Very Puzzling?

One of the things in my life that is very puzzling to me is how I got in the mode of spending time daily with this activity. It is not as if I have nothing else to do with my time. My wife has been doing this activity for the past three decades but I never had much of an interest in it. It’s puzzling how all this got started.

Ok, I will now admit that this activity is working picture puzzles. There is just something about it that makes it soothe the savage beast in me. I know music is supposed to do that but since I have been deaf for 30+ years I had to find a substitute. ūüôā It’s just that when I am sitting in front of 1,000 tiny pieces trying to find the right one to fill the particular hole the world and all the troubles in it just seems to disappear. And who doesn’t want that to happen in the world today? We need as many escape hatches as we can find to maintain our sanity, don’t we?

In the summer months there are so many other things that demand my attention, but in the winter months I work at least one 1,000 piece puzzle a week. The closet in my study is now filled with puzzles that I have worked two to three times. Eventually I guess I will have to either stop buying new ones or discard the ones I have worked several times. I haven’t decided which path to take?

Now that I am in my fourth year of this activity I am becoming a snob when it comes to my selection of puzzles. Most of the ones I work are neighborhood type mosaics. I think that has something to do with my childhood obsession with architecture. If I had followed my heart I probably would have been an architect but that is another story.

Besides specializing on neighborhood mosaics I have also chosen a particular puzzle maker to buy from. I also concentrate on one particular artist’s work. So, Buffalo Games puzzles by Charles Wysocki are my primary focus. I have a dedicated table in the keeping room that looks out on the surrounding woods and the three station bird feeder. I guess you could now call me a picture puzzle fanatic!

Seeking a Joyous Journey – When Panic Set In

I’m going to start this post out with all you newbie retirees or soon to be retirees in mind but then finish it ups with some insights I have found for all us old-timers as well. I aim to cover the whole spectrum during my “seeking a joyous journey” project. ūüôā

I don’t claim to be an expert with all this stuff, but I have read a few dozen books on the topic and see that my circumstances are not a lot different from many others. But then again, I have found that like most every other thing in life, one size does not fit all.

I know when I retired, near panic immediately set in when I fully realized that I was totally unprepared for what was ahead of me. The days before I was downsized I was working 50+ hours a week and along with the travel time to and from work that stretched out to about 60 hours dedicated to my job. Quickly I realized that I had no idea on what I was going to do with those emancipated hours. I can only sit on the deck and drink beer for so for so many hours a day. ūüôā

In my job I lead a small team of IT developers in building tools (they are called apps today) for 100+ engineers. It was a lot of responsibility. I then realized that now that I am “retired” about the only person I would see each day was my wife, and she doesn’t seem to think I know much of anything, so panic started to creep in almost immediately in that respect also.

I was a lifelong planner with NO plans. That thought almost took my breath away.

For the first time in longer than I can remember, I was free to do pretty much anything I wanted. I’ll leave the details of that period for another post, but suffice it to say I managed to trog myself through. It was not elegant but at least it ended well.


Now to move on to recent panics. I left the corporate world in the Spring of 2000. so it has been closing on 20 years now since those initial panic days. Of course, there have been others along the way but now it seems another panic stage is upon me.

I am getting to that stage where I am forgetting more and more of the simple details of life. I seem to frequently leave restaurants and leave my coat on the back of the chair. That just happened again two days ago while I was on my twenty-fourth micro-RV adventure in Toledo Ohio. It was not until I got outside in the drizzle that I remembered. Things like this just seem to be happening more frequently now.

Due to my deafness I have always had a balance problem but that too is getting magnified. These types of things tell me that I am entering another potential melt-down faze that needs to be addressed. How will I cope with the loss of freedom and mobility that this stage will entail? That is the topic at hand for me right now. The first thing I need to do is to again, just breathe and work it out. Keep a positive attitude and accept the coming challenges.

How about you? How are you coping with the changes that come with old-age?

