Your New Identity in Retirement

During their many years together, Bruce and Judi Irvin have always viewed their marriage as a partnership… and that extends to how they manage their money.

As a result, they set themselves up for a comfortable retirement that allows plenty of funds for adventurous travels around the world.

We talk about where they’ve been and the wonders they’ve seen but more importantly how accountability, cooperation, and teamwork when it comes to finances has allowed them to truly enjoy their golden years.

Listen in to discover…

  • Three pillars of a financially stable retirement

  • The habit many people never adopt that leads to a retirement shortfall

  • Why retirement isn’t about how much money you have

  • The “In the Event” folder you need to create now

  • And more

Listen now…

Episode Transcript:

John Curry: Hey folks. John Curry sitting here. I'm sitting with my friends Bruce and Judi Irvin and I want to thank you for listening in and welcome to another episode of the Secure Retirement podcast.

Folks, welcome and I'm glad you're here.

Judi Irvin: Good to be here.

Bruce Irvin: Good to be here. Yes.

John Curry: Judi I want to start with you. Tell us a little bit about your work at Florida State University, or even before that if you like, you were a Professor of Education. And then we'll come back to Bruce. Just give us a little bit of background, and I just thought of one question I'd like to know. I've never heard this from the two of you, how you met, where you met, and just kind of fill us in a little bit.

Judi Irvin: Okay.

John Curry: And Bruce is real quiet, so I'm going to bug him and ask him to jump in here occasionally. 

Judi Irvin: I was a Professor of Education at Florida State University and that's where I ended my career, and I spent 30 years there. I was a teacher before that. But one of the things that I'd like to share is a little earlier and that is that I grew up in the Watts area of Los Angeles. I never read a book or wrote a paper before I graduated from high school. Because it was during the time when the Watts riots were happening. People were coming and going. And when my parents moved into the neighborhood, it was a Leave It To Beaver, 1950 neighborhood, and it changed radically as I went to middle school and high school.

And so the education that I got, was horrible. I mean it was nonexistent. And we were basically just housed. We weren't taught. And that was in a time when writing was assigned, but it wasn't taught. So I was a cheerleader and very happy at school. I mean school wasn't bad because I was very social. So I just never paid attention to anything academic because my social life was more important to me. Plus, nobody else seemed to care.

And so I went to a small college, I went to California Lutheran University, which is in Thousand Oaks, California. And they took a special interest in everybody, not just me, but everybody. My first semester in college, I made all Cs and a D. And it wasn't because I didn't try, it was because I lacked study skills, I lacked prior knowledge, I was asked to read a western civilization book and I had no clue where anything was, let alone what happened there. 

So I really struggled as a student when I first went to college. And because there were people around who cared and got on the Dean's List, but not the good one. And so the Dean called me in and said so what's going on?

John Curry: Straighten up or get out?

Judi Irvin: I haven't been partying too much. Bottom line was I didn't know how to study and I had very little prior knowledge. I mean I really didn't have much of an education in high school.

John Curry: Do you realize knowing you as long as I've known you, I've never heard that story. But now I understand why you're so focused and you're a get it done person. I mean what'd you call it earlier?

Judi Irvin: A compulsive closure complex.

John Curry: Yeah. You come in, you want something done, you want it done now.

Judi Irvin: Yeah.

John Curry: And zipped up. You think some of that is because of the fact that you had to work so hard and struggled maybe in the early days in college?

Judi Irvin: Well yeah I'm sure. And I felt like I didn't know where to turn and I didn't know what to do to improve. I did know that education was important, and I didn't even have much of a self-concept about my own intelligence as well. Because we were just sort of housed. And I was very confident about my social ability. So I didn't have a negative experience in high school, I just didn't have much of an academic background. 

So when I went to college, I eventually made it to the good kind of Dean's List. Because I studied and there were people around that were checking up on me. And so I did graduate with a B average or so in college. But I say that because not everybody has a stellar high school experience. And it's really sort of up to you to make something of your education and to reach out.

And fortunately, I went to a small college and not a UCLA where I would of sort of probably been lost.

John Curry: Right.

Judi Irvin: So then eventually I became a teacher. I moved to Tallahassee, Florida and became a teacher. And ended up teaching, I taught one year of fourth grade in California. Then when I came to Florida, I taught middle school. 

John Curry: How did you get from California to Florida? What brought that on?

Judi Irvin: Well that would be an ex-husband.

John Curry: Okay.

Judi Irvin: And so he was working at Florida State and I ended up staying, he left. Then I met the love of my life Bruce, who's blushing now. 

Anyway, so I taught in middle school in Tallahassee, and then while I did that, I got my Master's degree. Then I went to Indiana University and started a doctoral program. And so when I came back to Tallahassee, I came back as a Professor. I taught at FAMU for a couple of years and now I ended up teaching at Florida State.

