down real simple for us. And then I'm going to jump into you going into more details on these top five.

Dr. Sam Graber: Sure. Sure. You know, the key is really having, on average, people have a few different meals that they make, especially when they cook their own selves. Or even when they grocery shop, they kind of are attracted to five to seven meals on a regular basis. 

John Curry: That's me.

Dr. Sam Graber: Yeah. Yeah. So, I teach people how to make that the most real version of something. Like if they love steak and vegetable or they like steak and potato, there are ways to augment your food and make it more of something that has nourishment on every level. There isn't just fillers. Like your pastas, and your breads and your potatoes, those are more fillers. And there's not a lot of nutrition necessarily from them. So, I teach them how to make alternatives to those that are actually nutrient dense and give you nourishment. And I have worked with everybody. 

I've worked with people who, again, love to cook, like major chefs who've shared some recipes with me, which I really love. And I've worked with folks that have just always heated up something in the microwave. And I just teach them little things along the way. Or if you're going to do that, here, you want to go with the frozen veg because that's pretty much the freshest you're going to get. Or you want to go with these certain choices. And I lay it all out for them at first because sometimes the hardest thing is taking that first step. So I give them a meal plan for the first two weeks that they can change a couple things here and there, but it's mostly a way to kick start the program. Kick start their body to allow it to start making the changes they need.

And it's really, everything is laid out. And that's what my clients, whenever they look back at the beginning of working together, and they say, "You really held my hand the whole time. And I didn't realize it because I was all caught up in what I needed to change and I was overcomplicating it." My clients always say, "You know, I was overcomplicating it. You made it so simple that I was able to radically change my life."

John Curry: Well, what you gave them was a plan of action. 

Dr. Sam Graber: Correct. 

John Curry: See, people are seeking.

Dr. Sam Graber: Everything.

John Curry: Whether it be in your world or my world, they're seeking someone, number one, they can trust.

Dr. Sam Graber: Yeah.

John Curry: Okay. And let's be candid, folks, there's got to be a mutual self-interest. Obviously, you get paid for what you do, and I get paid for what I do. People listening, they get paid, they go to work, they have a job, they get paid. We all want to earn money. 

Dr. Sam Graber: Yes.

John Curry: But it comes down to purity of intent. What is it you're trying to accomplish? And I know from sitting in meetings with you, you're a lot like I, in the sense that you have a flock. And you're like a shepherd protecting that flock.

Dr. Sam Graber: I love that.

John Curry: And I think that's what we have to do. We have to protect the people that are under our care. Now, sometimes those people don't want to hear what they need to hear.

Dr. Sam Graber: Yes.

John Curry: And my deal is, I'm strong enough, I'll say, "Excuse me, I know you don't want to hear this now, but here's the deal. Okay, and then do with the information as you please." And people need that.

Dr. Sam Graber: They do.

John Curry: But they don't need people pointing their fingers at them, you know, "You're stupid. You don't do this. You don't do that. You got to do this."

Dr. Sam Graber: Correct.

John Curry: Because we all resent that.

Dr. Sam Graber: Absolutely.

John Curry: And we won't do it.

Dr. Sam Graber: Oh, yes. 

John Curry: So it's got to be, we got to be a coach, we got to be a leader, a guide if you will.

Dr. Sam Graber: Yes. And I love that. And that's a great visual because it is. And folks know enough to kind of, I think maybe kind of get started, but you get kind of stuck. You know? And doing it yourself, you probably have seen people who've invested on their own and they've done an okay job.

John Curry: Sure.

Dr. Sam Graber: They know enough. I always say, "I know enough to be dangerous in certain situations." But, you can't really bridge that gap between where you are and where you ultimately want to be. Having an advisor, having a coach is a way to just bring that gap, close the gap quickly. You know, and you're spot on where there has to be that trust. And there has to be that tough love, I call it. I'll tell people, you know, I give you simple tools. I give you an excellent strategy, a proven strategy, and a little dose of tough love here and there. 

John Curry: Correct.

Dr. Sam Graber: Because that's what we all need. 

John Curry: By the way, my next book is going to be real short and sweet.

Dr. Sam Graber: Uh-oh.

John Curry: How to release 60 pounds. Okay?

Dr. Sam Graber: I like it.

John Curry: And it's real simple, there's only two chapters.

Dr. Sam Graber: Okay.

John Curry: Chapter one ... Oh, and there's only one page ... There's only one paragraph per chapter. And I think I've narrowed it down to only one sentence per chapter.

Dr. Sam Graber: Okay.

John Curry: So it's going to be a real short book. You could put it on a business card. Are you ready for it?

Dr. Sam Graber: I'm ready.

John Curry: Okay. Chapter one, eat less. 

Dr. Sam Graber: Okay.

John Curry: Chapter two, move more. If we just do that, we'd be in good shape.

Dr. Sam Graber: Mostly. But I will tell you, you know, and I'm going to buck that just a little bit.

John Curry: I need to add chapter three, eat better.

Dr. Sam Graber: Yes. Yeah, eat better, definitely. But I'll tell you, one of the things, and there's something I always say, I'm one of these people that is bucking conventional wisdom. And I call it unconventional wisdom. That's one of my books that I'm working on. Because conventional wisdom has told us, yes, you must eat less and move more. But I will tell you this, if you do that, you know, we've all seen that show, what is it? The Biggest Loser. 

John Curry: Right.

Dr. Sam Graber: You know, these people, they work out like 19 hours a day and they eat four peas and a stick of carrots or something. Like their diets are ridiculous. And you're going to lose the weight, but I'll tell you, you are going to wreck your metabolism. So, I actually teach people, eat more and move less. And I'm going to tell you why.

John Curry: Good. Sign me up.

Dr. Sam Graber: Yeah. Well, and this is the thing, it's about nourishing your system. It's about healing your metabolism. It's about getting all your cells on board because we have this really amazing hormone called insulin. And I know at this point everyone's eyes kind of start to glaze over because I go into biochemistry a little bit with my folks. But I want to teach them why their body is doing these things. You know, we've taught that we must be doing it wrong. And the way I got into this current way of eating and thinking, and I do a lot of mindset work with my folks because it's critical, but I got into it because I was at the point, I hit about 42, 43. 

And what I was doing was not working anymore to keep my figure. And I was so ... I decided well, I must need to eat less, even less and move even more. So, Ms. Smarty-pants over here joined CrossFit Gym, holy good night. I almost killed myself 19 times. Loved it. Loved the passion. Love all those things. But I was wearing myself out. And my metabolism was getting more and more wrecked. So, I just started researching because that's what I do. And I found a way of feeding my system that I'm never hungry. I mean, I feel like food is my friend now. 

John Curry: Share, give people a sample. Just kind of walk through a little bit of the changes that you made. What you're thinking about here. And then we'll get back on track with these five things if you want to spend a little bit more time on them.

Dr. Sam Graber: Yeah. Yeah. Well, it's about nutrient composition, nutrient timing, and restorative motion training. The restorative motion training comes from my 25-year career as a chiropractor. I've worked with people, I give them stretches, exercises to help rebuild their system. And so, for me, that's about healing your frame. Healing your body. Healing your relationship with your body because so many, especially women, we've been taught to be at war with our body. You know, we can never like it. You can never be satisfied, God forbid, because the obesity profiteers, where would they make their money?

John Curry: Right.

Dr. Sam Graber: If we're all of a sudden feeling good about the way we look and the way we feel and all these things. How are they make their millions? So, we've been basically, conditioned to be at war with our bodies. 

John Curry: Yep.

Dr. Sam Graber: So, that's something I handle in every program I do because without that, yeah, sure, we can lose the weight. You can do the things I tell you. You cannot do the things I tell you. But if you don't change that mindset, that's why your friend continues to regain the weight. That's why people do that. And you hit it earlier when you said, I release it because you're changing your words. You're changing the way you think about that weight. And you're realizing that that's not mine. That is not me. That's not my identity. I don't claim that.

John Curry: That's another person.

Dr. Sam Graber: That is.

John Curry: That's a person from my past.

Dr. Sam Graber: Absolutely.

John Curry: I don't know that person anymore.

Dr. Sam Graber: Exactly. Exactly. And I teach people about that. And that's something that they're always really floored about because you know, they come to me for weight loss. And as I mentioned a little earlier, like I really, literally, could care less about that part because that's going to happen if you change the behavior. And it's not necessarily eating less and moving more because we've been taught that. But what happens over time is your body will just reset your metabolism lower. 

John Curry: Right.

Dr. Sam Graber: And healing that is very tough.

John Curry: I discovered six, seven years ago now, I hired a coach, a strength coach.

Dr. Sam Graber: Excellent.

John Curry: In the last three weeks, I've not been doing any weightlifting because of some other health issues.

Dr. Sam Graber: Sure.

John Curry: Some veins issue, arteries. But, three days a week, we'd work out. When I first started, second trainer now, first guy, for five years I worked out. And I was shocked that we only had forty minute sessions. I said, "I was thinking we'd do an hour." He said, "We don't need an hour. In forty minutes we can do everything we need to do." He said, "The others days, do 20, 30, 40 minutes maximum of cardio."

Dr. Sam Graber: Yeah.

John Curry: He said, "You don't need to do crazy stuff." He said, "Occasionally if you want to go on long hikes or something."

Dr. Sam Graber: Sure.

John Curry: He said, "You don't need to do all that nonsense." And that was my first introduction, I'd say seven years ago now, to you don't have to do as much, but the quality of what you do is more important. This morning, I was on the treadmill early. I only spend 17 minutes but those 17 minutes were pretty intense. You know, going up and down on the incline.

Dr. Sam Graber: Yes, perfect.

John Curry: And we're all busy. And none of us really want to work out anyway. I don't want to go workout, for just "workout". Now, I must also admit that the adrenaline kicks in and I love doing it. Endorphins and all. But most of us don't want to go to the gym to work out. But the results from doing that.

Dr. Sam Graber: Right. And since they haven't invented a pill yet, we still got to do some stuff.

John Curry: So, why don't we just invent the pill and get wealthy and be done with it?

Dr. Sam Graber: I know. Well, they're working on it. Let me tell you. The side effects will be immediate death though so I'm not sure that I really want that.

John Curry: I don't want that either.

Dr. Sam Graber: No, but you're right on. And that's another thing that I do with my restorative motion training, it's all about high-intensity interval training because the key is you need to have the restore, the recovery time, that's where the magic happens. And then I time that with that's when you eat. You want to be sure that you're fasted and you're exercising without food in your system because then you have to tap into all these really cool hormones that your body's just like waiting for you to tap into. Come on man, let's do it. And then we never allow it to because we're eating all the time because we're following this conventional wisdom which is really conventional stupidity. 

When we really look at what the research shows us, we don't need to eat two to three times a day. Good Lord. Or two to three times. Excuse me, every two to three hours. We really only need to eat a couple meals. Even one meal can do it if that meal has what your body needs, has the nutrients. There's a certain amount of protein we need to have. And I help people calculate that. That's based on your frame. That's based on what your digestive system can do. Because some folks don't have enough acidity in their stomach to digest the protein. 

John Curry: I'm sure some people listening are out there saying, "Wow, I need to know more about this." So, let's do this. 

Dr. Sam Graber: Yes.

John Curry: Let's give people the opportunity to know how to find you. Let's share your website with them.

Dr. Sam Graber: Yes. My website's super easy. If you're seeing my name here on the podcast, you'll see how it's spelled. It's Doctor, D-R S-A-M, Graber, G-R-A-B-E-R. So that's D-R S-A-M G-R-A-B-E-R dot com.

John Curry: Perfect.

Dr. Sam Graber: Yeah.

John Curry: Because I didn't want to miss that because I know we're going to cover it at the end.

Dr. Sam Graber: I appreciate that.

John Curry: But people ... I get frustrated now, I'm listening to something and I have to wait all the way to the end to get something. I think I'm going to change it. I think I'm going to start doing that at the very beginning.

Dr. Sam Graber: That's a great idea.

John Curry: And say, "Look, just in case you want to contact this person."

Dr. Sam Graber: Sure. Sure.

John Curry: But let's go back to your top five for a minute. And just, are there any other things you want to add to any of those?

Dr. Sam Graber: To the top five? When I look back at them and many people they say, "You know, I don't want to end up in a home." You know, a nursing home. I guess there's probably more technical, correct terms now, but these facilities. Folks want to be independent. They want to be at their own home. Here you've spent all these years refining your home, decorating, picking colors, and really making it a home. Having to leave that because you're not capable of taking care of yourself, that's a tragedy. 

John Curry: Well, there's another issue too that I get frustrated with. People are being, I don't want to use the word pressured, but they're getting more and more sales pitches as to why they shouldn't be in their home. And from assisted living facilities, retirement communities, whatever. I was at one yesterday, in fact, that goes, I'm in involved in something called Honor Flight, Tallahassee. Where we fly World War II, Korean, and now Vietnam Veterans to D.C. to see the memorials. And at Westminster Oaks, there are 37 veterans that have gone on these flights. Sadly, several of them have died in the past two years. So, yesterday, they were being recognized and those as us who served as a guardian were asked to attend. So, I'm sitting there with my veteran. A good friend of mine of 40 years-

Dr. Sam Graber: Oh, wow.

John Curry: ... Charles [Namathack 00:26:19]. And we were talking about how if you are in the right "place", facility, that's good. But what if you're in the wrong place, where you're not getting the encouragement to do the things you want to do? This is the oldest retirement community in Tallahassee. And they've done a great job. Constantly adding programs and people love it. So, I was just thinking as you were saying that, some people should go to a community like that. Others should stay where they are.

Dr. Sam Graber: Right. And I'm sure it, let's say, it comes down to such a personal decision and what kind of family support you might have. Now, if you're alone and feeling lonely in your home, loneliness, I mean, that takes the joy out of life and that can be very dangerous.

John Curry: That can kill you.

Dr. Sam Graber: Yes.

John Curry: But it comes down, not only ... It comes down to the money side of it. It comes down to the emotional side. I'm a people person.

Dr. Sam Graber: Me too.

John Curry: If I had to be by myself all the time, I wouldn't like it.

Dr. Sam Graber: But I do like a little alone time. I need that.

John Curry: Oh, well, I definitely want my me time.

Dr. Sam Graber: That's what's good for the rest of the world. Give me my alone time a little bit here and there.

John Curry: Right.

Dr. Sam Graber: But yeah, I hear what you're saying. And if it's a community, and if it's a place where it's just you're independent in your own little place, and someone comes in and cleans it, I mean, hey, sign me up. What's the age limit? I'll be there. You know, like I dig that part. But it's the typical nursing home where we see someone laying in their bed all day, that's the heartbreaking stuff.

John Curry: Well, you hit a nerve there because my grandmother was in a nursing home for 11 years. 11 years. And I saw her just wilt.

Dr. Sam Graber: Me too. I've had that same experience.

John Curry: And she died two years shy of being 95 years old.

Dr. Sam Graber: Wow.

John Curry: My grandfather died 27 years before she did. He retired thinking he had a long life ahead of him. Died probably five, five and a half years into retirement. Took a pension option where he got all the money, the day he died, she got nothing. She just got social security from then on. So, not only did she have health issues for a long time, there were financial issues. So, my dad and my uncle pitched, we all helped out actually, on the financial side. So, over the years, because of seeing those experiences and the thousands of people I've interviewed, for some reason, somehow, I gravitated more toward, well, okay, what about the retirement planning side? What about the once you're in your 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s? My oldest client's 101.

Dr. Sam Graber: Oh, that's awesome.

John Curry: So what do you do later in life? See, as a financial advisor, I was not taught anything about that. I was not taught anything about gerontology. I was none of that.

Dr. Sam Graber: Sure.

John Curry: So, I had to do like you did, go out and research it and learn. And a lot of my peers thought I was nuts. They said, "Why do you care about that? You know, you're a financial guy." Well, it's not just about finance.

Dr. Sam Graber: Right. Absolutely not. And when you're a real advisor, you look at the person holistically. You know, you do that with the finances and taking care of them, their life. What is their life like? What's their marriage like? What's their relationship with their children? All these things factor in. And I do the same when I'm across the, usually it's across the screen now, I'm not doing a lot of my work in person. I do it on the phone or through something like Skype or Zoom. 

But I like ... It's all about connecting that person to what they really want and what's really in their best interest. And helping them find that with a roadmap. Or you know, sometimes, like I mentioned earlier, I tell them exactly what they need to do to get started. And then we tweak it from there. You know, it's like, okay, let's do this first, see how you resonate with it, see how you're jiving. And then we're going to find out what your body likes and what your body's not jiving with. And then you can tweak it.

John Curry: I get the impression that you have multiple ways where people can benefit from your services. So let's talk about that because there are some people who are listening to this, Sam, and they're going to say, "You know, I don't think I need a coach. I just think I just need somebody to get me started." Because I have that with clients who'll come in, "I don't really want to pay a fee and do the planning. I don't want to buy a product. I just want some information."

Dr. Sam Graber: Sure.

John Curry: So, if you would, walk through a little bit about the different levels of service, and education, and information you provide. 

Dr. Sam Graber: Absolutely. I'd be thrilled.

John Curry: And then, for those who want a bit more they can dig into it. But just, I think it's important to understand how it is that you deliver this knowledge.

Dr. Sam Graber: And I appreciate you clarifying that and allowing me to clarify that because it can seem like well, what is going on? Do I just read some books? Do I just find this information? Is there a website where I download something? And it's like, yes, yes, and yes, all those things. But it depends what your goal is. If you want to just know what to eat and how to move and do some basics, I have a 12-week program that I do with clients. And it's all done through email and online. And then we have calls once a week where you can ask questions, get some refinement for things. That's usually the starting point for folks.

John Curry: This is one on one coaching.

Dr. Sam Graber: It's a small group coaching.

John Curry: Small group.

Dr. Sam Graber: But really, it ends up being one on one because you can ... I send you what you need. Every week there's a module that comes across via email. And then you set it up for what your body needs. You know, what your goals are. What your limits are, timewise, et cetera. It's a roadmap, so it's all listed. This what you do Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday. And they tailor it to themselves. So, what kind of food they're going to eat, all these things are tailored. So, it's individualized, but it's a proven system. You just do A, and then you do B, and then you do C. And it's delivered via email so it can be anybody, anywhere. 

Now, you can get a little more personalized. Some folks, they have some health issues. And so, I might have to go, dive in a little bit deeper. And because of my background in the medical profession, I'm really skilled at helping look at the blood work, look at those patterns. So, if somebody needs a little more TLC and a little more one on one time that is available. But the way I usually start it is with that 12-week program because that's kind of like a foundation for them to get the knowledge because if I just send you out and say, "Hey, read this book." Or, "Read this document." Or, "Watch these videos." It's just a smattering.

So, I kind of take it from the baseline levels. Kind of like, imagine training wheels, learning to ride a bike. You start with training wheels and someone's right there with you. And then, eventually, you're riding on your own, but you've still got your training wheels. And you're just cruising along. And then eventually you're ready for the training wheels to come off. And that's what I like in my work too is I start out and I give you everything you need. And then I teach how to make decisions and choose foods, and find the right exercises for you, find the right everything that you need to maintain your health. And then we work on nutrient timing which is, there's a terminology called intermittent fasting. But I like to call it more of a nutrient timing, knowing when to eat and when to let your body rest so it can regenerate and heal.

So, I go through all of those patterns with people. They can find me through Facebook. They can join my Facebook group. That's a real low level of coaching because I share vetted information in that group. So, you can just go to Facebook and find Dr. Sam Graber. My business is called the ROXOlution. And so, it's basically a solution for you to get through all the confusing information out there.

John Curry: Say again what the business is called.

Dr. Sam Graber: Yeah, R-O-X-Olution, ROXOlution. So kind of like a revolution, but R-O-X-O and people always ask me what does that stand for? It really doesn't stand for anything. It's Portuguese for purple. Because I was trying to think, what is something that I would love forever. And purple's my favorite color. And everybody that knows me knows that. So, it's just a name that I came up with. And plus, it's something that when you know how to spell it, there's nothing else, no one else using that name. So, it's great for people to be able to find me.

John Curry: That's funny.

Dr. Sam Graber: Yeah. But, as far as being able to have access to me, the clients who really engage in the process, they get a lot of one on one time because like I mentioned, we do a once a week call. You can call in and ask any question. Email me questions. I'm available via email. I do take a little personal time on the weekend because I think we all need that. But I get back with folks because I really want to be there to help them make the changes and then release them into the wild when they're done. 

And they are fully capable of anything that they need when they read health information, they can vet through that. And they can say, "This is written by so and so." This is definitely, you know, follow the money trail. I teach them how to do that. I teach them about their body because I know the better you understand how this whole amazing entity works, the better care you can take of it. And the less vulnerable you're going to be to all these guys out there trying to sell you a bunch of junk.

John Curry: I'm going to make a little plug for my trainer again, his name is Jason Harville

Dr. Sam Graber: Yeah. Awesome.

John Curry: And he is a, let me see if I can get this right, certified ... I can't get it right now. But anyway, the bottom line is I have rotator cuff [inaudible 00:35:37] in both shoulders. And surgeon just said, "John, if you don't do something about this you're going to have to have surgery." Certified exercise specialist, I think what it's called.

Dr. Sam Graber: Okay.

John Curry: But what happened with working with him, I said, "I need help. I've got to work on my flexibility in these shoulders." And instead of having surgery then having rehab, we're going to create a prehab program. So we sat down and determined the things to do. Now, excuse me, corrected exercise specialist, that's his title.

Dr. Sam Graber: Oh, I love it. Very good.

John Curry: So, by working with him, I have not had to have surgery. I can pick up two 50-pound kettlebells and do like a farmers walk with them.

Dr. Sam Graber: Awesome.

John Curry: You know?

Dr. Sam Graber: Yeah.

John Curry: As I used to do. Walk 100 yards, put them down, walk back, pick them up, and walk back. But so what you're saying is so important in the sense that I've learned more about my body because he really works on the explaining why we're something, the anatomy of it. I don't fully understand everything, don't get me wrong. It's not my world. I'm a financial guy. You know?

Dr. Sam Graber: Yes.

John Curry: I'm not an anatomy guy or a doctor or chiropractor like you are.

Dr. Sam Graber: Sure.

John Curry: But it's important to at least know part of it.

Dr. Sam Graber: It is.

John Curry: The basics. The fundamentals. The fundamentals.

Dr. Sam Graber: Yes, I agree. I agree. Yeah, the fundamentals. And that's a perfect terminology for it. That's what I just, I teach people enough, you know? I simplify it. I wade through all the confusing stuff. I decipher research for them. And show them, this is the valid stuff. The rest of this is just marketing hype. 

John Curry: Yes.

Dr. Sam Graber: A lot of it's marketing hype.

John Curry: We've got a few minutes left here.

Dr. Sam Graber: Sure.

John Curry: So, in the few minutes we have left, I would like for you to kind of summarize and maybe give people an idea of what they would see when they go to your website. And how would they best start the process of learning more about you, getting to know you, and learning and maybe engaging with you?

Dr. Sam Graber: Oh, that's a great question.

John Curry: So, walk us through that.

Dr. Sam Graber: Yeah. And I would love for anybody, if you come to my website, there's going to be a little box that'll either, depending on what my website designer's doing at the moment, we'll either have a box that's popping up or it's somewhere at the top of the website. Just share with me your email address and your first name. And then I have a nurturing kind of education system that I do via email to help you start to understand your body better, learn a little bit more about what I do. Instead of just kind of throwing it all at someone because it's a little overwhelming.

John Curry: So there's no cost for that?

Dr. Sam Graber: Oh, no. No, none at all. I'm really key on educating. I give everything away. I let you know ... In fact, I'm doing some webinars these next few weeks. And I'm not sure when this will go live, but more than likely, at any point in time, I'll be having a webinar coming up. And I let all the people know on my email list when I'm doing a webinar. 

John Curry: Good.

Dr. Sam Graber: I think the one coming up now is how to shed stubborn fat because sometimes that ... You're doing all these things. You're eating right. And you're exercising in the way, the high intensity.

John Curry: But you're stuck.

Dr. Sam Graber: But that won't go.

John Curry: But you're stuck.

Dr. Sam Graber: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

John Curry: So, let's be clear on something.

Dr. Sam Graber: Yes. Yes.

John Curry: Because there's a lot of hype out there.

Dr. Sam Graber: Oh, so much.

John Curry: In my world and yours. So, let's be clear, if someone goes to your website and they want to receive this email information, there's no sales pitch. It says, hey, here's what I'm doing, partake or not partake.

Dr. Sam Graber: Exactly. Yeah. It's almost, it's like being in a restaurant, you either want it or you don't.

John Curry: I love that.

Dr. Sam Graber: Yeah.

John Curry: See I tell people when I'm working with them, I meet with somebody new, even existing clients, I say, "Look, there's only four things you can do with the information I provide you. You can totally ignore it, do nothing. You can take the information and do it all by yourself. You can take it to another advisor, perhaps a competitor. Or you can hire team Curry to help you. It's your choice."

Dr. Sam Graber: I love that. I'm going to start using that.

John Curry: Hey, you're welcome to.

Dr. Sam Graber: Because that's great.

