Easin’ Along…In Search of Perfection

Easin' Along
We named our website Easin’ Along simply because those are the words that describe our retired lifestyle. We invite readers along on a Slow Walk through the Golden Years with a focus on our faith, a love of the road less traveled, a passion for great food, and memorable moments with our family and our dear friends. From the beginning, our purpose was to participate in and promote an active retirement lifestyle, combine those activities with a love of writing, and share our experiences with Easin’ Along readers.

In the years leading up to retirement, Helen (adorable wife) and I had both compiled long “do lists” filled with things we hoped to accomplish once retirement was no longer just a plan. Our vision for the Golden Years was a busy lifestyle filled with activities that we could only dream about while working full-time. We had passions to pursue, and new interests to explore. Additionally, we both shared a craving for time spent traveling to fascinating places that lay just over the horizon and beyond. Our mission would be simple…catch sight of the perfect sunrise and toast the perfect sunset.

In my case, all hopes and plans probably have been propelled by memories of my father who, throughout my adolescence, kept a toy truck camper in his study. That camper represented his dreams of long road trips with my mother once he put away his briefcase. Unfortunately, cancer took away those dreams, and my father, before his 53rd birthday. To this day, the memory of his premature death prompts me to get up and get moving.

Within days of joining the ranks of the retired, we took Easin’ Along readers on a five-week road trip exploring the East Coast, traveling from the Outer Banks of North Carolina to the deep woods of Maine. We have taken readers on three more extended journeys since, including our most recent trip where we rented a motorhome, named it Sherman, and drove from Chicago to the Pacific coast on a sojourn we titled Sherman’s March to the Sea.

Once smitten by the RV lifestyle,
a travel trailer named Bertha soon followed us home. In the future, we will share some of our activities on the road with Bertha, either across the country or perhaps to a military installation…preferably near a beach town. We might also load up and head out to one of the many fairs and food festivals in a mountain community nearby. We’re perpetually on the lookout for events where we can enjoy the Bluegrass or Appalachian folk music for which our region is known, as well as the opportunity to amble over to a flea or farmer’s market and browse…slowly.

When not traveling,
we stay busy. Helen has found new interests that she enjoys enthusiastically having uncovered a love for both pottery and pickleball. Somehow, she manages to work both into a schedule that includes arranging flowers for the church, singing in the choir, and treasured time with friends. As for me, I serve as an elder in our church and sit on two committees there. I participate in two exercise classes at the YMCA, and my mission to master art through the lens of my camera is an ongoing endeavor.

If I’m completely honest, I will confess that there are aspects of working full-time that I find myself missing on occasion. I miss the friends and the relationships I accumulated over many years of a career building homes. I find myself missing time around young people and feeling the effects of their boundless energy and enthusiasm and their connection to things current. I miss the daily challenges that one confronts in the workplace and the process of finding successful solutions to those challenges. Finally, I miss earning a paycheck—not because of the money, but because every dime I ever received represented hard work, dedication, and a contribution toward the task of accomplishing a goal. Nevertheless, I’m not trading any of the above for the job I have now.

The greatest blessing to come out of retirement
is that I have been afforded the time to write. I truly and truthfully enjoy every minute I spend composing posts and articles for Easin’ Along. Having just passed the second anniversary of the first post, I can honestly say that being able to share our activities with others is both a gift and a joy. The thought that a weekly creative commitment is something to dread has never, ever, entered my mind and I cannot envision the day that I will tire of writing.

Helen and I also remain committed to
the job of searching for the perfect rising or setting sun. Shared above is a sunrise Helen captured on a predawn walk along the shores of Lake Michigan last fall. We have yet to witness perfection, but as is evident, we have ventured close. Therefore, our search continues and probably, hopefully, always will.

We remain firm in our conviction
that retirement is the best gig going, and, for as long as we are able, we will continue…Easin’ Along.

Easin' Along
Joe Bruner retired from a career in the home building industry and a second career as an officer in the US Army Reserve.  He and his wife, Helen, who retired from the staff of a private preparatory school, live in Knoxville, Tennessee. They have written extensively about their travels and retirement lifestyle on their website Easin’ Along. Their articles also appear on Militaryliving.com and in R & R Travel News.

From Retirement Reflections – Thank you to Joe for sharing his (and Helen’s) retirement travels and passions with us. If you are feeling a bit of wanderlust, you’re in for an adventure when checking out his blog!! Please join us again next Sunday, when Kathy of Smart Living 365 will share with us the secrets of ‘right-sizing.’ This is great advice for retirees and non-retirees alike. See you there!