John Curry: So I'm just listening to this story and I'm hearing, okay I didn't really get a good high school education, never really read a book until I went to college. And now you're sitting here with a Bachelor's degree, Master's degree, and a Doctorate.

Judi Irvin: Right.

John Curry: And not only that, you're a Professor of Education of all things.

Judi Irvin: And I've written 20 books.

John Curry: 20? 

Judi Irvin: Yes. 

John Curry: I didn't know it was that many. Wow.

Judi Irvin: And that was another evolution because I had to learn to write. And I had to teach myself to learn to write because nobody taught me to write. 

John Curry: We're going to come back to that in a moment.

Judi Irvin: Okay.

John Curry: Because there is some learning opportunities and lessons here that anyone listening to this can apply, not only in their planning for their retirement, but in their day to day work lives. So we'll come back there in a moment.

Judi Irvin: Okay.

John Curry: Okay.

Bruce, tell us about your background.

Bruce Irvin: Grew up in St. Petersburg, Florida. Went to junior college there in St. Petersburg. And was lucky enough and a good enough baseball player to get a scholarship to go to Mississippi State to play baseball and get my final education there. I ended up with a Master's degree in Physical Education and Health and went directly from there then after my eligibility was done to Maclay School and worked there.

First year was coach of everything. Cleaned gymnasiums and everything else that didn't get done, I did it. So the second year after the Athletic Director that was there the first year left to take a state job, I took over the position and was there for 38 and a half more years.

John Curry: Wow.

Bruce Irvin: As the Athletic Director. Learned in my final year that I was chosen by my peers as the National Athletic Director Of The Year. So I was very pleased about that.

John Curry: Interesting.

Bruce Irvin: And humbled.

John Curry: You should be.

So how did the two of you meet? Tell us that.

Bruce Irvin: We were a romance. Judi and I both taught at Maclay for a period of time.

Judi Irvin: An eighth grade romance.

Bruce Irvin: The kids in the middle school were chuckling because we were having lunch together. 

John Curry: Okay.

Bruce Irvin: And then it got serious after that.

John Curry: I'd love to see a video of that. The kids laughing and having fun.

Judi Irvin: Especially middle school kids.

John Curry: Yes.

Judi Irvin: Yes.

And then we got married and I started my doctoral program and we got married shortly after that. 

And we've been married for 41 years.

Bruce Irvin: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

John Curry: Yep.

Bruce Irvin: Happily.

John Curry: Yes. Great relationship. It shows. All of our years of working together, just being around you has just been fun. It's fun. 

Let's make a transition to talk a little bit about how you got focused on being where you are today. Over time you had a job. Okay so you have a job, you're just trying to save some money and pay the bills. But the two of you are a little bit different. All the years I've known you, you've been pretty disciplined and you save money. You don't waste money. So talk a little bit about your mindset about money itself. Have you always been that way, the two of you in this relationship?

Bruce Irvin: Yeah. As far as I can remember. Yes. 

Judi Irvin: Well I don't know. When I first met Bruce he had a hutch. And in the hutch, it didn't even have shelves on it. In the hutch went all the bills. 

John Curry: You told me this one time. This will be fun. She's going to tell on you Bruce.

Judi Irvin: And then the way he kept his checkbook is that he would round up to the next dollar. And then if he felt poor, he'd round up to the next five dollars and that was to cover the checks he forgot to put in there.

Bruce Irvin: I always had money though.

Judi Irvin: Well that's true.

I would say, and so I happily took over taking care of the checks and things like that at that point. And he's never seemed to mind that. 

But I think one aspect of it is that Bruce and I have always worked as a team. So I was fortunate enough to be able to consult, my areas Adolescent Literacy. And so Adolescent Literacy happened to be big as I was in smack dab in my career. So I had consulting opportunities. But we also had two small children who went to Maclay school. And so Bruce did, I would say 60 to 70% of the childcare with lunches and uniforms and teams and coordinating all of that because they went to the same school where Bruce taught. Which left me free to be able to travel and do my consulting. 

So I did make money during those consulting years. And one of the things that I chose to do early on was I only took half of my consulting money and put it in one account that I could spend. And I took the other half of my consulting money and put it in a different account. And every quarter I paid my SEP account and I paid my taxes. 

John Curry: Very good.

Judi Irvin: So I never thought about being able to spend more than half of what I earned. And I think that helped because when we retired, I ended up with a pretty healthy SEP plan that I'm now able to draw upon.

John Curry: Very good. Well you ended up with your pensions, social security, and you saved money.

Judi Irvin: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

John Curry: Unfortunately, most people don't form the habit of saving money. And the biggest thing we do in our planning is encourage people to save money. We try to get people to save 15 to 20%, at least 10.

Judi Irvin: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

John Curry: But some people just, they never get it. And then when they retire, they are shocked to see they have a big shortfall. 

But part of that comes back to your mindset too. So the two of you were focused and you had a goal. Not spend all my money, save some money. 

