This Week on Sage Aging
Baby Boomers. Born after World War II, from 1946 to 1964. The Baby Boomer generation is 73 million strong, and they’re entering the 65 plus age group at a rate of 10,000 per day. Raised by the Greatest Generation, Baby Boomers are only outnumbered by one generation and that’s their children, the Millennials. The Baby Boomer generation is known for breaking the mold of traditional values and creating significant societal change. And similarly, many Baby Boomers are now breaking the mold of retirement as well. Purpose passion and adventure are defining the later years of life. And boomers are poised to drink it all in and live life to the fullest. Of course, everyone has their own vision of retirement and what that looks like. So in this episode, we’re going to explore that with my guest.
My guest for this episode is Richard Haiduck. Richard is a former life sciences executive and a mentor. And as an active retiree, he enjoys challenging the boundaries of his own retirement while observing the experiences and areas of curiosity of his fellow retirees. With the publishing of his soon to be released book, Shifting Gears, Richard has fulfilled his lifelong dream of being an author. Intrigued by stories of meaningful journeys and retirement taken by friends and colleagues. Richard has penned Shifting Gears: 50 Baby Boomers share their meaningful journeys in retirement.
My favorite Takeaway
Richard shared, or shall I say teased, some really great stories. From an inspirational seventy-something lady who climbed Mount Kilimanjaro after multiple hip and knee surgeries to a music-loving group of retirees who learned to play ukeleles and now share their love of music with school children and everything in-between. Honestly, I can’t wait to read the stories and find some inspiration for my own retirement! But my favorite takeaway was Richard’s advice to approach retirement with “relaxed intensity.” He says: “in your work career, you’re focused, and you’re intense, and you’re goal-oriented, and you’re trying to get stuff done, and maybe you stay a little relaxed about it, but you’re not as relaxed as you could be, or should be. Retirees shift to a different place and they can take on a project that has important milestones, that means a lot to them, but they can do it with a smile, and with relaxation and maybe a little less time urgency. They take on a task, accomplish a big thing, but do it in a style that’s more fitting to someone at that stage of their life.”
Links & Resources
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Boomer Retirement at its Best
Recorded October 2020
retirement, people, book, richard, life, stories, relaxed, baby boomers, aging, writing, retirees, year olds, activities, interviewed, cancer, years, focused, challenging, lady, important
Host: Liz Craven Guest: Richard Haiduck
Liz Craven 00:00
This episode of Sage Aging is brought to you by Polk ElderCare Guide. Your guide to all things senior care and resources. Available in both English and Spanish you can find the guide and much more at PolkElderCare.com. Hello, everyone, and welcome back. And a special welcome if you’re new to Sage Aging. The mission of Sage Aging is to help you connect to information and resources that will empower you to master the aging and caregiving journey. To do that, we bring you conversations with industry professionals to shed some light on topics of aging, and to empower you to take charge of your journey. We’ve had such great feedback from all of you and one of the suggestions that we’re seeing often is that you’d like to hear from fellow caregivers and retirees in general. So look for more of that moving forward, beginning with today’s episode. So without further ado, let’s get started.
Liz Craven 01:04
Hello, and welcome. This is Episode 33 of the Sage Aging podcast. Baby Boomers. Born after World War II, from 1946 to 1964. The Baby Boomer generation is 73 million strong, and they’re entering the 65 plus age group at a rate of 10,000 per day. Raised by the Greatest Generation, Baby Boomers are only outnumbered by one generation and that’s their children, the Millennials. The Baby Boomer generation is known for breaking the mold of traditional values and creating significant societal change. And similarly, many Baby Boomers are now breaking the mold of retirement as well. Purpose passion and adventure are defining the later years of life. And boomers are poised to drink it all in and live life to the fullest. Of course, everyone has their own vision of retirement and what that looks like. So today we’re going to explore that with my guest. My guest today is Richard Haiduck. Richard is a former life sciences executive and a mentor. And as an active retiree, he enjoys challenging the boundaries of his own retirement while observing the experiences and areas of curiosity of his fellow retirees. With the publishing of his soon to be released book, Richard has fulfilled his lifelong dream of being an author. Intrigued by stories of meaningful journeys and retirement taken by friends and colleagues. Richard has penned Shifting Gears: 50 Baby Boomers share their meaningful journeys in retirement. Welcome to the show, Richard, thanks so much for joining me.
