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)
For instance, when I hear people say the word often and they say the T as in off ten, I repeat the correct pronunciation (with a silent T …) in my head. When I hear the saying ‘even still’ which I say all the time, I know that person grew up on the east coast. (And if they grew up in Central NY … they get extra points on my mental chalkboard.)
Double negatives?!? They make me cringe so please don’t get me going in that direction. Please.
I just read a short article titled, The Day You Became a Better Writer. It was basic information that I learned in Journalism 101 at the community college. Drop the adverbs. Do they really need to be written? Do I really need to add the word really? No magic science but the end result is crisp, clean and concise.
Cut the excess words and add humor and your own personality and write to your heart’s content. But before you publish, read your words out loud. When you do, you might find some extra words, missing commas, and perhaps a few too many adjectives and adverbs. What would Marie Kondo do? She would have you ask “do I love this word?” and “does it bring me joy or humor?” if the answer is no, kindly thank the word or words and release them. The universe is waiting to receive them and return them to their rightful place.
With more time on my hands these days I am focusing more on writing. The best way to improve my writing is … to increase my reading. In this connected world, there are volumes of possible places to read, grow and learn. I love audiobooks – (get them free at your local library), books, magazines, blog posts, online articles, you tube seminars, Ted Talks and podcasts. I suppose the only area I avoid is the local newspaper. The print gets bigger, the staff gets smaller, the price increased and the content is minimal. Ugh!
Focused and solitary learning and writing are easy, fun and free. I offer words of caution, however, that too much time alone isn’t good or healthy.
Maybe it might make sense to take a class in a real classroom as a way to stay connected in an often (SILENT T) disconnected world. Attend a talk, take a lesson, visit a “Meetup” group and find ways to interact. There will be time enough ‘later’ to be alone. Now, it’s time to get uncomfortable and put yourself ‘out there.’
Let’s do it. I’ll go first and will tell you what it was and how it felt. Then it’s your turn.
Life is beautiful after all. Why not get out there and have some fun?!
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 was lucky enough to find this sweet 10 minute TEDx presentation.
It shows the slow unfolding of flowers, movement of stars and ripening of berries. It’s the sort of video that gives me goosebumps.
My gift to you today is this video. I hope it makes you want to connect with someone you love, to look up, to reach out. So sweet and moving.
Louie Schwartzberg is an award-winning cinematographer, director, and producer whose notable career spans more than three decades providing breathtaking imagery for feature films, television shows, documentaries and commercials