Capital Investment Advisors

#4 – To Carnegie Hall and Beyond

The realities of life—raising a family and earning a living—don’t always leave us much time to pursue our dreams. So when retirement rolled around, Gail & Dickson Grimes jumped full force back into theirs. On today’s episode, we’ll find out how they took a love for the clarinet all the way to the hallowed stage at Carnegie Hall and how the journey has given them a more robust and happy retirement.

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  • Ryan Doolittle [00:00:00]:It has been since 1935 since a clarinet choir has performed on this stage. We couldn’t be more excited and proud to provide you with the wonderful dulcet tones of the Tarot Winds Clarinet Choir with their director, Dixon Grimes. Please enjoy. The clarinet is a sexy instrument. It has the largest pitch range of all the common woodwinds. It’s like a sports car. It can go from E three to C seven from 125 khz. You’ve heard it played more than you think.Ryan Doolittle [00:00:51]:Everyone from Mozart to Benny Goodman to the Beatles have utilized its sound. Steven Spielberg himself even played one for the Jaws movie score. Today’s guests, Dixon and Gail Grimes have been playing the clarinet since elementary school. Fate put their seats next to each other at a football game back in the 1970s. By 1980, they were married and later had two boys. As many of us know so well, a family and career doesn’t leave much time for following our dreams. But the passion for the clarinet never went away. And once their sons went off to college, they decided it was never too late.Ryan Doolittle [00:01:28]:

    Joining a community band eventually culminated in the chance of a lifetime to perform at Carnegie Hall. More than just a core pursuit, music has given them a chance to be a closer family, to discover new friends and to travel the world. Sometimes a core pursuit begets other core pursuits. That’s the magic. If you think you’ve missed the boat on finding and following your passions, you might want to reconsider. But don’t take my word for it. Listen to Gail and Dixon. Just like the clarinet, they’ve got a really warm timbre.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:02:02]:

    Gail and Dixon Grimes are clients of Capital Investment Advisors. They were not compensated for participating in our podcast, but of course, we really appreciate them joining us to share their retirement stories. Do you ever wonder who you’ll be and what you’ll do after your career is over? Wouldn’t it be nice to hear stories from people who figured it out, who are thriving in retirement? I’m Ryan Doolittle. After working with the Retire Sooner team for years and researching and writing about how they structure their lifestyles, I know there’s more to be learned, so I’m going straight to the source and taking you with me. My mission with the Happiest Retirees podcast is to inspire 1 million families to find happiness in retirement. I want to learn how to live an exceptional life from people who do it every day. Let’s get started.

    Gail Grimes [00:02:54]:

    You Ram.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:03:31]:

    That was a clip of your Carnegie Hall performance. Can you tell me a little bit about how that how does a clarinet choir say to themselves, let’s play Carnegie Hall, and then how do you pull it off?

    Dickson Grimes [00:03:43]:

    Well, it was basically during COVID and the band had pretty much shut down because of COVID and we said we got to find something to do because we hadn’t really played together for a year. So we got together with a guy who does travel in the band and he recommended several things and we decided if we’re going to do it, let’s do it big. So we decided to try to go to Carnegie all and we had to send in some tapes and biographies and all that kind of thing. And they picked us. It was great.

    Gail Grimes [00:04:23]:

    Yeah. Once they picked us, that’s when it really got real.

    Dickson Grimes [00:04:27]:

    We had to rehearse.

    Gail Grimes [00:04:28]:

    Rehearse. Quite a put. Yeah, put it together. We had to help some people with their travel, kind of talk with people about navigating New York City and getting there and all of that. But everybody in the group worked super hard and we’ve never sounded better. That was the cool thing about it is know, we’ve been in performing groups since high school and I’ve never been in a musical experience like this. So to have that in your 60s is just miraculous, really.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:05:04]:

    Oh my gosh. It’s inspiring because something I’m sure you’d always kind of dreamt about and here you are doing it.

    Dickson Grimes [00:05:11]:

    Now that’s a huge goal for a musician to play at Carnegie Hall.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:05:17]:

    Oh my gosh. Well, they say, how do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice. And it sounds like that’s the route you took. I always took 7th Avenue. But how cool that that was the night you sounded the best. And I know that in Carnegie Hall, the acoustics, I’m sure, are great, but I think that a lot of it had to do with your talent as well and just everything coming together.

    Dickson Grimes [00:05:41]:

    Yeah, I think everybody was really pumped up. We had gone in for kind of a rehearsal in Carnegie the afternoon of the performance. And when we played, that sound was just amazing. I’ve never felt anything like know, you would play. And then it was almost like the sound just hugged. Was it’s hard to describe, but for a musician it was thrill of a lifetime.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:06:09]:

    Yeah. I was reading a quote from you, Dixon about it and you’d said, the emotions that flood you are unlike anything you have ever experienced. You were standing on historic and musically holy ground. Yet I felt like I belonged, that we were all worthy musicians and our time to perform had come.