Judi Irvin: Although we did have a couple boats along the way. 

John Curry: Well we're going to get to the boats here in a minute because I know Bruce likes to fish and I enjoy fishing too. And I haven't been in a while, so I've got to go fishing.

What would you say were the big turning points during your lives as a couple when it comes to any type of financial decision? Because you had two kids, had to take care of them, so you didn't get to save every dollar you could have saved because you had to pay for some children expenses, but what would you say were the keys? You said teamwork, what else?

Judi Irvin: Teamwork because we had two kids and we had to kind of work together on that. Getting the kids through college, so each kid got a car and a college education and a new suit. And I figured that's all we really owed them.

But they did, they both ended up with good school experiences and that was important to us. So that was a big expense for a while. I think one decision that we made sort of later on was to get some long-term health insurance.

John Curry: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Judi Irvin: And while I didn't think too much about it at the time, so I'm 72, Bruce is 69, I see my friends now who need home healthcare and they have to pay for it out of their pockets.

John Curry: Right.

Judi Irvin: That is, even if we never use it, I mean your insurance is the kind of thing that is you never use it, it's great.

John Curry: Actually hope you never use it. I hope you've wasted the premiums right.

Judi Irvin: I mean if we never use it that's fine, but that gave us some piece of mind that everything we did save is protected because we have the long-term health insurance in case something happens. Because I've seen friends go through all of their savings and also friends who are taking care of parents who go through all savings because of health needs.

John Curry: That's also true of the life insurance that you've got over the years because life insurance is not just about covering debt, it's also about replacing assets. So the two of you've done a good job of planning, where if you wanted to, you could spend every dollar you have in your retirement accounts and still leave a legacy because of your life insurance in place. 

So it's like having a cost recovery vehicle. You spend everything and still leave money behind. So the long-term care insurance, your life insurance, all that works together to allow you to have an even better retirement than you thought you would.

Let's talk a little bit about you're retired.

Judi Irvin: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

John Curry: A few years leading up to retirement, let's talk about your mindset there. How were you feeling about it? Were you anxious about it? Were you excited about it? I'm looking at Bruce, smiling and nodding his head. So tell us what you're thinking.

Bruce Irvin: I was just anxious about it. I guess I've always listened to my parents and other peoples parents say that they never would have enough money to retire. And they'd have to work for their whole lives. And I'm thinking, how much money do you have to have to make this work? So we were always worried about that to some extent. But it seems to have worked out.

John Curry: Yes.

Bruce Irvin: We now have enough money that we can live comfortably. I can go fishing. 

Judi Irvin: Keep your boat.

Bruce Irvin: I can play darts or do whatever hobby I like to do at a time. And it seems to be a comfortable way of doing it. 

Judi Irvin: I think we've always lived somewhat modestly. Bruce has always had his boat need. And we both have the travel need. So we do spend money on travel. But I think we basically live pretty frugally.

John Curry: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

We'll come back to the travel in a moment. What do you think was the mindset, you mentioned parents, maybe you said you listened to parents. Let's dig deeper in that. So from the standpoint, are you saying Bruce that you didn't think that you had the ability to do it, or you just doubted the ability to be able to retire?

Bruce Irvin: It wasn't the ability as much as it was how much do you need? Do I need $10 million? Do I need $300,000? I just didn't have a figure that was my goal. So I never knew and I was always apprehensive, I didn't know if I had enough money to quit. And when it came time, and we came to you and asked for your opinion and was it something that we could do, and you said yeah we can do that now. It helped me make my decision of how much longer I was going to work for sure. 

John Curry: I think people are being hurt when they're being taught to have a number. I don't think the number works. Because when you have this number, what happens if 2008 hits, or 2000, 2001, 2002 and your number gets diminished?

Bruce Irvin: Correct.

John Curry: I think it's more important to have strings of income that you can never outlive. Because you have several sources of income streams coming in right now.

Bruce Irvin: Yeah.

John Curry: Or you can turn them on whenever you want to. So we try to get people to understand that it's not just about how much money you've got because that money can be taken away from me in the stock market. It could be stolen. You could lose it, you could go squander it. But if you have guaranteed streams of income coming in, and most Americans today will not have a guaranteed pension plan. It's up to them to save the money, either in a 401K or a SEP account, Supplemental Employee Pension plan like you had Judi, or a 4013B like you both have had. But the tendency is to say, you know retirement is way out there, I want that new car, I want that new boat, how am I going to spend it? I'm going to get all the debt to finance all that.

So we find this lack of spending and too much debt. And the two biggest things it too big a house, too big of a mortgage. And also brand new cars, because people are paying so much money for car payments, they don't have any room for saving.

Bruce Irvin: Right.

Judi Irvin: I think one thing we've done along the way is pay things off. The only thing we owe on right now is the home that we're going to make our main home in Virginia. Everything else has always been paid for, including cars. 

