My mom had pretty ugly handwriting (sorry Mom) but my dear friend Joan has beautiful writing. Her written words are like pieces of art.
Writing is something we learn early on or we don’t. My sons print. Cursive was not something they were taught. It was one of the teaching initiatives that came and went back in the day. Another fad the schools went through were ‘open classrooms’ as in classrooms with no walls. Just one big open family. That one was also left in the dust. And another initiative was ‘inventive spelling.’ Sometimes these pedagogical fads are introduced and fade away without making any kind of difference… except what was not taught, for example – cursive.
So, now I wonder how many of you actually use cursive when you write? So many people I know leave notes by printing (or texting ☹) but rarely correspond using cursive.
Do you like your handwriting?
My handwriting seems to go back and forth between printing and writing. It’s as if I speak a foreign language but keep adding English words as well. When I am focused on writing and take my time, my handwriting is ok. Unlike Joan and Loretta and Barbara and Johnny. Their writing is beautiful. When I am writing a card, I want to get it pretty the first time so I have to slow down and pay attention. Using ‘white-out’ to remove my mistakes on a sympathy card is sort of tacky.
What really amazes me is that my handwriting from high school is the same I have now. Almost everything about me has changed over time and yet, my handwriting is almost the same.
Graphology is the study of handwriting. This science is a way to learn about the personality, character and abilities of the writer. So, that journal writing I did in high school (which is pretty much the same as today) can offer insights into my personality. The way I add spacing to words, whether I add loops to letters, and even how I cross my ‘’T’s’ speaks volumes about me according to graphology.
So, what about the population of people who never learned to write? Can studies be done on them as well? (Please let me know if you have this answer…)
I have a guest book filled with messages from people from across the globe who wrote notes after staying in my Airbnb. They are all unique, expressive and special. What makes me want to go back and explore their notes is the idea that within their words are clues to their hidden selves.
What impresses me is that I can detect whose handwriting is in front of me. I can pick out documents written by my sons, siblings, friends and relatives and get them right almost every time. Looking at a letter written my mom or dad makes me nostalgic for them. The written word it truly a link to our past – for better or worse.
I know this is silly, but during the holidays when cards arrive in the mail for me, I turn them over without looking at the writing or return address. I want to be surprised when I open it. Sort of like opening an unexpected gift for my birthday… I want to be surprised. Yes, I know – goofy, right?
So, now put your fingers to work and WRITE ON below in the comment section and leave some words behind!
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.
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)
My brother-in-law died today. He and my sister had been divorced for many years, however, he was still part of the family. He served in the Air Force, but did not have a will. Why was that? He had been ill and knew that his time was almost up and yet, no will. What was he thinking? It was something he could do for free as a way to tie up loose ends and pave the way for those that followed.
When I was 27-years-old, my dad died. He was only 53. My mom died when I was 40. Neither of them had a will or life insurance. When I was 48, my husband died. You can bet we both had wills, medical proxies, living wills and anything else that would help the living deal with the dying.
In the book titled, Regrets of the Dying – the first regret often shared is this: “I wish I’d have to courage to live a life true to myself and not the life others expected of me.”
When I’ve asked others if they would take a different path and do something different, I am often told, “NO.”
They would not change a thing. But I would. I would change everything.
Because if I change everything, then it’s a whole different tapestry. It’s still a work of colorful art, with threads that might go north and south instead of east and west. It’s me. It’s like taking the road less traveled and coming out of the woods onto a blank canvas. I would still choose marriage eventually, but I would be older, educated and have allowed myself to experience the music, love and drugs of my time. I would have attended concerts, universities, lectures, and traveled across my country and abroad.
And by doing all those things I would have learned a bit more about me. There’s nothing wrong with the path I took. I had two beautiful sons, eventually got my education, moved to another state, met amazing people, took wonderful trips and landed where I am … right here and now.
…Writing this blog to you about death and taking the necessary steps before you die.
Those steps include writing a will, finding a medical proxy, writing your obituary (yes, you heard me!) writing love letters to all those people who need to hear from you, making phone calls and mending friendships. Do something kind today and each day until you take your last breath. Care to take this challenge? You can start by being kind to me and leaving me a ‘Hello’ message below.
I hope your day is filled with light, kindness and love!
