Friday, March 24, 2023


Life expectancy calculator gives me sobering number: 16.9 years left to live. What to do with that precious time?

Back in 2021, I wrote an article about using a tape measure as a metaphor for measuring my life. It examines how much time I have spent living and the statistics about how much time is left. Using the Social Security Life Expectancy chart, it looks like I have 16.9 years left. That is pretty sobering.

I am always first to wake up in the morning and I use the first peaceful hours to myself. First, I catch up on the newsletters, then I read the news of the day, go through other emails, read the NY Times COVID deaths (I’m still on that email list from 2020) and check out houses for sale in our area. I look at price reductions, how much they are downwardly spiraling in cost, and remodeling ideas.

What do I want for the next 16.9 years?
That is NOT a lot of time. What matters
the most during that time?

This morning after re-reading my tape measure article, looking up housing costs, COVID and even world news falls away. My interest fades and the question tugs at me: What do I want for the next 16.9 years? That is NOT a lot of time. What matters the most during that time?

What do I want to do? Also, what do I want to see? Where should I go in the increasingly little time we have left? My father’s death, who was invincible and defied dying until 98, brought home to me the reality of my death too. But the 16.9 years in the Social Security chart brought clarity. My husband’s estimated 15 years also brought a bit of reality shock.

I have been on a quest to go to every national park, historic monument and battlefield. But how much can we really do while health and money hold out? And does it matter? What does matter?

I don’t feel that old or so close to the end. Again, it’s pretty sobering.

The next 16.9 years’ resolutions

So it seems like I need to make some really important resolutions, not the fading-by-February New Year’s ones. Life ones.

Stay healthy

1. Stay healthy so that I can still follow my dreams, even if they change. Eat better and exercise (yuck). Continue to go to the doctor and get those dreaded colonoscopies. Stay on top of checking possible skin cancer bumps. Can I plan to die of a heart attack in my sleep?

Get affairs in order

2. Get new wills, powers of attorney, and health care directives. Get our affairs in order. It is a simple step that can save our children countless hours of aggravation. My dad did that for us and it was still a monumental task.

Be kinder, less selfish

3. Be kinder and not so selfish. Let my husband enjoy his statistical last 15 years in a part-time stick-and-bricks house without complaining. Have gratitude.

Let our children live their lives

4. Help our kids settle in their lives the best we can. Let go and be less directive and less critical. Let them live their lives and make their own successes and mistakes. We have one son with serious medical issues that will always need some help, but I don’t need to rush in to help. Step up only when needed.

Connect with family and friends

5. Connect with family and friends more. Let the past go, and drop the grudges and anger. The past is just past and family is precious. I recently read an article in the Washington Post about a study that followed a diverse group of people from youngsters to octogenarians. The one defining indicator of happiness in their later years was their connection to family and friends. That connection overrode financial, education, background, health and life experiences.

Be intentional

6. Stop the filler. Be razor-sharp and intentional about what gives joy and what is just a time filler. Do I really want to fill my time with the evening news or another episode of “CSI Los Angeles”?

Core values

7. I wish I could put down “volunteer more,” but I am not a very ardent volunteer. But, I can put my money, however small, where my mouth is and support those things that support my core values.

Plan now

8. I will always want to travel. I will always want to RV and explore. So I should plan now where and how to make that happen. Downsize RV? Go less distance and stay longer? Is camp hosting still worth our limited time?

Review bucket list

9. Review the “bucket list.” Travel up the Eastern Seaboard in the motorhome. Explore Washington, D.C., one of the few places we have not gone. What should be removed or added to the list?

Does it matter?

10. Ask the question, “Does it matter?” In the whole scheme of things, in the shortness of life, do petty irritations really matter? recently ran a poll about leaving dishes in the sink overnight. I just can’t stand dirty dishes in the sink at night and will be falling over dead-tired getting them washed! But does it really matter?


Remember that each day is not promised. Each sight is memorable, each day is worth it and time on earth is so fleeting. I will be grateful.