Bruce Irvin: Right.

Judi Irvin: And so we haven't had a lot of debt, which I think is good.

John Curry: That goes back to the discipline again.

Judi Irvin: Yeah.

John Curry: Like you said, only one half was available to spend of your consulting because you saved, paid the taxes and saved.

Let's talk a little bit about, Judi from your perspective, leading up closer to retirement. Did you share the same concerns and anxiety that Bruce had?

Judi Irvin: Oh yeah. My parents never thought about retirement much. And my mother was fortunate enough, she lived a nice long life at 98, but she also worked for the Los Angeles County and so she did have a pension. So she was good. I mean that was all good, but Bruce did not have a pension.

John Curry: Right.

Judi Irvin: And so we had to be disciplined there because the school only had VALIC accounts available to us. But yeah, I was nervous about how much is enough. And how much do we need. I've never been a really good budgeter, although I'm a compulsive planner, I've never been a very good budgeter. And so every once and a while I'd sit down and try and come up with a budget but ... It's not that we couldn't stick to it, it's I don't know.

John Curry: Budgets don't work for most people.

Judi Irvin: Oh, don't they? Oh, that's good to know.

John Curry: No it's too constricting.

Judi Irvin: Yeah.

John Curry: Try this out for size. Cashflow analysis.

Judi Irvin: That's better.

John Curry: Doesn't that sound better?

Judi Irvin: Yeah right. 

John Curry: A cashflow spending. That sounds much nicer than budget. Budget is oh you can't do this, you can't do that.

Judi Irvin: Right.

John Curry: But so you overcame that by saving so much.

Judi Irvin: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

John Curry: That's how you overcome it, save money.

Judi Irvin: I would say five years before retirement, I was pretty apprehensive about having enough.

John Curry: What changed that?

Judi Irvin: I think our visits one or two times a year to check on things. And to see yeah, yeah that's on track. And that the Florida retirement money is going to be there. And how do deal with the drop money. And things like that. I think checking in on a regular basis was very helpful and made us feel a little bit more at peace.

John Curry: Well I will tell you, you guys were always very disciplined about making sure we had this appointments and you always came in prepared. And I think that's key, you don't just sit down and say okay, tell me what I've got. You know what you have. And you paid attention and you're involved in it. 

Judi Irvin: I visit my money almost every day.

John Curry: That's good.

Judi Irvin: I love the living balance sheet because we can connect all of the accounts that we have, even ones that are not done through this office. So I can look at everything in one place and then we're to the point now where I can print that out for my children and give them the password and they can look at it if they want. 

John Curry: Yes.

Judi Irvin: If need be, they could have access to that money and know who to call and it's all there. I even have a little folder in there that's called In The Event.

John Curry: In The Event? Nice.

Judi Irvin: In The Event. 

John Curry: That's good.

Judi Irvin: I mean with contact numbers and things like that.

John Curry: Well you mentioned earlier about long-term care situations, we're trying to get people, and you're doing it next week in fact with your children. We're trying to get people to open up and let their adult children know what they've got. Maybe not every little thing. Because the day is going to come when either we die or we're incapacitated and somebody needs to have access to that. We're working on a situation right now, it's tragic, where a lady died. Everything that she had with us, because of the living balance sheet being organized, everything's done. It was all taken care of in two to three weeks. And now, we're being told, April just told me this morning, that in her case, that the legal side and the trust side, they're saying another 10 to 12 months. And this lady died back in November.

Judi Irvin: Wow.

John Curry: It's just ridiculous that it's being dragged out and it costs so much for that. 

So we're trying to teach people, let's get you organized first, do the planning first, then worry about products. And you mentioned, you don't have everything with us. There are things elsewhere. You don't have to have everything with us. And if we can help, we will.

I remember when we started doing the retirement discussions, what we call a retirement rehearsal. I could sense then and you actually vocalized it, once you knew that the pieces of the puzzle were there Bruce, it gave you somewhat of a more confident feeling I guess I would describe it. And I went back to when you were coaching, and you have to have a game plan. If you have a game plan, now granted once you got out on the field- 

Bruce Irvin: Yeah.

John Curry: The game plan changes. Okay, once contacts made. But talk a little bit about the comparison of a coach, because I love coaches because we have to do with people. But from the coaching side and how you think that relates to the financial planning side and retirement planning, or is there a similarity?

Bruce Irvin: I never thought of it until just now, but it probably does. In a game situation especially, you have only a certain amount of time that you can actually do your coaching. The kids have to know what they're doing on the field or on the court. And you have timeouts, which coincide with meetings with you and things like that. So there is a situation there where it parallels really well actually with coaching. 

John Curry: I see myself as a coach in a sense that I can't do the job for you. I can coach you, I can guide you, be a mentor, but if somebody will not take the action necessary or change their behavior, and it used to really tear me up. Something happened in 1982, two things happened. In May of that year, my wife's brother committed suicide. August of that year, my brother committed suicide. 

