Lessons Learned

Word lessons learned written on miniature chalkboard in classroom against black background. Back to school concept. Educational background.As a youngster, I regularly heard, “I wish I was your age, knowing what I know now.”I thought they were joking. I’m now 84, been dealing with cancer, showing lots of tread wear, dents and scratch marks. I get it – they were grinning, but serious!

One of the advantages of writing a free newsletter, being dubbed a RetireMentor, is I can write about what suits my fancy. This week I’m hoping to connect with many baby boomers along the way.

The implied message is, knowing what I know now, I would have done things differently. Screwing up teaches us many lessons.

My personal experiences

When diagnosed with cancer, your mortality can no longer be ignored. A side effect of my treatment is fatigue; naps are my friend. I’m a master at making daydreaming look like a nap.

Subscriber Charles C. shared an article by Stephanie Hertzenberg, “8 Losses No One Tells You it’s Okay to Grieve”. It really hit home.

She begins:

“When people think about mourning a loss, they almost always think about grieving for a loved one who has died. Loss, however, takes many different forms. …. Sometimes, you grieve for things that no one else is even aware you lost. That does not make it wrong. …. No one has the right to tell you that you should or should not mourn these things or anything else you have lost.”

She elaborates on the 8 losses:

Who a person used to be.

People change. Everyone knows that. (It) does not make it easier to deal with the realization that the person you used to know is gone. …. You can certainly mourn who someone used to be, even as you try and learn about who they are now.

A relationship you ended.

Most people seem to assume that the person who ends a relationship skips off happily into the sunset and never sheds a single tear of grief. This is nonsense.

…. That does not mean, however, that you cannot grieve for lost dreams.  

Your old self.

Everyone grows and changes throughout their life, but you might look up one day and find that you have lost some part of yourself that you valued. …. Even if you prefer the person you have become, you can still grieve for who you were yesterday. After all, you can never become that person again.

A pipe dream.

Almost everyone has a point in their life where they have to give up on a dream. …. Believing in a pipe dream represents a sort of boundless, innocent optimism that is impossible to regain once it is lost. Regardless of its realism, it mattered to you, and that is worth grieving.

Someone you barely knew.

Sometimes the loss of an acquaintance or person barely one step up from a stranger hits you hard. …. It may only be after they are gone that you realize how much they actually meant to you.

A stage of life.

Moving from one stage of your life to the next can be exciting, but it is often bittersweet. …. No matter how excited you are about a new stage of life, there is nothing wrong with grieving the one you leave behind.

Something damaging.

Getting rid of damaging things is something to celebrate, but sometimes you need to mourn them in order to truly leave them behind.

Lost ignorance.

Knowledge is power …. Ignorance, however, can be bliss. There are any number of things in the world that you are better off knowing but that hurt to learn. …. As you recognize that it is better to know, you can mourn lost ignorance. …. Then, get back to work dealing with reality.”

No Regrets!

deathbed regretsI related to every point, and found myself dwelling on them, reflecting on various stages of my life. Yes, I’ve wished for some do-overs. Logically I understand there was no guarantee things would have worked out better; they might have been worse. Just another pipe dream.

My grandmother lived through two wars, the great depression, terrible marriages, and a life with many challenges; yet she would say, “No regrets.” The implication was, accept your life for what it is; no point in mourning the past. She lived and loved life for almost 100 years.

Bessie Roman writes, “The Meaning Behind The Song: No Regrets by Edith Piaf”:

‘No Regrets’ speaks to the trials and tribulations that we all face in our lives. Edith Piaf’s soulful and emotive voice beautifully captures the essence of regret, yet conveys a message of defiance and self-empowerment. The lyrics speak of accepting the consequences of our choices and finding solace in knowing that one has lived a life true to themselves.”

Here’s part of the crystal-clear lyrics:

No! No regrets
No! I will have no regrets
All the things
That went wrong
For at last I have learned to be strong

No! No regrets
No! I will have no regrets
For the grief doesn’t last
It is gone
I’ve forgotten the past

And the memories I had
I no longer desire
Both the good and the bad
I have flung in a fire

No! No regrets
No! I will have no regrets
All the things
That went wrong
For at last I have learned to be strong

Stephanie Hertzenberg concludes her permission to grieve:

“Grief is not logical or rational. …. Do not look for logic in grief. Simply accept that you need to grieve, do so, and move on.

What a powerful reminder for all of us; accept your life, your choices, and move on.

How ironic that after several days of daydreaming about these ideas, I actually woke up laughing. Somehow, my subconscious mind managed to sort things out.

Text Forget the mistake remember the lesson written on chalkboard. Inspirational quoteWhen I pondered my life’s choices, those that turned out well, still cause me to feel button-busting proud.

However, not all choices were good, some I deeply regret and would surely remedy if it were possible. When I dwell on the bad choices, some happening many decades ago, I still feel uneasy.

Why was I laughing? Regardless of the results, they were choices I made of my own free will – good or bad, I accepted the consequences of the outcome.

