Category Archives: Retirement

Did you intend to do that…

astilbe

As I leafed through some miscellaneous papers the other day, I found a piece of scratch paper with the word, intentionality, written on it.  I often jot down words, phrases, or complete sentences that I come across that will remind me of a topic I think might make a good blog post.  That doesn’t mean I necessarily know much about whatever the concept/idea is, but it intrigues me enough to explore it further and perhaps share what I discover with whomever may be reading my blog.

So, today, class, we will explore the meaning of intentionality, and how that might work into our lives.  If you care to join me, keep reading.

Intentionality means living life on purpose (at least, that’s the meaning I am exploring today).  Being intentional allows us to take control of our life.  We determine how we want to spend our time and our money; how we want to use our energy…making our life what we want it to be!  If we aren’t intentional, our lives will be controlled by life events or other people.  Life goes on, as they say, whether we are taking charge of it or not.

So, we might as well take charge!

Being intentional about our actions gets us off auto-pilot – doing the same things, the same way, day after day.  Now, I think there is a fine line regarding the benefits of being on auto-pilot as opposed to being off auto-pilot.  If you’re still dealing with a career and/or perhaps raising children, auto-pilot can be a lifesaver that helps you get through your day.  In those circumstances, routine can be comfortable and be necessary for efficiency.

As a retired person with more idle time, auto-pilot can result in boredom, missing out on new opportunities, and in general, watching life pass by too quickly.  I briefly touched on a similar topic in my February 14, 2017 post about letting time slip away.

Some aspects of life that we can try to be more intentional about controlling:

  • Health – utilizing exercise, diet
  • Social – maintaining/cultivating personal relationships with family & friends
  • Financial – managing our monetary resources
  • Spiritual – exploring our personal beliefs about our life’s purpose (why are we on this earth?)

Some actions we can take to begin being more intentional:

  • Try a new exercise plan, add a variety of exercises; try some new healthy recipes; eat something different for breakfast (oh, but I really like my oatmeal!)
  • Contact a new friend or acquaintance; call, text or email family members; be quick to offer encouragement or kudos to anyone you feel is deserving. It’s so easy to think something nice about someone and yet to never express it to that person.
  • Keep track of where money is being spent; develop a budget if one doesn’t already exist
  • Read, read, read – maybe a non-fiction book, or a new genre not tried before; join a book club or discussion group and learn from others’ perceptions and knowledge; try a new hobby or activity; do things in a new order
  • And, maybe most importantly – getting comfortable with saying no to activities that don’t match with personal values, are time-wasters, or are harmful to our physical or mental well-being.

A word of caution:  changing too much too quickly can create chaos.  Go slowly, one step or change at a time.

A final thought –

Knowing our purpose avoids taking attention away from the things that really matter in our lives…family, friends, passions. 

Act with intentionality.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Throwing a hissy fit…

This morning I threw a COLOSSAL hissy fit.  The trigger site was my laundry area in our unfinished basement.  I pulled bed sheets out of the dryer, turned around and put them on the ironing board so as to reload the dryer from the washer.  When I then pulled the sheets off the ironing board to carry them upstairs to my bedroom, I also knocked the iron off the board and watched in horror as it clattered to the cement floor.  They must make irons durable enough to handle such a jolt as the only thing that I could see happened to it was the dial for choosing the heat level came off.  I was able to easily replace it – no harm done.  (I have not yet plugged the iron in to see if it still works, however.)

Before...
Before…

BUT, in the seconds during and after this mishap, I erupted in a tantrum.  How could I be so clumsy and careless??  Fortunately, I was home alone so no one heard my expletives or my cry, “I hate my OLD self (that’s old age, not former self).  I hate the way I look.  I hate the way I feel.  I hate the way I act.”

After...
After…

Wow, what’s left to like??  And, how do any of these feelings relate to dropping an iron?  I stormed up the steps and began to cool down – realizing how pathetic my outburst was (not that at that moment it wasn’t exactly how I felt.)  I knew that I had to calm down.

Obviously, I was in a funk today that was just ignited by the iron incident.  I needed an attitude adjustment.