Yes, time keeps on slipping, slipping, slipping into the future as Steve Miller so eloquently sings to us. Here it is … three days into February, 2019 and I feel a bit overwhelmed with the loss of time. In an article by Matthew Jones, he listed 20 brutal truths about life that no one wants to admit. The subtitle “Time is your most valuable asset — you need to prioritize how you spend it…” actually kept my eyes on the article. How we embrace the now is what really matters. Living in the past, focusing on the future sucks away from the TODAY that we receive every morning.
As a kid, those things that excited me like Christmas, school vacation, the local amusement park, and swimming at Verona Beach and Schiller Park took FOREVER to arrive, it seemed.
As an adult, there have only been a handful of times when time ticked by slowly… waiting for medical results, sitting on the tarmac, being stuck in traffic, waiting for an important phone call, trying to fall asleep.
Time also crawls by during the holidays for me. It’s not like when I was a kid and couldn’t wait for everything to unfold. Instead, I dread the hype and promotion and expectation of something wonderful. The thing is…when there is no one to share those moments with, the days creep by. It doesn’t help that holiday movies allude to happy endings, Santa visits, things working out well and mistletoe kisses – alone is just what it means sometimes.
There was great joy in 2018 and lots of sadness. My brother Mark died and his funeral was so, so sad. I spiraled into a hole of sadness, anger and isolation. After seeing that my siblings were in the same spot, we reached out to pull each other out of that dark space. A year has passed and we are still holding each other up.
So, in saying adieu to 2018, I find myself keeping busy with friends, volunteering, life long learning, listening to amazing podcasts, working out and alas, writing again in my blog.
I love when I read something that directs me to another site, another book, a movie, dvd or something that continues to open mental doors for me. I read a book called The White Darkness by David Grann. The book told the true story about Henry Worsley who “spent his life idolizing Ernest Shackleton, the nineteenth-century polar explorer, who tried to become the first person to reach the South Pole, and later sought to cross Antarctica on foot. Shackleton never completed his journeys, but he repeatedly rescued his men from certain death, and emerged as one of the greatest leaders in history.” (From Good Reads summary)
That book led me to a PBS video series about the ship and journey called Shackleton’s Voyage of Endurance. Which led me to another book called Trial by Ice: A Photobiography of Sir Ernest Shackleton.
I want to do that more often – follow up one book with several other mediums to help me learn more and remember.
I’ve gone exploring in the area of podcasts too. I’ll share more on that in the next post.
For now, I’m off to run some errands and volunteer at my grandson’s school. I learned that if I volunteer in the library, I go unnoticed but I can observe my grandson’s friends, interactions, and see him through another lens. And, of course, I get to check in books, check books out, sort, shelf and visit with the school librarian.
So, until we meet again… I hope your time is well spent and well-lived. I love hearing how others spend their days. Mine seem to fly by (except for those nasty holidays…) and it’s only by looking at my calendar that I can remember what occurred.
One of the fun things I do for myself is to watch Ted Talks, listen to podcasts and visit youtube.com and click on a topic I want to learn more about. In doing so, I have found educational, intriguing and informative talks that take me places, teach me things and expand my world.
Last week, I watched a video called The Story of Stuff on youtube.com. I had read about the author in a Rotarian magazine article titled Watching Your Waste and then spent the next 21 minutes watching the video.
The story and video by Annie Leonard has been watched in more than 200 countries and translated into 15 languages. The documentary is shown in churches, community rooms, college campuses and schools across the world. The trash talking film about how we dispose of our waste and why we buy so much in the first place is just as relevant today.
The 21 minute documentary about our material goods and their lifecycle was launched in 2007 and has been viewed over 50 million times.
Watch the video (below) and then visit the storyofstuff.org.
You will not be disappointed.
I just received an email from a friend listing all her favorite books from 2014.
I decided to make a list of my favorites as well. With a new year upon us, it’s time to read 52 books in 52 weeks again. I am usually pretty good about reading unless I come upon a book that bothers me then I walk away and stay away until the feeling passes. Then when I start to read it again, well, there’s that icky feeling. So either I plow through it or set it aside.
If it’s a book for my book club, I often plow through it so I can be part of the group discussion. The members of this group all have their certain likes and dislikes. They all know if it’s a sad or scary book then I won’t like it. I don’t like graphic stories (war, rape, carnage) and have never had success with sci-fi either. Some of my book club friends prefer psychological thrillers but hate romance, love biographies but detest chic lit and on and on.