Richard Haiduck 02:52
Thank you. Liz, that was a great introduction. Thank you very much.
Liz Craven 02:56
Well, I’m glad that you are happy with it. I’m so intrigued by you. And I’m so excited to have you here today. And first, let me say I just love how you’ve embraced your retirement. And I especially love that you found a way to incorporate storytelling into it. It’s a lost art, in my opinion. And I think that’s such a wonderful legacy to leave behind.
Richard Haiduck 03:20
The overwhelming conclusion that I’ve reached is that this is the finest time of my life. And I’m finding that in a number of the baby boomers that I’ve interviewed, and, Liz, it’s funny, because some, a lot of us, including me are a little bit surprised by that. We weren’t quite sure it was going to be neat. We were thinking we were going to just be old and sitting around and not doing anything. And we’re finding just the opposite. We’re just doing stuff. And the boomer generation, as you mentioned in your intro, has been doing stuff their whole lives that were activists were energetic were challenging boundaries. So it was would have been crazy. If we hadn’t done the same thing in our retirement challenge. those boundaries do cool stuff. One of the people I interviewed said that the standard I set for myself is when I decide to do something, at least one person has to tell me I’m crazy for doing it.
Liz Craven 04:15
I love that. Wow. And I agree with you. I think that Baby Boomers really are writing their own script, and why not? And I think that I think I will follow in those footsteps and write my own script as well. But you know, when we first met when you told me about your seven-year-old self having this desire to be an author, so why don’t we start today’s storytelling with the life and times of Richard Haiduck and tell us a bit about you.
Liz Craven 04:45
Okay, thank you. When I was seven, I was absolutely convinced I was going to be an author. And I got started. I got a writing pad and I got a number two pencil and a bigger bracer and every day I would write a story. And it was always fiction. And my limit was one page was never longer than a page. So these weren’t real in-depth stories. And I did that for almost a year. And it became part of a pattern of my life. I got incredible support from parents and friends and teachers and all that sort of thing. And I was kind of on a roll. But you know, what happens to seven-year-olds, they change their mind, they do other things, going outside and playing with my buddies doing sports or something like that. I stopped as quickly as I started, all of a sudden, I wasn’t going to be an author anymore. I was going to be a kid that went outside and played with the other kids. Then 65 years later, I went back to the idea of being an author. I hadn’t done any writing in those 65 years, in terms of a book kind of writing. But, but something happened, I was hanging out with my buddies, and they were saying what they were doing in retirement. And I was surprised, delighted, actually, to hear the many stories they had to tell. And what was really weird. Some of these were people I’ve known for a really long time. And they were doing stuff, I had no idea what they were doing. One guy said, You know, I was in the Senior Olympics, I never told you that. I said, what you were in the Senior Olympics, he says, Man, I want a medal. And then I went on to go to the Chinese Olympics. And I said, geez, that’s a great story. Dave, how come you never told me that before. He says, Oh, I was always, you know, kind of too modest to talk about it. So that happened. It happened again, with two or three other people that I knew. And at some moment, I said, these stories need to be told, there’s too much richness here. There’s, it’s not well known, the variety of things that people are doing. So that’s when I decided, after a 65-year interval, I’ll go write a book.
Liz Craven 07:00
I love that. So you didn’t do any writing during your work life?
Richard Haiduck 07:05
Well, I did writing for work, I’d write reports for things. And I do presentations, that kind of stuff. But I didn’t do any book writing or any even short story writing any of that sort of thing.
Liz Craven 07:17
During that time. Did you even have an itch? Did you kind of feel like you might want to do that at some point?
Liz Craven 07:23
No, not really. I was busy with family and a career and doing other activities. And the idea of writing it just completely fallen off the radar screen. And then when it came back, it was like, how could it have disappeared for so long?
Liz Craven 07:38
Right. I think that’s amazing to kind of brought full circle, a passion that you had early on. So let’s dive into some of the stories from your book. I’m really anxious to hear some of these. And with stories from the ordinary to extraordinary, I’m sure that there are a few that have struck a chord with you. What was one of the most inspiring stories that you heard?