Post Cards from the Camino Trail 2017 – Week One

Our days on the Camino have been incredibly full, with reliable internet being rare and illusive. Once a week, whenever the internet gods are with me, I will attempt to post quick postcards of highlights for that week. Here’s a sneak peek from Week One.

Getting There – July 19 & 20:

We had a direct flight to Paris and a second flight to San Sebastián, Spain so that we could have a two-night recovery from jet lag before beginning the trail. This literally involved over thirty hours of travel by car, ferry, multiple buses, skytrain, international plane, domestic plane, more buses and taxi! Also, as modeled by Richard (above), our travels involved much waiting (as well as a 9 hour time change).

Pre-Walk Rest-Up Days – July 20 & 21:

San Sebastián was stunning with amazing food everywhere (there are more Michelin Star restaurants there than anywhere else in the world)! Since their annual Jazz Festival was taking place while we were there we were able to see a free Chrissie Hynde and The Pretenders concert with standing spots near the stage. Very cool!

Starting Point – Najera – July 22:

Last year we ended our eight-day Camino Trail walk in Najera, so that is where we decided to start from this year. Don’t we look fresh, energetic and ready to go?

Day One – Najera to Granon (29.5 km):

If you know me personally, you already know that for four solid weeks before our departure I had an ongoing sciatic nerve injury, dreaded ear-infection, plague-like virus and bronchitis. I was worried that I had not done enough prior training for this trek. Knock on iPhone, the first day was surprisingly okay! (Yes, these sunflowers are for you, Dee!)

Day Two – Granon to Espinosa del Camino (24.1 km)

One of my favorite things about the Camino is the fascinating people that you meet, and hearing their stories about why they are walking. Tonight we had dinner with a man, Johan, who began walking from the Netherlands on April 1 and plans to continue walking to Santiago de Compostela, Spain (over 3000 km in total). That made our 700 km goal seem like a piece of cake. Johan was walking to raise money for a friend’s son who had been diagnosed with leukemia. He had taken off time from work to do this. Very impressive!

Day Three – Espinosa Del Camino to Atapeurca (21.9 km).

Today was the most challenging so far. We spent much time climbing straight up (ascending over 200 meters). Although I usually walk at a faster pace than Richard, I was almost crawling and cursing (just a bit, Mom!) as Richard strode effortlessly straight up. Seriously, how does he do that?

Day Four – Atapeurca to Burgos (20 km)

After a relatively easy five hour walk today, we are now safe and sound in Burgos. As the day is not yet over, you can catch that write-up next week. Please stay tuned!

17 New Things in 2017

Pat Doyle Retirement Transition

I recently read a blogger’s post about doing 17 new things in 2017. And I have a friend in Singapore who is doing the same thing, posting on-line his 17 new things in 2017. Don’t you love serendipity? Well, it’s halfway through the year, and I wondered if I was challenging myself to try 17 new things this year. One of the aspects of my retirement is to explore – new activities, new things to learn about, new experiences.

So let’s see if I am exploring the new… my 17 new things in 2017 are:

1. Did a spiritualist reading with tarot cards in January – a bucket list item! Interesting and yes, I’d do it again.

2. Created a vision board – OK not a new tool, but a new board for 2017; and then a design one for our new house. This is my first time doing a design board!

3. Bought a new (old) house and began downsizing. This has been a big item on our retirement vision. Downsizing and moving are a lot more work than I expected.

4. Went on an Africa Safari (July). This trip encompassed a number of bucket list items – crossing the equator, another continent, two new countries, the Big Five in their natural habitat, and a balloon ride. Plus I packed only 33 pounds total for 18 days. That itself was a huge learning activity!

5. Swim lessons started this summer. Finally.

6. New restaurants with my mid-week food club and other friends – too many to list, but having fun exploring new places in town.

7. Date Night – OK, again not new, but continued enjoying our monthly dinner and a show – seeing new live theater performances regularly.

8. Attended yoga (at least) weekly. Again, this is not necessarily a new activity as I started yoga last November – but doing it regularly is new. I wanted it to be twice a week, but April and May were tough with so much going on. And now with our house move, I need to find a new yoga studio. So weekly yoga is a good thing to keep in mind.

9. Joined Leading Ladies at the Playhouse – a philanthropic group and a new experience for me, as I have never belonged to this type of group before.

