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Boomer Bytes #59: Rebirth in Spring

Editor’s Note: Below is another column in Steve Canipe’s series called Boomer Bytes. The column, as the title suggests, will focus on a variety of topics that may be of interest to baby boomers, those born between 1946 and 1964. But Canipe also hopes to start a conversation with younger generations, too. Check out an introduction and Canipe’s (first self-titled) column here.

Rebirth in Spring

By Steve Canipe

Feb. 27, 2015. With the recent weather throughout most of the country and certainly throughout Boone and the North Carolina mountains, I know many people are thinking about springtime and the beautiful weather that accompanies it. Before long the crocus, daffodils, forsythia, and other early bloomers will be popping out.

poppy&saguaro (1)The current cold weather will be soon forgotten and everyone will be basking in the warmth of the sun as it steadily seems to move back northward from the winter depths. I know that this is a little hard to believe when Boone has experienced some really cold weather over the last month or so. But spring will come in the inexorable cycle of rebirth.

As I thought about springtime and rebirth, I thought how sort of ironic as we Boomers are not in the springtime of our lives but rather the fall. The youngest of we boomers turns 50 this year!! The oldest are turning 69 during 2015. So why am I considering it a time of rebirth?

My mother, Edna, who passed away about five years ago, always loved springtime with the new flowers, the fresh green leaves, and the “smell” of all the new life. If you lived close to nature as she did for most of her life, being a farmer’s daughter and then a farmer’s wife, there really was a smell associated with the newly turned earth and the spring showers. There were other harbingers of springtime like the young animals being born and the robins hunting worms.

For the past several years (since 2010) we have become snowbirds in Tucson, Arizona. The winter of 2009-10 was a killer for us. The winter was bad but perhaps not as bad as this year. But the Christmas ice storm left us without power for about 5 days—and we lived in the Boone town limits. My mom was living with us then and we could see the lights from the New Market Center but we had no lights. Fortunately we did have a wood burning fireplace as well as gas logs. While the fan on the gas log fireplace did not work, the heat the logs produced was sufficient to keep our pipes from freezing and us modestly warm!!

Spring that year was especially glorious. It actually was into March when the ice on our roof melted enough to get the guttering repaired where a limb had hit it during the ice storm. Fortunately it was only the guttering and not the roof that sustained damage.

As a generation, we have been at the forefront of many creative chapters of history. We are on the cusp of another – retirement rebirth. An article in the 1999 Business News magazine reported that a study commissioned by AARP and conducted by Roper Starch Worldwide, found approximately 80 percent of baby boomers thought that they would continue to work past the traditional retirement age and about 16 percent thought they would do volunteer work. (http://libn.com/1999/06/18/baby-boomers-creating-retirement-rebirth/)

So this is a rebirth of the idea of retirement and boomers needing or at least wanting to stay active. I am part of this group, as I still work full time now with an online university, Walden. Walden is based out of Minneapolis, Minnesota but due to working online I can live and work from anywhere I have an internet connection and a computer or smart device (phone or tablet).

A recent article (January 2015) in the Huffington Post blog (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sheila-blanchette/baby-boomers-reinventing_b_6470064.html) talks about us as a group – similar to the 1999 article. This one talked about a physical reinvention with a person losing 50 pounds. It was also noted that changes to our view of ourselves might have caused the reinvention. Specifically the article said “So many of us have suffered job losses during our careers. Our generation has lost the job security and unions our parents once had.”

We will need the rebirth like the spring flowers here in the southwestern deserts. This year is going to be a bumper crop of flowers. While the desert is dry normally, our winter rains have been way above normal and the flowers will be like they were several years ago. <insert photo> The flower seeds here lie in wait for the right combination of rainfall and warmth and then burst forth. They flash for a brief moment and then set seeds and drop them in the hopes of another good season to be reborn as new plants. This year is going to be one of those years unless we have a terrible cold snap.

Some of us continue to work in jobs similar to what we did throughout our regular (under age 65) careers like me. Others have launched into writing books like my wife; and still others have taken on volunteer opportunities The Peace Corps started by President John Kennedy was fresh on our minds as young people. Today 8 percent of the Peace Corp volunteers are over 50. The leadership would like for it to be nearer 15 percent. (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/boomers-the-peace-corps-wants-you-2014-12-23)

We are nothing if not untraditional in all we have done, are doing, and will do–from Woodstock, Free Love, drugs. Now, as oldsters, we are apparently at it again- raising the bar and doing what our children think is at least minimally odd and our parents, if they are still with us, definitely think we’ve lost touch with what older people should be doing!! We are being reborn. We have lived and mostly thrived in the corporate world of our parents and now we are again getting ready to sow our wild oats.

So are we really in the spring of our lives again? Most would say we are in the fall of our years and maybe like the trees dropping their leaves to conserve energy and protect themselves in the winter periods or the soil lying fallow in preparation for the covering of snow we should be resting and conserving our energy.

But what the heck – how many times do we live? Only once. Do we value quantity or quality of life more? Most boomers would probably say quality. Perhaps burning the candle on both ends to get a little more light before we leave this Earth…hopefully better than we found it but in all cases different that we found it!!

What do you think about boomers doing these crazy things and being unafraid to attempt and actually do new things – like former President George H.W. Bush parachuting on his 90th birthday? Was it smart? Probably not but he wanted to do it and do it he did!! I admire that spunk and hope that I too can do something like that but probably will not parachute; maybe go zip lining in the Amazon or try living north of the Arctic Circle! Picking something crazy and just doing it for the heck of it!!

Let me hear your thoughts on our rebirth in our figurative new spring! Post below or send me your thoughts to [email protected]. I’ll be interested in hearing your wild ride you’ve planned for your springtime of rebirth!!