I’m a fraud. For years I’ve been convinced that I had a book or a series of books in me to write if I only had enough quiet time. Or the right space. Or time alone. Or the focus. Or whatever. And in fact, I have a really good book in me. But you may never get to read it, I’m sorry to say.
And I wanted to learn the play the mandolin if I only had enough quiet time. Or the right space. Or time alone. Or the focus. Or whatever.
I wanted to learn how to draw. That would be something I could do if I only had enough quiet time. Or the right space. Or time alone. Or the focus. Or whatever.
As you may have guessed for the past 8 weeks I had them all. I had the time, space, time alone, focus and whatever.
I did not write my masterpiece. I did not learn to play the mandolin. I did not learn how to draw.
What did I do?
I went outside and walked everyday.
I sat in quiet and drank my cup of hot tea without having to get up and reheat it.
I watched time pass by watching where the shadows from the movement of the sun landed on my fence.
I pulled weeds.
I watched Ted Talks and kept digging deep to learn, understand and grow. Loved this one by Bill Gates.
I planted flowers, tomatoes and peppers, then I covered them up on cold nights.
I read. And I shared my books with other friends who love reading as well.
I listened to new indie music on youtube.com and found new artists. Thank you to Alexrainbird Music)
I listened to books. I loved listening to Tom Hanks read The Dutch House written by Ann Patchett.
I baked bread.
I wrote letters to dear friends (send me your address if you want me to send you a letter too.)
I zoomed. A lot. I stayed connected with my Rotary Club and visited several other meetings and listened to their speakers.
I stayed in close contact with my family through Facebook Messenger video and Facetime.
I met on video with long time friends who I used to waitress with back in the day when I was a young mom. Those connections are still going strong. Amen for that!
– I’m going to cut myself some slack and honor what I’ve achieved.
No written book for the world to read (not yet anyhow) but lots of blogging.
No mandolin but listened to tons of music (lots of Indie music as well as ‘blow out the speaker’ loud tunes.)
No drawing except for doodles, but I painted my porch swing and added color to the front of my house with accents.
I think my time away from others has helped me put perspective on what matters.
Books, for sure.
Color, of course.
Walking, and movement.
Family. Friends. Contact.
And writing words in whatever form they need to be.
If I had to grade myself during my time of isolation I’d give myself a pat on the back. Actually, if I could possibly make it happen, I’d find a way to hug myself. One of those long hugs that you wish you could give to someone near and dear to you. One of those, ‘don’t let me go’ hugs. The kind where the other hand is rubbing up and down the shoulders and back. You know … touch.
That’s been missing during this time. Physical contact. People.
I hope during your time of isolation you were able to find what matters most and focus all your attention there. And let the other stuff slide away. What matters most to me ais the knowledge that I am enough just like I am. And you are too. I’m not sure but that sounds like something Mr. Rogers would say. I miss Mr. Rogers too.
Where Does the Dance Begin, Where Does It End? by Mary Oliver
is simply beautiful.
Don’t call this world adorable, or useful, that’s not it.
It’s frisky, and a theater for more than fair winds.
The eyelash of lightning is neither good nor evil.
The struck tree burns like a pillar of gold.
But the blue rain sinks, straight to the white
feet of the trees
whose mouths open.
Doesn’t the wind, turning in circles, invent the dance?
Haven’t the flowers moved, slowly, across Asia, then Europe,
until at last, now, they shine
in your own yard?
Don’t call this world an explanation, or even an education.
When the Sufi poet whirled, was he looking outward, to the mountains so solidly there in a white-capped ring, or was he looking to the center of everything:
the seed, the egg, the idea that was also there, beautiful as a thumb curved and touching the finger, tenderly,
little love-ring, as he whirled,
oh jug of breath,
in the garden of dust?
Nature is taking a break while humans are running for cover.
In the west, over the past three decades the pine trees have been devoured by pine beetles. The forest is filled with dead trees that change the color of the canvas from deep green to dead maroon. A lightning strike, a tossed cigarette, a careless spark will set millions of acres ablaze. Our forests have been dying.
