“We approach everything as if it is an adventure,” said John, 63. “We’ve always done that and it makes a difference in the quality of our lives.”
Consequently, when they retired a few years ago – Trisha as a vice president for Safeway and John as an academic – the baby boomers were able to make the transition from the working world to Disney World with relative ease. But they noticed that some of their family, friends and acquaintances were finding the transition a struggle.
“When I lost my dad, I realized that my mom knew nothing about finance, where things were and how to handle things,” said Trisha, 61. “So as I went through this and talked about it, people kept saying we should write a book to help with this stage of life.”
So they did. “The Best of Our Lives: Sharing the Secrets of a Healthy and Happy Retired Life” is a hands-on guide to getting the most out of retirement. The book focuses on such matters as financial planning, senior health and romance as well as nutrition and exercise.
Offering tips on everything from developing a monthly budget to creating practical check lists when traveling to making the home safe, the Parkers have sprinkled their book with a combination of practical experience, expert advice and personal insight.
“When you retire or are getting ready to retire, no matter what you say, your life is going to change drastically,” said John. “Even if you say, ‘I’m going to play golf every day,’ most people find that they don’t know what to do; they find themselves unprepared.”
“Our book provides a lot of tools and is presented in a very conversational way,” added Trisha. “We offer up a lot of things, kind of like a buffet, and hope that people will pick and choose what works for them.”
The Parkers have taken their own advice and approached retirement with a combination of humor and pragmatism. Their family includes John’s parents – who live with them – three sons, three daughters-in-law and five grandchildren. Yet the couple manages to find time for the things they really want to do in retirement, including traveling.
“When our boys were growing up we spent our time on their things, such as sports and school,” said John. “So we didn’t take a lot of trips and travel like some of our friends did. So we when we retired, we decided we were going to try and do that.”
And they have. In recent years the Parkers have traveled to exotic locales such as the Amazon rain forest, Mexico and Hawaii, and enjoyed national treasures such as Niagara Falls. This fall they are planning a cruise to Alaska, Russia, Japan and China with Trisha’s aunt and uncle, who are in their 80s. John laughs that he’s not “sure we can keep up with them.”
“We have been planning this trip for a while,” said Trisha, “and in fact, John and I agreed not to give each other Christmas presents this year so that we save for the trip, and we stuck to it. And that’s part of our message: if you want something, you can find a way to make it happen with planning and saving and do without some of the extras.”
Writing the book was a journey of a different kind for the couple, who had never worked on a collaborative project together. Approaching the writing as they do everything else –with anticipation and joy – they found the process to be an adventure of its own.
“Some of the book we wrote together and some we wrote on our own,” said John, who throughout his career has served on several faculties, including Pepperdine University and St. Mary’s College of California in Moraga. “It was a real collaboration.”
So far, the collaboration is paying off. The Parkers’ book is currently available online with Amazon.com and will be coming to local bookstores and sellers within the next few weeks. At the end of February, the Parkers will be appearing on the popular “View From the Bay” program to discuss their book, and also plan to make a round of promotional tours and book signings throughout the state later in the year.
And while the attention is gratifying, the Parkers say the real purpose of their book is to offer a message of hope and optimism for seniors looking toward, or already in, retirement. “In a way we kind of feel that this is our way of giving back,” said Trisha. “We have been very blessed in our lives and we feel we have information to share … Retirement is not the end of life. In many ways it can be the absolute best time of your life.”
“The Best of Our Lives” can currently be ordered online at www.amazon.com or by visiting www.thebestofourlives.com.