Sunday Guest Post Series: ‘So What? Now What?’

So What? Now What?

I am pleased (and a little nervous) to be invited to participate in Donna’s Sunday Guest Post Series. The quality of the previous guest posts is both a blessing and a curse. I am honored to be included among them and afraid I may not live up to the precedent set. But fear be damned—here I go anyway! I trust the generous and intelligent nature of you, Donna’s readers, to find something worthwhile in my words.

You may quite naturally assume that a guest blogger on Retirement Reflections would be…well…retired. I hope it’s not a strike against me that I am not. I am still very much employed in a demanding full-time job. I am, in fact, writing this post as I eat lunch at my desk while trying desperately to ignore the email notifications that keep popping up on my screen. A bad habit, I know—one sure to lead to indigestion and typographical errors.

Still, retirement is in my not-too-distant future, and I am reflecting on that fact, so Donna’s invitation was not too far off the mark. I find myself in that strange transitional phase where one foot is planted solidly in the workplace while the other foot surreptitiously dips a toe in the retirement water—just to prepare myself for what’s to come. (Perhaps that metaphor is off-base, as I haven’t tested the waters myself. What I’ve been doing is more like calling from the shore, “How’s the water?” to anyone who has taken the plunge.) The realization that, after a lifetime of striving for the next big goal, I was in all likelihood at the pinnacle of my career and that I had no idea what came next led me to blogging. (That’s normal, isn’t it—when the earth shifts under your feet and you’re caught totally off balance, journal about it in a highly public fashion?)

The original intention for So What? Now What? was threefold:
1) Work out what I want to do in the post-career phase of my life…discover what I want to be when I finally really grow up.
2) Provide a new challenge now. Something that would stretch and energize me like career advancement used to, while also motivating me to write creatively each day. And do this all without overwhelming my limited free time and brain cells.
3) Engage with people. Make new connections, strengthen existing ones, share some laughs, and learn from each other…whether that be through inspirational examples or cautionary tales.

I started out trying to follow the blogging rule to maintain a narrow focus, carefully connecting each post to finding new passions and transitioning to retirement. But each time I started writing, the thing that kept coming up was the need to live more in the moment, stop overthinking everything, loosen my grip. So, this life-long rule follower has started letting each post go wherever my heart and mind take it…for better or for worse. I know it runs against conventional wisdom, and I suspect it makes for a bumpier ride—for me and for you—but for now, it feels right.

So What? Now What?So if you’re up for an unconventional blog or just a new connection, I’d love for you to check out So What? Now What? Leave a comment, and I will respond. If you’re also a blogger, I’ll pay a visit to your site as well. Who knows, it could be the start of a beautiful friendship. Christie.

From Retirement Reflections: I greatly appreciate Christie guest hosting on my site today — which is also my birthday! 🙂 I always love reading Christie’s candid thoughts, insights and questions, especially as she begins to consider her retirement. If you have not previously visited her blog, I highly recommend it to you. For next week, our guest host will be the author of ‘Travels with Fran.’ I am sure that you will enjoy these travels as much I do. I look forward to seeing you there!

Thank you also to all who have participated in the series ‘Favourite Retirement/ Lifestyle Bloggers,’ as readers/writers. This series currently runs until the end of November. If you have a favourite blogger that you would like to suggest, or if you would like to write a guest post yourself, please email me or leave a note in the comment section below. I would love to hear from you!

Sunday Guest Post Series: ‘Deb’s World’

I’m Debbie from Deb’s World.

I’m excited that Donna has invited me to share my thoughts in her Sunday Series: Favourite Retirement/Lifestyle bloggers. I’ve been a great fan of Donna’s blog for ages now. Her posts and support helped keep me sane in the early days when I was facing my redundancy and was very unhappy about it all. I have enjoyed reading the various posts in this series and am pleased to be involved in this amazing blogging community. I’m what you’d most likely call the new kid on the block in regards to retirement.

My Deb’s World blog originated a few years back.

I was feeling stifled by my professional work environment and needed a creative outlet. My sister had started blogging and was getting good exposure with her photographs. I decided I’d start a little blog of my own, where I could be ‘me’. You may not be aware that at the time I worked in a correctional centre for male inmates, as the Manager of Educational services and programs. I had been in that environment for over twenty years. The constraints on what I could talk about, what I could show off in my personality, and how I could express myself, were wearing. I had to be on my guard the whole time. I had to watch out for my teachers as well so that no one was at risk. Overall, I enjoyed my role and found it to be very rewarding but at times stifling. My blog started with travel stories and personal reflections. As the years went on, I extended myself by participating in writing and photo challenges. I only use an iPhone for my photos and am pleased with the results I manage to get. I am now engaged in various blogging communities. This has been one of the unexpected bonuses of blogging.

One of my self-imposed rules was to never talk about my work in my posts.

