Insights Episode 24 Planning an Extraordinary Retirement | Episode 24

Imagine That
Episode 24

Planning an Extraordinary Retirement | Episode 24

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How do you cap off a lifetime of hard work? With many people retiring healthier, heartier and wealthier than generations before us, retirement can be a chance for adventure, an opportunity to make the most of the next chapter of our lives.

In this episode, host and Confluence Financial Partners CEO, Greg Weimer, introduces us two people living out an extraordinary retirement. Meet Pat and Michelle, whose skillful retirement planning has given them the freedom and flexibility to follow their feeling hearts — all across the U.S. For anyone who has ever considered following a different retirement path, don’t miss this episode.

Confluence Financial Partners — Planning an Extraordinary Retirement | Episode #24

How do you cap off a lifetime of hard work? With many people retiring healthier, heartier and wealthier than generations before us, retirement can be a chance for adventure and an opportunity to make the most of the next chapter of our lives. In this episode, host and Confluence Financial Partners CEO, Greg Weimer, introduces us two people living out an extraordinary retirement. Meet Pat and Michelle, a couple whose skillful retirement planning has given them the freedom and flexibility to follow their feeling hearts — all across the U.S. You’ll hear about their travels and adventures — and learn how they brought their dreams to life. For anyone who has ever considered following a different retirement path, don’t miss this episode.

Greg: Hello, and welcome to the Imagine That podcast. I’m your host, Greg Weimer, founder, partner, and wealth manager at Confluence Financial Partners. Each month, we’ll explore new ways to help you maximize your life and your legacy and meet some extraordinary people along the way. So if you’re looking to get more out of your life today and legacy tomorrow, let’s get started.

At Confluence Financial Partners, helping people maximize their lives and legacies is truly one of the most rewarding things we do. You know, if you think about it, to really enjoy your life, we need to figure out how to go through transitions well, and cuz we all have transitions in our lives and really navigating from one part of your one chapter of your life to another chapter of your life is really an art. And I have had the privilege of getting to know Pat and Michelle. Pat Gaunt and Michelle Bergeron have been friends of mine, we were just trying to figure out when, since the early nineties we’ve known each other and it’s been so much fun to watch these two friends go through transitions together and as a couple. So Pat, Michelle, welcome to Imagine That podcast.

Pat: Thank you for having us.

Michelle: Thanks Greg. Great to be here.

Greg: So the first time I met them, yes, I worked with, I worked with Michelle and that’s how I got to know Pat. I watched you both be road warriors and travel, not for enjoyment, right? Not for enjoyment at all. And then I’ve also watched you. We’re gonna get to like how you can really like love your retirement and think differently about it. They’ve helped me think differently about my retirement. They’ve inspired me, but, but let’s start with cuz I think the first chapter was you two were road warriors. Do you wanna just give a little color and talk about how you both traveled and how you stayed connected while you were in different states?

Michelle: You know, we actually met on an airplane on a Sunday night when I was starting my week and Pat was ending his. And so that was sort of the beginning of our relationship. We both for, oh, over 25 years pretty much full time. And we spent lots of time apart with little time together, but it was something that was a part of a lifestyle that we had chosen, that we knew would be for a finite period of time that we planned for to ultimately allow us to do what we’re doing now and that is have other interests and other things that have been filling our lives.

Greg: Do you wanna just talk a little bit about, as you are traveling into different states, how you knew it wasn’t permanent and that was important to you?

Pat: Greg, for us, it was, it was really a means to an end. We knew that when we left on Monday morning, we typically wouldn’t see each other until Friday night. And we just knew that was the lifestyle that we had chosen really, because it was a means to an end. We knew that by, you know, sacrificing other elements of our lives and, and traveling and working hard during the week that that would enable us to have successful careers. It would enable us to plan for our financial future and you know, to eventually, you know, reap the benefits of that, which is what we’re doing now. We’re very excited with the things that we’re doing now.