Interestingly enough, just yesterday during a discussion with RC about an acquaintance who is struggling, I uttered the suggestion that this person should just “pull himself up by his bootstraps!”

Just what I needed to do this morning; yet, realistically, I do know that is not always easy to accomplish.

After calming down and reflecting on the outburst.  I thought about how easy it must be for older adults like myself, to turn to alcohol or other mood enhancing drugs to help them cope.  When I googled alcoholism amongst retired people, a whole slew of articles popped up.  So, apparently, this is indeed a problem in my age group.

Before I go any further, I will assure you I’m not considering drinking any more in a day than the glass of wine (ok, sometimes, two glasses) I enjoy fairly frequently as I watch the evening news or prepare dinner.  But, I can see how persons feeling inadequate or depressed or just generally down on themselves might turn to drinking thinking it could be a solution to masking negative thoughts they may have.

As I read some of the articles Google referenced, I gleaned the following reasons older/retired folks might turn to drinking –

  • to counteract feelings about the elimination of work structure
    • loss of status
    • loss of employment based social support
    • loss of life purpose
  • to cheer oneself up
  • to combat loneliness
  • to counter boredom
  • to fill newfound leisure time
  • to assuage grief – loss of spouse, friends
  • to overcome negative thoughts about the loss of youth – MY BIG GRIPE!

Of course, the articles I read also noted why excessive drinking was not a good solution for elderly folks –

  • interference with meds
  • potential for causing liver disease, high blood pressure, heart attack, some forms of cancer
  • propensity for accidents – falls, etc.
  • increased sensitivity to the effects of alcohol due to problems metabolizing it

Logically, there should be ways to overcome all the issues that may cause an older person to turn to drinking.  In some cases, however, I realize this is easier said than done.

In my case, I will overcome my hate for the loss of my youthful self (see 2nd paragraph above) by –

  • MOST IMPORTANTLY, continually reminding myself of all I have to be grateful for
  • looking for meaningful ways to stay busy with fun outings/activities, volunteer opportunities, get-togethers with friends
  • engaging in hobbies like reading, crossword puzzles, gardening
  • and, how about hanging out with young people – grandkids for instance?!

I hope you realize I use this blog space to lecture myself and give myself a kick in the pants.  If it provides you with any inspiration, that’s a plus for me.

P.S. I am embarrassed to share my outburst about the iron mishap.  It was totally ridiculous!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Time slips away…

Beautiful Sapodilla Bay, Turks & Caicos
Beautiful Sapodilla Bay, Turks & Caicos

I can now check off the one and only item on my bucket list…a family vacation – daughter, son, their spouses, our grandchildren, RC and I all enjoying time together at a destination free from everyday-life interruptions and responsibilities.  I always imagined it would be in a warm, sunny spot, and I am so grateful it indeed, turned out to be that way.

Last August RC and I celebrated 50 years of marriage.  Our children and their spouses gifted us with a wonderful family trip to the Turks and Caicos islands.  Since August in Minnesota provides us with reasonable weather – warm, sunny – and January/February often does not – cold, snowy, icy – we planned for the trip to this tropical location to happen in January.  A perfect escape from winter!

I had five plus months to dream about this upcoming vacation.  I knew the planning/anticipating time would go  by very quickly; and, I also knew the vacation time would be over in a flash.  I was so spot on!

Now, here I sit a week and a half after returning from this fabulous trip – stunned that it is all over and done.  A pleasant memory.  Instead of watching the sun set into the ocean, I watch if from my living room easy chair, as it sets down through the barren trees and behind my neighbor’s house.  Life is back to being routine.  Not a bad thing, but I find myself grieving for a great week that passed by so quickly.

I’ve always heard that the older you get, the faster time flies by.  It certainly does seem that way to me.  I read something the other day that provided a good explanation for why this seems to happen.  In essence, by the time we are in our last half of life (maybe even before) our lives are mostly filled with routine and predictable happenings.  Because they are so routine, we can’t even remember what we had for dinner last Sunday!  The blogger (sorry, I don’t remember what blog I was reading) suggested the way to overcome time flying by was to make sure we are enjoying new experiences – learning something new, seeing something new, participating in a new group, eating new foods, trying new exercise – you get the idea.  He or she said the newness of whatever the activity may be would make the experience stand out (shaking up our routine) and help us to remember it and in turn, make it seem like time wasn’t passing us by.