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Mitzi Agnew Giles and Ed Giles
1 month ago

Regarding stress, there as been medical research that shows harp music reduces stress and is good for the immune system.It doesn’t matter if it’s classical. On Google, you can get the Twin Sisters Camille and Kennerly doing the Stone’s Paint it Black. They’ve also transcribed heavy metal and some Simon and Garfunkel to harp, including Bridge over troubled waters. 59 th Street bridge song has been tranferred to harp but I don’t think the twins did that.
Now wave sounds (no music) wind chimes, handbells and glass armonica are also supposed to have the same benefit.
On your phone if you open say wave sounds no music you will find hits of various lenths- from one hour to twelve hrs. I usually select the 8 hr if I’m doing this at night. Give it a try- can’t hurt might help.

1 month ago

Only the Lord knows the day and time. but, that being said. once you turn 60, its like a clock starts ticking. you start thinking more about retirement and if you have enough to live on and insurance and ……….so yeah live life like its your last day and dont worry about tomorrow until you wake up tomorrow

David Jones
1 month ago

Life expectancy 16.9 years. Assuming you are white, non-Hispanic female (apologies if I guessed wrong), that makes you around age 70. (Arias, et al. “United States Life Tables, 2019,” National Vital Statistics Reports, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Division of Vital Statistics, 70(19), March, 2022. I think Vital Statistics 2020 is biased by Covid.)

That doesn’t mean you’re going to live 16.9 years & drop dead on December whatever 2040. Roughly half your age-cohort will live beyond 87. But, there’s also roughly 10% probability of your dying by age 75.

(I see I’m limited by keystrokes. I send this & REPLY (if I’m clever enough).)

David Jones
1 month ago
Reply to  David Jones

The one thing that makes so many people suffer confusion in their ideas on death is that they are wont to forecast for their own life some limit, which is indeed possible according to nature, but at which, nevertheless, very few arrive. Hardly any one, in fact, dies of whom the poet’s line might be quoted – “Grey hairs and length of years he himself Expected.”
Petrarch’s Secret 1343
Tibetan Buddhists tell us we should expect to die tomorrow. 
If you are destined to die tomorrow at noon, what will you do now? If someone owes you $250, will you demand payment? If you owe someone $250, will you pay up? Who do you want to thank? Who do need to apologize to? 
You are not likely to die tomorrow at noon. But you might. Nanci has a list of things to do in the next 16.9 years. Aren’t there some more urgent? 

Bill Pearson
1 month ago

I was once told that we don’t get to keep the material things in this life. But we do get to take all of our experiences and memories to the other side! A great Philosopher once said “that the main thing is not how long, but how well you have lived”. To live every day like its your last,..

Every year brings an unplanned opportunity for a new adventure. So I dont think wondering about what’s next is all that important, what’s important is to just get up, one foot at a time and see what each day brings with a few ideas for the year to give ya something to work toward. Life without adventure is not living very well!!!! The important thing is to just keep living well!!

suzanne Ferris
1 month ago

Hey Nanci- This was a lovely introspective article- the first of its kind in this newsletter which I associate with people who are RV coach potatoes adverse to exercise and to community. These generalizations flew out the window as I read your piece.

1 month ago

This is the second reminder I’ve received today to make the years count. The first was my 52 year old cousin being taken off life support today. Makes you think about what’s really important

1 month ago
Reply to  Sue

I retired at 55, healthy, and hit the road immediately. There was no way I was going to wait to my 60s and take a chance with my health. I see too many people doing that and getting sick, or crippled – or worse. I’m 74 and my health issues are starting to concern me. That’s a shame about your cousin. 52 is so young.

Last edited 1 month ago by chris
1 month ago

Based on the ages of my parents and grandparents at their deaths, I have twice as many years left as the SSA chart says.
Live each day the best that you can.

1 month ago

Great article~ every day is a gift and we need to enjoy. Love #5 hint, sometimes it is too late to make peace, family is so important.

1 month ago

Thanks again Nanci .. A very thoughtful article and timely (15.6 for me!). Every one of your resolutions can be reinterpreted as a great “10 suggestions”.

