My world is pretty small these days. As I write this sitting on my front porch swing, I watch people walk by on my sidewalk. The old couple next door, holding hands, hunched over and committed to the moment. The family of three with a grey and black spotted dog. The dad finally looks up and sees me. They are talking, talking and then he acknowledges my presence. We wave across a distance.
Nobody is wearing a mask when they are outside. I know there’s a global virus still in effect and yet, I don’t see evidence of it as I sit and swing. I don’t have a mask on. Two teenagers ride by on their bikes, oblivious to anything outside their bubble.
In past years, sitting on my porch, I would hear local bands singing their hearts out at the neighborhood brewery. Sometimes they would sing so clearly that I could understand each word. That’s not the case this year. The brewery has reopened but with fewer tables. With more outdoor seating. With fewer customers. With less music.
Also in past years I would sit and be surrounded by the sound of crickets. Gone. No crickets. Have you noticed? In the middle of the night, I stand in my backyard and listen to silence. Where have they gone?
Getting on a plane isn’t going to happen to me for a long time. I’d rather drive. I’ve visited Bryce Canyon National Park in the past month and fell in love all over again. All that inviting open sky. All those intoxicating reds… coral-red, orange-red, eon-red, infinity-red, ancestor-red that changed hues as the earth’s movements inched along. Watching the sun go down in this colorful region, counting the stars as they came out against a black sky and falling into another day was one of my most special memories of that trip.0
It felt good to do something again. To be on the road. Going somewhere. I’m eager to add some ‘normal’ events back into my world and let my senses come alive again.
Finding my way to the water has been healing for me this summer. Standing on the water, swimming in a pool or coasting in a kayak have been highlights, saving graces, and meditative times for me. Meeting a friend for an early morning kayak ride in Estes Park, paddle-boarding and kayaking on the 6-mile long Horsetooth Reservoir or swimming in a neighborhood pool helps to waken my senses and fills me with gratitude for these wonderful opportunities.
I know others have turned to biking, quilting or painting. Many have started gardens, learned a language and finished a college degree. Closets, attics and basements have been emptied, cleaned and repurposed. Cookbooks have been dusted off and family recipes have resurfaced.
I’m aware that there’s no end in sight for this virus until we have leadership that mandates change. Mandates masks. Leadership that allows science to discover, medicine to heal, and politics to govern, not to enrage, cause dissent and create chaos. How have you decided to mingle with humanity again?
So, while I wait this out, I am letting water soothe me. As we suffer through an intense heat wave, I seek out my water sanctuary. My companion. My friend.
And you? Have you turned to something new to help you during these coronavirus times? Reached out and found something that helps you feel grounded? Tell me.
It’s time my friends! Well, ok… it’s not really time …but internally and seasonally it’s time for me to slowly reemerge.
The global pandemic that we have avoided is still alive (very much so in the US since we have no testing and it will continue to move around like a pinball) and present in our world.
I have been good. Staying home. Minding my garden. Baking. Alone (sad face) but safe.
However, I am venturing out more. In my mind, I am traveling ALL over the place. In reality, I am wearing a mask everywhere I go (as mandated.) I am going to the grocery store very early and infrequently. I am washing my hands.
AND, I am doing other things too. I donated blood yesterday. Tomorrow I will work at a food collection site. Next week I have a dentist appointment.
I am cautiously emerging. Baby steps with lots of baby wipes.
I had brunch at my house with two friends last week. Sharing food. Laughing. Communing…
Yes, this coronavirus is still alive and well in my world and I am careful in every way possible. But I also am ready to go to a library, coffee shop, concert and party again. To gather in groups and share common experiences. To laugh and cry together.
Retired now? Life derailed due to coronavirus? Have a LOT of time on your hands?
Did you make a list of items you want to do as a way to ‘fill your time’ and accomplish some stuff you’ve been meaning to complete?
Tell me about your list. Is it one or two items or will it fill a book? In fact, there are books that have lists of bucket items. Hmm, probably not a good thing to fill someone else’s list though. That’s like living someone else’s life for them.
Here’s some of mine in case you need some push from behind …
Volunteer ___ (food bank, Rotary, library, Peace Corp, mentoring students)
Contact ______ (high school friends, childhood buddies, pen pals, congress representative)
Paint _________ (canvas, nails, doors, house, garage, your wagon)
Research ______(family lore, history of sugarbeets, finances, school board)
Organize __ (a book group, game nights, hiking events, trips abroad)
So, does this list kick something into gear for you? Got some things you need to write down then check off? What exactly is on your list, hmm? Have you already moved forward on some items. Feel better?