Greg: But that root Pat, what you just said, that root of what you just said is really important because one of the things that happen when people don’t transition well, their job becomes their identity. That does not mean— I watched you two, you two put it all on the field and worked a hundred percent. I mean, I watched it. You guys were totally committed, but, but you knew that there was something greater out there, but you still gave 100% to your careers.

Michelle: Yeah. It was, it was very exciting. It was something that we planned for. We knew that the careers that we had chosen were gonna require us to spend a lot of time doing them without a lot of extra time to do other things that many of our friends and people did, but it felt like it was worthwhile. So we planned financially so that we could be fully independent, hopefully by the age of 50. We achieved that sooner. We were very, very fortunate to then allow us to take the next step and take a look at the list of things that we had put together, of things individually and things collectively that we had always wanted to do, but never had the time for. So it was a really exciting transition to be able to venture out into some other things that we had not had the time to experience.

Greg: So Michelle, do you remember we were in a, I don’t know if you were in the room or not. We were in a room; it was Los Angeles. I won’t say the person’s last name, but his name was John and he got up in front of the group and he said, here’s why I’m retiring. And he said, he, when he travels, he sees people walking by him and they, I forget how he said it. And he said, they’re smiling and they look happy. And I just want to go figure out what they’re smiling about and what’s making them happy and I’m gonna go do that.

Michelle: I remember it well. And I think it was very inspiring. And in fact for us, we were very fortunate in our first year of retirement. We met some new folks who have now become our closest friends and they made a comment to was that really stuck and resonated. And they said that, to them, the whole idea of a fulfilled life was to follow your feeling heart. And to Pat and I, that really meant doing things that brought joy, excitement, enthusiasm, passion, and fulfillment. And it really got us thinking about what the next steps were. And so there were things that we had, as I mentioned planned to learn to do together. We learned boat and RVing and scuba diving and things just to name a few. And then it gave us chances to do things individually that were things that had been on our bucket list for a long time. And so it was an opportunity to do things that we just didn’t have time for before. And given the fact that we never know how long we’re gonna be on this earth, it seemed like we needed to take advantage of as much as we could now, while we still could.

Greg: When did you start? So if you said like this is the retirement date, this is the moment it all happens. How far back before that, did you really start to plan?

Pat: Geez, I, early on in our marriage and particularly with Michelle’s background in in fin, in the financial world really from 1991, when we got married, that was a really big part of our plan was, you know, proper management of our finances and, and saving for the future. And because neither one of us really identified ourselves that, you know, we are what our job is to us. It was, it was a means to an end, although we were passionate and we loved what we both did at the end of the day. And I’ll just speak for me, is it that wasn’t who I was in total as a person. So it was really, you know, we’re gonna make these sacrifices, we’re gonna work hard, we’re gonna travel and in our jobs, but at the end of the day, it’s, it’s really the means to the end. And so it really goes back to early on in our marriage of saving for the future. And, and that allowed us to dream big, thinking about the future that we knew that, you know, we, we had a proper financial plan and that allowed us to continue to dream. And as the years went on, we were able to dream bigger because of those those plans and, and sacrifices.

Greg: I think what you just said, that it’s interesting how many people don’t, they don’t really plan their life or, or, or they have like a dream of what they were like, like what they, they, they have a dream of what they want their life to be. They have this dream but they don’t have a plan. So I see people that can think of 30,000 feet and can dream. I see people that are pretty good at living their daily lives. I don’t see a lot of people that match their daily activities with their dream. And, and the fact that you guys started dreaming about it earlier and actually putting plans together, I think that is a huge lesson for people listening that should not be taken for granted. So, so I think that was one lesson you just said, Pat, the second one is you, you were all in on your careers, but you didn’t let it define you.

And, and whether you see it happen with executives like you guys were, or whether you see it happen with athletes, right? I mean, you become Joe from the Steelers. And then all of a sudden number 34 is no longer on your back. And now you’re just Joe and you don’t know how to behave as Joe. So it makes the transition so much harder. I’m not surprised to hear you say the things you say, because it’s allowed you guys to transition into a wonderful next chapter of your life. And I think, for people listening, those nuggets are life changing. And, and, and, and now there were some, there were some intervention and some coincidence, divine intervention, whatever, whatever you may, whatever, whatever you may wanna call it. Tell everyone about the September 11th event, tell ’em on September 11th. What happened? I think that is just beyond consequ— beyond coincidental.

