Reflecting on how 2020 has capped two fascinating decades in my life.

This July has marked some monumental milestones for me. Bridget and I celebrated 20 years of marriage on July 1, just a few days after our oldest son became old enough to drive. My dad turned 79 the same day, which was pretty good for a guy that six months ago was working hard to stay upright after major heart surgery that no one was sure he would survive. And then there was the last four or five months in lockdown. . . 2020 has certainly managed to be an interesting year.

On the professional side, this July 1 also marks my 18th anniversary as a Financial Planner. If you had asked me in July of 2000 what my life would hold in twenty years, I don’t think I would have managed to get a single aspect correct. Life often sends us down interesting journeys. I would argue that the journeys are actually far, far more interesting than the paths we lay out for ourselves along the way.

Here’s just a few of the many surprises and changes that were in my last 20 years, that I never envisioned on my wedding day:

  1. We had three boys and are less than a decade (we think/hope!) from being empty nesters. My oldest is a fierce defender of equality, with dreams of being an astrophysicist; my middle son is an incredibly talented artist and animator; and our youngest a brilliant creative engineer-in-training. I had no idea that children would turn out to be so inspiring, fascinating and even occasionally aggravating in such cool and interesting ways.
  2. I helped found a museum dedicated to World War II radar and forged deep friendships with a number of veterans. They have all since passed away, but their memory and learnings will live with me forever. The museum has had its ups and down ( but has managed to keep veterans’ incredible stories alive for future generations.
  3. I became a financial planner. Strange to say, I never saw it coming – I was a professor and professional musician in 2000. The Harris government’s cuts to arts and education set me down this path – which I have loved more than I ever anticipated! As an “investment guy”, I’ve now lived through three market crashes and recoveries, each of them very different with different underlying causes.
  4. My mom died relatively young of breast cancer. While this was a long, awful and stressful three years for our family, the experience enriched our family’s lives in so many ways. It seems odd that such a sad thing could be so positive…and yet, like many things, this brought us all together in ways we in no way anticipated.
  5. Bridget and I wrote three wills, averaging a new will every four to seven years. They all look very different from one another, too. I never realized how important a statement about my will has become, until life sent us many reminders that our time is precious and fragile on earth.
  6. Our closest friend survived an almost-always fatal heart cancer due to luck, a talented surgeon, and his remarkably positive attitude, and is now back at work. It’s pretty incredible. A couple of days ago, he baked me the best carrot cake of my life for my birthday and drove 3 hours for a socially distant backyard visit.  His COVID hair was a big contrast to his post-chemo baldness at this time last year!  We enjoy every second we get to spend with him, even if it’s been through virtual card games for the last little while until our visit.  His presence was the best birthday gift ever.
  7. Finally, the part that I am the most professionally proud of. Our work at Quiet Legacy has resulted in over $30,000,000 in current and future estate gifts to charity since we founded the firm in 2013. It’s so cool and amazing to think we’ve had that much impact in such a short time

I’m pretty sure the next 20 years will have many other surprises for us as they will for you – I hope sharing some of my own milestones and markers will help encourage you to reflect on your last few years as well as you do your own planning work. One of the great benefits of putting reflective thought into your planning is that while you can’t plan for the unexpected, it can help you out when surprises pop up out of the blue.

As for out of the blue, Bridget and I were planning to be gone this month on our “second honeymoon”, a bucket-list trip to Scotland for our 20th anniversary. That one will likely have to wait a few more years yet – so we’re going to take a week off from July 18 to 25 and travel down the road a bit to a cottage now that restrictions have relaxed. If you need us, I’ll have advisor backups in place. Feel free to reach out to our office through Sarah if you need help.

Have a terrific July! Bridget and I hope to be sitting near our canoe once again, watching the moon rise, enjoying our third decade together.  It may not be the Isle of Skye like we originally planned – but it is still a pretty awesome place to be.