The Skeptics Guide to a Successful Future

It’s possible I could be psychic but spent half my life (okay three quarters) grossly misinformed. How did this happen? I know what you’re thinking (hello, I’m psychic), and although you’re wide of the mark, I’m about to set you straight. 


Psychic’s have the ability to reasonably predict the future based on various clues, speculation, and shall we say calculated guesses. I realize it’s a burden, but someone has to visualize the future, or it appears haphazardly. Look what happened to the millennials.

The truth is we all come preloaded with the proper mechanisms to reasonably predict (create) the future, but I think we’re intimidated by our own potential, or fail to recognize these latent abilities. I say start small, move on when you’re ready, or approaching wits’ end.

For example, if I want a cup of coffee, it’s not going to jump out of the pot and come to me. And by the way Alexa is useless. I have to decide to brew or buy, walk or door dash, drive or call my sister and beg her to bring me a cup.

All of these are viable options come with predictable futures based on the assumption I will be drinking a cup of coffee soon. Once I decide on the best option for me, considering how many days it’s been since I’ve washed my hair, how desperate I am, or the congeniality of my sister, I can accurately predict the future.

That’s how it works. Start with simple applications that are associated with predictable outcomes, like flossing if you want to be able to chew your food in the future, or wearing a seat-belt and lo and behold your survival rate goes up dramatically when driving in a vehicle. 

When ready, we can progress to developing our quiescent skills, applying them for the greater good, and creating a new destiny. Baby steps.

How else could we survive as a species if we didn’t possess the ability to innovate, create, or explore the future? This is our linchpin and it is vital to our ability to not only survive but thrive in this world. Don’t procrastinate with your future. That should be a bumper sticker, maybe it already is, I told you I was psychic.

I realize the future can be paralyzing, especially if you don’t have a plan, or a rough sketch of what is (could) to be. It’s particularly intimidating when you come to a major crossroad in life or maybe you’re the type who enjoys staying in her own rut.

“Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under trees on a summer’s day, listening to the murmur of the water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is by no means a waste of time.” J. Lubbock

It’s true, I am an accomplished rutress, I have created the perfect rut which perpetually navigates me towards home. Yes, you could say I’m predictable, but that would imply boring, so let’s just say I’m very consistent. Some people find that attractive!

It’s sort of weird because I remember being forty-five just last week, I woke up (so to speak), only to discover I’m hanging on the edge of a whole new decade by my fingernails. What the hell? Clearly I need to read up on Einstein.

“Albert Einstein, in his theory of special relativity, determined that the laws of physics are the same for all non-accelerating observers, and he showed that the speed of light within a vacuum is the same no matter the speed at which an observer travels. As a result, he found that space and time were interwoven into a single continuum known as space-time. Events that occur at the same time for one observer could occur at different times for another.” Nola Taylor Redd

I’m aging up along with a ton of other people known as the baby boomers and together we’re creating a bit of a traffic jam in this particular stage of life. Questions arise. Questions I don’t particularly want to confront. What will these final decades (hopeful, I know) look like? What will I do? Where will I be? Will there be internet?

I can get wildly creative and consider all sorts of futures or I can continue in a predictable sort of conformity, protecting my place in the tribe, staying in my lane. 

“At age 20, we worry about what others think of us. At age 40, we don’t care what they think of us. At age 60, we discover they haven’t been thinking of us at all.” Ann Landers

Let me draw you a picture of my current situation. I believe I mentioned my tendency to navigate towards home. The truth is Larry and I have lived in the same house for almost 30 years, in the same town (okay, neighborhood) we grew up in, in fact we live only a few blocks from our family homes (we live such daring lives). Most of our children have settled in the general area (an hour away at the most, except for the creative one, who is building a future down under), even my grandchildren reside a mere ten minutes away if traveling by car, eight when I drive. The rut deepens.

Maybe it’s time to go rogue?

As if a naval missile testing base in the Mojave Desert, I had a series of unexpected explosions, all in one day. Not only did the vacuum cleaner erupt while I was attempting to de-ash the lake house (reread Einstein’s vacuum theory), but my blow dryer blew up in my hand (hair still wet), and the front driver side tire on my car suddenly deflated on the way home. Are you thinking what I’m thinking? Exactly.