John Curry: Because I think everyone should use it because there's no pressure.

Dr. Sam Graber: Yeah.

John Curry: And I'm to the point in my life of where if you don't want me, I don't want you.

Dr. Sam Graber: Right.

John Curry: I'm not going to chase you down. I'm not going beg you.

Dr. Sam Graber: Right. Same.

John Curry: Damn it, it's your financial world. It's your health. Either you want help or you don't.

Dr. Sam Graber: Yeah, and it took me a good decade in practice to come to that kind of realization. And I call it loving detachment now because, as you know, you can tell I'm very passionate. I get connected to people. And I cannot want it more than they do. And that's the one thing on every time that I chat with folks, your commitment comes from you. That's the only thing I can't do for you. I can show you ... Heck, I can come cook for you. Not everybody. But, there's things that everyone can do for you, but that commitment, that decision has to come from you.

John Curry: Absolutely.

Dr. Sam Graber: So, it has to be attached to ... It has to have meaning. And that's why we go into the mindset stuff because if it's just about losing 10, 15 pounds, I mean, shoot, I can teach you how to do that in lickety split, no problem. But it's doing it healthfully. It's maintaining that. And it's teaching your body how to be stronger from the inside out because as we age, I mean, let's face it, we're hopefully going to be blessed to be able to age. You know everyone talks about this anti-aging, I'm like no, heck, pro-aging. I want to get older. I can't wait. I hope I am blessed to live to 110. And I'm literally working with my body to make sure I am in incredible shape and healthy for that entire 110 years. I do not want to get to age 80 and live another 30 years falling apart. Thank you, no. Not on my watch. And that's what I tell my folks all the time, "Listen, not on my watch. But I can't want it more than you do."

John Curry: That's right.

Dr. Sam Graber: "Maybe this just isn't the right timing. And that's okay." I tell them, "You know, your options are yes and no." And they'll think it over. Yes, it's great, let's dive in. A no is your decision at the moment, but you know I'm here. You know?

John Curry: Come back when you're ready.

Dr. Sam Graber: Yeah, just because you choose no doesn't mean we're breaking up. It's just you know where to come for the true answers. And if I don't know them, I'll call in the big brains to help me. I've got a great group that I work with.

John Curry: Well, the key is that you're not applying pressure.

Dr. Sam Graber: Never. Never, never, never.

John Curry: It's up to you. I've had people say, "I'm feeling some pressure." And I say, "Well, is it because you think I'm pressuring you or because the situation is pressuring you?"

Dr. Sam Graber: Great call.

John Curry: They go, "Holy cow, you're right."

Dr. Sam Graber: Yes.

John Curry: I say, "Because I'm not going to pressure you."

Dr. Sam Graber: No. No. No. And my programs are all really very reasonable. You know and I tell them there's no ... Oh, and people always think because we're constantly being bombarded by our nephew or aunt or someone who just joined some multi-level marketing club that has these potions and these pills and these supplements and this gel and all this stuff, I don't do any of those. I have used them in the past thinking okay maybe this one's going to be the answer for folks. But what I have decided after 30 years of working with my own body, none of that stuff works. It's about real food.

John Curry: I'm glad you shared that. So, this is not something where someone's thinking, "Okay, I'm going to engage with Dr. Sam here, but it's going to be 'Oh, you've got to buy this supplement, this supplement.'" So, it's none of that?

Dr. Sam Graber: None of that.

John Curry: That's great. I think that's good.

Dr. Sam Graber: Yeah. Because I feel like if you get your health really firing on all cylinders, then you're going to know what things are really, truly deficient. Like you might literally, actually have a thyroid problem, but if you mask it with all these supplements and injections and all these things, and these shakes and these energy drinks, you're going to be going further and further into the tank, not knowing what your real symptoms are.

John Curry: You mess up your system.

Dr. Sam Graber: Absolutely.

John Curry: We've got to wind down here.

Dr. Sam Graber: Yeah.

John Curry: Any final thoughts that you want to share with the folks?

Dr. Sam Graber: Well, I think, you know, you can tell I've got a lot to offer. And it can seem overwhelming but really the best thing is, is just connect with me. If you find me on my website, there's always a contact us kind of thing. You can fill in your information. I'm the only one that gets that. Or my marketing assistant. It doesn't go anywhere. We don't provide your information to anyone. I would flip out if someone did that to me. I would never do that to people. So, just contact me.

You know you can find me on Facebook. Send me one of the private messages. I answer all my own messages. So it's important just to reach out. We may be a fit and we may not be. Some folks are really looking to just like some little magic. There's never ... There is no magic. The magic resides within you. We just need to tap into it.

John Curry: Absolutely.

Dr. Sam Graber: Yeah.

John Curry: Tell everyone again, your website. 

Dr. Sam Graber: Sure. Website is my name D-R Sam Graber, G-R-A-B-E-R, so drsamgraber.com.

John Curry: Dr. Sam, it's been a pleasure.

Dr. Sam Graber: Absolutely, John.

John Curry: Thank you.

Dr. Sam Graber: Thanks for having me. You bet.

John Curry: You're welcome. Thank you for sharing with my audience for this podcast.

Dr. Sam Graber: Yes. Thank you so much.

John Curry: Folks, we'll talk to you in the next episode. Be healthy, wealthy, and wise.

Dr. Sam Graber: Love it.

2018-70198 Exp 11/20

Next Level Retirement Planning

As a longtime and committed journalist in Florida, WFSU’s program director for news Tom Flanigan has seen his share of political controversy but also plenty of uplifting news from everyday people.

He has a commitment to the truth, something he passes on to the up-and-coming journalists he mentors.

Tom doesn’t think he’s ever going to retire. It’s a sentiment that many share – traditional retirement isn’t for everybody.

We talk about the alternatives, as well as…

  • Why a healthy savings doesn’t guarantee a happy retirement

  • The impact of longer lifespans

  • Making sure there are no surprises with your retirement accounts

  • The rejuvenating power of lifelong learning

  • And more

Listen now..

Mentioned in This Episode:

www.wfsu.org

Episode Transcript:

John Curry: Hi folks, John curry here, Welcome to another episode of John Curry’s Secure Retirement podcast. I've been looking forward to today because I'm sitting across the table from my friend Tom Flanigan. Many of you know Tom because of his work at WFU radio. I know Tom because I see him working at places like The Economic Club, Capital Tiger Bay. And sitting at the table Tom, we discovered and we met each other a long, long time ago back in your Centel telephone days. But, Tom, welcome.

Tom Flanigan: Well, thank you John. It's so great to meet with you here today.

John Curry: I would like for you to, instead of me trying to tell people what you do, please take a few minutes and just tell folks what it is you do at WFSU radio, and how did you get started there, and why you keep on doing it?

Tom Flanigan: Well, what happened was serendipity for sure, John, 2006 out of a job, impoverished, destitute, and not altogether happy with life. I stumbled across a reporter position at WFSU radio, and this picked up a career thread that I had started between 1973 and roughly, I guess 1987 when I had been full time in the broadcast business on the commercial side of the Radio Ledger. Then stepped away for several years to do corporate communications, as you mentioned back in the Centel days. I did public relations work for those guys, and then also a stint with Visit Florida. But having lost the Visit Florida job, finding myself at loose ends for approximately 18 months as far as a full time job was concerned. I stumbled upon a reporter's position at WFSU prior to the 2016 legislative session, went back in as a reporter, and then became the news director. And ultimately wound up with the position I have today, which is program director for news.

I'm not still really sure what it means, but a practical day-to-day basis, what it entails is to provide general oversight to the news department that we have on the radio side. Also, I work with the folks on TV and just like your podcast, we are now multi-platform. We are online on all of our news stories and other content that we provide. And I try to be an internal consultant for some of the, shall we say, less seasoned folks within the news department who may not remember that a guy named Hurley Rudd used to be a city commissioner here in Tallahassee or the fact that there was actually a governor before Charlie Crist in Florida. I try to help those folks out as much as I can.

John Curry: What you're telling me is you're taking advantage of your being a more senior in age and sharing that wisdom with people?

Tom Flanigan: Yeah, we all go down the same road, John. I am just maybe a couple of paces farther along than most.

John Curry: I understand that. As I'm getting more mature myself, I'm realizing that's the case. You made a comment earlier when we were having lunch, getting ready for this podcast about an advisory council. I found that to be intriguing, would you share with our listeners what's happening there?

Tom Flanigan: Sure. Because in public broadcasting, it is really critical that you connect to a wider audience than perhaps just your programming might warrant. And let me just elaborate on that for a second. You're going to have a natural audience depending on what kind of programming you put on the air or online. If you're really, really into current events, news of the day, all that sort of thing, you may gravitate towards WFSU radio because that's essentially all that we have on the air, both from NPR and also from our local kinds of sources that we provide like our news that we do here locally. But you also want to find out where else can we take this? And John, it's important to have a direct connection to the community beyond what you had said, running around shoving microphones up people's noses at all kinds of venues around town and local government meetings and that sort of thing.

A couple years ago, our management, who is David Mullins, our general manager, and Kim Kelling, my immediate boss, who's our content director, revisited the idea of bringing in a community advisory council, a group of people from all walks of life, all political backgrounds, all that sort of thing to at least give us as a station some additional community input as to where we need to go, what we need to be talking about, what sort of programming and other community involvement we can get into. We just had our meeting, as of today, which is the 19th of September, we got some good feedback on that. 

John Curry: That's good. I thought it was fascinating because instead of just limiting what you're doing to what the, quote, natural market is, you expanded.

Tom Flanigan: And we try to find where new audiences are. And all, I think talk radio, whether it's WFLA and my good friend, Preston Scott who I have known for years or what we do on WFSU, we gravitate towards an older target demographic, if we want to use a real technical media term there, which is older folks, generally 35, 45, even 55 years and up. And that's wonderful, and it's great, but the problem is it's self-limiting. These folks have a tendency to, shall we say, exit the mortal coil at some point, and you need to bring in younger audiences. How do you do that without alienating your core older audience? That's the secret. And no one has really figured out that secret yet, but we're working on it. And we're going to try to get as close to cracking that code as we can. 

John Curry: Yeah. I feel a parallel in what we're doing because we don't just talk about people's money for retirement, and that's why we came up with a secure retirement podcast and focusing in all different issues. I've interviewed physicians, I've interviewed, retirees, we talk about health issues, emotional issues. It's not just about your money, and it's the same thing with what you're doing. If you stick to just the one topic, it gets old too, but there's more than just that one topic. In our case, it's not just about how much money do you have in your IRA or your 401k or deferred comp or whatever retirement plan do got, what are you going to do with the money when you're ready to retire and how are you going to manage your health or are you emotionally prepared to retire?

I'm thinking of our interview just a week ago with a psychiatrist who spent a lot of time talking about ... It was Larry Kubiak, in fact, a psychologist, I guess, what are you going to do when you retire if you're not prepared emotionally? You may have all the money in the world, but if you're not ready to retire, what do you do? I'm seeing a corollary in the sense that for you is not just one topic, is not just the well-known people, if you will. What about the person that people don't know who they are, but they have a story to tell?

Tom Flanigan: Or people who, John, by the same token, and Larry could be actually a great guy. I've talked to him so much.

John Curry: He's a great guy.

Tom Flanigan: We have so many commonalities, it's crazy. But the psychology of retirement being something that we are kind of programmed to aspire to for all of our working lives. Oh, I can't wait till I get away from the day-to-day grind. My sweetie and I are going to fly off to Bermuda or Israel or someplace, and it's going to be great. And I have seen particularly from my days at the phone company when I did all the retirement parties, I took pictures of these people where in the middle of their retirement party with all of their coworkers and even their family gathered around and there's cake and balloons and party favors and all. You can almost see the realization hits them, tomorrow morning, all this goes away. My reason for being, the expression of my existence, which was this job and all of my networking connections, my friends, everything I have to live for is gone.

Often, those people would not last six months. I saw it over and over again. What you're doing here with the podcast and with your day-to-day consulting work with folks as they try to get a handle on, "Well, gee, how do I want these resources to work for me and my family and provide us with not only security, but maybe even a little bit of direction once we get out of the work a day world?" is so valuable, and I really applaud you and all your colleagues over here for that.

John Curry: Well, thank you for that. We take it very seriously that it's not just about your money. Now, you got to have money. let's be candid. If you don't plan and save properly, retirement won't be fun. But it's not just the money, it's the are you healthy? And we'll come back that in a moment because as one of my good friends says, you're looking pretty good for a guy your age. So we talk about what are you doing to maintain your health here in a minute. But let's go back to this advisory council from that. For anyone who's listening to this, if they have a topic that they think would be appropriate, is it okay for them to contact you so we have those topics? What's the procedure for that?

Tom Flanigan: Oh, my gosh, by all means, John. And thank you for the opportunity to get this word out. We're always looking for good stories, since we were little kids, daddy, tell me a story. And that desire holds true throughout our entire lives. If you are aware of something particularly, I put it in this category, good people doing good things. We need more of those kinds of stories today because we focus on all of the chaos here on the national political scene. Now, regardless of where you're coming from politically, it can be difficult. It can be heart wrenching, it can be frustrating, all those other things. But really, what takes place in Washington DC does not have an immediate and profound impact on most of us, really. We've concentrate therefore, and my newsroom on things that are going on kind of in our own backyard.

And we want to hear about people that are doing those positive things in their community, inspiring young lives or helping senior citizens get a better handle on what they're doing after retirement. Taking care of animals, whatever. And here's how you do that. You can go to wfsu.org, that's our website. And we do have a contact list down at the bottom of our homepage. And you can hit that, and the entire staff listing comes up. And just look for Tom Flanigan, you can click on my email. I think there's also a telephone number there. You can leave me a message. And I'm obsessive about this stuff, I'll get back to you for sure, I want to talk to you.

John Curry: There's no doubt about that. Tom does return phone calls. But also those who know me personally, who want to call me or my office, we can also get you in touch with Tom. Thank you for that. You talked about community, let's talk about Honor Flight for a moment. We were talking about that over lunch. I'm sure that you have interviewed people on your show talking about Honor Flight, and you've been involved from the standpoint of knowing what it is. Give me your perspective on Honor Flight, what it means to you and what your involvement has been?

Tom Flanigan: Well, the only great regret I have, John, is the fact that my dad, who served in World War Two, he did not land on Iwo Jima, but he was aboard of one of the huge tank size landing craft that were anchored right off the beach head there and offloading all of the war material and vehicles and troops and all that. And under unrelenting fire from Mount Suribachi, did not get an opportunity to take part in Honor Flight. He never got a chance, even though he was living in western Maryland and only 150 miles away from Washington, he did not get a chance to see the World War Two memorial in Washington. And that would've been so much fun to be on the Honor Flight with my dad. But I think as an ongoing tribute to these gentlemen, and in the vast majority of cases, it was men who served during World War two in Korea now heading into the Vietnam era and all, to show that, uh, they still have a reason to be proud.

And they are receiving in many cases for the first time, the honor to them, I think is just a remarkable thing. And I applaud this so much.

John Curry: It's amazing to hear the stories. I've had the privilege of being in all three of those lights. Two is a guardian for a veteran looking out for them for the day. And then another where I was helping Mark Kemp who is a local chairman of one of the [flight 00:14:08] with operations. And just hearing the stories and watching the interaction between the veterans with each other is just amazing. And I've had people say, "Well, why don't you do that? What's that got to do with your business or with retirement planning?" I said, "Are you kidding me? These are people, many of them were on that plane, late 80s, some of them are 90s still going strong." I'm thinking of my friend Charles now who had the honor of being with, I think Charlie now is 92, still going strong, retired professor, great guy. And my friend Harry Grant, Harry is either 89 or 90.

They're driven to keep doing things. They don't want to just sit in front of a television and do nothing. And what if we lived to be 95 or 100 years old? You want to be physically and mentally sharp. And to me, being around people involved with Honor Flight, I'm getting an opportunity to talk with people that you love and you care about because you have so many common interests. I was fortunate, I served in the Air Force, didn't have to do any battle. I worked on the airplanes, the B-52 bombers as a mechanic. But I feel like I did a small part, but I didn't do what these guys did. And they should be recognized and honored. And we're seeing more and more women by the way, on these flights too.

Tom Flanigan: That is true. I noticed the last group that went, there were more and more women. And we'll see that too because we had more gender equity, if not full equality in the services now for the past couple of generations. That's happening.

John Curry: That's true, true. You said something earlier that caught my attention, and I want to get you to share what you told me. When I asked you why do you do what you do? Tell our listeners what you told me.

Tom Flanigan: Why do I do what I do? Well, for two reasons. I am nosy, that's why probably growing up around adults, a small town in western Maryland. Not a lot of kids my own age in the neighborhood. I grew up with my mom and dad and their friends, and I always wanted to know what the grown-ups were doing. It was time to go to bed and mom would shuffle me off into my room, but it was only right down the hall from the living room and I'd sneak back in my jammies and peek around the corner and see what all the grownups were up to and listen to the gossip and try to ascertain just what they were talking about. But I'm also a gossip, so I would want to report that. And I didn't have anyone to report it to, so I had to sit on that.

And maybe that's it, all this repressed desire on my part to just blab to the world is why I got into the news business, John.

John Curry: That's why you got in, what keeps you there?

Tom Flanigan: Pretty much the same, it is fun. You were talking about the Advisory Council this morning, we have a member of the Leon County Commissioner who sits on our council. And this individual, I'm not mentioning names, I'm not mentioning gender. There will be no identification here, we must protect our sources. This is an old journalistic tradition as well as a point of ethics for us. But this individual took me aside and opened up an iPad and said, "Okay, here's a project that's going to be pitched to a particular intergovernmental agency over the next several days," first time I'd ever heard of it. But it was one of these, "Okay, you didn't hear it from me, but this is coming, be on the lookout for it."

And luckily, I know some people to ask about it. I can pull up the details on it, and I can do a story before anyone else can. And that to me is a major accomplishment. But in this era of fake news, let me hasten to add for the benefit of people who don't know how we do what we do. In the legitimate news media business, I am not going to take anyone's word for anything.

John Curry: You go to verify.

Tom Flanigan: We are going to check double and usually triple source any kind of information before it gets out on the air or online or on TV or anything else. We want to make sure we have the facts nailed down and we have confirmation before we move forward. Just because I know this stuff doesn't mean that you're going to hear about it. I have to go through the process of confirming, clarifying, making sure that when the information does get to you, it's solid.

John Curry: I appreciate you sharing that because more and more people that we talk with, they're more untrusting now than ever. They don't think they can trust politicians, the government in general, corporations. They feel like, who I can trust, who can I trust? And I love what Ronald Reagan always said, trust but verify. Trust, but verify. If you came to me and you said, I've got X amount of money in my IRA, I'm always like, "That's very nice, let's look at the statement. We're going to verify." And I'm not kidding you, daily, we'll have someone tell us emphatically, this is what I have, but you look at the statement, guess what? That's not what they have.

They have more or less or something totally different. It's the same thing for us, we want to verify because what we do, well, it's not life or death, it's about your money, and it's about making sure you have the money you need to have a good life later. It's pretty serious stuff. I share the same philosophy there. I don't have to be as detailed about some things as you do, other things I got to be more detailed because of the financial regulators that watch us to make sure we're doing it correctly.

Tom Flanigan: Yes. In your business, John, as you just elucidated, there are facts. There are incontrovertible, one plus one equals two. And no matter where you're coming from on the political or the emotional or any other spectrum, that is still going to hold water. And it's got to be a touchstone that you can rely on. Otherwise, how can you make decisions about people's financial future and how they're going to be able to get through life after retirement and all of that if you don't have all the facts from which to make these decisions?

John Curry: That's correct. And one of the things that harp on big time with our clients, what we called team Curry here is let's do our planning based on math and science. Don't do it based on what you think. We use some actuarial science here, how long are you going to live? Look at mortality tables. You probably are going to live 20 or 30 years in retirement. For some people, they'll live longer in retirement than they actually had in their career. What do you do now? I said, let's be scientific about this. Let's not just say, "Well, my dad died at age 70, I'm going to die at 70." What if you lived to be 100? We've got to do some planning.

Tom Flanigan: Yeah. What is that old disclaimer that we see in all of that, past performance is no indicator of future results?

John Curry: That's right, that's right. The attorneys and the regulators make you say that, but it's true, but it's true. I like to use the analogy, if you're driving down the road, do you want to use your big windshield in front of you or the small rear view mirror? I'd rather use the big windshield to look forward.

Tom Flanigan: But you'll never know where you've been.

John Curry: That is true, that's why the little mirror is smaller. You can look at where you've been, remember it, but don't get hung up on it. Look into the future. look at the future. Tell us what you like best about your work.

Tom Flanigan: I really enjoy the people that I work with. You talk about diversity, it covers not only racial diversity but also age background. If you believe in the Myers-Briggs' philosophy of the world, you have some folks who are intuitive, some who are just as hard-nosed when it comes to, I have to have everything laid out in front of me before I'll even have an opinion. And we have that kind of diversity throughout our organization. And I love working, especially with younger folks who come in as interns. They bring a freshness, a talk about a new approach. Sometimes a little unrealistic approach, and you have to say, "Well, let's sit down and have a chat about this before we take off in this direction or that."

But they also bring a refreshing difference to our operation because, no, this may be their very first legislative session they've ever covered. And to them, it's exciting, and it's new. And someone who's been around the block for maybe 30 of them, like I have, you think, "I've seen it all, the speaker is going to say this, the Senate president is going to move in this direction or whatever." Sometimes they may be more on the button than the more experienced folks are. And that's always interesting. It's fun to work together with folks who don't share your viewpoint, your perspective, your particular history. And I enjoy the heck out of that, I really do.

John Curry: I would guess that it keeps you feeling young too, doesn't it?

Tom Flanigan: Oh, it really does. And that's the other great thing about being in a university town like this, John, is that for the same reason that many people through this new initiative that's out there right now, the Choose Tallahassee thing where we're trying to bring in more retirees to this community, particularly should we say more affluent retirees. I know that's part of the chamber's deal and the real estate community and all. As they say, you can't do business with people who don't have any money. But by the same token, this is something that brings them to us, is the opportunity to be in a dynamic growing young community. We keep forgetting, we and Gainesville keep going back and forth as the youngest metropolitan areas in Florida year after year. That's changing slowly, but we're still younger than the average Florida City.

John Curry: It's exciting to. Everybody around me is, well, not even half my age. And it keeps me going, and I have people around to support what we do. They know far more about technology than I do, but that's great. We're a good match.

Tom Flanigan: Synergy.

John Curry: Good fit. That's right, that's right. Talk a little bit about, with the experience you have, we talked earlier, so I'm not speaking out of school here, but as a soon to be 69. You're at an age of when a lot of people would expect you and me, I'll be 66 in December to quote retire. Talk a little bit about why you're not ready to retire and likely probably won't retire from what I have seen about you, but talk about your perspective of what retirement is.

Tom Flanigan: Retirement is the unrestrained ability to do whatever the heck you want to do. That is the holy Grail, I'm sure in most people's minds, whether it's to travel the world, whether it's to, "Oh, I always wanted to mentor young people," and you jumped into a Big Brothers Big Sisters program or whatever it might happen to be. It might be a total reinvention. Good buddy of mine retired from the legendary channel 10, WPLG in Miami, Art Carlson, legendary anchor down there for many, many years. And great journalist, awards out the Ying Yang, what a guy. And nobody's doing right now, but when he retired after a little stint in Tallahassee working for a nonprofit advocacy group. He moved to North Georgia by the Tennessee border, and he got involved with a consortium of potters. And we're not talking medical marijuana here, we are talking pottery, wheel thrown pottery.

And this is what the mighty Mr. Art Carlson does right now, he sits at that wheel and he cranks out bowls and jugs and coffee cups, and just about everything day in and day out. And does magnificent work, and he is as happy as can be. That is retirement for him. He's probably working harder there than he ever did at channel 10, but is he a happy guy? And if I go to envision retirement, that's what I would do. I can't think of anything I enjoy doing more than what I'm doing right now. That kind of puts the Kibosh on this for me.

John Curry: Yes, I'm in the same boat. I love what I do, I don't want to retire. The day will come probably because of health issues. I told a class, if you get tired of me, you don't want to deal with me, I guess you've retired me. If enough people retire me, then I'm retired. But as long as they want to come in and meet, then I'm not retiring. But what I have been doing, and the people that I know that are happiest are doing something comparable, instead of , quote, retiring and then dying like you talked about your colleagues six months or a year later because they have no interest, start looking for interest today. Do those things today, travel, do something. I take more time off.

Last week, I didn't work Monday or Friday. I'm trying to do more weeks like that work three days, then maybe work every day for a while, then take two or three days off. And I find that if I can have a three or four-day weekend, I'm refreshed and ready to go. But the key is for people to find what's working for them. Now, for your friend, leaving the world he was in and just working with his hands was a way to go. I know people who retire, and they don't do any more work on their computer. I know people who don't even have a computer anymore. They'll just use their smartphone, but they'll work with their hands. They do other things, gardening, whatever that is fun.