Judi Irvin: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

John Curry: It's a tough year. And I realized finally one day, I can't make you do anything. And I had to let that stuff go. Because if you didn't follow through on something that I knew you needed to do, I'd worry about it. And I'd even get angry. What did I do wrong? Why can't I make them do it?

Bruce Irvin: Well I know we didn't do somethings that you asked us to do, but I think that we did probably 60% of those things. And now we're in a situation where we have gained in knowledge ourselves and we can just call you, you can explain something to us and we can make changes from there. But we feel comfortable with where we are.

John Curry: So you took ownership, first of all thank you for that, but you took ownership in your planning. That's the key. And that's why we're doing the podcast because we're having an impact. There's over 5,000 people who have access to this. Now I don't know how many people listen to it. I can't control that, but all we can do in life, and your world is coaching, your world is teaching. All you can do is share what you know and hope that people take it and use it. 

Bruce Irvin: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

John Curry: Some will, some won't. Some will do it now and some will do it later. And it doesn't matter, all we want to do, our mission is to just get it out there, teach. And that's what you did in your careers.

I want to fast forward to something that you said earlier. I'm going to read this and then I want you to explain who shared this. You said earlier that someone told you that retirement is a big equalizer. Will you share that?

Judi Irvin: Yes. We're moving to a community Clarksville, Virginia, which is only 1,500 people. And they're lovely, inclusive people, but we're all new to Clarksville. I mean some people have grown up there. And so all the people we're meeting there, we're meeting new. We haven't known them for 20 years. So as we meet people, we're meeting them as retired people. So what you used to do isn't as important as when you were working. Because there's no sort of hierarchy of job status. We play darts on Wednesday night with a group of people that are just lovely people to interact with. And half of the people, I don't even know what they did during their working lives, and it doesn't matter.

John Curry: Right.

Judi Irvin: If they ask, we tell them. 

John Curry: So there you're not Dr. Judi?

Judi Irvin: No. And nor do I need to be.

John Curry: Right.

Judi Irvin: That's not important. So yes. So retirement can be the big equalizer when you are retired, especially if you're meeting people new.

If you're in the same community of people you used to work with, it might be a little different because people know about your history.

John Curry: Right. Well when you said that earlier I was struck back because I'd never heard that or thought of it that way. I just know that I know a lot of people, men especially, still struggle because they thought they've lost their identity.

Judi Irvin: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

John Curry: Because they no longer have the job to go to. I was fortunate back in the early 80s to do a series of workshops for General Electric's employees in Dayton. And they had a panel, first time I went in they had a panel discussion during lunch. They'd brought couples in that had retired. And some of the stories that were being told would blow your mind in the sense that back then, you talked about the Leave It To Beaver days-

Judi Irvin: Yeah.

John Curry: The TV show, most of the women had never had a job. They'd never worked outside of the home. And one person after another, the woman were like I wish he'd go back to work. He's in my way. He's under foot. Because these guys had no hobbies. They were mostly engineers of some kind. And they would go home and they would just interrupt the wife's life. You know get out of here. So it's funny.

Judi Irvin: But you know our new identity is being grandparents. And that's why we're moving to Clarksville is to be near our four little grandchildren. And that's more important to our identity I think right now, than being a professor or being an athletic director.

John Curry: And what you've done is see your careers is nothing more than a way to fund the things you want to do in life. We get too caught up in what we're doing, and I'm guilty of it some too because I love what I do. I hope I never quote, fully retire. As long as I'm able to bring value and healthy and can work, but I don't want to be work, work, work all the time. I want to carve out time to go do things I want to do now. I don't want to wait until some magic date or age, to quote, be retired.

Judi Irvin: Right.

John Curry: So what's wrong with working hard and playing hard along the way?

Judi Irvin: Right.

John Curry: And this thing called retirement, I think it causes a lot of stress that's unnecessary.

Bruce Irvin: It's not necessary. It's a time in your life.

John Curry: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yep. 

Talk a little bit about your travels, because you've done a lot of traveling. Share some of the trips that you've been on that were most memorable for you.

Judi Irvin: We generally travel with a company called Overseas Adventure Travel. We like them because they specialize in small groups and local guides. And they also encourage discussion of controversial issues. So we've probably been to about 40 countries right now, I think is about where we are.

John Curry: 4-0? 40?

Judi Irvin: 4-0, yeah. 

John Curry: Wow.

Judi Irvin: 40. 

We just got back from the Middle East. So we went to Egypt and Jordan and Israel. And we spent five days in Palestine, which was very interesting. It took 28 days, we were gone 28 days, and it took 28 days to sort of figure out why people were interacting the way they were. Not only did we enjoy the beautiful sites like Petra and the Egyptian Tombs, but we're more interested in some of the cultural aspects of traveling. 

