Sunday, October 25, 2009

Where do we go from here?

It's been a week since I reached the milestone that spurred this blog, and I have been wondering if it makes sense to continue posting material. After all, I survived turning 60, and that's the name of the blog. But a few of you wanted me to continue to keep you updated on my shot put progress. I will do that, and maybe offer other observances as I figure out what 60 is all about.

So to the shot put. The fall weather has cut into my training because it gets dark not too long after I get home and that's been when I have practiced in the back yard. But I have aimed the flood lights toward my backyard shot put pit, and I'll continue tossing that 12-pound ball and updating you on my progress.

We go back to regular time early Sunday morning so my training will definitely be in the dark except on weekends. If I get motivated, I might try tossing the shot in the morning before I get ready for work.

This evening, I worked out for about an hour, and could only hit about 24 feet. My best is 27 feet, 6 inches, so I'm not making progress. I attribute that to my lack of intense training on my just concluded birthday week. But I'm back and I'm locked into a training regimen.

I know I must get stronger and that will take weight training at the gym. My technique is getting better, but I'm still a long way from a picture perfect shot putter.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

I survived turning 60 -- now what?

I made it to age 60 today, and I'm enjoying this first day of a new decade in Monterey looking at the Pacific Ocean and playing tourist. We had a great dinner last night at the Sardine Factory with close friends who made the occasion very special. The room at the Monterey Plaza was incredible.

I'm not alone in turning 60 today. The U.S. Census Bureau says 7,918 Americans turn 60 every day. Wow. There are a lot of us, and every day there are more. Baby boomers -- those born between 1946 and 1964 -- are aging rapidly. But we're trying to stay fit. The Census Bureau also reports that there are 27,813 fitness and recreation centers nationwide, and most are catering to baby boomers. It's a good market for them.

I'll be spending more time at the gym, and working on staying healthy. I'm committed to keeping that promise, and this public proclamation puts that much more pressure on me to live up to this goal. I'll continue to train on the shot put, with a goal of competing in a seniors track meet.

This morning, Jill bought me my "Old Guys Rule" T-shirt. That's also a public acknowledgement of accepting my age. This one is a John Wayne version. It says,"Old Guys Rule" and then has this quote from John Wayne: "When you come slam bang up against trouble, it never looks half as bad if you face up to it."

Good advice for a 60-year-old. Good advice for all of us, as we confront our daily challenges.

I also had my picture taken outside the Bubba Gump Shrimp Company, just like thousands of other Cannery Row tourists do each day. Forrest Gump offered a great suggestion for living: "Mama always said life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get."

I'll be sampling life's chocolates, as I move through my 60s. I'm not sure what is out there, but I'm ready for it. I hope.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Old Guys Rule

We're two days from 60 and I'm picking out my "Old Guys Rule" t-shirt, and scoping out the senior citizen discounts. Heck, I might even start going to restaurants early enough to get the Early Bird Special.

Actually, I don't feel much different than I did in my mid-50s -- at least I don't think I'm different. I suppose everyone says that as they reach a milestone age such as 60. But time marches on and you have to accept it.

If you think I'm old, consider that The Boss, Bruce Springsteen, turned 60 this year. So did actor Richard Gere, and singer Billy Joel. Now do they look that old? Well, Billy Joel does. Anyway, the other guys don't and I'm teaming with them on this 60s thing.

I'm having fun sharing this march to 60 on this blog and I can't believe that it's almost here. Today, I'm 59 years, 363 days old. But who's counting?

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Four days to liftoff

What can you do in four days? In my case, you can turn 60.

I'm still a bit stunned that this milestone has come so quickly. But on Sunday, I'll say so long to my 50s and move into a new demographic. I'm getting a lot of razzing from my friends (the younger ones) and some cheering from others (the older friends) as I approach 60.

During my self-examination through these blog postings over the past four months, I've committed to making several improvements in my life. So here's the 60s game plan:

-- Continue to get healthier by sticking to my diet, doing physical activities and, of course, using lots of sunscreen.

-- Try to find a reasonable balance between my work and my leisure time. The problem here is that I really like my work, and spend a lot of time at it. But I need to spend more time with friends and family.

-- Volunteer more to help where I can be of assistance. We all have gifts and they can be used to help others if we are willing. I will let my faith guide me on where I can be used best.

I'm sure I'll find many other things to improve upon, and I'll tackle them as I recall them. This blog could go on forever if I were to list all my faults. For now, though, I'm looking forward to the next four days and what my last moments of my 50s will bring.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Seven days to 60, and a party of nine

It's getting close, folks, and people are already celebrating my entry into the 60s. Hold on here. We've still got a week until it's official. But I'm accepting the earlybird birthday special.

Some members of my family threw me a small party last night, and I'm so grateful for the work they put into this gathering to usher in my 60th birthday. My mother, my brothers and my sister, as well as their spouses and significant others, were there. That made it a party of nine, including me and Jill.

The menu was incredible, steak and lobster, and the meal was topped off with German chocolate cake. We ate, drank and told stories all evening. There was a lot of laughing and a lot of reminiscing. This party went late (considering my age) and we didn't leave Eddie's and Linda's house until 1 a.m. I had a great time.