If you’re married then you have a partner to share some of your activities with, however that’s not always the case. Your list and your spouses could be vastly different or perhaps one of you might want to travel and the other might choose to never leave the garden.
The secret is to find some things that only you love to do and get moving on them. You might learn that golfing isn’t that high on your list after you take a few lessons. Or that you want to learn and teach yoga.
Climb into your sandbox and to explore and play. Find out what you like to do and move in that direction. Maybe you’ll never want to come out.
Or maybe you’ll decide you want to climb into the round sandbox filled with electronics, computers and technology and come out with the knowledge that you really want to create recipes and make new food items.
If you don’t have a partner to play with, that works fine too. In fact, you might have more freedom to try things out, change your mind and start all over again. You’ve got 30 years on your plate. The important thing to remember is there are so many others who want to meet you and do what you’re doing.
Be happy, have fun — And you will always have friends!
This is the time when I start looking around to see who is ready, willing and able to join me. Sometimes I can’t find anyone and it makes me sad. I wonder sometimes whether I have too much times on my hands, and I wonder how to find friends to do crazy adventures with me.
Take a train across Canada? Sign me up.
Jump out of a plane. No thanks.
Kayak in the San Juan Islands? I’m packed and ready to go.
Soak in a hot springs? Oh yes!
Snowmobiling? No thanks – it’s a bit too loud for me.
Hike a new trail? Yes please.
Learn to play the guitar. Yes and move over.
Join a cooking class? Mmm, you bet!
Bungee jumping? I think I’ll pass on this one.
I know I can find some of my adventure mates on Meetup.com.
I am always on the lookout for new ideas, adventures and ways to meet people. Are they looking for me too?
So, what adventures do you want to cross off your list?
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)
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!
I waited for the ‘holidays’ to be over before I put words to paper. The holidays are really hard for me. Unlike many of you surrounded by family and friends, mine were on the ‘please let’s hurry and get these over with’ side.
The most wonderful time of the year … not.
When I was a kid, Christmas was a dream come true. Presents, Christmas music, apple pie, mashed potatoes with turkey, parents, siblings, cousins, and Gramps. Laughter, banter, and good food made for the best memories.
Those days, those gatherings, those sounds are not in my world these days. I just wish I could go to sleep on November 30 and wake up on December 30. And, for a bonus, I get an extra month of my choosing!
Hello to more walks and lectures and seminars and movies and get togethers. Living in a college town I have the great opportunity to listen to amazing speakers and attend inspiring events. One biggie on my calendar is MESMERICA 360 FORT COLLINS: A VISUAL MUSIC JOURNEY. My friend bragged about how amazing it was when she saw it in Boulder. Now it’s coming to my town. Just for me!
Hello to more theater. Carole King? Coming to town but it’s pretty pricey. The Book of Morman? I heard it was wonderful. What other good ones are out there?
Hello to more good books and to putting down sub-par ones. Currently I am reading and ADORING a book titled This Tender Land by William Kent Krueger. Delightful in a million ways! I only want to sit and read it and yet I know that to read too fast is to finish it… see my dilemma?
Hello to more connecting with my friends. I have some friends who I see only once or twice a year and they live within an hour drive. Shame on both of us for not making the time.
Hello to more road trips. Right about now I either want to go to a cozy warm cabin and snowshoe or to a warm climate and just soak up the sun. Of course, every day I think of new road trips to take. This would be a great time to ‘know’ the right people who have mountain cabins or sunny houses they want to be occupied. I will gladly do that for you. (smile)
Hello to more blogging. And to more interaction with you. Who are you? Are you snowbirds and gone all winter long in your warm communities? Are you taking classes? Are you knitting or learning to play the guitar? Swimming? Dancing? Painting? Returning to school? I so want to know how you occupy your days.
Here’s to an amazing month of January 2020 and to connection, interaction, harmony and love. Truly,
At the end of every year, I write myself a love letter. It’s filled with all the wonderful things I did that year. I list trips, achievements, improvements and setbacks. I write about the jobs and volunteer positions I worked, people I met and roles I filled.
For me, the best part is going back and rereading past love letters to myself. I read about the year I had the shed built, the house painted, the dishwasher replaced as well as the sad saga of the new fridge being replaced by another new fridge just 2 years later (sad face.)