John Curry: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Judi Irvin: And how people interact with each other and why. So that was a really interesting trip, but I think one of our favorites was Africa.

John Curry: Before you go there-

Judi Irvin: Yeah. Mm-hmm (affirmative).

John Curry: I want you to go back and expand on something. You made the comment about because you told me this last time we met too, something about no discussion about politics or whatever. Expand on that because we've become such a divisive of nation arguing about politics, so share that.

Judi Irvin: When we travel, the only rule that Overseas Adventure Travel has, and you're on a bus with 15 people. So I mean you're pretty together for 2, 3, or 4 weeks. And you can discuss any controversial issue, the only thing you may not discuss is American politics.

John Curry: Really?

Judi Irvin: And that is because, I mean you're with people for 15 and 16 days. And like nobody wants to go there when you're trying to understand another culture and another whole set of interesting interactions between people.

John Curry: I wouldn't want to hear about politics from Europe either. I don't want to hear any country's politics if I'm on vacation. Just enjoy the time.

Judi Irvin: Well when you're in the country, for example-

John Curry: That's different.

Judi Irvin: I mean when we were in Palestine and trying to understand the whole Palestinian/Israeli conflict, and you sort of had to be there to see people interact and go to the refugee camps. And sort of see how people reacted. And we were making those decisions on our own. Nobody was lecturing and saying this is the way it is. We were seeing things for ourselves, and then being able to ask questions.

John Curry: That's good. Tell us about Africa.

Judi Irvin: I'll let Bruce do that.

John Curry: Oh, yes. Bruce, jump in.

Bruce Irvin: It's a wonderful experience. We saw so many beautiful animals and wonderful encounters with the large groups of animals. The herds of buffaloes that we saw, and the zebras and giraffes in the Savannas, it was really life altering, I guess to say the least. Enjoying nature in their part of the world.

John Curry: What do you say to those who are listening to this and they are somewhat either fearful or uncomfortable with travel, what would you say to them?

Judi Irvin: Travel takes you out of your comfort zone. And if you're a control freak and you have to have everything controlled, then you wouldn't enjoy travel. Because you get lost, you're misunderstood because you can't speak the language.

John Curry: I've been there.

Judi Irvin: You hold out your hand with a pocket of money and have somebody grab it out of there because you can't count the change because you just got there that day and you don't know what those little coins mean.

I mean there's so many things that happen that are beyond your control.

John Curry: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Judi Irvin: The people that we know that don't like to travel, like to control their environment. And when you travel, especially when you travel to some of, like we've been to Peru and Machu Picchu and the Galapagos, especially when you're traveling to places, and we've been to the Amazon, a little dicey, you don't have control over all of that. And that's another reason we travel with a group, because they have local guides. So you're not there trying to negotiate all of that by yourself, but things happen. 

John Curry: Yep.

Judi Irvin: It's been important part of our life to travel around the world and experience how other people live. It expands your life view and it expands your perspective of ...

Bruce Irvin: And it makes you appreciate what you have here in the United States.

Judi Irvin: Yeah.

John Curry: Absolutely. My first adventure to traveling was at 17 when I was in the Air Force. Spending time in Okinawa, Philippians, Thailand. It was amazing. Learned about other people’s culture, so I'd get that. And then when I had the opportunity because of business travel to go to Europe, it was an eye opening experience. 

Because similar to your experience Judi, I grew up in a very small town. We only had 300 people in the entire community. Probably only that's there now, over in Holmes County in fact. I went to school in Bonifay. I think my high school senior class, I think there were only 53 of us in the class. It was amazing. So I just grew up in this itty-bitty hick town and I had to get out of there.

Judi Irvin: Yeah.

John Curry: So my dad signed to go into the Air Force at 17, and that was my first adventure into travel.

Judi Irvin: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

John Curry: But you're right, it stretches you, it makes you think differently. Sometimes, you're right I had not thought of it this way, but if you don't enjoy travel, or if you're a control freak, you're not going to enjoy travel.

Judi Irvin: No. 

John Curry: Because I've been lost so many times, it's like can you help me?

Judi Irvin: Yeah. And the other thing is everybody wants the same thing. They want a safe place to be able to raise their children and live out their lives.

John Curry: Yep.

Judi Irvin: Everybody all over the world wants that.

John Curry: That's so true.

Judi Irvin: And so when you travel, I mean that's what you experience with other people. I mean you sort of get blinded by all of the politics and conflict and all of that. But basically, people are people. And that's what they want for their lives and their children's lives. 

And every single trip that we've been on, somebody has remarked how lucky we are to be born in the time and place that we were.

John Curry: I think luck is important and lucky is a good word, but you also have to do something with that luck.

Do you remember the very first country you went to? You said 40 countries. Do you remember the first one?

Judi Irvin: Oh, we went to Germany and Belgium and Holland. And we took a group of high school boys.

Bruce Irvin: Soccer players actually.

