Jul 25, 2014

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

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 almost 18 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 now, 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 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 forcast that. I could write a great book that gave the reader a general idea of what they were in for but I could not guide 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 is not over yet!

Jul 24, 2014

Travel: So What's the Point of Travel Anyway?

Nation (novel)
Available on Amazon: Nation
(photo credit: Wikipedia)
I was reading a blog this morning written by Tam Warner Minton called Travels with Tam. Tam is a scuba diver that loves to travel. Her post was called 5 Reasons to Adventure Travel. I loved this post but then you don't need to poke me in the ribs to get me going when it comes to travel. She quoted Terry Pratchett, that very funny and much quoted English writer saying:
Coming back to where you started is not the same as never leaving.” Terry Pratchett
I liked that a lot. I recall my son asking me once about taking a walk. His father and I walked a lot to explore our little world so this son was familiar with the routine. He had been on many a walk. But as he grew older he became a little suspicious of the habit. Did he want to go for a walk? He wanted to know where we would be when we finished with the walk. When I told him we would be back home, his thought was that there really was no point in talking the walk if we were just coming back to where we started.

Travel is like that I think. There are people that never leave because they don't see the point in the whole exercise. Travel is hard and, in their view, not worth the effort. After all, they will just come back home.

Then there are people that travel and never want to come back home. They love the escape and think that by not going back they can shed all their worries and cares.

And then there are people like my husband and I that feel at home no matter where we are. We settle into the landscape and watch life like a fly on the wall. Because our home is within us, we know that moving to another place would honestly never change our life. What changes us is the adventure and the experience. We find it is hard to be judgmental after we see first hand what is going on in the world. As Terry Pratchett so wisely said, "Coming back to where you started is not the same as never leaving."

So, if I could answer my son today when he asked what the point was, I would have to say the point is you will learn something or feel something that you cannot know if you never go for a walk. 

Have a wonderful day.


Jul 23, 2014

Aging: Are They Afraid They Will Look Like You?

I read a blog called Pearl, Why You Little... The author makes me laugh and I am all about a good laugh. In an article she posted today called Well I Can See I'm Going to Take Back a Lot of What I've Said she talked about making fun of people when she was young. As a young girl she and her friends would lay on a beach towel and whisper about people that were old or fat or suffering from extreme cellulite of the bottom. Now as she is getting older she said this about her body as she tried to remain positive:
Me, I am pleased to report that my ankles continue to be identifiable as separate from my calves and that I can still fit into the earrings I wore in high school.
No swimming suit here!
She was writing tongue-in-cheek and I liked the article a lot. But I couldn't help thinking that there was dark side to that story. More of us were guilty of being smug when we were young than we would ever care to admit. I have been guilty of being derisive of the outward appearance of aging. Why would I do that? Now that the day has come that I am the older person laying on the beach towel I am aware that a younger person might not be thrilled to think that my body is the one they will have someday.

Then it occurred to me that Pearl had hit on a primal emotion....fear! See, while we don't want to be unattractive we all know that there are things that we just cannot control. We are afraid of what we ridicule. It is as simple as that.

I belonged to a website called Fab Over Fifty for a period of time a couple of years ago. It was all about fashion and makeup and how not to look ones age. The editor would post a picture of some hapless person with their face blocked out and ask subscribers to say what they thought about the style or body shape or whatever of the person. 

The owner of the blog even wrote an article telling how she planned on never getting old because she went to pilates and stayed out of the sun. The article included pictures of ugly (?) old people with warts and wrinkles. I was not only appalled...I was in fact a little offended. I could only wonder if people that were middle aged would be afraid for their future when they ran into me in the mall. I don't participate that website anymore.

There is a lesson to be learned here but I am not sure what it is. Fear is a hard thing to overcome. Of course we don't want to be ugly or scarred...why would we? On the other hand, a little fear and stress are motivators to make us more aware of what we might avoid thinking about. 

Maybe the lesson is that we should be grateful for what we do possess and nonjudgmental of what we see in others. After all, the old saying goes "Judge not. There, but for the grace of God, go I". It does take a great depth of character to see the beauty inside other people and I for one would like to arrive at that place one day soon. 

It is just a thought!

Book by Pearl Vork-Zambory 
owner of blog Pearl, Why You Little....

Jul 21, 2014

Oregon Vacation: Traveling is not for Wimps!

I am trying to think of the last time my husband and I traveled that everything went perfect. You know, the food was wonderful, no one was ill and no drama invaded the story. When was that again? But we always have so much fun and life without adventure is not much of a life at all is it?

But this last week in Central Oregon we came as close as we ever will. The good was perfect because we prepared it ourselves. The wine was perfect because my son went to the winery and bought it after tasting. And the company just made me smile the whole time.

We don't travel in a RV anymore but there was the time when we would have had our whole life on wheel to pull along. I loved that part of our life when we were doing it but, now that it is over, I am glad that I don't do that anymore. The packing and unpacking was a bit like moving over and over. Now we come home and bring the suitcase inside. What a difference.

But, if we were wimps, we could have found a lot to complain about. The house was NOT air conditioned and the temp was very hot when we arrived. The deck furniture was sorta broken and we had to walk about 1/4 of a mile to the pool. The house was not new and it had been a while since anyone sweep a deck or walk. The outside light was on a motion detector so that came on outside our bedroom window when the deer walked by all night. The list goes on...blah, blah, blah!

But I will have to say that I had to think a minute to even remember those things. In fact, we had a lot of fun discussing what we would do to the house if we bought it! It was like pretend "Rehab Addict" on vacation.

I am always at home no matter where I am. I even travel with a plant or two sometimes. It is what I like to do. Life is good. That might be because I am not a wimp! Not even a little bit.


Note: I still push using all those wonderful mobile apps. They make the trip a breeze and can actually be a money saver in some cases. Here is a blog post I wrote a while ago with some suggestions.

Jul 19, 2014

Kicking Back an Expensive Resort....perfectly affordable!

Now I know you will say that this lifestyle is very expensive...resorts like the Black Butte Ranch here in Central Oregon come with a pretty big price tag. But...most of the houses here are really large, equipped with beautiful kitchens, deck and lots of outdoor living. The trick is to find someone to share the house with you.

We are staying in a house that will sleep 10 and this is not a big house at all. If we were to share this house it would cost us about $400 each for 3 couples. We are here for 4 nights and three days. We have not eaten out, the large resort pool is free and a bicycle rental comes in at around $20 a day for the basic model. Oh my gosh...this is absolutely wonderful.

Of course here in Central Oregon it is all about the scenery. We have wonderful views of the The Three Sisters Mountain, Faith, Hope and Charity and meadows. Then there is shopping and a wonderful gin making industry. (There are lots of juniper trees around.)

We are having a blast:

My beautiful family before....

...the circus came to town!