    Dickson Grimes [00:06:26]:

    Actually, Gail wrote that.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:06:28]:

    Oh, Gail wrote that.

    Dickson Grimes [00:06:29]:

    I agree with that. She attributed it to me.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:06:32]:

    You know, always trying to take the credit for Gail.

    Dickson Grimes [00:06:38]:

    I don’t speak in that flowery language. Gail does that very well.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:06:42]:

    So you would be more like, oh, it was great, it was cool. And so the acoustics really are as good as they say.

    Dickson Grimes [00:06:49]:

    It’s just yeah, we’ve been to concerts many times at Carnegie Hall, but on the stage it’s just different.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:06:57]:

    Well, and one thing that I thought was the kind of like the end of a movie when the stakes are high and you’re wondering what’s going to happen because you were playing a little later, maybe 10:30 p.m.. And you were worried, are people still going to stay that late? Because some other bands had played before you. And then you walked out onto the stage and the music lovers of New York had all stayed to hear you.

    Gail Grimes [00:07:25]:

    Yeah, that was the biggest surprise. One of our choir members is from New York City and he said, People will be there, people will be there. And we listened, but I wasn’t really quite sure. But he was absolutely right. We had the most enthusiastic audience and they stayed and they loved it.

    Dickson Grimes [00:07:45]:

    People were screaming at the end.

    Gail Grimes [00:07:47]:

    It was such a blessing.

    Dickson Grimes [00:07:50]:

    I was conducting, so I wasn’t looking at the audience. I turned around, I looked up at the top and I said, oh, my goodness, what did we just do?

    Ryan Doolittle [00:07:59]:

    Well, you got a standing ovation, right?

    Dickson Grimes [00:08:01]:

    Oh, yeah.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:08:03]:

    Was that sort of an out of body experience?

    Dickson Grimes [00:08:05]:


    Gail Grimes [00:08:09]:

    It’S been close to when was it? A year and a half? Year and three quarters. And we mentioned this among ourselves and to the people we performed with, and it just brings tears to your eyes. It still is just such an emotional experience, even now. It’s just unbelievable, really.

    Dickson Grimes [00:08:30]:

    I still think about the rehearsal and we played a Bach chorale to kind of get used to the sound. And the last chord, I can still feel that chord. It’s just undescribable. The sound was just amazing.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:08:45]:

    Yeah. Well, anyone out there who’s looking to retire and maybe loves a clarinet or another instrument, use this as just give us a call. All right? Wow. Thanks for offering. Yeah. This also goes back to something, gail, I talked to you a little bit. You were telling me about some of your strengths and you said something that stuck out to me. You said you didn’t think you were particularly exceptional at anything, but I think I have to disagree.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:09:12]:

    You just got a standing ovation at Carnegie Hall.

    Gail Grimes [00:09:15]:

    Well, thank you very much. But a lot of it is just persistence and just having a commitment. You have the commitment, you have even a modest vision, or in this case, this was a big vision, but we’ve been playing for such a long time and we have that commitment and we’ve been in a lot of discouraging rehearsals and maybe not so good concerts that we’ve performed in. And sometimes things don’t turn out quite like you’d like, but you just keep trying at it and you just go to that next rehearsal or that next concert, or you join another group and you just keep going forward. And we found that we get a lot of success that way and a lot of enjoyment.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:10:01]:

    Well, it sounds like being humble is one of your strengths as well, because I could see you winning a gold medal and saying it was mainly just persistence. I think it’s also some of your talent. Well, thank you.

    Dickson Grimes [00:10:15]:

    I think it’s a lot like exercise. You just have to keep doing it every day, and you’re going to get better. Whatever it is you’re doing, just keep doing it.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:10:25]:


    Dickson Grimes [00:10:26]:

    Yeah. When you don’t work anymore, being around people all the time, it kind of goes away. So having that where you have a rehearsal with somebody every one week, every two weeks, it really helps.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:10:42]:

    Yeah. I would imagine it provides some structure.

    Dickson Grimes [00:10:45]:

    Makes it easier to meet people.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:10:48]:

    Right. And it’s something you love anyway, so it makes the hard work worth it and maybe make it feel less like hard work.

    Dickson Grimes [00:10:56]:

    Right. We still have to practice a lot, right?

    Ryan Doolittle [00:10:59]:

    Yeah. Do you have to practice every day?

    Dickson Grimes [00:11:03]:

    Yeah, but we don’t usually.

