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. 🙂  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.

 

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“Eccentricity is not, as dull people would have us believe, a form of madness,” declared Dame Edith Sitwell. “It 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.”  

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’t learned how to enjoy. Eccentricity allows them to pursue hobbies and lifestyles that are their passions. Freed from the need to conform, eccentrics aren’t 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.

 

<<<This is part of a continuing series of my year-end discernment period. Scroll down the center bottom footer to see the earlier posts list>>>

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>>>

A Dangerous Game…

RetirementCongressional leaders are playing a dangerous game with their constituents’ money, their livelihoods and their retirement savings. On Wednesday, all Congress did was flip over the hourglass on a game of chicken that cost our economy $24 billion and left America’s future up in the air — and, by doing so, may cause some of our hard-earned retirement savings to disappear into it.

via Your Retirement: A Victim of the Debt Ceiling Deal – ABC News.

Discover Your Passion: Know Who You Are

 

Under construction. Maintenance area.I had to discover a passion for retirement because I had worked all my life at something that I was not passionate about. I understood that in order to discover a passion I had to understand who I am. Figuring out who I am was not complicated, but it required time and effort. It took a lot of mental work, the hardest kind of work. It took a lot of experimenting and trial and error, the scariest kind of work. But almost anyone can do it. You don’t have to be a monk, priest, philosopher or psychologist. You don’t have to have a college degree.

source:  Satisfying Retirement: Discover Your Passion: Know Who You Are.

The above quote comes from a fellow blogger Bob Lowery over at Satisfying Retirement a few days ago.  It was a guest quote from Boyd Lemon. I was very surprised that it didn’t get the usual number of comments for that site. Several things in the post struck me as almost profound in their wisdom. Particularly the quote above.  Sometimes I write a post that I think has at least at some level a profound message only to see that it gets a minimum of views. I don’t understand why?

As I have faced lately, I have finally come to admit that I was probably in the wrong profession throughout my corporate years.  I blame the indecision to admit that early on and do something about it at least in part to a lack of guidance counseling in my high school years. I went to a very small high school in the 1960s so I understand the lack of guidance. I hope that is not the case today but I fear that it is.

One of the most profound responsibilities that a parent has is to help their child learn their ingrained passions and talents early in life. If appropriate counseling is not available in the school system then it should be sought elsewhere. When a person is passionate about what they are doing they are much more likely to make a difference in this world and isn’t that what most of us end up wanting? To make a difference.

But of course I realize that most teenagers think they know it all and would probably resist this type of guidance. Forming young minds is probably the most noble of all professions and guiding them to listen and learn about their compassion is one of the most critical things that you can do for a person.

It is not that I didn’t have a fulfilling life in the occupation I ended up in but instead it is more of a road not taken type of thing. I will always wonder if I had recognized earlier on what I felt strongly about if it would have been even more fulfilling?

Thanks Bob for doing the guest post that got me to thinking about this….

Take a lifestyle cut in retirement — Please…..

Source:  Don’t take a lifestyle cut in retirement — Fidelity Investments.

I know the source article says basically the opposite of what the title is. That is because I think the article is, at its foundation, wrong.  It wouldn’t hurt almost any of us to take a lifestyle cut now or even in retirement. I know that my wife and I are now living on a little over half of what we spent but prior to my retirement. We moved from the “high cost” State of New Jersey back to my roots in Indiana.  We quit buying much of the things we bought before and to tell you the truth we are living a much more happy life in the process. I have fallen thoroughly into the mantra of “Simplify, simplify, simplify….”

The U.S. being a capitalist society teaches us that if we want our country to prosper we must continue to spend and consume more as each year passes.  If we don’t our businesses will die on the vine or so they say. The problem with that is that for most of us working folks we make little if anything more in income than we did twenty to twenty-five years ago.  So in order to consume more we have to buy it on credit. Being good little citizens many of us now have $10,000 or more in credit card debt and often times a second or even a third mortgage on our houses to pay for our ever spiraling spending.

I think it is time for us to get out of the “spend more this year than we did last year”. That is especially true for those of us who are now living in our retirement years. We should have learned it much earlier in life but we should at least now know that having more and more stuff does not insure a happier life. In fact I have found the exact opposite to be true.

So even though I trust my friends at Fidelity Investments to manage my retirement saving I did indeed take a lifestyle cut in retirement and am having a ball.  If only I had learned this secret much earlier in life. My country is going to have to somehow figure out how to prosper without my increased spending…..