A Life In Pictures

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I’m attempting a new style today, I hope you enjoy the approach.  A “Photo-Journal”, if you will, of my years thus far on Planet Earth.  A Life In Pictures. It’s good to try new things from time to time, so I’m giving it a shot.  This wasn’t planned (more on that in a second), but I hope you enjoy this personal post.  Consider this a pause to look back on The Retirement Manifesto Journey.  Regular programming will resume shortly.

I’ve always loved photography, and I had some fun putting this post together.  Every picture below has personal meaning to me.  If you tire of the commentary, just scan the pics and enjoy a slideshow of my life. I hope you enjoy the historical perspective and the experiences that have made me who I am today.

After the short Blast Through My Past, we’ll move on briefly to the original point of this article:


Live Life Looking Forward, While Cherishing The Past. Click To Tweet

Serendipity

As often happens, my mind wandered as I started to write tonight and I ended up in an entirely different place than where I thought I was going. I love it when that happens (it’s one of the things I enjoy about writing).  This post was originally titled “Live Life Looking Forward”.  I just changed it to “A Life In Pictures”.  I love Editorial Freedom.

Go with the Flow.

I hope you enjoy the journey through my past.


With that, here’s my story…..

Hangin’ with my sisters! I love ’em even more today.

I treasure my childhood and appreciate my parents for shaping me into what I’ve become today (Thanks, Dad – I know you read this blog, and I meant every word I wrote in my Tribute To My Dad.   I love your support and our weekly phone calls! I’m proud to call you my Dad !) .

I love this pic with my Dad! See any resemblance?

I cherish the memories of my youth in small-town America.  Summer days spent sunrise ’til sunset OUTSIDE. Building forts in the woods, rolling tires down the hill, riding bikes over those crazy ramps we built from plywood, skateboarding around the college, swimming in the local lake (where I swam again last October).   Playing “Ghostie Ghostie Come Out Tonight” with all of the neighbor kids until well after dark.

WiFI?  PlayStation?  Non-existent, and I’m thankful for that.

As I got into my teens…

…I think of endless hours with all of those teenagers at the beach on Rose Lake. The beach where all the cool kids hung out (wow, was I a cool kid?  Sure didn’t think so at the time) was only a block from our cabin.  I spent my life on the lake.  I also developed a love of swimming which has benefited me ever since.

With both my parents being teachers, we enjoyed the benefit of “summers off” together as a family,  and we lived at the lake for 3 months each summer. It was Nirvana for a kid in his teens.  As importantly,  my parents’ focus on work/life balance made an impact on me as I became an adult.

 

The world was safer back then.

I miss that.

I enjoyed my years at college…

….and will forever cherish my summer “lodge jobs” at Yellowstone (Montana/Wyoming) and Glacier Bay (Alaska) National Parks.  My first few years of true independence, with a driving urge to capture all the travel experience I could into my newfound freedom.  Life was my oyster, and I took advantage.

The memories are countless, and the memories are good.

  • The solo 3-day hike in Alaska, 100+ miles from the nearest road.
  • That pack of wolves on that Alaskan ridge.  I was alone.  It was surreal.
  • The kayaking trip in Glacier Bay, with Killer Whales breaching nearby.
  • The bear that I spooked on that river.
  • Nights spent looking over Yellowstone Canyon in the light of the moon.
  • The hikes.  Oh, the hikes.  Every weekend, many miles.  Smiling as I type….

Those summer memories are special.  Seems only yesterday that I was on the hike pictured below in Yellowstone.

I loved my summer in Yellowstone (I’m the kid on the left)

Adulthood

I graduated college and accepted a job with a major manufacturing company.  35 Days after college graduation, I walked into an office as a corporate employee.  Paycheck!  401(K)!  Insurance!  Chaaaa-Chiiiing!!  Never in my wildest dreams did I think I’d be with them 32 years and 3 months later.  Yet here I am, with all of the benefits that come from a three-decade-long Corporate Career.  Funny how life works. The work has been good, and I’m thankful.  As I’ve worked my way up “the ladder”, I’ve focused on Living Life Along The Way.

In spite of my work obligations, I focused on Living Life Along The Way. Click To Tweet

My first assignment was in an industrial Ohio working town (the “steel” part of the country with true grit, where men are men and Political Correctness doesn’t carry much weight).   It was there that I met my wife, and a health club romance was born.  It would last a lifetime.

Memories of that first date, in what turned out to be a mafia-run restaurant.  A trip to Washington, D.C. in my MGB convertible.  Top down, nasty sunburn. Loads of fun.  Our trip to Maine in my $500 Subaru “winter car”, with a seat that wasn’t quite secured to the floor.  Great memories, all.

My Wedding Day

My wedding day will always have a special place in my heart.  I’m blessed beyond words with the bride I’ve wed, she’s more than I deserve.  She’s made my life great, and I’m a lucky man.

A Special Day 29 Years & 11 Months Ago. 

Our honeymoon in The Smokies, at a “romantic cabin” that’s still there today (we drive by it sometimes, and smile). Who’d have known that someday we’d retire in the same Southern Appalachian mountains?

