Insight 3 — Personal Time… Doing Your Own Thing

This post is a continuation of the discernment period I recently spent on thought of where I go from here. I retired from the corporate world fifteen years ago and from my own business nine years ago. Since then I have struggled with my retirement years.  Part of that struggle is due to the very different approaches to life between myself and my spouse. I love her dearly but we are two very different people. She is content with living a simple life of computer games, puzzles, TV, and naps. It is all she needs to have a fulfilled life. I on the other hand seek at least as some level new experiences, travel, and the unknown and to live a purpose beyond myself.  How to reconcile those differences between us has been a major portion of my distress.

When I read the following quote from Ernie Zilinski helped it gave me some insight into his problem:

2014-12-21_13-47-42Contrary to popular belief, by no means do all retired couples enjoy their time together more than they did when they were working. The fact is, even two people who have enjoyed a successful marriage for three decades can end up driving each other crazy when one or both retire….

A post-retirement lifestyle shouldn’t be limited to the retiree spending most of his or her time with their spouse. It’s essential that each partner have his/ her own interests….

It’s also important that couples give each other the freedom to pursue individual interests. Without the workplace to provide them with something to do, some retired individuals end up being lost souls, following their spouse wherever they go. Not giving their spouse the space and freedom to pursue their own interests can backfire and leave these retirees with even less company and less to do….

The key is to organize your life so that you have time with your spouse and plenty of time to do your own thing. Zelinski, Ernie (2013-11-16). How to Retire Happy, Wild, and Free: Retirement Wisdom That You Won’t Get from Your Financial Advisor (Kindle Locations 972-980). Visions International Publishing. Kindle Edition.

Almost all of the retirement books I have read, and I have read several of them, don’t address the issue of when spouses have very different ideas of what a happy retirement is. They say the divorce rate among people over sixty is increasing dramatically in recent years and I image this discontinuity between spouses is one of the primary reasons. Most of the blogs and such I read about retirement are accounts of how the spouses  agree on lifestyles and approaches to their retired lives. They spend their time doing what makes both happy, wild and free as Ernie puts it.  It just seemed like everyone always enjoys what the other does. Many seem to have an “Ozzie and Harriet” retirement life that I have never  really known.

While I occasionally get my wife to leave her nest, doing my own thing will now take on an added importance in my life. I simply can’t live the sedentary lifestyle of my spouse. Learning to do my own thing and getting my wife to accept that fact is going to be an important part of my future happiness.

 <<<This is part 4 of my year-end discovery period. Go to the home page and then scroll down to see earlier posts>>>

Insight 1 — Waiting For Fate…

One thing that helped me during my recent discernment period was a book by Ernie Zelinski entitled: How to Retire Happy, Wild, and Free. Ernie has written several very popular books about retirement. I don’t really know what drew me to this one but it was worth the effort as it addressed many of my concerns that other books on retirement have not. It seemed this book was mainly a collection of clichés but that was ok. It was what I needed.  Let’s talk about a quote from that book:

2014-12-21_13-47-42Regardless of how talented you are and how successful you are in the workplace, there is some danger that you will not be as happy and satisfied as you hope to be in retirement. This may be the case even if you end up having friends to spend time with, living the lifestyle you want to live, residing where you want to live, and having many interesting things to do. What may be missing is a sense of purpose and some meaning to your life. Put another way, you will want to keep growing as an individual instead of remaining stagnant….

Most people have at least a vague sense that they should set aside some surplus cash now for retirement so they don’t have to rely on meager government pensions sometime in the future. But when it comes to how they will spend their time, the majority of individuals are waiting for fate to show them the way. The more that these people expect from retirement without any effort on their part, the more likely that their retirement will be filled with boredom — even depression.

