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!

Summer Sundays Series is Almost Here

Summer Series

I wrote previously about creating a Summer Series: Favorite Retirement/Lifestyle Bloggers. For quite a while, I’d been trying to find a personal and effective way of highlighting favorite bloggers in my niche. A ‘Summer Series’ seemed to be the perfect solution. It would help share blogs that I love. It would also bring fresh content to my site for some of the time that I am away this summer…without access to the internet.

Thank you to all who have responded so positively to this series. Due to your overwhelming replies, I am delighted to be able to initiate this feature a bit earlier than originally planned.

Starting next week, I’ll begin sharing some amazing bloggers. Hopefully you will find several ‘old favorites’ here…and a few ‘new favorites’ as well!

First up, is Marty from Snakes in the Grass with ‘Torrid Romance and Sensual Escapes: A Retirement Primer.’ Try not laughing at his witty writing. Go ahead; I dare you!

The following week we’ll be visited by Leanne, from Cresting the Hill. Not yet retired, Leanne’s catch phrase is “actively transitioning.” In her post, ‘The Transition to Retirement — Smiling All of the Way’, Leanne offers many insightful thoughts on preparing for this change process. I wish that I had known about her blog before I had retired!

After Leanne is Sue from Sizzling Toward Sixty and Beyond. Through her post, ‘Retire From Work But Not From Life,’ Sue shares her insights on the art of positive aging. Some of you have visited a guest post that I wrote for Sue’s blog. She has made June her ‘Month of Health and Wellness.’ I’m sure that you will find Sue’s tips and reminders to be very valuable.

On Sunday, July 9 we’ll hear from Kate from Views and Mews. Kate shares with us ‘A Backward Glance At Retirement.’ Once again, humor is the secret weapon…and Kate knows just how to use it!

In a post inspired by Sue (above), Pat Doyle from Retirement Transition will share with us “17 New Things in 2017”. I’ve mentioned before that building relationships, sharing ideas, connecting, and motivating each other are just a few of the amazing benefits of blogging. Pat’s post is a perfect example of this!

On the remaining Sundays, I will highlight the following blogs (not necessarily in this order):

Retirementally Challenged
My Life Lived Full
Hugh’s Views and News
The Glasgow Gallivanter
Roaming About
Profound Journey
Grammy’s Grid
Gideon Sock Puppet
Smart Living 365
Easin’ Along
Second Wind Leisure Perspectives

Don’t see the site of a retirement/lifestyle blogger whom you adore? Let me know, and I will gladly stalk them! Don’t see your own site in this niche and would like to join in the fun? Please let me know that too… you cannot hide for long!

As there are so many remarkable retirement/lifestyle bloggers out there, I would love to keep this chain going for as long as possible. When reading many of these bloggers, my recurring question often is “Where were you all when I was contemplating my retirement?” Hopefully, this series will help others to connect with a little inspiration.

If you have agreed to write a guest post and can get it to me by the end of June, that would be most helpful. I will then ensure that I have all articles ready to go before I set off for the Camino Trail.

I’m excited! (Yes, both about this series…and about the trail!) Don’t forget to tune in next Sunday!

Feature Photo

Almost Wordless Wednesday: A Week in the Life of a Retiree

The most common question that I have been asked since retiring is “What do you do all week?” The short answer is “no two weeks look alike”. Here’s a sample from this past week using an Almost Wordless Wednesday format. (I do realize that it’s Monday…and this post is not exactly wordless…thus the ‘almost’!) I’ve also included both weekends to give you a broader cross-section of possible activities and events. Enjoy!