And it was, yeah we remembered that. We were on a group tour with that group of kids. And the people that we went with were not as organized as we had thought they were. So when we got there, we were kind of on our own. And we were thrown into a situation where we were lost a lot of the times. Didn't know when we were going to get picked up to go from one place to another. 

So we learned that it was important to be able to control a little bit better, what you do and where you go, by going with a group that's already been there before. So that's why we use that group and it's worked out for us. We enjoy traveling with them.

John Curry: It's just fun sitting with you and just having conversations. Every time we get together, I feel like I learn something new every time we're together because of your travels. 

Our conversation last time, you were in about your trip to the Middle East was really interesting. I wish we had like an hour just to talk about that.

Let's talk about the future. You've already shared your ages. Some people say wow I'm too old to do these things. To you, you have a different mindset about age also. I've never heard either of you once talk about age being a limiting factor. Now we know with age we're going to have, maybe physical issues where we can't travel as much. You don't seem to be slowed down by anything. If anything, you're more like, I got more I want to do. Am I reading that right?

Judi Irvin: Well, yeah I guess. As my brother said, it's all about the next 15 years. And so my mother died at 98, but that's rare. And so we're moving to Virginia and we want to be around our grandkids and our kids. And because they're ...

John Curry: Next 15 years meaning that maybe that's all the time you have left, as far as life expectancy?

Judi Irvin: Well life expectancy or being able to get around the way we do. Or being able to travel like the way we like to travel, which is active. We have to be able to walk three to five miles a day when you travel with OAT. 

And so I think it's not a frantic kind of, I have to get these things done before I die, but it's I want to be in a position to do the things that I want to do. And not look back and say gee, I wish I would of. I wish I would of moved to Virginia to be with my grandkids for their next 15 years. Because in 15 years, they're all going to be grown.

John Curry: You want to live a life of no regrets.

Judi Irvin: Yeah. Well that would be nice. I have a few regrets, but.

John Curry: Well sure, we're human. We're human.

Judi Irvin: But I don't know.

Bruce Irvin: Get up off the couch. 

Judi Irvin: Yeah.

Bruce Irvin: Keep moving.

John Curry: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Bruce Irvin: And I don't think the time or the age is as limiting as the health. Keep your health. That's more important as you get older, to me it is.

John Curry: Any thoughts on that, of how to do that?

Bruce Irvin: Oh yeah. I've seen what happens and works for me. You just try to do nothing in overt. You don't go drinking too much or eating too much or those kind of things. Exercise is very important, but I don't think you need to go and do marathons every day either.

John Curry: Right.

Bruce Irvin: So it's mediocre, doing things that are healthy for you. What you eat is more important than how much you eat of course. There's a lot of things that way, but I get exercise three to four times a week and that helps me.

John Curry: Helps you mentally too, doesn't it?

Bruce Irvin: Yes. It keeps you clear.

John Curry: Yeah I have to have my exercise, if nothing else, just for a rest from the mental side. 

Bruce Irvin: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

John Curry: And yeah, the weight loss or I call it weight raw releasing over the years has been good for me. 

Talk about your grandkids. You are moving because you want to be with your grandchildren and hang out with them, so talk about the future there. What are some of the things that you have planned to do with them? Or want to do?

Judi Irvin: We have a 10 year old boy, a 6 year old girl, and a 4 year old girl, and a 3 year old boy. Two and two with our two kids. And one of them is one hour away from our new place, and one is three hours away. 

John Curry: So far enough away so that you're not under foot?

Judi Irvin: Right. But we also live on a lake and have a boat and a dock and every imaginable toy, so we have paddle board and mats and slip and slides.

John Curry: Will you adopt me please?

Judi Irvin: Yes. 

So the kids like to come to the lake.

John Curry: I can see why.

Judi Irvin: And fun is a high priority. I mean we're not there to work or weed the garden or anything. I mean that gets done when they're not there. 

John Curry: Right.

Judi Irvin: But we really enjoy when we go and pick up a kid and have them by ourselves. And so last summer we had Aiden who's 10 by himself for a couple of weeks. Then we went and got Hailey who's 6 and we had her for four or five days by ourselves. And that's just fun to have kids around where you can really interact and play cards and go fishing. I mean it's just fun to be with them.

John Curry: It is. I had a special weekend last weekend with my grandson, he's 13. And I had to get him back over to his mom at noon on Saturday. So we went out to our property, I have 36 acres over in Jefferson County. And we set up a little target range where we could shoot .22 rifles, just a little plinking. And that's what he wanted to do. So we did that, then got up the next day and did the same thing. And he wanted to play chess, so we'd just sit there at the kitchen table and play a game of chess. It's just cool. Just the two of us.

Judi Irvin: I have to say that when my kids were little, I didn't have the time or the patients to play Old Maid on Saturday morning. But now I do. Because I was busy working, and there were always things to be done and they were in sports, but now we do have time to sit and play cards with kids for three hours on Saturday morning if we want to.

