BINGO

Card or Online – Lots of Fun

What shall I talk about today or shall I say “rant and rave” about? Being the old fart that I am, let’s talk about something seniors and retirees such as myself have been doing for centuries and that is play BINGO!

What is it about the game of BINGO that fascinates players around the world today? Yes, I said, around the world. For those of you unfamiliar with the game, believe it or not, Bingo has been around since before 1530 and really only came into being in the United States in the 1900s when it was a carnival game by the name of “beano.”

But, as members of the community where I live know it, Bingo is a game they cannot wait to play every Monday night. It is interesting to me how many players look forward to their Monday evening night of fun and the things they do to personalize it and make it their own. For instance, say the games only start at 7 PM, players will actually come to our clubhouse several hours before, enter the hall, choose or should I say mark their table by placing something personal in the spot they intend to sit at for the three hours once the games begin, leave and then return about 30 – 40 minutes prior to the games starting time. And woe is the individual that attempts to sit in that spot (usually the newbie that has never played before and doesn’t know how the game is played). Dedicated players take Bingo playing very seriously as evidenced by the marking of their territory.

But, truth be told, no matter where bingo is being played or what seat you end up sitting in, playing bingo brings joy to seniors and retirees all over the world as they come together to enjoy a night of fun as they share the thrill of an active (depending on the caller), animated game.

While it has been some time since I have actually sat and played Bingo, just listening to the callers yell out some of the cute catchphrases that represent the actual number can be entertaining in and of itself. For instance, “One dozen” would be called for the number 12 or quite possibly, “Unlucky” might be called for the number 13. I could go on but I am sure you get my drift.

Bottom line – I am keeping this post short as I myself am new when it comes to the history of BINGO. Fact is I will be learning more as I go along. But, believe it or not, bingo is now one of the most popular games in the world. I mean think about it – it is so easy to pick up, it is not hard to follow, is a great game to bring people together, and get them chatting. And this applies to whether it is played in a clubhouse, in a classroom, or now that we have the Internet and access to so many “smart” devices, it’s a great game of fun, luck of the draw, and speed.

Bingo first went online in 1996 and as a game that is continually developing and changing, easily offers players numerous choices on how to play the game. An educated guess is that more than 9,000 to 10,000 games of bingo are played every day online in addition to the Bingo halls which now offer both the table games as well as access to the online games.

Who knows, I may even go back to playing Bingo on Monday evenings here in our park as I am sure my wife would enjoy a night out once a week. That’s it for now,

Until next time!

Retirement

Thought I would write a short post about retirement – leastways – my thoughts on the subject!

This is the life!

Retirement – why do some of us embrace it while others tend to either shy away from it or look at it as some unwanted plague? Truth be told, I was somewhat astonished when I learned I wasn’t able to dodge the bullet one more time as I had done so many times before. But that was way back when (1995 to be exact). But, I swallowed my pride, began sending out resumes, and subsequently acquired another job albeit an underwriting job for which I was more than over-qualified. But, it was a job and it helped to put food on the table and a roof over our head and so I accepted it and began my new career, if you will. But, alas, the cards were not with me that year because nine months later (no my wife did not have another baby) my underwriting job was going away too as that company also decided to down-size and yup, you got it – last in – first out. I was only 55, and a few months away from being 56.

How did we handle it? We took it as a sign and decided to down-size ourselves and we haven’t looked back since.  Why? Because the skills we had learned up to that point in our lives were no different than what would come to be known as our retirement skills as we moved forward in our new roles as retirees. Let’s face it – being free from the constraints of the daily 9-5 daily routine allows one to also be free to use whatever combination of life experiences, skills, talents, and personality we have already been through. Also, if applied correctly, these past experiences and so forth enable us to utilize the expertise gained over our working career that will create an existence in retirement designed to satisfy us.     

Is it easy? Not particularly. Some embrace retirement from day one while others seem consumed with all types of difficulties. Take it from me adjustment to this new lifestyle is not without its problems. We all have to learn to work and make compromises.  What matters is how we look at our expectations as we move forward and learn to make adjustments be they around finances, time, health issues or whatever. Retirement involves many of the trials we experienced during our working years – trials such as adversity, heartache, disappointments, as well as failures.

But, hey….it can be done! This past December (just last month) we have been retired 23 years and still are loving it!

Quiet Time – Good Habit to Follow

The quietness of mornings!