Still to come this year, besides the Africa trip and swim lesson executions, the actual move into our new house (OK that is the same as three above) and selling the old house. I’m calling selling the house item #10 because I am sure there will be a new experience in there somewhere. Then in the new house, there is buying new furniture (11) and designing a new garden (12). Also, want to “GOMO” – from Sizzling Toward Sixty meaning ‘Go Out More Often.’ My planned day trips have sizzled out lately (no pun intended) with too much working and moving. I need to boost them back up before year’s end.

Some other milestones have included
hitting the 2-year mark on blogging, the 3-year mark on retirement, and the 25-year mark on marriage. And that list is definitely not in the right order of importance! But that adds nothing in 2017 as something really new.

Looking ahead, there’s another philanthropic foundation, Impact 100. I plan on joining it this fall (#13). Oh dear, not yet to 17! Maybe I can split Africa into some of the bucket list check-offs to hit the last 4? Or perhaps be open to serendipity in the next six months? The planner in me had a major twinge on that, but perhaps that is good for me!

I love this ’17 in 2017′ approach to learning and exploring new things
– it pushes me both physically and cognitively. What are your 17 new things in 2017?

Pat Doyle: Retirement Transition
Hi, I’m Pat: Aspiring Writer — Researcher — Synthesizer. I have been transitioning into the next stage of my life, traditionally called retirement. Although I am an avid planner, I had no pre-plan in place. This blog has been my attempt to capture my retirement research and the initial steps of my journey. I look forward to continuing to connect with others on a similar course. You can find me at Retirement Transition. I hope to see you there.

From Retirement Reflections: I absolutely love how Pat’s post was originally inspired by another Guest Host (Sue, from Sizzling Toward Sixty). It is this interaction, sharing of ideas, influencing and connecting that I love most about blogging. As Pat has just returned from her travel adventure (African Safari), I begin mine (Camino Trail…With very inconsistent Internet access.) Therefore, for many of the remaining guest posts, I will leave you in the capable hands of the guest hosts. However, I will chime-in as often as I can.

I’d also like to thank Karen Hulme, of Profound Journey, for turning my one-word answers to her insightful questions into a Guest Post. You can check it out at https://www.profoundjourney.com. While there, why not submit some of your own answers? I would love to read them!

Coming Soon: Joe Brunner from Easin’ Along (July 30), Kathy Gottberg from SMARTliving365 (Aug. 6), Karen Hulme from Profound Journey (Aug. 13), Anabel Marsh from The Glasgow Gallivanter (Aug. 20), Joanne Sisco from My Life Lived Full and Following A Bold Plan (August 27) and many more whom I will tell you about in an upcoming chime-in. Stay posted!

Celebrating a Milestone Birthday: 700 Kilometers on the Camino Trail

Richard and I now have our backpacks packed and are ready to set out for our 700 km Camino Trail walking adventure. For quite some time, I’ve had it in the back of my mind to write a post about our plans for this trek. I was delighted when Sue, from Sizzling Toward Sixty, gave me the nudge and asked me to write about this trip on her site.

As some of you may already know, my husband, Richard, turns 70 this September. For his birthday, Richard and I have decided to take the leap, challenge ourselves and celebrate together by walking 700 km on the Camino Trail in Spain. We both love the Camino and have done two separate eight-day sections previously. (You can check out posts on our last Camino experience here). We had always wanted to walk the full Camino Frances but kept putting it off. Finally, we decided if we didn’t do it now, when would we do it?

Ready for his 70th birthday trek![

In two days, we fly to Paris, then to Biarritz, then bus to San Sebastian then to Najera, Spain to begin this journey. We will definitely try to keep you posted on this trip….when we can find internet!

You can read more about our plans over at Sue’s site.

I hope to see you there!
Birthday: Camino


From Grammy’s Grid

Hi everyone, I’m Dee Blanding. Most know me as Grammy Dee. Thank you to Donna for asking me to be a part of her Sunday Series: Favorite Retirement/Lifestyle Bloggers. I’m a wife, mom, and grammy in my 50s. I’m from Alabama. I blog at Grammy’s Grid about things meant to amuse, inform, inspire, and make you laugh.

Summer is my fav season. I like sunflowers, palm trees, comedies, thrillers, photography, technology and I’m a gadget nerd! My fav saying is: ‘Laughter is the best medicine!’

I had to retire from my nursing profession after I became ill with fibromyalgia. With this illness, you can lose contact with friends and co-workers, even family sometimes. Connecting with others online who shared my same symptoms, long before I received a diagnosis, probably saved my sanity.

Starting my blog was one way I felt like I could connect with women my age who have something in common with me. Everyone doesn’t have an illness like I have, and everyone doesn’t want to talk about it even if they do. What many of us have in common, and are often eager to talk about, are our grandbabies.