That changed the day the Government decided to outsource all educational staff and replace us with clerks and bring in external education providers to do the teaching. I was devastated. I started writing down my thoughts and sharing our fight for survival. I gained a great deal of support from bloggers who had been in similar situations. The encouragement helped me cope. It took six months to get rid of us all. They were six very frightful months. I became angry. I made myself sick. I gained weight. I lost interest in things. I worried about my staff and also the inmate students with whom we had worked to increase the participation rates in Education and ultimately improving their skills for life after their release. In the end, we all took a redundancy and were finished up on 23 December 2016. My career of over two decades was over, and I was only 56 years old.

Hindsight is a wonderful thing.

I get that. But at the time of being forced out of my career, it was very hard. I know now that I was grieving and look back at that time with sadness. I know I worried unnecessarily. I know there’s always a silver lining. I know life will continue. I know there are benefits to finishing work at an early age. Now I’m posting about all my amazing travels and have far more time to engage with other bloggers, read, run, cycle, live without toxic people in my life and enjoy my new found early retired lifestyle. My husband also retired (voluntarily at age 60) in January 2017, so it’s been a whole new lifestyle for us both. I recently read a great book called ‘A Man called OVE’ by Fredrick Backman and love this quote about retirement. He can’t understand people who long to retire. How can anyone spend their whole life longing for the day when they become superfluous? Wandering about, a burden on society, what sort of man would ever wish for that? Staying at home, waiting to die. Or even worse: waiting for them to come and fetch you and put you in a home. Being dependent on other people to get to the toilet. Ove can’t think of anything worse. I can relate to this quote.

You know what worried me most?

What would I put on a business card now that I wasn’t gainfully employed? I can answer that. I’ve just had some business cards made up that say ‘Blogger’ with all my various social media contacts listed. I’m not sure who I’m going to give them out to, but I feel a bit better.

I also love writing about my family, my Mother of the Bride status (MOB updates) and a variety of other topics. Feel free to come and join me. You can find more about my world here www.debs-world.com Our family motto is ‘To Travel is to Live!’I can honestly say I’m in a good place now.
Deb

Instagram: debs__world
Facebook: @worldaccordingtoDebbie
Twitter: @wonderwomandebz
Pinterest: wonderwomandebz

 

 

 

From Retirement Reflections: Thank you, Debbie, for sharing your background, fears, and hindsights on your transition into retirement. Your extreme candidness and honesty have made me a regular follower of ‘Deb’s World’. Warm wishes for your daughter’s wedding this current weekend. We all look forward to seeing photos soon! Up next week is Christie from ‘So What, Now What?‘ Christie’s began her blog to help her as she plans her transition to retirement. She also writes about mindfulness, wellness, and gratitude. I look forward to seeing you there.

Second Wind Leisure Perspectives: Some Days in the Life of an Almost-Retired Person

What do retired people do all day? What exactly is “retired” anyway?

Better yet, what should retired people do all day? Are you retired and living the “life?” Have you retired and are feeling financial pressure and lack of motivation to do things? Or are you newly retired and still playing catch-up with your new identity?

Identity Crisis?

That’s the thing, this new identity. No longer are you associated with your workplace or professional identity. Going from “Manager of 30 People for 35 Years” to “nothing” can be hard on the ego, especially for men.

Women seem to understand this idea of identity a little better. As women, we seem to embrace the variety of roles in our lives: mother, daughter, mentor, employee, homeowner, writer, jogger, etc.

Men seem to have fewer roles, with family breadwinner being the highest and most important role and identity. For many men, although the idea of retirement sounds delightful, in reality, those men absolutely fear this disassociation from work, a place they likely spent 30-40 years of their lives.

In our society, when meeting people for the first time, we intuitively ask the (socially constructed) question, “What do you do?” (read, what do you do for your work?). We answer, “I’m a teacher, or I’m a Forest Ranger,” etc.

Once we have retired, when asked this same question, many answer “I’m retired…. I used to be ….. or work for….” You get the drift.

How Do You Do?

To change this dynamic, I challenge anyone, not just retired folks, to answer this question regarding your leisure interests or hobbies. When someone asks, “What do you do?” You can answer “I’m a windsurfer, or I’m a blogger, or I’m a world traveler.” Exciting, huh?

I challenge my college students to this exercise when we get into the chapter about Work. It really opens their eyes, and we get into great discussions about the difficulty they felt trying to identify with a leisure pastime.

Wouldn’t you rather be identified by the things for which you have the most passion? If your work is your passion, then wonderful…you are lucky and fortunate. Most of us, however, are passionate about non-work pastimes.

Workaholic 101

Baby Boomers, both men and women, were raised to accept work culture as a priority and essentially invented workaholism. Those folks retiring now are having a tough time accepting it. As an example, I remember my former boss and his wife delaying their retirement for several years. She had health problems, but she felt indispensable at her job. He worked constantly and I valued his availability when I needed to solve a problem, but they fed into each other’s mantra of the “I’ll retire when YOU retire” merry-go-round.

They finally retired and are living their best lives. He was a recreation and parks practitioner and although he may not have practiced what he preached at work, he put those leisure planning skills to good use one he did retire!

Career Planning 101

That 16th century Puritan Work Ethic loves to rear its slightly-ugly head even now in the 21st century. Work was (is?) how we earn our place in life, home and Heaven.