One of the things I believe we must do daily is to set aside a particular – “Quiet” – time for ourselves. A time when we have anywhere from an hour to an hour and one-half of “just me” time. No disruptions, no noise, no telephone interruptions, just an hour or so I have for myself. I am trying to get accustomed to making this time around 5:00 AM or 5:30 AM in the morning as at that time, it is quiet outside and with my wife sleeping in the next room, I am in complete solitude. While some people may say this sounds crazy – I personally think it is rather peaceful being alone with one’s thoughts at this hour of the day. I find it quite refreshing or should I say rejuvenating. This early time of the day to just sit with one’s thoughts reflecting, writing, or just simply sitting there in the quiet can be so mentally rewarding.

 But not everyone likes to give up or shall I say spend the first hour or hour and one-half of their day alone with their thoughts. While  my knowledge on this subject is rather limited, it would not surprise me were someone to tell me that most successful people carve out or put aside a minimum of ten to fifteen minutes of every day to allow themselves what one would call “quiet time.” And these little ten or fifteen-minute periods of time can be taken at any time of the day. Meditation, yoga, tai chi, a short ten-minute walk outside in nature, even a ten-minute soak in the tub or if you really want to get wild about it – lock yourself in the bathroom for ten or fifteen minutes.

Even if you don’t allow the hour or hour and one-half every morning like I do, just spending these short ten to fifteen minute periods can and should become a vital part of your daily ritual as I am a true believer that they will assist you in life. Think about it for a minute. What can these short breaks do for you? This alone time enables us to balance much of the noise (television, radio, CD’s, our smart phones, the computer) that we allow to infiltrate much of our day.

Getting back to me – just sitting alone quietly first thing in the morning before I do anything else – yes, even before I start writing or making that first cup of coffee, somehow makes me feel like my day will be more manageable. I do not know how some people just pop out of bed and seem to be going a “mile a minute” before they even head out the door to start their actual work day. True, we retirees do not head off to work like we used to but for many of us our daily schedule has become so full that we wonder sometimes how we even had time to work.  I have found that taking a few minutes just for me – keeps me balanced and ready for whatever comes my way throughout the rest of the day.

Quiet time does not necessarily have to happen during the morning either. One does not have to set aside one particular ten-minute period a day. Most evenings I spend ten minutes or so (usually waiting for my wife to put my eye drops in before retiring for the evening) just sort of relaxing, allowing several thoughts to flow through my mind, usually consisting of what all I accomplished during the day. It is a good calming feeling and one that enables me to ease off into slumber land shortly after the lights are turned off for the evening. Relaxing like this and letting go is a perfect way to gently fall asleep without the worries about what tomorrow might bring. After all, chances are you accomplished all you set out to do today and if not, well, tomorrow is just another day. One day at a time.

Until next time!

And Yet Another Saying by Buddha

Buddha

“‘All conditioned things are impermanent’ — when one sees this with wisdom, one turns away from suffering.” – Buddha

As many of you know, several of the things I like to read and write about are new philosophies, intellectual material/traditions and funny stories. I do this in order to see what the wisdom of others can teach me about my own life so that I might share this new-found knowledge with others. Many of the articles I write and share with others is based on this hodgepodge of ideas generated from this mix of material that I continually add to as well as remove bits from.

The quote above talks about impermanence. If you have ever read some of Buddha’s teachings, you will see that one of the beliefs of Buddha is the idea that everything has a life cycle – whether it is an insect, a tree, an animal, or yes, even us humans.

Think about it – all things mentioned comes into being, then grows, ages, withers and decays, and subsequently dies. This belief applies to trees, plants, insects, animals, fish, birds, people, ideas, thoughts, buildings, and so forth. Buddhism would argue that everything in the universe does this – there may be a different time sequence for each item mentioned – but the fact is – eventually everything subsequently dies.

What does this type of thinking tell us? Well, one way of looking at it and when you stop and think about it – is true – tomorrow will be different from today and will consist of a mix of ideas and things that we experience today. All that has changed is that the ideas and things we thought of only yesterday have aged some, as have new ideas and things we might be thinking about as they enter their own cycle of life.

Depressing? Might be! But then who is to dispute the fact that everyone and everything is on an uninterrupted march towards its own demise. We know this! Remember Benjamin Franklin’s comments in a letter to Jean-Baptiste Leroy, in 1789 when he said: “Our new Constitution is now established and has an appearance that promises permanency; but in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.”

Most of us are aware that an end is a natural part of everything – we may not like it – but we are aware of it. Let’s face it – that’s a normal part of life. Why else would we spout on certain occasions – enjoy and appreciate what you have – life is shorter than you think!