Liz Craven 08:03
This lady I interviewed, had had four surgeries in three years. She’d had two knee replacements, two hip replacements. She was on a cane for three years, kind of hobbling around and you know getting by. But at the end of the fourth surgery, she kind of said to herself, she says, I’ve got all new parts. I’m in the best shape, I’m going to be in to do something big. I want to do something amazing. I want to do something really challenging. So what she decided to do was to go climb Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa.
Liz Craven 08:43
Richard Haiduck 08:44
The tallest mountain in Africa. It’s 19,000 feet. It’s a six-day climb. And for 20-year-olds in the best of health, it’s a tough climb. And she said that’s what I’m going to do. So she and her boyfriend headed off to Africa. This is a lady in her 70s with all new knees and hips, sending off to Africa to climb the tallest mountain on the continent.
Liz Craven 09:08
Liz Craven 09:09
And I was just all the people who tried to talk her out of it. They said that you’re in your 70s Donna, you just had four surgeries. Donna, you can’t do this. You know the 20-year-olds have a hard time with it. She said no, you don’t understand. I’ve got to do this. This is really important to me. I have to do this because I can do it now. And after three years of hobbling around on a cane. I always wanted to do something. Something different and something important for me something to prove something to others and to myself.
Liz Craven 09:46
Sounds like that was a very spiritual journey for her.
Liz Craven 09:50
Yes. And she absorbed a lot of things along the way. She learned a lot about herself. She learned a lot about her ability to deal with adversity. ability to deal with the altitude, she had trained hard for it and became quite a challenging kind of thing for her. Now, what I’m not going to do is give away the ending to see to say whether she made it or not. But
Liz Craven 10:21
Leave us hanging on the edge.
Liz Craven 10:25
But I think I think the important thing about her is what it says about retirement, it says you can do things, you can try things you can challenge yourself. And you know, what if it doesn’t work, it’s still okay. It’s not like when you were working, and you tried something, and it failed. And then you were out of a job, or you were, you know, got a bad performance review or something like that. There are no performance reviews in retirement, there’s just what you want, and what you want to try to do. And so people try things. And one of the other people I talked to said, you know, retire is about trying and failing, and then doing something else. And, and he’s made a habit out of having a short leash on his activities. So he’ll try something, he’ll go for a little while at it. And they’ll say, Is this what I thought it would be? Is this any fun? is this doing some good for other people? Is it meeting my criteria or not. And every few months, in his early retirement, he would change and go on to do something quite different.
Liz Craven 11:35
That is such a great message. Because as a parent, I raised two girls. And the lessons that we taught them all along, were to stick with something that you started and get good at something and be a student, and you can’t just, you know, jump in and then jump out to something new, we encouraged them to try a lot of things. But that stick to its message was always there. And that’s a bit of a reframing of how you’re going to think about things and do things in retirement. I love the idea that someone says, Wow, I’m going to go out and experience all kinds of different things. Because I think that all of us have those things that we wish we had tried at some point in time. And there’s only so much time to do it in. So I like that idea.
Liz Craven 12:24
The other kind of related thing to that is the multitasking aspect of retirement. And this takes some getting used to for several of the people that I interviewed. And what do I mean by that? When you were working, you got up in the morning, you went to work your day was build and then you came home. And when someone asked, Who are you, you say oh, I work at the bank, or I work at wherever, and it became the anchor tenant of your life. And your family was obviously important. Your friends were important and so forth. But in terms of your day to day activities work was the anchor tenant, and it was what it was who you were the greatest retirements that I’ve seen, don’t have an anchor tenant. Once when people say, what’s the main thing that you do? The answer is I don’t have the main thing. I have a lot of things I enjoy. So they might do some volunteering on Monday, they might go for a long bike ride on Tuesday, they, may have a part-time job on Wednesday. But at the end of the week, there was no one single thing that occupied their time. They were able to focus on a lot of different things. And one lady I interviewed said, I’m really liking that. I like this diversity. I’m like doing something different on Monday, then on Tuesday and all this. And she had a really rich set of things she was doing. But she said it’s really weird. I can’t get used to it. I’m used to being focused on one thing, and that being me, that being around me and my job. And she said I think there’s I think I’m doing something wrong. And we had quite a long, long discussion. And some of that’s in the book as well. About there’s nothing wrong with diversity. There’s nothing wrong with doing a lot of different things if that’s what you want. And if it’s gratifying to you. And her kind of response was, yeah, I really like this. I really like doing different things, and being able to manage my schedule differently. But my calendar looks a lot different than it used to, and my activities of daily living take a different discipline. And it’s taking me a while to get used to this. And I’ve heard that over and over.