    Gail Grimes [00:11:05]:

    Now, I’m going to correct that. My husband practices just about every day. Quite a bit. Quite a bit. I’m not quite as dedicated because I’ll clean the house or I’ll go shopping or I’ll mess around in the garden or whatever, but he puts in a lot of hours.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:11:26]:

    Well, just from hearing the music you sent me, it’s clear that you put in a lot of time on it.

    Dickson Grimes [00:11:33]:

    Yeah. Well, it’s kind of a lifelong thing and just got to keep at it.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:11:38]:

    Yeah. Do you feel like you’re always improving, even though you’re already so accomplished?

    Dickson Grimes [00:11:43]:

    I think so. Yeah. As you get older, things change, and it’s harder to do certain things. You could do really well when you were 30, but I think mentally, I think we’ve gotten better at doing certain things.

    Gail Grimes [00:11:59]:

    Yeah, I think that’s true. When you’re younger, you have more physical acumen. You can get the mechanics of whatever you’re trying to play can come easier. But when you’re older and have more experience, you have a lot more insight about what you want things to sound like, how to make things more musical, make it more special in a way, and not just a pile of notes flying away.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:12:30]:

    Yeah. I was wondering if it could be compared to sports where, say, Dominique Wilkins, who used to play for the you know, when he was younger, he was all about athleticism and jumping high, and later in his career, he had to work on maybe his jump shot because he couldn’t jump as high anymore. Is clarinet.

    Dickson Grimes [00:12:50]:


    Ryan Doolittle [00:12:51]:


    Dickson Grimes [00:12:52]:

    Leonelle messi and soccer. He’s not the fastest guy. He’s not the quickest, but he’s the smartest. And he’s best player there ever was.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:13:02]:


    Dickson Grimes [00:13:02]:

    And he’s 37 now, which is way past the time to play soccer.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:13:08]:

    Right. And he’s still because he’s been able to adapt to his own age, you.

    Dickson Grimes [00:13:13]:

    Definitely have to adapt to getting older, and that’s something we work on all the time.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:13:20]:

    Yeah. Well, I would think in retirement, that’s a big part of the journey. You tell me. But learning how to do that, I would agree.

    Gail Grimes [00:13:31]:

    And I don’t think there’s a lot of the how part. It’s more like I’m a big believer in persistence, so just keep trying and trying and trying until you get something that gives you some improvement or gets you to where you want to be.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:13:50]:

    Yeah. In retirement, that persistence is so important. I mean, the people who don’t do that who maybe say, well, now I’m done working. I’m just going to sit here, they think that might be fun, at least from our research, it doesn’t really end up that way.

    Dickson Grimes [00:14:07]:

    No, you can’t do that. That’d be the worst thing we could do.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:14:11]:


    Dickson Grimes [00:14:12]:

    I like to sit around, but right. You have to have something going on and something to think about.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:14:19]:

    You have to be doing something so you can look forward to sitting around.

    Dickson Grimes [00:14:22]:


    Ryan Doolittle [00:14:23]:

    Correct. Okay. Another thing that I think you both love, or at least Gail loves, and Dixon loves Gail, so he does it. I’m not sure which one it is, but Gail, you love travel.

    Gail Grimes [00:14:36]:

    Yes, we both do. I have to admit I’m a little bit more of the lead person on the travel part, but I just love, especially love going to Europe. Even though the flight can be challenging and uncomfortable once you’re there, it’s just amazing. That’s the best thing. Like when we played at this festival in France, it was really the best of both worlds. We got to travel and we got to perform, and we had a great time.

    Dickson Grimes [00:15:08]:

    Gail used to work for Delta many years ago, so she kind of developed that travel bug. Then we used to fly for free when she worked for Delta. We took our kids to Europe a few times, and they would get to sit up in first class. It’s very cool.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:15:28]:

    Yeah. Once you work for Delta, can some of those benefits stay for life? Or is it only while you’re working.

    Gail Grimes [00:15:35]:

    There for people who retire, they get some of those, but it’s changed quite a bit. Just like any company now, the whole benefit and perk structure, really, in many places has just gone through such a change. So I’m not sure what they offer for people now. And when I left Delta, I was not a retiree, so no more free.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:16:02]:

    Okay. Okay. Well, at least you developed the love and figured out that’s one of the things you wanted to do.

    Gail Grimes [00:16:08]:


    Ryan Doolittle [00:16:09]:

    Will you tell me some of your favorite cities in Europe since that’s your favorite place to travel?

    Gail Grimes [00:16:16]:

    Well, I loved Budapest. Lovely people, beautiful.

    Dickson Grimes [00:16:22]:

    It was pretty inexpensive.