Michelle: 9-11 was an extraordinary, it was just an extraordinary day in that it was an odd day that we both took a cab to the airport. Pat tending intending to go to Dallas. And I was intending to go to San Diego. We were both up in the air when the FAA downed all planes, given what was happening in New York and in other places around the country. And it turned out that we both landed in Dallas and it was a very, as you can all know, and remember, it was a very, very scary time getting off the airplane, seeing the televisions on with buildings that were blowing up. And of course, knowing that each of us had been in the air and wondering where the other was. Fortunately within an hour, we were able to find each other and get together despite phones not working and everything else.

And like many people we spent the next few days glued together. In this case, we were holed up in a hotel trying to figure out how we would get home, watching everything on television. And I believe for both of us, I can say that it was really a, an earth-shattering event that got us think even more about the important things in life and what we really wanted to do with the rest of the time we had on earth. So we had talked previously about, you know, the age of 50 was when we were planning to be financially free, but we also decided at that time that if things weren’t as fun as we had hoped they would be, or if the world was that we needed to make sure that we adapted to make our time here on earth. Exactly what we hoped it would be. And so it was it was a very sobering time and something that was, I think, very instrumental in us helping plan our next chapter.

Greg: And, and the unusual part, you guys were both living, if I remember, you both were in Atlanta, then you, you guys lived in Atlanta.

Michelle: We did.

Greg: And, and you were in a hotel in?

Michelle: Dallas.

Greg: Dallas, Dallas. Yeah. So what’s the chance of that. Like, here you go. You’re both, you’re both grounded and you’re both grounded at the same airport in Dallas with time to, you know, contemplate the importance of accelerating your dreams, which I think is just really, really interesting. The other thing about September 11th, I think about this a lot and I don’t know why. I mean, it just, it feels like to me, in some ways it was yesterday and Michelle, I think it was you that just said like you, we just don’t know how long we’re going to be, going to be on this planet. And I feel like September 11th was yesterday. And when you think about that, that was 21 years ago, roughly 21 years. And so then I look at my life and I say, okay, it’s 21 years went like that. Like, just like that. And if that’s how much longer I have to have energy and passion and live my dream, it gives you a sense of urgency. And I, I don’t think we have to be impatient, but it gives us a sense of urgency to show how, you know, everybody talks about how fast life goes, but I don’t think we hear it.

And so we don’t really embrace every minute and understand, you know, when we look back, are we gonna say like, you know what, just like you did in your career, but in your, in the next chapter of life, did I leave it all on the field? Did I really do everything I wanted to do? So, so here you are, you’re realizing you’ve planned for this your whole life. You’re deciding to go onto your next chapter of your life.

Tell us about how you transitioned from flying all over the place, business. Did you detox? Was it easy? You know, what did you do? I mean, what did you do to all of a sudden become, Hey, we think we’re gonna buy an RV and drive down the coast. Like, like that, that’s a . I mean, by the way, that’s the kind of calls you get when you’re friends with Pat and Michelle. Hey, you know what, the boat thing, we’re gonna talk about all this, but like, like the boat thing, we’re gonna not do the boat thing for a while. We think we gonna do an RV and it’s like, Hey, you know, we’re in Oregon, we’re looking at the Carolinas. You know what we think the Carolinas would be cool. So it’s just like so much fun to be your friend. So how did you transition from, you know, the business executives to, and I don’t want to, but a little bit of a free spirit like you guys are, and I love that. How’d you do that?