Liz Craven 14:41
That sounds like a very typical response. People just kind of walking through life and trying to embrace their current normal. It does change. A lot of things change and you know, not everyone has a desire to climb a mountain. The perfect vision of retirement for some isn’t you Friends and hobbies and the day to day pleasures that come with retirement. So what’s your favorite story related to that type of scenario?
Liz Craven 15:12
One lady and her girlfriends decided that they wanted to put music into their life. Again, a group of ladies in their 70s. And they decided the way to do that was for them to all learn to play ukulele together. And so they get together, and they learned just like four or five chords. And she said, with four or five chords, you can play a lot of different songs. And we, and we get together and we laugh. And we tell stories to each other in between the songs. But it’s become part of our routine. We’re learning to play ukulele, but we’re mostly learning to get together and have fun as a group. And it’s just become one of those multitasking activities. It’s one of those things that they all look forward to, I think they do it about twice a month. And now they’ve progressed, and they’re actually performing in public and middle school kids, they go to schools, and play, actually around a Hawaiian theme, they play some Hawaiian songs, and they have a guy that goes with them, the teachers who led to the kids, and they’re accompanied by these ukulele, players and singers. Wow. So they’ve really had fun with that.
Liz Craven 16:38
That is very cool. Combining passions and the things that you like to do and the people that you like to be around. That sounds pretty perfect to me, too. You know, I think a lot of people struggle a little bit with What does retirement look like, because they have some physical limitations that, that plague them. You know, dementia is a big one. A lot of people struggle with memory loss. And some of that is, you know, just kind of nature taking its course. And maybe it takes us a little longer to come up with a word or an answer. But sometimes it’s a clinical thing as well. But as we age, our bodies and our brains change, and that can be really alarming and scary. But I think that embracing the journey through aging and embracing those changes, and the challenges that come along with them, that could really empower you to soak it all up and enjoy all that life has to offer at every stage. Did you find any stories about people who were maybe taking steps to keep themselves mentally active?
Liz Craven 17:45
Yes. This was a guy that in his retirement, said, I’m going to just pick up the pace on both my mental and my physical activities. And on the physical side, I’ll just touch on that briefly. He exercises like crazy almost every day takes long bike rides, goes spinning, he does all those kinds of things. And he’s in great, great shape. But he said on the mental side, I wanted to do something there too. He has a similar story. I don’t know if it goes back to when he was seven years old. But earlier in his life, he wanted to be a poet. And he got away from that while he was working. And now he’s saying Now’s my time to go back to be a poet. So how do you learn to be a poet? He says, I written a few things. But I didn’t think I was very good. I thought I’d take a class. So he signed up for a class at a community college, where almost everyone else in the class was 18 years old, taking an introductory to creative writing course. And focusing for him on poetry. And an end, he had a ball doing it. He said This kept me mentally active. It kept me tuned in to a younger generation as well. And kept me kind of in the flow, I really felt like this was doing something neat for me. And he then went on to take a second more advanced course that was focused on California poetry. And he’s in the middle of that now. I’m actually blogging about him in the next few days because he’s now completed a poem that he’s proud of. And I’ve heard the poem and it’s terrific. It and I never would have dreamed this guy had that in him, just because he’d never talked about poetry before. So anyway, I’m gonna blog that on my website in the next few days, and everyone can judge for themselves. This guy created great poems and does he have a future in this? But he’s loving it and he says, it keeps him sharp. It keeps him attentive. He is enjoying it. And he says I’m still not very good, and I heard it first poem, and I think you’re being too humble this, this is a great poem. So, so that’s, that’s been really neat for him. And, and it’s been changing for him into something that he had always wanted, always had in the back of his mind.