In my business life I had little time to sit back and contemplate my purpose. It was always to get the job done and to keep paying the bills. I put off any serious thoughts of life but when I retired that changed dramatically. For a good while just couldn’t find my “new” place in life. Much of this indecision was put off as I went from retirement from corporate world to six years of owning my own cabinet/furniture making business. But after those six years my “purpose” in life hit me head-on.  What do I do now??

I, like so many others just let life happen. I had always been a planner so this coping strategy was very foreign to me. Foreign but easy!! I initially spent most of my time in front of a television waiting for fate to show me what I was meant to do. As stated in the quote above that decision lead to some periods pretty deep depression and boredom that sometimes took weeks shake off.

I have come to the conclusion that the main reason I become bored is because I am letting my life happen instead of making things happen. Will I ever completely extinguish the feeling of boredom in my life?  Given my personality I am certain the answer to that is “no” but it is a matter of degrees not absolutes. Basically when I don’t challenge myself enough I fall into boredom. It seems as simple as that to me now.

Lets finish off this post with another quote from the book–

As would be expected, some retirees were bored, some were physically active, a few were expanding their minds, and a lot were waiting for destiny to show them the way.  

 

 <<<This is part 2 of my year-end discovery period. Go to the home page and then scroll down to see earlier posts>>>

Just What Is Boredom….

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I seem to talk about boredom pretty frequently on this blog but I have never tried to specify just what that means to me. So let’s do a little of that for this post.  As usual we will go to Wikipedia; here are some bits and pieces:

BoredomBoredom is an emotional state experienced when an individual is left without anything in particular to do… The first recorded use of the word boredom is in the novel Bleak House by Charles Dickens, written in 1852

There are three types of boredom, all of which involve problems of engagement of attention. These include times when we are prevented from engaging in some wanted activity, when we are forced to engage in some unwanted activity, or when we are simply unable, for no apparent reason, to maintain engagement in any activity or spectacle. Boredom proneness is a tendency to experience boredom of all types. ….

There is an inherent anxiety in boredom; people will expend considerable effort to prevent or remedy it, yet in many circumstances, it is accepted as suffering to be endured. Common passive ways to escape boredom are to sleep or to think creative thoughts (daydream). Typical active solutions consist in an intentional activity of some sort, often something new, as familiarity and repetition lead to the tedious.

As I have come to learn the supposed causes of boredom are wide and varied among the “professionals” (kind of like religion). I can’t really say my boredom is pinpointed by any of the definitions above.  When “I” say I am frequently bored I tend to mean that the challenges before me are just not very, well, challenging.  I was bored in grade and high school because the teachers, for the most part seemed to be unable to challenge me in any significant way. They would spend hours and hours going over something that I seemed to glean in a matter of minutes. The rest of my time was spent mostly looking out the window and daydreaming. To stave off boredom I started reading books. I went through the Hardy Boys series in less than a year. I became a big fan of Steinbeck and other rebels of the time.

I admit that boredom is a rather frequent companion with me. It is a constant challenge to find stimulating things to do day in and day out.  When I hear people who say they are never bored what they are apparently saying is that they always find life’s circumstances to be challenging.  How can that be?

To close up this post with a nutshell sentence “If I don’t have stimulating things to occupy my time then I am bored.” It seems almost as simple as that. What is the cause of this lack of stimulation? Probably me but that will take at least a dozen post to even begin to understand.

Ok, enough of this boredom talk. The last few days I have been working up a new and hopefully stimulating project to take on.  That should keep me occupied for at least a little while. 😉

A Bored Mind Is A Moody Mind….

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The title of this post is a quote from a not very famous person but it has some deep meaning for me. Actually it is something I wrote in my personal journal about a year ago. 🙂  I often times like to look back to what I wrote about the previous year just to compare to where I am now. Last year I was just getting over some rather troubled times. I often wonder if I am living my life as fully and fruitfully as I desire. The feeling of a lack of personal accomplishment often drives me to various levels of depression but don’t we all have that to one degree or another. We do all have that don’t we?

