Words on a Page

When working on my last post, and reflecting on ‘lists’ and on what I would miss, the following memory was provoked.

Many years ago, I was asked to select ten words, out of 100 listed, that I believed named what was most important to me. “A personal values assessment,” I said aloud. The examiner was unamused that I had so quickly predicted something that she had wished to reveal much more slowly.

Despite being given that ‘test’ more than 20 years ago, I remember the majority of words that I chose as if I had selected them yesterday. Although I have gone through many personal changes since that time, I believe that I would still choose most, if not all, of the same ten words today. That seems so strange and yet quite comforting at the same time. My life is much simpler in retirement, and hey, wasn’t I supposed to gain deeper wisdom as I advanced in age?

While I believe that the majority of my core values have remained the same, I know that many of them are now manifested quite differently. For example, diligence is a word that defines a large part of me, but how I now choose to apply that diligence is quite distinct from what it had been in my work life (including many of the benefactors). ‘Acceptance,’ ‘accomplishment,’ ‘acknowledgement,’ ‘challenge;’ are all secondary pillars for me (not my top ten, yet still important). These aspects of me have significantly altered in my retired life and now seem more personal and less extrinsically centered than ever before.

I did a search on-line to see if I could find the same (or nearly the same) assessment that I had taken those many years ago. Although I didn’t find the exact one, I did find others. The first one cited below is closest to the test that I had taken—although this version is much longer and comes with accompanying pages on eliciting and prioritizing your values, etc. , etc. (values1, values2, values3).

What do you think? Have you noticed a significant change in what you now value most from what you did previously? For those of you who are retired, do you see noticeable value differences as you simplify your life?

Photo Credit:  https://www.canva.com  NB – Words listed on the sample photo are not all my “personal words” (although some of them are included).  Rather, this picture shows a  broad sampling of words that are often included on Personal Values Assessments.

The List

Recently, I’ve been in a Nora Ephron phase. No, not lying around watching endless hours of ‘Sleepless in Seattle’ or ‘When Harry Met Sally’.

Jennifer Abrams, a communications consultant that I follow, mentioned Nora’s ‘What I Will Miss and Won’t Miss” list from I Remember Nothing and Other Reflections. I picked up a copy of Nora’s memoir and was immediately drawn into the funny, clever, and uncannily relatable stories (although to my knowledge, I was never in a smoke-filled New York newsroom in 1964, I now feel that I have been). I became engrossed in Nora’s style, fascinating life, and striking honesty.

What did disappoint me, at least upon my initial reading, was Nora’s ‘list’. Maybe I had built it up in my mind so much that I unrealistically expected more. I was sad that her ‘Will Miss’ section ended with ‘pie’ and that Nora directly referred more to missing food than to missing people (People: 5, Food: 10). This got me thinking about what would be on my list.

I haven’t yet set out to tackle either section of my list fully, but I do have some items floating around in my head that definitely will be included. Since I believe that I will never lose the essence of the most important people in my life, it is the little things about them that often come to mind.  I will miss:

  • My husband’s uncontrolled fits of laughter when he is alone watching TV, or reading, and thinks that no one is listening
  • My son’s habit of ALWAYS eating when we chat together on Skype (and since he will think that this point is lame– I will also miss the incredible travel that we have experienced together)
  • My stepsons’ storytelling – I laugh even anticipating their versions of a particular family event
  • The antics of our 11-year old Husky, most of which he learned from our Lab (who is very much missed)
  • The inspiration, and confidences, of my friends
  • My niece’s cut-to-the-chase honesty – and her deadpan delivery of this truthfulness
  • Being a grandmother
  • Shopping with my mother–which has nothing at all to do with shopping, and everything to do with my mom
  • My sister. I have missed her every single day for the past ten years

And if including food, it would have to be hot corn-on-the-cob, generously salted and dripping with melted butter…followed by fresh berries with vanilla ice-cream.

What I won’t miss includes meanness, arrogance, and self-righteousness in all of their related disguises.

Nora provided 31 items that she  ‘will miss’ and 23 items that she won’t.  This gives me plenty of room to continue with my own list, as I have much more to add.

What about you? What’s on your list?

 

 

 

 

 

Paint Night

Did you ever agree to do something because it sounded like a good idea at the time, or because your friends were all doing it, or simply because you feared missing out? Then when the fateful day arrived, did you ask yourself why in the world you were doing this – but had no good answer?

Tonight was Paint Night.