Never Get A Day Off…

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After some serious adjustments in my thinking I kind of find myself frequently asking what day it is. Without the job to define my life, each day seems to fold into the next. Holidays are just another day to us retired folks, especially those of us without any children or grandchildren for visits….

I am generally one of those who struggle to get through this time of year but not so much this year.¬† Maybe the warm weather is helping… maybe it was the 5 million lights at Branson recently.. Fa La La

Making Sense of Change…

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When I came across the quote above I knew nothing of Alan W. Watts.  But, as usual I got on Wiki to learn more. This guy was quite a character in life.  It just seemed that once he was doing something for any extended period of time he got bored with it an moved on to something else. It seems he re-invented himself a dozen times in his 58 years of life.

Here is a quote from one of the reviewers of his autobiography In My Own Way on Amazon.

Early on, he set out to be an independent intellectual, constantly learning and living in his “own way.” He succeeded, in spite of the odds, on the terms that he set out for himself. This was deeply inspiring to me, and it turned out that despite the surface differences of interest, Alan Watts had a lot to say about the choices one makes in life and how to go about living.

I like to think of myself, rightly or not that I am also an independent intellectual who likes to live life on my own terms. But my life is nothing like his.¬† I spent thirty years in the corporate world as an engineer. I just didn’t have the courage to admit that I probably should have chosen another path.¬† By the time I realized that fact I deemed it too late to do anything about it.¬† I was happy to just serve out my time until I could draw a full pension (yeah I actually get a monthly check from my previous employer).¬† It was not until I walked away from that life that I discovered my true self.

The term retirement is to me an archaic word that doesn’t really apply to the third trimester of life. This period is more about opportunities than retiring from life.¬† As I just said I like to think of myself¬† living my “own way” but I was a late-bloomer in that regard.¬† I have a lot of catching up to do. ūüôā¬† I have been in this mode for over fifteen years now and having a ball!

Living your “own way” meaning no longer just going with the flow.¬† It means taking the time to form your own opinions and then acting on them. No more just sitting back and whining. It often means going against the grain of other people’s norms. Living blue in a very red State I feel I am often going against the grain:

  • Where so much of our world, and especially our country, is living in fear I am stubbornly try to do the opposite. I will simply not give these terrorists the satisfaction of being afraid.
  • I see love where others, including my previous self, often see fear and sometimes even hate.
  • I see the words of Jesus as an action item list for my life and not just something that I hear in a pew on Sunday morning and then forget for the rest of the week.

Living your “own way” is not easy sometimes but it sure does give you more satisfaction…

I have an Alan Watts book now on my reading list. It will be interesting to learn more about him and probably myself in the process.

 

You Don’t Have To Be Busy All The Time….

2015-11-04_08-58-20About Life BannerOne of the things that I learned the hard way during my years of retirement is that you don’t have to be busy all the time. I just couldn’t seem to wrap my mind around the idea of just having “down” time where I literally did nothing. No work, no thinking to any degree; just sitting alone with myself.¬†¬† The Quakers call this “centering down”, some call it meditation, I just call it being alone with myself.

There are so many who say that time is rushing by and out of their control. My wife and I watch the TV show House Hunters when we eat our lunch. In that show there are many who move from one part of the world to another seeking a “slower lifestyle”. They say that things in their lives are just moving so fast that they have to get away.¬† But in reality no matter where you live you still have the same 24/7 as the place you left.¬† Time doesn’t slow down, only the activities you fill it with changes. I have learned in my old-age wisdom that you don’t have to chase a slower lifestyle around the globe, you can find it wherever you are.

Since I have no kids or grand kids I am only speculating here but it seems that kids today have a lot more scheduled activities than I did when I was a kid. “Soccer Moms” is a term that revolves around this phenomenon where one parent spends hours a day driving their kids to one event or another.