Pat: That, Greg, to answer your question for me, it was, it was an easy transition. I loved my career. I loved the people and the companies that I worked with, but I always dreamed about that next chapter in life. And so I had things that I was ready to jump into and devote more time and energy to, from motorcycling, to mountain biking, to fly fishing, to leisure travel, as opposed to business travel. And so to me, it was just one chapter closed, another, another opened up, and it, it allowed for more adventure, more, more travel developing new and different friendships being able to have a more balanced life in terms of the physical, mental, emotional, spiritual components, and to get those more in alignment. And so all in all, for me, it was, it was a very easy transition.

I never identified myself as the person that had a particular job title or particular job responsibility. And so it was, it was a little easier for me to, to let that go, you know, with a great deal of gratitude, but also looking forward rather than in the rear-view mirror. And, and that has served me well over the last bunch of years since. And I always say, you know, once you retire, you’re not retiring from life. You’re just retiring from, from a job. And there’s other challenges. There’s other adventures. There’s other things to learn and do and dedicate yourself to.

Greg: People look at retirement like death. I mean, it’s like, well, I gotta be all in cash when I retire. It’s like, really? You’re retiring. You’re not dying. Like you’re retiring. You don’t need to get all cash just cuz you’re going to retire. But Michelle, what was the, what was the transition like for you?

Michelle: You know, it wasn’t as easy as it was for Pat. He had retired two years prior to me, I had made a commitment at work that I would stay for a two-year assignment and two years to the day is when I retired. But it gave me, listening to Pat every day and all of the activities and things that he was doing, gave me an opportunity to really flush out more what things interested me. I found the issue was more of how to slow down because I was so used to having a schedule out four to six months, just like you, Greg, where you knew you were gonna be on what day and doing what at which time. I started to just completely book myself, which at first worked fine. So the week after I retired, I went because I was very, I’m very interested in mind, body movement modalities, and so I went for two certifications for four weeks for the beginning of my training. And then Pat and I went on what was planned as a four-week National Park tour while we were out, we realized that why did we have to come home? I, we had just put constraints on ourselves and realized we didn’t need to. So we stayed out another few weeks, but for me it was just more, more of a, of slowing down. And I think taking some of those steps by looking at some of our interests and then traveling started to allow me to be more present and slow down from the pace. So much so that, that now we wonder kind of how we did it all back then. It’s been extraordinary.

Greg: Yeah, it is. It is. There’s an addiction to busy. And it’s an ego filling thing. It’s an addiction to busy. Okay, so now you’re deciding you’re in Atlanta, you’re ready for your adventure. What do you do to decide what you’re gonna do, where you’re gonna move? What’s the first adventure?

Pat: Well, the first thing we did when we both retired is we bought a plant and we joke about that and it sounds silly, but when Michelle and I were traveling all the time, we never had plants or pets or you know, so if I wrote a book on retirement, the first chapter would be titled, Time to Buy a Plant. And so we, we laugh about that. That’s

Greg: That’s cool. That is really cool.

Pat: Because you can, you can start like, wow, now we can actually have a plant. We can actually have a pet. We can actually do some of these things that were always put on the back burner. And those that back burner then becomes the front burner and that’s what makes it so exciting. And we’ve been in Atlanta for, for 20 years, you know, we had traveled in our careers all over, I think at last count, I think Michelle is one state ahead of me. I’m at 46 states and Michelle’s at 47, if I remember that correctly, but we finally just opened our, opened ourselves up to where do we wanna go? Where, what do we wanna do? What kind of exploring do we want to do? And early in my career, I had lived in Colorado for a couple of years and loved living out west and really tried to talk to Michelle about the lifestyle of living out west.

And so we, we just decided to take a road trip and we headed west visited Sedona, Arizona, and some of the surrounding areas and fell in love with it. We ended up buying a home there. We spent two years there and that was really the first time we had given ourselves permission to live place that was not dictated by our jobs. And also knowing full well that if we’re gonna move here, it doesn’t mean we have to be here the rest of our lives. And that was such a freeing feeling for us that, you know, Hey, we, there’s something here for us to, to learn, to enjoy. There’s wonderful people to meet. Sedona is one of the most beautiful places on the planet. And but we knew that after we spent a couple of years there, if that wasn’t where we wanted to be after that, then we were gonna take that experience and those memories and we were going to give ourselves permission to look elsewhere.