After all, we spend the first 15 years of our lives getting ready for a career. In grade school, we were often asked, “what do you want to be when you grow up?” An astronaut, a bus-driver? A school-teacher? Etc.

By middle school, we took classes to prepare for high school success, and once in high school decided on our future curriculum for college or vocational school. Four to six years later? We landed our dream job and went to work for the next 30-40 years.

If we are fortunate, we expect to retire from this career-focused life by age 65-70, which seems to be getting later if social security is any indication.

No wonder our identities are in crisis!

So What DO You Do?

As a person who retired in 2014 from a 35-year career in public parks and recreation (never got as high on the food chain as Leslie Knope), I was ready to leave. But since I also teach as a part-time university lecturer in the parks and recreation major, continuing to teach two to three classes per semester is not really “retired.”

(ARE you ready GIF)

via GIPHY

But I sure love my Januarys and summers off!

What does a semi-retired person do all day? I can only share my example. I still can’t help but quantify my day and schedule my activities.

Fitness

Every day of the week, I exercise, whether it’s self-directed cardio or participating in a class at the gym, walking the dogs, or engaging in a water sport.

Working/Teaching

During the Fall and Spring semesters, I am on campus for a few hours, two to three days a week. Mostly I work from my home office in my glorious master bedroom addition.

A teacher’s work is never done. I spend time in the summer preparing course and classroom content for the coming Fall semester. My department has asked that I begin teaching a new (to me) class, so I must start the process of preparing the curriculum for that. With three Fall classes looming, I spend three to four hours per week all summer prepping and even answering a few e-mails. This is definitely a passion I can sustain for ten more years!

Writing and Blogging

Writing a blog has opened several writing opportunities. I do some freelance writing for my brother-in-law’s fashion accessories business. I am writing this guest post, among others. I wrote and self-published my first eBook, Better Blogging with Photography last July 2016, and am writing furiously on my next book No Excuses Fitness. I only have a few short weeks before I begin teaching again, so the bulk of the writing has GOT to GET done—no excuses!

Leisure Where Art Thou?

I have to admit, that I enjoy playing a game or two on my tablet, or turning on the TV to check the news and weather. Most of my early mornings are spent in this fashion with my coffee. By 8 am I eat breakfast then head out the door for whatever exercise regimen I have planned. Hubby gets home from work by 3:30 pm, so I try to have the bulk of my “work” done by then. Frequently though, I’m still plugging away on the next day’s blog post or prepping the image for it, when he walks into the bedroom ready to chat.

During summer weekends, I am on my husband’s work schedule. He works Tuesday through Saturday with Sundays and Mondays off until Labor Day weekend. By early Saturday afternoon, I have the ice chest packed and everything else ready for the weekend at the Delta. Link Windsurfing is my hubby’s passion. I enjoy it too, but being good at it helps…I’m OK, but get bruised and beaten up.I always look forward to the non-windy days when I can stand-up paddle!

As Boomers redefined work, so have they redefined retirement.

Apparently semi-retired people ramble. Sorry. I earned it though, right? So did you, if you are retired. What floats your boat? Or what color is your parachute? Or….I know there is another cliché somewhere!

Terri: Second Wind Leisure
Terri
Second Wind Leisure Perspectives

Images used by permission from Unsplash.

From Retirement Reflections – Thank you to Terry for her great questions and very thought-provoking post. I will have the pleasure of meeting up with Terri, and a couple of other bloggers, shortly. I can’t wait! And, boy, do I ever have a pile of questions for them!! Up next week, all the way from her daughter’s wedding in Fiji, is Debbie from Deb’s World. Her direct quote about this guest post running the same weekend as this big event was: “I look forward to responding to all the hundreds of comments from beside the pool.” Please join us next week and help fulfill that wish. See you then!

What’s So Challenging About Retirement?

When Donna offered me the opportunity to participate in her Sunday Blogging Series, I jumped at the chance. I have been following Retirement Reflections for quite a while and I always find her posts smart, thoughtful, and wonderfully engaging. Having the chance to mingle with others who follow her – some who I may not have met yet – sounded like a lovely way to spend a Sunday.

Donna’s goal for her series is to create a forum for Retirement/Lifestyle bloggers to introduce themselves to others who are – or will be soon – enjoying the retired life. Since I had my three-year retireversary just a few weeks ago, I thought it would be interesting to re-introduce myself to my earlier posts and discover what has changed for me over the three years… and what hasn’t.

I started my blog in the fall of 2013, several months before my retirement date. Back then, I was excited but also apprehensive about my upcoming radical change in lifestyle. What will I do all day? Will I be bored? Will my husband and I drive each other crazy? I was leaving a job that paid well and I enjoyed, I didn’t have any great “passion” that I was eager to pursue, and a lot of my friends were still working full-time. Yikes!

I have always enjoyed writing and I knew that I’d need to create my own opportunities once I stopped working. Starting a blog seemed like a good way to continue working on my writing skills, while also engaging with others who may be transitioning into retirement too. When the name Retirementally Challenged popped in my head, it seemed like a good description of my then-conflicted self.