Ironically, when I was at an out-of-town social event this past weekend, I was seated beside a man whose wife had given him a gift certificate for painting lessons for his 70th birthday. He was now 72-years-old, was in his second year of painting, loved every minute of it, and was planning a neighborhood showing of his work this coming summer. I told him about my trepidation with my upcoming painting lesson.

“I am sure it will be an abstract painting class,” he said confidentially.

It wasn’t.

“I know that you will be a much better painter than you realize,” chimed in his wife.

Sadly, I wasn’t.

“Whatever else, I know that you will love it,” he concluded.

I did love the pre-painting dinner, the drinks, and hanging out with my friends. I also loved seeing first-hand what great artists my friends were. Although the teacher was excellent and everyone was extremely kind, the painting part, for me, was a bit humiliating. I was actually far worse than I had guessed I would be (and my expectations were low to begin with)!

Would I go again? Absolutely–mostly because I feel a strong need to redeem myself.

Is there something that you have recently tried that was out of your comfort zone? If so, how did you do?

IMG_7191

 

 

Finding the Art of Saying ‘Yes’

In a previous post, I referenced a fellow blogger who described her travel in retirement not as ‘vacation’ but as ‘an opportunity to say yes’. This way of thinking struck a deep chord with me. Isn’t that what retirement is all about– a chance to say ‘yes’ to invitations that had previously been overlooked, or never actually received, or for which there was never enough time?

In my current travel, this attitude has led me on long rides to attend short events simply because a friend or family member wished me to be there. It included our road trip from Vancouver Island to Nevada, Arizona, and California this past February. It also includes a brand new road trip from Parksville, B.C. to Winnipeg, Manitoba (2,446 kilometers) at the end of this month, as well as a hike along the Camino Trail planned for this coming summer (stay tuned for those posts).

In events unrelated to travel, this Nike-mindset has led me to frequent yoga,  a twice-weekly walking group, monthly potluck dinners and an upcoming painting class (which the teacher and I are both very likely to regret). It has also prompted me to try out curling, bird watching, and more rigorous hikes than I would normally choose. With this determination, I  accepted a social media position with our local Newcomer’s Club, and took part in home renovations that rivalled anything currently seen on reality tv.  This way of thinking is the reason that I recently knocked on the doors of over 35 nearby residents to discuss a neighbourhood get-together (which, thanks to all, was a big success).  It has led me to some volunteer work that has downright shoved me out of my comfort zone and caused me to ask for donations from local businesses (if you know me at all, this “cold calling” is a big leap for me…huge actually)! This approach has also prompted me to start this blog.

Today I embraced another ‘out-of-my-comfort-zone’ experience. I attended a seven a.m. ‘throwback fitness class’. Okay, so it wasn’t bungee jumping, but for me, it may as well have been. First of all, I needed to be up, dressed, and out of the house shortly after 6:30 a.m. (although this was my daily routine in my work life, the current me is stumped on how that was ever possible). This fitness class also contained more cardio…and sweating than I usually care for and involved (gasp here): running, jumping, grapevines, stride kicks and shaking parts of my body that I didn’t realize could still shake…all to thunderous (non-yoga-like) music.

If my husband hadn’t woke me up at 6:25 (I got dressed fast) I would have missed this opportunity. And if I hadn’t previously said aloud that I was attending, and had a partner ensure that I followed through with my intention, I would have easily talked myself out of it (or rather, slept through the whole thing).

The final result? I am glad that I attended, will definitely be attending again…and I have once again promised myself to give a nod to as many opportunities that I can. This doesn’t mean death-defying adventures, long-term commitments that I cannot keep or obligations that would restrict me from doing other things that I love (or negate the reasons that I retired in the first place). Simply it means embracing things that are otherwise easy to talk myself out of (and easy to shove into the ‘I’ll think about it later’ basket). And sometimes this means mindful choice and negotiation to select the best fit for me.

What about you? What out-of-comfort-zone opportunities have you tried recently, or are planning to attempt? By stating them publicly, you are one step closer to doing them!

IMG_7062

IMG_7038

Top Photo Credit:  travelsadventures at https://www.canva.com/design/DABvoVwPoVY/3b-8Dd5drBalSEhPSn8O-Q/edit

Bottom Photos: Liz’s 7a.m Throwback Fitness Class in action. If you live in the area, give it a try! (Parksville B.C.’s Hot N Cool Yoga Studio).

 

SOLVING LIFE’S LITTLE MYSTERIES–LIKE ‘WHAT HAPPENED TO MY OTHER SOCK?’