John Curry: Do you ever feel like Judi that some of the things that you didn't get to do with your kids, that you're doing with the children now? Do you ever look back and have any regrets of that? Because of working?

Judi Irvin: Well we really enjoyed being with our kids. I mean we enjoyed raising our kids. I don't know if we have any real regrets. 

Bruce Irvin: No.

Judi Irvin: We were just busy. 

John Curry: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Bruce Irvin: Yes we were all busy and they were involved in quite a few different kinds of sports. Both were very good in their academic programs.

Judi Irvin: But we were busy with our jobs. You were at games every single night. And I was at FSU and traveling.

Bruce Irvin: Yeah.

John Curry: Right.

Judi Irvin: It was always a negotiation.

Bruce Irvin: But we always felt like we were doing things together.

John Curry: Right.

Bruce Irvin: It wasn't like we were not doing things.

Because we didn't want to get lost up in it, so I think it worked out very well.

John Curry: Very good. As we begin to wrap up here, give some thoughts as to your last ideas or advice that you would offer anyone that's listening in saying, wow these people have had a good life. They've had good careers. Sounds like they had fun, traveled, 40 countries? I knew travel, I had no idea it was 40 countries. Thanks for sharing that. 

But talk a little bit about what advice you would offer people and what they may want to consider as they're getting close to retirement, or maybe in retirement.

Judi Irvin: Have fun along the way because I see a lot of people that don't take a trip until they retire.

John Curry: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Judi Irvin: There's a lot of the world to see. You can't see the world in 10 years. There's a lot of the world to see. I think we've always had a really good support group around us. The Maclay people and the people that I worked with at FSU, we've always had a wide, supportive group of friends. Neither one of us lived near family, so we didn't have instant babysitters or things, we went and visited family, but we've always had a really good support group of friends. All of our kids parents and we always did things with them, soccer games and weekends away here and there. And I think we've had fun along the way.

Bruce Irvin: Yeah. And take care of your health. That's pretty important. If you get sick and you can't do things, then that's no fun. 

John Curry: Right. 

Bruce Irvin: But as long as you're staying healthy, no matter how old you are, you might slow down a little bit, but you can still go. 

John Curry: Right.

Bruce Irvin: Go, go, go as long as you can.

John Curry: I'm thinking of some friends that life at the Villages, he's now 80 and I think she's 78 maybe. They go on cruises and travel all the time.

Bruce Irvin: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

John Curry: They slowed down some, where you just said, they've taken care of themselves so they slow down some, but they're still traveling, still having fun. 

Bruce Irvin: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

John Curry: And they do like you've done. They're grandchildren now are adults. They would take each of the grandchildren, one at a time, on a cruise.

Judi Irvin: Hmm.

John Curry: And hang out with them. I've had the pleasure many of times of being invited to their time when they get together at Christmas over at Destin, and I feel like I'm part of the family. 

Judi Irvin: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

John Curry: And I go over, and I only stay for a day, I just go over for the day because I don't want to intrude. But I look at what they've done, the memories that they've shared together and the tight, tight, tight relationships as a family. 

Bruce Irvin: Yeah.

John Curry: And they might be apart, but they talk. And they're together for special occasions.

Bruce Irvin: Yeah.

Judi Irvin: The dynamics of families change.

John Curry: Yes.

Judi Irvin: So as your children get married, you're adopting a whole other family, which is a whole different dynamic. And then they choose to raise their kids the way they negotiated. Nobody comes to you and says what do you want to do for Christmas mom. I mean, they have their own lives and their own things that they want to do around holidays and things like that. And I think at this age, you just have to be really flexible so that they can live the lives that they want. We got to, we got to determine how we wanted to raise our kids, so they need that same level of choice.

John Curry: But that's another area of talking about being a control freak. Some people can't let go of that. So people need to ... But if we can, let other people live their lives-

Judi Irvin: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

John Curry: We're better off. We're better off.

Any closing thoughts? Anything else you want to share?

Bruce Irvin: We've talked about a lot of different things.

John Curry: Yes you have.

For someone who's this quiet, I'm so thankful that you joined us today and spoke up. 

Bruce Irvin: I've enjoyed doing this.

John Curry: Yeah. Thank you for doing it.

Judi Irvin: No, thank you.

John Curry: Judi, anything?

Judi Irvin: No. I mean it's been a ... As we leave Tallahassee, this is sort of a closure type of activity-

John Curry: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Judi Irvin: To kind of think about our lives here in Tallahassee as we sort of embark on a new one in Clarksville, Virginia.

John Curry: Well I will tell you that I've enjoyed this. And I'm selfish that I get to spend time with the two of you when you're in town as friends, not just an advisor, that's always good. But thank you so much for doing this and sharing.

Judi Irvin: Thank you.

John Curry: Bruce, thank you so much.

Bruce Irvin: Thank you.


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