As I started to re-read my pre-retirement posts, with all the angst and “what ifs” I was experiencing, I had an overwhelming desire to reach through my screen and pat my former self on the head with assurances that: “there, there, you’ll be just fine.” I also wanted to smack that same self upside the head and say: “stop overthinking it. You get to NOT WORK. That’s a good thing.”

Then, as I continued to read, I started to notice my post-retirement writing began to take a turn in tone. The posts filled with questions and uncertainties began to fade away, and were replaced by ones extolling the joys of retirement, sharing tales of our travels, and making general life observations. Last year, I started my (almost weekly) GratiTuesday posts to help me focus on maintaining an attitude of gratitude.
I still don’t have what I’d call a great passion but I’m OK with that. As I wrote in an earlier post, I have several “passion-ettes” and they keep me pretty busy. I enjoy photography, my husband and I are having fun traveling, and blogging has not only kept me writing, but has helped forge precious connections – most of them virtual, but some face-to-face – with bloggers around the world. Lately, I’ve started to get the urge to volunteer, find new clubs to join, and maybe even paint again. Who knows, I may add some of those pursuits to my list of “ettes.”

So, does the name of my blog still apply? The challenges I felt leading up to, and in the early part of my retirement, probably are typical for anyone making a big life change. Now, I’m happy to say, the challenges in my life are mostly positive and self-directed. My husband and I are at a sweet-spot in our lives where we have decent health, energy, and enthusiasm. We know we won’t feel like this forever, but we are taking advantage of it for as long as we can.

So, at this point in my journey, I’m still Retirementally Challenged… but in a very good way.
Retirementally Challenged

 
Janis

From Retirement Reflections – I have been a long time fan of RetirementallyChallenged. In fact, it is the first blog that I followed full-time when I retired. Janis possesses incredible insight and a wonderfully positive outlook. If you are not already a follower, I highly recommend that you check out her site. I know that you’ll find her affirming nature to be contagious, I definitely do!
Remaining in the same geographical region, up next week is Terri Webster Schrandt. Terri, not yet fully retired, shares with us “Some Days in the Life of an Almost Retired Person.” Again, you’ll find a fresh, energetic take on life that is guaranteed to renew your spirit. See you there!

Over the Threshold into Retirement

identity

After months – no, years — of planning, I finally have walked through the door to retirement. I have received my last paycheque. In a couple of weeks, I will pack up my office at work. I have bought a house in a different province, in a community closer to our kids and grandkids. And I have booked a moving date.

identity

One of our favourite hikes in the landscape we are leaving behind.

Rethinking my Identity

It has been an emotional roller-coaster. Regular readers will know that I have struggled mightily with the challenge of stepping away from my work identity. What you might not know, as I have not shared it until now, is why I have found it so hard to leave work.

After all, a job is just a job. People go to work to earn money in order to support themselves and their families. If they are lucky, they have work that enables them to contribute something useful and meaningful to society. If they are even more lucky, they have the kind of workplace where colleagues are almost like family; where they work together with respected colleagues to create and build new knowledge, systems, or services; and where they are deeply appreciated and seen as integral to the business or institution. Sometimes, a person becomes so wrapped up into their work role that it becomes almost impossible to separate one’s personal identity from one’s work identity.

That is my situation. My job isn’t just a job for money; it is a big part of my identity. You see, I am an academic.

From the day that I began pursuing my PhD in the late 1980’s, through to accepting my first tenure-track position as a professor, to achieving tenure, eventually being promoted to full professor, and then moving into university administration, I have loved the academic life. I have deeply enjoyed the opportunity to work closely with students: in a teaching role, as graduate supervisor and mentor, and designing and developing academic programs and services to support students.

I have loved being a researcher. Really, could anything be more interesting than thinking up questions that you want to know the answers to, or speculating about why things are the way they are, and then studying those problems and writing about them? On the practical side, it is very satisfying when the problems you have been studying lead to new processes or ways of doing things that make a real-world difference for people. This is especially the case when you have the chance to work with a new generation of researchers and teachers who are inspired to take their own practices in new and productive directions. How could I ever walk away from all that? That was the dilemma that faced me when I began to consider whether and when I should retire.

Yet, I had reached a level of exhaustion and burnout that was scary. My creativity and love of the academic life had faded to numbness. My husband had been retired for eleven years already and was eager for me to join him before we both got too old for outdoor adventures. Our four grandchildren were growing up in locations far away and we could not visit as often as we would have liked. None of our close friends lived nearby. I could afford to retire. All the signs were pointing toward retirement, but still it was hard to make the choice to do so.

Putting Plans into Action

However, for me, the long interim period of working through the decision of whether to retire, how to retire, and where to live after retiring was necessary, I think. It helped me come to terms with the identity question. I decided that although I was leaving my role as a university professor, I would retain my involvement in research for at least a year or two after formally retiring. So I made arrangements to facilitate that plan, and committed to continue on with some academic research projects that I had initiated during my year of administrative leave.

We toured around the province in which we knew we wanted to live, and jointly made a decision to buy a house on Vancouver Island. As it turned out, the date we took possession of our new house was the same day I retired! I thought that I would write cautionary notes here, advising readers against combining the two stresses of retiring and moving by doing them simultaneously. However, for me, it actually has been a great thing. It has distracted me from mulling over what I am leaving behind to focus instead on the new home and new life, and to throw myself into the practicalities of making it happen.