And that’s really what we did. And that’s what we’ve continued to do is that as we’ve made these, these decisions in terms of getting into boating or getting into RVing or living in other parts of the country, that that’s great for now, what we make the best decision we can with, with what our interest and desires are now. But that doesn’t mean that we can’t change and, and do other things in the future. And to me, that’s been one of the most freeing things about being retired is giving yourself permission to try new and different things and to make course corrections along the way.

Greg: There’s a life lesson in there. Also. I think it’s, I think it’s a big thought, not all decisions are permanent. I just watched, like I watched college kids think about where they’re going to go off to school or high school kids thinking about where they’re gonna go off to school. And it’s so much pressure on these kids. And there could be more than one great decision. And if you, and if you go and there’s a better place for you and the, and you can change, but I think so many people look at decisions like one-and-done, can’t change it. It not only leads to potentially bad decisions, stress, it can paralyze you for making any decisions. So I think it’s just so cool that you guys are like, okay, this is a great, this is a great spot for us now, but it doesn’t mean we’re gonna be here forever, you know, and I’ve watched you guys keep doing that and it, and it’s it, I can, it, I can’t, cause I’m just not like that. I can’t imagine I can’t imagine how freeing it is. How about you Michelle? I mean, what, how did you think about it?

Michelle: Well, you remember Mark Freeman made a comment of Yogi Berra’s comment, When there’s a fork in the road, take it. No decision is permanent. And we’ve just found that you can, when you, when you veer off and just do what feels right for you at the time, there are all kinds of adventures that you can have and different people that you can meet and different experiences. And that’s what we’ve also found with the various hobbies that we’ve done, you know, as we got into boating and met all different kinds of people who have talked about all of these other places that we need to go and experience that we’ve been able to do. So, and now that we’re thinking of leaving Oregon, where we’ve been for nine years now, and we’re talking about the next spot, we have all these other places to consider. If we wanna continue boating or do we wanna go some of the places where we can RV more to, or to, you know, other states that are of interest.

Michelle: And so it’s just incredibly freeing when you just allow yourself that flexibility. And again, it was a complete turnaround from what we did in our careers, because everything was always pre-planned in terms of where you went to, where you were going to be, and everything was always scheduled. And to now have the flexibility to wake up and say, Hey, what do you feel like doing today? Or I really like this place that we’re visiting, just like we recently did, we set out for what we thought was gonna be a four to six, six-week trip, and we’ve been gone for over four months. We just got home. I mean, it was really exciting. So it’s, it’s been great. And it’s been a learning process. Again, for me, who was so used to being scheduled for my entire career, but it’s been a blast.

Greg: So, so you, you were gone for four months and you took your RV, right?

Michelle: Yep.

Greg: And how long did you, how, when did you buy the

Pat: RV? Well, we bought this RV in October of last year and you know, with, with all the crazy, with all the craziness that’s, that’s been going on.

Greg: So I love that. Wait for, for, cuz I don’t know when the, I don’t know when this will air, like they were gone for four months in an RV and they’ve only owned the RV for like six months. Is that about right?

Pat: Yeah, that’s it.

Michelle: Yep.

Greg: That’s, that’s the part that like most people, you say that like casually, most people are like, wait, wait, wait, what? They’re gone for four months. Like they must do that every year. No, that’s just this adventure. I, I remember— and by the way, Michelle quick on, on Mark Freeman, this is another life lesson, Mark Freeman, Michelle and I had the privilege of working with him and he was such a smart guy and a great presenter. And, and remember he said the biggest obstacle to a good investment is the expectation of a perfect one. And you can change that with everything, right? Let’s go back to decisions. The biggest obstacle to a good decision is the expectation of a perfect one. And so like, you’re saying, okay, let’s do the RV, right. It it’s a good decision. It may not be perfect forever, but we’re going to enjoy it for the last four months.