They’re signs. What else could they be? The message is loud and clear, I’m approaching end of life, in need of a new filter, have a short fuse, and possibly a slow leak. All true. 

Regardless, I’m pretty sure there is new adventure in my future, robotic vacuums, iconic hair dryers, and fully inflated tires that will escort me in new directions.

The truth is, if I have any hope of defending my psychic abilities, I’m going to have to tackle a series of questions, questions I typically ignore. I would prefer to stay focused on flossing, securing my seat belt, and tracking the whereabouts of my sister, but explosions have a way of redirecting your focus. 

You might ask what celestial seasons, cardinal directions, gospels, deadly horsemen, classical elements, and nucleotides have in common? Since you’re not psychic I’ll tell you. The number four, therefore I decided on four questions to consider when confronting the future, enter at your own risk.

1. When should I consider retirement?

  • If 70 is the new 65, maybe I have some time, but how I want to spend this time becomes the core issue. George Burns says, “retirement at 65 is ridiculous. When I was 65 I still had pimples.”
  • Obviously I need a sustainable income, wine cellar, and travel budget (there might be 30 years left in this old girl ~ I need to be prepared).
  • I keep hearing about the wicked income gap (difference between what you spend and what you have coming in). Don’t panic, sticking with a budget is not my favorite thing, but something to consider seriously in retirement. It could be fun (not)!
  • When does Social Security kick in? Delaying retirement for maximum benefit might be the key to financial security. You have to play with the math, reread Einstein, or talk with a psychic. (I’m best after 9:00 am)
2. Where will I retire?
  • How important is it to have family and friends nearby? I think that’s my number one consideration. It’s not necessary to have adjoining fences (although that remains my premier fantasy) but I enjoy dropping in on my kids, staying for dinner (part of my new budget), sipping wine on the patio, chewing the shit.
  • What sort of lifestyle are you attracted to? Oh how I dream of a rutless retirement, hopping in big red, taking off without a map, see where the road leads us. I know, dream on, but it would be nice to make some room for the unexpected. Anthony Bourdain says noting exciting happens when you venture out with a set itinerary but then again you can end up lost. 
  • Consider weather preferences? I’m Swedish and like the cooler climates, goes perfect with coffee, chocolate, candles, and soft throws. It’s referred to as lagom in Sweden or getting cozy.
  • My thoughts on downsizing have always been derogatory. This is a tough one for me, but yes we will be hosting the mother of all garage sales when the time comes, cash only, plan for it.
  • Big city or small town? I like to have options. Could we consider living in Paris for six months? Then maybe a prolonged stay in Australia while I convince my son to move home. I could manage a month in Hawaii, in between a couple of cruises, maybe an east coast excursion in the fall? How about you? Maybe we go homeless, bloom where we’re planted, live the vagabond lifestyle? I’d break out in hives by the end of the first week. So no.
3. What will I do with my time?
  • Unless we want to end up watching Bachelorette on Monday, playing bingo at the community center every Tuesday, and grabbing dinner at the Hometown buffet on Wednesday, we’ll have to create alternative plans. Learn the mystery of tango, take up pole dancing, or sky diving? Grab 12 friends and do a charity calendar? Macramé a hammock? Do the Loop? Swim through an underwater gallery? If desperate you can always mess with your friends front door cams? Don’t get me going. The world is our oyster!
  • Do you want to work part-time? I already work part-time so maybe quarter time and spend a little more time writing. I’m sure Larry will love this idea? 
  • Volunteer? This is a must. I think it’s time to align myself with a cause I’m passionate about and work to connect needs with solutions. “Where your talents and the needs of the world cross; there lies your vocation,” says Aristotle. We have a unique opportunity today with the fertility of social media to drum up enormous support and awareness. I’m making a list of social issues I care about starting with pension plans for psychics.
  • Discover a new hobby or develop a talent? Yes, I recently learned I have a knack for blowing things up but also sparking interest? See where this is going? Out with the old in with the new.
  • Travel? Hello, yes! Anywhere, anytime, anyhow (is that a word?)
  • Fitness? This a a developing talent but one I will consider pursuing because muscle tone totally rocks! 
4. Do we have compatible bucket lists?
  • Hopefully there is some overlap with your partner on bucket list items. If not invent new ones together; afternoon tea at the Ritz in New York, take the grandkids to Disneyland, relive your honeymoon (although two of the hotels we stayed at went down in separate earthquakes-don’t go there), celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland, ride in a hot air balloon, or cage diving with the Great White sharks off the coast of Africa. There so many choices. Lean out.
  • Decide if you want to pursue some interests alone? Larry isn’t much into writing workshops so maybe that’s something I do alone. I’m not into mountain biking and he’s fine doing that with the guys. 
  • I plan on taking advantage of every senior citizen discount currently available. I was in CVS the other day and the clerk asked if I had a senior citizen discount card? So rude, I’m not eligible for a couple of years, but can we agree to error on the side of discretion? I hear there are movies, cruises, motels, restaurants, flights, tours, trains, concerts, museums, resorts, etc. that offer various discounts to seniors. Worth a lookie-loo when developing your bucket list.
The most important thing about a predictable future is to be intentional. Steven Jobs reminds us, “your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.” It doesn’t take a psychic to unravel the future, but believe me when I say the future will generate itself, ruthlessly for the most part, based on the decisions we make today. I’m learning to be rutless because Jean Fontaine warns, “a person often meets his destiny on the very road he took to avoid it.” Remember time is irreverent, take a deep breath, begin.