One of my daily reads is a fellow blogger. That blog is centered on a somewhat narrow theme of having a good retirement.  It seems that he and most of his readers just seem to want to race away from is the term “boredom”. It is almost as if they don’t want to admit that they have ever had a boring moment in their retirement lives. But for myself, I am just not a person who will, knowingly  or unknowingly, deny feelings that I have.  I get bored I admit it. In fact I get bored on a weekly if not daily basis.  It is something that I am constantly battling against.

Getting back on point what I basically discovered last year was that the times when I am the most bored is when I get these depressed feelings. When I don’t have other things on my mind my infinitesimally  small effect on the universe rises to the surface. Maybe because I leave no heirs on this earth to get it right where I didn’t, is one of the reasons for this moodiness.  When I am gone my genes will go to the grave with me. There will be no second chance to get it right through my offsprings.

Yeah I admit I am a sometimes a troubled dude but least I don’t have voices telling me that I am a failure. One of my favorite movies was called “A Beautiful Mind” starring Russel Crowe. It was about a brilliant Princeton professor who was bi-polar. If  I heard voices as he did I would definitely seek professional help. Sometimes my off-the-top thoughts that I post here even slightly startle me but not in what I believe is in an unhealthy way. I hope to leave at least a very small scratch on this world after I am gone and it troubles me that someone in the future will use a little of life’s spit polish to remove even that.

I think these thoughts are actually nudges from God at one level or another to keep me focused on his mission for me. That is constantly in my thoughts. In that regard I treat these nudges as a good thing. I stave off boredom wherever possible by engaging in new and stimulating  and creative things on a regular basis. To fail to do so is just, well, boring…

Boredom, My Personal Journey …. Part 2

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This is a continuation of my previous post about boredom and apathy. In high school not much changed as far as a lack of a challenge. One of the things I did enjoy there was writing essays. That activity gave me free rein to say what I wanted and I always easily got A’s for my work.  Unfortunately I was never guided toward an avocation that would have exercised that talent I definitely showed even in my early days.

After high school college came. That is where I came upon the first real challenges in thinking.  Again I excelled in English Comp classes without much effort and the electrical engineering classes I took were challenging but not particularly enjoyable to me. That should have given me a clue that I was in the wrong major but being a naive farm kid that I was that just didn’t occur to me that I had options.

Rube Goldberg

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Boredom, My Personal Journey — Part 1

Here are some words from a fellow blogger’s page that I kind of borrowed.  Thanks Syd for the idea:

York University professor John Eastwood explains that boredom is just “wanting to, but being unable to engage in satisfying activity.”  He goes on to distinguish boredom from apathy.  “The [bored] person is not engaged but wants to be.  With apathy, he said, there is no urge to do something.”

The above quote really got me to thinking about my life so I am going to spend the next couple of posts on the topic of boredom. Boredom and apathy, where to begin?  I am going to give you one of my conclusions about this before I even start the discussion. I am doing that so you might be able to understand where I am coming from.  Here goes:

While it is easy to say boredom is “wanting to, but being unable to engage in satisfying activity” we must understand that there are other reasons for being bored.  It is sometimes too convenient to put boxes around people where they simply don’t fit and I refuse to be put into an ill-fitting box, or just about any box for that matter. 🙂 

I will readily admit that I get bored easily.  I have been plagued, or blessed depending on how you look at it, with boredom my entire life.  That is one reason why this blog is so widely focused. I would simply get too bored with constantly covering the same small niche as so many of my blogger friends seem to do so well.

BoredWhen I was a kid I got bored easily. When something got my attention it usually got my “total” attention.  Things have not changed much with me in that regard. That is I often focus exclusively on the goal at hand. My wife would certainly attest to that fact.

In grade school once I learned how to do something for instance long division I was ready to move on to the next thing. But the problem was that the teacher often insisted that we go over long division again and again and again as some of the other kids just couldn’t get it… I often shut down when that happened.