But getting back to Buddha’s philosophy – thinking this way makes us truly recognize that nothing was or is permanent.  What better rule or thought to jog us back to reality every day. By acknowledging that nothing in this life is permanent, perhaps we will remember to say: “I love you” to our loved ones more often. In addition to saying things like that more often – we should also make it a habit to do the things that are truly important to us now rather than later. By accepting this philosophy, we might just appreciate today more. In addition, we will appreciate the little things in life more and more as well.

One of the things I love about where we are right now is the fact that in the morning I can sit outside and listen to the quiet, or a robin chirping away as he flitters across the lawn in front of me searching for breakfast. And then there is the wind whistling through the trees or watching the different clouds make their way across the sky while I try to determine what the shapes might be.  But as was stated in Buddha’s quote, “All conditioned things are impermanent,” The robin will eventually grow older, may become a parent or fly away; the squirrel may scamper across someone else’s lawn; and the lowly bumble bee may fly off to yet another flower to pollinate.   The wind may die down and not even a leaf will flutter and the clouds will either move on or dissipate leaving no sign of ever having been there.  More reasons to enjoy these things now.

In the summertime we spend quite a bit of time in our air- conditioned house but on occasion enjoy the warmth of the sun on our skin when venturing outside.  Truth is that the sun on our skin feels so warm and enjoyable when we go outside we fail to realize that there may come a time in our lives where we may no longer be able to go outside and feel the warmth of the sun on our bodies comforting us from the coolness of the air-conditioned room which we had just left. We age and time marches on.

The point I am trying to make is just this: These are merely some of the reasons for appreciating what we have in the here and now.  Were one to make a list of the many experiences we enjoy every day, experiences like the smell of fresh bread baking in an oven, the feel of that favorite pen gliding over the paper as we make our first journal entry for the day, the smell of the outdoors after a spring rain, even the soreness of our bodies after we have stretched for fifteen or so minutes upon awakening in the morning, we might just recognize how lucky we have it.  These are the things we should appreciate each and every day. While they may be little joys – now is the time to slow down and enjoy them for we won’t always be able to do so.

While we may not be getting any younger – that is no reason to say we shouldn’t enjoy now all the little experiences we can that make us happy.

Until next time!

Frame of Mind

When I woke this morning, I wasn’t in the best frame of mind. I thought to myself, this is going to be one of those so-so days and contemplated rolling over and going back to sleep. But the more I lay there, my mind tended to roam to places I never intended it to roam to.

I pictured various scenes, scenes like a very overweight individual out and about shopping; the conditions of various individuals in the doctor’s office where we recently had our follow-up checkup regarding some blood work drawn the week prior. I also pictured the guy looking for a hand-out on the corner with his sign indicating he hadn’t eaten in quite a while. My thoughts roamed all over the place. They took me overseas to our military and I thought of the young recruit in a faraway land weighted down with about 65 pounds of military gear in addition to the weight of the weapons he must carry with him to be safe.

What do all these scenarios have to do with me and my temporary (yes, temporary) attitude. Just this – it didn’t take much thought after reminiscing about scenarios such as those just mentioned to – how shall I put this “Wake up and smell the roses or in my case the coffee!”

Scenes like those just mentioned made me realize just how good many of us have it. As I looked around our bedroom, I seen nothing but items that reminded me of all the fun and good times we had acquiring what it is we wake up to each and every day. I also gave thought to the knowledge that once I did get up and go to the kitchen, it wouldn’t be long before I am sitting there – still in my pajamas drinking a cup of coffee looking out the window hoping to see a glimpse of the sun rising.

We are fortunate enough to go to bed at night and not have to wonder where our next meal is coming from. Or worry constantly about some type of physical impairment or disease we wrestle with every day and wondering about how we are going to get out of bed and manage whatever it is we have to do today. Nor are we  in the military stationed in some foreign country or war-torn area where nomatter how we feel when we wake we do not have the luxury of waking up and saying: Oh, I don’t feel like this is going to be a good day – that’s it – think I will just roll over and go back to sleep. The list that flashed through my mind was endless.

Am I saying that “we don’t have bad days?” Nope, we all do. But what I am saying is that when we think to ourselves – “Why me?” or “What am I to do with myself, how am I to cope?” stop for a moment and just give thought to all the other people in the world that do not have what you have at this particular moment in time. Doing that simple task may be all you need to get your backside out of bed and make the best of what you have. After all, isn’t that what everyone else has to do.

To coin a phrase that sort of sums it up and by the way – just sitting down and writing this short piece put me in a much better frame of mind – “Suck it up, Buttercup” because when you get right down to the “nitty gritty” of it, things could be a lot worse!

Until next time!