Derek Bly

If you want to make the world a better place, take a look at yourself and make the change.

Welcome aboard!

Derek Bly is my name and I’m a boomer.

That’s me in the banner image up at the top. As you can tell from the photo, I’m a middle-aged guy . . . OK I’m pushing 60 if you must know.  I guess if I want to claim that as middle-aged, I’m looking to live to be 120!

With this site I’m exploring life from my perspective – the perspective of a baby-boomer. You may agree with some of my thoughts. Others may annoy you. Either way, I hope you become a regular.

If you’re a boomer, too, perhaps you’ll be able to relate to some of my ramblings. If you’re one of those Gen Xers, Gen Yers or even younger, maybe you’ll think I’m just a crazy old man. You are all still welcome.

Crossing a Bridge to Understanding

Sorrow and happiness. Rejection and acceptance. Despair and joy.

Emotions and states of mind in conflict and sharp contrast were shared during the first evening of Unabridged: Crossing Together, A Celebration of Stories. At an event exploring religion, faith and spirituality as experienced by the LGBTQ+ community, a group of individuals opened their hearts and shared their lives with friends and strangers alike.

I was at the opening event for a number of reasons. For one, I’d signed up a month and a half ago for the Friday celebration and the Saturday workshops, so naturally I would be there. But why did I sign up in the first place? That gets into the other reasons.

Mostly those reasons tie into the fact that I’ve long been a supporter of the LGBTQ+ community. Long enough that when I first offered support it was basically referred to as ‘gay rights’. It was 1979. I was planning to go to Vancouver with a friend for New Year’s and visit a few discos – remember, it was still the ‘70s! While in the planning stage, Ian asked if we could meet because he had something to tell me that might impact plans to go to Vancouver.

We met for drinks and he told me he was gay. Later, he told me that he thought that would be it for our friendship as he’d lost other friends when he shared his orientation. My actual response was more along the lines of, “Yeah. OK. So why wouldn’t we still be going to Vancouver?” We went and we had a blast.

Since that time, I’ve felt linked to a community of people that has been persecuted, condemned and faced struggle for a heck of a long, long time. I loathe prejudice against any group of people because they are seen as being outside the norm. I’ve attended Pride events and, without taking any sort of deliberate action, I’ve continued to make friends with people who travel along the rainbow. In different ways, to me, each has been the treasure that exists in myth at the end of the rainbow.

I plan to take a more active role in supporting my friends in the LGBTQ+ community. I have to. After years of feeling I’ve been supportive, I heard stories on Friday night that were heart breaking and revealed to me that, although an ally, I still did not fully appreciate the challenges individuals face.

Imagine being rejected by your own parents. Or the very church in which you grew up. Or losing friends. Simply because you didn’t fit within the confines of what is considered the norm by many. The people who shared at the Galt Museum on Friday night have experienced all of this and more. They were brave enough to tell their stories.

How can I possibly now just stand by and not put my support into action rather than just words?

It’s time for The 180

It’s time for a change.

Next June I turn 60. Suddenly, the reality of the big 6-0 is breathing down my neck. OK, more like huffing and puffing because it’s a little bit out of shape at this point, but you get the idea. It’s right around the corner waiting for me. Kind of like the Jehovah’s Witness who has a copy of Awake! to hand to you when you accidentally run into him and can’t avoid it.

Awake! Yup. That’s what I need to be. Time to wake up and smell the future. And I don’t want that odor to be rancid.

While I’ve been working at Lethbridge College for 15 years, I am now looking forward to retirement . . . early retirement if that is possible. That’s going to require some planning. You see, I haven’t really set myself up for retirement. I have a pension from the college the amount of which will be determined by my retirement date. Plus, I can take the Canadian Pension Plan starting at 60. Taking both at that point reduces the amount I’d receive per month, so the need is to find an additional income source.

“Wait a second,” I can hear you saying. “If you’re wanting to retire, what’s with the seeking an additional income? Isn’t that like just getting another job?”

Yes, in a way. Taking an early retirement means there will be a small income for me. But what that really does is provide a bit of a safety net that frees me up to explore some options. What kinds of options? Well, that’s what I will be researching.

I do not want just another job. The goal behind an early retirement is to have more time to do what I want to do. Securing another full-time job is NOT what I have in mind. Flexibility is the key.

Maybe something part time. Maybe a contract position at the college that leaves my summers free. Maybe something in sales – not retail sales, professional sales. Maybe writing. Maybe something requiring sharing and presenting information.

So many things to explore! And I’m going to share that exploration. Join me in my search for options on the road to early retirement. You never know where it could lead. And why would you? I’m not even sure where it’s going. But it’s going to be interesting finding out.

Launching The 180

With that in mind, today, November 1, 2016, I’m launching a personal project I’m calling The 180 … as in 180 degrees. A complete spin around in many aspects of my life. It’s a title that came to me for a number of reasons.

  1. The idea of a 180-degree about face on many things. For example:
    • Getting serious about developing additional income streams to set up for retirement.
    • Addressing some health issues/habits.
    • Focus on doing some writing.
    • Developing stronger self-discipline.
    • Exploring my spiritual walk.
  2. Dedicating 180 days to it and then checking the results.
  3. Getting my weight down to 180 lbs, then reassessing and seeing where to go from there.

Today is November 1 – All Saints Day. It’s a perfect starting point for tackling some goals with a measurable time frame. Essentially, 180 days will take me approximately to May 1 – May Day. OK, OK. It’s exactly 181 days according to Planetcalc. One extra day to complete the goals!

The point is … well, actually, it’s two points … on a calendar … with a special significance. The idea for me is creating accountability by having some specific dates in mind to keep me aware of how things are progressing. And ’180′ ties in nicely to what I’m looking at doing.

If you’re interested, I hope you’ll follow along. It’s going to be a great ride.