May 21, 2018

Are you Ready to Stop Working?

Do those of you think that retiring at 45 would be a dream come true? How would you manage that financially until you died? Would you be happy, active, learning all of that time? Would you be bored? Would you find fulfillment?

I have been thinking about people that I have known that retired very young. The pattern I have seen is that those people sell everything they own and buy a home on wheels. Their plan is to live like a gypsy for the rest of their lives. They are seeking a simpler life.

We parked in our motor home next to a couple in Palm Springs that were doing just that. Their RV was beautiful and we could see them dancing in their living space while we were eating dinner. They had quit their jobs and sold their home so they could chase the dream. They were in their 40's.

That couple had only been living their dream life for a few months. I often wonder where they are now and what they are doing.

It really is all about the money. Those that stop working early live with their choices for the remainder of their lives. Can they stay in the happy place forever? I don't know. (See: 7 Stages of Retirement Grief)

I do see things differently from my vantage point nearer the end of the journey. I have observed that:
  • Filling days, 24/7, with no direction can be hard.
  • Children can think you are older than you are. Being treated like you are old is not good.
  • Children do not necessarily want you to move next door.
  • Baby grandchildren grow up and no baby sitter is needed anymore.
  • Living in a small space is a reality when you give up your income without a plan.
  • Humans are living a very long time. It may not be forever but it may seem that way.
  • If you don't have good insurance, disaster is waiting to happen.
I smile now as I recall what retiring at 55 for me and 59 for my husband entailed. (It seemed very young back in 1997.) It has been 21 years since our employer sent us off into the world without a job. It has not always been easy and we were financially sound. Are we typical? I don't know. 

We have not finished yet. There is more to come and how it all works out is an unknown.

Would we have retired at a younger age? I am not sure. It takes a creative person to find fulfillment. I suppose that is what it is all about really. Working at something that gives you only joy is the dream. Because work we must, even if it is not for money. 

Would you stop working today if you could? How little can you live on? Are you delaying dreams even if you are retired and why? 

Let me know what you think. Oh and stay tuned! :)

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May 20, 2018

It's All About the Girls!

It's all about the girls this week. Babies, mamas, grandmas, great-grandmas and granddaughter.

Addie Jo is a character but then, that is expected.

Daughter (Auntie) Grandma Susan and Great-grandma Barbara.
Susan is the grandma to all our babies
when my husband and I are in the desert...hence Auntie Grandma Susan.

My granddaughter on her 21st birthday...she is so pretty and don't you just
love her glasses?

Mikaela is the baby-mama! Lucky us!

This last Friday my two great-granddaughter met each
other for the first time. Embrey is 18 mo. and Addie is 4. Alysia is Embrey's mom and the angel in our family!

Have a wonderful day!

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May 16, 2018

20 Awkward Steps to Our Happy Retirement or There Wasn't a Guidebook

I first published this article back in June of 2014. A lot has changed.
  • Two grandchildren are married and we have 2 great-grandchildren (both girls). 
  • The cat disappeared on Halloween one year and we are not getting another. 
  • We sold our park model in Tucson and moved into a townhouse last fall. 
  • We bought a dream car...Mini Cooper is now in the Oregon house garage.
  • We have two cars again and fly to Arizona in the fall and back to Oregon in the spring.
  • We both still golf with friends and we joined a club in Tucson that we love. 
  • I still blog but not as much as I did. My husband gets a little more of my attention. He had his 80 birthday last winter.  
The message is the same...change has kept us mentally young and healthy. Life is good!
Arizona Townhouse

Hillsboro Home

Remember that very first child...the one they let you take home without a guidebook or a test drive? Retirement is a bit like that. One day they just say "Good bye, good luck and let us know how that works out for you." It is probably one of the most challenging things you will ever do. Even enough money does not make it any easier.

Don't get me wrong, I love being retired but it has taken my husband and I 17 years to find smooth sailing. In that period of time we have invented and reinvented our lives so many times I have lost count. We love the adventure and I suppose that is why we have found ourselves changing direction so many times. If you just want to stay where you are and do what you have done all of your lives, it may be easier. I don't know how to talk about that. (Leave a comment to let me know.)