Pat: That’s absolutely right. And, and once Michelle and I stopped listening to our self-imposed limitations is when we really started to experience more joy more fulfillment because you know, you just, you, you, you lead with your heart in, in these kinds of decisions and you know, what’s going to, what’s gonna give us the greatest joy. What’s gonna give us the greatest fulfillment and you lead with your heart and if it feels good in your heart, then you know, it’s the right thing to do at that moment in time. Doesn’t mean you can’t change your mind down the road. It doesn’t mean you can’t, you know, take that life experience and what you learned from it and apply that elsewhere. And, and that has been one of the greatest things is just pushing that those self-imposed limitations aside and saying, Hey, let’s, let’s do this. Let’s have fun.

You know, we bought our RV last October and with the craziness that’s been going on in the world the last couple of years and travel restrictions and we have two wonderful, beautiful dogs that we love to have with us all the time. And it was a great way to, to get back on the road from a leisure point of view and to experience new places and new people and to kind of bring our house with us. And we set out on a four to six month, or four-to-six-week trip and we were gone 130 days and , and we, we got home a couple days ago. And it’s like, we couldn’t believe we were gone that long, but it was a lot of time that was just filled with joy and adventure and meeting new people and giving ourselves permission just to, to follow our feeling heart as far as what felt good for us at that moment in time.

Greg: I just wanna add some color to this. Cause I’ve also watched you, you guys, as you’re going through your adventure, you’re incredibly logical. Like, I’ll give you an example. Like what I remember with, with you guys have the boat and then you have the house and you’re saying, okay, like, we’re looking at how much we’re enjoying the boat. We’re looking how much, what the resources the boat takes. We’re looking how much, how many resources, the, you know, what the resources you allocate towards the house. And I remember you saying, like, it doesn’t feel like we should have this house. And, and, and maybe we should make a change with a house. And, and so it’s, it’s making the decision. You’re free to make the decision, but it, but it doesn’t mean you don’t, you aren’t always learning from the experience and then maybe navigating and making it a little bit better.

And that, and I think that’s what’s unique that you’re always just trying to figure out, you know, how do you maximize your enjoyment? So, you know what, I, think’s fun. I remember the conversation and this is probably you guys like really were, you know, loving adventures. I was in an airport. I was in Naples. I was talking to Michelle. And, and I remember Michelle, I dunno if you remember this conversation, but you’re like, Hey, we’re thinking about a boat. And remember, and I’m like, you’re thinking about a boat. So tell me about the boat. And, and it was just like, it was, it wasn’t, some people buy a boat. You weren’t — this was about a lifestyle. This was, and, and, and tell ’em about how you thought about, tell our listeners how you thought about why you did that in that part of your life. And what was that about? How long did you do that, three years? Is that about right?

Michelle: We actually, actually started boating on a lake when we moved to Atlanta. Pat and I were both there for our careers and it wouldn’t have been a place that we would’ve really chosen to live. And so we were trying to find something that in the small amount of time that we had together, that we could learn together, that we could enjoy. And so we started boating on Lake Lanier with smaller, well, maybe it wasn’t such a small boat because we started sleeping on it and learned how to live in some small quarters. And we did that for a number of years. And then when we retired and left Atlanta, we thought our boating days were done. And so we bought an RV, we went and traveled places. And then we decided that that wasn’t really what we wanted to do. So we sold the RV and we were looking for the next adventure.