Liz Craven 20:16
And it’s just a great example of how varied the perfect retirement activity can be from one person to another. And it doesn’t have to always be physical. And it doesn’t always have to be extreme. It’s just something that makes you feel good. And it’s something that gives you joy, and probably brings others joy as well.
Liz Craven 20:39
Liz Craven 20:41
So have you found that? Through the interviews you’ve done? I think you said, you’ve interviewed what 75 or 80 people for this project?
Richard Haiduck 20:50
Liz Craven 20:51
That’s amazing. Has hearing their stories changed how you’re approaching your own retirement at all?
Liz Craven 20:59
I thought I was open to new thinking. But after hearing all these people, I just, I’m more of a student of what, what are the possibilities? What are those possibilities that might apply to the retirement my wife and I? And what are the habits or patterns that I can adopt? One of the things I found that was surprising to me, and which I made up a name for I call it relaxed intensity. And people say that’s an oxymoron. You can’t be relaxed and intense. And Liz retirees, can they do something that in your work career, you’re focused, and you’re intense, and you’re goal-oriented, and you’re trying to get stuff done, and maybe you stay a little relaxed about it, but you’re not as relaxed as you could be, or should be retirees shift to a different place. And they can take, they can take on a project that has important milestones, that means a lot to them. But they can do it with a smile, and with relaxation and with a, maybe a little less time urgency, perhaps. But they take on a task, accomplish a big thing, but do it in a style that’s more fitting to someone at the stage of their life. And one example of a guy who was a cancer patient, he was diagnosed with cancer shortly after he retired, and kind of said, Ah, geez, there goes that retirement, I thought I was going to do some great things. They started treating me went into remission, and that’s all turned out well. But in the middle of that, he asked the cancer doctors, is there anything I can do to help your efforts here? And he was expecting me to say I’ll write me a check that’ll help. And they said something surprising to me. He said We need a cancer house in this community, we need a place where people under treatment can stay that’s either free or very affordable. And where the families of people who are being treated can stay? And can you help us organize getting this cancer house built? And what this guy did was devoted a couple of years of his life to doing this. But he said he’s never had so much fun. He said it was all volunteers. It was all people who wanted the cancer center. But he said we did it in a relaxed style. We, when we first started fundraising, we got everybody together and a bunch of the people that never raised money before. And someone raised their hand and they said, I don’t know how to ask somebody for $50,000 for this cancer house. I just I’m too embarrassed to do that. And he said, Oh, no, you got it all wrong. You’re not going to do that. And the lady journalists as well, what am I going to do? He said asked for $100,000 with a smile. And he says and knows that you’ll get 50,000. And they all laughed about it together. And then they went out and tried it and it worked. And they raised over $4 million with this. And they built the cancer house. And it’s been a great attribute for the Cancer Center and the community. And this guy did that in a way that his style of managing the project was relaxed the whole way. I’m sure there were moments where there was tension, I’m sure there are moments where he wasn’t completely relaxed. But his whole premise was I’m going to do this in a way that fits the way I am right now, which is a relaxed retiree leading an important and intense project. So relaxed intensity and nobody’s contradicted me yet to say after I explained it, they say oh, maybe there is such a thing as relaxed intensity.
Liz Craven 24:54
I buy it. I think that’s completely possible. I tell totally see that being me and my retirement, a relaxed intensity, because there’s always some kind of intensity.
Liz Craven 25:08
And I hope all your listeners embrace the idea of relaxed intensity. I wish I would have learned it like 30 years ago, I think I might have done differently, done things differently in my career with a more kind of laid back approach to my business stuff, which I didn’t think he could be laid back in your business career, I thought you had to be focused and intense and kind of doing it that way. But the other way works, and it works remarkably well.
Liz Craven 25:38
Well, I have to admit that as a Generation X member, and someone who’s starting to think about what retirement looks like, I’m looking forward to diving into this book, because, you know, I think that there’s going to be a lot of eye-opening material in there that just this conversation itself, I’m rethinking the way that I do things. And I love this relaxed intensity. And I think I might try to apply that to my life. Now. I think that’s really good advice.
Liz Craven 26:07
Thank you. I hope your listeners can take that on as well.
