Ritual habits of childhood returns…

“Go to the bathroom, just in case, before you go out.” “Take a sweater and scarf, just in case.”

“Just in case”, was a polite way for my mother to say “because I said so”.

Now that I’m retired…really now that I am an older woman, I find myself ROUTINELY going to the bathroom and then grabbing a warm scarf EVERY time I leave my home. I do this so routinely that my husband will tease me and repeat those mothers’ phrases before we leave for somewhere. And both of these rituals are important to a successful outing for this older lady. Morning’s are especially precarious if I haven’t done these two things. TMI? Well the temperature is always changing in the morning; so best to be prepared. Usually it’s the hot flashes that demand lessening of layers instead of adding to layers on my body. But 15 minutes later that scarf may be just what I need.

Interesting, now that I’ve mentioned my husband, he has NO such rituals before leaving home. His rituals relate to memory: do I have my phone, my wallet, my keys? What else do I need? Equally interesting is the fact that those are things I do naturally, without much thinking.

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First solo…

Yesterday, at 65 11/12 years old I played and sang my first ever solo. I accompanied myself in guitar as I sang John Lennon’s Imagine for the prelude to our service. Thank goodness is was a small congregation. But I DID it! (Followed by my accompanying the pianist for a some during the service). Phew! Felt great AFTER it was done!

Road trip metaphor…

I always think to myself that traveling mile after mile on the road, with each passing mile getting closer to the destination could be compared to anyone’s long term goal. Goals are reached one step at a time. Destinations are reached bit by bit; be they miles passed via a car or as completed task by completed task. The end will be reached if the steps, miles, tasks are done and the direction or goal is clearly set.

Take more leisurely trips, it’s a way to mindlessly use your freetime during retirement. And it’s fun and enriching!

Retired worker…

I am a work in progress….still, after 65 years and plan to be for the rest of my life. Besides all the hobbies I am pursuing the “thing” I’m most passionately working on is myself. I am working to retire my FAT. First goal is to lose the 28 pounds I gained during a three year period of treating (successfully) breast cancer and losing my mother and father. I am proud to say that my attitude is set and on track to lose my gain. I lost 13 of those pounds this past winter and early spring. Then I shall work to lose the other 40 pounds that will bring me back to long-ago more perfect, healthy weight. My arthritic knee will thank me I’m certain.

What are you working on or towards?

Warning from establishment…

Hah! At lunch today in a restaurant we hadn’t partaken in yet we were enjoying the loud DJ music and atmosphere realizing we were the oldest patrons dining, the manager came over to talk to us. He cordially asked us how our meal was; which was excellent. Then he told us he wanted to warn us that the noise level will get crazy in a few minutes because a group was celebrating a birthday. We noticed he didn’t warn anyone at any other tables. Did we look that fragile?!

It was fun; but very loud. Funny thing is that it was the quietest restaurant on the street; a section just west of downtown Ft. Lauderdale. Public House.

Too many hobbies?

How many hobbies are too many? Since I’ve retired, hobbies are quickly gaining ground and taking up my newly free time. Took a year actually for this to begin accelerating. I’ve been blogging since 2010 (see breitberg.org) and now I try to do so more frequently. This means I do more photography (the purpose of my original blog), so I have more to share. So photography and blogging are hobbies number one and two.

Last summer I began guitar lessons after a 40 year (my gosh; where does time go?) absence from playing. I LOVE it; it gives me chance to advance my skills and to SING. So perhaps hobbies number three and four. Though singing goes with playing, so we’ll just call it hobby number three.

This winter I signed up for acrylic painting classes, at an outdoor beautiful, peaceful location. I thought it was one class but turned out I’d signed up for a six class session. It is very difficult for me to do well, but I am truly enjoying the challenge. I had taken a couple oil painting classes about ten years ago; but never did art on my own since then. Enter hobby number four.

I know that I have many minutes of “free” time each day. Walking is a passion; it’s a chance to get exercise, be outdoors and take photographs. I consider it a health necessity but it could fall under a hobby category. So hobby number five.

I no longer sit in a car for over two hours a day going to and from work. I no longer work. I no longer engage in furthering education courses in the evening. I no longer host afterschool clubs which included random weekend field trips. So, personal time is abundant now for the first time since I was a kid. But I can’t help but wonder if I’m getting in over my head with hobbies. May I note here that my husband is wonderfully supportive of any of my interests; he knows I need be productive to be happy.

I am also seriously paying attention to ways to do service to others; perhaps using my guitar or camera as a way to bring joy to others. So possibly another hobby will emerge soon.

I want to be the best I can be at whatever I do. There are days that I don’t play guitar, blog, capture photographs and walk. And painting happens usually only once a week. So it “seems” under control. But I wonder if I’m kidding myself. None of them I want to give up on yet; so I’ll continue but try to make sure each remains FUN for me.

As I write this I realize that reading also is an avid pasttime of mine; so hobby number six. I used to listen to audio books during my long drives to and from school. But now, I am reading and that’s been relaxing and mind expanding.

What are your hobbies? How do you balance life?

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.

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.

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.