Monday, April 8, 2013

Retirement As The Beginning, Not The End

Just a couple notes, folks:  Have patience, I again am playing with my blog background (not the layout).  I have purchased a second camera and promise photos of mountains, quilts and other good stuff soon.

Finally, I do realize that the article below is mainly preaching to the choir, at least when it comes to folks who read this blog.

My mother and father in law are eighty five. They just recently moved into an independent living center. Their primary reason for doing this was that my mother in law had a stroke, and my father in law needed some independent time. Staying in his home meant that my father in law had to be with my mother in law at all times.

This past Thanksgiving, after dinner, my father in law called me out to the garage, saying that he wanted to show me something.  Sitting in the garage was a Triumph sitting everywhere. My father in law announced that the next day he was going to remove the engine block and put another one in (at which point my son and two brothers in law looked at each other, fully aware of what their plans for the next day would be).  Two years ago, my in laws decided that they would redo their kitchen floor (prior to the stroke, the had planned to age in place). My father in law had planned to do the whole thing himself. My mother in law forbade that. However, my son went over, and together, they completely demolished and removed all the flooring (this was not a grandson do and grandpa watch situation). Since early retirement, my in laws have lived an active life. Since I have moved to Texas they have taken a cruise to see the leaves, and a cruise along the Amazon. They just recently adopted and trained a bull dog. Every year in recent memory, my mother in laws has said that this Christmas was her last. Every year, she says she still wants to do Christmas.

What has this to do with anything? Lately I've been perusing some new retirement blogs, as well as some blogs about finance. I've seen recurring articles suggesting that eventually you run out of things to do in retirement.  I've also seen comments suggesting that when you get old you stagnate and run out of things to do. One blogger even suggested that retirees can't keep up with the world, stagnate, suddenly become......I'm not sure what.

To them, and to all the non retiree readers out there who may have the same fears, I simply say this.  First, if there is someone like that, I don't know them.  I know MANY retirees, in person and online, who  live full lives in retirement. None of them, to my knowledge, are wealthy.  Personally, my retirement was enforced. Even so, I have days when I look around and wonder how on earth I found time to work.

Retirement is different for everyone. If you're not happy we the way things are in retirement, you get to change it.  No one can change it for you. Certainly downsizing as I did is a mjaor event and not for the faint of heart. Other than a major relocation though, you are, as the corny saying goes, in charge of your destiny.

 As retirees we all do different things, under various budget constraints. One fellow blogger spends half the year traveling the country and exploring physically challenging activities.  Another travels a few months the year and is involved in many activities including volunteering. I know bloggers who have no interested in traveling, and some who love puttering around the house and the garden-at the same time they keep track of the newest technological innovations.  A non blogging online friend lives out in the Texas hill country with twenty dogs, and spends most of her time at home-taking a class or so each semester. She also has the latest technology and uses it. Some retirees earn a little income (temporary or part time).

None of these retirement lifestyles seem boring to me, although many are not what I would choose.  All live fullfilling lives, and more importantly take control of, and rethink their lifestyle every so often. Equally importantly, in ten years, these retirees may be doing something completely different with their time.  The thing is, it's their time. It belongs to no one else (except a spouse in some situations).

Recently someone asked me what I did in retirement-the list of things I want to do in any given day, week or year is too long to list. I can tell you what I plan to do in the next six months though:
  • Take a train trip from Denver through the mountains, Salt Lake City and Reno and end up in San Francisco. Make an overnight in each of the above locations and spend three days in the city (yes, I've been to San Fransisco before, but like the movie West Side Story, once is not enough).
  • Take a trip to the gulf coast of Texas and Louisiana, spending time eating gulf seafood, enjoying beaches and doing whatever strikes me.
  • Take a day trip or overnight at least every six weeks either in Colorado and Texas (yep, still things in Texas to do when I go back to family). Mountain towns, Santa Fe, Texas Hill Country. even visiting a bogging pal in Kansas.
  • Take all my handmade quilt goodies to craft fairs and sales.
  • Design my own quilts and my own fabrics and create some art quilts.
  • Take classes in drawing and glass fusing, as well as at least one writing class and two ancient history classes.
  • create a patio and "fairy garden" that incorporates narrow wooden planters (my apartment's patio is not fenced). Figure out what the best plants are for my Colorado area.
  • Eat out at a different kind of "gourmet/TV chef" restaurant, choosing primarily the kinds of foods that I cannot cook easily (for me that's Greek, Sushi, Seafood...).
  • Involve my self in "culture" one day a week-be it alone or with someone else. Museums, concerts, plays-yes, this includes local as well as national and amateur as well as professional options.
  • My list of reading is long, long long.....get back to reading three books a week (at least on non fiction).
  • On a daily/weekly basis, I want to do water aerobics, enforce some down time daily, play with the dogs, visit family and ad all the above.
  • Volunteer weekly at a woman's safe shelter (an overnight commitment) and make a wounded warriors quilt a month.
  • Continue working on my list of the top 100 movies of all time and watch them with my son (with the exception of Rebbecca and silent films, I've just about seen them all).
If I continued writing, this page would go on quite awhile. But you know what? I've been retired for ten years, and I'm not bored yet. I don't anticipate being in the near future, and I'm a low energy gal who schedules a nap or time on the patio (or in front of the fire) to read every day.

Bored in retirement?  Change things!


  1. Yes! Come to Kansas! I'll be traveling a bit myself- but we can work it out.
    I agree with you. Reinventing yourself over and over is part of the fun of retirement.

    1. Every direction, that's my goal. Of Course, today Texas is looking real good to me.

  2. I have been retired for two years and relish every day of freedom. I can do when I want, when I want and not worry about meetings or deadlines. I'm not a traveller but I am adventurous on another scale. If I can't find something to do, I make something else happen.

    1. I agree, if you are sitting and doing nothing, its likely because you WANT to-which is okay too.

  3. Inspiring post, Barb! So enjoy reading about how you arrange your life in retirement to extract maximum value and enjoyment. Your travel plans sound delightful as well. You might want to check out and in advance of your departures. In big cities like San Franscisco, Salt Lake and Reno there are lots of offerings on a regular basis.

    Someone really inferred that retirees stagnate over time? How insulting, and how narrow! My experience is that people simple become more of who they were prior to retirement IN retirement. Do you have to continue to exert energy in seeking out a vibrant life in retirement, just as you hopefully did prior to retirement? Absolutely!

    I firmly believe only boring people are bored. Kudos to you for being the exact opposite of that.

    1. Thanks, Tamara. I do think that some people are afraid of what they will do in retirement, and we need to let them know that all the options are out there.

  4. I couldn't have said it better. We have been so busy in retirement that I dont know how we ever had time to work full-time jobs! Of course it is up to each person how they spend their retirement. If they stay home and watch TV 24/7 they will probably have an unhappy/unhealthy retirement but if they take advantage of all of the opportunities available to them they can have a pretty amazing retirement life.

  5. While I am still not completely retired as of yet, I am finding that subbing in our school system is almost as bad as working full time. I have a feeling that next year I will cut back even more on my working. After all I want to enjoy what ever life has in store for me during this period of time.

    God bless.

  6. I don't know how I ever had time to work, either. But I do want to remain useful, so I trained to become a certified mediator, and now I do that.

    My reading list is still too long for the time I have available, but I'm hopeful!

    1. I think being useful is good, whether is is to volunteering or a finncial proposition. I also have woman in one of my small groups who is a mediator.

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Thanks for stopping by! I love to hear from others, and I also love to hear all points of view.. Just leave the profanity and insults at home, OK? Thanks!!