Tom Flanigan: Or it can be something like, and this is another great advantage of this town, John, when you have something like the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, the ALLI folks, because how many folks get to retirement age and think, "Oh, when I was back in college," or perhaps you didn't go to college at all, and this had been an aspiration somewhere in the back of your cranium. I always wanted to learn about philosophy, what the name of God can you do with that? But if you have that luxury of being able to take the time to study philosophy without having tests and quizzes and grade point averages hanging over your head, just for the sheer love of learning, how neat is that?

John Curry: Or art. I love going to different art museums. Matter of fact, I'm pretty sure at the TCC foundation, that evening when they had the art show too, it was just fun to be there. Just looking around seeing stuff. Again, no test, no quiz, just enjoying, just enjoying. You made a comment earlier, again, while we were having lunch about the retirement advice your dad gave you. I would like you to share that because one of the things we try to teach people is the importance of saving, planning and not just hoping for retirement. Would you share what he shared with you?

Tom Flanigan: Oh, I'd be happy to John. And I'm sure dad's watching down right now and going, "Okay, now I get it right." My dad is small businessman in western Maryland, had a little store, totally under-capitalized. He never made much of anything out of it, but that was his life for a long time. But even though, he didn't have much-

John Curry: Excuse me, what kind of store? What did he do?

Tom Flanigan: It was a combination of school and office supply store in this little community of fewer than 6,000 people. But we had a small college, ultimately a university branch of the University of Maryland. You had students, and they always needed loose leaf paper, pens or whatever. And he also sold office furniture. Someone needs a file cabinet or a desk, they go and check out dad. He had some stuff there, or greeting cards. He got into the greeting card business too. But even though cash flow was not an overwhelming attribute of that enterprise, he advised always have a little something put away.

And with him, I know it was little, damn little. But it was still something. When he'd have business reversals, there was a little something stashed away that would get him through the bad times. And I kind of took that to heart. From the time I could work, I always had a bank account, and then later on, a retirement savings account. And I would usually opt for the 401k when that became available through the employer because in most instances where I was, boy, was I fortunate and still am. The employer would kick in, it's not exactly doubling your money, but it's still nice to have that additional that's coming in. When I had a job reversal, which I alluded to earlier in our discussion and lost a full time income for 18 months, we had to live off of that retirement savings plan, and it got us through.

Without it, I don't know what we would've done. We would've lost the house, the car, everything. And now, we're building back up again. If and when we do decide to retire, there will be something there. But I always made that there was something. And that was, I think the best advice, among the best pieces of advice my dad left me.

John Curry: And it's still great advice. I think it's more important today in the world we live in than ever before. You can look at what happened in 2008, the number of people who just lost their careers overnight, the mortgage business, mortgage lending, the realtors, it may just like overnight. And some people like to say they saw it coming, but most of them are bull, they didn't see it coming. It's great to look back on it and predict something that happened. But the people who had that reserve, took your dad's advice, had some savings, didn't spend everything. Didn't overbuy too big of a house or too expensive a car and overload themselves with payments they did just fine, and they're doing fine now. But the ones who really got in trouble, some of them are still hurting. I think that was great advice your dad gave you then, it's great advice today. I appreciate you sharing that.

Tom Flanigan: And also what you do, if I can give an applaud, your advocation, John, is this mantra that you keep preaching when it comes to financial diversity because when something goes down, something else is usually going up. And if you don't have all of your fiscal eggs in one basket, you're much more likely to withstand whatever the [vagarities 00:34:06] of fate throw at you. Then if everything's all in that 401 or, I don't know, all these people who buy gold and then you see the volatility in the precious metals market, you go, "Are you insane?"

John Curry: Well, people have different opinions. We have people who would argue with us about different things. I say, "Look, if that's working for you, by all means do it." But that doesn't mean just because you like it, it should be for everyone. I happen to love butter pecan ice cream, but that doesn't mean that you like butter pecan ice cream, you might want just plain old vanilla.

Tom Flanigan: And it doesn't mean that you have to sit there and eat butter pecan ice cream by the gallon every night.

John Curry: When I learned that I didn't have to eat it all at one time, that's when I started releasing weight and went from a high of 282 down to most of the time, about 223, 225. But I had a bad habit of thinking that just because it was in the freezer, Tom, I had to eat it.

Tom Flanigan: It's calling to you, John.

John Curry: John, I'm here, come get it. We got to close here in just a moment, but what are some of the things you'd like to make sure that people in our community know about Tom Flanigan, they can go to the website and read a little bit about you, but what are some of the things you'd like to end with and making sure they either know about you or WFSU? You got a blank canvas, anything you want to share.

Tom Flanigan: Oh, thank you, John. Oh, biggest thing would probably be if we could get more people involved in the community where they live. This is one of my, another great western Maryland term, Bugaboo, take that mom. That was one of her favorite phrases or aggravations, if you will. Because we do get so hung up on national politics or even state, "Oh, who's going to win the governor's race. Oh, my God." And we agonize and we fuss and fight and fume and get all upset about this stuff. Another very wise man, my acquaintance said, if you are totally focused on yourself, you will be very unhappy because you will never live up to your own expectations. You will always let yourself down.

Every time I'm feeling depressed, out of sorts, upset, I try to think of somebody else that maybe I can, if not help them at least interact with them in some way, shape, form or fashion just to get outside of myself or we can get outside of ourselves, especially in the community where you can make a difference, a tangible difference, whether it's mentoring a child, maybe it's volunteering at the animal shelter. Whatever you're interested in that is outside of you. Get involved in local political race, not national. Understand, not even statewide. A city or a county commissioner race, or join the league of women voters. Do something that is outside of that little 18 inch periphery that we call our personal space. And I think that's what makes me happy. And if I could just pass that along, I think there may be a few less really miserable people.

John Curry: I agree with you.

Tom Flanigan: If you do that.

John Curry: I keep that heart shaped pillow over there to remind me that 10 years ago, July 10th, 2008 because I had an open heart surgery. And I went through a period, when I'm honest about it, I was going through a period of depression. And I would sit around the house and kind of like whine and moan, poor little me, I could sense this downward spiral. But when I got plugged back into going into my rotary club, going to some of the, that's where I see you, Economic Club, Tiger Bay, Boy Scouts, especially with my son and grandsons. Then it wasn't about me, I didn't think about me. Then when I was sitting there, and it's the same thing with television. A few days ago, sitting and watching television was [inaudible 00:38:20] to be exact. And I was watching some of the news channels because I watch everything. I don't just pick one, I watch Fox, CNN, MSNBC. I go back and forth.

My friends think I'm crazy for that. I say, "Well, I want to hear what other people say." I don't want to hear the same thing over and over from the same people, I want diversity. But when I focus on my little problems, I felt like I got more boxed in and depressed during that period of time. I totally get what you're saying and I would encourage anybody and everybody listening to this, if you feel like you're not living life the way you want it, find one or two organizations that you care about to help. For me, it's Honor Flight, Boy Scouts and my rotary club because I think those are organizations that do a lot of good. And I don't want to just work all the time, I could. I could stay here 24 hours a day if I was just brought a bed, there's always something to do. But in your world, would you mind sharing with our audience some of the things that you do, how you're participating?

Tom Flanigan: Oh, one of the things that I do is to help my wife every way I can. Right now, I'm becoming close to being almost a full time caregiver on top of everything else because my wife who is now a double cancer survivor and pretty well incapacitated with arthritis, needs a great deal of care every day. And that is a focus, and I would do it anyway, but I get so much satisfaction from helping her. I really can't discount that as being an overall part of how I see myself in this big thing. But she's not so incapacitated that she doesn't say, "Look, I know you have to go to that meeting tonight. Anyway, before you go, could you rub my feet?" And, "Sure honey. We'll take care of that, and I'll see you in a couple hours."

And then I'll sneak back to the side room where I have a little studio. I'm also fortunate in that regard, I can remote produce a lot of the material that folks hear on the radio side of the world from the house. I don't have to be away from her any more than I absolutely have to. That is a focus right there that keeps me grounded. And then the rest, what we just talked about, John, is to find some other things you're interested in doing and that you feel connected to and get you outside of yourself. Take time for yourself. I'm not saying become a monk, become some type of a martyr that, "Oh, it's all for the world and nothing for me," because that isn't a good way to live either. That's not a good balance. But it's important that we kind of see where we fit into this larger picture. And I think that's what I'm all about.

John Curry: Well, those of us who know you understand that you have a lot of love for what you do in this community. And it's just been a joy sitting here across the table from you. I can't believe we talked, I'm looking at that clock, 41 minutes. It seems like this has been five minutes sitting here. And I wish we had the whole day, but I know you got things to do too. Tom, thank you so much.

Tom Flanigan: John, thank you for the opportunity to chat with you. It's been a joy.

John Curry: Let's do it again sometimes.

Tom Flanigan: Sounds good.

2018-68847 Exp 10/20

Secrets of the Happiest Retirees

It’s tempting to think of retirement only from the financial side of things. Yes, it’s important that you save enough to be comfortable in your golden years.

But, says Dr. Larry Kubiak, you can’t forget the emotional and psychological side. As Director of Psychological Services at Behavioral Health Center Tallahassee Memorial Healthcare, Larry knows that better than most.

With our identities so wrapped up in our jobs, retirement can bring your whole life crashing down if you’re not careful. And your mental health can suffer.

Retirement can – and should – be your biggest adventure yet! Larry and I talk all about how to make it happen.

Tune in to discover…

  • What you should do now to ensure a fulfilling retirement

  • The best way to react to bad situations

  • A strategy for staying young, no matter what your age

  • How to earn a “psychic income”

  • And more

Listen now…

Mentioned in this Episode:

https://olli.fsu.edu

https://www.tmh.org

Episode Transcript:

John Curry: This is John Curry. Welcome again to another episode of our Secure Retirement podcast. 

Today, I'm sitting across the table from a guy I've known a long time. We're both grinning at each other here. Today, I have the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Larry Kubiak. He's a PhD. He's Director of Psychological Services at the Behavioral Health Center at Tallahassee Memorial Healthcare. Did I say that right?

Larry Kubiak: Yes, you did. Very good, John.

John Curry: Well, Larry, thank you for being here. This is going to be an exciting interview today, folks. While we were having lunch, getting ready, we were talking about some of the topics, and Larry, I have to tell you, I'm impressed that you took time to think through some of the issues that people who are getting close to retirement or are in retirement are facing. I know you have a wealth of information, so thank you for being here.

Larry Kubiak: Certainly. My pleasure, John.

John Curry: Let's start off by you just kind of sharing with our audience what you do, how you go about the process. Just tell them who you are, a little bit about your background, but also make sure you tell them that you're Rotarian and Vice President of your club. So, jump in. 

Larry Kubiak: Okay. Well, I have my doctorate in counseling psychology from the University of Florida, and I have been a professional in the field for 42 years. I have been the Director of Psychological Services at Tallahassee Memorial Behavioral Health Center for the last 27 years.

I specialize there in psychological and neuropsychological testing. When people come into the hospital, it used to be that they were there for up to three weeks, and now it's about three days. One of the implications of that, it is very critical to have the most accurate diagnosis so that they can get the most appropriate treatment. Psychological testing is a very important component in helping to identify what's really going on as quickly as possible so that they're put on the right medication, that they're involved in the right therapy from the very outside, so that when they go back to their home community, that they've gotten started off on the right foot and that can be continued.

I have a lot of doctoral students from Florida State that do placements with me, to help learn how to do this kind of thing. We help make decisions about our people suffering from bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, dementia, Alzheimer's, all kinds of things, because those have very important implications in peoples' lives. We work with the psychiatrist and the rest of the treatment team to help make sure that people get the most appropriate treatment they possibly can. 

Also very involved with Boy Scouts. John and I have some ties through that. I was a Scout Master. I had 12 young men become Eagle Scout while I was serving in that capacity. I'm currently on the National Health & Safety Committee for Boy Scouts. I'm the chair of the Mental Health Subcommittee. I'll be on staff and have a major role at the World Jamboree this next year. John mentioned Rotary. I was the president of the Tallahassee Rotary Club, which is the largest club in our 50 club district in 6940, here in North Florida. I currently serve as Assistant District Governor, and will be interviewed in October for the possibility of serving as District Governor on down the road. So, we'll see how that goes.

John Curry: You'd make a great governor. I hope that happens. People listening to this might be asking the question, "Why in the world is John Curry interviewing a psychologist?" based on what they just heard. We were talking earlier over lunch, that it's not just about having money. Over the years, 43 years I've been doing this, we try to give good information to help people make better decisions, not just about money, but about life.

Larry Kubiak: Well, and John, one of the things that has always impressed me about you is, certainly, you do an outstanding job helping people be as financially secure as they possibly can be. Unfortunately, many of your colleagues, that may be as far as they go, but you have always impressed me as being someone who goes beyond that and wants to look at the total person. What can we do to help their total experience in retirement be as positive as possible? 

So, to me, it's certainly very natural that you would ask me, a psychologist, because we know that just being financially secure doesn't mean you're going to have the kind of retirement that you want to have. If you haven't prepared emotionally and psychologically, then you're probably going to be missing out. You have got to have a reason for getting up in the morning. Especially for us guys, maybe sometimes women too. Especially for us guys, a lot of who we are, a lot of our self-worth, a lot of our social connections, are tied to work. 

John Curry: Would you say probably the majority?

Larry Kubiak: Well, exactly.

John Curry: The majority.

Larry Kubiak: Exactly. Yeah, exactly. Because, a lot of guys haven't made those social connections through things like Rotary or Boy Scouts, or the church and so on, and they've relied so much on their job or their family. So, when they retire, they go from having all of those needs met by their job, all of a sudden, to retiring and not having those needs met anymore. 

Unless they have adequately prepared ... And just as you must prepare financially, you really need to prepare emotionally. What is going to give you satisfaction? What's going to make you feel fulfilled in retirement? Now, is that going to be playing golf every single day of your retirement? Well, that might be okay for the first month, but I think you're probably going to get tired of that after a while.

John Curry: Let me jump in on that one.

Larry Kubiak: Please.

John Curry: I had the pleasure a few years back - haven't played in two years because of shoulder problems - of getting to play golf five days in a row. I discovered very quickly that I would not be able to retire and play golf every day. I didn't like it. That's tough. I was worn out. I can't even imagine how these pro players do that the way they do it. If I-

Larry Kubiak: Well, they're paid pretty well for it.

John Curry: Well, they are, but ... Some of them are anyway. 

Larry Kubiak: Yeah, well, some are and some aren't. So, yeah, I mean, if that is what gives you ... And that's fine to do that, and it's fine to travel. I know a lot of people want to travel and so on, and that's fine too. You've got to continue to learn, you've got to continue to grow. When we stop learning and growing, when we stop feeling like we're contributing to life, then that's when we start to die.

I think there are a lot of ways that people can deal with that. Now, some people, unfortunately, for financial reasons, they may be forced to continue to work, but, if you're in a position where you can continue to work because you really enjoy working ... And there's a term that we refer to as "psychic income", that if you're fortunate enough to be in a position where you work not just for the pay check, but because of the satisfaction that you get for working in something that contributes to peoples' welfare, then you get some benefit from that that you just can't put a price tag on. So, it's just very important.

Sometimes people can continue to work, maybe in that same field. Sometimes they may have had another kind of line of work that they might want to pursue. A good friend of my wife, she was a psychologist, and found that she really liked doing craft things. She has completely switched from that major career to something else, because she found that she got more enjoyment out of that. So, whatever that is for you, find that, pursue that, and it will go a long way toward helping you be more psychologically healthy and get more out of your retirement. 

John Curry: All right. Well, let's help the people that are listening to this [inaudible 00:08:06], okay, that's great, but how do I do that? Let's talk with someone, let's say in their fifties, [crosstalk 00:08:12] retirement. Say maybe they're 55, 60 years old. What advice would you offer them as far as beginning to start seeking out things so they have a purpose beyond work? What are some of the things you would suggest?

I know what I've told people to do. Explore things today, experiment, see if you like it. What do you think?

Larry Kubiak: Well, I think it's important for people to try a variety of things and really begin to identify where their passion is. I know, for me, I really enjoy being involved with Boy Scouts. I really enjoy being involved with the Rotary because of the multiple ways that we can give back. What's very unique to me about Rotary is that I have some unique skills, as a psychologist, that allows me to continue to give back through that. Now, for some people it might be church. 

What I'm saying is, don't just sit around watching television all day. I think you were saying earlier, John, that you had to do that for a while, and you realized that sitting around watching television all day would not be how you would want to spend your retirement.

John Curry: That would not be a happy retirement for me.

Larry Kubiak: Exactly. Exactly. So, get away from that. Get out there. Try giving back. Try getting involved ... [Olly 00:09:32]. You know, the Florida State, the classes? Use that as an opportunity to continue to expand yourself, to see if there's a real passion for you. You've probably gained a lot of experience in whatever you do, maybe you could be a teacher. Maybe you could do seminars, learn a new skill, learn a language. Whatever that might be-

John Curry: All good advice.

Larry Kubiak: Yeah. 

John Curry: All good. Part of it comes down to just taking the time to discover for yourself what you enjoy doing.

Larry Kubiak: Exactly.

John Curry: I'm afraid that many people, I think most of us frankly, I know I'm guilty of it at times too, are just getting in this routine where you get out, you do this, you do this, you do this, but my experience has been clients ... My oldest client's 101. Clients that are in their late nineties, late eighties, the ones that seem to be the happiest are the ones who, they've taken care of their financial issues, so the bills are paid. They're not worried about paying their bills. But, they're not sitting home doing nothing. 

Larry Kubiak: Right.

John Curry: They are socially involved.

Larry Kubiak: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

John Curry: I'm thinking of a guy right now that I had the pleasure ... I'll just call his name, Dr. Charles [Nam 00:10:40]. I had the pleasure of being his guardian on one of the Honor Flights. 

Larry Kubiak: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Oh, yeah. Wonderful.

John Curry: Charlie's in his nineties. He's still going strong. We're constantly sharing ideas back and forth, and every time I'm around him, I have to remind myself that he's in his nineties, because he's got so much energy. He feels like I want to explore more, so now he's acting.

Larry Kubiak: Well, you want to continually be curious about life. You always want to keep learning and growing. So, identify what engages that curiosity. Kids are very curious. I've got three grandkids, and we go for a walk in the woods, and everything is just exciting. Everything is new, and there's something to learn about. We kind of get away from that as we get older. So, try to get back to that, to what really engages your curiosity, whether it be about yourself, or relationships, or getting back in a certain way. 

So, identify that passion, that enthusiasm, those kinds of things that really give you meaning in life, and pursue those. They're not going to come to you. You're not going to get them from watching television. So, force yourself to get out there. Maybe your spouse has to force you. Maybe a friend invites you to a Rotary meeting, or [Kiwanis 00:12:12], or Lions, or something like that. Give it a chance. See, see what you think.

John Curry: Get out of your comfort zone-

Larry Kubiak: Yeah, exactly.

John Curry: ... and try something new. Talk a little bit about ... because I know you experience this in your counseling, you have to, of where one person, one spouse, feels like, well, I can't do anything. I can't go do a because my spouse doesn't like a, and I have to please him or her because they always get their way.

Larry Kubiak: Well, you know, that's-

John Curry: Can you talk about that for a minute?

Larry Kubiak: I think that's a very important point. When we made those marriage vows, they didn't say that we have to enjoy everything together, we must spend all of our time together. I guarantee you, my wife has some interests that I don't have, I have some interests she doesn't have. She loves to go to yard sales on Saturday. That would drive me nuts. I have no interest in going to yard sales, so she can go. I like to, on a Saturday morning, I might like to go for a hike in the woods. I'll go by myself. I'll go with my daughter. But, my wife doesn't go with me.

My wife loves to go to plays in New York with our daughter. That's okay. We don't have to do ... Give yourself permission to not have to do everything together. In fact, that can, in many respects, make your relationship even better. If one of you goes out and does some things, and the other one goes out and does some different things, then you've got so many more things to talk about than if you always did exactly the same things. I mean, I don't mind, and I really enjoy hearing what kind of amazing bargain she got at a yard sale. So-

John Curry: You just don't want to be there in the process.

Larry Kubiak: Well, that's right. That's right. It would be very boring to me. But, give yourself permission to spend time away from each other, and don't feel like it's going to detract from the relationship. It actually will enhance the relationship. 

John Curry: Let's circle back on something you said earlier about, particularly men, so much of their self-worth is wrapped up in their careers. I'm seeing more and more of that with women now that are in the professional fields, where they have similar situations. Are you seeing that, or [crosstalk 00:14:36]?

Larry Kubiak: Well, certainly. Certainly. At the risk of sounding sexist, and I would apologize if it comes across this way, but in my professional experience, generally speaking, women do a much better job of forming relationships, friendships with other women, talking with them about their feelings and so on. Us guys, we don't want to talk about our feelings. We're the strong, silent type, like John Wayne, so it's not okay to talk about your feelings. But, that's probably why women live longer than we do, because they've learned how to do that. 

We were talking earlier about, well, what happens if a couple's been married for 50 years, and if the husband dies first, how long with the wife live? Well, she'll probably live a long time, because she's got all kinds of social support. If it's the other way around, a lot of times that guy will die fairly quickly, unless he has taken proactive steps to develop social relationships, to get involved with other men, to learn to express his feelings, to learn to go through the grieving process. We talked about that earlier.

One of the things that we see ... Well, life is filled with loss. I mean, you lose your pet, you lose a girlfriend, you lose a job, but the longer you live, the more losses that you've had in your life. It's normal to go through a grieving process when it comes to losses. It's not normal to get stuck in them, and to never work through, and to stay depressed, and become suicidal and so on. So, it's important to give yourself permission to experience the stages of grief. Kübler-Ross has talked a lot about the five stages of grief - the denial, the anger, the depression, the acceptance and so on. It would be nice to say that people go through those at the same time, in the same way, very quickly, but everybody's different. 

I think when it comes to retirement, a lot of the enjoyment you might get of retirement can be lost if you are going through a severe grieving process. Don't be afraid to seek some help. I don't mean drugs, drugs are not going to help the process, but giving yourself permission to talk to people that can really help you through that. For many of us, it might be family, it might be friends. It doesn't necessarily have to be professionals. It may be a support group. But, give yourself the permission to do that and work through that grieving process, and I think that the more effectively you're able to do that, the more enjoyment you can get out of life, out of your retirement, and much better things will be for you.

John Curry: That's true if you're 20 years away from retirement.

Larry Kubiak: Oh, yeah. Exactly. Exactly.

John Curry: Because, we're going to experience losses no matter what we think or say or do. I mean, I think back to [three 00:17:44] years ago, my dad died. He was battling cancer for several years. I look at the quality of my mother's life now, and in a lot of ways she hasn't gotten over his loss and is still grieving, and it's taken its toll on her health. 

Larry Kubiak: Sure.

John Curry: Frankly, her sister's around her. You're right, we handle it differently. 

What would you suggest as a way to learn more about dealing with these losses? Because, it's true, we lose friends. In today's politically charged environment, I witnessed at a Rotary club, not mine, but a club I was visiting, two guys arguing so loudly, and the profanity over political issues right now, that they stomped away angry. I'm told that, even now, they won't even speak to each other, and this happened two months ago. Two months ago. 

We're becoming so polarized in different areas. What advice would you have to, I don't want to say "protect ourselves", but to put ourselves in a way where we don't become guilty of being the cause of that, or if we receive that, we can get over it fairly quickly and not worry about it?

Larry Kubiak: Well, I think several things come to mind. I think one is the whole notion of empathy. Empathy is so critical in everything that we do in life, and being able to put yourself in someone else's shoes. Again, without getting political, before you speak, before you yell at somebody for being whatever you want to call them, try to understand where they're coming from. A lot of times, it comes from fear. 

People might be afraid of immigrants, for instance, because they're afraid that their way of life, their income, is threatened. So, a lot of times, people react perhaps through prejudice and so on out of the fear. I would say really work to try to hear what is behind those words, really try to understand the other person rather than just yelling at them. I think that's one of the things that's most missing in the discourse and why we see the issues being so apart. 

Because, I think ... Well, again, I'm very involved with the Rotary, Rotary Youth Exchange, and we have so many international high school students that come to Florida and the United States from other countries, and we send them overseas and everything. I think one of the things that we learn from having exchange programs and so on, or traveling internationally, is we learn that there is a lot more that's similar among us than there are differences. 

John Curry: Right. No matter where you travel.

Larry Kubiak: That's right. Exactly. That deep down, while the governments may be at loggerheads with each other, if you relate to the people in that country, the parents there are interested in the same things that we are. They want their kids to grow up into healthy, productive citizens, just like we do. Once you begin to empathize and identify and understand things from their perspective, it's harder to encapsulate them in being this kind of person and so on. You begin to see them as more of a whole human, and that's what we're after, is to foster those kind of ties. 

I think empathy and taking the time to really understand and really listen ... I mean, I always like to say, God gave us two ears and one mouth because he wants us to listen twice as much as we talk. Unfortunately, in today's society, it's a matter of not just I want to talk, but I want to out-yell you, and whoever's the loudest yeller is who gets paid attention to. To me, a much greater characteristic that I'd like to see for everybody is that we take a lot more time to slow down and really listen to what the other person is saying.