One of my favorite songs, almost a mantra as I’ve aged, is Frank Sinatra’s My Way. Here’s a few verses:

And now, the end is near
And so I face the final curtain
My friend, I’ll say it clear
I’ll state my case, of which I’m certain
I’ve lived a life that’s full
I traveled each and every highway
And more, much more than this
I did it my way

Regrets, I’ve had a few
But then again, too few to mention
I did what I had to do
And saw it through without exemption
I planned each charted course
Each careful step along the byway
And more, much more than this
I did it my way

I’ve loved, I’ve laughed and cried
I’ve had my fill, my share of losing
And now, as tears subside
I find it all so amusing
To think I did all that
And may I say, not in a shy way
Oh, no, oh, no, not me
I did it my way

For what is a man, what has he got?
If not himself, then he has naught
To say the things he truly feels
And not the words of one who kneels
The record shows I took the blows
And did it my way

Yes, it was my way

Anyone who knows me would echo the comment “not in a shy way.” Each course was not always clearly charted; many were intuitive choices, made instantly, without thinking things through – which became major milestones in my life. Regardless, there is no denying, I did it my way.

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Lessons learned

I don’t understand how anyone cannot look back and not have some regrets; poor choices that impacted your life and others. Regrets, yes – endless grieving, no; you can’t change the past, don’t make the same mistakes again. Most importantly, don’t allow any regret to inhibit what time you have left. Let it go – move on!

John Barrymore said, “A man is not old until regrets take the place of dreams.”

While we can’t stop aging, acting old is a choice. Dreams keep us young. A hidden secret to staying young is dreaming and planning. Always have something fun written on your calendar for the months ahead. Visualizing fun times keeps you busy planning; something to look forward to and smile. When the time comes, have a blast, and immediately start dreaming & planning your next one.

Perhaps the most important lesson I’ve learned is from friend/mentor Chuck Butler, relating to “The Final Curtain.” Chuck has been beating cancer for over 15 years now, making choices, while smiling and having a positive impact on many others.

Keytruda and radiation has kept me going for five years now. Just like regrets, no point in dwelling on the negative. Don’t allow the past to inhibit enjoying life today. Love, laugh, spend time with loved ones; have a blast for as long as you can. Keep on keeping on…

Final curtain? The Fat Lady sang the final aria for a long-long time…. Keep on keeping on.

Who wants to have the curtain come down and be remembered as a mean, grumpy old man?” Not me.

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On The Lighter Side…

Memorial Day - gold star family - woman sitting at grave remembering service memberI hope everyone enjoyed their Memorial Day weekend.

I was lucky as I was too young for Korea and honorably discharged before Vietnam got going. I get emotional celebrating these types of events, honoring those who served who were not as fortunate as I was.

As I have aged. I’ve realized wars are political. If the politico’s families had to go first, our world would be much better off. Throughout history mankind has never been able to just live and let live. What a shame!

On a different note, Jo’s therapy is going very well. She bent her leg 122 degrees, 3 more to go and she will be released and we can go see the grandchildren. She limps home from therapy and immediately needs to ice things down, but she is just a few more sessions from getting the job done.

Quote Of The Week…

There’s a cool Facebook group titled “Born In The 40’s Grew Up In The 50’s“:

Senior Couple Hugging“Of those who were born in the early 40’s and still alive today we are probably the luckiest, and unluckiest, people on this planet. From horse drawn buggies to space ships, from world wars to peace concerts. From rationed food to fast food joints.

No one will ever see the transformations we have witnessed, hear the sounds the way we heard them, felt the thrills as we experienced them. The incredible changes in the delivery of sound and vision. Morse-code to ear pods, from vinyl, cassettes to podcast, photographic film and virtual reality all these are astounding leaps in life style changes in a very short life span.

Stand tall and be proud my aged brethren for none will ever experience and survived all the firsts that we have known.”Terry Ellingham

And Finally…

Subscriber Robert G. shares some cute quotes on aging for our enjoyment:

  • “I don’t plan to grow old gracefully. I plan to have face-lifts until my ears meet.” – Rita Rudner
  • “The years between 50 and 70 are the hardest. You are always being asked to do things, and yet you are not decrepit enough to turn them down.” – T.S. Elliot
  • “At fifty, everyone has the face he deserves.” – George Orwell
  • “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
  • “When I was young, I was called a rugged individualist. When I was in my fifties, I was considered eccentric. Here I am doing and saying the same things I did then, and I’m labeled senile.” – George Burns
  • “I complain that the years fly past, but then I look in a mirror and see that very few of them actually got past.” – Robert Brault
  • “The important thing to remember is that I’m probably going to forget.” – Unknown
  • “As you get older three things happen. The first is your memory goes, and I can’t remember the other two.” – Sir Norman Wisdom
  • “Birthdays are good for you. Statistics show that the people who have the most live the longest.” – Larry Lorenzon
  • “The older I get, the better I used to be.” – Lee Trevino
  • “You know you’re getting old when you can pinch an inch on your forehead.” – John Mendoza
  • “I was thinking about how people seem to read the bible a lot more as they get older, and then it dawned on me that they’re cramming for their final exam.”- George Carlin
  • “I don’t feel old. I don’t feel anything until noon. Then it’s time for my nap.” – Bob Hope

And my favorite: (A basic truth!)

  • “It’s paradoxical that the idea of living a long life appeals to everyone, but the idea of getting old doesn’t appeal to anyone.” – Andy Rooney

Until next time…

Dennis Miller

“Economic independence is the foundation of the only sort of freedom worth a damn.” – H. L. Mencken

 

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