Twenty miles down the highway from me the county imposed a plant quarantine to contain the ash borer beetle. Now, six years later, the quarantine of transporting wood (think about the times we’ve loaded firewood from our backyard to our mountain camping spot…) has been lifted as the beetle has spread to other counties. Authorities knew from past experience that it could not be stopped, only contained. Sort of like the coronavirus.
For the time being, we’ve turned our attention away from nature and are staying inside, keeping our distance from man and beast. Well, maybe not from beasts but certainly from others.
While we (humans) are taking a break from all things social (work, school, entertainment, restaurants, fitness centers, travel, shopping, concerts, theaters, sports and gatherings of any kind) – nature is blossoming.
The air is cleaner, waterways are clearer, fish are multiplying, highways are empty, smokestacks don’t smoke, fewer planes are flying so less sound from the sky, cruise ships are not sailing so less pollution in the oceans, oil rigs have stopped fracking, and so much more.
Musicians are making more music.
Writers are writing.
Cooks are creating.
Weavers are weaving.
Bloggers are blogging.
Dog walkers have been replaced by dog owners.
Babysitters, nannies, and preschools have been replaced by mom and dad.
Yards are tended to by homeowners instead of lawn companies.
Even in the mist of this disruption, there is some good. In fact, there is much good.
There are fewer car accidents.
We are practicing better hygiene.
Family meals are a ‘thing’ again.
Conversations are real.
Because of the Covid-19 outbreak, humans are taking a pause right now. We have the time now to decide who we are, who we want to be and what difference we want to make in the world.
Mary Oliver said it best when she wrote, “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”
Ok, so you crossed off the days on the calendar, had the party, celebrated and NOW you are retired. Its time to sleep in and enjoy checking items off your bucket list.
You’ve cleaned closets, garages and drawers.
You’ve packed your bags and sailed the seas, visited beaches and climbed mountains.
You’ve weeded and planted, hoed and harvested.
You’ve sliced, hooked and sandbagged.
You’ve visited family, reconnected with friends and made new acquaintances.
You’ve casted, caught and released.
You’ve cruised, snoozed and boozed.
Now you’ve got 25+ years to go!
Having a strategy on how to spend your next 25 years is pretty important and often overlooked. Yes, you love to golf but to do so everyday for the rest of your life? Perhaps? Or maybe not too realistic.
Doing the same thing day after day, not only becomes more like a job (with no pay or benefits) but it’s like taking every vacation back to visit the folks in Syracuse. Year after year. A thousand places to visit and year after year … back home to Syracuse. It will get old really fast.
But, as a newly retired person you have a blank slate. Unless you start to add things to your canvas, others will do it for you. Look around right now and figure out who you want to spend your time with, what organizations you want to get involved with and investigate places where you want to visit.
As you create this list, as you research your topics, as you reach out and learn more – explain to others what you are doing and why. This is your first step in making new friends. The information you are seeking already exists … you just need to ask the question.
Creating your very own ‘Fun Stuff’ list will benefit you even on down days (yes, sorry to say, you will have down days) and keep you active, interesting and engaging. Finding the things that make you feel grounded will vary from person to person but they are the essence of our being. I know I’m sounding overly dramatic but just take a minute and think about it.
ACTION ITEM: Make a list of the things that make you smile. The list below is unique to me. What will be on your list? (My list spell out RETIRE!)
Read Exercise Travel Invest in yourself! Routine Education
Of course I’d list this one first – it’s my GO-TO hobby. I love visiting book stores, libraries, attending speaker series, and author presentations. I get a new look at the world through books. I have my own set of favorite authors and whether I read a book, listen on a cd or download to my smart phone, the act of ingesting someone’s words is a true gift.
One huge aspect of reading for me is visiting libraries. Libraries are unique and have their own personality. Some libraries are nondescript, bland, boring and easily forgotten. Other libraries are landmark buildings with glass ceilings and stand tall and proud. I just read one great blog post from The Library Lady Travels about a series of churches in Canada that were converted into libraries as a way to save the historical building and house books. I really want to visit those buildings! For all the libraries in between, they have their own sweet character that usually invites me to return.
Without exercise and a healthy body there really is no happy retirement, right? Without exercise there will be no walking, hiking, tennis, or golfing. A regular exercise routine is something to be scheduled and on the calendar. This routine can offer so much besides a happy body.
