Friday, September 11, 2015

Chicago - haven for retirement

A recent Chicago Tribune editorial on "Why you shouldn't retire to Chicago" took a humorous approach to pitching why Chicago is exactly the opposite - a great place to retire. As someone who isn't ready to hang it up - physically, intellectually, culturally - I had significant ambivalence about what retirement would look like. Thank goodness we chose to follow our kids to Chicago, wanting to be close to them as they started parenting but also believing that Chicago had the right combination of opportunities to make sure that we maintained an interesting and active life.

With this being the first full summer I've spent in Chicago, it's hard to believe how spectacular the weather has been and how busy we have stayed. Temps have remained at very reasonable levels and periodic rain has freshened the days and kept gardens pristine all summer. This has provided lots of opportunity to exercise outside, go to Lake Michigan beaches, and enjoy picnics at a concert or in our very own backyard. Entertaining Reese (our grand-daughter) is not difficult as you can see from her laughter as Aunt Darbi and Steve (Dad) teach her how to have fun in the water.

This post is not intended to invite one-upmanship of any type. It is simply to share the advantages of living in a city like Chicago when you have more time and freedom to do things you want to do. The "city" choice is one that many baby-boomers are more often making, evidenced by the many "grey hairs" we see at places we visit or events we attend. Whether it is the incredible museums (Shedd Aquarium, Field Museum of Natural History, Cultural Center), art galleries (Art Institute of Chicago, Museum of Contemporary Art), architecture (Chicago Architecture Foundation boat, bus, and walking tours to both 19th/20th century skyscrapers and contemporary buildings), Botanical Gardens, dance (Joffrey Ballet, Auditorium Theater), music (classical, jazz and pop readily available at venues such as Ravinia Festival, Symphony Hall, Pritzker Plaza), cultural neighborhoods or fun and trendy restaurants, there 's more to see in Chicago and the surrounding suburbs than anyone would be able to absorb in a lifetime.

These videos provide just a sampling of the musical life we've enjoyed this summer. The first is a Big Band performance at the Chicago Botanical Gardens:

Then there was the Ravinia Festival; we saw everything from Lady Gaga to the Chicago Symphony to the Piano Guys:

And the Chicago Jazz Festival at Grant Park (where we also saw a number of other performances) introduced us to a variety of jazz styles that helped us expand our musical horizon:

And, the last of the summer season outdoor concerts for us... Stars of Lyric Opera at Grant Park - here in the duet from Verdi's La Traviata:

Besides partaking of a vibrant and active city's cultural scene, Chicago offers reality. There are certainly issues of marginalized groups, poverty, or sub-standard housing that any city has. The thing that retirement allows us to do is to actually engage in trying to make a difference on these issues. The church we've joined is actively involved in children's and adult ministries, music, food pantry for those in need, and many other service/philanthropy initiatives. It's such a privilege to benefit from where you live while giving back at a time in life when we actually have the freedom to enjoy it.

The summer is coming to an end but the fall and winter will be easy to endure while remembering what a great summer we've had in our new home town. The fireworks began our summer and end this post - let there be more!

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