Liz Craven 26:11
Well, I’m sure that this project has been very eye-opening for you, in a lot of ways. Do you have any final thoughts about how retirees are getting the most from their retirement and maybe a little bit of sage advice for our listeners?
Richard Haiduck 26:25
So I would say, try it and see as almost a slogan for your retirement. And recognize that not everything is going to work. And not everything is going to be right for you. I think part of this to the book tends to focus on people who did something fairly remarkable. Some of it is some of its exotic, some of its mundane, but it’s more memorable. There’s also a very real part of retirement with which is to just say relax and take it easy. It’s okay to sit on the sofa and watch a football game, it’s okay to just sit quietly and read a book. And that’s part of it too. I would say one other topic we didn’t get into at all is the whole subject of volunteering. I think that plays an important role for certain retirees who are looking for some new passion in their life, and they want to volunteer and help others. And that that I think can be one of the real building blocks of a great retirement. But I would say get on with it. Do it. find things that you like, think back to what you’ve always wanted to do, and start trying those things. Knowing that there is no failure, knowing there is no way to get it wrong. The only way to get it wrong is to not to try things.
Liz Craven 27:51
That is great advice. We can follow the Nike slogan, just do it.
Richard Haiduck 27:57
Liz Craven 27:59
Well, Richard, thank you so much for sharing with us today. This for sure is the best part of my day. So tell us where our listeners can connect with you and where they can purchase a copy of your book.
Liz Craven 28:13
Okay, so my website is RichardHaiduck.com. The book is available on Amazon in ebook and hardcover for pre-order now, it’ll be delivered on November 17. So either of those two ways. I think the website also has now a free preview of the book. There’s a part of the prologue that’s there if someone wanted to take a sample in the blog section on the website.
Liz Craven 28:45
Great, and I will make sure that I put all of those links into the show notes and into the blog post for Episode 33, which you can find at SageAging.us. Well, I hope that you all have enjoyed this conversation as much as I did. And if you’re enjoying the sage aging podcast, I would really appreciate it if you would subscribe, follow or leave us a review, and more importantly, share the podcast with a friend. If you have topics you’d like for me to cover or guests you’d like to have the invite to the show. drop me a line at info at Sage aging.us Richard, thanks again for being here. I certainly appreciate your time.
Liz Craven 29:29
Thank you, Liz. I enjoyed it a lot.
Liz Craven 29:32
And thanks to everyone for listening. We’ll talk real soon.
As I’ve been preparing to launch this podcast I’ve enjoyed revisiting stages of my own life and reflecting on how this topic became such a passion for me. While I’ve built my career on helping older adults and their families connect to needed education and resources, my connection to the aging and care process goes much deeper.
Some of my earliest childhood memories are of my own multi-generational family living together in one home. I was 4 or 5 when my grandmother moved into our home to help care for my sisters and I while our parents worked. Soon after, her father and grandfather moved in as well. We had 5 generations living under one roof! That was a beautifully chaotic adventure and knowing what I know now, I have so much respect for what my parents and grandmother did.
Fast forward to age 24. Newly married and pregnant with our first child, I spent several months with my in-laws to help care for my husband’s grandmother who had Alzheimer’s. Fast forward again to about 2009 – Wes and I have two teenagers about to head to college and his mother is diagnosed with cancer. Several years later, my mother is diagnosed with cancer. Several years after that Wes’ stepdad is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and his father is suffering from severe dementia. You can see where this is going right? For the better part of the last 10 years we have been the caregivers. We see it as an honor and privilege to have been able to do that for our parents.
The key to navigating our later years is being proactive about gathering information before we get there and staying engaged once we do. To be sage is to be wise. There is wisdom in taking the time to ask questions, seek solutions and know your options before the need arises.
Each week we will discuss relevant topics of aging with experts who can help us to understand and be better prepared for aging. We’ll also introduce you to some Sage Agers who are totally owning their journeys through life. No topic will be off limits and we will deliver open and honest conversation meant to educate and empower our listeners. Each episode will also be available in video and blog formats.
Whether you are proactively seeking to broaden your own knowledge, a caregiver for a loved one or a professional working in the aging care industry, this podcast is for you. We hope you will join us as we explore and celebrate Sage Aging.