Reports and studies show that walking is the perfect exercise. I love walking but not running. I stopped running the day I realized I could walk faster than my ‘run.’ The secret to an exercise routine is that you do it, love it and embrace it. I was never going to embrace running but walking … oh yeah!
What is it that you love to do? When you are creating your list, remember to factor in strength training. As we age, our muscles lose mass. In other words, they are slowly dying. They need to be challenged, engaged and tested. Strength training is not specific to a gym either. You can get stronger without lifting weights.
It might take you a whole 5 minutes searching to find youtube.com videos of strength training without equipment routines. Once you find a few, bookmark them and try them all. Lunges, squats, push-ups, planks and resistance bands will cause you to sweat, stretch beyond your limits and be open for new opportunities. Pick bits and pieces from routines and create your own plan. Once you figure out what exercise you love, put it on your calendar!
Do not believe the studies that tell you “Only 20 minutes of walking a day is needed.” Phooey. Move it or lose it is my motto!
I believe that travel is a huge factor in my retirement happiness. The freedom to make plans that are months away or spur-of-the-moment make a big difference in my mental well-being. Before, I used to dream about building up vacation days so I could get out of town. I had to pass on those dream flights that popped at Wednesday at 2 am and would promise to whisk you to an amazing destination if you were packed and ready to board within 24 hours. Those flights are what blockbuster movies are all about.
So, here I am with time and a vehicle and all it will take is for me to schedule something on my calendar as a way to make it happen. Take a trip to Sedona on Tuesday. OK. Visit hot springs next month. Take a Napa Valley Wine Tour in September? Booked and on the calendar.
Invest in yourself!
This tip relates back to all the things you said you wanted to do. Learn to dance, play guitar, weave, sing, golf, cook, or whatever you promised you would do when you retire. Perhaps you are wanting to write a book, start a podcast, climb a mountain, learn a language or build a house. Investing in yourself includes giving away your time too. Finding a cause that resonates with your core values will be the way to start. Want to work with children, build houses, visit the sick, distribute food, hoe gardens, collect trash? There are organizations waiting for you to call. Most often, in order to invest in yourself it takes a bit of planning.
ACTION ITEM: Take a look at your bucket list and circle three things that you have to work hard to achieve. Want to learn to speak Spanish? Check out local community colleges or recreation centers for classes. Or go online and search for “free language app” or perhaps visit your local library.
What are those things that you dreamed about prior to retirement? Pick the top three and create a list of the steps you need to take to achieve them.
Then take one step.
Then tomorrow take another. Simple, easy and most important, you’ve put your dreams in motion. Congratulations!
OK, readers, this one is HUGE! I know, I know. For the past 30 years you have been on a schedule and now it’s time to go rogue. Or, maybe not.
Having a routine is powerful in so many ways. A set wake-up time or a scheduled daily exercise program is needed to keep moving forward. Without some sort of routine, days slip by and you’ll often ask yourself “what day is it?” At first it’s funny, then it is just frustrating. Those mindless days turn into years then into decades. Own your life again. Start now.
A routine holds you accountable to yourself. Knowing you are expected to be at the gym at 7 am gets you up and out the door. Perhaps 7am is your journaling time? Then put something on the calendar and stick with it. Not only will you find other like- minded individuals who show up when you do, you might find out you have lots in common.
Once you figure out what it is you want to learn, get online and find out more. Want to spend time learning college level material? Go to iTunes University. You will be amazed what is offered. Or go to your internet browser and search for Open Educational Resources (OER). These are free and open sources materials with a focus on getting college level material into the hands of students without the high price tag. Another place to continue online learning is via Youtube University, Coursera and TED talks, Tedx and TEDEd
Some communities offer classes through Osher Lifelong Learning Institutes. This foundation supports a national lifelong learning network for seasoned adults and operates on 124 campuses across the nation.
Download a podcast app and listen to almost any topic that interests you. (Go back to your bucket list for inspiration.) Find the search icon and type in your subject. You will be amazed at the variety and selection of speakers you can subscribe and listen to on a regular basis.