    Gail Grimes [00:16:23]:

    Very inexpensive. Very reasonable place to go. We just got back from a cruise and went to two what I would call European beach towns. Nice and ajacchio. Corsica. And what was nice about them is that there wasn’t grand expectations of big museums and fancy cathedrals. They were just beautiful just as they were. And they were full of French people with their families at the beach, and it was just really pretty.

    Gail Grimes [00:17:00]:

    Love Paris.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:17:03]:


    Gail Grimes [00:17:03]:

    So if you go to Paris, Paris is a very international city. So you’ll have people there from all over the world.

    Dickson Grimes [00:17:10]:

    Lots of Americans.

    Gail Grimes [00:17:11]:

    And lots of Americans. Lot of British people. If you go someplace which is a smaller city, then it’s really more the tourists are more well, they’re French or they’re from other places in Europe. And that’s a nice thing. You just have a different experience.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:17:30]:

    Yeah, for sure. And I know you love cruises, too. Do you like that? Almost as much as going to these foreign cities?

    Dickson Grimes [00:17:38]:

    Well, I like to cruise because you don’t have to worry about a hotel room. You just get on the ship and they take you around. You get off, look at whatever you’re going to look at, and you get back on the ship and have a nice dinner. I like it.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:17:53]:

    It’s streamlined.

    Dickson Grimes [00:17:54]:

    Yes, it makes a vacation easy.

    Gail Grimes [00:17:57]:

    It does. It’s very easy. When you’re on a cruise, often there’s a sea day or two where you don’t stop at a port. And Dick really loves the sea days where I am more into wherever it is we dock. I want to be the first person off the ship and go do whatever it is that town has to offer. So we have a little bit of a different travel style.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:18:21]:

    Right. So by the end of that sea day, you’re ready to dock.

    Gail Grimes [00:18:26]:

    Yeah, I’m ready to go somewhere.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:18:28]:

    Well, it sounds like a compromise. You do some of this, some of that, and then you’re both happy.

    Gail Grimes [00:18:34]:


    Dickson Grimes [00:18:35]:

    Well, we’ve been married 43 years, and there’s a lot of compromise.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:18:39]:

    Yeah, I was going to say that’s probably part of it. Right?

    Dickson Grimes [00:18:43]:


    Ryan Doolittle [00:18:44]:

    Let’s just go back a little bit. I wanted to get a little bit more of sort of your backstory about the clarinet and the band. Is the Tara Winds Choir the main one, or that’s the one that I had sort of read the most about, but I know you’re in another one, too.

    Gail Grimes [00:19:02]:

    Well, the Tara Winds Clarinet Choir is part of the Terra Winds, which is a famous and really good concert band here in the metro Atlanta area. So Dick founded the clarinet choir a number of years ago because we’re sitting there among a pile of clarinettes. And so that’s how the clarinet choir got started. Now, the clarinet choir went to Carnegie Hall, but the you know, we just went to France with them, and the clarinet choir went also. So it’s like a subset of the band.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:19:40]:


    Dickson Grimes [00:19:40]:

    Yeah. The choir meets before the band rehearses, so we have a small rehearsal, and then we go to band rehearsals. If they’re in the choir, they’re also in the band.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:19:50]:

    Oh, okay. They’re two way players.

    Dickson Grimes [00:19:53]:


    Ryan Doolittle [00:19:54]:

    Okay. And you both played clarinet before you met. I mean, that’s kind of how you ended up.

    Dickson Grimes [00:20:00]:

    That’s how we met.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:20:02]:

    Can you tell me that story?

    Dickson Grimes [00:20:04]:

    Gail will tell you the story.

    Gail Grimes [00:20:06]:

    Well, we both went to Georgia State, and our college band director had set up a small band to play at Atlanta falcons games. And this was a scholarship, so everybody wanted to do it because you got a little bit of money $50 a quarter, an academic quarter, which was a lot of money back then.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:20:31]:

    I thought you meant per quarter in the game. Okay.

    Gail Grimes [00:20:34]:

    And when an opening came up, there were two openings for clarinet’s, and our dear band director john demas said, gail, who do you want to sit next to? And there was dick, and there was another young man named ted, and I sat next to dick, and my other clarinet friend grace sat next to ted, and grace, and ted got married, and dixon and I got married.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:21:03]:


    Dickson Grimes [00:21:04]:

    The magic of football fan.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:21:09]:


    Gail Grimes [00:21:09]:

    If you sit next to somebody in band, you never know what will happiest.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:21:14]:

    They said, who do you want to sit next to? And you looked over and saw dixon.

    Gail Grimes [00:21:18]:

    And said, hey, I’ll sit next to him.

    Dickson Grimes [00:21:20]:

    I don’t really buy that story, but that’s what she always said.

    Gail Grimes [00:21:23]:

    True. It is true.