We’ll be celebrating our 30th Wedding Anniversary next month.

Seems so long ago.

Seems like yesterday.

Our first few years of marriage were special.  We were “DINKS” (Dual-Income-No-Kids), and we enjoyed life.  Great vacations, two Siberian Huskies, and the purchase of our first home.  Since this is personal finance blog, I should mention that we saved 100% of her pay, so she’d be free to become a stay-at-home Mom after children entered the picture.  We lived life every day.  We Lived Life Looking Forward.


We treasured our years of parenthood.

After years of “trying”, we adopted our daughter and were in the hospital when she was born.  She’s been one of the best gifts we’ve ever received in life, and we thank God for allowing us to be her parents.  We’ve been there from the day she was born until the day she flew the nest.  18+ years of shaping the life of the next generation.

Parenthood. What a challenge.  What a thrill.  What a gift.

We’ve been following The 10 Commandments of Early Retirement along the way, but we also gave our priority to creating family memories and enjoying our journey.  We spent our free time focused on vacations around the world (gotta love those frequent flier miles), and we were intentional on exploring a new part of the world every year.  Every.  Year.  I’ll forever cherish the vacations we’ve taken.

We Love the Swiss Alps!!

You’ve got to have an Eiffel Tower pic, right?

We hosted 2 German Exchange Students over the years, and love them still today.

Our Daughter Matures

As our daughter became a teen, our relationship changed as they inevitably do, and we adapted.  Her wings begin to sprout, and we were determined to teach her to fly.

She tried out lots of things,  pursuing modeling and the ROTC RIfle Team and Horse Riding competitions and The 4-H Goat Club and guitar and…and…and….

We spent a lot of time in barns.

We supported her on her journey, and her wings began to grow.


Our Daughter Is Gorgeous, Inside and Out.

The Empty Nest

4 years ago, she left for college, and our nest was empty.  What a time of change.  What a time of potential. Family life takes on a whole new form.

Heading Off To College

After a couple of years of college, our daughter became a Police Officer and we taught her the First 6 Steps To Financial Wealth.  She’s flying now, she’s learned to soar.  We love to watch her fly.

Our Daughter’s Wedding Day

Our daughter’s wedding this past July was a truly special event in our lives.  It was the Perfect Wedding.  It was the Perfect Day. Memories of my walk down the aisle with my little girl will linger for my lifetime.

I’ll forever cherish walking our daughter down the aisle.

Our nest has been empty for four years, but somehow it feels emptier knowing our daughter is moving to the Pacific Northwest in the next few weeks.  Then again, it’s a great excuse to spend some of our upcoming travel time in the Upper Left Corner of this country, an area we’ve always loved.  We saw her 3 days ago for the last time before she moves.  We’re kind of sad, but life goes on.


The Path Forward

Many folks struggle with the transition to an Empty Nest, but my wife and I have embraced it.  It’s a tremendous opportunity in our lives, and we’re pursuing it with a passion.  Life is our oyster, and we’re grabbing it with both hands.  We’ve worked our entire lives for this moment.

It’s time to enjoy the fruits of our labor.

Kayaking in a Norwegian Fjord. What a beautiful country.

We continued in our passion for travel, and we’ve continued to pursue a great life.  We take time to celebrate the special moments of life, like our 25th wedding anniversary trip to Nova Scotia:

Nova Scotia – 25th Wedding Anniversary


Live Life Looking Forward

Funny how this post was supposed to start here. The Flow shifted, and it just seemed right to “Cherish The Memories” before we look to the future.  I don’t dwell on the past, though you’d never know that from this post.  I can’t change the roads I’ve already traveled, and there’s no changing the past.  Regardless, there are times when it’s right to look back, and this was one of those times.

In truth, I don’t focus much energy on the past.  I’ve never been one to toss and turn about what I coulda/shoulda/woulda said.

I can’t change the past, but I can change the future.


Life Is Like A Car With No Reverse. Live Life Looking Forward! Click To Tweet

Our lives don’t have reverse.

Recognize it, embrace it, and face the future.

Live Life Looking Forward, While Cherishing The Past.

Exploring our retirement mountain environs.

We’ve done our job in raising our daughter.  She’s turned into a wonderful woman, and she’s married to a Patriot who we’re proud to call our son.  We continue to pray for them both, and she’ll always be our little girl.

But we’re looking forward, and the future is bright.

We’re living life.

We’ll keep you posted on how things turn out…..

The sign on our fireplace is a friendly reminder.

Conclusion

We’re all shaped by the lives we’ve lived thus far, and there’s value in cherishing the memories.  Pause from time to time to reflect on the miles you’ve covered, and the journey you’ve made. Don’t, however, make the past your focus and lose track of the road ahead.  Like a car with no reverse, you can’t go backward in life.  You can’t change the miles you’ve traveled, but you have lots of choices on the road ahead.

Live Life Looking Forward, While Cherishing The Past. 

Your Turn:  What are your best memories from the life you’ve lived thus far?  What’s your greatest excitement about the road ahead?


