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Checking in With A Few Friends

I’ve met so many interesting people while writing my blog. I just wanted to catch up with a few of them. Here’s a quick update.

When I first started my blog, I spent a great deal of time coaxing and cajoling my friends to be part of my “project”. Now that I have published over 18 blogs, I thought it was a great time to check in with some of my earlier blog participants. I’m happy to say, they are doing great!

A New Start After Walmart

You might remember that Bert decided that staying home during the pandemic was not working for him. He was spending too much time in his basement eating and drinking too much and wasting a lot of time. After a year at Walmart, Bert decided it was time to move on and started a Human Service Counseling Certificate Program at CCBC last fall. With this certificate from the state, Bert can work as a drug and alcohol counselor.

Being over 60, Bert was able to take advantage of the free tuition at CCBC. “I only pay about $200 a class,” Bert said.

So far, Bert has completed 15 credits which allows him to work as a drug and alcohol counselor trainee and is enrolled during the summer session. He proudly states that he has 4.0 GPA.

Through CCBC, he was able to get an interview at Hope’s Horizon in Parkville. After the interview, he was hired on the spot and will be working there part-time while continuing to go to school.

Hope’s Horizon is a treatment facility offering rehab and intensive outpatient therapy. He will be working with groups of men, approximately 80-100 men in all. He will be responsible for creating treatment programs and mediating group sessions. “I’m excited to get started,” Bert said. “Three years ago, I couldn’t imagine being here.”

Now, Bert feels he is on the right track and is looking forward to finishing up his certificate program in about 2 years.

To read Bert’s post: A New Start After Walmart.

To find out more about his program: Human Services Counseling

Staying Positive While Facing Changes

When Janet Streit entered her supervisor’s office in March 2022, she was told she was being let go. Although it was somewhat unexpected, Janet faced this setback with the same positive attitude she faced everything. After determining she would be ok financially, she started on a plan for her new life.

Janet knew that her new life would include helping others live their best life. During the pandemic, she accomplished her goal of losing 70 pounds with Weight Watchers and wanted to help others.

After being retired for a few months, Janet put in her application to become a coach leading meetings.  Now, she’s happy to announce, she got the job and is ready to help others on their weight loss journey with her amazing talent to take any recipe and make it “points friendly”.

Janet also shared during her blog post that she wanted to take a trip to the Adirondacks with her brother. Well, as you can see by the pictures, she made it. Being 70 pounds less, Janet is finding it easier to walk and hike the trails, but at the end of the day, it’s still exhausting.

To read Janet’s blog

A Picture Perfect Retirement

Geoff and his daughter in Alaska

Geoff Prior was one of my very first blogs.  After a long career in IT, Geoff decided to take to the open road and started traveling around the United States in his van. While traveling, he started taking pictures. His pictures have now won awards and he is getting better every day using his natural talent with new equipment and new techniques.

This summer Geoff wanted to cross something off his bucket list. He is driving to Alaska from Maryland. Along the way, he has had company. His daughter has been his companion for part of the trip. They have been exploring Alaska together since June 17th.

Geoff’s pictures are amazing and his eye for capturing the perfect moment gets better and better. If you want to see more of his pictures go to

To read Geoff’s blog, go to: Picture Perfect Retirement

If you know someone that would make a great subject for my blog, please email me at

A New Start After Walmart

Bert found out there’s a lot you can learn working at Walmart.

“Welcome to Walmart!”

Retirees joke about becoming a greeter at Walmart, but for Bert Shayte it became a reality and was just what he needed at just the right time.

Bert had the same dreams of a traditional retirement that many people have: living in the house he had shared with his wife of many years and bouncing grandchildren on his knee. But at 54, Bert found himself divorced, kids grown and living out of town and in a job where he was asked to do more and more for less and less. Ready for a change, he left his job with the intention of taking a break and finding a new job within six months.

He spent some time volunteering at the Baltimore Humane Society walking and feeding dogs. That’s where he got his pit bull Bertha, his constant companion. It was a little bit of a rough start.  She was a puppy and he had to housebreak her. She was also very skittish at the beginning, afraid to go down the steps and even tried to attack his television set once.