This is the time in your life to really stretch your imagination and do something amazing. Want to learn astronomy? Astrology? Astrophysics? Then check online courses, podcasts, books, community colleges, local universities and start asking HOW to make it happen. Just remember to get it on your calendar.
And, just for the record – I want you to kick back and be lazy. I think you earned it and nobody should take that away from you. Let the sun shine on your face, smell the flowers, breathe in the fresh air and enjoy that ice cold beverage. And then … make a plan. (smile)
Please, leave a comment and help me with this question.
Is reading a hobby?
I don’t sing, play a musical instrument, paint, quilt, sew, weaver, or dance. I don’t brew beer, make wine, cross stitch, or collect stamps.
But I do read. And I love to read. And I love to discuss good books. And I love to discuss the books I hate.
But it seems so passive.
Someone else did all the work. They put their butts in the chair and let the words flow. And on the days when the words didn’t flow, they still put their butts in the chair anyhow. Authors work hard. They show up. They put their butts in the chair on a regular basis. They edit, rewrite and when they are finally done – they promote their final product. They attend book signings, they Facebook. They Instagram. They blog. They write newsletters.
And I — get to read the final product. Is that considered a hobby?
I hope so because I spend quite a bit of time reading. I either have a book or an audiobook on hand at all times. Is reading an actual hobby?
I will happily let a good book consume me. And then there are the books that I adore so much that I find myself slowing down so I can prolong the story and hold off finding out the ending.
And for the books I don’t like. I set aside. I return to the library. I give away. I don’t have time for them. I wouldn’t watch a movie for an hour if I didn’t like it. No thank you very much. No reason to feel bad about it either.
I just finished rereading a book titled The Rent Collector. I loved it the first time and I loved it again.
The Rent Collector by Cameron Wright is a story about life in the municipal waste dump in Cambodia. Its an odd place. It’s an odd setting and it’s pretty powerful. It’s a story within a story. It’s about reaching down and pulling another up. Its about noticing something bigger and ASKING for help. It’s about the power of education. It really touched me both times that I read it. And, for the record, I rarely EVER read a book twice,
I don’t have the heart to dissect it as many good readers and editors might. I just embraced it and let it sit with me for a long time.
I feel honored when I read books that touch my soul like this one did. Perhaps I am too easily led by plot, however, in this case, I was ready to follow.
My other recent book that took me on a sweet journey was titled, This Tender Land by William Kent Krueger. It was a journey of abused kids running for their lives. It was a story of how they grew with each stop along the way. I was reminded of ‘Oh Brother Where Art Thou’ movie and the Odyssey and several others and yet, I willingly followed.
During my walk today I finished listening to Two by Two by Nicholas Sparks. I felt pretty disgusted with myself for downloading this audiobook. It was so scripted like a Hallmark movie and I resented the time I took away from my life to listen to it. Instead of closing the book and setting it aside (it was an audiobook after all) I just kept forwarding it at 30 second intervals. The main character was such a tool I wanted to stomp him into the dirt. I guess I was also upset that there seems to be too many words dragging down the story. I spent lots of time hitting the fast-forward button and probably missed some important stuff. But then, isn’t my time important too? Right? So, some good books crossed my path and some less memorable ones this past month.
And now I ask you again. What do you think? Is reading a hobby? I would truly love your thoughts and feedback.
Back to you. What are your thoughts? Many thanks for sharing!
I love reading blogs. Each blogger has a different and unique take on life. Whether they are into traveling, reading, retiring, budgeting, music or all of the above, everyone looks at the situation from their special place in the world and writes in their own beautiful voice.
Recently I read a blog from Catherine at Cryanny’s Cove and Amanda from Something to Ponder about bringing luck into their lives. They decided to be positive and just remind themselves they are lucky. Well, readers, I am lucky too. In a dozen ways. For instance, just this morning my lovely Comcast representatives reduced my monthly internet bill down $9 per month. OK, to be totally honest, it went from $62 to $82 and now it’s at $73. PRETTY LUCKY, RIGHT?
And I installed a door bell myself (and it works!) Along with that, I have a phone call coming this evening to help me resolve my laptop issues. So, as you can see, I am a luck magnet. I know you probably read “I am a love magnet” right? Well, why not? Why the heck not!