John Curry: Good advice. I want to share something that happened back in 1992. Pat and I were going to take a trip to Paris, and we were told how everybody in France are going to be so rude and righteous and all this to Americans. 

Larry Kubiak: Exactly.

John Curry: We experienced none of that.

Larry Kubiak: Exactly.

John Curry: None.

Larry Kubiak: Exactly.

John Curry: In fact, we had people going out of their way to guide us when we were on the wrong train one day. 

I've thought about another experience back in the 70s, going to New York City for the first time. Back in '78 I think it was, '78 or '79. Same thing. "Oh, they're going to be so rude." I was so lost. I was on the wrong subway. This guy looks at me, and he says, "Sir, where are you trying to go?" I told him. I said, "I'm trying to go to [inaudible 00:22:56] Broadway, near City Hall." He said, "You're on the wrong train." So, he's trying to explain to me [crosstalk 00:23:01], and here's what he said. He said, "I got time. Come with me." We get off the train, he takes me over to the proper turnstile, he drops in two tokens, goes with me. He goes, he gets on the next train, takes me back to City Hall. He said, "At City Hall, your building will be to the left somewhere." He said, "Enjoy your time in New York City."

I only remember the first name was Bob. I wish I had ... So many times, I wish I'd gotten his name and address and kept in touch. But, there is an example of not only empathy, but also expectation. If I expect you to be angry, that's probably what I'm going to get. 

Larry Kubiak: Exactly.

John Curry: Because I'm going to send off vibes that I'm expecting that.

Larry Kubiak: That's right. That's right. That's right.

John Curry: But, if I'm expecting that you're going to be nice and friendly, and you're going to be my new friend ... And I'm reminded of a quote that's attributed to Abraham Lincoln. He said, "I do not like that man. I should get to know him." 

Larry Kubiak: Yes. A lot of wisdom in that. I think, to help diffuse that kind of escalation and tension and so on, really try to listen to the person. If you can reflect to that person what you hear them saying, "Boy, you sound like you're really afraid that dah dah dah dah dah," or you ... And the more we can identify the feeling word behind what the person's saying, the more they feel understood, the more that lowers their tension. Because, so many of us feel like nobody hears us, nobody understands us, and that's really critical in any relationship in life. 

Certainly, when we're talking about retirement, and we're talking about men having difficulty when they lose their job, lose those relationships they have at work, begin to form those elsewhere. The more you're able to do that, when you get away from work, then the more successful your retirement's going to be. So, use those skills that you developed over all those years in work to develop new ones, and that's one of the exciting things about retirement. You get a chance to try some different things, to develop some skills that you may not have had, to form some new relationships.

The friendships that I've developed through scouting, and through Rotary, and through my church and so on, have been extremely enriching to me. I would not want to trade them for anything else. That can be the same thing for someone looking forward to retirement. You can't start too soon to begin to develop those kinds of things.

John Curry: In fact, I would argue that if you waited until retirement to pursue those, you're going to be very unhappy in retirement.

Larry Kubiak: Exactly. Certainly. No question.

John Curry: But, if you start pursuing those well before ... I keep three books on my shelf. One is [Kurt Douglas' 00:25:53] book. He's 101. [George Burns' 00:25:56] book, he died at age 100. And Betty White, she's still working at 96 years old. I keep those as role models, because when people say, "When are you going to retire?" I hope I never retire. 

Now, I want to do more of the things that I want to do, and not feel like I have to come to work every day-

Larry Kubiak: Exactly.

John Curry: ... but I don't want to stop doing what I'm doing. It's like you said earlier, no plans, no desire to retire, as long as you're bringing value and helping people.

Larry Kubiak: Yeah. 

John Curry: We're both doing counseling work. Mine's counseling regarding ... Well, it's not just financial. A lot of times I feel like I am a psychologist, psychiatrist, lawyer, accountant, all bundled into one.

Larry Kubiak: Sure. Exactly. Exactly.

John Curry: It's funny. When I was a kid, I always thought I wanted to be first a school teacher, then a preacher, then a trial lawyer. 

Larry Kubiak: Oh, my.

John Curry: I'm convinced that I'm in the right profession, because I get to do all of those.

Larry Kubiak: You do all of ...

John Curry: I'm teaching, I'm preaching, and I'm trying to persuade. 

Larry Kubiak: Yeah. Very good. Very good. [crosstalk 00:26:58].

John Curry: Let's address something that we haven't talked about, but I think is very important, and that is trust. Having trust in ourselves, in the people around us. We live in a world today that's become more and more untrusting, and frankly, rightfully so. When you look at what's happening in the political world, the corporate world.

Larry Kubiak: Sure. Sure.

John Curry: Address the importance of trust for a minute, especially entrusting yourself and seeking help with people that can guide you, that you have confidence in.

Larry Kubiak: Well, trust is very critical in anything that we do in life. If we don't ... When we're born, going as early as we possibly can, when we're born into this world, we have zero ability to take care of ourselves, and we are 100% dependent on our parents. [crosstalk 00:27:48]-

John Curry: [crosstalk 00:27:48].

Larry Kubiak: Yeah, that's right. But, let's say you cry when you're a baby, and your parents come to you and they attend you. If you need to be changed, they change you, and if you need to be fed, they feed you, and so on. If that is the consistent pattern that happens, then you start to learn that I can trust this world. Obviously, as we get older, we have to decide, well, who can we trust and who we can't. But, we're born and we are totally dependent on our parents. If they meet our needs, then we realize that we can trust, and we can begin to trust.

On the other hand, let's say that you're a baby and you cry, and nobody comes. You cry, and nobody comes. You cry, and nobody comes. Or somebody comes and slaps you. So, what is your image of the world starting out there?

John Curry: [crosstalk 00:28:45].

Larry Kubiak: I need things, but nobody is going to meet those needs. Then that's replicated in other things in your life, and so on. 

So, trust is something that is very critical from our very beginnings in life, and the more it's replicated, that we can trust people and they will meet our needs, the more likely we are to trust other people. Now, again, it's a lifelong process of learning to trust, and sometimes we're going to get burned, and sometimes we get burned and we may not want to trust anybody for a while. But, hopefully, we learn that, well, the only way to go through life like that is to be a rock, and it's not much fun being a rock, that we've got to get out there and we've got to take some risks and so on. 

What our parents and people who care about us need to help us to is to help advise us on who to trust and who not to trust. Sometimes we'll listen to them, sometimes we won't. Sometimes we're going to be headstrong and we're just going to rush ahead, and we're going to make some bad decisions, and we hope that that helps us to learn what to look for more carefully in the future. That's true in any relationship. Employers. 

John Curry: True.

Larry Kubiak: Spouses. I mean, Jeez, one of the most important decisions you make in your lifetime is who you want to marry, and who you want to be friends with. 

At the Behavioral Health Center, one of the things that ... We see a lot of young people in our adolescent unit there, because they have ... Maybe a girl trusted a guy, then he runs around with her best friend. That's very serious trust, and just imagine how hard it's going to be for her to trust another guy in a relationship. Or if she's been abused in a relationship, it's going to take that much more effort to ever be able to trust again. So, trust is very, very critical. I mean, it's set in place from our initial relationship with our parents, but it's a lifelong endeavor. 

We can never get to the point of saying that, well, I can always trust these people and so on. It's unfortunate that there are people who will take advantage of you, with all the identity theft, and people just have so many more creative ways to take advantage of you. Certainly those who are retired, who may have saved a lot of money and so on, they're going to be a target, a magnet, for people who are going to try to take advantage of them. Maybe when they need some care ... I mean, you read about it in the newspaper all the time. Somebody who offers to help take care of them, to be a friend for them, to handle duties for them, and they take advantage of that, they take them for thousands of dollars. 

John Curry: Would you believe that in our world, the training we get, we actually are trained by some of the financial regulatory bodies on what to look for, so that if we see or suspect that somebody's being taken advantage of ... And, sadly, it's usually, as you just pointed out, either a family member or a close friend who's doing it. It's not some total stranger. 

So, we have to take classes each year to be on the alert, if you will. Or if we see somebody who, maybe they're not able to make a decision, you contact a family member, I'm concerned about your mother or your father, whatever. That's a tough call.

Larry Kubiak: Well, it's interesting that you bring that up, because I mentioned that I am a neuropsychologist, and so part of what I do is neuropsychological testing to help identify whether or not someone may be experiencing dementia. The greatest risk factor for dementia is getting older. Well, getting older still beats the alternative of not getting older-

John Curry: Yes, [crosstalk 00:32:42].

Larry Kubiak: ... but, the older you live ... Now, it's not inevitable that everybody will have Alzheimer's or anything like that, but certainly the risk increases. Fortunately, we know more about that whole process than we did 20 years ago, and 20 years from now we will know even more. I'm hopeful that, within our lifetime, there will be a cure for Alzheimer's. Actually, I'm going to be part of a drug study that's looking at a very positive possibility there's- 

John Curry: Are you going to be taking drugs, is that what you're saying?

Larry Kubiak: Well, no. I'm going to be testing people who are, but ... 

John Curry: [crosstalk 00:33:19].

Larry Kubiak: I think one of the important things for your listeners to be aware of is that whether it be them, a spouse, a family member as they get older, if you start to see some cognitive issues, have them checked out. Certainly, first of all, I would have them alert their physician. Go to their physician. There are some kind of screening things that the physician could do to help begin to identify if there were some cognitive decline there. There also are neuropsychologists and neurologists that can do assessments that can begin to identify how severely impaired someone might be, and whether or not there may be areas in their life that they should not be making decisions. Maybe there needs to be a power of attorney to help them make certain decisions, and so on.

So, all I'm saying is that, certainly, if you see in yourself or someone else some cognitive decline, check it out, and make sure that a person is not going to be taken advantage of otherwise.

John Curry: I'm glad you discussed that, because we've had several cases in the last few years where it was almost like divine intervention in that we were able to get people to go see an attorney, get their legal documents done, get the [inaudible 00:34:45] power of attorney in place, before a stroke occurred or some other health issue. 

We've thought about it several times as a team. We go, "Wow." That, we can't take credit for that, because there was the timing issue of getting people motivated, who for years wouldn't do it. I'm thinking of a couple now, where every time I would discuss it with him, he would get angry. I mean, angry. One day he was just cussing at me, and said, "I don't want to deal with these blank blank lawyers." But, when he was ready, he was ready. We took advantage of it, got him in front of the attorney, got it all done. 90 days later, the man suffered a stroke.

Larry Kubiak: Yeah. 

John Curry: And everything was in order. Everything was in order. He since has passed away, but this lady has been able to carry on.

Larry Kubiak: I think it gets back to what you were talking about with the whole issue of trust, what we were talking about earlier. I think, when you have developed a relationship with your clients, and they have seen that you have worked very hard to help prepare them for their financial future in retirement and so on, if you develop that level of trust, you might be in a very important position to advise them about those kinds of things, or their spouse, or whatever. 

Certainly there may be some initial pushback, but don't be afraid of that, and don't be afraid to encourage them to do what's needed in getting that identified. If there's nothing, well that's fine. It may be a temporary thing. But, if it's something that's going to be more serious and more long lasting, then it's best to prepare for it and take the proper steps to deal with it.

John Curry: Good advice. As we wind down here, let's talk about this for a moment. You made a comment earlier about the importance of goal setting, and the image. I don't want to leave that, because we both have talked about the importance of visualizing and imaging. Spend a moment on that please.

Larry Kubiak: Okay. All of us need to set ... We don't want to just wait until New Year’s Eve to set a goal for our life. We should be continually setting goals. Financial goals, employment goals, relationship goals, whatever. We always need to be setting goals. Half the battle in accomplishing a goal is to actually be able to visualize yourself accomplishing that goal. 

Before I've used the analogy of a golfer. If you're having to hit a ball over all water, if it's me, I'm going to imagine the ball going in the water. A professional is going to imagine it landing on the green and going in the hole. So, if you can't form an image of yourself successfully accomplishing your goal, you're doomed not to meet it. So, imagine that. Imagine what life is going to be like when you're retired and you're free to do the kinds of things that give you the most satisfaction in life.

So, picture that. What's that going to be like? What’s your day going to be like? What are your relationships going to be like? Who are you going to be spending time with? Where are you going to be spending time? The more you can visualize that and you can describe that to someone else, the more likely that it is to happen. So, forming that image is very important in any goal setting, whether it be ... 

I remember working with a woman one time who was going to have a bariatric bypass surgery. She was morbidly obese. Her goal was to be able to walk around Lake Ella with her child, just without being in pain, the pain that she had so much weight on her knees, it was so painful. So, being able to form that image of what it was going to be like walking around there, and the look on her daughter's face and everything, is what helped her get the motivation to actually make that happen.

John Curry: When I had heart surgery 10 years ago, there was a guy in the room next to me who had the same procedure, a triple bypass. He was so angry, throwing things at the nurses and the other staff. The doctor, same doctor, he asked me, "Would you please, when you're taking a walk, invite this guy to join you?" I said, "Sure. What's up?" and he told me. And he did. Finally, he got out of bed, took a walk.

But, the first time we were taking a walk, he was focusing on all the problems. There was nothing to look forward to. He was like, "Why are you so happy?" I said, "Because I'm not dead." I mean, the surgery worked.

Larry Kubiak: Exactly. [inaudible 00:39:28] exactly.

John Curry: I'm able to [crosstalk 00:39:30]. I'm white as a sheet. I walked 10 feet, I thought I was going to pass out. But, at least I'm moving.

Larry Kubiak: Exactly.

John Curry: I finally got the guy laughing, and we're talking, and then he looked forward to walking three or four times a day.

Larry Kubiak: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

John Curry: As you were talking about the importance of goals and imaging, that popped in my head. Because, I think about ... There are times when I'll dwell on the negative side, and I've gotten pretty good at quickly saying "stop". Just stop. Don't go there, and then get out. I'm convinced that people who are happiest and most successful in life, they have the ability ... Like a pro golfer. A ball goes into water, they don't dwell on that shot. It's over. 

Larry Kubiak: That's right.

John Curry: That's behind you.

Larry Kubiak: Can't change that.

John Curry: What's coming forward next?

Larry Kubiak: Exactly. 

John Curry: And I think that helps also a lot with the loss and the grieving. Now, there's also a line, you have to understand, where you could become so callus and become arrogant about it, but the longer we dwell on stuff, I call it the "downward spiral". I'm sure there must be merit to that from the psychological training standpoint and counseling, because some people just want to dwell on the negatives.

Larry Kubiak: Well-

John Curry: Some people can't help it.

Larry Kubiak: Yeah. Bad things are going to happen in life. Bad things are going to happen. That's just part of life. Some things will be much more traumatic than others. But, we all can make decisions. We can't decide if something bad is going to happen to us. I mean, a lot of times things just happen, not for any fault of our own. We have an accident because somebody else was drunk and ran into us. But, what we can make decisions on is do we want to continue to be a victim, or do we want to move on with our life? 

There are people who make decisions to be ... They've had bad things happen in their life, they were abused, they were molested and so on, and certainly they didn't deserve that, but the longer you make the decision to be a victim, the longer you keep putting your life on hold. When you make the decision to not be a victim, to make the best out of a situation, to move forward with your life positively, then the sooner you're able to move on and accomplish the things that you really do need to accomplish and want to accomplish and deserve to accomplish. 

John Curry: Let me tell you, Larry, we see that a lot. We see people who lost money in 2008, when the market crashed, and they've made good decisions since then. Some have made poor decisions, like parking their money out of fear. Because fear's a big, big, powerful issue. But, the people that seem to be doing well now are those who say, "Okay, yes, I lost money. The market's very high now, I could lose money again, so I'm going to protect some of that money. I'm not going to live in fear with it." Whereas, others, no matter where they are, if the market's high, they worry about it crashing. If the market's low, they're worried about when is it going to come back up. 

So, what you just said about ... That's somewhat being a victim, isn't it? I'm allowing my loss from before, of 2008, to keep me from doing the things I need to do today, to be able to make better decisions. I never thought of it that way, but that is being a victim, isn't it?

Larry Kubiak: Yeah, it is. It is. There are a lot of things in life to be afraid of, but if we live our life based on all of those fears then we never move forward.

John Curry: We have no life.

Larry Kubiak: We have no life. That's right. Exactly.

John Curry: Wow.

Larry Kubiak: So, we have to make a decision to step forward. Not recklessly, obviously, but to listen to the advice around us. Obviously, those who didn't listen to your advice and took all of their money out of stocks are regretting it now. 

John Curry: Oh, yeah. Yeah.

Larry Kubiak: And you can always say, "I told you so," but you would not do that.

John Curry: I would not do that. That would not be very empathetic.

Larry Kubiak: No, it wouldn't. It would definitely not be empathetic.

John Curry: Or sympathetic either.

Larry Kubiak: Right.

John Curry: I'm looking at that computer screen. We've been talking for 43 minutes. 

Larry Kubiak: Oh, my.

John Curry: This has been a fantastic interview. I'm hoping we can do this again some time-

Larry Kubiak: Certainly.

John Curry: ... and expand a little bit deeper. 

Larry Kubiak: Sure.

John Curry: Larry Kubiak, I thank you so much.

Larry Kubiak: Well, my pleasure. 

John Curry: Thank you.

Larry Kubiak: All right. Thank you.

Outro: If you would like to know more about John Curry's services, you can request a complimentary information package by visiting johnhcurry.com/podcast. Again, that is johnhcurry.com/podcast. Or you can call his office at 850-562-3000. Again, that is 850-562-3000. John H. Curry, chartered life underwriter, chartered financial consultant, accredited estate planner, master's in science and financial services, certified in long-term care, registered representative and financial advisor of Park Avenue Securities LLC. 

Securities products and services and advisory services are offered through Park Avenue Securities, a registered broker-dealer and investment advisor. Financial representative of the Guardian Life Insurance Company of America, New York, New York. Park Avenue Securities is an indirect wholly owned subsidiary of Guardian. [inaudible 00:44:38] Financial Corporation is not an affiliate of subsidiary of Park Avenue Securities. Park Avenue Securities is a member of Finra and SIPC. 

This material is intended for general public use. By providing this material, we are not undertaking to provide investment advice for any specific individual or situation, or to otherwise act in a fiduciary capacity. Please contact one of our financial professionals for guidance and information specific to your individual situation. All investments contain risk and they lose value. Past performance is not a guarantee of future results.

Guardian, its subsidiaries, agents or employees do not provide legal, tax or accounting advice. Please consult with your attorney, accountant and/or tax advisor for advice concerning your particular circumstances. Not affiliated with the Florida Retirement System. The Living Balance Sheet and the Living Balance Sheet logo are registered service marks of the Guardian Life Insurance Company of America, New York, New York. Copyright 2005 through 2018.

This podcast is for informational purposes only. Guest speakers and their firms are not affiliated with or endorsed by Park Avenue Securities or Guardian, and opinions stated are their own.

2018-68854 Exp 10/20

Following Doctor’s Orders in More Ways Than One

As the Chief Medical Officer at a nonprofit organization and long-time internal medicine specialist, Dr. Nancy Van Vessem is in prime position to see how certain habits can severely impact a person’s long-term health.

She’s also seen the way healthcare issues are impacting everyday people.

One of the major concerns is rising costs. In our chat, we highlighted strategies to account for that, especially in retirement. We also spoke about the importance of discussing end of life care with your family – so your wishes are followed.

Tune in now to discover…

  • Things you can do now to live a long and healthy life

  • What accounts for 50% of the impact on your health

  • How to tweak your retirement plan to account for increasing lifespans

  • The very real consequences of not listening to your doctor 

  • The #1 health risk in the United States – and how to avoid it

  • And more

Listen now…

Episode Transcript:

John Curry: This is John Curry. Welcome to another episode of John Curry's Secure Retirement Podcast. I'm excited about today's guest, because Dr. Nancy Van Vessem is with me today. Welcome, Nancy.

Dr. Nancy Van Vessem: Thank you.

John Curry: Every time we get together, we have, I call them dynamic conversations. We talk about healthcare, we talk about financial planning, retirement planning. I'm always amazed at how much you know when it comes to tax planning, retirement planning and financial planning. But first let's talk about your career.

Dr. Nancy Van Vessem: Okay.

John Curry: You're a medical doctor. Tell our audience about your background. When did you decide to become a physician and what you're doing today.

Dr. Nancy Van Vessem: Well, that goes way back. I actually graduated from medical school in 1983. So, if you do the math there, that was 35 years ago. And as to why I became a physician, I think it was a little unusual for women back then. I think when I went to medical school, there's was only 10% women and that's changed a lot. Now it's over 50% women. But I think a lot of it was that, like most people that go to medical school, I was very good in science and at some point I had to make a decision about, am I going to be somebody that stands at a bench and does chemistry and that sort of thing or am I going to be out among people and using my skills to help people and I decided to go that route. And then one thing led to another after that and I became an internal medicine physician and the internal medicine physician is a physician for adults with complex medical problems, typically, and that's sort of what happened.

Dr. Nancy Van Vessem: I moved here to Tallahassee 24 years ago and I've been at Capital Health Plan since then, first as a practicing physician, but gradually I have morphed into more administrative roles and I'm now the Chief Medical Officer.

John Curry: Very good, very good. Tell us about your day-to-day work at Capital Health Plan. So you're not doing practice anymore, is that correct?

Dr. Nancy Van Vessem: I'm not doing direct patient care, no.

John Curry: Okay, so none at all now. So you see a lot of the issues that impact the public from the standpoint of healthcare issues or lack thereof and also the money side of it.

Dr. Nancy Van Vessem: Yes.

John Curry: So tell us a little bit about what you're seeing and what concerns you or just whatever pops into your head regarding the future of healthcare in our country.

Dr. Nancy Van Vessem: Well, first of all, CHP is a nonprofit organization and we serve the seven counties up here in the panhandle, so we're a small health plan. We're a small, nonprofit HMO and the only product that we have is HMO product, which is platinum coverage and so what it means is that the people in our area have more access to platinum coverage which means insurance pays 90% or so of the medical costs and I think one of the things that we're seeing is that there's now been more of a switch to high deductible products where people have like $2,000, $5,000 deductibles, that sort of thing, and that's actually one of the requests that we get a fair amount from employers, but that's not really what we do.

Dr. Nancy Van Vessem: We're an HMO and we take it serious in terms of trying to manage the care for patients and so I'm involved with the disease management programs, for instance. You know, how do we get diabetics the appropriate care across the community, no matter who their primary care doctor is, if they're seeing an endocrinologist, so we actually have worked on those types of things for many, many years and that has paid off in terms of high quality and those types of things.  I work on a day-to-day basis a lot with the disease management programs, the pharmacy benefit, the physicians in the community, so all of those things.

John Curry: To take a minute for those who are listening and may not know what an HMO is, explain the different levels of that, HMO's, PPO's, individual plans, just educate the audience, please.

Dr. Nancy Van Vessem: Well, HMO is Health Maintenance Organization and there used to be a lot more of them than there are now, but generally the trade-off is that you have comprehensive coverage, so most patients will have a copayment of let's say $15 or $40 or something like that. They're not paying a percentage of the actual bill, so it's that type of cost-sharing which is relatively low, but the trade-off, you usually have a network of physicians and the idea is to try to manage the care so, like for instance, when people have high blood pressure, we try to work with the physicians to manage that high blood pressure because we know that high blood pressure leads to stroke which isn't good for anybody.

John Curry: Nope.

Dr. Nancy Van Vessem: It's that type of thing, so managed care and there's something called the Triple Aim, which is from the Institute for Healthcare Improvement and something we pay attention to. It's to try to improve the service to our patients to improve the quality of what the patients get and to try to keep costs in an affordable range.

John Curry: How did HMO's come about?

Dr. Nancy Van Vessem: Oh, I think it was really an evolution from a long ... I mean, there's HMO's that were from the turn of the century, you know, the early 1900's, but I think the government got very interested in them back in the 70's and made it possible for more to start up and I think, though, that the more recent wave is to go away from that, is to say, "Here's higher cost-share and you can do whatever you want, but it's just going to cost you more money" sort of thing.

Dr. Nancy Van Vessem: And you asked about PPO's, Preferred Provider Organizations, and they typically will be like 20% cost-share within the network and then maybe 30 or 40% cost share outside of the network so if you decide to go outside the network, you have higher costs and they rely on that sort of mechanism to reign things in.

John Curry: From my perspective over the years of working with clients on the retirement planning side, it seems like what you do at Capital Health Plan is help people prepare for what's coming down the road, instead of all of a sudden, I've had the heart attack or the stroke or high blood pressure. It's almost like you're helping manage the care.

Dr. Nancy Van Vessem: We try to because we don't think those things are good for anybody, really. So, for instance, statins are a drug that most diabetics should be on so we actually try to see, are they on it, are they taking it, that sort of thing. If somebody prescribed it and what is the glucose control? Are they being followed to get that measured at least annually, so we try to follow all those things. And our patients are typically in the state of Florida, city, counties, the school teachers. You know, a lot of our members are from those groups.

John Curry: What do you see is the biggest challenge for healthcare going forward? We know it's getting more and more expensive. We've talked about that several times. We just did a webinar yesterday on Medicare and the costs for Medicare is going up, it seems like every year.

Dr. Nancy Van Vessem: Right.

