Irony of time

Retirement signals a time of life with more time. Boundless, pressure-free time. At least that’s my ideal image of retirement. Last week, as I was about to take a leisurely walk to dinner, I bent over to pick up my little camera and immediately felt the crack of my back. I felt my “time” being taken away from me for at least a week.

All at once I as unable to use my time as I’d like. I found I did not have time to do  all the things I wanted or needed to do. Time was moving without me.  All I could do was care for myself for as much time as needed so that I could return to my care-free time as soon as possible.

Ironically, as I age, I have more and more time that I can use in anyway that I choose. However, at the same time, my body claims more of my time: for rest and for health care. Isn’t it ironic? Patience and acceptance are equal descriptors of retirement as time.

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Trying to accept flexibility

I have always struggled with “being flexible” mentally. I over plan and then have learned to be able to adjust daily plans to the moment. As a teacher this was an invaluable skill because students’s needs and struggles often meant changing my plans to better move their learning. I’m famous for adjusting itineraries as  we travel; ad libbing so to speak with routes taken and diversions heartily taken in. What’s hard for me is to mentally be flexible.

Because LIFE tends to throw more and more curves as I age, I’ve tried hard to NOT overplan; this way when other things demand attention, I’m not sad/disappointed that my carefully made plans need changing. The past few years have proven to me that these sunset years of retirement are unpredictable; family emergencies happen frequently, personal ilnesses happen more often, and just general “not feeling well” is common for myself and my dear husband who’s five years older. I learned the past few years that this ever calm, relaxed, cheery person is NOT always that way when dealing with personal health and family health issues related to aging.  Sigh; in fact a cardiologist suggested that my ever calm nature was my problem when I found myself bottoming out (blood pressure) OFTEN. So at time being the calm, reasoning, patient person isn’t “good”. Don’t worry, I’m not changing who I am; it’s been a great help for many. But I a aware of it now, which has helped me somewhat in times of internal stresss when I “think” I’m “ok”.

Anyway, in my nonplanning, living spontaneously, new life plan there are still times when planning is needed; at least to me. So with us all being in good health my husband and I have planned a road trip on our way to our little winter condo. We even bought a dream car: comfortable, quiet, and safe for the road. We’ve booked hotels and plan a ten day trip; this time not visiting family on the way South, but instead seeing cities and sites we’ve never visited. A large enough trip that’s we’re both excited. And it’s the first of a handful we “plan” to make over the next few years now that we have plenty of TIME.

Let me note here that our plan changes are mostly health issues; we are blessed financially and with wonderful family and friends. So in comparison to many others who may be reading this, I have LITTLE stress in my life; little too complain about.

Now we do our obligatory doctor visits; so that we’re set for the next 4 months. Yesterday my husband learned his prostrate cancer has grown. He has a biopsy next week. So we are back to the NEW reality; remembering to count each MOMENT and DAY for the blessings they are. And TRY not to worry about tomorrow. It’s still possible that our trip will happen in same time period. But most likely it’ll need to be altered.

So do we NEVER plan any longer. Twice I’ve signed up for 5Ks and had to cancel because of illness or injury; a 5K WALK had to be cancelled. So I no longer sign up ahead of time for them. But that being said, I DO TREASURE all the gifts God has given us, including experiences. I still find myself saying “this sucks”. Can’t health be ok for maybe another five years; then we’ll have created more wonderful memories during our golden years. 

I sit hear on a sunny (cold) day; in a warm home with hot coffee and peach jam on my toast. Life is good. And this moment I am grateful for.

Relaxed Holiday Season?

BEFORE Thanksgiving we went to Macy’s (Marshall Fields of old) Walnut Room and had lunch under the tree. NEVER done that before! No waiting in line; well, about 5 minutes only.

Walked to and shopped and ate at the Park at Wrigley’s KrisKringle Market. It’s new this year, similar to one in the Chicago loop. But TWICE we’ve gone!!! 