PS – As you read this, I’m negotiating international trade deals in the 102 Degree paradise that is the Kingdom of Bahrain ( an island nation off the coast of Saudi Arabia, in The Persian Gulf), so forgive me if I’m slow in responding to comments.  Also, thanks for indulging my experimental “Photo-Journal” style today.  I enjoyed it.  I hope you can say the same.

 

 

 

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37 comments

  1. What a great narrative, Fritz. Really enjoyed reading your post this morning. It seems we’ve traveled some similar paths. If I had a photo timeline, you’d see the Swiss Alps (Berner Oberlander), Paris, and Norway as well. Oh yeah, we also hosted an exchange student (when I was in high school, a Norwegian who’s an adopted family member, just like your Deutschlanders!)

    Congratulations on building up a WEALTH of great memories and relationships. That’s the real prize we need to be chasing!

  2. Fritz, I enjoyed your photo journey very much this morning. It resonated and it reminded me of Financial Samurai’s post:
    “There’s a simple personal finance mantra everybody should consider following: one spouse, one car, one house, one job. The idea is that if you stick with one of everything, you’ll maximize its usage, minimize extraneous expenditure, and live happily ever after.” – FinancialSamurai.com
    And for YOUR family, Fritz, we could add–one daughter!
    So thank you for sharing, and we will be looking forward to the next chapter.

  3. Love love loved taking this walk down memory lane with you! Thank you for inviting us to flip through the pages of your past with you! Indeed our lives do not have reverse, so we must …learn from…leave behind..and look forward.

  4. What a beautiful, well lived life. And what an amazing philosophy to live by. It’s certainly made me think this morning, and make me reaffirm my commitment to living in the present and not regretting any part of my past. Everything happens for a reason. Thanks for telling your story, I appreciate it. 🙂

  5. Man Fritz…what a walk down memory lane. I am glad you went with the stream of thought. I think the point you make of enjoying life now while working on the path to freedom is very important. Those trips and memories while your daughter was young are priceless and were there only for a moment in time. As these kids grow so quick, our relationships with them evolve too. Who they were yesterday is not who they are today. To a great 50 years more to you and your family!

  6. I can totally relate to the mind wandering when writing but what a beautiful post you got out of it. That pic in Yellowstone is classic! It’s awesome that you guys traveled a ton as a family…we only went to Wisconsin Dells. Ha!

    So Nova Scotia for the 25th anniversary…where will 30 bring you?? Congrats and looking forward to many great pics to come. 🙂

  7. Fritz, I absolutely LOVE your life in pictures. It was very interesting to see all the things you have done with your life until now – your post made me think about my own life so far and the years ahead. I like it when things get a bit more personal, so no need to hold back on that in the future 🙂

  8. Thanks, all, for the great comments yesterday! I made it to Bahrain, and won’t have time to respond to each of you. Please accept this as my heartfelt thanks to all of you for encouraging this “experimental” approach in my writing, and for sharing the story of my life thus far!

  9. Being a horseback rider myself, I’ve also spent my fair share of time in a barn. Loved the pictures and the reminder to pause and reflect on life. I have been incredibly busy lately and have felt that I have lost a healthy balance between work and life. I’m really looking forward to my trip to Ecuador this week and attending my first Chautauqua.

  10. I’ll only echo what has been said by others. Love this. Made me smile.

    Saving and investing is important. But life is for living and this story of photos shout that out loud and clear.

  11. Fritz, I love your blog and your perspective, and especially this post. What shines through is your gratitude for your many blessings. No doubt there have been trials and hardships along the way, but as you do beautifully wrote, the key is not to dwell on those things, but be grateful for the good things in the past, dream for the future and press on through the present.

  12. You did a great job of capturing your life in one post. It is great that you still have the photos from when you were a young boy. I enjoyed the post. You have lived a blessed life.

  13. A perfect example of a Life lived fully and well, and with more great adventures ahead. Nice to look back and reflect on where we have come from and what we have done. Then enjoy today and look forward, never stop dreaming and doing. There is a world of experiences ahead.

  14. What a beautiful life and people in it, Fritz. Very few have a life without major setbacks and that is a huge blessing! I also like how your life has crossed major milestones at every step of the journey, giving you and your wife the satisfaction of a well-lived life that is evident in both your pictures and your writing! Thanks for sharing this with us and I wish you both great many years of retired bliss!

  15. Great post and photos, Fritz! I really like the first one of the three of us kids at the local playground, taken by another great photographer, our Dad Arlan Gilbert! I loved all the pics, really fun read.

  16. Nicely done, Sir. Your blog is always so positive…as are your comments to others in the FIRE blogosphere. By all accounts you seem to be a genuine, good fella. Keep up the good work…looking forward to reading about you “snapping the tape” at the end of your work days.

  17. That last/tag line should be made into a t-shirt! 🙂 Literally a few hours after posting here…you appeared in the queue of podcasts w/ Choose FI. What a serendipitous community the world of FIRE is. That was a great episode. Excellent stuff…

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