But I'm not used to partying that late, and when the alarm went off this morning for church. I was very tired. But I made the 9:15 a.m. service and got my usual seat -- fourth row from the back on the right. The seats in the back go first, as Pastor Tim is fond of pointing out.

It was nice having this small gathering with my brothers and sister and my mom. My mother earned sainthood long ago raising five children, including four boys. I'm the oldest child and over the next few years my siblings will be turning 60, too. But right now, turning 60 is all about me.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Is it too late to get a life?

My friend Kathy, who turned 60 today, gave me a great book by Anna Quindlen, the author and Pulitzer-winning columnist. It's called "A Short Guide to a Happy Life," and I devoured it as soon as I opened it. It's only 50 pages, so it was a very quick read. It was an early birthday present. Kathy is the one who I kid about being much older than me -- 12 days. But those 12 days are huge right now. She is in her 60s and I'm still in my 50s.

The book by Quindlen offered a lot of wisdom that she gathered from her own life experiences, and from those who influenced her. I've been feeling very philosophical on this road to 60 so this fit my mood perfectly. I'm 12 days away and I'm trying to make sense of it all.

As my family and friends know all too well, I'm a workaholic who has desperately tried to find a balance. It keeps tipping toward the job, especially as I get older. Isn't that supposed to change as you age?

It makes me recall my 41st birthday in 1990. My family was going to meet me at a Fresno restaurant to celebrate my birthday. The problem was that I had to finish a crucial news story about a very tight congressional race. There were high-profile charges and counter-charges between the two candidates and it took all evening to sort them out. I told my family members to go to the restaurant and I'd meet them there. The hours slipped by and I couldn't get away from the newspaper until the story was done. There was always one more detail to check.

That news story was a solid piece of reporting, and I was praised for it. Meanwhile, my family had finished dinner and headed home without the guest of honor showing up. They boxed up my steak dinner. About 11 p.m., I got to my parents' house to pick up my daughter, and claim my birthday meal. My family understood, but that memory has stayed with me 19 years later.

That's one reason the Quindlen book struck such a chord. She offered this bit of wisdom: "No man on his deathbed said he wished he'd spent more time at the office."

She also suggested that you consider your thoughts if you just had a aneurysm. What would be important then? Getting that last bit of work done at the office, or spending as much time as possible with the ones you love?

"Get a life in which you notice the smell of salt water pushing itself on a breeze over the dunes, a life in which you stop and watch how a red-tailed hawk circles over a pond and a stand of pines. Get a life in which you pay attention to a baby as she scowls with concentration as she tries to pick up a Cheerio with her thumb and first finger."

I think part of my journey to 60 is about getting a life. I surely don't have it figured out yet. In a highly competitive job, you are expected to perform at your highest level all the time. But I'm trying to find the proper balance, and that gives me hope.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Countdown to 60 is now in a sprint

It's coming fast. The milestone of turning 60 seemed so far away in June when I started this blog and now we are inside two weeks. I don't feel any different, but saying you're 60 sounds so very old to me. I suppose it's too late to lie and tell people I'm 59 when they ask my age. That's the downside of putting your birthday details on the Internet.

I didn't make my goal of throwing the shot put 36 feet by Oct. 4. I'm stuck on 27 feet, 6 inches as a personal best. But I'm stepping up my training and hope to get close to my original goal in the next two weeks. I'll keep you informed on my progress. I missed two seniors meets -- one in San Diego on Sept. 12 and one in Las Vegas this past weekend -- so I may have to wait until next year for formal competition. I just wasn't ready to compete.

This diary of my thoughts, fears and bits of wisdom that I've picked up over my almost 60 years has been an interesting way of marking this important milestone in my life. I never would have thought that so many of you would be checking in. My original belief was that this blog wouldn't be read by many people. But a little radio publicity on Alan Autry's KYNO talk show helped get the word out that I was writing this blog.

Thank you for participating, especially all of you who have added great comments to my entries. You have offered wisdom and wit, and made this a better blog with your comments.

So I'm 13 days away from 60, which means I'm 59 years, 11 months and 352 days old. But who's counting?

Thursday, October 1, 2009

It's October -- the birthday month

This is the month that I turn 60 -- 17 days from now. But October is a big birthday month for my entire family. My Mom's birthday is Oct. 27, my brother's is Oct. 8 and my sister's is Oct. 6.

Then there's my dear friend Kathy, who also turns 60 this month. She reaches that magic milestone on Oct. 6. Yes, she is older than me -- by 12 days -- and I never let her forget it. In fact, in five days, she will be in her 60s and I'll still be in my 50s.

On Saturday, Kathy's daughter is throwing a big birthday bash for her. It'll be fun. There's a group of our friends who have birthdays this time of the year, and we've had some great celebrations.

This occasion reminds me of a wonderful list of the most important things invented in the past 2,000 years. The entry that I like the most is reading glasses, which was suggested by a New York professor. His reasoning was simple: Reading glasses have been crucial to our development and "prevented the world from being ruled by people under 40."

So I raise my glass -- and my reading glasses -- in salute to the month of October. It is where this journey to 60 ends, and where another one begins. Cheers.