    Dickson Grimes [00:21:26]:

    She gave me chicken soup, the first really cold falcons game. That was it. She was the one set up.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:21:37]:

    So that was 19 well, not night. It was in the 1970s. I don’t know exactly.

    Dickson Grimes [00:21:42]:

    75 or six.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:21:44]:

    Or six.

    Gail Grimes [00:21:45]:

    Something like that.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:21:46]:

    Okay. And by 1980, you were married.

    Dickson Grimes [00:21:49]:


    Ryan Doolittle [00:21:50]:

    Okay. So that shows us a lot. So, folks out there looking for love, you might want to pick up the clarinet or some woodwind instrument.

    Dickson Grimes [00:22:01]:

    It’s never too late to start, right? You can always pick up a horn.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:22:07]:

    Exactly. Okay. You both have music degrees. Dixon served in the US. Army band. Gail, you were a band director, and then, your know, life just sort of happens. And, dick, you became a CPA. Gail, you worked as an it.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:22:24]:

    Disaster recovery consultant. Do I have that right?

    Gail Grimes [00:22:27]:

    That’s right.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:22:28]:

    What exactly is that?

    Gail Grimes [00:22:30]:

    Well, it’s getting your company or whoever you’re working with to build out their system so that if there’s a fire or a flood or your data center just absolutely becomes unfunctional that your business can keep going. So I used to help people design resilient architecture.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:22:53]:

    Okay. And then dick, obviously a CPA. Were you doing people’s taxes and that sort of thing?

    Dickson Grimes [00:22:59]:

    No, I work for a corporation. I did the corporation’s taxes. Lots of property tax, sales tax, income tax, everything for a corporation.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:23:10]:

    Okay. But during that time, whenever you had a moment, you know, pick up the clarinet if you could.

    Dickson Grimes [00:23:18]:

    Well, there were quite a few years that we let it drop when our kids were little, and then when our kids, they both went to georgia tech, and when they both got out of school, we got back into it really big time again.

    Gail Grimes [00:23:34]:

    Yeah. As soon as our youngest graduated from high school the following fall, we were in a community band. We were in tarot winds.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:23:43]:

    So it was like we’re in. Now we have the time. We’re back.

    Dickson Grimes [00:23:46]:

    Yeah, we had the time to get it back.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:23:50]:

    So Gail, you had mentioned one of your core pursuits is exercise. I think your best friend is a personal trainer.

    Gail Grimes [00:23:57]:

    She is one of my very best friends. And she had helped me a number of years ago drop a lot of weight. And so I still work with her virtually because she’s moved far away. I don’t get to go to her home anymore for training. I have to admit I didn’t really list exercise as a core pursuit. It’s more of a means to an end to just try and hold the weight down a little bit. But I think it’s important. And one of the things that as you’re getting older and we see this all the time is just to try and spend some time and effort on wellness.

    Gail Grimes [00:24:39]:

    So we are picking up our exercising, both of us, just to I’m not sure that it helps me get out of bed in the morning. Like, I don’t have that same passion for it as I do for clarinet playing. But it’s something that we’re trying to keep a commitment to.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:24:59]:

    So it’s sort of a necessary evil or something you don’t love, but you know, it benefits you.

    Dickson Grimes [00:25:06]:

    You have to do it if you want to be healthy.

    Gail Grimes [00:25:09]:

    But now for my personal trainer, that is her number one core pursuit. That’s her thing.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:25:16]:

    Right. But luckily for you, she can guide you along. Did you go through a big process? I don’t know how long it took. But you had a goal of losing weight and it sounds like you got there.

    Gail Grimes [00:25:29]:

    Yeah, it took a couple of years and we still work on it too. And she helps me with that.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:25:36]:

    Well, in addition to physical exercise, you had mentioned as you get a little bit older, you also focus on doing some mental exercises because I think sometimes even I know my age. I’m in my forty s and I have to go to the Brain Gym. So what are some of the ways you do that? It sounds like maybe some puzzles.

    Dickson Grimes [00:26:00]:

    I like to do crossword puzzles. New York Times. A lot of times it’s too hard.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:26:05]:

    Yeah, I’ve found that too.

    Dickson Grimes [00:26:07]:

    There are a lot of free ones online that are very good and keep you sharp. And I like to play chess. Oh, I’m very bad. But I still like to play.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:26:19]:

    Do you play each other?

    Dickson Grimes [00:26:21]:

    No, Gail won’t play. But

    Ryan Doolittle [00:26:25]:

    Oh, you play online?

    Dickson Grimes [00:26:27]:

    Yeah. You can either play a computer, you can play a real person or you do puzzles. It’s always fun. Just keeps your mind sharp.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:26:36]:


    Dickson Grimes [00:26:36]:

    Not that my mind is sharp. I’d be in bad shape.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:26:44]:

    Gail, what do you do to go to the Brain Gym?

    Gail Grimes [00:26:47]:

    I play probably a little too much luminosity games.

    Dickson Grimes [00:26:53]:

    Gail is the champion. Luminosa?

    Ryan Doolittle [00:26:56]:


    Gail Grimes [00:26:57]:

    Is it luminosity? Yeah, probably a little too much I have to watch it. If I hold my iPhone too tight, it messes up my wrist. For clarinet playing, yeah, I do that. And also, I like to garden, so I’ll do some reading up on some gardening techniques and trying to keep the plants alive and things like that.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:27:22]:

    So I have become a hobbyist gardener, and right now, I’ve got zinnias, sunflowers, daisies, and I’m growing tomatoes and romaine lettuce. Tell me what you have going right now.

    Gail Grimes [00:27:36]:

    Tomatoes, green peppers. The cucumbers finished, and I planted some more. And the rabbits got them jalapenos.

    Dickson Grimes [00:27:44]:

    The jalapenos, which are very good this year.

    Gail Grimes [00:27:47]:

    Jalapenos are the easiest plant ever.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:27:50]:


    Gail Grimes [00:27:51]:


    Ryan Doolittle [00:27:52]:

    Okay, that is good to know.

    Gail Grimes [00:27:54]:

    And snow peas are getting ready to finish, and I planted a new squash. The squash got so big, it almost tore down the fence, so we had to let it go. So we’re going to try it again and maybe have some squash for Thanksgiving.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:28:10]:

    Okay. Oh, perfect timing. Yeah. So you have a lot going. You must have a pretty sizable garden.

    Gail Grimes [00:28:16]:

    Just a doolittle bit. One or two of everything. Okay, so not too big.

    Dickson Grimes [00:28:21]:

    It’s a raised bed. It’s pretty small.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:28:24]:

    Okay. So tell me, as people get into retirement, and I know you’re still fairly new to retirement not brand new, but maybe the end of the honeymoon phase or so. Correct me if I’m wrong, but how would you describe the perfect day in retirement?

    Gail Grimes [00:28:42]:

    Well, we were talking about this, and one of the most perfect days for me is Thanksgiving Day, especially after everyone’s eaten and the first set of dishes is in the dishwasher, and we’re sitting down for coffee, and the real conversations start and everybody’s there. So I really like those days when all the family is there. I like days when you’re practicing and you get a lot done or you’ve had a great performance or a really good rehearsal, which has really been inspiring. It’s always a great day when you get to babysit the kids, the grandkids a little bit. What else, dear?

    Dickson Grimes [00:29:22]:

    Well, my perfect day is doing anything I want, whenever I want, if Gail lets me.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:29:33]:

    You love being in control of everything. If Gail says that’s okay.

    Dickson Grimes [00:29:37]:

    Yeah, as long as she says it’s okay. I’m a jerk.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:29:41]:

    I see why. You’ve been married 43 years.

    Gail Grimes [00:29:46]:

    I’m still a little bit more schedule driven.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:29:50]:

    Okay. You had mentioned that there are some days in retirement where you might feel a little bit bored, and you wish there are a little more structure that maybe you had when you were in your career. What are some ways or tips to kind of fight through that and create that structure?

    Gail Grimes [00:30:06]:

    Well, I think that adding in some extra exercise, which we’ve done recently, will help with that. And we joined the Why, which is great because there’s a class and there’s machines, and it’s close to the house, so there’s not really a lot of excuses, I do have to admit. I do do some therapeutic shopping if I’m really bored. I don’t buy a lot, but I do look quite a bit. But I think there’s only so far that we’ll let it go. We’ll have a little bit of slacker day or two, but as a couple, we usually feel when it’s time to get back to it and just kind of get back to work or do something around the house or work on another music project, there’s just usually something that will draw us back and get us back on the rails a little bit.

    Dickson Grimes [00:31:04]:

    It’s easier for me to know when it’s time to get back to work. Gail tells me to get back to work.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:31:10]:

    That seems to be a running theme here.

    Dickson Grimes [00:31:13]:

    That’s a big theme.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:31:14]:

    My parents have been married, I think, 54 years maybe. And a big adjustment when my dad retired was my mom being worried that he would be home a lot. So I don’t know if that’s the way it is for you, but she said you need things to do because you can’t just be asking me what’s going on.

    Dickson Grimes [00:31:36]:

    Having a basement.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:31:37]:

    Ah, it helps a lot. Okay. Yeah.

    Dickson Grimes [00:31:40]:

    I can go down to the basement and Gail doesn’t look at me for a few hours.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:31:45]:


    Gail Grimes [00:31:46]:

    In our new home, we have a little bit of space to spread. You know, we know where each other are and I can go do my things and Dick can go in the basement. And it doesn’t it’s not like he’s just sitting there playing chess all day for the clarinet choir. He arranges music, writes music for the group, which is time consuming and takes some concentration. So he’s busier and I think a little bit more self motivated than he says.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:32:18]:

    Right. So a typical day, do you wake up and sort of lounge around for a while, or is it I’m up, I’m writing music, I’m on the go.

    Dickson Grimes [00:32:28]:

    There’s no structure.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:32:29]:

    Okay. It’s just whatever when the mood strikes.

    Dickson Grimes [00:32:32]:


    Gail Grimes [00:32:33]:

    But I would say that we’re usually at the gym by nine. We’re at the Y by nine or by 09:00. Something’s happening. Practice or housework or something.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:32:48]:

    Maybe I’m a later sleeper, but that doesn’t sound very late to me. How early are you getting up?

    Gail Grimes [00:32:53]:


    Ryan Doolittle [00:32:54]:

    Okay, so you’re up at six. Maybe you have your coffee and a puzzle or luminosity, and then you’re on to it. Okay.

    Gail Grimes [00:33:01]:

    Right. Do a little reading, say some prayers, go to Twitter, which I probably shouldn’t.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:33:07]:


    Gail Grimes [00:33:09]:

    And then yeah, get to work.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:33:11]:

    Okay. Well, bringing up prayers, spirituality, and however you define it sounds very important to you, from what you were telling me before.

    Gail Grimes [00:33:20]:

    It is. It very much is. I get a lot of comfort from my faith, and I believe sincerely that Jesus is my savior. And I wouldn’t say that I’m a good Catholic, but I try at it. So that’s very important. And I think whatever your faith tradition is, I would say it’s very important for you to pay attention to that.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:33:48]:

    Do you find going to church provides some community, or do you mostly do this at home?

    Gail Grimes [00:33:54]:

    Oh, going to church, we go to mass every week, and when we moved, we found a new parish, which was in our neighborhood that we really like, and we’re playing clarinet from time to time with this music ministry.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:34:13]:

    Oh, wow. They really lucked out having you in their parish.

    Gail Grimes [00:34:17]:

    Well, clarinet all stars. Yeah, they’re very kind. And there’s already a very good clarinet player and a flute player and a saxophone player, and it sounds really nice. So we’re glad that they have room for us.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:34:33]:

    So I grew up Catholic. We did not have this kind of talent roaming around the music room. Is this common in atlanta?

    Gail Grimes [00:34:42]:

    Well, I would say a lot of larger churches do a little bit better. And the lady who runs the music ministry, she has a doctorate in divinity, and she’s a proper organist, so she’s a professional, so we’re very lucky, and that’s what helps bring it all together. And her husband arranges music, so if they want us to play, they arrange music. We just sit down and we play the music, and it’s wonderful.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:35:14]:

    So it sounds like it does bring there’s a whole other community going on. There’s the spirituality aspect of it. There’s again, more music.

    Gail Grimes [00:35:22]:

    More music. Yeah.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:35:24]:

    We had another guest who he calls himself unretired because retirement has a certain definition that he didn’t feel fit him. Do you feel like maybe that’s what your life is? You’re not doing your career, but you’re doing a lot of other things?

    Dickson Grimes [00:35:42]:

    Well, I kind of felt like my career was never really who I was, so I don’t feel much different, to be honest. I sat at the desk and did the numbers thing for quite a few years, but I was always involved or thinking about music anyway and trying to think what we were going to be doing, especially the last few years. I was thinking a lot about music.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:36:11]:

    Yeah. So you stayed who you were. Work was one of those things you have to do, and so you sort of got through it, made the best of it, and then popped right back to your passion.

    Dickson Grimes [00:36:24]:

    Yeah, I was a CPA, but I never really felt like a CPA. I’m not that kind of guy with the blinders and the things on your arm and the pocket protectors and all that.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:36:36]:

    Yeah. And how about you, gail?

    Gail Grimes [00:36:38]:

    Well, I have to admit, I really enjoyed working. I enjoyed the field that I was in. I enjoyed it when I worked at delta because it just sparked this great love of travel. I enjoyed the technology field I was in, but I got out at a really good time, and it took me a little bit of time to sort of change that identity, but I got rid of it a little quicker than I thought I would, so I was okay with that. I was all right with that. And things change so quickly in technology now that even two years after I left, it was just a completely different thing. So I didn’t feel quite so attached.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:37:23]:

    So there was almost a natural organic break.