What amazes me is when I ADORE a book only to find out other members detested it. How can that be? And I was the only one in the group who HATED the book Gone Girl. They all loved it.
Alas, that’s how it is. Some books speak to one person and not others. I loved A Tree Grows in Brooklyn and some others thought it was BORING. How can that be?
So, stay tuned so I can go over my list of books and decide which I loved the best.
If you have any books to suggest, put it in the comment box.
Tic, tock, tic, tock … 2015 is almost here. Can you feel it? Are you ready to embrace it?
Tic, tock, tic, tock … 2014 is slipping away. Are you ready to release it? Have you said your goodbyes? Have you achieved your goals?
It’s been a fun year, hasn’t it? For me it’s been a whirlwind. I’ve visited family, friends and renewed old acquaintances. I’ve read a bunch of books and continue to visit the library on a weekly basis. I’ve hiked new paths, visited new sights and am ready to see more.
For the New Year I plan to focus on the things that make me feel alive. Reading, learning, moving and growing. I’ve read so many wonderful books this year and I want to take a bit of time to share them with you and give credit to the author. I visited some pretty places and put myself out there in ways that surprised me. I’ll do more of that and include you along the way.
I hope you make the most of this year and find the time to stoke your passions.
All the best to you – with hugs and warm wishes – Margekatherine
For auld lang syne, my dear,
for auld lang syne,
we’ll take a cup of kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.
And surely you’ll buy your pint cup
and surely I’ll buy mine!
And we’ll take a cup o’ kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.
I read about a 31 day challenge that forces me to choose a topic and blog about it. I decided to blog about 31 ways to improve your mental health in this glorious month of October but I was unable to get into the challenge by the deadline date. So, here I am with a great topic and every intention to follow through on my own.
Tip #1 – Be flexible. As you can see, I’ve already altered my original goal, refocused my work and am moving forward. Flexibility is key to a good state of mind. The alternative is rigidity which can be pretty painful in a world where change is the norm.
I believe flexibility is an art. It allows one to bend like a willow but still be rooted when it matters.
Adventure comes to the person who is standing with arms wide open!
Staying open to adventure, getting out of your comfort zone and taking risks (even itsy-bitsy risks count) helps us learn new things about ourselves.
What kinds of risks?
Talking to a stranger
Writing to an author
Wearing something different (new hairstyle, new cologne/perfume, bold colors)
Accepting a challenge
Saying no to a request
Asking a favor
When the ‘little things’ happen – like getting stuck behind a train, losing the car keys, an unexpected visit, a long line in the grocery store, how we respond to these events can make or break us. In the big picture, they don’t matter. Ok, in the small picture, they don’t matter either when you have a flexible attitude.
And of course, this flexibility allows me to sign up for a 31 day challenge when it’s 5 days underway and then realize I’m already out of that loop. Yes, some would stop here and walk away. Really?
It’s about the challenge of finding fascinating topics to share with you during the course of this month. It’s about writing more in this lovely blog.
It’s about learning as I write.
And sharing as I learn.
Robin Williams died this week. He was suffering in ways we never knew. He was hurting and in pain. We didn’t know and if we did, we couldn’t help him.
There are so many people – friends and family and neighbors and colleagues who are also struggling right now. They are in a bad state because of their health, finances, marriage issues, job status, money struggles, addictions, fears and frets. These people are within range and can be reached. We have to reach out and say those magical word …”I’ve been thinking about you.” Then we need to just be quiet. We can make a difference.
I can’t take the pain away that someone is feeling but I can be there for them when they need to talk. I can’t get those people through the dark night but I can hold their hand as they wade through the sludge.
I believe we are surrounded by people with stories – some are huge and over the top amazing stories! Most are everyday stories about average people just figuring it out. Some are about black-footed ferrets, tennis lessons, vegetable gardens, and others are about medications, health problems, loneliness and struggles. They are only uncovered when we take time to let others tell their stories. Some people will gush with the chance to share and others will let their stories out bit by bit.
It’s about acknowledging the other person at the table, on the bus, in line at the store, in the other car, on the phone, at the drive-thru. Simple, really and on the surface pretty basic stuff, but the end result can be so much more. Sometimes there’s a sigh or a smile.