John Curry: We know Medicare has issues, financial issues, Social Security, Medicaid. From a physician standpoint and having the advantage of seeing it from an administrative role, based on being the Chief Medical Officer, what are your concerns going forward?

Dr. Nancy Van Vessem: Well, I think everyone agrees it's affordability. I think Milliman, they do an index every year and the average family insurance across the U.S. now is $28,000 a year which, of course, exceeds people's ... many times their income, so that's the biggest problem and that's the biggest problem in Medicare, Medicaid and every other program and there's some estimates that about 30% of that money is wasted on unnecessary care, elective procedures that don't need to be done, et cetera, so that's the thing. We can't afford what we have and yet we know there's significant waste in that and how can we ratchet that back, so.

John Curry: What do you say to the people who argue ... 'cause you hear it a lot, we're spending too much money trying to prolong life beyond a certain point. Where's the ethical side of that? If we can help somebody live longer by giving good care, I have the sense that we should do that, but I hear other people, physicians say, "You know, there's a line. How much more life can we squeeze out of that and is it worth the cost?"

Dr. Nancy Van Vessem: Well, I think it's a good question. It's a really deeply personal question. I think part of the problem is that people don't ask themselves that question because they let things happen and physicians have a view of it because they know reasonably what can be done and what can't be done. And so, for instance, physicians many times won't sign themselves up for the same therapies that patients will sign themselves up for because if you're talking about living, it becomes a quality of life issue. It doesn't become just more days, months, whatever. There's actually a couple articles that are interesting that are called, Why Doctors Die Differently and they actually talk about how physicians don't sign themselves up for some of the care that is available and it's because of, of course, knowing more about it.

John Curry: Right. I learned a lot from my dad. My dad died August 15, 2015 and when he was diagnosed with kidney cancer, he told the doctor, he said, "I'm not taking chemotherapy and no surgery. I'm going to just live the best I can with what I have," and all of us were against that at first and my dad was adamant, he said, "Son, I'm not going to do that. My quality of life is important to me," and right up to the day he died, he insisted on that and his physician, once I told him, he said, "John, your dad's right. This is his choice, not yours, it's not mine."

Dr. Nancy Van Vessem: Right.

John Curry: "He has the information he needs. You should respect that."

Dr. Nancy Van Vessem: Right.

John Curry: I was very impressed with that.

Dr. Nancy Van Vessem: I agree and I think the main thing is for people to kind of think about what do I want for myself, no matter what that is, but then it's very important to communicate with the family and make sure the family agrees to go along with your personal wishes. There is a program at Big Bend Hospice called the Peace Program where they try to get everyone ... you know, the patient will say to get the family there. They'll say, "No, this is what I want, this is what I don't want," and one of the things that we hear, I mean we've seen over time, some family member comes in from out of town and says, "No, no, no, don't ... I don't like that idea that mom wants this and doesn't want that. I don't like that idea," and the whole idea then is to make sure everybody is on the same page and, in fact, if you choose a surrogate ... like if you can't talk or you're not aware, you choose a person that can express your wishes and a lot of times it can't be a family member because many times family members can't do what you want them to do.

Dr. Nancy Van Vessem: And I know of married couples where the spouse is not the surrogate because they can't do that. So, I know of people who've chosen their business partner to be their surrogate because that person is more likely to actually do and uphold your wishes and that's what this is about.

John Curry: Because they're not as emotionally involved.

Dr. Nancy Van Vessem: Or maybe they have more information.

John Curry: True.

Dr. Nancy Van Vessem: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Because it's one thing to say, "Oh, do everything." And you don't even know what do everything is.

John Curry: What is everything, right?

Dr. Nancy Van Vessem: Yeah, mm-hmm (affirmative).

John Curry: From a cost standpoint, if the average cost is $28,000 a year and we know it's going up and then we have things such as long-term care situations, okay, chronic care. So, how do we, as a nation, continue to pay for all of this.

Dr. Nancy Van Vessem: Well, that's the problem. What it's doing is crowding out other things that people are social goods, like education and highways and all of these other ... if you look at the federal budget, all of those things are getting crowded out. So if we think education is a good idea, but we're crowding it out with healthcare, then you either have to raise taxes or cut back ... something has to happen.  And, in fact, in North Carolina ... just this week, North Carolina said we need more money for education and highways and infrastructure. We don't want these bridges falling down and so, therefore, the healthcare providers just need to start cutting their costs. And so I think we'll see more of that and of course, there's a lot of talk now about single payer, which is basically government payment and moving in that direction to control those costs.

John Curry: Well, we have the best healthcare in the world, we're told, but yet it's the most expensive.

Dr. Nancy Van Vessem: Well, I guess it depends on which metric you're looking at. I think we have the best rescue care in the world, but if you actually look at-

John Curry: Wait a minute, back up, say that again. We have the best what?

Dr. Nancy Van Vessem: Rescue care.

John Curry: Rescue care, compared to what? Preventive care?

Dr. Nancy Van Vessem: Yeah, mm-hmm (affirmative). So, I think France is number one. The U.S. is pretty well down in the double digits if you look at some of the worldwide metrics, but that's where we put all the effort, like you're saying, end of life care. You know, once something happens, cancer care, that sort of thing and so yeah, the U.S. is focused on that and does that very well.

John Curry: Well, I know this. When I'm talking with people about planning for retirement, one of the first things they tell us they're worried about is the cost of healthcare, whether it be the premiums they've got to pay or the out-of-pocket cost and that's before you even get into such things, "What if I need to go into some type of long-term care situation?" And we're spending a lot of our time helping clients understand you may not know how to pay for everything, but you better be thinking about it, because if all of a sudden, you don't have care and you go back to the expenses of Medicare, almost unlimited what happens, so we're trying to help people plan for that, but it's difficult because it's a moving target.

Dr. Nancy Van Vessem: It is a moving target, but let me tell you, you and I and anybody listening cannot control the cost of healthcare, per se.

John Curry: Correct.

Dr. Nancy Van Vessem: What people need to do is start focusing on the things they can control.

John Curry: I've heard you say this a dozen times over the years.

Dr. Nancy Van Vessem: Yeah, and so that's basically doing what your mother told you you should do, which is eat a healthy diet, get some exercise, proper sleep, but some of those things just aren't that much fun. So I think that's the biggest problem so the effort should be put into how do I stop eating highly processed sugary foods? That's probably the number one thing to do ... stop buying stuff in a box. And if you can't get yourself around that, then you better start saving for healthcare.

John Curry: It comes down to personal behavior.

Dr. Nancy Van Vessem: Yeah, basically health is at least 50% personal behavior on a day-to-day basis. The access to healthcare is only like 15%. We have some genetics in there. We have social stuff, where if you live in a neighborhood where bullets are whizzing around, you know, that's not very safe but over 50% of what happens to you, you've done it yourself.

John Curry: That's interesting, 50% or over.

Dr. Nancy Van Vessem: Yeah, if you just look at what are the components of health, yeah, 50% is lifestyle.

John Curry: Over the years, I've accepted the fact that sometimes people refer to us as being money managers.

Dr. Nancy Van Vessem: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

John Curry: We're more of behavior managers.

Dr. Nancy Van Vessem: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

John Curry: Because if we can get people to monitor their behavior and pay attention to what they're doing, they make fewer mistakes.

Dr. Nancy Van Vessem: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

John Curry: And that's a good segue to talk about some of the conversations we've had over the years. How is it you have been so interested in learning and reading as much as you do about financial planning, retirement planning, tax planning? Talk about that for a minute.

Dr. Nancy Van Vessem: Because it's a reality and you know, that if you don't take responsibility for those things, you're just going to let them happen to you. So I think that the way I approached it years ago was being a physician, you know the ultimate outcome. You're going to die. 100% chance of that.

John Curry: Well, you just popped my bubble.

Dr. Nancy Van Vessem: No, really, you're going to die.

John Curry: Yes, that's right, the question is when, right?

Dr. Nancy Van Vessem: So if you ... right, the question is when, so if you accept that, think out to there and then work your way back. So, actually if you kind of know your family history or you know your current health status and you can even go online and put in information about your gender and age and whether you smoke or not and come out with a life expectancy. So, if you say okay, my life expectancy ... mine comes out to be like 92 years, which is probably pretty good because of my parents' longevity and whatnot. Then you say, if I'm going to live to 92, let's work my way back from there. And if you start thinking about that, then you start ... all of a sudden you realize that retirement planning isn't what if I need to do it, it's how do I cover this segment of my life? And you had that tape measure example.

John Curry: Right.

Dr. Nancy Van Vessem: And so, but if you start at the end and then try to work your way back, you start at the end and say, "Okay, I live to 92. I'm going to be an old lady. What are old ladies like?"  I've had decades of taking care of old ladies. Well, I can tell you they get frail, all these things and like, what can you do to ameliorate that risk? Well, exercise pretty much helps, you know, those types of things. So how do you actually work your way back from that so that you can get more of what you want, so to speak, as you age. You know, if you say, well, being independent is very important to me to be independent, well then you better get some exercise under your belt on a regular basis. It's good to avoid the classic health risks like smoking and eating the wrong foods or eating too much food, that's the biggest problem we have around here. So, you start working your way back to figure out what you should do now to ensure a better future for yourself.

John Curry: It comes back to the quality of life.

Dr. Nancy Van Vessem: Exactly.

John Curry: The choices you make today, and we see people that have been retired 25, 30 years in retirement. In some cases, actually retired longer than they worked in their careers.

Dr. Nancy Van Vessem: Mm-hmm (affirmative), yeah. And that's sort of a new phenomenon and not everybody knows quite how to handle that and we know, for instance, that pensions and those types of things are becoming increasingly common, so how do you fund all of that?

John Curry: Like the dinosaur, becoming instinct, 401K's, IRA's, but the fine benefit pension plans falling by the wayside, so it's all up to you and if you've done a good job of saving the money, now you've got to make it last for 25, 30 years. In your case, I'm convinced you'll live to be 100.

Dr. Nancy Van Vessem: Oh, really? Hopefully I'm not too whoopsie in the last five years of that.

John Curry: Over the years, you and I have exchanged books or talked about books we've read. I have a number of professional people like yourself who will say things such as this, "I don't have time to read those things. I have a hard enough time to keep up with my career, my profession." So, how is it over time that you have made yourself or motivated yourself to take the time to read and study because you're one of the sharpest people I know when it comes to the financial side, especially in the medical profession.

Dr. Nancy Van Vessem: I just make it a priority.

John Curry: Okay. So, no big secret. It's just I'm going to take the time, read and study.

Dr. Nancy Van Vessem: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

John Curry: And that comes down to anything that we want to have some level of mastery in.

Dr. Nancy Van Vessem: Mm-hmm (affirmative), and I think too, and I know you've heard me say this before that some people are willing to fly by the seat of their pants, you know, and take a risk here, take a risk there, it doesn't ... where, I like that solid floor.  I want to ... whether it's for me and my children, you know I want to have a solid floor beneath my feet and so the thing is, is what do you have to do to get there?

John Curry: Right. And you're very disciplined.

Dr. Nancy Van Vessem: Yeah, well apparently.

John Curry: You take the time to learn what needs to be done and then you act on the information when you get it.

Dr. Nancy Van Vessem: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

John Curry: You have shared stories with me over the years about working with patients who did not do the things they needed to do and you shared some interesting stories about how you encourage people or motivate them to take action. Can any of those pop into your head right now you could share?

Dr. Nancy Van Vessem: Well, actually, sometimes people will say, "I remember when you told me" and I'll say, "I did say that?" Or like somebody told me the other day, "I remember Dr. Van Vessem, when you told me that if I didn't lose this weight, my knees would never stop hurting."

John Curry: And you were right, huh?

Dr. Nancy Van Vessem: Well, she actually lost the weight. That was great. She and her mom went to the gym and she was like ... and she goes, "You're right, my knees stopped hurting." But I think that's it. The idea is knowing at the end of the day the consequences don't fall to the physician, the consequences fall to the person who didn't stop smoking, et cetera, and I think a lot of people, they vaguely feel betrayed if they're the one that gets lung cancer or even though they knew it was a possibility, they know people that it didn't happen to and those types of things and so I think the main thing is to try to impart what you already know to be the case because you've seen it happen over and over again. But it's up to people to take those risks to say, "Well, you know ..." I've had patients tell me, "I really love to smoke. Smoking is the best thing in my life and I just can't give it up," and so that's okay; however-

John Curry: Consequences.

Dr. Nancy Van Vessem: -there are ... just like every other decision you make in life, there's consequences, mm-hmm (affirmative), and maybe you'll get lucky and maybe you won't.

John Curry: How do you deal with that as a physician? I know when I'm trying to help someone with financial advice and they choose to ignore it or they Google something that's contrary, it's frustrating and I had to learn early on. I've been doing this 43 years now. I had to understand, all I can do is guide and coach to a certain point. If somebody won't follow through, then it's on them. Is that the way you have to deal with it as a physician, also?

Dr. Nancy Van Vessem: Sure. If you believe in free choice. And I think one of the things that people don't quite understand, though, is a lot of times when they fall ill, it doesn't just fall to them, it falls to their family. So if somebody doesn't want to use glaucoma drops and they go blind, that becomes a much more difficult situation for whoever is taking care of them, their spouse or kids, whatnot. And so, I think just understanding that these things can happen. And I think people need the resources to try to do what they need to do, but again, having the resources and doing it are two different things. I mean, we see a lot of people that just choose to not be bothered by things.

Dr. Nancy Van Vessem: I remember this one diabetic patient telling me ... he was a type one diabetic and he was coming in for a shunt because he needed to go on renal dialysis and he was in his 30's I would say and he said, "The first 20 years weren't bad," so it's that type of thing where you think like, "Well, I'm getting along pretty well," but now all of a sudden, when you fall off a cliff, you fall fast and hard and so then it was like, "Uh oh." And the idea is not to get religion too late and a lot of the chronic disease we see is avoidable. Now, some isn't. Some people are just very unlucky, but a lot of the chronic disease we see in the U.S. has to do with obesity is a big one in terms of being sedentary. I think now that's crossed over smoking as the biggest health risk and so I think we have to say, "Well, if I'm going to protect myself and my family from these chronic health problems, I need to start putting a little effort into it."

John Curry: What advice would you offer people listening to this who say, "Okay, I hear this physician who is telling me I've got to make better choices, I have to deal with the consequences." So, if you were just going to give a blanket type advice to anyone when it comes to exercise, eating, healthcare in general, what would it be?

Dr. Nancy Van Vessem: Well, I think the number one problem we have here in the U.S. is obesity, really, in terms of the contributions of various cancers like breast, colon. I mean, it just really ... we used to think fat just kind of sat there as a white lump, inactive, but as it turns out it's very active and produces all these bad things that affect your health and so for that, I would suggest people buy this book called The Obesity Code. It's written by Jason Fung. He's a nephrologist actually from Canada and he sort of got disheartened by all the patients showing up for dialysis, many of whom are diabetic, and he wrote this whole book about why people can't lose weight, really, and it has to do with your native insulin levels and those types of things and so the idea of changing the way you eat. You know, just eating healthier and eating less, that's a big part of it.

Dr. Nancy Van Vessem: And to try to get down to ... those extra pounds are really harmful, particularly as you age. It's a really major contributor to arthritis of the knee that leads to knee replacement because you have all that pounds per square inch on your knees, so a lot of these things-

John Curry: And your back.

Dr. Nancy Van Vessem: -that cause pain and disability, which nobody wants to have pain and disability, are related to all of that. But it's not easy and it's not fun, but I think what it is is like everything else in life. You get used to things. Got to get used to eating less or eating healthier or not eating the dessert, you get used to it, mm-hmm (affirmative).

John Curry: I keep that heart-shaped pillow over there to remind me of my heart surgery. July 10th will be 10 years ago and when I got serious about exercising and eating, eating the right foods and the right quantities, I went from 284 pounds, now I bump around 230, 232 sometimes, that now if I don't go walk 30-40 minutes or go to the gym, now it's like, "Oh, I don't feel good because I didn't do it." Whereas, in the past, I didn't want to go do it. I just sat on the couch, you know? So, it is a matter of making some of these things a habit-

Dr. Nancy Van Vessem: Right.

John Curry: -and just getting used to it and enjoying it.

Dr. Nancy Van Vessem: Right, and I think that's it, because once you start doing it, then you realize you feel a whole lot better than you used to feel, so it's not even for the long-term health effects, you're doing it because you'll feel better today.

John Curry: Absolutely.

Dr. Nancy Van Vessem: Mentally and physically.

John Curry: What went through my head, though, when you're talking about the knees earlier, what I remember having the most improvement in, I mean almost instantly, within 30 days, I could tell a difference not only in my knees, but also in my ankles and my lower back because I had back surgery in 2006 and I was amazed when I started dropping the pounds that all the joints were just better.

Dr. Nancy Van Vessem: Right.

John Curry: Even the elbows, because I was doing martial arts, so I mean everything was better because I was moving.

Dr. Nancy Van Vessem: Well, the thing is, your body was only meant to handle so much, you know? Like your heart ... I read this. They say there's a mile of blood vessels for every extra pound you have.

John Curry: Say that again.

Dr. Nancy Van Vessem: Yeah, what I've read is that there's a mile of blood vessels, because you you know, all those little capillaries have to be right up against every cell or it dies, of blood vessels per extra pound and-

John Curry: A mile of blood vessels.

Dr. Nancy Van Vessem: -you heart has to pump to it. So that's why when people get overweight or really overweight, their heart gets enlarged and gets really muscular, just like your muscles would if you're working hard.

John Curry: They wear out.

Dr. Nancy Van Vessem: But then it's hard because it starts wearing out. Yeah, you're really stressing your whole system and most of weight loss is what you eat, like 75%. Everyone thinks, oh, my knees hurt so I can't exercise. Really, in terms of putting fat on and keeping it on, 75% is what you eat. And then in terms of exercise, you don't have to become a marathoner. Pretty much it's go walk for a half an hour, you know, 3, 4, 5 times a week and keep moving. That movement is very important for your joints. That's what they were meant to do.

John Curry: So true. Tell us the name of the book again? The Obesity Code?

Dr. Nancy Van Vessem: The Obesity Code by Jason Fung. And there's a lot of good stuff out there. I mean, you don't have to look far, but that's just the more recent one I've seen and I think that what he tries to explain to people that if you eat carbs all the time and keep your insulin levels up, the high insulin levels are what make you [inaudible 00:32:25] ... you know it's meant to save calories onto your body for hard times that never come. So you've got to stop stimulating your insulin level, if your insulin level is high and it'll be high for 20-30 years before you get more and more insulin-resistant. You've probably heard that term.

John Curry: Yes.

Dr. Nancy Van Vessem: Until you flip into type 2 diabetes.

John Curry: Okay, if I tuned in and I'm listening to this, I might be the kind of person to say, "You know, I hear about all these different diets." You've got a low carb diet, you've got a high protein diet, you've got all this ... what in the world should we be eating?

Dr. Nancy Van Vessem: Well, I think the problem is that general advice ... and you know, the stuff that comes out of the government, for instance, that's for your average, healthy 30-year-old. If you've got a problem already ... let's say you're pre-diabetic or your diabetic, you've already got a problem and your problem is you've got to lose that weight and a lot of that, it has to do with ... and low carb Mediterranean is the diet that's been gelling, like for men to lose more belly fat and all of that sort of thing because you don't want to keep stimulating your insulin levels. You want to get that down so you can actually burn some of that fat.

John Curry: Right.

Dr. Nancy Van Vessem: And so the other thing is, you can't be eating all the time. You know, this whole idea of six meals a day or whatever? That might work for somebody who's hypoglycemic and age 25, but for your average adult in America, uh-uh (negative), not good advice. And a lot of the countries where people don't gain as much weight. You know, we talk about the French, "Oh, the French, they have all these rich sauces." Well, they eat three times a day and the eating is, they call it a restricted eating window, that you're only eating maybe over a 12-hour period, where in the U.S., people have started pushing that out, you know.

John Curry: Eat all day.

Dr. Nancy Van Vessem: And all night and then wonder what's going on, yeah. And so that's it. It's sort of like in the life care planning, who are you? And so the advice for a healthy 25-year-old is going to be different for a 60-year-old that insulin resistant.

John Curry: Well, let me challenge you on something here. A lot of people listening to this because this is the Secure Retirement Podcast, are in their 60's, 70's, some in their 80's and 90's. Let's just say mid-60's. What would the advice look like or sound like for someone mid-60's, maybe 70 years old, that they're doing the exercise, but you said a moment ago and I wrote this down, because every time I'm with you I learn something, 75% of weight loss is what you eat, so in their situation, would you say anything differently that's ... me, I'm 65 years old, so-

Dr. Nancy Van Vessem: But see, what's the gender, what's the weight, what's the chronic health problems? So, the thing is that you can't really just, in general ... you know, in general, the general things are stay away from processed foods, stay away from sugar. If you are trying to lose weight, you're going to have to knock down your calories some and then the studies show carbs or just fats, that sort of thing. But a lot of it has to do with, let's say you have kidney disease already, well all of a sudden you need to be watching your protein intake, so it really depends on-

John Curry: As in having more protein?

Dr. Nancy Van Vessem: Less.

John Curry: Less.

Dr. Nancy Van Vessem: So, that's why I want to say it depends, because it does depend. That's why one size doesn't fit all, really because there's plenty of 60 and 70-year-olds that are bopping around out there that are doing perfectly fine, just what they're doing.  

John Curry: True.

Dr. Nancy Van Vessem: They don't need to change anything.

John Curry: I see them in the gym. There's nine of us that work out together and there are people there half our age that can't keep up.

Dr. Nancy Van Vessem: Right, so there's a wide diversity and that has to do with what they've done their whole life. Your lifestyle starts catching up with you definitely by that age. You know, I used to see it about age 50, you'd have 50-year-old patients that look 60 and ones that look 40 and some of that's genetics, but a lot of it has to do with, "What were you doing for the previous 30 years?"

John Curry: Mm-hmm (affirmative).  We've got about five minutes left.  I know you've got a schedule today. Talk a little bit about the next step for you and your training and your knowledge. You love what you do. You are reading and studying constantly. We're not going to reveal your age, but from the standpoint of a professional woman, it seems like you're not slowing down. It seems like that you're doing things other things you want to do, but you're constantly learning and growing and it's contagious.

Dr. Nancy Van Vessem: Well, there's just so much to know and the thing is, is that the more I learn, it benefits me personally, too.

John Curry: Sure, it benefits you personally and you get to help other people.

Dr. Nancy Van Vessem: Right.

John Curry: That's why I love doing these podcasts. People are calling us and, "Hey, thank you so much. I'm learning about things that had nothing to do with money."  You know, this doesn't have anything to do with money per se, but if you retire and you've got a lot of money, folks, but you're in poor health, what good is the money?

Dr. Nancy Van Vessem: Not very much.  

John Curry: You can't enjoy it. You're going to leave it behind for someone else.

Dr. Nancy Van Vessem: Right, exactly. But it's not only me. I think there's a lot of this. I see it more in the young doctors, too. You know, we talked about the American healthcare system is a rescue system. You know, you sort of waltz around doing whatever you want to do and then when the bad thing happens and bad things happen fast, you know, you're like, "Help, help!" And so I think this idea of saying like, "Wait a minute, let's try to ratchet this back and what's it going to take to kind of change what ... they call the Standard American Diet the SAD diet, you know, for instance.  So, what's it going to take to have people eat a healthier diet? But a lot of times it's just eating less. We get too much. We get too many calories. Or to stop eating out as much because that's a huge thing because you don't have any idea many times how much, what you're getting.

Dr. Nancy Van Vessem: And of course, restaurants need to make that food taste good so you keep coming back, so I think people should look over and say, "If I really want to age and be healthy and be able to pick up my grandkids when I'm 75 years old, then what do I need to do right now to get there?"  And the thing is, is that it's been shown that even people in nursing homes in bed with physical therapy can get stronger and so at some point in time in life, there's going to be a time where it's too late, but it's amazing how resilient the body is, if you just do a modicum of the right things on a regular basis.

John Curry: I remember one time, you were sitting here and you were talking about ... I don't know if it was an experiment or if it was scientific research, what it was, on cutting back on the calories and the dramatic improvement it had in people who already were sick. Do you remember that study you mentioned?

Dr. Nancy Van Vessem: Well, I don't know about people who are sick, but it's been shown to improve longevity.

John Curry: That might have been the issue. But I just remember you talking about just changing the amount of food. Not necessarily of what, but the amount of food improved the longevity and then when you start working on the quality of the food, it made even better improvement.

Dr. Nancy Van Vessem: And then if you read Dr. Fung's book, it's also about when you eat. You know, you can't be eating at midnight and going to bed and stuff like that. I mean, basically our bodies are pre-primitive. They're not a whole lot different than they were 100 years ago, but some of what we have, which is shear luxury in our current way that we live, that we have all of this great food, too rich, but food that wasn't really available to everybody even 100 years ago, but what we have to do is to say, "Wait a minute, our bodies were designed for X and we're giving them Y and that's why we're going to have more problems." So, I think that he talks about this idea of not eating as much, of giving your body time to reset, all of those types of things and I think there's a lot of good information in there.