I love my grandbabies more than words can express. The best thing about being a grandmother is experiencing a love like no other, a love that I didn’t even know was possible. Having grandbabies is like nothing else. My hubby always says that if we had known our precious grandbabies were going to be so much fun, we would have had them first!

Grandmothers unite! Speaking of grandmothers, I started a blog link party with two other grandmothers who helped me with co-hosting. Later on, another grandmother joined us. There are now nine hostesses! The Blogging Grandmothers Link Party is held on the 1st of each month and lasts for about a week each time. It’s for grandmothers who blog to come and share their posts with us.

We also have a Blogging Grandmothers Facebook Group for grandmothers who blog. We’d love to have you join us for friendship and networking. We grandmothers have to stick together you know!

Every week on Wednesday, I host a blog link party called Wednesday AIM Link Party. The AIM stands for amuse, inspire, inform, and make us laugh. It is for everyone, not just for grandmother bloggers.

I value the connections
I’ve made on the web with women all over the world. Some of these connections have turned into friendships that I treasure. Thank goodness for my laptop and phone, as there are days when I’m not feeling well and I’m unable to be at my desk with the computer, I can still connect with my online friends from my bed or recliner.

Thank you for reading this post. I hope to see you at Grammy’s Grid, at the Facebook group, and connecting on social media.

Grammy Dee

Grammy’s Grid

From Retirement Reflections: As you can tell from this post, Dee is very warm, funny, open and generous. She is also incredibly supportive of other bloggers. Be sure to check out her website and link parties — you won’t want to miss them! Up next week is Pat, from Retirement Transitions, sharing with us her ’17 things for 2017′. This post will likely cause you to take stock of your own 2017 — it certainly did for me.
Finally, for the first time since I began this blog, I have published two posts in one day…this post and a teaser! In my following post, I have linked to a guest article where I have written about my upcoming Camino adventure. I would love for you to join me there!

A Backward Glance at Retirement

Coffee Kat

I never thought too much about retirement. It would come when it did and I’d figure it out then. Even as I was transitioning into it, I didn’t know what to expect. How much money do you really need? What about health insurance? Should we downsize our lifestyle including our house? There were many unanswered questions, and they still hang out there unanswered.

I loved my job and my work. I didn’t want to leave. A few things happened that changed my mind. My husband, who had retired years earlier, turned seventy. If I wanted to spend quality time with him, I had to retire. I needed to downsize my department at work by one person. That was the sign to go.

Initially, I wanted to keep a presence in my profession. I started a ‘casual’ blog intending to do a ‘folksy’ human resources blog. (I know! What was I thinking? Human resources is rarely ‘folksy.’) It never happened. After years of writing ‘Thou shalt not’ memos to employees, I was done with that. I wanted to write about cats, coffee, stupid people and insane things that happen. I didn’t want to put a ‘spin’ on anything or convince anyone that something was a good idea. My writing blurts out my message. My filter retired too. My blog became a humor blog.

I’ve been retired almost six years. We haven’t moved yet but continue to talk about it as if it might really happen. We accumulated more cats and don’t exactly know how that happened. We’ve spent time with friends, relatives and each other although we often have no idea where the other one is. (Note to self: Have husband outfitted with a GPS collar like they have for dogs.) There has been opportunity to explore new experiences that we won’t do ever again. It’s surprising to find out that something you really wanted to do isn’t any fun.

There is time for exercise, family, and anything that comes up in the moment. Although there is still not enough time! I’m never bored and I don’t feel any older. I retained my addiction to Starbucks mocha lattes and shoes. Although I can’t wear the high heels I really want, I can fondle them at a shoe store. It’s cheaper that way.

Oh yes, I write whatever I want. No one edits (except my cranky cats). Life is good. You can find me at Views and Mews. Bring your own coffee. I can give you a cat.

Kate Crimmins

From Retirement Reflections: I am delighted that Kate agreed to join this Summer Series. So many times when I have been multi-tasking (yes, I still do that in retirement), I spot a post from Kate, burst out laughing, and am totally busted. If you have never visited Kate’s blog before, I highly encourage you to check it out. (Just ensure that you are somewhere where you can freely laugh out loud!) Please join us again next Sunday when we welcome Dee Blanding from Grammy’s Grid. See you then!