After a few years, he had still not found a paying job in his former profession, publishing. Instead, he was living off his savings and spending much of his time in his man cave with Bertha, in front of the television with a drink in his hand and eating unhealthy food.

An off-handed comment from a friend made him realize that he was drinking too much and doing too little. He knew he wasn’t living the life he wanted to live and decided to get help. He started seeing a therapist who helped him get onto a more positive path.

Working at Walmart

But then COVID hit. Feelings of isolation grew, and he knew he had to do something different.  So, he applied to Walmart as a Customer Host, today’s version of a greeter.

“I was hired on the spot,” Bert said. He started making only $11 or $12 an hour, but he did get COVID bonuses for working during the pandemic. “The best part of it was being out and around people.” He developed a camaraderie with some of his co-workers and even some of the customers.

He began working in July 2020 at the height of the pandemic. “I went from seeing almost no one to seeing thousands every day” he said.

Bert balanced preventing theft with enforcing the mask mandate. “People yelled at me when I had to give them masks and they yelled at me when I ran out of masks,” Bert said. “Basically, it seemed like someone was always yelling at me.” But a friend told him, “You’re exactly where God wants you to be.”

“It was humbling,” Bert said. “But I eventually learned not to take things so personally.”

He had originally signed up to work five days a week but found he could only handle four. Standing on his feet 8 hours a day watching customers was tiring. Bert said, “It was like a circus sometimes. I thought they should sell tickets.”

Bert learned a lot about himself working at Walmart. “You see all kinds of people wearing all kinds of things,” he said. I found myself being very judgmental. “One day I saw this very heavyset guy come in and I thought, I bet he’s headed right to McDonald’s.” The man did end up going over to McDonald’s and then came over and sat down on a bench near Bert and struck up a conversation. Bert learned that the man had had an organ transplant, which had contributed to his weight gain. “He was a really nice guy,” Bert said. He realized maybe he was judging people too quickly and for no good reason. “Not that I didn’t judge people after that, but I was more conscious of it,” Bert said.

The same friend who told Bert that God wanted him at Walmart told him a year later, “It’s time to go.” Bert knew that was true when he was reprimanded for leaving his door post to help render aid to a woman having a medical emergency in the parking lot.

On his last day, Bert asked a customer for his receipt, as was his job. The man told Bert his wife had the receipt and was just behind him. There was no one following him, so Bert again asked for the receipt and the man just continued through the doors. Bert turned over the cart and intervened to prevent a theft of over $2,000 in merchandise…which was not an expected part of the job. He was working diligently right up until the minute he left.

“It would have been nice if I’d found a less menial job, but honestly, there’s a lot you can learn. I learned a whole lot about people by working in a low-level retail job,” he said.

New Lessons to Learn

With those lessons learned, Bert turned to a different type of schooling. He enrolled at CCBC to become a Certified Supervised Counselor for Alcohol and Drugs. CCBC offers over 60 tuition-free classes and Bert has decided to take advantage of the opportunity. “It’s not totally free, but it’s really cheap,” Bert said. The classes he is currently taking will allow him to work in the counseling field for 2 years while completing his certification.

He said it hasn’t been easy navigating the on-line technology associated with going to school in 2022. He had to not only learn the school’s user-unfriendly email system, but also other software and Brightspace, the educational learning platform used by CCBC.

As he approaches 65, he reflects on all he has been through over the past 10 years. He is happy where he is and is looking forward to the future. He’s even taking a spin at online dating.

Once again, he’s living on his savings, but this year he will be applying for Social Security and Medicare. Besides school, he is looking for a part-time job. “I don’t think I’ll go back to Walmart, maybe some place a little bit nicer like Wegman’s or Costco,” he said. “We’ll see what happens.”

Whatever his path, Bert knows he can handle it. “I used to worry about things all the time. I learned not to worry too much about stuff. I think about it, and I do something about it because worrying doesn’t do any good. I’ll get by,” Bert said., pub-8051373508966315, DIRECT, f08c47fec0942fa0