John Curry: I'll be getting that book. I'm going to read that. Okay, closing thoughts. What would you like to end with and just share with our audience, just any thoughts that you have, whether it be from the world of healthcare, financial planning, retirement planning, money management, whatever you'd like to share?

Dr. Nancy Van Vessem: I think the thing is, is that a lot of these things, if you apply yourself, whether it's about your own personal health and what you should do or about financial aspects or how do I get what I want at the end of life, you can do that, but you do have to apply a little effort, but anybody who has access to the internet has a wealth of information at their fingertips. But, again, you have to sort of say, "Well, I really need to do this, not only for myself, but for my family and get my affairs in order," so to speak. And if you get them in order a lot, like when you're my age, then it's not a big old scramble when you're 20 years older than me, so I think that's it, is to just sort of take a measured approach like that and in things like health and lifestyle choices. It pays you just like you were saying, your joints stopped hurting within 30 days. It doesn't only pay off 20 years down the road, but it pays off right now.

John Curry: It does.  But you know, when you start doing the research and the studying, there's such a misery of choice, too. There's so many different opinions.

Dr. Nancy Van Vessem: Well, I really think that ... and I would say this because I was a primary care doctor for years and years, that you should have a primary care doctor and you should go ask them to say, "Okay, I'm a type 2 diabetic." They should have an understanding of your health problems and so some of the things are the same. Don't eat processed foods, limit your sugars, that's true for everybody across the board. But then, to just say, "Really, what should I be doing?" And some doctor is going to say, "I think you should be on a plant-based diet. Go eat some plants." You may not like that advice, but that's pretty good advice. So, I think that's what I would do and that's basically your expert, so to speak. And don't get all wound up into this supplement, that supplement, the other thing. That's kind of an excuse for confusion because at the end of the day, the basic building blocks are hard to do, but they're simple to understand.

John Curry: Stick with the basics.

Dr. Nancy Van Vessem: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

John Curry: Very good. Great session. Nancy Van Vessem, thank you so much.

Dr. Nancy Van Vessem: You're welcome.

John Curry: Thank you.


2018-65720 Exp 9/20

Enjoying Travel in Retirement

When they reached retirement, Phil and Betty Ashler were finally ready for some travel. They say anybody can – and should – do it too, even if you don’t have much experience.

Phil and Betty are keeping busy in other ways, including some very unique volunteer work. 

It was a lifetime of discipline in following a financial plan that got them to the point where they can do the things they enjoy most. And they’re living life to the fullest, finding fun everywhere they go.

Tune in to learn…

  • How seeing new places is only the beginning of the benefits of travel

  • Tips for inexperienced travelers – going across the country and around the world is easier than you think

  • The value of having a life outside of work

  • Why you should always call your bank before you travel

  • And more

Listen now…

Episode Transcript:

John Curry: Hi, folks, this is John Curry. Welcome to another episode of the Secure Retirement podcast. I'm pleased today to have Betty and Phil [Ashler 00:00:09] sitting across the table from me. Welcome, folks. 

Phil: Thank you.

Betty: Good to see you, John.

John Curry: Glad you're here. We've had a delightful conversation in the last hour regarding your planning on the personal side. But today, our primary focus is going to be to share some of their stories about travel and retirement. But first, Betty, if you would please, let's start with you, share with our audience your background. What kind of work you did, when you retired, things like that.

Betty: Okay. Well, I retired from Lively Technical Center as an educator in 2011, and Phil and I decided that on, we'd better start, this was after we had just taken care of our parents, and raised our family. We decided we'd better look ahead and maybe do some things finally for ourselves. One of the things working, looking at our finances, and trying to think about looking forward to traveling and doing some fun things, and that's what we were going to be talking about here today, and enjoying some of those pleasurable moments with you.

John Curry: That's very good. Phil?

Phil: Well, I came to Tallahassee in 1967 to teach high school, and taught at one of the schools here in town for about 14, 15 years. Betty was out at Lively, and she said they're starting a new computer programming class. I said I've always been interested in computers, so I went ahead and signed up for it, and went out there at night for about two years. Went in one night, and I was told that the auditor general here in town was looking for some programmers. So I went ahead and applied, and I got, I think I was the second one from Lively. Then I did that for a number of years. We did the Medicaid fraud. It was COBOL, and Assembler, and some of the older languages which I don't think they use today. 

Then the state changed who was going to be covering things, and we ended up going to FDLE, because they did most of the law enforcement. So I was at FDLE for a number of years, and retired in 2007. My dad was getting on in age, and he needed, I guess, somebody to come out and help him do some things. He was into computers. He liked to do email. He liked to look up different things. I'd spend maybe a day or so during the week helping him do that. Like Betty said, we progressively went through that. 

Since he was in the service, in the Navy, we did do a little bit of traveling, but it was mainly between Washington D.C. and Hawaii, back and forth a couple of times. 

John Curry: That's tough duty. Hawaii. 

Phil: Yeah. But it, no, I kind of liked to see some of the places that he visited when he was in the service. I guess the major, except for going to Canada where some of my relatives, I think we made one or two trips to New York City where my grandparents lived. 

But we really hadn't done that much traveling. Back, I think it was around probably 2013, Betty and I sat down and said, "We need to go take a trip somewhere." So Betty started looking around, got on the Internet, and found the Viking Cruises. So we looked at that, and you have to sign up almost a year ahead of time. So we went ahead and signed up for one of the Viking cruises. That was the beginning of a couple of vacations that we've had. 

John Curry: Well, I have the advantage over our audience that's listening to this, because we have a lot of meetings two or three times a year, and I get to hear these stories. To me, it's fascinating. That's why I wanted you to participate in the podcast, because just the wonderful stories you've shared. Betty, jump in and share with us, what attracted you so much to the, I know we're promoting a company here called Viking, but why do you like Viking Cruises so much. What do you like about them? 

Betty: Well, for one thing, it's all-inclusive. We had heard people just thought it was just wonderful. You don't have to, once you've signed up, it pretty much included the air, and they greet you on the other side. We are not what I would consider that well traveled. Some people have the advantage of maybe through other experiences in their life, they're used to traveling abroad. We wanted something, at least for our first trip abroad, where we were taken care of. They wouldn't lose us. 

John Curry: They wouldn't lose you?

Betty: They wouldn't lose us. So we ended up, we chose, and this particular year that we were looking at, it was the Fall of 2014. That was the 70th year, I believe, of the-

Phil: D-Day Invasion. 

Betty: The D-Day Invasion. Phil's father had actually been involved in that. What was the ship he was on?

Phil: He was on Nevada, and he was stationed, I think he was supply officer, but they had a number of troops that were going in for the invasion, and getting ready to go in for the invasion. One of the stories that I remember him telling me, and I think he got an award for it, was that they were down below, had no idea what was going on. He got up on the bridge, and got on the PA system, and it was almost like a sports announcer. He was saying, "As we're going in, this is what's happening. These are the boats that are on either side," and-

John Curry: Play-by-play description.

Betty: Mm-hmm (affirmative)

Phil: Play-by-play description. He's always been a very, very good speaker. He did a lot of things when he was in college. He did a lot of things when he was in high school. I've got proof of that, because I have a lot of his old papers. I've got old yearbooks. I've got old newspaper clippings. I probably have 90% of what he did in his 90-something years. 

John Curry: Did he retire as an admiral?

Phil: He went in as a buck private in the Marines, and retired as a rear admiral. I think it was back in late '60s, '68, '69, something like that, and decided he wanted to go back to Pensacola, because that's one of the previous places he'd been, and he still had a lot of friends. 

Then he got into a little bit of politics. He was in charge of the evening college at Pensacola Junior College. I think it was one of the presidents, I don't know if it was Ashmore or, but they decided that they would like to have another two years, because he only had the first two years. So he ran and became the representative from Escambia County. He was told, "You need to make sure that your first bill is passed." His very first bill was to require the American flag at all polling places, which the supervisor of elections in a lot of the counties said, "Oh, no. We gotta go out and buy flags now." But he had a real good political, Reubin Askew was a good friend of his. But they got the extra two years from West Florida, and then there were some other things that he did. So he pretty much-

Betty: The point is he was very patriotic. 

John Curry: Yes.

Phil: Well, he's always been.

Betty: We were just trying to look at some of the things that we had heard about all through my, our married life, and Phil had basically lived that. So Normandy was a focal point. That's one of the places on the Viking. It was Paris to the heart of Normandy. I think that's what caught our eye. Plus, it was the 70th year of the D-Day Invasion. 

It was a beautiful trip, we were well taken care of, excellent food, wonderful people there. They are definitely set out to make sure that you enjoy your trip. We liked it because, this is probably true of many of the other cruise lines, but they do hire local people. You really get a good experience of what each particular small town throughout wherever you are, whatever country you're in. They do hire the locals, and they have chosen the crème-de-la-crème. They're great.

Phil: Well, one thing that I think really impressed us was when we actually went to the Normandy beaches. 

Betty: Yeah.

Phil: There were a number of World War II servicemen on the trip.

John Curry: Yes.

Phil: And they actually had a small ceremony for, what was it? 

Betty: [inaudible 00:09:33]

Phil: One or two of them. 

Betty: Oh, their, that were in our particular travel group. Oh, it was very [crosstalk 00:09:40].

Phil: The people in charge of the place we were at, we went up to a Rotunda area, and they had a ceremony. They had some dignitaries from the French government. Then everybody was given some flowers. You went out to the grave, graveyards-

Betty: And you were, and pick out a grave. And you were to put your white rose on a grave. 

Phil: You found a grave that you were interested in. I forget how many thousands of graves are there. 

Betty: But, just the, it's very special. 

John Curry: I love that story. It especially hits me because on that wall over there, you see my memorabilia from my time in the Air Force, and then also pictures of me on the Honor Flight Tallahassee trips. 

Betty: Oh, yeah. 

John Curry: It's just one of those things where just hearing that makes you feel good, and it had to be an emotional experience for you, because, number one, following some of the paths that your father had ran. That you heard about during your marriage, Betty, and then you're actually there. 

Betty: We were there.

John Curry: I have a question that popped in my head: What advice would you offer someone listening to this, who says, "Wow. I really want to do something like that, but I'm having trouble getting started." What would you say to that person? 

Betty: I think you need to look at your finances, and see, "Is this a trip that we can afford? That will not set us back so we can't eat when we come back."

John Curry: So don't take food off the table, in other words. 

Betty: Don't take food off the table. That is, for most people that have lived wisely, and tried to plan, start some of their planning processes and all, it's very doable. More than you think. Even for the average person. 

Phil: We really didn't spend that much money. My car was a '96, and I got rid of it last year. With almost 220,000 miles on it. Betty's car right now is nine years old. We don't go out and get new cars every couple years. 

John Curry: Phil, some people would say you're just tight with money.

Phil: No, because, well, we do a lot of volunteer work. 

John Curry: Right.

Phil: I volunteer at a church cemetery. I volunteer cleaning up the church property once a month with a group of-

Betty: Sweat equity.

Phil: ... about maybe seven or eight [crosstalk 00:11:58]

John Curry: Sweat equity.

Phil: Betty helped out on a project doing the, looking at the archives that we have from the church, and taking the memorials that a committee had gone through and documented. She's going for the memorials to who's buried in our cemetery, church cemetery. She has two boxes that are probably about two, now three feet long, filled with documentation. She's been looking up old obituaries in newspapers-

John Curry: Wow.

Phil: She's got a subscription-

Betty: We're going across the-

Phil: But there's about three of four-

Betty: St. Johns has a historic cemetery, basically.

John Curry: Yes. 

Betty: But no one had really looked at the folks that were buried there as much in detail, and to say, "What kind of gifts, how did our church get started?" It was in early territorial days of Florida. It's just fascinating. Absolutely amazing. 

Phil: When we sit there Sunday morning, and you look at the pulpit, and you look at the crosses coming down, all of those memorials. You look at the paintings. They're not paintings-

Betty: Stained glass windows. 

Phil: The stained glass windows-

Betty: We now know now.

Phil: Down at the bottom, in memory of these people.

Betty: And the appreciation of the past history, and who the contributors in the community were, at that time, to get people to where they are now. A lot of us get so busy, especially young folks raising families, they're too busy right now to do that kind of thing. So we're doing a little bit of it all. We're enjoying trying to travel, and look at some of the things where Phil's dad had been, and his service that he had given the country. Also looking more locally here in Tallahassee. And we're trying to leave some contributions ourselves for those that are after us, so that surely they can look back, and maybe become contributors themselves.

John Curry: I think that's inspirational, because some people retire, and their idea of retirement is sitting in front of the television all day, listening, watching to the talking heads, getting embroiled in political stuff that just gets them stressed out, or worrying about the financial news. You've not done that. 

You're active. You're doing things that you enjoy doing. You'll probably have another 20 or 25 years ahead of you of life, because you're active mentally, physically. You're doing the things that keep you sharp. For someone listening to this who says, "Well, I don't know how to get started." So you said first, the financial side. Making sure you can afford it. But I remember you sharing stories with me, April, Jay, other people on our team about getting started. 

Would you share just a little bit about how you approach things like this? Because you both do your homework. You don't just fly by the seat of your pants. So maybe let's start there. Just a little bit about how you get started doing your research about where you wanted to go, and the best way to do it. 

Betty: Well, first of all, I was contacting a friend of mine, and I said, "We're trying to look at doing some things in the future." I was asking, she was in insurance and, "Do you have somebody that you would recommend?" She said, "I certainly do." 

She just happened to know you, John, and thought that, that would be a good place for us at least to start as a couple, and come in and see you. I thought, well, we hadn't really thought much about financial planning, and looking ahead. This is how we got really referred by a friend. I think because a lot of times you're trying to reach out, it's very personal information. It's not stuff that you would stand out in the town square and say, "I need help." 

John Curry: Right. Absolutely.

Betty: So you sort of you usually, for most people, I think, they go through friends. We're very satisfied. It's a process, I will say it is a process. Sometimes you don't know the right things to either bring in, or the right questions to ask, and with professional guidance, I think working over a period of time, and developing a personal relationship. That's probably the best way to do it is working with a professional, and developing a professional relationship. 

Phil: One thing is, I've known you for years through the scouting program. 

John Curry: Right. Boy Scouts. 

Phil: When you, when I found out you were in this type of business it was, I think you might of called us. I forget exactly how it got set up, but we've been, we meet with you for a number of years, and I think you've got a very good reputation in Tallahassee. All the stuff you do with the different clubs that you're in, and the scouting program. I think that-

Betty: It goes beyond the work setting.

Phil: It goes beyond the work thing.

John Curry: Thank you.

Phil: Because you're interested in other people. And you're interested in helping the other people, no matter if they're Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, Explorers, whatever it is. I think you had mentioned a little bit earlier that you had been on some of the Honor Flights. I think that, I've had a couple of friends that have gone on that-

Betty: Haywood. 

Phil: Yeah.

Betty: Recently.

Phil: Fairly recently. In fact, one was on the first Honor Flight. I've heard real good reports on those. 

John Curry: I regret that I'm going to miss the one coming up this year in May, because I'll be in Philadelphia for a conference on tax planning, so I'll miss it. I wanted to be here for the send off, or the party when they come back. But those are very kind words. I appreciate you saying that. To me, our work is important. Just like your work was. But it's not just about work. It's having a life outside of work. How do you want to be remembered when you pass away? You want to be remembered as, okay, Phil, and Betty, and John, they had great careers, end of story. No. No. 

What you're doing, Betty, I'm fascinated because you're learning so much about people. You'll know a lot of history about the people that are buried in that cemetery.

Betty: Unbelievable. 

John Curry: I, this is going to sound weird, but when I travel, I love visiting different cemeteries, and just looking at the markers, and sit there and wonder what kind of life did this person have back in eighteen hundred and something. 

Betty: We're finding out.

John Curry: I'm just fascinated. I have a curiosity about people. I get along with everybody. So let me ask you this: Did you apply the same type of approach to your travels, as you do your financial planning? Because you've done a very good job with your planning. 

Phil: Well, I think what, after we had the Viking trip, which is a little bit more expensive than some of the other trips, but I think the main thing, it was go and see Normandy, because that was D-Day, and all the stories that people had. The French people are still thankful. 

Betty: Ever grateful. Especially the Normandy people.

Phil: As you ride through the towns, on the buses, there's local people telling you the stories of some of the families, and the situations they were in as the Germans were going through. If some of the stories that we see on TV on some of the history channels, or some of those, you can reflect back on what they were telling us when they were there. 

John Curry: And you were there. 

Phil: And we were there. 

John Curry: You got to experience this. 

Phil: In fact, I got permission from one of the people to pick up a handful of sand. It's still in a bag at home. I haven't given it to my brothers yet. 

Betty: To display, yeah.

Phil: But Betty and I kind of got interested in history. I like to watch the History Channel. I like to watch the Mysteries in Museum. Betty said, "Let's take a trip somewhere in the U.S." So I don't know if she, you got a brochure or somehow she found out about the American Cruise Line. 

John Curry: The Riverboat Cruise Line. 

Betty: The Riverboat Cruises. 

John Curry: That was a fascinating story. I want you to tell that story. 

Phil: We decided let's try one of those! We went from, what, St. Paul to?

Betty: Well, that, it was a couple of things we chose. In the meantime, we won't go into too much detail, but Phil had a medical condition of vertigo, and it had to do with, we finally figured it out, it needed to be on a pretty strict low salt diet. Well, rather than, we can't just go from one restaurant to another, because if you get snagged up into something that's a little salty, then we pay the price for that. But on a riverboat cruise, we have kind of learned that once you tell the chef that you have, it could be anybody with allergies or anything.

John Curry: Right.

Betty: You can tell them what your dietary needs are, and you're taken care of for the entire trip.

John Curry: I see.

Betty: Because you can take excursions off. Basically, to cut to the chase, we've had two riverboat cruises. The first one was on the Mississippi from St. Louis-

Phil: St. Paul.

Betty: Instead of going south to New Orleans. We had been in New Orleans before, and we still would maybe want to do some of that again. We took the St. Louis to-

Phil: St. Paul.

Betty: ... St. Paul. Is it Minneapolis?

Phil: Minneapolis, St. Paul.

Betty: Minneapolis, St. Paul up there. Beautiful, beautiful trip. The entertainment is just really, in fact, it's just top-notch and professional. It's very much the Viking Cruises of the Mississippi. The people were just as professional, and it's pretty much the same pattern of they stop in the little towns along the way up the Mississippi River. 

Phil: Well, you travel at night. You leave usually after dinner, and you can feel the, it's a very slow trip up, 6, 8, 10 miles-an-hour up the river.

Betty: It's really wonderful.

Phil: Then you get to a new port the next morning. You go down, you have breakfast, and-

Betty: They have excursions.

Phil: You might see you'll start docking or something. Then they have three buses that actually follow the boat. You get on the buses, and you're out for the rest of the day. 

Betty: One of them, tell Phil to tell you about the trip we went to be with a German family, oh, several generations of a German family, that were farmers there. They put us on a hay wagon, and took us all out into the cornfields, and took us back to their, this was their home. And took us to the back part of their home. It was hundreds, and hundreds, maybe thousands of acres of cornfields. The whole family was there.

John Curry: Where was that located? 

Betty: Oh, I knew you'd ask that.

Phil: It was halfway on the trip, wasn't it?

Betty: You know, John, unfortunately, I'm not going to bring that name up. It was near, is it Braitbart? It was-

Phil: I don't remember either.

Betty: I'm sorry, I can't remember that.

John Curry: That's okay. 

Betty: But the point is-

John Curry: That's fascinating.

Betty: ... as a local family. We were there among the cows and all, then we got right back onto the boat, and went back up the river, and we went to another one in, I think it was LaCrosse, Wisconsin. It was a combination between a Norwegian village, and the American Indians, where they had joined together a generation or so back. 

They had a trading facility there, and they had how they had lived together in the early pioneer days. They took us on a bus again, into some of these old pioneer villages. They showed us, and an Indian descendant had gotten on the bus, and told us the whole history of his family, and how they came there, and how they became friends with the Norwegians that came in-

Phil: It was a cooperation between the two groups. 

Betty: Yeah, it was a meeting of the two groups. The history of our country is just amazing. The American experience is especially exciting when you actually get out to experience it. 

Phil: And it's all local people.

Betty: It's local people that are telling you the story. It's not something that's just people have learned in college and all, these are the locals. 

Phil: The nice thing on the riverboat is they actually have a riverlorian-

Betty: Riverlorian.

John Curry: Riverlorian.

Phil: If he's not giving a lecture downstairs for an hour or so, telling you about what's going on the next day, he's up in the, just below the wheelhouse. You can go up anytime from 8:00 in the morning, until 7:00 or 8:00 at night, and ask him questions. You can look at the charts. He's lived his entire-

Betty: He had actually lived on the river himself as a young boy. 

Phil: He lived on the river. 

Betty: Kind of like Mark Twain.

Phil: He had all kinds of stories. 

Betty: He really knew the river. 

Phil: Different types of things that he'd seen. They had-

Betty: He knows the natural history. 

Phil: The natural history. Then just to, you set out, everybody has a veranda, so you sit out there and just watch the people waving at you as you go by. Because there's probably 20 feet, 20, 25 feet because where the boat is, and the shoreline. It's a very narrow section of the river. 

Betty: Well, some parts, and other parts-

Phil: Some parts-

Betty: And other parts are quite wide.

Phil: ... and then other parts were wider. But you'd see kids out there playing, and they'd stop and wave. It was-

Betty: Up toward Minneapolis, there was an eagle center. There was a nationally known eagle center, and some of the birds had been injured, and they have to have special permission to keep the birds there, and use them for educational purposes. But then you're right there in their natural habitat, so you can see all the eagles flying around, and they're able to tell you, it was probably a 30 minute discussion down in the eagle center, all about the bird's life, and everything. And how that particular bird was injured, the one they were able to show you up close. Then you go out on the veranda, which overlooks the Mississippi, and all these high banks. The Mississippi gets quite high as you go up further north, and the birds are flying around.Then, in the next night, you're docking in, is it St. Paul and?

Phil: Yup. Then you see more of the city-type stuff. 

Betty: Then you see, definitely, the urban and the real modern cities. So it's quite a contrast between the lazy Mississippi-

John Curry: Yes.

Betty: ... and your final deportation there in St. Paul. It was a beautiful trip.

Phil: About a year or so later, Betty said, "You know, let's look at another one." We took the Lewis and Clark expedition trip. I'm trying to think-

Betty: It was on the Columbia and the Snake Rivers. 

Phil: Columbia and Snake River.

Betty: Unbelievable. 

Phil: So it was everything from high speed boat trip up the Snake River.

Betty: Well, they have different excursions-

Phil: You signed up for different excursions.

Betty: ... that you can take and you can, and of course, or advice is, we're fairly active people. I'm, we're in our early 70s, at least at that time, and we took all the excursions they offered pretty much. There's many selections each one, but one of them was a jet boat trip up the Snake River, and you just go down, and the topography is amazing in this land. You go from desert, to barren mountains, to places that are. Anyway, they had one place that the jet boat went into, and you just, I don't know. Oh, they had a person there to meet you with hot tea or coffee, and a cross, a bun, a hot cross bun. 

Phil: They had a lot of animals. Turkey and things like that.

Betty: Yeah, they did. I forgot about that. 

Phil: I guess they would feed. But the unusual thing  there're no roads. 

Betty: There are no roads.

Phil: The houses are brought in by helicopter and assembled, or brought up on a boat.

Betty: It's really-

Phil: And those, you might see a little road between two houses.

John Curry: So you're out in the wilderness? 

Phil: You're out in the wilderness.

Betty: Yeah. Yeah, you are. This is along the Snake River. You'd have to look at the map again. It's very mountainous through there. You're literally, the boat has to go at a pretty high speed to get up above the rocks, just enough to escape above that. 

John Curry: Interesting.

Betty: And it's high canyons on either side.

Phil: But you would see people coming down in canoes, and kayaks. 

Betty: And they tell you about the history of the area, and what we were doing the purpose of that trip, was to follow the trip that Lewis and Clark took, and the little Indian girl that went with them, Sacagawea. You just go, ah! How did they do that!? 

Phil: You end up in the fort.

Betty: Most of us can hardly walk down to the corner grocery. 

John Curry: You're right.

Betty: But how did they do that!?

Phil: You end up in the fort at the end of Columbia River. 

Betty: Yeah.

John Curry: Let me jump in for a second. I'm listening to this, and I'm so fascinated that I'm asking myself, "Okay-

Phil: We'll have you signed up next week.

John Curry: ... I want to do it myself." 

Betty: Yeah, you do.

John Curry: But also, I'm wondering is this something that, for those of us who have grandchildren, like my 12 year-old grandson, is that something for a youngster like that, or not?

Betty: I would not-

Phil: Portions of it.

John Curry: Portions of it.

Betty: Portions of it, yeah.

Phil: I think the boat trip would be great for them to see the animals, and things like that. And I guess-

Betty: It's an older-

Phil: It's more of an older [crosstalk 00:29:59]

John Curry: Okay, I get it.

Betty: I wouldn't necessarily-

Phil: I don't remember seeing any children. 