Retire From Work But Not From Life – The Art of Positive Aging

Positive Aging

Positive AgingI was honoured to be asked to be a guest contributor for Donna Connolly’s Retirement Reflection Summer Series: Favourite Retirement and Lifestyle Bloggers. I thought it was a wonderful idea to get to know other bloggers in my niche and also to introduce myself and what my blog Sizzling Towards 60 & Beyond is all about.

When I retired some five years ago now, I took early retirement to spend more time with my husband who had already retired. I eagerly looked forward to the day I wouldn’t have to get up and rush off to work. I had lists of all the things I wanted to do and of course there would be journeys of discovery with travel plans we had made.

Life was supposed to be perfect – so why didn’t I feel that way?

After we had taken a long holiday throughout Asia and China, I came back home and after a few months really wondered what I would do with my life. Yes, I had the lists but I had lost my motivation and really couldn’t settle into being ‘retired’. I had retired from work but I was also on the path to retiring from life and I was having an identity crisis. My work and job had defined me for so long and now I was at a loss and felt adrift.

Of course, I loved spending time with my husband, and also looking after my gorgeous grandson one day each week. But having worked full time for thirty years I realised I didn’t really have a plan for ME for the next thirty years!

That is when Sizzling Towards 60 was born and like many, I decided to start a blog. I’ve recently added the ‘& Beyond’ as I will turn 60 in August and I will still be Sizzling that is for sure! I’m very passionate about being fit, fabulous, healthy and happy and I wanted to spread the message that aging can be such a positive experience. One of my first blog posts was ‘Why Positive Aging is Positively Wonderful’ and I now have written several posts on the subject.

One of the keys to positive aging is ATTITUDE with a capital ‘A’.

It all comes down to you and how you view life. Sure our bodies age but that doesn’t mean we have to give up. Living an active life is possible through regular exercise, eating a well-balanced diet and making sure that you nourish your mental and spiritual health. “The Australian Psychological Society describes ‘positive aging’ as ‘a term used to describe the process of maintaining a positive attitude, feeling good about yourself, keeping fit and healthy, and engaging fully in life as you age.”

Having a purpose is another important factor in Positive Aging.

In my post ‘Why Having a Purpose is the Key to Positive Aging’, I talk about the people of the Japanese island of Okinawa. They have the largest population of people who live happily to one-hundred. Their philosophy is that they live by ‘Ikigai’ which means everyone has a reason for being – a reason to get up in the morning. As we age and retire from working life, it is easy to fall into a rut and slowly withdraw from society. By having a purpose in our life no matter how small, it gives us reason to greet each day with enthusiasm. A purpose can include making a contribution to our family and community, and fulfilling our potential in terms of our own abilities and capacities.

Being a role model for your family.

With age comes experience and hopefully wisdom. As a parent and grandparent, I realise that I am a role model for my family. Children and grandchildren take their cues from us and therefore setting a healthy attitude to our own life is an excellent way to lead by example.

Being Grateful.

This year, I started a morning ritual. Instead of waking and immediately turning to social media, I make a coffee and think of at least one thing I am grateful for. It is amazing how gratitude can have such a positive impact on our lives. We learn to be happy from within and to appreciate what is important to us – our family and our friends.

So, have I convinced you that Positive Aging is positively wonderful? Perhaps you already knew that but if you didn’t, I hope you feel that way now.

I would love you to visit me over at Sizzling Towards 60 & Beyond and say hello. I also host two link up parties: Over the Moon which is a weekly link up for everyone, each Monday, and a monthly link up just for Grandmothers – we call it the Blogging Grandmothers Link Up. If you are a blogger, I’d love you to link up with us. You can find the details at my website.

My motto is “Let’s Keep Sizzling!”

Sue on Positive Aging
I’m Sue from Sizzling Towards 60 & Beyond. I live in Brisbane, Australia. I’m a wife, mother and Nan and I love to run! I blog about keeping fit, fabulous, healthy and happy during midlife and beyond. I’m all about positive aging and at nearly 60 (in August) I love to encourage all women who have reached this special time in their life, to realise their full potential. I would love you to visit my website, leave a comment and we can get to know each other. I’m all about connecting with other women in midlife and beyond and sharing our experiences.
Sizzling Towards 60 & Beyond

From Retirement Reflections:

Thank you to all who have been following and contributing to this Summer Series. It has been my pleasure to introduce you to some of my favorite bloggers. Thank you to Sue for providing us with such an inspiring and thought-provoking post on positive aging. I encourage you to check out her site, where this month her posts are all about YOU!
Please join us again next Sunday, same time, same place, for Kate Crimmins ‘A Backward Glance at Retirement’! I look forward to seeing you there!