“Before you speak, listen. Before you write, think. Before you spend, earn. Before you invest, investigate. Before you criticize, wait. Before you pray, forgive. Before you quit, try. Before you retire, save. Before you die, give.” William A. Ward




I’m Living in the Gap, drop by, I’ll predict your future. My rates are reasonable.

Anecdotes:

  • It’s scary when you start to make the same noises as your coffee maker.
  • An elderly farmer in Florida had a large pond down by his fruit orchard. One evening he decided to go down to the pond and took a five gallon bucket to pick some fruit. As he neared the pond, he heard female voices shouting and laughing with glee. As he came closer he saw a bunch of young women skinny-dipping in the pond. He made the women aware of his presence and they all went to the deep end. One of the women shouted to him, ‘We’re not coming out until you leave!’ The old man thought for a second and said, ‘I didn’t come down here to watch you ladies swim or to make you get out of the pond naked.’ Holding the bucket up he said, ‘I’m here to feed the alligator!’ Moral: Old men can still think fast.
  • I refuse to admit I’m more than fifty-two, even if that does make my sons illegitimate. Nancy Astor
  • Happy Anniversary to my sister Nancy and brother-in-law David ~ 35 years of wedded bliss ~ feeling the love.

4 Comments

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  1. Hi Cheryl! This one struck a chord with me. First off, I am totally relieved to find a new psychic, since the untimely demise of my previous favorite mystic.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oxopPDMq7rsSecondly, retirement planning/timing (my own) is one of my favorite topics.Lets analyze the guts of your future. Can you go rogue? You seem a true rutress, (female version of rutist.) When you go on a 2 week vacation, are you yearning for home or the lake house by the end?Do you get more out of work than a paycheck? I know you do, without even asking. The question is really will the commitment and stress of work balanced by the economic aspects continue to outweigh missing out on the other things you really want to do.If you knew the future (sorry, I forgot about the psychic part) you would see the intersection of the lines of time left alive, money burn rate, and ability to do things you really want to do.The interesting thing about the budget, is that it and the things you use it on are fungible. As you get more tired of work, the travel portion of the bucket list just went from 3 star hotel to 2. The wine cellar may not be complete, but maybe company brings the wine or you bust out the Malbec or gasp, the 2 buck chuck. Na…., keep working.I think I have the wine situation under control, unless I develop a serious case of taste migration (gasp!)For me, I really want to do the PCT. I am not waiting till age 80. I am not sure why I want this, but I do. (Not sure I can handle the hard ground, repetitive food, poor cleanliness aspect, and I know I can't handle missing Gail.) Maybe it will give me a clean break from work when the time comes, though I really like the people I work with and work is awesome 95% of the time. To make up for the fact that I probably won't ever do the PCT, I am doing mini versions like the Milford track and an upcoming hike in the Siskiyou's. Maybe I will get it out of my system.As to where you will retire? I will be shocked if it's not where you are, though moving to the smaller house near family is very possible (don't forget you will need room when the renegade from down under decides to visit.)I could see moving from our house, but the cabin would be tough to part with.I like the concept of \”Lagom.\” It's what makes winter fun, and splitting firewood rewarding. Snow falling, Geese landing on the pond, dog curled up on the rug in front of the roaring fire, a glass of wine… I feel a nap coming on.As far as what to do with time in retirement, not an issue. However, pole dancing did not make the list, though I understand it can be quite the spectator sport.Gail may not like having me around so much (nice segue!. She is a pretty good sport, and I think I can mold her to most of my bucket list (except the PCT.) I will look forward to hearing about yours.Anyway, don't put it off too long. No one ever looked back and said \”Gee, I wish I spent more time at work!