I also include a list of things I want to accomplish in the new year. Those letters are fun to read too because I get to read what I hoped for and what I actually achieved. Dreaming about far away trips, getting in shape, finding my mate, making amends, and other such plans. Some happened, some did not, some still might (Right?)
This year’s letter will list that I attended two family weddings, traveled to see my granddaughter 3 times, served as a Senior Counselor at a youth leadership camp, experienced ‘Peak Colors” in the NY Adirondacks in October, and feasted on all the memorable foods from my youth (apples, half-moon cookies, fried fish, clam chowder.) I went camping, hiking and kayaking. I made new friends and said good-bye to others.
These letters become my shorthand form of journaling – I can explain the present, report the past and plan the future. It is a succinct way of wiping away the past and leaving a blank canvas for the new year.
I feel like going back to the past love letters that I wrote and placing a star on my accomplished goals. My trip to Ireland (STAR), camping trip with friends (STAR), life in the mountains ( sad face), visit granddaughter (STAR)…
I began writing these letters to remind myself that the things I did really did matter. It was my time to acknowledge my accomplishments. There’s no boss to give me a raise or a pat on the back. There are no colleagues to remind me that I really did take that trip or climb that mountain or learn that software. Often times when I am feeling low and lonely especially during the holidays, it’s easy to forget the strides I’ve made. And so, I read about my past and write about my present.
In a strange way, I can hold myself accountable as well. If I read past letters and they continue to list the same thing over and over then I need to take a look at what’s holding me back and how to get beyond the wall. Is it something I really do want or is it something I think I should want? For goodness sake, these are my hopes and dreams — SHOULDS are not allowed.
My letter this year, as I enter a new decade (and a Leap Year!) will be filled with outrageous GOALS & WHAT IF’s and WHY NOT’S? Nothing to lose, everything to gain and a letter that will surly bring me smiles next year at this time either way! Twenty-Twenty – Here I come!
My friend Sara and I took a walk last week to get caught up in person. No texts, no phone calls just a walk and talk. Like we used to do. She is almost ready to retire. In fact, she can retire right now but she hesitates because if she does, she will be stuck at home with her husband.
The man she chose to marry is not very nice. When she does something forgetful, he pounces on that and just rants and raves about what a loser she is. During our walk, she told me that in the past month she mindlessly clicked something on her computer and it was compromised. She took it to a computer tech and had to get it wiped and cleaned. She felt so stupid. Her husband won’t let her forget that she screwed up again. He demeans her and takes away any confidence she has in herself.
Sara is one of the first friends I made when I moved to Colorado. She and I have been though births, deaths, divorces and remarriages. When she told me that Eddie proposed and she planned to marry him, I asked her why?
I realized during our walk that she didn’t intend to take any action, she just needed to talk through what was going on, to list offences, to explain retirement possibilities and to unload. Once I understood my role, I was able to shake my head when needed, offer condolences and some levity here and there.
I know of others like her who would retire tomorrow if they could change their home life. One amazing friend of mine worked to the age of 68 so that she could avoid being home with her unemployed husband. When she finally did retire, it was because she was diagnosed with a life-threatening disease.
Ok, this is the part where I let my naiveté show. Why not stand up and say no? No more abuse? No more put downs? No more hostility? These women and many others are actually the breadwinners and yet, they allow themselves to be pushed around at home – whereas in the workplace they are given the respect due the position.
Do I have to walk in Sara’s shoes and take the verbal abuse in order to speak honestly to her? And if I were in her shoes, would I have the strength, determination and financial means to walk away? And could I walk away … from yet another marriage?
My marriage had none of the negativity and toxic environment that she is exposed to on a daily basis. In the past, I would speak freely about what she could do, and suggest steps and actions she could to help her move away, or forward depending on what she needed. I send her links to podcasts, youtube video suggestions and books that would help with self esteem, financial information and know-how.
So, this time when she shared her world with me, I understood that she only needed to vent. She wasn’t ready to act and maybe she would never be ready. I decided to be a good listener and give her the safe place to speak freely.
Is that all she needs?
My heart is heavy because I am so happy in retirement. I am hiking, taking drives to see the beautiful autumn colors, taking daily walks, visiting libraries, reading, making friends, traveling and enjoying my space.
What are your thoughts about this? Know people like Sara? Any words of wisdom for her or me?
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…