And the really lovely thing is that you are too! Stick with me, it’s sure to get way more fun over the next few months of luck and love.
I so enjoy the new ideas, exercises and challenges from other bloggers. Most times they don’t know how their words invite me to think in new ways or to question things that I always thought of as true. Or their photos make me turn to maps, or a books or search engines to learn more. I’ve found recipes that I added to my supper menu, jokes that made me laugh out loud or stories that made me cry.
The freedom and ability to write from my point of view about topics that touch my soul is a thing of beauty. Reading other blogs is the gift I give myself. I leave enriched and with the urge to put my fingers to the keyboard.
But let’s talk about creating luck, shall we? I know that being lucky is a state of mind. It’s how I embrace price increases, laptop failures, train crossings and awful ‘on-hold’ music. The thing is, life is a notebook full of blank pages. Spending time writing my disappointments instead of my successes will only take me (and you) down.
So, I’ll be paying attention to my luck and you, (yes, YOU) will get to hear about all the wonderful things that come my way. You, are more than welcome to become a luck/love magnet as well. In order for me to become this lucky magnet, I plan to do the following things:
Stay open to new opportunities.
Be aware of my surroundings.
Talk about my good luck.
Know that my luck is contagious.
Listen (luck and magic have their own frequency.)
If you are a lucky person and have nuggets to share, please leave a comment below!
Happy anniversary to me! I’ve been blogging for 10 years!
Let’s put on the music and toast my accomplishment. Cheers!
Over the past 10 years, I’ve written then paused. Why? Maybe some tragedy, maybe some overarching excitement. Who knows? Then I restarted with gusto and vigor then paused. Who knows why? But, then I came back recharged and ready to bust a new one. I’ve created challenges and made friends then paused… again. I guess the PAUSING was a need to recharge and reframe me and what I wanted to share.
Consequences of pausing?
Each time I paused, I put my blogging friends and readers on hold and eventually they fell away.
Every time I returned to blogging it was with a clear reason. I was ready to write again. I was eager to share my world as a way to record my how I spend my time. I wanted a roadmap of how I spent my time over the years.
What Now Marge Katherine?
CURRENTLY, I am retired and I want to record how I spend my days. What is it I do — all week, all month and with the passing year? Hmm?
Some days I am really lonely and those are the days I search the internet for other people who are retired and have it figured out. OK, I haven’t found them yet but when I do, I will be sure to link to them.
Why Bother Marge Katherine?
In the meantime, by blogging I can record what’s going on – right here and now – for next year or a decade from now when I am yes… ten years older. Will there still be blogging in ten years? If not, what will replace it? Podcasts? Videos and youtube? I wonder…
Lyle, Rachel, Mike, Vicki and so many other wonderful people are moving to my area. They have either decided to move to a new neighborhood, city or state. Maybe they are recently retired and living their bucket dream list. Maybe some are newly single for one reason or another and making a fresh start. Some, are following the grandkids and are content to be in their shadow. Whatever their reasons, it takes guts to relocate. To put yourself out there and make new friends. It’s like dating again, except this time they are seeking friends and not romantic partners.
As a single woman, I don’t have the luxury of teaming up with a partner to go friend hunting so I’ve created my own strategy. I put myself out there at local concerts. I listen to speakers at the local library. I volunteer for events when I see Volunteers Needed signs. I ride my bike and go to local coffee shops (and drink tea.) I go to the movies alone and check out the other patrons. I keep doing the things that I enjoy doing but allow time for meeting new people and conversations.
And what do you know … it works. I’ve met people at local free concerts and made hiking plans. I’ve met people in the lounge area of the movie theater and discussed books. I’ve sat in on speakers and stayed longer to connect with those others who linger and chat it up.
On my street, I know neighbors on both sides of me. One side of me lives a young couple with elementary school age children and on the other side of my house is a retired couple in their 80’s who travel the world like crazy. We are friends as well as neighbors. They will put out my trash for me. I will mow their lawn or look after their kids for them. I want more of that!
As a way to connect with people in other neighborhoods, I am a member of NextDoor.com. This online network connects people across neighborhoods and helps them stay informed about upcoming events and issues. It addresses neighborhood, public and government concerns. It gives me a way to reach out to others who might have the same interests that I do.