It seems to me the thing that has given us so much joy is the fact that we have never ever thought we had arrived at our "forever" place. We are a lot closer now but even so, we keep our options open. Here are the things we have done or considered doing:
  1. We moved from rural Eastern Oregon to Portland a year after my husband and I retired. 
  2. We bought a 4 bedroom home because we didn't know how to live in a smaller space.
  3. We joined a country club and learned to play golf a little better. 
  4. We moved from the 4 bedroom house with a big yard to a 2 bedroom condo with no yard and our youngest son moved back home.
  5. I took up multi-media art and spend several years immersed in that form of creative projects.
  6. We bought an RV and began to travel. Our youngest son took care of the condo and the cat.
  7. Our youngest son married.
  8. We made plans to sell our Oregon home and moving to the Southwest. The only thing that stopped us was the recession.
  9. My husband and I played golf together when we traveled.
  10. My husband found a mens group to golf with and I began spending more time at home.
  11. I became the summer nanny for 2 of my grandchildren.
  12. I began blogging and abandoned the art.
  13. We traveled for 3 months to begin with and later stayed away for 4-5 months.
  14. We sold and bought several RVs.
  15. We bought a park model in Tucson and moved into it for the winters. The RV was gone forever (maybe).
  16. We sold that park model and moved to a better location in the same RV resort.
  17. We moved from our condo in Oregon into a 55+ community near our daughter. We had a yard again.
  18. We became a one car family.
  19. We plan to fly back and forth to Arizona one year soon.
  20. Now we stay 6 months in Oregon and 6 in Arizona. The cat travels with us.
We love the lifestyle we have now. My husband still golfs with the guys. Five of our 12 grandchildren are grown. One granddaughters will marry in September. I have a beautiful flower garden that gives me great joy. Blogging gives me an outlet and I still have a wonderful time doing artwork with my younger grandchildren.

Is there a guide book for any of this? I would never have dreamed that we would have changed our directions that many times. I don't think any book could have guided us through all those changes. I could write a great book that gave the reader a general idea of what they were in for but I could not lead them. One of the central issues in the retirement like mine is actually living full time with your spouse and finding a way to compromise your way through life. Compromise the the key. The "how" is entirely up to you.

I would be interested in having you add your thought about your retirement list in the comments. How is it working out for you?

Oh, and do stay tuned...it is not over yet!

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May 12, 2018

Summer Reads...English Mysteries and More

I have just returned from our snowbird winter and I brought a list of books that I read this winter for you to consider. The links here are from Amazon only because I have a selfish motivation...I am an Amazon Associate! 

Each one is unique. Some are deep and challenging, others just plain fun. 
  • The Woman in Blue by Elly Griffiths was a lot of fun to read. A cat, a Druid, a mental institution and a religious story surround a murder that takes place in England’s Nazareth, the medieval town of Little Walsingham. I loved this little light bit of reading. I think you will too.

  • Susan Hill is not a writer of fluff. The Simon Serrailler series begins with The Various Haunts of Men. I actually held my breath as the climax to this story unfolded. Amazon say it was a "must read mystery" when it came out in hard back. Now, you can buy it in paper back. That is a good thing. I checked my copy out from the library.

  • Dancing in a Distant Place by Isla Dewar is the book I read when we were on the flight home...a 12 hour journey with cancelled flights and delays. I didn't even notice how long it took. This book about a widowed teacher left alone and broke by a gambling husband when he died suddenly. It swept me up in the first pages. The setting is in a remote village in the Scottish Highlands with a "dammit" store, a school and a cast of wonderful, believable character is just what the doctor is ordering. The humor sandwiched between a little sorrow was perfect. Read this for sure. Oh, and if you do read this book be sure to return to the first chapter when you have finished. You will not regret it.
  • I am now reading A Gentleman in Moscow. You know I will talk about wonderful words and images when I tell you about a book. The author, Amor Towles, might be the master of creating an image in the mind's eye. I am seeing through his words things I have never seen before. This is a book I am savoring. No rush to read in one day...no, this book needs to last as I devour it very slowly!

I will keep you in the loop as a new wonderful book crosses my path. Our Library Exchange in my front yard is very busy these day so I am sure there are others that will be showing up.