And we went to Seattle because we now had the free time available to us. And a friend had said that there was a great concert that we should go see for Kenny Chesney. And so we drove you know, a day’s drive to Seattle to see the concert. And we just decided to stay a few extra days. In staying a few extra days, we started seeing all the marinas with these really big boats. And we started to question where these boats could really go. So we started stopping in and talking to people and realized that we could go all the way to BC. And ultimately, we could go all the way to Alaska if we chose. And that seemed really exciting to us. So we started researching and talking to you about finances and gee, if we do this then and what, just how exciting that could be. And so it has been an extraordinary time for us. We have had an absolute blast with the boat. Had it not been for things happening with COVID and everything else that shut a lot of things down for us, we would probably still be doing it. But then at the same time, it’s been really fun having swapped out and now doing the RV. And who knows we may boat again, we would love to, and we’re looking at a way to possibly do both. So we’ll, we’ll see what happens next,

Greg: By the way, for, for folks listening also, and this isn’t a commercial, this is a plea to maximize your life. Your financial plan should be organized around these adventures. So, so I think so many people have this flat line idea of I’m gonna save my I’m gonna retire. I’m gonna make X. X will. I’m gonna, I’m gonna take X outta my portfolio. X will never change. And it, you know, whatever, and I’m gonna die at like 94.2 years, whatever that is. And, and that’s just not life. It should be way, that’s just a calculator. You don’t need a financial advisor to do that. What you really should be thinking about is, okay, so wait a minute, if from 60 to 78, I’m gonna really go, I’m gonna really have more adventures probably than 78 to 88. You, you should think about that in your plan and you should allocate differently and we don’t need to go deep into it.

But I would just say to people that— make sure the exciting thing of your portfolio, and by the way, the exciting thing for us is helping your portfolio support your adventures. And so if you don’t have adventures in your portfolio, I’d say you’re missing something. If you and your family like to go to Hilton Head for every year. And that, and that’s really special to you, I would ask why you’re only going one time. Let’s make sure that your financial plan really supports the adventure of your life. So you can maximize your life and legacy here. Here’s one of the things that I’m telling you, I know I couldn’t do, I don’t know how many people could. Tell, and I know the website, I think you said it doesn’t even exist anymore. Tell people about how you thought about the, you got on the website and how you picked one of the locations where you actually moved to.

Pat: Back in 2012. We had been in Sedona for a couple of years and really enjoyed our time there, but we were ready for some more adventure. We had started to put down roots there, but then we realized that perhaps that wasn’t the best place, long term for us. The summer, the weather in the summer was, was a little too extreme for us. So Michelle had found this great website and where you could go online, and we did this independent of each other, and you could answer a series of questions. And I think there were like 20 different questions. You could answer about your interest in life. What, you know, if you like the outdoors, what kind of weather do you like? What kind of travel do you like? What, you know, all kinds of lifestyle questions.

And Michelle and I went online and did that independent of each other, and we printed out our results. And then we sat down and we pulled out a map of the United States, and I’ll never forget this. Michelle had a pink highlighter and she, on the map, highlighted every area, every town on this map that had come out from this survey that was recommended from the survey. And as, as fortune would have it, I would say probably 70%, probably 70% of the areas, we had had both come out on our survey results, which made it a lot easier. And then from there we got in the car and we hit the road and where we decided to visit several of these areas along the way. And all of them were on the Western part of the United States. We ended up finding Bend, Oregon, and that’s, we fell in love with it.

And I, we didn’t make it to the rest of our stops on the map. We just fell in love with Bend, Oregon. And, and then that’s how we ended up in Sisters, right outside of Bend. But it was really, it was just, we looked at it as another adventure that, we love Sedona, but Hey, there’s more out there for us to experience. Life’s too short. Let’s get out and experience some other areas. And we’ve been here almost 10 years now in Sisters, Oregon. It’s been just a wonderful place to live. We’ve had some really wonderful adventures and great memories here, but we also started reconsidering, looking back on our lives, what have been the best memories, the most significant memories of our lives. And we found that most of those memories really centered around adventure and trying new things, going different places new hobbies. And so now we’re, we’re once again, kind of reassessing, you know, do we need to have a big home base in Sisters, Oregon, or can we downsize this physical component of our lives and spend more time enjoying adventure and travel while we’re physically able to do it. So that’s kind of where we’re headed right now. We don’t know where it’ll take us, but we’re just gonna, we’re kind of following our feeling heart as we’re embracing this, this new chapter.