I’m sure that if I were a kid today I would be on Ritalin and would be diagnosed as ADD. I was just not interested in doing long division practices after I had learned how to do it.  I often got into trouble in that regard. In early high school I read a biography of Albert Einstein and discovered that he had a similar time in school. He was diagnosed as being apathetic.  I am not comparing myself with Einstein but I did find out later in life that I have a pretty high IQ so maybe that was at least partially the cause of my lack of attention.

This sort of problem plagued me through my high school years. Things just came too easy for me and I got bored and drifted off into another world and therefore was identified as “not paying attention”.

Next time I will talk about how my boredom affected me in my corporate life and beyond.  I think even at this point you get the idea that it was not that I was “unable to engage in satisfying activity”, I would have certainly engaged in a satisfying activity if it had been presented to me.

The jobs are there, the education is not…

Source: The jobs are there, the education is not – USATODAY.com.

This disparity has come to be known as the “skills gap” — the divide between the jobs American businesses need to fill and the jobs Americans are qualified to do. Research shows that approximately 90% of the jobs in the fastest-growing occupations in our economy require some level of postsecondary education and training. And 80 million to 90 million adults today — about half of our current workforce — do not have the skills needed to acquire or advance in jobs that pay a family-sustaining wage. Where once we had a significant advantage in the global economy, our nation is quickly falling back to the pack and is growing increasingly unable to compete with nations such as China, Canada, Germany, India, and Korea.

The proposed GOP budget set up my the vice-presidential candidate Paul Ryan proposes a 30% reduction in spending on education. In fact Mr. Ryan actually believes that the Department of Education should be eliminated and that we should have fifty different versions of what makes for adequate job training…

I started out as an electrical engineer and ended my career as an information technology team leader. Looking back I probably was not that well suited to be an engineer but due to not having any counseling advice I didn’t really know what my skills, some say gifts, were. There was just no funding for that in my little rural high school. But at least I did get an education to advance my skills in one area.  I was the first one in my family to even go to college so that was quite an accomplishment that I am proud of.  The quality of education in this country continues to be quite literally all over the map. If I had gone to one of the big city Indianapolis schools I would likely have been led into a different field that was more attuned to my gifts.

Perhaps the saddest part of the above quote is that there are so many who are still dropping out of high school especially in the rural areas and States. When we need to be increasing our spending on our education system there are those in the GOP that want to continue to cut it.  Because of this lack of funding at the federal level college education both two and four-year degrees continue to cost more and more. That fact is causing many in the lower-income families to be doomed to minimum wage living in the future.

We should be doing everything possible to ensure that none of our citizens drop out of high school and to make post secondary education the norm in this country. I guess I need to do a study on just why people drop out of high school before completion. Is it due to circumstances, boredom, or just lack of motivation?

Embracing Change….

Yes, even we seniors should embrace most changes in our lives. For one thing it keeps our times on earth interesting. For another it keeps us out of potentially harmful ruts we tend to get into. Change seems by nature to be something that humans adamantly resist. We tend to most often fear it rather than embrace it. This fact leads to nothing but varying degrees of misery in our lives.  Change is going to happen whether you want it to or not; that is just a fact of life.  How we handle it is what is important.

As I have said before I am just one of those people who gets bored easily so change is an often welcome visitor in my life. It offers new challenges and new opportunities to experience different things. Of course, not all change is good; some of it in fact can be quite detrimental! Where that is the case it is up to each of us to make sure that it is stifled as quickly as possible. But for the most part change is just a result of moving from one moment to the next.

One of the things that is changing in my life is that I am now officially a Mac guy once again. I have shed my corporate skin of Microsoft Windows computer and have rejoined the Mac crew of my origins. It has been almost twenty years since I was forced to the PC world by the corporate hierarchy. I grudgingly gave up my Mac then but now that I am free from that world I choose to return to a friendlier and more enjoyable computing experience. A lot of new lessons must be learned in this process but that is what makes my life interesting.