There is a sense of relief in finally moving from thought to action. Coming to our new community and new home, knowing that we will be moving here for real very soon, I have a huge sense of anticipation about new possibilities. Vancouver Island is so beautiful and lush. I love being near the ocean. The grocery stores have lovely produce and seafood counters. I will be closer to people that I love. Already, I can hardly remember why I was clinging so hard to my old life and our former home. Onward! There are exciting adventures ahead!Gideon Sock Puppet

identity
The beautiful BC coastline, not far from our new home.

From Retirement Reflections: Thank you to Dr. Sock for sharing her longstanding dilemma with her decision to retire and the reasons behind this. As a long time follower of Dr. Sock Writes Here, I am privileged to have ‘Gideon Sock Puppet’ as my new real-life neighbour. I know that her retirement has been off to a fantastic start. I look forward to reading (and now ‘hearing’) about her upcoming retirement adventures!

Please join us next week — same time, same place. Janis, from RetirementallyChallenged, asks us “What’s So Challenging About Retirement?” This post contains Janis’ signature positive outlook….you won’t want to miss it!

Creating a Lifestyle Catered to You

Lifestyle

Thank you, Donna, for inviting me over to participate in your Sunday Series. It is a pleasure, and an honor, to be called one of your favorites. My ego is bursting!

A retirement lifestyle?

Lifestyle
At 42-years-old, I am not retired, although many people might think differently based on the lifestyle I have been living since 2003. It’s either that, or they think I am on a perpetual vacation, or that I am rich, or all of the above! Living an alternative lifestyle throughout adulthood causes these assumptions. Unfortunately, the reality is “none of the above.” Although I have the flexibility to sleep in and form my own schedule, that’s where the comparisons stop. I still need to make money and sacrifices to survive, and I own nothing, not even a retirement account. My husband, Mark, and I like the minimalistic approach and don’t require much to be happy and free. All our belongings fit in our red Toyota Prius and, other than our business, The Wirie, we have no burdens or responsibilities. We don’t have a home, children or pets (yet) and go wherever we find an attractive long-term house and pet sit. To us, creating memories and going on adventures is more important than collecting material goods or financial wealth.

Blogs to inspire and share?

In 2007, Mark and I embarked on an impromptu cruising adventure with our two big rescue dogs, Kali and Darwin. After a failed attempt two years prior in Northern California, because the dogs hated sailing on a monohull (which lays on its side when moving in certain directions), we searched and found a 35-foot catamaran (more stability and less seasickness for me) in Annapolis, Maryland, and named her Irie, which is a reggae term meaning “It’s all good!” I started my first blog, It’s Irie, to document all our adventures and share tips while cruising the Caribbean and the South Pacific. We ran a business from the middle of nowhere (tricky!), I wrote blog posts and magazine articles, and we indulged in many foods, cultures, sights and wildlife encounters while living on a tight budget. The longer the money lasted, the longer we could sail and explore the islands.

Eight years later, in August 2015, the challenging yet rewarding lifestyle proved to have been enough. We sold our sailboat in Tahiti, French Polynesia and ‘moved’ to land in the United States, to focus on the long-range WiFi business we started in St. Martin in 2009 and to concentrate on my writing. I started a new blog, settling on the name “Roaming About – A Life Less Ordinary.” I moved from the Blogger platform to WordPress and have been a happy camper since. Picking a name was difficult. On the one hand, I did not want to let go of the term “irie” (which, as our floating home, had been good to us and which is part of the name of our product), on the other hand, I wanted something that reflected our ever-changing lifestyle. Now, I am happy with the name, since “roaming about” is exactly what we keep doing. It is a versatile topic, and even when I report on my writing progress (or digress) it is still related to travel and adventure, since those are the topics of my stories and non-fiction book.

Where does this wanderlust come from?

Good question! Since I am working on a memoir right now, I have been wondering about my wandering needs. On a recent visit to my parents in Belgium, I asked them once again: “Is there anything that I was doing as a child that gave any indication that I loved adventures, explorations, to be out and about?” Once again, the disappointing answer was “No!”. I was as normal a child as could be. (That changed during my teenage years.) My dad was in the Belgian Navy for two years back in the late sixties, after which he said: “That’s it. I have seen enough. I have been to all the places I wanted to see.” Since then, he is happiest at home. My mom enjoys short weekend trips and getaways, but needs comfort and luxury when doing so. I do not see any similarities with the way I live and travel. As kids, my brother and I went on family vacations to France, Spain, Italy, and Norway. Lots of Belgian kids do. By the time I was seventeen, I had developed an unexplainable love of traveling, by necessity, on a budget. This attraction to adventure and aversion to spendthrift never changed.

While apprehensive at first (which mother would be comfortable when her 17-year-old daughter hitchhikes to and in Italy for three weeks with a boyfriend?), my parents quickly got used to and even supported my traveling lifestyle. I worked… to save… to travel: a 5-week summer expedition in India, a year to Southeast Asia with a backpack and friends after college, another year of backpacking to Southeast Asia, New Zealand and Australia by myself at age 25, after working as a teacher for two years. I went back to my elementary school job in Belgium for two more years and then, I left. Indefinitely. It wasn’t planned in that summer of 2003, but I never returned to live in my home country. Instead, I explored the US, Canada, and Alaska with a camper, a boyfriend and a dog for a year and a half. And, I met Mark in December 2004. We unsuccessfully attempted that sailing trip to Mexico with his two dogs. Then, we changed gears and mode of transportation and drove a truck camper throughout Mexico and Central America for a year. This was followed by life in a tent and car for two months, until we found Irie.

Traveling full-time is exhausting! After this last sailing journey, Mark and I have found the perfect lifestyle in house and pet sitting. We adore dogs and enjoy the creature comforts of electricity, water, and internet, while moving about, resting up, exploring new areas and living rent-free. As to the origins of my wanderlust, the answer had been found! Apparently, there is a gene called DRD4-7R, which causes people to take risks and explore new places. That has got to be it – this gene is part of my whole being. It is possessed by around 20 per cent of the population, so I can’t help but wonder: are those people stuck in a boring 9-5 work situation, living the so-called American (Or Canadian, or European, or Down Under) Dream, feeling trapped and craving freedom? Or have they found other creative outlets to let their spirits soar?

What do you want to achieve in life?

This guest post is getting long enough. I hope I have not bored you to sleep! The words organically appeared as I was trying to shed some light on our lives in an attempt to show you that it is possible to live the life you desire without financial or other restraints, but with a dose of curiosity, flexibility and determination. When people say “You are so lucky to be living like this!” I can’t help but correct them: “Luck has nothing to do with it. Life is all about the choices you make.” Granted, bad health and certain responsibilities can be debilitating, but hopefully only for a period of time. It is a cliché, but we only have one life on this beautiful and fascinating planet, so we better make it count and try to own our happiness. My best friend recently asked: “What would you like to accomplish by the time you die?” My answer: “I don’t want to have any regrets.” The other idiom “It’s better to regret the things you did than the things you didn’t do” is closely related to how I feel as well.

Roaming About

Lifestyle

How about you? What do you want to achieve in life? What would you like to change? What would make you happy/happier? Any chance of achieving this state of mind or lifestyle change (soon)?

Liesbet

From Retirement Reflections: Thank you to Liesbet for sharing her facinating story of living life freely and fully — at any age. Her minimalist lifestyle, and focus on creating memories and adventure is incredibly inspiring and thought-provoking. Please join us again next week when we welcome Gideon Sock-Puppet from Dr. Sock Writes Here. See you then!

Conquering the Monsters of Life

How often do you get asked to say something nice about yourself, or to promote your best attributes, and find it one of the most difficult subjects to talk about? Granted, not everyone will find the subject of promoting themselves difficult, but many, including myself, find it a route full of potholes, bumps and barriers, because of the monsters we are born with.

Deep down inside, I’ve always wanted to be on a stage, the spotlight directly on me, in front of a room full of people focused on nothing else but me! It’s a desire I’ve had since one of my first school teachers, without asking, told me that I’d be playing the part of The Mad Hatter in the school’s Christmas production of Alice In Wonderland. My heart sunk when she called out my name, yet inside of me was a feeling that I’d come to a well-maintained part of the road that I would later go on to call life.

One by one, Miss Banks told us to read out a part from the script she’d written. The Mad Hatter appears during the middle part of Alice’s adventures in Wonderland, and I was relieved that I had time to get myself together and to do all I could not to stutter when reading out my lines. Often, for no reason, I would start to stutter when talking face to face to somebody, or when in a group, but I’d never been asked to stand up and read out loud from a book or a script in front of an audience. In my mind, while taking little notice of the other children reading their parts, I went over and over reading the lines Miss Banks had chosen for me to say.

When I stood up that day and started to stutter, a group of children in my class started to snigger and laugh. I wanted the ground to open and swallow me up, or my Mother to suddenly arrive and take me away from one of the worse first experiences of my life. However, Miss Banks was having none of it and, after giving the children who were laughing a stern look, she told me to take my time and to pretend that she was the only person in the room.

Fast forward to the evening of the school production, not only had I experienced my first bit of stardom, but I overheard my mother thanking Miss Banks for giving me the part of The Mad Hatter.

“No problem at all” she told my mother. “I wrote the part especially for Hugh. I’m not sure if you’re aware or have noticed anything about the way Hugh writes or reads, but he seems to get a little muddled up sometimes. He’s told me that some of the letters get mixed up and that he can’t pronounced some of the words. I’ve not seen this type of thing with any other children before, but I have mentioned it to the Headmistress.”

Unfortunately, my mother was having none of it and, later in my school life, many of my school teachers would tell her that they put it down to me being a slow learner or that I was not a very intelligent child. My mother never spoke to me about it, yet I somehow knew that she and I knew that what they were saying was not the case. Why? Well, because even when some of my teachers dropped me down to classes with children a few year’s younger than me, I was still experiencing the same problems.

Fast forward again, this time to 2014, and I found myself starring at a website called WordPress. Over the years, since playing the part of The Mad Hatter, my desire to write had grown and I’d secretly written a few short stories that nobody else had ever read. Now, right in front of me, here was a chance for me to finally allow my passion to become a published writer to be unleashed.

Pressing that ‘publish’ button was one of the hardest things I’d ever done. I had the same feelings I’d had the day Miss Banks had asked me to stand up and read out some lines. Then the sound of her voice telling me to pretend she was the only one in the room came into my mind. I had more flashbacks of not only the day I stood up in front of my class and read out some lines Miss Banks had written especially for me, but of the evening of my first school play. I saw my parents standing up in the audience clapping their hands and cheering along with all the other parents, brothers, sisters, and relatives of the school children who had just put on their first school play. I pressed the publish button, walked away from my computer and went for a walk.

The day after I stood up in front of my class and read out the lines of The Mad Hatter, the monster I called ‘stuttering’ stared to retreat. I was starting to find confidence in myself and in talking directly with other people, yet in class the letters still got mixed up and I found certain words hard to say.

The day I pushed the ‘publish’ button on the first post on my newly created blog, I started to conquer the monster I called ‘Dyslexia.
’ Even to this day, I still cannot pronounce the word ‘dyslexic’ properly; yet today I have a self-published book of short stories under my belt, and a successful blog which attracts thousands of readers every month.

My monsters may still live with me and be with me until my ‘best by’ date comes up but, when I do walk over the rainbow bridge, one of the first people I am going to look for and thank is Miss Banks.

Hugh

conquering the monsters
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From Retirement Reflections: Thank you to Hugh (and to Miss Banks) for reminding us that we can put our monsters behind us and achieve things that we never thought possible! Please join us again next week when we welcome Liesbet who will inspire us with a life less ordinary!

Dream, Dare, Do!

When Donna asked if I would write a guest post, I was a little taken aback.

What exactly was my blog about anyway? I had no idea how to answer this question.

Unlike my life, which is rather organized and definitely goal oriented, my blog is not.

When I first started blogging in 2014, I envisioned it to be a look back on my life – an autobiography of sorts. I had just spent a year trying to document my parent’s life story and thought it was equally important for my children if I documented my own.

The problem was … the past simply wouldn’t talk to me.

Even though I had *retired*, I was still all about moving forward. Instead of resting on past experiences, I was more interested in developing new ones by going to unfamiliar places, dreaming up new challenges, and learning along the way.

I feared that retirement would make me complacent and that I was at risk of drifting from day to day without direction. I didn’t want to arrive at the end of a year and wonder where the time went. So three years ago I started a ‘New Things Project.’

I maintain a spreadsheet full of new things – both big and small – that I want to do or try. It is broken into categories like New Foods, Personal Development, Travel, New Experiences, Books, and Home Projects.

This spreadsheet has become a touchstone for me, especially whenever I feel I need a nudge to get out of a rut. Because of it, my blog has become a mashup of stuff from this life of new things. I might blog about a story from my past, but more likely it will be a recent *find* or experience from one of my regular excursions near or far.

Right now, there are 243 items on my ‘2017 New Things List,’ of which 74 of them have been done so far this year. So if I had to say what my blog was about, I’d point to my ‘New Things Spreadsheet.’

However, I often never get around to writing about most of the things I do. There are just not enough hours in a day for me to fit everything in – nor do all these new experiences provide a story for me to tell.

If there was a single message I would want my blog to leave behind, I’d say that time is going to pass by regardless of whether you do anything to challenge yourself or not.

Dream

So why not dream big? Then dare to do it!

Joanne

My Life Lived Full

Following a Bold Plan

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From Retirement Reflections:
Thank you to Joanne for this ‘gentle’ nudge to dream, dare, do and try new things! This is important advice for all stages of life — especially retirement. If not now, when?
Please stay tuned for our September Line Up: Hugh from Hugh’s Views and News (September 3), Liesbet from Roaming About (September 10), Gideon Sock Puppet from Dr. Sock Writes Here (September 17), Janis from Retirementally Challenged (September 24) and Terri from Second Wind Leisure Perspectives (October 1). See you there!

The Glasgow Gallivanter

Anabel Marsh is a 60ish retired librarian from Glasgow in Scotland


Do you remember starting school? I do. Before then, I had spent my time playing with my friends and my little sister – now I was constrained. I remember feeling, though I couldn’t have expressed it, that I would never be free again. Well, I have news for my 5-year old self! That freedom comes back with retirement. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed my education and my career, and I’m still a responsible person who commits to whatever she takes on, but now I have far more choice over what I do.

I also have more time to blog, although I don’t consider myself a retirement blogger as such. The Glasgow Gallivanter started life in 2011, the year before I finished work, and was originally titled – very unimaginatively – Anabel’s Travel Blog. Essentially, it’s my way of keeping a diary of everywhere I visit, and some places I have visited in the past, lavishly illustrated by my husband John’s photographs. So I’m my own number one reader – I want to be able to look back when I’m 90 and enjoy all these places again – and at first I regarded it as a bonus if anyone else stumbled across my posts by accident. Now, although I still write for myself primarily, I find it’s so much more fun when you reach out to other people. I really feel you get to know people by commenting on each other’s blogs, and sometimes that can spill over into real, as opposed to virtual, life. I’ve met four blogging friends so far, and had a great time with each one.

So what will you find on The Glasgow Gallivanter? Foreign travels such as our trip to Budapest in the Spring, and our upcoming trip to the Canadian Rockies. We love to hike, so expect some great views! I haven’t done so well with retrospective posts lately, but last year, I wrote a series about our visit to Tibet in 2000. Not many people come home from vacation with snaps of road digging equipment, but we did – flooding trapped us between a landslide in one direction and a swept-away bridge in the other. That’s the only time I truly feared I would not get out of somewhere alive.

I also write a lot about Scotland, and Glasgow in particular. I’m very proud of my home country and city and I love to tell people about them. I always seem to get more readers for my Scottish posts than for my globetrotting ones and I’m very happy with that. This year, I instigated a monthly round-up post, Glasgow Gallivanting, in which I include smaller events that wouldn’t make it into a full post, and I usually like to end by teaching my readers a new Scottish word. In that spirit, I will now say that you have probably had enough of me blethering and it’s time to haud ma wheest.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this brief introduction to The Glasgow Gallivanter, and I invite you to gallivant with me.

Anabel


Glossary
Gallivant: to go about in search of pleasure; gad about
Blether: to chatter; gossip
Haud ma wheest: be quiet (roughly equivalent of holding my tongue)

The Glasgow Gallivanter

From Retirement Reflections: Thank you to Anabel for introducing herself here and inviting us all to go gallivanting with her. I highly recommend that you take her up on this offer. I know that you won’t be disappointed. Want to live your life more fully, and follow a bold plan? Please, join us next Sunday when we welcome Guest Host, Joanne Sisco.

Never Say Never: The Tale of a Reluctant Blogger

I always said that I would retire when hell froze, and I’d become a blogger on the twelfth of never. After making these unequivocal statements, I retired two years and four months ago at age 55, and I have written 87 posts in my first eight months of blogging. All of which means that I either don’t know my own mind (scarily true) or that the Yiddish proverb “Man plans and God laughs” is accurate (I have no doubt).

Since Donna’s readers reasonably expect to be hearing from someone who is willing to reflect (blog) about retirement and I’ve clearly been ambivalent, okay hostile, about both, I’d better explain.

Donna and I come from the same background –education—and even worked in the same school district, although we unfortunately never met. I wish we had. Donna, as I’m sure you agree, is terrific –warm, thoughtful, engaging.

Back to my story. I saw my work as my life’s purpose and did it to an extent that even workaholics found excessive. The wheels came off the bus after I left the school district to write books for teachers, principals, and students, and to travel all over North America doing workshops and keynotes based on those books. Six professional books, three adolescent literacy programs, and hundreds of speaking engagements later, I burned out. You can watch the short version of that story in the whiteboard video on my site. The video is called “Joining the Club of the Living Dead” which is a completely apt description of how I felt when I left education. So I didn’t so much retire as collapse, not something I recommend to aspiring retirees!

reluctnat blogger

As for blogging, my current site is not my first rodeo. My publisher, Pearson, urged me to blog for the readers of my books. They claimed that people would be fascinated to learn about the person behind the author/speaker. I couldn’t imagine why anyone would care one whit about what I did in my life outside work. Besides, I didn’t have a life outside work! Being crazy busy writing books on deadlines, I blogged reluctantly, inconsistently, and only about education.

Everything changed after I recovered from burnout. I relished the opportunity to reboot my life—to live more intentionally and choose what is meaningful to me beyond the world of education.

I decided to start Profound Journey as a way to both document my own journey, and to find my tribe of women who want to live vibrant, creative, purpose-filled, passionate lives.

Here are the categories on the site and the title of a sample post within each:
Personal Change – Your Transition to Retirement is Supposed to Be Difficult
Creativity – A six-part series on writing memoir, including Why Your Memoir Needs a Theme and How to Choose One
Self-Care—Guided Meditation Help for Beginners and Skeptics
Perspective –Appreciating the Wabi-Sabi Way of Life
Tribe Stories – 25 Not-Too-Scary Life Questions Worth Asking Yourself
Wow Notes – Longplayer: Music for 1000 Years

No longer the reluctant blogger, I am delighted to be a reader of Donna’s site and of the many other excellent sites she has highlighted through this Guest Post Series. Thank you for being a blogger’s matchmaker extraordinaire, Donna, and for the opportunity to introduce my site to your readers.

Karen

Profound Journey


From Retirement Reflections
– I, too, wish that Karen and I had met personally when we both worked for School District 23. I greatly appreciate her remarkably open and honest sharing. I highly encourage you to check out her site at Profound Journey. I’m confident that you will find her blog to be filled with much wisdom and encouragement, as well as fascinating information.
For next week, please grab your hiking boots! Anabel Marsh from ‘Glasgow Gallivanter’ will be taking us on walking adventures around the globe. Don’t worry about the pace, Anabel always stops for coffee!