1 month ago

My life expectancy is 87 and hubby is 85. My dad is 94 and I am half Okinawian so generically should live longer. My husband was diagnosed with terminal cancer and so far lived 14 months longer than his prognosis but 15 years shorter than expected so we live one day at a time and trust and thank God daily. Our travel is limited but on good days we take advantage. We visited 5 Utah National Parks in 5 days. We also traveled the Natchez Trace Parkway. We will continue to work on our bucket lists!

Steve H
1 month ago

Thank you, Nanci! Your best article yet.

I always had good health, ate more or less healthy, never had any prescriptions, and have always been a DIYer. In mid-2021, I was diagnosed with cancer, had surgery, and have been on meds since. Suddenly, I was forced to realize that I was no longer 40, had plenty of time left, and could fix anything that needed fixing. I was in my late 70s, had 10.4 years left according to the actuarial tables, and was too weak and exhausted too easily to do everything I once did. Now,my life’s goal is to see the last of my grandchildren graduate from high school and go off to college! Quite a change in only two years.

Dan from Indiana
1 month ago
Reply to  Steve H

Agree, her best article.

1 month ago

Thank you Nanci. We have been talking about most of these topics, but your article gives us a checklist. Perfect!

captain gort
1 month ago

Life can turn on a dime…and OFTEN does!
All it takes is one bad scan….and your dreams can go up in smoke.
Even if you survive- you will be forever changed.
I was.
Carpe Diem!

1 month ago


Christine Guzorek
1 month ago

Great article Nanci! You are my favorite author on RVtravel.

Uncle Swags
1 month ago

Remember that this is a figure used to determine the minimal distribution you must take after reaching a certain age (or inherit an IRA). The lower that number, the more distribution you have to take and the more taxes you have to pay. So I’d like to think the government got this one wrong too or at least I understand their motives behind their actuarial guesswork. You should never need the government to make you appreciate all around you and you should never wait till your 60’s to have such epiphanies.

1 month ago
Reply to  Uncle Swags

Only the last 1/2 of your last sentence means anything to me.

1 month ago

It’s just an average of people with your year of birth, race and gender. Hopefully we all healthily outlive those numbers.

Last edited 1 month ago by Jewel
John Crawford
1 month ago

Jesus gave us instructions on how to live our lives. Helping others, loving others and growing closer to Him. Anything else is man made.

1 month ago
Reply to  John Crawford

Agreed ! Love god and love others as thyself. Serving and helping others in love brings togetherness and spiritual growth.

1 month ago

I just don’t want to be living in constant fear and anxiety for my remaining time. It killed my mother at the age I am now.

I may stop my usual 4-5 month journey south for the winter as that’s where much of my stress comes from… bad weather, breakdowns, getting injured. I’ll keep camping, but closer to home. I had a bout of high blood pressure last summer which necessitated an immediate trip to the emergency room. I don’t need that in a strange place, 40 miles from a hospital.

Last edited 1 month ago by chris
Uncle Swags
1 month ago
Reply to  chris

Sorry Chris but you didn’t have a “bout” of high BP, you have high BP. I’ve been taking meds for 2 years now (and probably 30 years too late) and checking BP twice a day, And RVing as much as I can and as far as I can go. There is always a Walmart and proper medical care nearby in America! And you are spot on about stress – it kills and is a weapon.

1 month ago
Reply to  Uncle Swags

By bout I mean I always knew my BP was a little bit high, but that morning I woke up with a dull headache, I felt awful, and I thought my forehead was going to blow off. Probably good to have symptoms as sometimes there aren’t any.

Last edited 1 month ago by chris
Roger V
1 month ago
Reply to  Uncle Swags

Proper medical care nearby? Mostly true, but not in Key West, FL. They fly serious cases to Miami. And the nearest Walmart is further away than it is Cuba.

Andy Eippert Sr
1 month ago

Your genes and your lifestyle have much to do with your actual lifespan – the SS estimator doesn’t mean a whole lot. When I was in high school I did a report on SS and back in the early seventies the average SS recipient only received 13 checks. In the ensuing 5 decades much has changed. People are living tremendously longer lives.

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