What are you reading?

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May 9, 2018

On Spelling Correctly

I apologize in advance. This blog is not perfect. If you can help, do so but please send me a message or email (btorris@gmail.com). The comment section is not the right place for that sort of thing.

I posted a question on my Women of Midlife Facebook page the other day. It looked like this: 


Thirty-six (36) responses later I was scratching my head because I was surprised. Is that a good idea? Should you correct spelling in comments and (like the commenter that started it all did) even criticize the pictures? Maybe so and then again, maybe no.
The English teachers were adamant and felt "compelled" to point out a misspelled word. In a blog post spelling errors are just plain wrong and if you do that, you need to be corrected. 

Others took a gentler approach suggesting that, if it was a glaring mistake, you should send an email or a Facebook message. They thought it was rude to post a comment with a spelling correction suggestion. No one, not one single person, said it was to be expected and, because blogging is what it is, could be overlooked.

Oh my goodness, do I need to clean up my act or what? I do make a real effort to do the right thing with spelling/grammar but I know I cannot see my own mistakes for at least a week. I don't have a human to read my writing and no computer editor is that perfect.

So how does that change my blogging life? You know things will need to be straightened up around here.

So, I am inviting anyone that sees a spelling/grammatical error to send me a message on Facebook or by email. I think posting a comment with that information is rude. I may not want to hear it, even in an email, but it will make me a better writer i.e. I do not want to hear from you in that context. 

So...how many errors did you find?

And what do you think?

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Note: Errors in fact definitely need to be pointed out in an email or Facebook message. Getting the facts right is too important.

This post has been edited using Word!

May 7, 2018

21 Years Ago Today...

Elena at age 10 in Tombstone AZ
One of my grandchildren is turning 21 today...remember that day in your life?

I was at a party with family and all of my midlife friends. We were talking about turning 21 and almost everyone had a story to tell. On the day they turned 21 there were things that they did to mark the anniversary...parties with friends, beer, revelry! Wow, I thought. I have no memories of that day at all. What is that all about?

So today I am invited to go on a wine tasting tour with my grandchild, her mother and her sister-in-law. I feel like it is my birthday because that is what I would have chosen...life is good isn't it? I hope Elena is as happy as I am and I hope when she is old, she has wonderful memories of this day.

What a beautiful day.

Happy Birthday Elena!

b+ (Grandma)

May 4, 2018

I Was Just Confused

Still Confused after All These Yeas
We are both over 75 or whatever that age is when you are automatically excused from Jury Duty. We take advantage of that age thing. It is only right that having lived a long time should have it's privileges...right? Then why do I feel guilty about not doing my "civic duty".

Meryl Baer over at Six Decades and Counting wrote a piece about doing her "duty" and what it takes to get out of or get into that pool of people that are called. She was called to serve on Grand Jury in her state and is now in a pool of about 100 people waiting to "do her duty".

The truth of the matter, I have never had to sit on a jury for over 40 years. But I still remember the one time experience. It was not good.

See I had always wanted to be more liberal than I am (as thought that is possible.) But when it came to imposing justice it turned out I was not liberal or conservative...I was just confused.

The man we were sitting in justice of was accused of a DUI. He admitted drinking during the day and at dinner but claimed to have "sobered up" enough to be a safe driver.

The policeman testified that he stopped the drunk man on the road and when he ask the man to step out of the car the suspected-drunk-man stepped in a puddle of water. That was the basis for judgment as to man's sobriety. There was no Breathalyzer tests back in those days.

I could not get it through my head. Was that man drunk? Well of course he was. I heard how much he had drunk. The thing that confused me was whether I should judge him drunk based on whether he had "stepped in a puddle" or how much alcohol he had consumed? Stepping in a puddle did not do it for me! I did not drink at all back then so I couldn't decided based on personal experience.

I honestly do not remember how the whole thing turned out. But the thing that hit me when I read Meryl's story was that the job still pays $5 a day. Honestly, the things we will do for the satisfaction of being a good citizen and bragging rights with a bonus of $5 a day!

Even today I would find it hard to judge whether someone was guilty or innocent...judging is something I am not good at. It just confuses me.

Have a wonderful day.

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