Vacationing in Turks and Caicos was definitely a new experience for me and I will always have wonderful memories of this trip; and though it passed by way too quickly, maybe the point is if we string together enough new experiences we will be jostled out of our routines  and our lives will seem to move at a more leisurely pace, or at least will be more fulfilling.

A friend recently commented that at his age (same as me), he thinks to himself at the end of the day – ” another day gone by that I won’t get back; another day closer to the end!”  I often find myself thinking that same thought, only I think of it in seconds and minutes passing that I will never get back.

Those are morbid thoughts – rather, I intend to begin thinking of how I might find new activities I can enjoy to shake up my routine.  I’d like to think I have a good 15-20 more years of life ahead of me.  Beginning now, I am going to do my best to make the most of those years, creating pleasant memories and SLOWING TIME DOWN!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Retirement, now what do I do…

Fall Tapestry

This is a mildly ridiculous topic for me to be writing about at this point since I have been retired for nearly two years.  However, I think I am still in a period of adjustment as I find myself wondering what I am supposed to be doing with the rest of my life!

I will say, I love my mornings now – without having to get up terribly early, I can take time to do some meditating, reading and writing before I even have breakfast.  My reading at this time of the day consists of what I guess you would call self-help type books.  Material that hopefully inspires me to be a better person, be better at something, make the world a better place, take better care of myself, etc., etc.  (Notice my quest for better!)

Currently, I am reading a Julia Cameron book, Walking in This World – The Practical Art of Creativitybook  Cameron’s main goal in her book is to help people realize their human potential…it is a course in creative discovery.  I am finding this book thought provoking, and I especially appreciate the exercises she suggests at the end of each chapter.

Since I have been pondering how I am to spend my days now that I don’t have to work a 9 to 5 job, the section entitled Art is Therapeutic, Not Therapy which I read yesterday, seemed to be written just for me.  The theory Ms. Cameron outlines here is that one could work with a therapist to find answers/solutions/understanding to a problem, but “art” as she calls it is much more active (as opposed to reactive).  Therapy helps us adjust to the world; “art adjusts the world itself.”  Or, rather than therapy showing us how to accept our feelings, “art teaches us to express how we feel and alchemize it.”  Just for a clearer understanding, (for me, if no one else) since the book is about being creative, I think the word, creativity, can be substituted for the word, art, here.

The exercise proposed at the end of this section was to take a stack of magazines with pictures and cut out ones that seem to deal with an issue upon which you are ruminating…a situation you would like to understand more fully.  In my case, what do I do now that I am retired?  Then, make a collage of the pictures and write about what you learned from this process. Cameron indicates the discovery can be telling and may be surprising…”a holistic sense of healing may emerge.”

So, this morning, I took my stack of magazines and paged through them looking for pictures that depicted scenes I could relate to.  I found pics of girlfriends laughing and sharing conversation, pics of grandparents spending time with their grandkids, pics of people enjoying solitude and nature, pics of people working in their garden, pics of people engaged in exercise.

Surprise!  These are all things I am doing.

Maybe I know what I am supposed to be doing in retirement, after all – enjoying my life!  So, I need to stop fretting about it.

Maybe you’re not retired, and/or you’re not wondering what to do with your life; but, perhaps you are facing a situation you would like to understand more fully.  I’d encourage you to give this little exercise a try.  Like me, maybe you will be affirmed that you are on the correct path; or, maybe you will discover a new way of approaching something in your life.

I feel like I have just delivered a book report here – and, probably not a very good one in terms of letting you know about the book I’m reading.  If you’re interested, I would suggest you get the book yourself.  It is available in the library.  My objective was to tell you about one of the exercises suggested in the book and how affirming the results were for me, hoping if you were so inclined to try it you may also find positive results.

I always love to have feedback so feel free to let me know what you think of this exercise.  You can leave comments in the section below.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA