Sunday Guest Post: Retirement Hours

retirement hours

I’m thrilled to contribute a second guest post for one of my favorite blogs, bloggers, and friends. Thank you, Donna, for asking me to participate. You have such a loyal following and I always enjoy the lively discussions that posts on your site generate.

During our trip up to Northern California over the Christmas holidays, I spotted this sign hanging on a locked fence in front of a shop:

retirement hours
 
At first I thought it was merely amusing, but then I realized that I could wear a similar sign around my neck now that I’m retired. Since I no longer keep ‘business hours,’ my retirement schedule is almost as… ummm… flexible.

Retirement Hours

Most mornings start at about 7:00 or 7:30, occasionally as early as 6:30. But sometimes I am able to sleep in and find myself getting up as late as 8:00.
Not being a slave to my alarm is a luxury. Although I would love to be one of those lucky people who sleeps through the night and wakes up early refreshed and raring to go, I’m not. I had hoped that when I retired, I would no longer lay awake up in the middle of the night. Unfortunately, my monkey mind has switched from dwelling on work-related issues to thinking about things like blog posts.
 
By 4:30 or 5:00 in the afternoon, I like to slow down and relax. But sometimes something fun will keep me out and about until 9:00 or 10:00 in the evening.
Even if I’ve relaxed most of the day I still need to switch gears for evening relaxation (yes, there is a difference). If I go out, I try to avoid rush hour – on the road or at the grocery store – so I like to be home by 4:00 or so. But, give me a good reason to venture out in the evening (happy hour with friends or book club come to mind) and I will brave the traffic.
 
Some days or afternoons I’m not around at all (or maybe I just decide not to answer my phone).
This will be our little secret… voicemail is my best friend. I really dislike talking on the phone under most circumstances, but if I’m busy – doing just about anything – fuhgeddaboudit. Leave me a message (or, better yet, text!) and I will call back when I’m ready… or not. It’s not you, it’s me… really.
 
If I’m somewhere else, I’m probably traveling.
This is my favorite place to be. Whether we are out exploring local areas of interest, taking a long road trip, or flying off to visit other states or countries, we love having an adventure. Retirement has given us the ability to change our plans at a moment’s notice and stay away as long as we wish. I love coming home but, before too long, I’ve already started to plan our next trip.

Retirement is not all fun and games, we actually have some projects to complete, schedules to adhere to and, on occasion, we even have to make and keep appointments. But, overall, we relish the flexibility we have at this time of our lives. Living in retirement is satisfying and fulfilling… and you can’t beat the hours.

Janis
Retirementally Challenged

retirement hours
 

From Retirement Reflections: I have been a long time fan of Retirementally Challenged and am grateful that Janis has agreed to Guest Host here again. Her posts are always insightful, inspiring and highly relatable. If you haven’t yet checked out her site, I highly encourage you to drop everything that you are doing (yes, even reading this blog) and check it out now! Up next week, we welcome back Dee from Grammy’s Grid. Dee is another inspirational blogger who you won’t want to miss. I look forward to seeing you then.

For the Love of Salmon

salmon

I was delighted to meet Esmé (The Recipe Hunter) through mutual blogs that we follow. We are practically next door neighbors (she’s in Vancouver and I’m on Vancouver Island). I admire how Esmé generously shares tested, tasted and well-loved recipes from around the world and warmly invites others to send in their contributions. I was honored to be asked to write a post for her.

We had company over for dinner recently and I prepared one of my favorite no-fuss-no muss meals — roasted salmon and veggies! As this is one of my go-to recipes, I thought it would be a perfect one for sharing on Esme’s Site.

I’d love for you to drop by The Recipe Hunter and check out my post there. If you could leave a comment on Esme’s site, we would both greatly appreciate it.

‘Hope to see you there!

Sunday at Six Guest Post: Linda from ‘Boots, Shoes and Fashion’

fashion

From Retirement Reflections: Remember back in November when I fell off my chair from a request to co-write a ‘Christmas Fashion Post’ for Sizzling Toward Sixty and Beyond? By stepping out of my comfort zone and accepting that challenge, I met some very interesting people. Linda from ‘Boots and Shoes’ is one of them. I am delighted that she has agreed to Guest Host on my site today. She even supplied her own interview questions. How cool is that?

Hi! My name is Linda, and I’m a blogger. By day I’m a cosmetic/retail merchandiser. I’m fifty-two, am happily married to Adam and I have five children aged from ten to twenty-seven. My first three children have all left the nest. My eldest is a professional chef. I have one daughter who is the second eldest at twenty-three. She is currently a hotel restaurant supervisor. My second son is in university studying animation.

I was honoured to be asked by Donna to guest post on her wonderful blog and was given free rein. I thought that the best way to introduce my blog would be to interview myself, which you can read below.

What was the inspiration for starting your blog?

My blog, Boots Shoes & Fashion, was begun in July 2012. It started off being a ‘traditional’ shoe and fashion blog, i.e., talking about styles, what’s in the shops and online, etc. By January 2013 I began to include interviews with fashion designers and my friends who just happen to be in that industry. I found that I enjoyed interviewing people and that the feedback was positive. Today my blog is an  ‘interview style/lifestyle/fashion blog’ where I profile many inspirational people from around the world, as well as doing the odd review and fashion feature too.

Career History?

I’ve never had a career involving shoes funnily enough – fashion, hosiery, and makeup yes, but not shoes! I’ve worked as a hairdressing salon junior; in sales and marketing for a fashion company and a makeup company. I’ve run my own children’s clothing company selling via market stalls. I’ve made and sold earrings and modeled hosiery. My current career is retail merchandiser based in the top UK supermarkets specialising primarily in hosiery and cosmetics.

You have interviewed many different people over the last few years. Do you have any particular favourites?

I don’t have any particular favourites – they have all been fantastic guests. I’m a bit of a bookworm, so I have enjoyed chatting with my author guests from Carol E. Wyer to thriller writer, Simon J. Stephens. The artists Jane McAdam Freud and Niyaz Najafov were also fascinating. I love the zany personalities of model Debi Jones, Rosemary Conley, CBE, photographers Nina Junger and Tom Cairns. The television personalities Celia Sawyer and Alex Proud as well as the Miss World 2014 contestants were also interesting. The fashionistas that blew me away included shoemaker Kevin Garlick, Tiannia Barnes, Bizi Buenos Aires, Milly J Shoes, Goldgenie and Designer Linda Blissett. It was also a great honour to interview Mo Endfield (wife of “Zulu” director Cy Endfield) and Tony Porter (founder of London Fashion Week)…not forgetting my fellow blogging friends too..

Being a blogger, you need to have regular interaction on social media. What social media outlet is your personal favourite? What social media tends to attract more readers to your blog? What is your least favourite and why?

My favourite social media is Twitter. I’m not sure why but I just enjoy tweeting! The most popular social media outlets when it comes to attracting readers to my blog is a toss-up between Facebook and StumbleUpon. My least favourite is Instagram. I don’t like using hashtags. My fellow bloggers think I’m missing a trick by not being on Instagram. I protested about using Pinterest a few years ago and labeled it ‘boring.’  I was then dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st century by a blogger friend, and now Pinterest is in my blood! I do use Flipboard and Google+ so for the time being, at least, Instagram is on hold.

What do you like most about blogging?

I enjoy writing, reading and socialising. Through blogging, I have been able to utilise my love of the English language. There is such a fabulous range of different blog genres that I now read blogs instead of magazines. I ‘ve made  many ‘blogging friends’ around the world which I have found fascinating.

Let’s talk food… what is your favourite meal? What food genre is your favourite when eating out?

I love cooking curries and casseroles! I love to visit Indian, Thai or Italian restaurants.I also love visiting British gastropubs. I like to pick dishes that I don’t normally cook at home – could be fish or pasta dishes. I’m not a dessert person.

If you could visit any place in the world and money was no object, where would you go and why?

The top of my bucket list was Cape Verde Islands. I was lucky enough to visit there last summer. I would go back to the island of Boa Vista tomorrow if I could. Costa Rica and Sicily are high on my bucket list. The Cloud Forests of Costa Rica sound fascinating, but the wet weather is not finding favour with my husband so that place is not likely to be visited by us any time soon.  I’m attracted by Sicily — Mount Etna, the historical towns, weather, the food, and limoncello! To be honest, I’m such a geography geek that no country would be crossed off my list!

A lot of bloggers I know are also bookworms… are you one? What genre of book do you like reading? What book(s) are you currently reading?

Yes, I’m a bookworm. I read quite a wide variety of books. I prefer thrillers, mysteries or historical/classics, e.g., Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier, etc. I have just finished reading Dan Brown’s latest book, Origin.

What decade of fashion are you drawn towards? Which popular styles of any decade didn’t/don’t float your boat?

I like dresses from the 1950s; tunic dresses of the 1960s; the hippy styles of the 1970s; the colours of the 1980s… I wasn’t keen on the shell suit fashions of the 1980/1990s although I did own a fetching bright green outfit! I can’t stand onesies.

What fashion item is next on your wish list?

Top of my list is a pair of knee-high laced up boots from Joe Browns. I have bookmarked the item for my husband’s attention!

Boots Or Shoes?

Boots – ankle or knee high, with a heel or flats … I love them all. In summer, I love to wear ballerina style flat shoes, espadrilles or slip-on sneakers.
Boots, Shoes and Fashion

Thank you for letting me share a bit about myself and my blog. I would love to connect further! You can find me at:

Blog: http://bootsshoesandfashion.com
Facebook Page: http://facebook.com/bootsshoesandfashion
Facebook Shoe Group: f.bootsshoesandfashion.com
Twitter: t.bootsshoesandfashion.com
Google+ : http://plus.google.com/+LindaHobden
StumbleUpon: https://www.stumbleupon.com/stumbler/linda2269
Pinterest: https://pinterest.com/LindaHobden/
Flipboard: http://flipboard.com/@LindaHobden

Keeping the Cookie Jar Full During Early Retirement

Early Retirement
Early Retirement
Source:www.giftbasketdropshipping.com/members/Gourmet_Cookies.html

As we’ve been taught to do, I mostly ignored the money I was setting aside for retirement while I was working. In theory, I claimed to understand the mechanics of what was happening with it every two weeks. But in reality, it made about as much sense to me as supply-side economics. And just like I am now with the new tax plan here in the U.S., I was surely unsure how it would all eventually trickle down to me. I understood that it was my money, but I literally had no idea how or when I would get my grimy hands on it.

Which is why a recent Sunday Guest Post here on Donna’s blog caught my attention. Written by Lynn from Encore Voyage, she tells her story of retiring from a long career in teaching, followed by an unplanned termination of her husband’s job. It sounds like it was a scary situation for them, at least in the short term. Everyone wants to make sure they’ve dotted all their I’s and crossed all those T’s prior to taking the retirement plunge. To paraphrase Art Linkletter, retirement planning isn’t for the faint of heart.

One passage in Lynn’s post  spoke to me directly (emphasis mine):

“We were not old enough to officially ‘retire,’ and we hadn’t been taking specific steps to do so. While we had spent a lifetime saving for retirement, and we knew we would be okay financially, we were unprepared for about a zillion changes that happen when you suddenly become retired.”

I can relate to that completely because my own ‘retirement’ was surprisingly quick and somewhat haphazard. In hindsight, I now characterize that period as controlled confusion.

I took early retirement four months shy of my 56th birthday. I had just been through a rather quick medical odyssey, the results of which were both inconclusive but thankfully positive. At the same time, my employer dangled an early retirement and buyout offer to eligible staff. Although I had been eligible for similar offers in prior years, this time around the timing seemed right to take it. There were other horizons to explore.

I had done very little in the way of retirement planning. But like Lynn and her husband, I too had been diligently saving. My goal each year was to sock away a higher percentage of my salary into my 401(k) plan than the previous year. A divorce four years earlier forced me to partition a percentage of it for my ex-wife. My response to that was to increase contributions to make-up for the loss. By the time I made the early retirement decision, I had managed to recover and even add to what the court-ordered decree had removed. In fairness, a post-recession bull market helped my efforts tremendously.

A little over three years later, this retirement experiment has blossomed into a very satisfying next phase for us. Thanks to my wife Gorgeous’ full-time business, my part-time job, and a small pension that I receive from my former employer, we settled into a Florida condo which we purchased earlier this year.

My money in the 401(k) plan continues to sit on autopilot. I log in every week to check on its performance. Once a year, during the month of January, I review and re-balance everything so that all funds are back to their pre-determined allocations. Distributions from it are still a few years away from starting.

Gorgeous had no savings prior to our getting married, and she’s now on a mission late in life to build her own retirement fund. It’s really never too late to start.

The most important part for us is that we have figured out a way forward without dipping into the cookie jar.

My thanks to Donna for this opportunity to appear on her blog again.

Marty
Snakes in the Grass

early retirement
Marty and Gorgeous

From Retirement Reflections: Have you noticed that there are numerous ‘essentials’ of retirement that I never seem to write about on this blog? That is one reason that I am so grateful to all Guests Hosts for generously sharing their experience, passions and expertise. Thank you to Marty for being the first on this blog to directly tackle the fundamental subject of retirement savings. To read more of Marty’s thoughts on pensions, social security, 401(k)s, alimony, politics, current events, music, and…life’s comical ironies head over to his blog at Snakes in the Grass. Adding her expertise to another area that I typically neglect in my writing is Linda from Boots, Shoes and Fashion. Please join us next week when Linda, who is usually acting as ‘interviewer’ on her website, switches seats and shares a bit of her own story with us. I hope that you will join us then!

Sunday Guest Post Series: Hidden Histories

hidden histories
Hidden Histories
Victoria, Dolores and Isabella

One of the joys of retirement is finding new interests – and having the time to rekindle old ones. It will be 40 years this summer since I completed my undergraduate degree in history and, although occasionally useful for enquiries in my career as a librarian, history was never again a big part of my life until I finished work. I quickly became a volunteer History Detective with Glasgow Women’s Library, and a couple of years later I took on a similar role with Maryhill Burgh Halls near my home. I enjoy researching women’s history, and presenting it in tours and talks: it’s been life-enhancing.

So how visible is women’s history in Glasgow? Twelve statues stand in George Square in the city centre. Only one is of a woman – Queen Victoria. I imagine most British cities have a statue of her, though at least ours is a youngish, lively Victoria, sitting side-saddle on her horse, and not the unamused, elderly widow more commonly seen.

There are just two other statues to named women in Glasgow: Spanish Civil War heroine La Pasionaria (Dolores Ibárruri), who raises her arms by the Clyde with the motto “Better to die on your feet than live forever on your knees”, and philanthropist Isabella Elder (1828-1905), the only native Glaswegian of the three, in Elder Park. Among the things Isabella funded were a library and the first college in Scotland to offer higher education to women – she’s my favourite! Look her up in Wikipedia and you’ll be reading an article written by me, and I’ve also played her in a pageant to celebrate International Women’s Day a few years ago.

hidden histories
Anabel as Tour Guide

A fourth statue – to Mary Barbour who organised rent strikes in World War One – is due to be unveiled in March. (Rapacious landlords thought they could charge anything they liked when the men were away fighting: Mary’s campaign resulted in a law being passed fixing rents at pre-war levels.) But there are ways, other than statues, to remember history. For example, the whole area of Maryhill is called after the woman who owned the land in the 18th century before the government purchased it for the construction of the Forth and Clyde Canal. We have a Suffrage Oak, planted in 1918 when the first women in Britain got the vote. The names of 29 women who were killed when the façade of Templeton’s Carpet Factory collapsed in 1889 are carved nearby. Friends tell me that they have walked past these memorials without noticing them, hence my title: Hidden Histories.
Sometimes we just need to open our eyes a bit more. As readers of The Glasgow Gallivanter will know, I’m happy when I come across any aspect of women’s history on my travels. So what would I find if I came to your town? And if you don’t know – I challenge you to find out!

From Retirement Reflections: hidden historiesAccepting Anabel’s challenge, I’m happy to go first! One celebration of women’s history that you might find if coming to Vancouver Island is a bronze statue of renowned Canadian artist, Emily Carr. The monument was erected along the Harbourfront in Victoria, B.C., Emily’s hometown. It was unveiled during Women’s History Month, on October 13, 2010. If ever visiting Victoria, stop by and have a look! Echoing Anabel’s question, who does your (home)town honour? Please join us again next Sunday when we welcome back Marty (Snakes in the Grass). Marty will be sharing “How to Keep the Cookie Jar Full During Early Retirement.” I look forward to seeing you then!

Sundays at Six Guest Post Series – Finding Your Mojo After a Holiday

Finding your Mojo

Hello from sunny Australia! I’m Sue from Sizzling Towards 60 & Beyond. I’m delighted to be writing again for Donna’s Sunday Guest Post Series. We have met some fabulous people here, haven’t we? A huge thank you to Donna for introducing everyone. I’m honoured to be returning. I wrote my first post for this series back in July where I discussed Retiring from Work, not Life – The Art of Positive Aging.

Now that I’m back, I’d like to share my tips on finding your ‘mojo’ after a long holiday. Recently, as part of my sixtieth birthday celebrations, my husband and I took a five-week holiday, exploring Spain and Italy. We flew to London, which is a twenty-six-hour flight from Australia, spent a few days there, then flew to Portugal for our Spanish Adventure. We followed this with a seven-night cruise before visiting my husband’s cousins in Italy. Phew! I’m exhausted just thinking about it. It was a fantastic experience for both of us and a great way to cap off my sixtieth birthday.

Finding your MojoWe returned home with wonderful memories. For the first time, we came home TIRED after our holiday. It took a long while for us to get over jet lag. After sampling the delicious food and sangria, I felt bloated and uncomfortable. I felt out of sorts and didn’t have the motivation to get back into exercise or blogging. I’m a person who likes to be active and living life, but I didn’t feel like running with my Saturday Sisters or doing anything strenuous at all. That had to stop! So what did I do to recapture my mojo and zest for living?

Take Time to Recover

I allowed myself to recover and not feel guilty about it. In the past, I would have jumped straight back into life and pushed myself. I realised that I didn’t need to do that because I am retired so had no immediate commitments waiting for me. I gave myself permission to rest and recover not only my body but also my mind. It also gave me time to reflect on our holiday and enjoy the recent memories.

Make a Plan

What is the point of visiting fabulous places and restricting yourself? I knew that I wanted to enjoy the food of Spain and Italy and of course the sangria. However, coming home and feeling uncomfortable I knew I had to get my healthy lifestyle back. For this, I needed a plan! I set out a strategy for resuming my regular exercise and eating well-balanced meals. Rather than rushing straight back into my normal exercise routine, I started with gentle yoga and stretching, and downloaded an app, ‘My Daily Workout’. I hadn’t exercised for five weeks, so I needed to listen to my body and ease back into my workouts.

Catch Up with Family and Friends

Finding your MojoI regularly mind my grandson each week and after five weeks away, I had missed him so much. It was great to start that weekly commitment again and also catch up with my family and running friends, my Saturday Sisters. Getting back to connecting is a great way to lift your spirits and help you feel motivated again.

After one month, I was feeling back to my fit, fabulous, healthier and happier self with wonderful holiday memories. I was ready to take on the Festive Season! Life is certainly not dull in our household…but that is a story for another time.

How do you find your mojo? I’d love for you to leave me your comments.

Sue
Sizzling Towards 60 & Beyond


From Retirement Reflections:
Thank you, Sue. I’m sure that many of us found this post to be very timely. I certainly did. I like your advice to permit ourselves to take time to recover and then get back to our routines slowly but steadily. As our holiday company left this past week, yours is a strategy that I will borrow to transition back into my regular activities…and my regular meals! Up next week is Anabel from The Glasgow Gallivanter. Anabel will be talking to us about ‘Hidden Histories.’ Please join us next Sunday to see what she has to reveal!

I am a Writer. Why is that so Hard to Admit?

I am a writer

I am a writer. Why is that so hard to admit?

It should be safe to say I am a writer. After all, I spend a lot of time writing. I write corporate communication pieces; I write a blog; I have written magazine and newspaper articles; I even wrote a novel.

So why do I hesitate to say I am a writer? It’s certainly not embarrassment about writing or a disrespect for the craft; I have a deep admiration for writers. In fact, that may be part of the problem. It feels presumptuous to put myself in the same category as respected writers. So as soon as I say, “I am a writer,” a voice pops into my head, “well, not a real writer.”

If anyone else said that, I would respond, “If you write, you are a writer.” Somehow I’ve developed a different standard for myself—a standard that until now I had never fully defined. So I took a quiet moment recently and asked myself, “What would it take for me to feel like a real writer?” I was a bit surprised at the narrow definition. As it applies to myself, I equate being a writer with being paid to publish. While I have been paid for writing, and I have been published, I have never been paid to publish.

How sad is that? I’ve left myself only one way to success and it happens to be something outside of my direct control. And this arbitrary paid-publishing requirement—it only applies to me. In my world, other bloggers are real writers. Self-published authors are real writers. Just about anyone who puts pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) is a real writer. Except for me.

The good news? Since I created the rules—and evidently am the only player in my crazy game—I can change the rules. I can redefine what it means to me to be a writer. To help with that task, I went looking for inspiration. Turns out I’m not the only one asking, “What does it mean to be a writer?” Here are just a few of the answers I found, and guess what, none of them talk about payment or publishing.

Mallory England: Anyone can write, and many who hate writing are forced to attempt it in Freshman Composition courses. However, just writing doesn’t make someone a writer. Like with anything in life, if you want to be a bona fide writer, you have to love it. It has to be where your thoughts wander when you’re alone. It has to be the thing you use for comfort and, sometimes, a mode of escape.

Joel Ricki: It means having a story to tell and a need to tell it. Really, that’s all there is. So, if you think you’re a writer, you probably are.

Duy Truong:
To be a writer means I want to invite you to step into my world: chaotic, imperfect, dazzling. Full of pain, love, determination.

Michael Barnard: I’m a writer as part of my identity, not just someone who does the activity of writing. It’s integral. I do it like I breathe or eat. I apparently can’t not do it, regardless of whether I’m rewarded for it or not. Acknowledging that I was a writer as part of my identity was like getting married. It was just acknowledging a pre-existing state formally to other people. And probably most of them were thinking to themselves, “Well, duh. Took him long enough.”

Do you consider yourself a writer? I’d love to hear what being a writer means to you.
I Am a Writer
Christie
So What, Now What?


From Retirement Reflections:
When Christie first sent me this post, I immediately loved it and could not wait to publish it. I admire her openness, her honesty and mostly her willingness to have this hard conversation with herself. The question that she poses is an important one for all bloggers and writers of every form. The core of her query can be applied to any of our passions and, I believe, can help give us a better understanding of ourselves. I look forward to reading your comments on this topic. Next week we welcome back Sue from Sizzling Toward Sixty and Beyond. Are you currently feeling slightly off-track or floundering due to ‘disrupted routines’ during the recent festive season? If so, you will not want to miss Sue’s post on “Finding Your Mojo After a Holiday.” I look forward to seeing you there!

Guest Post Series: Christmas Eve Reflections on My First Year of Retirement

Chirstmas Eve Reflections

Hello again, I’m so happy to be back for Donna’s ‘Sundays at Six’! I’m Debbie from ‘Deb’s World.’ I’ve enjoyed being a guest at Donna’s blog throughout the year. I also had a blast featuring her in my ‘People of Interest’ series. She is a generous soul and someone I now call a friend, despite having never met in person (yet).

Holiday Greetings to you all from the Land Down Under!

For this ‘Sundays at Six’ series, I thought I’d take a reflective look at my summary of how 2017, my first year of retirement, has panned out. I know I wrote enthusiastically back in March about how much I was enjoying myself. Now that I have a full year under my belt, I thought I’d use this opportunity to give you a further update.

This post came about from my ‘Annual Report’ to former colleagues, at our recent Christmas Party/Reunion. We have managed to stay in contact and have had numerous get-togethers during the year, even though we all live different lives now and some live out of town. We are like family.

At our Christmas lunch we were each given five minutes to present our Annual Report – updating everyone on family/pets, highs/lows, and plans for 2018. This was a great way of sharing our news with everyone at the same time. We then did Secret Santa!
It is fitting for me to share that this time last year (December 2016) we were all made redundant from our teaching jobs in the State’s Prison system. It was a hard time. We celebrated our successes of over 20 years of good work and tried to look forward to an uncertain future. I know I was in a bad place at the time, but here I am bright and sparkly 12 months after to share that I’m in a very good place now. It’s here that Donna can insert her wise words – “I told you so!” (From Donna – “It’s true…I did mention this!”)

Summary from my Annual Report:

Christmas Eve Reflections

Highs:
Family:

.Our family increased with the official addition of a new son-in-law following our youngest daughter’s wedding in Fiji. A definite high point of the year!

Travel:

LOTS of it! I calculated that this year I have spent 170 days away from home traveling whether on my own or with my husband. That’s an incredible 24+ weeks of travel!! I’ve even managed to blog about a lot of our travels.
• We spent time in Tasmania, the Flinders Ranges and South Australia, Fiji, Melbourne, Canberra, Murwillumbah, Nowra, Brisbane and New Zealand. (There’s a song I can sing here called “I’ve been everywhere man, I’ve been everywhere,” but I’ll refrain for the moment).
• We loved celebrating with our three daughters and their partners all together in Fiji in October! Thoughts on a Destination Wedding from the Mother of the Bride
Running: I managed to run a bit more regularly and did the Mother’s Day Run in Canberra and the Run Melbourne 6km event. I’ve got so much more time now that I’m not working (said no-one ever)!

Blogging:

Having time to spend on my blog and interacting with other amazing people around the world. I’ve used my blog as a way of using my brain, learning new skills, technology and staying up to date. I had business cards made saying I was a Blogger and gave each of my colleagues a card. Losing my identity after being made redundant was something I suffered with a great deal, this was my fun way of being someone again!

Lows:

• The slow decline of my father. He has Parkinson’s Disease and it’s awful seeing him slowly fade away. It has been good being able to visit my mother more often and to see dad in his aged care facility, without worrying about leave forms and time-frames (so that bit’s a high).
• Our daughter’s cat, of a great age, suddenly disappeared and hasn’t returned. We won’t be replacing Luna Aphrodite.
• I’ve missed the daily contact with my colleagues.
• There are not enough hours in the day anymore!

Plans for 2018

More travel to see our daughter who lives in the UK but we know we can’t keep up the pace we set in 2017!

So that’s my update. As you can see, I have made the most of my time. I haven’t even mentioned things like our involvement in Rotary Youth Exchange programs, my reading, community involvement, photography or other daily occurrences.
Wishing you all happy and safe holiday season wherever and however you spend it. Looking forward to a new year just as exciting as this year and continuing my blogging connections with you all. Thanks again Donna for having me over.

Debbie
Christmas Eve Reflections

From Retirement Reflections: Thank you to Debbie for joining us again and sharing her very full and positive first year of retirement (told ya so!). Please drop by next week for a very special Guest Post…this time from my Daughter-in-Law, Jess from Wagemadness! Wishing you all a very warm and peaceful Christmas and a wonderful New Year!

Leanne from Cresting the Hill : ‘If We Were Having Coffee’

Donna has been kind enough to invite me to Guest Host for her again. I’m not officially a retired blogger, nor a travel blogger, so I can’t fairly discuss either subject. Instead, I thought I’d try a different version of my ‘If we were having coffee’ post and provide a bit of an overview of the year that was and what I’ve discovered along the way. I hope that some of what I’ve written resonates with you. After all, we are all cruising through life together – no matter where we are in the world.

So, here we are at Stirling Cottage in Harvey, Western Australia, surrounded by absolutely beautiful gardens and a river walk. You can tell it’s summer here (despite Donna’s artificial snow sweeping across the scene). If we were sitting at this table in the sunshine enjoying a cuppa and a scone, these are a few of the things I would share with you.

BLOGGING

I’ve just passed my third year anniversary of writing ‘Cresting the Hill.’ It’s been an interesting time thinking about where I started from and whether I wanted to continue. To tell you the truth, I thought about calling it quits at the end of 2017. I was feeling a bit weary and wondered if I had anything else left to say.

Then along came my blogging buddy, Sue, from Sizzling Towards 60 and Beyond.  She wanted to know if I was interested in hosting a Link Party with her in 2018. Initially, I thought “what’s the point in doing ANOTHER party when I’ve pulled out of so many because there’s nothing in them that interests me?” But then I turned it around and thought “why not do one that appeals to me and see if there are others out there looking for the same thing?” Sue was on the same wavelength, and we’re launching a party exclusively for Midlife Bloggers. Our first link-up goes live on January 31st.  We’re both excited, and you’re invited to join us. It’s given me the boost I needed to reinvent myself and head into another year of blogging madly away.

WALKING

My lovely husband and I have started to get out and about for a Saturday walk or bike ride since the spring weather began. I’m finding that spending time together doing something we both enjoy gives us so many benefits. We’re moving (and I need to do that more). Out in the sunshine, we get our Vitamin D. We’re talking, we’re going to new places, and we have an excuse to stop for a coffee at the end. Marriage is so important–it’s easy to let it slide into the background. We need to find time to focus on each other now that the nest is empty. Or, before we know it, we become strangers and lose our connection.

SMILING

My biggest smiles over the year have come from our gorgeous little granddaughter, Sophia. She is an absolute delight! I have to share a photo because it’s what all proud grandparents do. It’s such a blessing watching our children create full and rich lives of their own, and to be allowed to have a small part in that. Finding the balance can be a bit of fine line at times, but it’s worth the pain of figuring it out.

REMEMBERING

I wrote a series of posts this year on ‘First/Middle/Last.’  It was a lot of fun for me to look back on days gone by. Sometimes I get so caught up in the hustle and bustle of life that I forget to stop and breathe. I need to step away from all the consumerism around me and just remember old friends, or how proud I was of my little lawnmower car, or how simple my dress was for my School Dinner/Dance (compared to today).

That’s it for now. I could share screeds more on all that happened in the year – but I think we’ve drunk enough coffee and it’s time to head home. I hope you enjoyed our catch up as much as I did. If you’re ever in the Southwest of Western Australia, let’s get together for another one.

From Retirement Reflections: Thank you to Leanne for returning to the ‘Guest Host Spotlight’ to share her reflections on her past year. I greatly enjoyed the catch-up, the cuppa and the scone! Please join us again on Christmas Eve when Deb from Deb’s World ruminates on one full year of retirement. I hate to say “I told you so, Deb” (says Donna while gloating)! See you then!