Sunday, March 16, 2008

Powering Your Future With Today's Supply Of Fuel

The electric power went off in our home, along with approximately 9,999 others in St. Cloud, Minnesota for a good half-hour on Sunday evening. We scrambled for flashlights and candles. Our pet birds were out and we gathered them up using a flashlight and put them back into their cages, while observing their questioning looks and unusually quiet concern.

One thing about outages… at the time they are happening, we have no idea of how long they will last. So we are uncertain and don’t know if we need to continue to find and light more candles, or just go about our business as best we can, with little light, no heat or cooling, while noting the many reminders of how much of our modern life is tied up in activities requiring electricity.

My recurring thoughts during that time were along these lines: “How can we be more prepared for an outage the next time one occurs? What do we need to have in place if the outage lasts for more than a short time? Why is it so easy for us to put off these kinds of preparations when we know that being prepared is vital and the only time we actually can prepare is when everything is working just fine?

Much of our success in life revolves around these very issues. Retirement is a good example. Upon reaching some age, it is likely that we will no longer wish to work. And even if we do wish to work, we may no longer have the physical and mental acumen to be able to continue working.

We also know that a paid off home along with our retirement social security benefit, (if it is there for us in the amounts that are currently being projected), will be insufficient to give us enough for our health-care, transportation, utilities, food, clothing, insurance and other required expenditures to be met. And if we want even more than this - some travel, educational enrichment, leisure recreation, replacement for vehicles and maintenance for our homes – it is paramount that we save and invest while we are working, so we can live independently and fully into our old age.

Then there are the unexpected and unplanned events, along the lines of power outages, such as serious or chronic health issues or accidents that prevent us from working, uninsured losses or downturns in our personal or the country’s economic condition, leaving us short of income, but with just as many or even more personal expenses.

As you read this, consider that it is easy to tell yourself that you ought to do something, but much harder to act on those thoughts. It’s easy to put off taking action, especially when it seems that there are so many areas to prepare for.

So here are three action-oriented ideas you can do right now:

If you haven’t done so already, gather up your batteries, flashlights, matches and battery-operated radio and store them in a place where you can easily find them in the dark. If your supply of any of these items is insufficient, immediately write a note to yourself, so you remember to purchase more of them, the next time you are at a store. (7 – 12 minutes)

2. Find a jar with a lid and stick a Posti-note on it that says: “Save and Invest!” Gather all of the loose change that is sitting around on your dressers and counters and place it into the jar. Keep it out to remind you that a little saving and investing on a continual basis will increase your happiness and wellbeing in the present because you are taking care of your future. (5 minutes)

It may also be a prompt for you to call your bank and arrange for a small amount of money to be automatically transferred each month from your checking account into a tax-deferred retirement plan, such as an IRA.

3. Have a conversation with your mate or family members about some easy-to-implement ways that all of you can prepare for sudden unexpected events. Even simple ideas, such as stocking up on sale-priced grocery commodities, personal care items, gasoline and paper products will be helpful in the event of sudden spikes in prices or shortages. (5 – 15 minutes)

So even if a power outage only lasts a half hour, because a squirrel worked his or her way into the power company’s equipment, as happened here in Saint Cloud, you can feel more confident now, and grateful in the future, when the next unplanned event occurs, because you took some small actions in the present to secure stability rather than suffer through a stressful, chaotic and predictably painful future.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Relax….. Accomplish!

I have two overriding fears in my life… plus a whole host of other ones that, at the moment, don’t quite rise to the level of ‘overriding fears’.

The first one has to do with being at the end of my days on the planet and looking back at what transpired. What I hope to feel at that time is some degree of contentment arising out of having created and accomplished much of what was of interest to me, and which contributed to the wellbeing of others with whom I had direct and indirect contact.

It would be simpler if my interests were more focused to just a few areas. But they aren’t. Is this an issue for you too? Do you find that you have interests, even passionate ones, in a number of unrelated arenas?

For me, these arenas include music, writing, learning, natural health, yoga, environmentally ‘green’ living, as well as the ones most all of us share… time with our mates, family and friends, doing my best in our vocations, financially keeping things solvent now and building some reserves for retirement, and having adequate leisure time to relax, unwind and rejuvenate.

It often feels like a lot to juggle! Yet there is nothing in my list that I could leave out, without feeling the pain of neglect from the growing hole in one of those areas of my life. What are your life’s vital interests? How do you manage to make time for them all?

And the second fear is born out of the first. The fear is that both my wife and I are living with too much stress, which has the potential to increase risk for major health problems, inevitably leading to loss of lifestyle options and a shorter tenure on earth, than might have been the case had we been more committed to relaxing and less obsessed with accomplishing.

So I have a kind of strategy. It’s not all that elegant of a strategy, but it is all that has occurred to me thus far. (I’m hoping you will have some ideas to share in the comments section for my benefit and the benefit of those that read this blog.)

What I endeavor to do is to categorize a good deal of my activities that I wish to accomplish under the umbrella of ‘relaxation’. For example, today I did some yoga and shoveled the driveway and sidewalk for exercise. It was relaxing being outside in the sun pushing snow and scraping ice and my yoga was ‘free form’… I had no particular agenda for accomplishing a particular routine or putting in a prescribed amount of time doing yoga.

I practiced some saxophone and hope to put in 10 – 15 minutes of piano practice before bed. (Bonne and I take an hour piano lesson together every other week.) This is pure enjoyment for me, even though I do have music lessons in the next few days on both instruments and I like the idea of having practiced sufficiently to play the pieces well.

Then there were the websites that I updated and of course the time for writing this blog. Again, doing these kinds of projects are my idea of a good time. And Bonne and I had some very wonderful time while alone together today. It was a pleasure… none of that time was under the category of accomplishment!

Let me know how you sort out the polarities of accomplishment and relaxation in your own life. If you wish, please leave a comment about the ways you put together your life so it feels balanced and you feel fulfilled and satisfied.

In friendship,

Richard Chandler

First Published on Famous Quotes Homepage

“I always like to look on the optimistic side of life, but I am realistic enough to know that life is a complex matter.”
- Walt Disney (1901-1966)