\”And as a weird sign, I was mowing today and the song Bucket, by Kenny Chesney came on. You can change the B to F I believe is how it goes.Anyway, really well done blog entry.Love the totally tripped out version of Fly like an Eagle.My only concern with your blog is based both on your prior experience making an illegal turn, and with the following comment \”a mere ten minutes away if traveling by car, eight when I drive.\”Hope no one is triggered, so to speak ;-)https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OgtQj8O92eI

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  2. Love your comments Michael! Woke up to this one this morning and I was so excited I read it before coffee!Was it only yesterday we were buying our first house, welcoming our first child into the nest, fretting over interest rates, and mortgages. It seems surreal to consider selling anything after so many years of acquiring? Stages of life ~ I'm not a fan. Your questions around work are so valid, I get more out of my work than a paycheck, most teachers do! But searching for a balance between demands of work and the things you would prefer to pursue is a challenge. I think you are so right, most people stay in situations longer than they should. I remember thinking this about my parents when they stayed on the eleven acre property in Washington well after they were physically able to maintain it. When they finally moved into a retirement community they were worn out! As we age up it's difficult to stand back and accurately analysis our situation due to the emotional connection and our comfort with that which is known rather than unknown. I think you should absolutely do the Pacific Coast Trail. I read the book Wild years ago and was intrigued by the idea of losing yourself to find yourself so to speak on the PCT. I was originally attracted to all the challenges of the hike but now I'm more interested in short hikes, warm showers, and comfortable hotels at the end of the day. Our friends recently did a rafting trip through the Grand Canyon, at the end of each day the company that provides this service had prepared shelters for everyone and a hot meal (there may have been a little wine). They were helicoptered out of the canyon at the end of the rafting and dropped at a luxury hotel! Bucket List!I'm not sure about all the details in my future but it will absolutely include those I love most in this world, a place to call home, from which we can return after our \”mini\” adventures. I look forward to filling my bucket with ideas yet unknown. Makes me hopeful and excited about the future, especially if it involves a few unlawful maneuvers! Going rogue!

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  3. I love retirement. I did almost no planning but I knew I would be busy enough to stay out of jail or rehab. I didn't have a bucket list. I didn't even have a coffee cup list. Everyone approaches retirement differently. My dad retired and sat around the house a lot, annoying my mom, cramping her previously carefree, vagabondish style. I was lucky that I only had myself to retire for. And since I'm not very adventurous and risk averse, I don't collect up a lot of frequent flyer miles, which gives me more time to discuss stuff with my dog.

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  4. Such good news! You love retirement! That's all that matters and it sounds like your sweet dog is the perfect companion. My dog tends to agree with me on most things so that's sort of a plus in my book. The fish is not so helpful. I'm a total planner and although I hate to admit it I avoid change as if a plague so I need strong incentives. The bucket list is my self imposed carrot I dangle over a life I've only dreamed about. If the gig is up in the next few decades maybe it's not such a bad idea to have a plan, a dog carrier, and a big old bucket! Thanks so much for connecting in the comments. Wishing you all the best.

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