No time pressure and fatigue stress of decorating the day after our Thanksgiving hostessing. However, our dear daughter offered to help get things out of storage before she left Thursday night. She doesn’t think we’re old does she? But WAS a great help.

And this week and/or next I’ll LEISURELY wrap gifts. That’s NEVER happened. 

I’m considering making a new cookie recipe or two; jazz up the dessert menu a bit. TIME and ENERGY to experiment; that’s NEVER happened this time of year.

No fatigue from long days off work extended by gift shopping on the way home. No fatigue from adding cookie making to weekend chores. Kids being grown also relieves fatigue and stress; which goes along with my retirement age. 

LESS STRESS and LESS FATIGUE is a wonderful holiday gift to this old lady!!! Thank you life!!

Thrive by Simplicity

Multi-tasking has been popular out of necessity in this busy world. It has been worn as a badge of ability by many. Lately, however, research has begun revealing that (surprise, surprise) tasks that are routinely done as multiasked items are less well done, less in quality than if the same tasks were done without others distractions. Research is suggesting that multi-tasking is not a worthwhile skill to practice. 

The old “stop and smell the roses” take on new meaning during my retirement. I always joked that my passions for nature and photography played of each other: I was outside enjoying nature so that I could do photography; and I was doing photography so that I could be outside enjoying nature. Multi-tasking in a way. 

Now that I am retired one of my “goals” has been to simplify. In short, to multitask less. To enjoy each moment, each activity in it’s fullest. I still need to remind myself from time to time. But the pleasure of doing ONE thing at a time is immeasureablely richer. I find myself right now blogging while the TV is on; and if not for family present I would have the TV OFF while blogging. I even listen to music WITHOUT reading, or doing bookwork, or cleaning, or ANYTHING else. I enjoy and thrive in one thing at the time and it’s wonderful.

I find that “simplifying”, doing one thing at a time has yielded richer experiences that I haven’t enjoyed in years.  Richness in simplicity. Richness is an ability to focus, to participate fully, to absorb completely. It’s easy; it’s simple. Simple takes practice and prioritizing. What is worthwhile is worth paying full attention to. What a blessing retirement has been to allow me TIME to SINGLE take more and more. 

I am old when…

Oh my! It’s not unusual for anyone at any age to misplace things; and less unusual a happening as we age. But my husband just came to my rescue when I reported I lost my full Tupperware glass of water. I asked for his help because I was afraid it might lay sideways somewhere spilling all it’s ice cold contents, leading to damage to something.

So after a few minutes he called into the bedroom and said, “I have no idea how you chose to leave it there”. See for yourself. Sigh…..gotta laugh.

(tip: click on “I am old when…” to see the image referred to. )

Being contrary

The common response when we moved last year was “Oh, that’s a great place. I USED to live there.” That was the response by our older neighbors and friends. The second common response was, “Oh that’s a great area, but it’s way too busy for us”.  We moved from a home to a condominium, from the suburbs to the city, from adjacent to a county forest preserve to across from a large city park.

The downsizing move to a condo is an appropriate action for elders. Kids are out of the house or spaces sets unused often and maintenance gets tiresome and more difficult. It was more exhausting doing the downsizing in STUFF than the actual move. 43 years of marriage, 30 years of living in our home equated to lots and lots of stuff. Some sentimental, some practical necessities, others were “in case of need”. Our downsizing and move to a condominium was following the way of many retired and aging persons.

Our goal of living in the city is most often done by young adults, looking for easy independence and adventure.  Those were exactly our goals when we moved. Much to some of our friends horror we love taking public transportation, either the bus or el train (subway); the ride is always it’s own FUN adventure.  We have mastered tracking buses thanks to our daughter and niece who both live in the big city. We have bought the rolling cart so that  getting to the grocery shopping is a healthy walk away; no car needed.  The best part of our new location is that we can easily venture to many, many adventurous destinations; street fairs, zoo, downtown shopping and dining, cultural and sporting events. People watching is a new hobby rich in possibilities. Our friends have purposely looked for remote, quiet neighborhoods when they’ve downsized. That was the opposite of our desires, fortunately my husband and I both had the same dreams and aspirations of retirement.