John Curry: Okay.

Betty: We didn't see children on this one. 

Phil: There were maybe some teenagers that were-

Betty: Not so much.

Phil: ... taking care of grandparents or something.

Betty: It's more of an older-

Phil: But I'm not sure if they take children.

John Curry: I'll check on that.

Betty: Yeah.

John Curry: But for me, another take away. You mentioned Mark Twain. I'm a big fan of reading Mark Twain. I'm reading a book about him right now. I'm just fascinated by what you're saying, because that just popped in my mind, of all the stories about the Mississippi River. 

Then, the other thing that popped in my head, Betty, is I've been to Europe several times. If I go again, great. But there are so many things I want to do in this country. I hear so many people say that. I'm sure people listening to this are like, "I had no idea that you could do this type of trip."

Betty: You can. You absolutely can.

John Curry: And you learn so much about our history, and our nation. 

Betty: It's patterned on the, it seems to me, the American version of the Viking, which is up and down the Mississippi, which is, of course, the main waterway there-

Phil: We took the American Queen, and then the American Empress, is the one that's on the Columbia-

Betty: That's their western name on the-

Phil: They're expanding. In fact, they just, what, six or eight months ago?

Betty: The have a Duchess, their-

Phil: The Duchess, which is a brand new-

Betty: It's top of the line. 

Phil: What they do is they take some of the old paddle wheelers, and refurbish them. That's the Queen and the-

Betty: And they're just beautiful. Absolutely.

Phil: But there's a brand new one, that I think might have been constructed. But it's the elite version going up.

John Curry: I've been on one riverboat cruise that started in New Orleans, and it was fantastic. It was awesome. 

Betty: The entertainment is very professional. It's very retro. You were mentioning Mark Twain, and actually, we stopped at Hannibal, and went through all of that. 

Phil: All the museums.

Betty: The gentleman on our boat was definitely, they had of course employed him as a professional to do this but, he gave a talk one evening. Dead-ringer for Mark Twain. You would have loved it. It was just, I mean he, it's almost like you want to follow him around the rest of the trip. The poor man.

John Curry: Yeah, saying, "Mr. Twain! Mr. Twain!"

Phil: Looks like him.

Betty: Mr. Twain. I mean, he has it down pat. He was just so the part-

Phil: Looks like him.

Betty: ... and to really know it from what you've read.

John Curry: Good old Samuel Clemens. 

Betty: Yes. You would, oh, you would enjoy that.

Phil: It's like a Broadway show. It's a full program.

Betty: It really is. 

John Curry: Nice.

Betty: These people, the young people that travel, in fact, this one young couple, that was in this professional entertainment group, they did, we just happened to get the tour boat for the, what was it? The band. 

Phil: It was the big band era.

Betty: The big band era. And at first, I thought, "Oh, I don't know if we'd like that." Oh! It was fabulous! The young couple that was dancing, had gone to school with Ansley. Linda and Tom's daughter.

John Curry: I'll be darned. 

Betty: They all knew each other.

John Curry: I wish people could see the expression on your face right now. The two of you just sharing this experience. It's just like your eyes are bright, and big smile. Just fond memories, isn't it? 

Betty: Fond memories. You plan for that. You do plan for that, yeah. 

Phil: The last trip we took was last Fall. Our son and his wife had just gone up to a conference in New York City. They said, "You know, you ought to get up there." So Betty got on the Internet, and started going through, and said, "Okay, we can do this, we can do this, we can do this." She actually had all the arrangements before we left. We took those up to AAA, and sat down, they made all the arrangements for us. 

Betty: It was a family genealogy trip.

Phil: It was a family genealogy, because my grandparents lived in Brooklyn. That's where my dad grew up. We hadn't been up probably 30, 35 years, to New York. I think that's when we drove our van up and did camping all the way. Then went on into Canada. 

Betty: This was one-

John Curry: You're talking about the 35 years ago. Not the one-

Betty: No, no, no. 

Phil: But the-

John Curry: I don't think Betty would want to camp in the van. 

Betty: No, no.

Phil: We decided let's go back to New York. So Betty made our itinerary for about five days. And then she said one night, we were eating dinner and she said, "You know, you haven't seen your cousins in a long time." I hadn't seen my cousins. Some of them in almost 50 years. She said, "Why don't we just take a side trip out of New York when we get through, and go up to Canada?" So we went to AAA, and they said, "Yeah, you can do this, this, and this." They had a car waiting for us in Syracuse. But we flew into New York, and got a fairly modest hotel room. 

Betty: Let's talk about Manhattan first. 

Phil: Yup. So we were talking to one of the ladies, and she said, "You know, we like to see a lot of things." And she said, "Well, the easiest thing is go out here, grab a taxi, and let them take you to wherever you want to go." Then Betty said, "Well, also, some time, we'd like to go visit a couple of the cemeteries." Well, where the cemeteries are in Brooklyn, you're not going to find very many taxis. She said, "I can get a driver for you, and he would take you wherever you want to go at so much an hour."

Betty: It was the best thing we ever did. 

Phil: We said, "Well, that sounds good." And it was very inexpensive compared with a couple of taxi rides, it was about the same thing. 

John Curry: Sure. And you have somebody there waiting to take care of you. 

Betty: Right. Because this cemetery, and this is a very special cemetery to know about. Not everybody is interested in cemeteries on every trip, but if, this is Greenwood Cemetery in Brooklyn. Bill had already done the research on the Ashler family, and found a couple of graves back there. With it being a 500 acre cemetery, it was important to work quickly, and efficiently, because hiring a private driver it, you know, it was well worth the money. It really was.

But the way the cemetery. Let me show John how this looked. You feel like you were back in Europe. And if you look up the history on this particular cemetery, you felt like you were back in Europe. 

John Curry: Wow. That's the actual-

Betty: And then there was 500 acres-

Phil: That's the entrance.

Betty: Yes. All behind that.

John Curry: That's the main building.

Betty: That's the big, that's the, this is the others on-

John Curry: Folks, what I'm seeing here is just this beautiful building, that you would never think you were at a cemetery. 

Betty: Never. No. 

John Curry: It looks like it's a church or something-

Betty: And their chapel-

John Curry: ... in Europe.

Betty: ... inside, looks just like a cathedral in Europe. It is beautiful. It's a very well-known cemetery. Once we got to doing the research on that, it actually was a Revolutionary War battlefield. 

Phil: The Battle of Brooklyn.

Betty: When you look at it, it's up high, it's located quite high. It's around the Hudson and East Rivers. And it's up quite high. Geographically, it's a perfect battlefield, for the ships that were coming in to New York harbor. 

And then after all those days were over, they turned it into a cemetery. The cemeteries in the churchyards in New York were beginning to fill up, and they were not very nice. So New York citizens got together, and this of course, they have many other beautiful cemeteries as well. A lot of times, we think of New York, we all think of Manhattan, and Broadway, and we did all of that too, but a cemetery, if you're interested in history, and in our case it was more personal, because of the family members that Phil was looking for. 

Phil: We found one of the graves. 

Betty: We did.

Phil: One, they think might have sunk already. But I got, I've got five different spellings of my last name on my dad's side. 

Betty: Don't go into all that now.

Phil: I've got pictures, and I've sent, took a picture and sent it to my brother on the phone. He said, "Oh, I didn't even know that." 

Betty: Well, the driver got very involved. 

Phil: The driver was very interested in what we were doing.

Betty: He, actually, was very helpful. 

Phil: He's the one that actually got somebody to show us where the grave was. 

Betty: He got out and helped us find the superintendent for the particular section of the cemetery that we were looking at for the Ashler graves, and he said, "This is how you do it. You go over and talk to the man who's mowing the grass." 

John Curry: Right.

Betty: And so we did that-

Phil: Then we walked up the hill.

Betty: ... and found it right away. 

Phil: Just a little bit, and got to the top. And there were a lot of, I guess, Leonard Bernstein, has his monument up there, and then there's a lot of-

Betty: When we turned around, he said, "Look at this." They had actually manicured the trees in a certain way. And they said, "This is going to be something special for you to see," and you turn around, and you could see right, straight through the trees, the way they had manicured the trees, and you could see the Statue of Liberty from way high up in the cemetery-

Phil: That's why he wanted that particular place. 

Betty: It was only a couple of blocks from the family grave site that Phil was, so that was a special time.

Phil: That was one, pretty much one day, and then the rest of it-

Betty: The rest of it was typical tourist more things, yeah.

Phil: Took the Circle Line tour. We took the-

John Curry: Hang on a second. Let's tell people what that is, because I've done that. I go to New York City about once a year. 

Phil: Okay.

John Curry: So tell people what the Circle Line tour is, Phil. 

Phil: Okay. Circle Line is actually going around Manhattan. 

John Curry: Well worth doing.

Betty: It is. You see a lot of stuff.

Phil: You get on the boat, though. I forget how many hours the trip is, but they're telling you stories all the way around. We were asking some of the people, "I remember this." "Oh, yeah, that's over here." And then they'd talk about the Palisades, as you're coming around. Document all the buildings. Then another time, we went to the 9/11 Memorial. 

Betty: Very powerful. 

Phil: That was very moving. 

Betty: Very, very powerful. Yeah.

Phil: We took all the tours that they had for that. We went through, the museum's kind of in a basement area-

John Curry: Yes.

Phil: And they actually have some of the recordings of the pilots. 

Betty: One thing I want to point out too, Phil. On every place that we went, wherever it was in Manhattan or New York, there are different companies that have guides. We used a particular company. But the young people there that were trained. You know, sometimes we hear, "Oh, the young people are not doing this, in the contract, they're not doing that." We were just absolutely amazed at the knowledge-

Phil: That was the Statue of Liberty one.

Betty: ... and the professionalism of our particular guides that we got. They were all different nationalities. One even was from what? Germany maybe, and had a green card. He knows more about our American history, and all the things. Fabulous people. Of course, you never know who is going to be in your particular group of 10 or 12 people. 

John Curry: Right.

Betty: They would limit the number of groups. If you really want to know about your American places. Your special, historic places, icon places, these people, I think, are well worth the money. 

Phil: Because the nice thing is-

John Curry: I totally agree.

Betty: It is-

Phil: ... not only in Europe, but on all the trips we've taken. In fact, the one in New York City, you have the little earphones-

Betty: Earphones, yeah.

Phil: So you can walk 50, 100 feet away, and still-

John Curry: Hear everything.

Phil: ... hear what the people are saying. 

John Curry: I will-

Phil: But we had a very good-

Betty: Excellent.

Phil: ... guide for the Statue of Liberty trip.

John Curry: Let's hold that. I want to go back to about Ellis Island for a second. The, when I went, right after 9/11, the January after it occurred, I was in New York City. That was just overwhelming to see that. Then every time I'd go, I'd go back. But you made a comment about the new museum. That is overwhelming. 

Betty: Oh, it's wonderful.

John Curry: When you walk through there, you'll see people that are just, they're so reverent, so quiet. And then you'll see people weeping. And just, you talking about it just gave me chill bumps again, about that experience. Talk about, did you do the Ellis Island tour? 

Phil: That was the next thing I was going to mention.

Betty: We did. 

Phil: We went to that.

Betty: Oh! Unbelievable.

John Curry: Isn't it great?

Phil: And I'm not sure exactly whether my family came in through that or not. Because, like I said, there's five different spellings of the last, just on one side. Then there's some other people on the other side. But the guide we had there was another, he was the same one that we had for the Statue of Liberty. He had pictures of some of the historic things that had happened. And just the stories of what the people had to put up with. 

Betty: It was the-

Phil: One of the historians-

Betty: The eyes.

Phil: ... that we had at Ellis, he said, "Let's go downstairs, and look at some of the other stuff." You went through, and there were three doors. They said, "Well which door?" "Well, you pick any door you want." So I picked one. I think I was in the right, I think Betty might have been in the middle one, and we all got down to the bottom, and he said, "Okay, how many of you went through the middle door?" Two or three people raised their hand. He said, "You guys can stay. The ones that went through the outside door, you're going back to the old country."

Betty: The reason being, well, I've almost forgotten the door story, but there were, they looked at the people very, very carefully, and they chose them according to their medical issues, or whether physical issues. They even had some of the older, they had the older immigrants, to see if they could climb the stairs with their heavy suitcases. Now that we're in our 70s, can you imagine having crossed the ocean, and then asked to go up a number of stairs with their heavy? And their baggage was certainly not light.

John Curry: Not in those days.

Betty: Not in those days.

John Curry: But some had no baggage to speak of too.

Betty: They had no baggage, but if they looked like they were struggling getting up the stairs, they did not necessarily, they were not necessarily allowed to enter. 

Phil: Then another story they had was, what was?

Betty: The eyes. 

Phil: Yeah, the eyes.

Betty: They had eye exams, and they had something that was almost like a button hook, and they would turn the eyelid up, and because they thought they might have seen some redness in the eyes, and it was, I forget, what is the eye condition that causes blindness? But any rate, they didn't know about sterilization back then.

John Curry: Oh, my.

Betty: And so the same instrument that was used for the person up there, that they might turn away, where they could see it visibly and all, then they'd use that same instrument on the person behind them. 

Well, in a same family, some of the people that they had determined had this eye issue, had to go back to the old country. And then half of the family, maybe, didn't have it, according to what they had seen at that time. So then you would have to make a decision as a family, who was going to go, who was going to stay? Are you all going to go back? Or are you all going to, well, they couldn't all stay. And can you imagine, having crossed the ocean in the types of vessels that they had at that time, it was a very sad thing going on-

Phil: And one kind of unusual thing, since we've got grandchildren. Betty said, "Let's go into the store and get some stuff." And Betty found some nice books, and I think we got-

Betty: This you need to know from a business point of view.

Phil: But we got up there, and I think it was maybe $80 worth of books, and pamphlets, and things like that. Betty went up, and she said, "How much?," and put her card in. Declined! We said, "What's the story?"

Betty: Because we had just had our cards verified-

Phil: Verified for the trip to New York. 

Betty: ... for the vacation packages, what states we were going to be in. 

Phil: So I said, "Let me try mine." Declined. 

Betty: We felt pretty bad.

Phil: So we thought, "Whoa." We had some cash with us. We went ahead and paid for it. We went out the back door and called the credit card company, and they said-

Betty: We're fine.

Phil: "We don't see any problems or anything on it." 

Betty: We could not understand that. 

Phil: Both of them got declined. We got back on the boat, Betty said, "Where are we?" I said, "We're in New Jersey." 

Betty: Right in the middle of the river-

Phil: That's why it was declined.

Betty: ... there is a state line. 

Phil: So I'm glad that the credit card company did that. 

John Curry: Oh!

Betty: Everybody needs to remember this: Ellis Island is just a toehold over into New Jersey. 

Phil: Or they're charging- 

Betty: And my cards, our cards, I had never thought-

Phil: For New York.

Betty: We had only cleared it for New York. 

John Curry: Let me see, just to make sure we're clear, because this is a extra tidbit-

Betty: Yes.

John Curry: This is a bonus, ladies and gentlemen, listen to this. So what you did, is you let the credit card companies know where you were traveling-

Betty: Oh, yeah-

John Curry: To protect your-

Betty: You call ahead to protect.

John Curry: That's awesome. Now, see, I've never done it that way. When I travel, I'll let the bank know, where I do business, if I'm going to use my debit card-

Betty: Okay.

John Curry: And I'll let them know where I'm traveling, because then I got a call, got a phone call at the same time, but Disney one time, they said, "Where are you?" I said, "Where are you?" I said, "We're in Orlando." We had charges, one was in Los Angeles, one was in Chicago, where somebody was trying to use our card. But that is fascinating. So when you're traveling-

Betty: We call ahead. 

John Curry: You let them know.

Betty: We've been asked to do that through our credit union, is to call the vacation package. Therefore, we told them New York, and the different places we would be in Canada. So we were all clear.

John Curry: But not New Jersey.

Betty: However, in the middle of the, what is it? The Hudson River, or whatever-

Phil: Or it could have been the billing.

Betty: It's right there. 

Phil: The billing company, and it could have been in New Jersey.

Betty: And Ellis Island is just a toehold over, where the state line comes to the middle of the river.

John Curry: That's true. 

Betty: Do remember that, everyone.

John Curry: I love taking the ferry over there. I haven't done that in several years. 

Betty: So. That was the reason, and we were very concerned. 

John Curry: Since we're on this, I know we're way over time here, so if you'll indulge me just a few more minutes here, from the standpoint of, when you walk into that hall. Remember all the little desks?

Betty: Yes. 

John Curry: Where people were taken into customs? Tell me what your initial reaction is, when you walked and you saw all those, I'm going to call them little tables, for lack of a better term, but I was overwhelmed by that. What were you thinking? 

Phil: Also, when you go outside, where we went out to call the company, they now have a monument that goes all the way around the courtyard, with all the names.

Betty: Have you seen that?

John Curry: No, I have not seen that. 

Betty: Oh, John. It's so amazing. 

Phil: I think it's fairly new.

John Curry: I'm going to be there in October. I'm going to see if I can get over to it.

Betty: Do go by and see that. It is just so amazing. 

Phil: You can actually go online through the, what is it? The Liberty Foundation or?

Betty: I'm not sure now, Phil, but they have-

Phil: Ellis Island Foundation or something, but you can do some genealogy on that. There are a number of people around you can ask. 

Betty: But they have, on this wall, they have the names of the-

Phil: Of the people that came there.

Betty: Of the different years that they came in. 

Phil: That they came in.

Betty: And they have it on a-

Phil: I think I might have found-

Betty: I'm not sure, but I think you can look for your family's name. 

Phil: I think I might have found one or two with the same last name.

Betty: And it's on a computer, but they're also building a brand new center-

Phil: They're rebuilding the hospital.

Betty: ... and it won't be open until the summer of 2019-

Phil: It's the hospital. 

Betty: ... a year from now.

Phil: They're redoing the whole hospital.

Betty: They're redoing the hospital, but that's a bit down the road. But the Phil, the new, what do you call it? Entranceway? There's a brand new, they had a wall up there. You know how they keep everybody off right now

Phil: And then they have a-

Betty: But in a year-and-a-half, that would be maybe the summer of 2019, there's going to be a brand new-

Phil: There's a side tour you can take. That actually takes you down to the catacombs of Ellis Island. We didn't do that one, because we had to get back on the boat. But-

Betty: But it really walks you through the steps of what it was like to be an immigrant coming over. 

Phil: I don't think the history that we had when we went through school-

Betty: Reflected.

Phil: ... is necessarily being taught today. Because I don't think a lot of people realize what people had to go through-

Betty: The hardships. 

John Curry: Right.

Phil: ... when they came over.

Betty: The absolute hardships. 

John Curry: This story is, I'm thinking of a gentleman who came here from Austria. Dear friend of mine. Passed away a few years ago. He came here with $20 in his pocket, could not speak English. He worked his butt off, became a psychologist, and was just an awesome man. But he always remembered that he had to work for everything that he had, and we had so many examples of people who endured so much to come to our country. You didn't hear them complain a whole lot. 

Betty: No.

John Curry: They just did what they had to do. 

Betty: Exactly.

John Curry: Let me switch gears for just a moment and ask you. These are wonderful stories you've been sharing. We could stay here all day. 

Phil: I'm glad I could remember them. 

John Curry: I'm glad you did. And I'm going to pick on Betty a little bit, folks. When we first started this, Betty was saying, "Oh, I don't think that we'll, our interview will last more than 5 or 10 minutes," and we've been going at this for 52 minutes now, by the way.

Betty: Wow. That's amazing.

John Curry: But let me ask you this: Closing thoughts. What would your advice be to people that have retired, and they're not quite sure what the next chapter is. Because, see, you tired, but you haven't expired. 

Betty: No.

John Curry: You've kind of gotten rewired, and excited about life. So what, we'll start with you, Betty. What, actually I'll start with you, Phil. What advice would you offer the men out there, who they've been so consumed with their work over the years, didn't really pursue other activities necessarily, but what advice would you offer for someone with that, for post retirement?

Phil: I think you have to kind of look on two different sides. If you've got children or grandchildren, then naturally you want to spend a lot of time with them doing some things. If you've got elderly parents, you might have to spend some time with them. 

John Curry: Or both, or both.

Betty: Or both.

Phil: Or both, yeah. And we actually have that. We had both sides, we had parents that lived a pretty good life, and like I said earlier, I retired a little bit earlier. Betty retired a little bit later. But, I think, to stay active. Get in, like Kiwanis or some of those clubs, so that you're interacting with other people in town. Then I think you need to get in some type of area that you're really interested in-

Betty: And give back to your community. 

Phil: ... and give back to the community. I've got several things, I've been teaching the amateur radio classes in town for almost 30 years. And found out the other day they want another class coming up, so we're going to probably have a class in that. We do a lot of cemetery work. 

Betty: And church work.

Phil: I've been doing that for about the last 10 years, helping keep the cemetery up. Betty's doing the genealogy of the people in the cemetery. And I think, like you said earlier, don't sit at home and watch TV all the time. We watch a little bit in the morning, we watch a little bit at night, and that's it, we're doing other things. And I think to keep yourself active. If you've got a trip you'd like to take, sit down and-

Betty: Plan for it.

Phil: ... look at your finances. Save some money for that, and then go ahead and take the trip.

John Curry: And do it while you're healthy, and can enjoy it.

Betty: And do it, exactly, because you're a more interesting person, and I think even for your children, and your grandchildren, it's setting a good model for them. America is a great country. It's not perfect, but it's a great American experiment, and you can look at it as a glass half empty, or full, and we're finding it very filled with wonderful things that we, still in our country, want to see. 

John Curry: Absolutely.

Betty: And share with other people, and let them know that there is a good life out there. 

Phil: Go and talk to other people that are taking trips, and say, "What did you see when you were on those trips?" And they say, "Wow, I didn't care for this, and I'm not interested in that," but let's get a trip that we want to take. So Betty and I will sit down, and we're trying to think where we want to go next. 

John Curry: I love that. I love that.

Phil: We'll sit down and look at our finances, and maybe skimp a little bit someplace and see if we can't do it in the next couple of years. 

Betty: But try to turn it into something that's positive for our family, and makes us more interesting people, enriches our lives, and I think in that way, you can pass it on to your own family, and maybe to others around you, and make you a better contributor for your community. 

John Curry: Absolutely. That's why I put together the podcast series, because a friend challenged me with this, "You have so much knowledge yourself, but also access to other people that you work with. Why don't you start doing a podcast?" I'm embarrassed to say, I said, "What's a podcast?" He said, "It's a way for you to allow your clients, and other advisors, to share information, to all the people in your network. Your clients, and perspective clients. People who want access to knowledge." And you don't have to get on a plane and travel somewhere. They don't have to. They could listen to it in their car, listen to it on their iPhone or their iPad, and he's been right. And I just thank you so much, Betty and Phil Ashler-

Phil: Yeah, we enjoyed it. 

Betty: We enjoyed it.

John Curry: ... for sharing. And most important, thank you so much for the relationship we have. It's been a pleasure working with you all these years. I hope we have another 30 years together. 

Betty: We do too. Okay.

Phil: Yeah, Yeah. Okay. 

John Curry: Well, thank you so much.

Phil: Well, thank you, John.

John Curry: And folks, I hope you've enjoyed this, and I'm going to try to have them come back another time, and talk about some other topics, but this has been great. Thank you, again.

Phil: And then tell us the trips that you take. 

John Curry: I'll do that, but these podcasts are about you folks, not me. Thanks again. 

Phil: Okay, thank you, John. 




Disclosures: Includes Podcast & LBS Disclosure


If you would like to know more about John Curry’s services, you can request a

complimentary information package by visiting JohnHCurry.com/podcast. Again, that is

JohnHCurry.com/podcast. Or you can call his office at 850-562-3000.

Again, that is 850-562-3000.


John H. Curry, CLU, ChFC, AEP, MSFS, CLTC, registered representative and financial advisor

 of Park Avenue Securities, LLC (PAS). Securities products and services and advisory services 

are offered through PAS, a registered broker dealer and investment advisor. Financial 

representative of the Guardian Life Insurance company of America, New York, New York. PAS is 

an indirect wholly owned subsidiary of Guardian. North Florida Financial Corporation is not an 

affiliate or subsidiary of PAS. PAS is a member of FINRA and SIPC. This material is intended 

for general public use. By providing this material, we are not undertaking to provide investment 

advice for any specific individual or situation, or to otherwise act in a fiduciary capacity. Please 

contact one of our financial professionals for guidance and information specific to your individual 

situation All investments contain risk and may lose value. Past performance is not a guarantee 

of future results. Guardian nor any of its subsidiaries offer Long Term Care Insurance and

Guardian, its subsidiaries, agents or employees do not provide legal, tax, or accounting advice.

Please consult with your attorney, accountant, and/or tax advisor for advice concerning your

particular circumstances. Not affiliated with The Florida Retirement System. 


The Living Balance Sheet® (LBS) and the LBS Logo are registered service marks of The 

Guardian Life Insurance Company of America (Guardian), New York, NY. © Copyright 2005-

2018 


This podcast is for informational purposes only. Guest speakers and their firms are not affiliated 

with or endorsed by PAS or Guardian and opinions stated are their own. 


