Jim and Marilyn Kovarik’s Retirement Forecast: Freedom and Independence with a 100% Chance of Fun

Slowing down is the last thing most people want to do when they retire. It’s a major reason so many seniors choose the freedom and independence of a Life Plan Community like Carlyle Place in Macon, Georgia. Having a maintenance-free home in a community that caters to your interests naturally inspires discovery, curiosity and camaraderie. As time goes by, folks may even seize the opportunity to explore hobbies, rediscover passions or volunteer for a worthy cause. 

Take Jim and Marilyn Kovarik, two former snowbirds who are now among the youngest members of our retirement community. Although they just landed here in December, Jim and Marilyn have made quite an impression on their new neighbors with their passion for weather—so much so that everyone now looks at the skies differently. 

Creating a contemporary dream home in our retirement community

Jim and Marilyn’s journey to Carlyle Place began when the couple left Florida because after experiencing two hurricanes, they decided it was time to live elsewhere, plus they missed the changing seasons.  Once they discovered our vibrant community, they were immediately drawn to a garden-style floor plan because there were so many options for making it their own. 

“We knew we weren’t moving again, so we wanted our home at Carlyle Placeto be our best home,” Jim explains. “We combined the living room, dining room and kitchen into one free-flowing space and constructed a sunroom by adding French doors and permanent glass walls.” They redesigned the master bedroom area to include two huge walk-in closets and a large master bath with a 5’ corner shower. The couple also converted part of one guest room into a giant closet for extrastorage including where Marilyn stores her Christmas decorations (she’s looking forward to showing their new neighbors her love of decorating for Christmas).

And while nothing would please Jim and Marilyn more than living out their days in their spacious contemporary home, they’re both glad that Carlyle Place has their back with a full continuum of quality on-campus healthcare, should the need arise. “If anything ever changes, we’ll have a 10-, 15- or 20-year family ready to step in.”

A self-described “weather enthusiast” pursues a unique hobby

One thing was missing from the Kovariks’ new home in our senior living community: a personal weather station similar to one that Jim had installed outside their previous home.  But that was about to change… with a little support from Carlyle Place.

“I’m kind of a nature enthusiast and volunteered in our previous community on the Drainage and Irrigation Committee.  One of my roles was tracking weather and rainfall.  I installed a weather station to help me collect data.  I purchased one with WIFI so that my fellow committee members could do the same.  Word spread and soon the whole community had linked in.  When visiting Carlyle Place, I was surprised to learn that there was no community weather station.  An informal poll showed me that residents loved the idea so I made a promise that when we moved in, I would advocate for its creation.”  Before leaving his former community, Jim’s committee chairman and best friend Jack Aycock, an 87-year young man who grew up in Forsyth, GA gifted Jim with a brand-new weather station to take along and present to Carlyle Place, in honor of their friendship and his childhood region.  “I knew we had a chance to make it work.  Everyone we met at Carlyle Place told us that this was a place where staff and residents make things happen.”

Bringing Jim’s unique hobby to life at our senior living community was a true team effort. First, he ran his plan by Executive Director Troy Cannady and Director of Residential Life Susan Bankston. Both thought it was a “cool idea,” and even set aside a budget for construction—and maybe some future technological upgrades. Second, it was just a matter of working out the finer points of construction with Travis House, who’s in charge of buildings and grounds.

“Susan even arranged to create a weather app for everyone in our community to use,” Jim says. “Now, folks can just open up the Carlyle Place weather station app on their phones and all the details are at their fingertips. 

“That’s what I love about this place. When you have a good idea, the staff works with you to make it happen!”

One man’s weather station evolves into an engaging community activity

Jim’s weather station has only been operational for a few months, but it’s already a huge hit throughout the Carlyle Place community—so much so that Jim’s new moniker among residents and staff members is “Jim the weather guy.”

“Every day, people throughout our retirement community use the app to plan their activities,” Jim explains. “Is it nice enough for gardening? What should I wear to play pickleball? Do we need rain gear for our trip to the museum? Some even dive deeper into the data to check out the monthly rainfalls or average temperatures.”

One of Marilyn’s favorite stories took place during the recent solar eclipse. “We were watching the eclipse with our neighbors and even though it was only partial, everyone seemed to think it felt colder. Later that night when Jimmy looked at the temperature graph, it showed that the temperature actually did go down six degrees, then went back up when the eclipse was over. He couldn’t wait to share the news on the Carlyle Place weather app,” she says. 

Treasuring their freedom and independence in retirement

As you might have guessed, Jim and Marilyn are two fiercely independent, goal-oriented people. That’s why they love the freedom that a Life Plan Community like Carlyle Place in Macon, Georgia, offers. Here, they can take part in whichever community activities strike their fancy while still being able to do their own thing whenever they choose. 

Marilyn is definitely the social butterfly of the pair. “I love pickleball. I love line dancing. I love crafts. And all those activities are right outside my door,” she says. “I also frequent downtown Macon to shop or see a show and if Jimmy wants to come along, great! But if he doesn’t, I just jump on the Carlyle Place shuttle. No worries.” 

As for Jim, he’s a bit more introverted and is content to sit on his patio and read, tend to his plants, or take advantage of his Master Naturalist Certification and explore Central Georgia’s birds, plants and animals.  “It’s great that I can be involved as much or as little as I choose,” he says.  “I took a break from pickleball, but I do plan to get back out there.  I’ll have to get myself back in shape though, the physical condition of Carlyle Place residents is amazing.  Otherwise, I’m going to get my butt kicked.”

When the couple do venture out together, music is often on the agenda. “Just last week we were at the Grand Opera House at Mercer University for a symphony,” Jim says. “We also headed to Atlanta to see a Broadway Show. And the best part? Carlyle arranged for the tickets and provided a bus, so we didn’t have to deal with driving and parking hassles.”

Start Crafting Your Happy Today

At Carlyle Place, our residents actively choose the activities, amenities and lifestyle that meet their definition of living life well. And the sooner you make your move, the more time you’ll have to enjoy it. As Jim Kovarik—one of our youngest community members—says: “Why buy tickets to the opera if you’re only going to show up for the second act?”

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