My reason for focusing our attention on the city during our condo search was to make “doing” things EASY. Possible activities in the suburbs is limited to a handful of usual choices. In the city where we located we are an easy bus ride away from many places and events and quite often ditch the bus and walk at least one-way. In the suburb if the weather isn’t perfect we would choose not to “fight” the weather or the traffic in order to DO something. It was too easy to say, “Let’s just stay home today.”

Our favorite new routine is walking to a nearby donut shop on Saturday mornings as mentioned in the previous post. We never did such a thing in the suburbs; donuts would be gotten from one of us driving and bringing them home. If we ate at a donut shop there would have just been a few hurried persons to observe.

We are thoughtful of each other’s aches and pains and flexible as to when and how long we venture out. But we honestly spend more time outside of our wonderful new home (condo!!!) than inside. I recommend anyone retiring to consider such a move.

Donuts!!!

Some new parts of life as a retired person could have theoretically been pursued while I was working. But that those old obstacles, time and energy, negated many activities. Also, our move to the big city has also made many excuses less used.

Saturday morning is our time to walk to a nearby donut shop. There the donuts are fresh and the coffee hot. The entertainment is equally filling: parents with young children who get to enjoy a sweet treat. Dogs tied to posts outside enjoying random pets from passersby while waiting for their master’s as they purchase at a their breakfast treat.

What makes it soooooooo fulfilling, beyond the scrumptious breakfast is the totally relaxed loitering we do, stretching the sips of coffee. There is no hurry home to do chores on a day off! Wonderful!!!

Old hobby is new again

I didn’t have much of a “bucket list” for retirement; but one thing on it has begun. I have picked up my guitar after a 43 year absence. And it’s a wonderful feeling!! All through junior high and high school and college I played folk music; just for my ears or anyone nearby. When first married I took a year of classical guitar; very difficult but a good, disciplined challenge. This summer I began a group class for “chore guitar” (basic) at the level 1 repertoire (enrichment of level 1); and I’ve just signed up for the next set of classes, level 3. My abilities with my hobby is progressing nicely I’m proud to say.

Guitar is perfect for retirement because I have the time and energy. Practicing every day is a pleasure; not a chore. I even bought a new acoustic guitar to make playing easier than on my beautiful classical guitar; the neck is narrower on the acoustic so chords are easier! I am actually spending about a hour a day playing and my dear calloused  fingers are proof. I am playing songs that are more current than the 1960s songs; though I still love those too. I’m learning new strum patterns and “riffs” and “walkups” and “tags”. Pure fun for me! And a challenge which is always fun for me.

I notice my voice is more raspy than it was 40 years ago; result of lifetime of allergies and asthma. Not quite a smoker’s voice; but definitely with a unique character now.

What’s is also fun is that my class is mostly grey haired men and women like me! Ah the joy of the hippie generation reliving our past with renewed songs and energy!! I was never really much of a “hippie” but I was very much into folk music including old, collected folk music. We actually held a jam sessions as a tribute to the 50th anniversary of the Age of Aquarius a few weeks ago at Northwestern University. What great fun it was; and I was one of the guitarists!!!

Where to begin

I have begun this blog because there have been a number of times recently I felt that I have a story tell; mine. My life has included many unique experiences, as I am sure upon reflection each of you does also.

I love my life and am by nature a positive person. I am truly blessed. My tales shall be honest; I will not share names so that I can be as honest as possible. As an optimistic I am humanly full of many emotions and moods.

My intend is focus on MY experiences. Though others will be apart of my story, my intent is to share MY perspective and reactions. I do not intend to critique or judge; hopefully I will remember this intent as I blog.