Last year, I sent a message on NextDoor.com to see if anyone played Euchre because I wanted to join them. Instead, I had more than 16 people reach out with excitement and desire to get together. The funny thing was they were all couples and I was the odd one out. At least I was able to hook them all up!
Another time, I was collecting crutches for a Rotary Club project and I put the request online and was happy to say I had a bunch of people happy to take crutches, canes and wheelchairs out of their closets and garages and put them to good use.
Also, I needed to get my hands on a copy of EnCompass the AAA magazine after I had tossed mine out. When I inquired online if anyone had it, I found to my delight that 4 neighbors were willing to part with theirs for my cause. I’ve asked for recommendations for services (car, cable, garage help) and in turn, was able to help others with recommendations.
Perhaps this platform is the way to reach out and connect on a broader scope. The blog link below titled “Coping with social isolation, together” by Sarah Friar touches on reasons to reach out and connect.
In order to make NextDoor.com a ‘movement’, others need to know it exists. At the top of their page, I have the ability to ‘invite’ others to join. I can invite them via email or postcard. Once I click on the Invite Neighbors, up comes a map of everyone who is 1) already a member, 2) recently invited or 3) not yet members. I will go ahead and send out postcards and see if I can entice others to join. So, that is my new task, challenge and adventure. Maybe they will toss the card, maybe they will be interested, maybe they don’t want to bother. That’s ok.
Reaching out is the main thing. And connecting is the best end result of all!
Can you be Happily After Retirement, really? What about feelings of being disconnected and alone? What about not having that place where coworkers gather and converse, share and connect over projects, over work, over a lifetime? Or a scheduled reason to get up and get going every day? Or a million other things?
Well for me, retirement is about staying connected to people, organizations, nature and myself. It’s volunteering, working out, hiking, and growing. The growing involves lots of reading, lectures, libraries and silence. The silence allows me to stop the noise and review who I am, what I am and where I am going.
However, for as much as I want you to believe I have it figured out, I do not. I am wanting to be part of something bigger, yet something intimate. I need to have structure but also want the freedom to travel. I search blogs, read magazines and books, attend gatherings and continue to wonder where I belong. Have you figured it out yet? Some people follow their bucket list, others clean their closets. There is no answer to this one – like when we left school and were expected to get a job. Now we are leaving a career and what…?
I am looking for THE BIG WHAT?
Whether I write this blog or not, life goes on either way. The sun still rises and it’s glorious. Sometimes I capture the scene on my camera but I would rather just sit in awe and soak it in. Maybe I’ll blog about the colors, the smells and try to describe the fresh air but I’d rather take that hike up the hillside with friends. With you. What are your wants?
Marianne Williamson wrote so eloquently “We are all meant to shine, as children do.” And now, as we enter retirement, we are also allowed to shine. Duties and responsibilities are winding down and options are on the horizon.
I’m not the only one that feels like this, am I? So, how do we connect? What is it that you do with your time that makes you giggle with anticipation of it?
There are so many ways to expand my horizons and not even leave my couch. Which is so good … and not good at all! Movement is necessary in so many ways. Trust me on this one. Action is the key to life.
Bradley Whitford wrote this brilliant passage…
“Infuse your life with action. Don’t wait for it to happen. Make it happen. Make your own future. Make your own hope. Make your own love. And whatever your beliefs, honor your creator, not by passively waiting for grace to come down from upon high, but by doing what you can to make grace happen… yourself, right now, right down here on Earth.”
Get busy living… a reminder from my favorite movie – Shawshank Redemption – Get busy living or get busy dying !
What shall it be my friends?
I love challenges and I’ve created one for myself that will take me through July 27. It’s about learning something every day. Discovering, reading, learning, understanding, asking, wandering, wondering and growing with each lesson.
During this exercise I won’t blog every day due to circumstances like … life, travel, activities, adventures and other things that keep my fingers from the keyboard. I will record what I learned each day when I do blog.
I hope you take this trip with me or better yet – join me and we can learn from each other.
The fun begins today, Monday April 18. I’ll post every Monday and Thursday during these 14 weeks. Stop by and follow me, laugh with me, invite me to write on your blog, dance with me, and most of all – learn with me.