Greg: I’m encouraged by this. I think it, I think it it’s inspiring because so many of us are hesitant and I may even use the word fearful of trying new things. And so we all wish we went and, you know, they talk about in your death, people talk about they, they, they regret things they, they, they should have done not the things they’ve done. They wish they would’ve done more. Lessons learned. And how, how long have you guys been, been retired again? It’s been how many years?

Pat: I retired in ninet— in 2007.

Greg: And, and Michelle, when were you?

Michelle: Two years later.

Greg: If you guys could give lessons learned, you know, folks listening, you guys have had great adventures. What are a couple bullet points that you would encourage people to really think about as they plan their adventures?

Pat: Well, for me, the older I get, the more precious time becomes certainly, and in time we don’t know individually how much time we all have left here in this physical form and my advice or my thoughts would be to enjoy every day, embrace every day, embrace adventure, embrace change, embrace new things, look back on your life and, and pursue those things that give you the greatest joy, the greatest pleasure. Certainly not suggesting that the decisions that we have made in terms of travel and places we lived is the right path for, for anyone else. But for us, that’s what fits, that’s what works. But don’t impose limitations on your views, on your life, on your, on your decisions, to experience life in your own personal way, whatever that may be.

Michelle: And for me, I would say, find what it is that inspires you aside from your career. What other things really fill you with joy and love. And, and for us, it’s being together and having our dogs with us and having adventure, but everybody’s got other things that are exciting and that fill their heart. And to me, it’s do those things. Now. We don’t know how much time we have. And so live every day as if it’s your last and think about the, the adventures, the fulfillment, the excitement that you can have, and the enthusiasm of trying something new, you know, sometimes trying something new is a bit scary, but the scariness always comes up with much better, at least in, in our opinion, with, with wider views of things. Bigger experiences. A whole lot more fun. And we’re, we’re just loving it. That’s what I would say.

Greg: So what are the, some of the things you think about when you make these decisions?

Pat: Well, I can say that as, as we made these, these life decisions that, you know, certainly the financial component is a big part of, of many of these decisions in terms of where you’re gonna live and what hobbies you’re gonna enjoy. And, you know, our process has been to follow our feeling heart, but then we also have to, you know, make wise financial decisions. And we haven’t made any of these large decisions, where, where we live, or, you know, a boat or an RV or whatever, without looking at our financial plan and can that accommodate our, our interests and desires moving forward.

Michelle: I would say given my financial background, I’m always the one thinking, wait a minute, can we afford this? I love Pat’s comment that he says often is, which is dream big, and let’s just throw it against the wall and see if it sticks. And so, you know, we can kind of come up with these great ideas and thoughts and ways to have enjoyment and spend our life and do something really big. But then we have the ability to do a back check, to see whether or not they’re really is a potential to do so, still safely allowing us to have the comfortable retirement.

Greg: You guys are inspiring. Pat, Michelle, we are honored to have a front row seat to watch your adventures.

We appreciate the friendship and you are, you are truly inspiring. I have a couple notes and I’m just gonna do bullet points that, that that I heard you say: one, career. Have balance, have hobbies. It’ll make you better. Don’t let it define you. Two, have a life plan. Think about what you want your life to really be and plan. Decisions — now some are, but many are not permanent. So just enjoy that it could be a good decision. It doesn’t need to be a perfect decision, but it may just be a great decision for that moment. Four. I know we hear it, let’s listen into it. Life is short. Life is short. Let’s challenge each other to maximize our lives because it’s short. We use the example of September 11th. Unfortunately it goes quickly. And then the last thing, Michelle, is one of the last things you just said, and that is try something new. At the end of this podcast, the thing we could do is has everybody just try something new that you’re really going to enjoy. We would all have more enriched lives. So Pat, Michelle, thank you so much for the conversation today. I think we will all have a little bit more enjoyment in our lives because of it.

Thank you for listening to the Imagine That podcast. We hope you enjoyed this episode and welcome you to reach out to Confluence Financial Partners with your questions and comments. If you’d like to hear more episodes, head over to, or find us wherever you get your podcasts.

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