For those of you seniors who are not yet on-board with this new electronic world I can definitely tell you that you are missing out on some really good changes in your life. Yes, person-to-person contact still remains a very vital part of the human existence but the things we can now accomplish via the internet and other electronic sources will keep us connected with the outside world which of course includes our friends, both past and present, and relatives. Isolation has historically been an enormous detriment to senior citizens. That doesn’t have to be the case now. You can stay connected to the events of the world going on around you even if you have difficulty getting out of the house.  If you can’t afford a new computer try one of the many second-hand shops around. I would suggest you get a Mac but a PC is better than nothing.  🙂 Get one of your grandkids to help you if you need it; they would be tickled pink to help you.

Don’t be a grumpy old soul who constantly grips about how the world is different from when you were a kid.

I Tried but……

After such a heavy post the last time this one just must be lighter. Back in November I announced that I was starting up a hobby room in my barn to set up a slot car track with Lego buildings.  I did quite a bit of research but the planning it seems was more rewarding than the actual doing.  🙂 I got the basic tracks all built and put together a half dozen Lego projects and then pretty much abandoned the idea. I haven’t been out there in almost a month now!

This project started with the remembrances of my Dad in his garage building HO model trains. He would spend months doing all the work, then played with it for a while. But after a month or so he would tear everything down and start over again. He said he was just trying to “get it right”. I thought if it was good enough from him it was good enough for me. Since I didn’t want all the electrical stuff to do, I did too much of that in my work life, I decided to go a slightly different approach. Well I come to find out that I am just not the same kind of person my father was I guess.  After running the cars around the track for a few hours I got bored!  After building the sixth Lego project or so I got bored! I guess this type of stuff is just not for me?

So, here I am back at the keyboard putting out more blog posts. I now have five blogs running and still have ideas for others!  I guess I am just more cerebral than physical type of guy. I may try it again when the weather turns warmer but this may be one of those things I will just chalk up to “tried but didn’t work out” in my senior years.

In addition to blogging I am now in the travel planning mode. I have a surprise for Yvonne soon about where I think we should go for our twenty fifth anniversary trip in April. I am also working out some plans for our Nova Scotia trip in the summer.  On thing I know I am is a planner. I have been one all my life and am not about to change that now.

I know Spring is just around the corner and that is when I get back into the yard and garden mode. That is definitely one of my most wanted modes.What other projects are in my future I just don’t know yet. But that is one of the enjoyments of retirement. If something doesn’t work out just move on to the next thing. Anybody want to buy a slightly used slot car track; how about some Lego stuff ? 😉

And the journey goes on…

Life is Mainly Little Steps…

 

I like most people I guess, seem to go through my life concentrating mainly on the giant leaps. Getting my driver’s license, my first legal drink, the first job, getting married, retiring, etc, etc. These always seem to be things I am waiting for. But I have come to realize that by far most of life is the little steps. Those things we choose to do day in and day out are mainly what defines the quality of our lives. This is a difficult lesson for me to learn even in my retirement years. I by no means have that concept completely down but it is slowly sinking into my infinitely hard head. But little steps does not mean that you have to be resolved to a life of boredom!

One of the problems I have with retirement is that there seems to be no giant leaps to look forward to. About the only giant leap left is the leave this life for the next one. I am like most people I guess, I want to get to heaven but I don’t want to have to die to get there!

Currently one of my favorite books is entitled 1,000 Places To See in the U.S. Before You Die. I am resolved to see as many of them as I can; or at least the ones that interest me. Since I don’t really know how much longer we will be on the earth I want to do them all now! So I guess I have replaced the giant leap with one thousand smaller steps. Now my main chore is to get my home body wife as infected on the list as I am. That will be a giant chore indeed! Maybe if I take it one at a time she won’t realize I have a grander scheme in mind.

The picture above is me and my big brother. I think I was still waiting for my first birthday when it was taken.

And the journey goes on..