    Gail Grimes [00:37:28]:

    I would say so. And it was circumstantial. So it was a kind of a blessing in disguise how it worked out.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:37:37]:

    Well, that’s great that that worked out that way. Well, also that you see, I think that also depends on your positive outlook. Some people might not see it that way, but you sound like a glass half full type of type of clarinetist.

    Gail Grimes [00:37:51]:

    Well, thank you, Gil.

    Dickson Grimes [00:37:52]:

    Definitely. Yeah, it’s nine tenths full.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:37:57]:

    Wow. We have a little segment here we like to do. So my wife is Puerto Ryan, and she has a word called boccinche, which means, like, the juicy gossip. So this is a boccinche report. We want to know here on this podcast, how is the love of your marriage going these days? You going on dates? Are you writing clarinet songs for each other? Tell me a little bit about it.

    Dickson Grimes [00:38:22]:

    I just arranged a piece for Gail. It’s an arrangement of two Beatles songs, blackbird and I will I will always I took an arrangement that her vocal group did, and I arranged it for choir, and she’s playing the tenor part, so that’s my love song to her.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:38:46]:

    You are a romantic, Dixon.

    Dickson Grimes [00:38:48]:

    Yes, I am.

    Gail Grimes [00:38:49]:

    He is.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:38:50]:

    Wow. And two songs from the White Album. Yes, those are two of my just I have a nine month old son, and so I have to sing to him to get him to sleep, and I don’t have a whole lot of material, so just the other night, I sang both of those in one night.

    Gail Grimes [00:39:06]:

    Oh, very good.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:39:08]:

    So I didn’t have a clarinet on me, but that might have kept him.

    Dickson Grimes [00:39:15]:

    Gail will play it on alto clarinet.

    Gail Grimes [00:39:17]:

    Yeah. I’ll play it for you.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:39:19]:

    Okay, that’s a deal. So, Gail, how about you? What are some of your romantic passions?

    Gail Grimes [00:39:28]:

    Well, the way to a man’s heart can be through his stomach, so some nice pound cake or a blueberry pie, chocolate or something made out of chocolate always is very appreciated.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:39:46]:

    I feel like men, we have a different outlook on that. If my wife does the dishes, I feel like, wow, I feel loved.

    Dickson Grimes [00:39:57]:

    I do that too.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:40:01]:

    For me, she wants, like, a romantic drive up the beach or something, and I’m a little more simple, I think.

    Gail Grimes [00:40:08]:

    There you go.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:40:09]:

    Well, thanks for providing some bo Chinche for our listeners. We’re getting towards the end here. So thank you so much for being on the Happiest retirees podcast with us. I wanted to say, if you could just tell me the biggest challenge you’ve each faced along this retirement journey so that people can maybe know what to expect and what to do when they find themselves, maybe in the valley and how to get back up the mountain.

    Dickson Grimes [00:40:36]:

    I think it’s keeping your mind active. You can do it any way you want to, a million ways, probably, but you have to be thinking about something. Physically, that helps, too, but mentally, that’s what you really have to watch out for.

    Gail Grimes [00:40:54]:

    And I would say pray, just have a commitment to how you see your life and look for some improvement and try and be open. There’s so much change and it happens so fast. Try and be open. You don’t have to accept everything, but at least acknowledge it and figure out how to, if not make it work for you, how to continue with the things that you love to do, but just be open and know that there’s just going to be a lot of change and that sometimes things feel very uncertain. And I would say pray and be committed. And the other things, too, is sometimes we have friends who are a little bit more negative, maybe not so much into growth or I would say maybe maximizing what they do. They’re more of the sit in the chair type of retirees and try not to let that kind of color your mind. Just keep on your path, but be open.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:42:06]:

    So be open and have perseverance. It sounds like there’s some yes, the combination very much so.

    Gail Grimes [00:42:13]:

    A lot of perseverance. And it’s okay to take a break, but try not to let yourself get too on the back of your heels for long.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:42:24]:

    Great advice. I just want to say that we spend a lot of time on this topic, obviously, and your adventure encompasses a lot of the habits that we see from the Happiest retirees. Healthy marriage, organized social connections, group activities, pursuing something that takes time and achievement to fine tune and improve, which you’re consistently fine tuning and improving everything from marriage to clarinet to san innovations. So thank you, Gail and Dixon Grimes, for joining us on the Happiest Retirees podcast, and I really appreciate you sharing your wisdom with us.

    Gail Grimes [00:43:04]:

    Well, thank you so much.

    Dickson Grimes [00:43:05]:

    Thank you.

    Gail Grimes [00:43:06]:

    Such an honor to be asked to do this.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:43:09]:

    Oh, the honor is all on this side of the microphone.

    Gail Grimes [00:43:12]:

    Well, thank you again.

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