In my day my “events” were running around the neighbor visiting my friends and just hanging out. Sometimes we might get together for an ad hoc baseball game or whatever but it was not a scheduled thing.¬† It just kind of happened. Today it seems that parents, or maybe it is the kids themselves, think they have to fill their days with constant activity.¬† Looking back I kind of liked my down time where I could do nothing but maybe lay on my back in the yard and just gaze at the stars above.¬† There seemed to be many more stars in my youth than there are now but that is getting off topic.

When I was in the corporate world, especially 1980 and after,¬† I was constantly being told I have to do more with less. In the last ten years of that life I¬† saw my co-workers getting laid off one after another and was told I had to take on their work responsibilities because they would not be replaced. The mantra then was “Doing More With Less”. That jingle never appealed to me or I suspect anyone else except maybe the bosses who sang them.

In my retirement years I have once again learned how to just do nothing. As in my childhood I have again discovered that you don’t have to be busy all the time. In fact doing nothing once in a while has a calming effect that nothing else seems to provide.¬† Cutting off the thinking and doing nothing isn’t as easy as it sounds but it is worth the effort in order to maintain your sanity in this insane world we live in now… ūüôā

No More Lists…

ListsMy month-long hiatus from blogging a while back was more than just blogging. I pretty much ceased all my normal daily activity in favor of just doing what I felt like doing. Some days it was vegging out and some it was all day in the barn working on my micro-RV project of the last three years. And of course given that it was Spring, which is my favorite time of year, it was about sitting on my “mountain” and enjoying the view. One of the primary things I gave up during this period was keeping lists of my activity.

I will admit that this hiatus was brought on by a fairly strong feelings of depression. I was just too mired in the current times of fear and politics. Getting rid of that annoyance was a boon for my emotional state. Another surprising thing that boosted my contentment was that I stopped making my usual daily lists. I know this sounds kind of strange but hear me out.

All my life I have been a list maker. I still have almost a thousand 5×7 cards that I used in my work life to record what I needed to do¬†each week. When desktop computers came in that list moved there and the cards were assigned to the back of a desk drawer. When I retired from the corporate world in 2000 I brought list making with me and have done it continuously until now. I think at some levels, at least to me, I rationalize that it¬†shows me that I am a productive member of the human race. I gauged my worthiness¬†by the length of the list. I have now discovered that his forty-year old habit is stifling¬†my retirement years!

In retirement your time is your own for perhaps the first time in your life. ¬†I discovered that keeping long lists at this point in my life is accomplishing little. It may even lead to depression at times.¬†It doesn’t matter whether I¬†spend four hours getting just the right close-up photo of a flower or even binge watching episodes of Grey’s Anatomy. I finally convinced myself that my time is my own now and to ¬†spend it doing things that make me happy in the moment and not fretting so much about what is happening out in the world. So, from here on out, it is goodbye to lists to justify my existence.

Who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.

Anybody out there have any other suggestions for letting go of the past in order to just enjoy your retirement moments???

Epilog — Personal Resolutions…

Future-1This post finishes up my¬†multi-part “insights” series about where and how I go from here. ¬†My overall¬†goal is to do what is necessary¬†to live a happy, wild, and free retirement.¬†Some of my¬†commitments are personal in nature so I won’t be sharing them here. But I will give you the others.¬†It was a very enlightening time for me. I finally managed to “listen to myself” and gain some¬†new sometimes surprising insights:

  • I vow¬†to be more tolerant of other’s beliefs but that does not mean I¬†will¬†let others run roughshod over me.¬†I believe that we are all praying to the same God. It is simply¬†that humanity has managed to invent so many versions of God to meet our own expectations. I heard a quote the other day that sums this concept up. It goes “And on the third day man created¬†God...” God is God and it is not up to me¬†to decide what he believes, how¬†he judges,¬†or even what he does or maybe even more importantly doesn’t do. It is also not up to me to determine who he will “save” but I personally do believe that in the end we will all be reconciled with him. Finally It is up to me¬†to listen for the things¬†she gives me for¬†living my¬†live as she wants me to.
  • ¬†I vow¬†to try harder to do what my¬†blog header says and to not take myself or life for that matter too seriously. Life, especially mine, is too short to worry about things that I can’t possibly change. It is also too short to fear what others might do.
  • I¬†vow to live more truly to my¬†purpose in life. It is what drives me as a person. It is who God intends for me to be. But I also learned that as the saying goes all work, toward purpose or not, and no play makes RJ¬†a dull boy so I vow spend time to just have some fun for fun’s sake.
  • I vow¬†to do more to live my life with¬†zest.¬†¬†I vow to ask myself¬†each day what will make me happy and then to accomplish that wish on some level. I will also strive to do some creative activity every day.
  • I vow to never again just sit back and wait for fate to happen to me. ¬†Fate is what I make of life. It is not a static thing to come over me. For the most part I make my own fate.
  • I vow to work harder to see the unnoticed things in life and to celebrate them within myself and with others.¬†
  • I vow to celebrate my eccentricity and to embrace creativity wherever I¬†discover it.¬†
  • ¬†I vow to not put off things that will make my happy and fulfilled until tomorrow. I don’t have enough tomorrows left for that kind of indecision.
  • I vow to my own self to be¬†true….

Insight 5 — Eccentricity

I talked a little about “craziness” in the last post but I want to expand that concept this time to include¬†eccentricity. A definition of this word is: a strange and unconventional behavior.¬†In some ways that fits my current life. I seem to be a person who always looks at the unconventional way of doing things. I just don’t generally go with the flow so to speak. Is eccentricity something I should value more in my retirement life?

Here is a little about what Ernie Zelinski says about this topic. 

Unconventional‚ÄúEccentricity is not, as dull people would have us believe, a form of madness,‚ÄĚ declared Dame Edith Sitwell. ‚ÄúIt is often a kind of innocent pride, and the man of genius and the aristocrat are frequently regarded as eccentrics because the genius and the aristocrat are entirely unafraid of and uninfluenced by the opinions and vagaries of the crowd.‚ÄĚ ¬†

The more you are out of step with society, the greater your chances for self-discovery, adventure, and happiness in this world. ¬†Contrary to the popular belief that people like Ben Kerr are crazy, Weeks and James concluded that eccentrics are much more intelligent than the general population. True eccentrics are highly creative, curious, idealistic, intelligent, opinionated, and obsessed with some hobby. These non-conformists give themselves the freedom to be themselves, a luxury that most people in society haven‚Äôt learned how to enjoy. Eccentricity allows them to pursue hobbies and lifestyles that are their passions. Freed from the need to conform, eccentrics aren‚Äôt bothered by what others think about them. It follows that only those who can be eccentric can truly live. Thus, celebrate your eccentricity and you will be set free . Your self-development and movement toward self-actualization will be wondrous, mysterious, and fascinating. Ernie (2013-11-16). How to Retire Happy, Wild, and Free: Retirement Wisdom That You Won’t Get from Your Financial Advisor (Kindle Locations 4174-4180).

Wow, from this quote it sounds like eccentricity is something that all of us should be honing. But if we are all eccentrics then that is the norm and that therefore no one would be eccentric. How’s that for insight. But in reality most of us are more conformists than we are eccentric. We want the types of houses others tell us we have to have. We buy clothes with manufacturer’s name boldly printed on them so we are in reality paying to be walking billboards. We bleach out our teeth to absurd degrees to be like everyone else. Most of us simply follow the crowd so there is really not much fear that those of us who are truly eccentric will become the norm. ¬†Thinking outside the box to me is a form of eccentricity. We just don’t go along with the conventional wisdom of the day.

One thing I know I want to maintain and even enhance in my remaining years is my eccentricity. I am just too far along in my life to really care what others think of my behavior. All of the words “highly creative, curious, idealistic, intelligent” seem to be the things that I want to strive for more of¬†in my remaining years.

 

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