        


#2018-61422 Exp 6/20

Paying for Healthcare in Retirement

You can have all the money in the world in retirement. But if you don’t have your health… well, you really can’t enjoy it. Part of that, says Bill Kepper, a physician for 40+ years, is being a good patient throughout your life, following doctor’s orders. 

But as important is making sure you can get the medications, procedures, and other things you need as you get older… while you’re depending on your retirement income and retirement accounts to pay for it.

Bill shares his thoughts on the healthcare system and how to best take care of yourself.

Listen in to discover:

  • Habits you can adopt now for better long-term health

  • The importance of staying active – physically and mentally

  • Fitness and nutrition habits anybody can adopt

  • Tips for adjusting to more time at home in retirement

  • And more

Listen now…

Episode Transcript:

John Curry: Hi, this is John Curry. Welcome to our podcast today. I'm sitting across the table here with my good friend and personal physician Bill Kepper. Bill, thank you for joining us today.

Bill Kepper: A pleasure to be here.

John Curry: I have known you for over 40 years, you've been my personal physician all these years. My wife introduced us, in fact, before we ever got married, and we started working with you.

Bill Kepper: And you've been a client of mine for I don't know how long, maybe the same length of time.

John Curry: So, we have a professional relationship, but I have to tell you, folks, we have a personal relationship, 'cause I consider Dr. Bill Kepper to be not only a great physician, but a good friend, a counselor, and a good confident. Bill, what I want to do today is focus on a theme called Health and Wealth. People are so worried about their money, worried about the stock market, do they take their money away, how do I save more money, financial advisors tell them maximize your 401k. My position is, after 43 years of doing this, it's nice to have some wealth, but I'm seeing a lot of clients who don't have good health when they retire. They're not gonna get to enjoy that money very long. So, I want us to talk a little bit about health issues, but I would like you to start ... Please, just tell us your background and why in the world you decided to become a medical doctor.

Bill Kepper: Well, I grew up in the suburbs of New Orleans out by Lake Pontchartrain in a family of three, being the caboose in that family. Mom and Dad, attorney dad and mom somewhat of a local socialite with all of her old Newcomb buddy friends and housewife homemaker. She had joined lots of different clubs. We enjoyed a fairly idyllic lifestyle in a brick, one story, three bedroom house, and had family same last name in New Orleans saying my mom was a Yankee from Shreveport, Louisiana.

John Curry: A Yankee, huh?

Bill Kepper: So, after having gone through high school at a private school in New Orleans called [French 00:02:16], where I was forced to learn Latin and French, decided to go into premed curriculum at LSU. So, I went north for college, north and a little bit west. Met my wife on a blind date, first football game blind date between fraternity and sorority in 1968 on October 5th, did not know she was gonna be my wife, but I was hoping from that day on that that might happen.

John Curry: Wow, so you knew right away.

Bill Kepper: Well, she liked me and that was kind of unusual. I was a bit of a nerd back then. I might still be a bit of a nerd, but nobody has the guts to tell me.

John Curry: There afraid you might give them the wrong prescription.

Bill Kepper: Or the wrong exam.

John Curry: That's funny, that's funny. Talk a little bit about your experience as a medical doctor. You've been practicing how long? Forty years, forty-two?

Bill Kepper: Well, it depends on whether you count what I did in residency in 1976, started the residency program, got my Florida license a year after my first GGY1, post graduate year one. So, I started practicing in '77 with a license, but '79 had my own private practice. That continued to thrive for a long period of years such that in the early '90s, mid '90s, we decided to band together against the powers of the hospitals and the insurance companies to form an organization called Tallahassee Primary Care Associates, primarily family doctors and pediatricians. We later added specialists to our group. I enjoyed being a member of that organization up until 2014, when I retired to go from that organization to go work at Southwood with Hospital Corporation of America, [inaudible 00:04:18] Medical Clinic.

John Curry: And now you're fully retired.

Bill Kepper: Fully retired as of August 31st.

John Curry: August 31st just last year.

Bill Kepper: Last year.

John Curry: So, we'll come back around to the healthcare issues in a moment, but from your perspective of being [inaudible 00:04:34], I've known you personally all these years. You've worked very hard, you didn't just spend five minutes with a patient and run them out, you worked long hours, you loved what you did for a living, it wasn't just work for you, it was a calling.

Bill Kepper: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

John Curry: How have you adjusted to this thing called retirement?

Bill Kepper: It's interesting because I could honestly say that the first couple of months of retirement felt like an extended vacation. Hunting season ensued, as it usually does in the wintertime, and I enjoyed spending more time in the woods than I had been able to for the last several years. But now it's seeming like a little bit of planning on my part for activity would be helpful, though I do have to recognize those plans are subject to change based on still being married to the sweetheart I met in 1968.

John Curry: So, what are you trying to say, that Sharon has her own views about what to do?

Bill Kepper: Sharon has her schedule about what she wants to do, and I should understand that I will be needing to work around that schedule.

John Curry: So, it sounds to me like that you went from having one boss on the work side, to now you've got a full-time boss on the home front.

Bill Kepper: Well, yeah, and I've always had a full-time boss on the home front. I just wasn't home as often as I am now.

John Curry: Let's talk about that for a second. Do you find, or did you find initially anyway, that it took some adjusting because you did work such long hours and then finally you're at home? Did you find there was any type of stress going on there?

Bill Kepper: Well, it was interesting because about the same time I was retiring I was seeing my pulmonologist, who was confirming the fears that many of my primary care doctor and cardiologists thought I might have developed sleep apnea. So, the adjustment was getting used to sleep apnea machine, CPAP, AutoPap, which was not at all difficult, and I began sleeping much better, dreaming really interesting dreams and then waking up to the same disappointed every day is the same day.

John Curry: That sounds like that movie "Groundhog Day" just a little bit in there to me. What are some of the issues that you noticed as a doctor treating your patients that prevented people from truly enjoying their day to day life and maybe even would hurt them going into retirement years?

Bill Kepper: Well, over the years ... and I think I lived through a fairly marvelous period of innovation in medicine. When I first started in medicine there was very few open heart surgeries being done in only certain selective centers in the world, the Charity Hospital associated with Tulane Med School, they had not done any coronary bypass surgeries while I was in med school there. They were doing them down the road at [inaudible 00:07:37] Clinic, but they were not doing them at Charity Hospital. Valvular surgeries were being done, you know, on a regular basis, but Clinic and some of the folks there were majorly involved in helping to restore lives after coronary artery disease happened. 

We went through a period where we evolved a whole lot of very effective treatments for hypertension, so I saw a reduction significantly in the people who were under medical care not getting nearly as many strokes as they had been getting percentage wise, not having the younger age nearly as often that would take people out of a period of vitality or early retirement. 

Then coronary artery disease started taking a significant hit with good mediations to adequately control the cholesterol levels. This presupposes the patients would actually go to the doctor, get diagnosed, take the medication, and continue to take the medication if they were gonna get the benefits of the changes in medicine during that time.

John Curry: Well, I can speak to that personally because I had open heart surgery, triple bypass to be exact, in July, July 10, 2008. I can't remember how many times I complained about the medications that you had me taking, and you explained to me in a very nice matter, "Look, these are important for these reasons. You can ...", 'cause I started working on my diet and my exercise and started taking these things seriously. But I can see where it would be very easy once you've made improvements to think, I don't need that medication anymore. 'Cause I'm the kind of person I don't even take an aspirin.

Bill Kepper: But, John, you're the kind of person who will get 100%, 110% into a self rehab program and think that's gonna solve the problem.

John Curry: True.

Bill Kepper: Sometimes it does.

John Curry: Well, it's made a big difference.

Bill Kepper: It's made percentages of difference for you, but the difference is you don't have to compartmentalize one or the other. You can combine both.

John Curry: Absolutely, and that was the take away for me, that you need to do everything you can do for yourself, eating right, exercise, relaxing, not being so stressed out, but take advantage of modern technology and modern, especially medical technology, and use the pills and the treatments that are available to improve yourself. That's really what you just described, isn't it, is taking advantage of the technology?

Bill Kepper: Yeah, if in doing so you make your doctor look good.

John Curry: I like that, especially if you follow directions, right?

Bill Kepper: You're still here.

John Curry: That's right. I'm still here, still here. Let's talk a little bit about the future of healthcare in our country. People are concerned about that. The costs are going up and up. All of the stuff about so called Obamacare, the Affordable Care Act, some people love it, some hate it. To the extent you're willing to talk about your professional [inaudible 00:10:41] in this sense, how do you feel about it? I mean, is it good care, bad care, as a whole? What's your view as a retired physician?

Bill Kepper: Well, let me preface what I'm gonna say or maybe change the response a little bit. Our conversations recently have been more not about the effectiveness or lack of effectiveness in healthcare but the availability of health care and the financing of healthcare.

John Curry: Okay.

Bill Kepper: When people start getting on TV and start talking about healthcare, they're talking about how to pay for it. Who's gonna have access to it, and who's gonna pay for those folks' access to it? So, during the Obamacare origination and thought process, that's what the whole question was to be resolved. I think that medical care as far as capacity to develop new and novel therapies has gone on pretty much unabated. Every one of those has come out extraordinarily more expensive than we hoped they would, and they stay expensive because bit pharma requires a whole lot of money to run its engine. Is big pharma our friend? The answer is, I think, on an individual basis big pharma is our friend, but on the standpoint of what big pharma has done to our economy, it has separated us into a group of haves and have nots. I have an insurance policy that will allow me to pay for any $300 dollar a month medication, or I don't have an insurance policy that will allow me to pay for a $300 dollar a month medication. I understand that creates sometimes vital differences in outcomes.

John Curry: Yes. You said something very interesting there that caught my ear. So, the quality of the care is there, that's not really a question I don't think in this country 'cause the people in your profession are caring individuals. So, it comes down to affordability: Can I afford the care while I'm working, but especially is causing a lot of angst when people retire. I'll tell you, when we're meeting with clients either in number one or two, sometime they'll switch the order, is: I'm worried about cost of healthcare, and I'm worried about running out of money, in other words losing income, and they'll flip flop. Some will be number one, some will be number two. But we're seeing that those are the primary concerns. How do I pay for my health insurance in retirement, my healthcare, rather, and will I run out of money. Will I spend all the money I have in my retirement accounts and be broke?

Bill Kepper: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

John Curry: And you look at that, and as a retirement planner, we have to help find ways so people can finance that care. It's becoming more and more difficult. We see people, Bill, who are paying more for prescriptions each month out of pocket than they paid for a mortgage payment. That's insane.

Bill Kepper: Yeah.

John Curry: I don't know what the answer is. I'm certainly not a politician, so I don't know what the answer is. I'm not an economist, but I look at that and as a planner I don't want to just talk about people investing money or having life insurance. How can I help them have a better quality of life today while they're working, but especially in retirement? Because this is something I've been doing for 43 years, I hope to do it for another 20 or 30, well long as I live. I keep telling people I'm gonna be like George Burns and live to be 100 years old and keep on working, but on my terms. Don't get me wrong. I don't want to work every day, and I don't work every day, but I want to have fun.

Bill Kepper: Sure, Gracie.

John Curry: Okay. I don't think he's buying that. Okay. Talk a little bit about the biggest issues you think hurt us from the standpoint of enjoying our life. Is it high blood pressure? Hypertension? What are the things that you think, based on what you've experienced, are the things that are getting to us?

Bill Kepper: I think probably overcommitment to things that may or may not have value is the biggest stuff that gets to us. As far as healthcare concerns, you know, we've done a pretty good job of reducing stroke, we've done a fair job of reducing cardiovascular disease in general in those people who are under treatment. The hypertension has reduced the likelihood of rupture of aneurysms as well as having blockages in major arteries that supply organs that we cannot afford to damage without loss of capacity. So, you know, that's pretty good. We're still having the major battle with trying to find out where the genesis of cancer is and how we can do something to stop that in its tracks before it gets started, or preferably early recognition and effective treatment for that. A lot of cancer remedies are still pretty hard to deal with and leave us with loss of function at times.

John Curry: What are the things you think we should be doing as individuals to give ourselves the best chance of having a long life?

Bill Kepper: Wear your seatbelt.

John Curry: Okay.

Bill Kepper: Quit smoking.

John Curry: Okay. I wasn't expecting those.

Bill Kepper: Well, people die of those things.

John Curry: Yeah.

Bill Kepper: Avoid large crowds of people during the wintertime, so you don't get the flu. Airports.

John Curry: Stay away.

Bill Kepper: Stay away or bring your hand cleanser or wear gloves, you know, the types of things that we can do for preventive. Gone are the days, I guess, hopefully, where we worry about on a daily basis thermonuclear attack. Still remember diving underneath desks, and I realize that was a ridiculous posture to die in.

John Curry: Yes, I remember that.

Bill Kepper: Yeah, the Cuban Missile Crisis was ... I mean, not as big in New Orleans as it was in Florida, but it was big enough to make an impact on us. But I think, you know, living with consistency in your life habits, not jumping after everything that's on certain TV shows that may be or may be not run by a knowledgeable doctor.

John Curry: Talk a little bit about the things that we can do from a fitness and nutrition focus. Is there too much emphasis on that, or is it truly just the way I am is the way God made me?

Bill Kepper: Okay, so you're asking me to say, what should I do not what do I do?

John Curry: Okay, well, your words not mine.

Bill Kepper: Having been able to get off the rat race, the treadmill of work, I've been able to enjoy much more recreational time. I'm the type of person that will not go to a gym and exercise, 'cause that looks like work. But I will go out and walk the dog. I will go out and decide to park a little bit farther away from the hunting stand, so that I get to carry my equipment closer and maybe increase my chance of being successful. I will be that person who doesn't mind the fact that this self propelled portion of my old lawn mower is broken, so I have to actually push the thing, because I think there's value in that. So, getting physical activity rather than exercise, I like to say, because to me it makes more sense. It's getting closer to that time of the year where you can smell the cut grass. When I finish cutting my half acre yard, which has got a house on it so it's not a whole half acre, it gives me a sense of accomplishment to know I've done something, in a way my own little cardiac stress test to prove that I can still have the capacity to enjoy life. I enjoy fishing. I'd rather fish from a kayak than I would a sailboat, 'cause it's too much work to sail a boat. It's more efficient from a kayak.

John Curry: I love my kayak.

Bill Kepper: Plus there's some exercise associated with that, as long as you don't hurt your back by getting off the top of your care.

John Curry: Right.

Bill Kepper: But keeping yourself reasonably trim and fit is good things, and some centering type of things where you expand your knowledge as well as your capacity, physical capacity, read a good book, find something worthwhile to do for the sake of others, and volunteerism, those sorts of things add value and I think years to life. Many, many years ago I was reading in what we call a throw away journal, which is one that has more drug adds and fewer well thought out articles, but there was an article written about the benefits of jogging. This person who was in Scandinavia somewhere had done this extensive study about how much longer people live if they have the active lifestyle of running on a regular basis. It was roughly equivalent to the amount of time they spent running. So, I got from that, if you like to run, go. You'll live longer doing what you like to do. If you find it onerous, then you'll live longer doing something onerous. So, a lot of my choices are with activity other than exercise, doing something I enjoy doing.

John Curry: I agree totally. I happen to go to the gym three days a week, but I enjoy walking. I take long walks, I mean sometimes like an hour. Go the park, enjoy being outside. Sometimes at hunting camp, even during non hunting season go out there and just walk.

Bill Kepper: That's the best time to get out and walk, non hunting season.

John Curry: That's right, otherwise you might get shot. Look, there's a big old deer. Let's get him. But what it does for me, it not only gives me the physical activity, but it also works on the brain, letting the brain decompress some. I'm reading more and more things that say that the key to having an active life in retirement, in your 70s, 80s, and 90s ... Our oldest client is 100 years old, excuse me just turned 101 I think. She's very alert, she reads, she studies. So, let's talk a little bit about the importance of exercising the brain, too, not just the body. What does medical science tell us about that?

Bill Kepper: Medical science would say that that's one of the better things you can do to prevent Alzheimer's, is stay engaged in problem solving types of activities, puzzles, those sorts of things, reading about new idea, perhaps even learning a foreign language, though I don't know that it's necessary now that I've gotten English and Redneck and Cajun and all those things throw at me, along with a smattering of French. But to me-

John Curry: Ha, Redneck.

Bill Kepper: ... the key issue is, with me and my wife, my wife will often ask me what I'm thinking, and I'll often not be aware that I'm thinking about anything in particular, but I'm just you know letting my mind wander when I'm out there in the woods or doing something like that. I find it very beneficial for me and hopefully for others that at times when I catch myself doing that, I say, how could I better be putting my mind to use? I will spend some time in prayer. To me, that's centering because it helps me to connect with the God who I think created me, and the God who I think has called me to come live with Him for eternity.

John Curry: Very good. Talk a little bit about some of the things that you've done, since you brought up your faith there. You have done a lot of work over the years on different missions. I know one of those was a trip to Haiti. Would you talk a little bit about what you've done as far as ... I know, sometimes you don't like talking about it, but to the extent that you're willing to share, just a little bit of some of the things you've done, because there's more to life than just work, work, work.

Bill Kepper: Well, some of the best part of work ... and John you may recognize this  too because you've been involved in volunteerism with honor flights and that sort of stuff ... is what you give of your capacity to people who can't possibly repay you.

John Curry: Yes.

Bill Kepper: So, what Haiti, which is one of the times I reflect back most to some of the original 9/11, I started the first day at short term mission project in Haiti at a village I had been to several times previously.

John Curry: I never knew that. So you were there when the attack occurred?

Bill Kepper: Yeah. Somewhere around 10:00 in the morning, we were in the midst of seeing our 20 or 30th patient in the clinic building, and our pastor, who came by with new technology for us at the time, cell phone, said that the United States was under attack. Of course, incredulity was the first emotion I had. "No, there's no way. United States couldn't be under attack. We've got too many satellites, we've got too many things covered." The attack came from within.

John Curry: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Bill Kepper: We found out as much as we could out there, and so I gathered the people together who were volunteers at the clinic. We had nurses and lab techs and just plain volunteers to help us with the pharmacy and that sort of stuff. I don't remember which other doctor was there. I said, "Guys, we have just heard some terrible news about the United States under attack. We won't be able to find out more about that till we get back to our compound tonight where we can turn on cable news network and see more about it. We've got a clinic to run. So, let's have a period of prayer and reflection on what might be going on for our loved ones back home in the United States, knowing that we're here for a purpose and reason, and we need to accomplish that purpose and reason." 

Turned out the end of the week, after a lot of prayer and my concern that I might have to buy a Haitian schooner that they use for bringing food substances, et cetera, from the north part of the country down to the south, and back and navigate my way back to the United States, we were able to board an airplane and take our trip back a few hours too late to make [inaudible 00:25:35], but I think we were one of the first flights into Miami that Sunday afternoon, to come back to the United States. That was a weird time to be in Haiti, when all of this stuff was going down and all the airplanes were shut down and that sort of stuff. Didn't stop me from going. It just made me think about, you know, who's in charge and who has to respond to that person in charge, with faith, in order to be able to continue to do what you do. 

You know, the first time I went to Haiti I was afraid that I might not come back. That fear had disappeared by the time that 9/11 happened, but it came back pretty quick. And as being responsible for the care of the other people that I went, I didn't share that responsibility by myself. Somebody else was guiding the trip, too, and that person was the one that compelled me to go to begin with.

John Curry: What are you doing now in retirement or what will you be doing since you have all the extra time on your hands? What does retirement look like going forward, say, just look out, say, five years?

Bill Kepper: I think I plan on traveling, putting some of that money that you helped me save up over the period of time to good use, and seeing part-

John Curry: Enjoy it while you can.

Bill Kepper: ... part of the world where, you know, I haven't seen both ... No, traveling our nation as well as maybe international travel. My wife had not ever flown before we got married, and we flew to Jamaica for our honeymoon, but she's flown since then. She doesn't mind the experience too much. We were fortunate to have a son who competed in international rowing and got to see parts of Europe and parts of Asia and South America as a part of following him around as crew parents. So, that was great for travel, but since he's retired from that we need to have our own impetus to get us out of Tallahassee and move out and see some things.

John Curry: Very good, very good. You mentioned hunting earlier. How important do you think it is when people come to this thing called retirement, that they have hobbies, interests, to keep them busy in retirement. Or have you been retired long enough yet to know?

Bill Kepper: I think it adds value to what you can do as having a set point in time where you're gonna go out and do something you enjoy. If you haven't figured out what you like yet, you need to start figuring that out so that you can say, "I might want to be working with stained glass." "I might want to, you know, take up golf." Oh, lord help you. If more people were satisfied with their golf score at the end of their golf game, I might have thought about taking it up, but they're a bunch of unhappy folks.

John Curry: Right, angry, and slapping a little ball around. I'm one of those.

Bill Kepper: As well as they wanted to do. I've got fishing and never brought home any fish, not very often but on occasion, but I still had a good time fishing. To me, hunting and fishing are those things. They add value because it gets you out of the rat race to a certain extent. Yes, it costs a little bit of money, but I think the money is well spent. I think you could buy fish almost as fresh as I get to bring home and cook them up and they might taste pretty much similar, but there is some degree of benefit. I don't know, maybe I'm going back to the caveman times, hunter/gatherer, taking home, bringing home at least the main course so you can enjoy your vegetables even more.

John Curry: Absolutely. I started deer hunting again this year with my brother, my son, and my grandson. I quit for years, wouldn't do it. I did it because of them. Some of the best time has been just sitting around the campfire, just grilling some meat on the grill, sometimes it was chilly, and just talking. Having a good time and just being with the family. I didn't care if I shot a deer or not. In fact, I had an opportunity to kill several, and I didn't even shoot one. Everybody else did. They said, "Why didn't you shoot a deer?" I said, "I was just enjoying sitting there and relaxing." Cold at times, but I had not done that in 10 years. I did other things, but to me it's gone back full circle to where I enjoy doing that, 'cause it gets me outside, like you said, walking to the stand, park the truck down the road, walk farther. I get my exercise, get outside closer to God. It's just great.

Bill Kepper: You even get to see the day begin or the day end-

John Curry: Or both.

Bill Kepper: ... from an elevated position. That's not a bad thing.

John Curry: I agree totally. I agree. But you're right, it's very therapeutic. We're getting close to the end here. To kind of wind down, what suggestions or advice would you offer to anyone who's listening to this from the standpoint of this theme about health and wealth. You're working so hard to make money, 'cause you've gotta have a job, pay the bills. You're trying to save for retirement. But, what advice would you offer to tie the importance of taking care of your health now and a plan of action at the end when you go into retirement, to be able to truly enjoy your wealth? What would you say?

Bill Kepper: Good question. We all know the story about pro football players who have extraordinarily good health through high school and college, maybe a few surgeries, do carpentry work on them, and yet because of the series of concussions that they might have had or something like that, don't get to experience a full senior life. I think it's thereby good to put on your helmet, even if you're not a football player, of protection, so when you ride a bike you wear a helmet. When you go rollerblading, maybe you wear all those guards that I had on when I fell down on Harriman Circle one day. I hurt my pride, but that was about it. Didn't put the roller blades back on either.

John Curry: I'm not going to, so you were braver than I am. I'm not going to put roller blades on my feet, or roller skates either.

Bill Kepper: I had a friend that did it, and he loved it. I thought, "Well, I'll see ..." You know this about guys. Guys will buy sporting equipment, which will then encourage them to use the sporting equipment 'cause they don't to pay for something and not use it, and then they go out and try the sport. You know, vis a vis all the people with the golf clubs. So, I think that, you know, there's a little bit of that in me.

But I think keeping yourself physically healthy is a lot easier than reclaiming health after you've already lost a crucial function. So, by being cautious and, like I said, use reason in which you try to do things. Don't go out and try to run a marathon without training for it. Don't necessarily think that everybody has to run a marathon. I remember in my running career, which I cut short on purpose sort of like Forrest Gump, but way before he did, I ran a 15k one time. I said, "That's pretty much what I want to do, is run a 15k." But I didn't want to run a second 15k, because I had other things to do.

John Curry: Right. But at least you tried it.

Bill Kepper: Yeah.

John Curry: That's a good place to come to a close here. How important is it to try new things instead of just saying, "Hey, this is the way it is. I'm not gonna change." 

Bill Kepper: Well, there is that ropes course down there at Tallahassee Museum. I've thought about going down there and trying that. 

John Curry: It is fun, I've done it.

Bill Kepper: Yeah, I know a person who was a principle in designing it and putting it up. That's Dr. Ben [inaudible 00:33:42] son, Lucas. Yeah, I'm gonna do that. But I think it's important to try new things to challenge yourself, not to get caught up in the humdrum of the usual and the always. Go somewhere that you are intrigued with that's not particularly dangerous. [inaudible 00:34:05] going to the Ozarks 'cause you've seen both other mountain ranges in the United States, but you haven't been to the Ozarks yet. You might find a diamond there, something like that.

John Curry: Very good. So, just get out and do something different.

Bill Kepper: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

John Curry: Do something different. Well, my friend, thank you so much for taking the time to share your stories. It's been a pleasure sitting here with you.

Bill Kepper: And likewise.

John Curry: Thanks, Bill.

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