Recently, I have found myself pondering some of life’s small, yet troubling mysteries. I’ve just finished doing the laundry, and you’ve read the title, so you already know where I am going to start. You guessed it,

What in the heck happened to my other sock?

Since we’ve retired, my husband and I have both lost many socks (a total first-world problem, I know). But seriously, where have they gone? We are both reasonably good housekeepers, so we didn’t accidentally leave one in between the couch cushions or lurking behind the clothes hamper. We didn’t just get half-dressed one day and wear a single sock home from the gym, and, unless they were covered in cheese, it is highly unlikely that our dog ate them. Although, according to the Inquisitr, 43 socks were once found inside the stomach of a Great Dane (note to all animal lovers: the dog has since fully recovered). This is an age-old question, with a broad range of answers ranging from Jerry Seinfeld’s classic stand-up to innovative websites exclusively dedicated to swingin’ singles socks. According to less tongue-in-cheek publications, with reduced flair for drama, if nowhere else in the house, your missing socks are likely caught somewhere in the depths of your inner washer/dryer (e.g. the gap between the washer tub and the drum, or in your dryer’s vent ducting). But please do not tell Richard this or our washer and dryer will be in pieces on the laundry room floor–he loves his socks!

Why am I more hungry after eating breakfast than when I skip it?

How many times have you been told about the importance of eating a good breakfast? The long-standing belief has been that breakfast gives you energy, provides essential nutrients, stimulates metabolism, boosts alertness, yadda, yadda, yadda (source). While I’ve been a long-time believer in breakfast, it seems a bit counter-intuitive that I am still hungry after eating a morning meal, and not hungry at all when going without. When I decline breakfast, due to 9 am yoga, I can easily forget about food until noon. When I do eat breakfast, more often than not, I find myself ravenous by mid-morning. It turns out that on their own, or in the wrong combinations, some foods like toast, bagels, muffins, juice and several fruits and cereals, can cause a spike, then subsequent drop, in blood sugar levels which send your body a signal that it is time to eat again (source). To counteract this, nutritionists recommend a high fiber, highly satisfying morning meal (think whole grain plus fat/protein) and experimenting with a smaller lunch or smaller dinner (source). However, it doesn’t end there. Many recent research studies now claim that the earlier research was observational, meaning that yes, breakfast eaters were often found to be healthier, but not necessarily because of when they ate their first meal of the day (source). Still others swear by skipping breakfast, citing research findings that claim breakfast does not manage blood sugar, does not increase metabolism, nor prevent muscle breakdown and confirming that breakfast can make you hungrier afterwards (source). This latter group often lists intermittent fasting as one reason for skipping breakfast and argues that this type of fasting not only reduces calorie intake and contributes to weight loss but also improves metabolic health, cardiovascular function, and blood glucose levels (source, source). I definitely discovered more than I was looking for here. At least now I can feel a bit less guilty, and understand why I am often less hungry when skipping a morning meal.

How can I possibly be more tired after a longer sleep?

In my career life, I mostly survived on five or six hours of sleep per work night, with a few slightly longer catch up nights on weekends. Since I’ve retired, I have been striving for a nightly eight-hour sleep (which honestly is hit and miss). What I have noticed is that on nights that I sleep longer, I am not always more refreshed…sometimes, much less so. This totally does not make sense, nor seem remotely fair. Thus, I’ve added it to my life’s (presently) unsolved mysteries.

According to sleep experts, one reason you may feel poorly refreshed after a longer sleep is that your internal clock has come out of balance with the external clock, similar to jet lag (source).

Our sleep takes place in cycles. Each sleep cycle is approximately 90 minutes long—give or take—and the average person has roughly five sleep cycles per night. When you sleep in, you often get woken up mid-cycle. If you wake up from your deep sleep, or REM, you can feel more tired and groggy upon awakening (source).

Recommendations to help keep your body clock on-track include: (1) Expose yourself to bright morning light, and engage in physical activity as early as possible (which are also common cures for jet-lag). (2) Regularly go to bed, and wake-up at roughly the same time each day, including weekends and holidays (yeah, right, next…). (3) Avoid caffeine, alcohol, and computer work immediately prior to bedtime as all three can keep you out of a deep sleep in the early part of your sleep cycle. Then your body may try making up for this much later when it is actually time to wake up. Hmmm, maybe advice number two was not so bad after all (source, source)!

Have a life’s little mystery of your own? Please share it here.