chapters of life

525,600 Minutes

“How do you measure a year in the life?”

Jonathan Larson wrote those lyrics for the 1996 Broadway musical Rent, but today they strike a chord in me.

One year ago, I had two homes, four vehicles, and a life split between Florida and Nebraska. I was a year into this new chapter—as a widower—with many options and a lot to figure out. Life was unsettled.

“How do you measure a year in the life?” Had two places: left them, moved to one new place. Had four vehicles: dumped three, added one to end with two. Used to swim laps in the sunshine for health: now I walk in all kinds of weather. Had a Floribraska snowbird lifestyle: came back as a full-time Cornhusker. Used to split my workdays between the Florida home and the shop in BDL (beautiful downtown Louisville!): ended up “on Main,” as we say.

“525,600 minutes…” The mid-century modern home in Louisville is what started it. Driving over to see it with my realtor the day it listed, I kept thinking, “I need another house like I need a puppy! This is stupid.” But the home charmed me very quickly, and I realized I needed just one place—that one. Fortunately, I was in a position to purchase it. Then other pieces fell into place quite quickly.

That question of location seems pressing for a lot of people in the wake of a loss or a change in the household. In the year after Cathy passed, I too was wondering where I should spend my time, but I should have been thinking with whom I will spend it. It just took me getting settled back here to realize it.

The people I care about are mostly concentrated around here. Reconnecting with the community, the place I lived most of my life, has been a joy. And rededicating myself to business has been invigorating.

A year into it, I’m happy here—I would not trade with anybody.

Resources create options, which are handy when circumstances change our plans. I’m so grateful for you, the best clients in the world, who are such a large part of my life. That I came out of the hard years still connected to you is a blessing for which I will always be grateful.

Clients, if you would like to talk about your plans and planning or anything else, please email me or call.


Want content like this in your inbox each week? Leave your email here.

Play the audio version of this post below:

Old Guys, New Chapters?

photo shows the sun rising over a lake in Louisville, Nebraska

Friends, I’ve been struck by the number of widowers in my circle—and saddened by the number who have joined this club recently. Although we learn early that mortality is universal, we each travel quite personal, individual journeys through these transitions.

I’m noticing, however, that there are things that seem to come up often as I talk with those of you who are in this spot. I may be more aware of them because of my own experiences in the two years since Cathy’s passing. Let me talk through some of these issues.

A change in goals. We may embrace major life goals as a part of a couple that suddenly do not fit our new status. One person shared with me that what had been the couple’s “forever home” was not a good fit for a single retiree; renting a small place made more sense for this individual.

Another person told me their big retirement idea—to move to a warmer place where the spouse had connections—was not going to work anymore.

In my case, the dream home we bought to make Cathy’s last years better did not make sense for me anymore (although it took me more than a year to realize this). My overall vision was changing.

A change in spending. As a result of these changing goals and plans, often household spending decreases. The survivor requires less in the way of financial resources, so legacy issues may become more prominent: assets from one chapter turn into a surplus in the next. Some of you have elected to help adult children with major purchases that made their lives better; others clarified the details of their legacy planning.

A change in retirement plans. Our status can affect our vision for retirement, too. Retirement dates might change for some. One client shared his plan to sell his home and retire early, live in a motor home, and do more traveling. Another told me he was going to ‘’unretire” and go back to work for a while. He said the days were not easy to get through without more to do.

To each their own, of course. Those of us in new—sometimes unexpected—chapters face changes and challenges. It often takes time to sort out which next steps make sense. Please know I’m here for whatever conversations or perspectives might be helpful. We know life is filled with joy and pain. I can handle connecting with your story even as you are navigating painful transitions.

Please email me or call if you would like to talk.


Want content like this in your inbox each week? Leave your email here.

Play the audio version of this post below:

A Carousel of Goals

photo shows a colorful carousel ride of horses

Many of us have ridden on a merry-go-round, a carousel, at one time or another, haven’t we? In my earliest childhood memory, I regretted that I could only ride one of the colorful horses at a time. I knew which one I wanted first, but then there were others that I seemed to need a turn with. My folks arranged another ride, then another, so I could try a variety of them.

Life is like that, too. We tend to be consumed by different goals or interests at different times, even while others strive for our attention.

I spent a dozen years from age 40 on establishing the business at 228 Main; commerce was the theme of that chapter. Before that, my children received more time and energy. After that, a decade of snowbirding to Florida taught me to balance business with pursuits normally reserved for the retired. Family health issues then became the dominant concern.

Now, at an age when many are climbing on the retirement horse, I’m back on the business horse. Some of my contemporaries are spending more time in warmer places in winter, while I just sold my Florida home. It’s like I’m doing things backward, but don’t we all pick different seats on the carousel? Different preferences?

I wonder whether this is the latest manifestation of my contrarian nature, that approaching age 65 I am committing, more than ever, to my work and business. Or is this just a piece of a very old pattern, my intent to work to age 92?

I am not sure of the answers to those questions, but I do know this: I’m content in this chapter. My efforts are fulfilling; I have the time and space to do the things one might do to try to stay healthy; I am happy with my connections to you and others in my life. My life feels integrated, all aspects.

At the heart of this sense of fulfillment is being of service. No matter which goal currently has your attention, if there is something you would like to work on together, please email me or call.


Want content like this in your inbox each week? Leave your email here.

The Book of Life

© Can Stock Photo / photocreo

Books have chapters, each one a thread that is woven together with the other chapters to tell a story. Characters come and go, things happen, the plot advances. When a character’s part is finished, they do not appear in future chapters.

They were there for a reason; we remember them through the rest of the book. I’ve come to see that life is like that, too.

Our lives are a book with different chapters. In the hardest times, it helps to think there are more chapters out there. It will not always be the way it is now. The current chapter is not the whole book.

And in the best times, the same framework reminds us to be grateful for the moment, for what we have.

The way things unfold for some people, it may seem like half or more of their lives are in a single chapter. When the chapter ends, one might wonder if life is ending. But the chapter is not the book. (Or at least it does not have to be.)

C.S. Lewis noted we cannot go back and change the beginning, but we can start now and change the ending. Our sorrow is that we cannot change the prior chapter, but there is joy in being able to change the next chapter. This is why we make plans for the future!

Clients, if you would like to talk about this or anything else, please email us or call.