Almost Wordless Wednesday: Saturday Coffee
After a week-long stay visiting family in Kelowna, we made an overnight stop in Vancouver. There are so many great places to linger with a coffee and a good book, like The Boulangerie La Parisienne in Yaletown.
Wordless Wednesday: Sunday Walking Group
The Mid-Island Walking Group meets Wednesdays and alternate Saturdays/Sundays. It’s a perfect way to get outdoors, get some exercise and engage in great conversations. Just ask Jake (who has taken the lead)!
Almost Wordless Wednesday: Meeting of artists/crafters
Meeting of Artists, Crafters, Photographers…and a Blogger! This newly formed group seeks to have surrounding companionship, inspiration, and unbiased opinions while working on art-related activities.
Tuesday: Yoga, Dog-Walking and Dinner
Morning yoga, afternoon dog-walking for the SPCA, and evening “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner'(a monthly feature of our Newcomer’s Group). Busy day!
Almost Wordless Wednesday: Hiking and Book Club
A shorter hike today with our Walking Group (5K) followed by Book Club. These are two of my favorite things to do (as long as they include coffee and snacks afterward). BTW – Please do not ask why it looks like I am praying in this photo…I honestly have no idea!
Almost Wordless Wednesday: Euchre and Board Meeting
Today I officially ‘graduated’ from our beginners’ euchre clinic and was ‘accepted’ to join the regular Monday euchre league! The excitement must have made me forget to take a photograph (both of this historic event and the Newcomer’s Executive Meeting later that evening). Being resourceful, I made due with similar photos that I had on file. In the bottom photo, simply ignore Richard, the excessive wine glasses and the seasonal cards/lighting and you pretty much have the image of today’s meeting down to a tee!
Almost Wordless Wednesday: Coffee after Yoga, Bookfair and Happy Hour
Another busy day in the life of a retiree. Coffee after yoga followed by volunteering at the SPCA Bookfair, followed by our neighbourhood Friday Happy Hour. Somebody’s gotta do it!!
Almost Wordless Wednesday: Flea Markets, Coffee Tasting and Dinner with Friends
Spring on Vancouver Island is abloom with bright colours, flea markets, and cool/quirky events. Today I took a quick browse at our neighbourhood rummage sale before heading back to work at the SPCA book sale. During my lunch break, I snuck off with friends to a local coffee/tea tasting. Richard and I then topped off the day by having dinner with a couple that we met in Palm Desert this past October and feel we have known forever. (I LOVE when that happens!)
Almost Wordless Wednesday: Pajama Day
A common saying among retirees in “when did I ever have time to work??” For me, this past week was a great example of this. Hence, I have unilaterally declared today to be ‘Pajama Day.’ I seriously need to catch up on my rest, reading and computer-related stuff like ‘Blogging Grandmothers’!
Almost Wordless Wednesday: Blogging Grandmothers Network
Yes, you read correctly. I have been asked to be one of the co-hosts for ‘Blogging Grandmothers’ twice-monthly blogging link-up. Our recent link-up just went live. Although you do need to be a grandmother to add a post, you do not need to be a grandparent, or even a parent, to read the links found there. The posts include great stories and tips for all. Some of these ‘grandmothers’ just may surprise you! Click on my last post to take a peek!
So how was your week?
Photo collages made with Canva .

You Know You Are Retired When….

Here I am packing for another trip. In the past, this would not have been unusual if it were official vacation or even business travel. But, it’s simply a random get-away. Insert light bulb going off here: ‘I am retired!!’

As strange as it may seem, I often forget that I am no longer employed. This isn’t only due to my  ‘ingrained work patterns’ (although I definitely have them). It’s more that the things that I do in retirement have become my job (both my passions, and my responsibilities—the exciting, and the mundane). After all, I retired from a position…not from life.

This blog, cooking, house/yard maintenance, dog-walking, budgeting, exercise, travel and taking care of the ones that I love…are all part of my current job description.  It’s a flexible, fluid list that shifts and is modified daily. Still, there are moments when reality strikes me, and I blurt out loud, “It’s true…I really am retired!” Here are few of my defining retirement moments.

Loafing and Puttering: It’s a brand new skill for me…but I honestly believe that I am getting the hang of it.

Realizing that Other People Still Work: When I take out the recycling, I am always surprised to see people walking onto the school bus, or getting into their cars, briefcases in hand. I am reminded that it is no longer a holiday. Seriously, it jolts me every single time.

Does Anyone Really Know What Time it is? I am frequently unsure of what day or date it is (except for garbage and recycling days…because I have an email reminder sent to my phone)!

Casual Friday Anyone?  What I used to wear for “Dress Down Day” at work is now what I wear when I want to dress smartly. Me in jeans is now me gussied up.

Empty Store Syndrome: I now know what the inside of a mall looks like on a non-weekend, non-holiday. There is so much space — it almost echoes! Really, who knew?

Forbidden  Fruit: My Book Club meets on a Wednesdays at…wait for it…1:30 p.m.!  My walking group also meets midweek and midday. In my previous life, I had no idea that this would ever be possible…or allowed. (In a future post, I will mention more about the average age in our small town. Spoiler alert: It’s old!)

How Early is Too Early? Richard and I regularly eat dinner three hours earlier than we did during our work lives. (And I say ‘three hours’ because I don’t want to embarrass myself and admit that it is sometimes ‘four.’)

Open Classroom: On a previous post, I received a very insightful comment from a reader named Marilyn. A lifelong learner, she wrote that one of the best features of her retirement is that she now gets to choose her lessons….and her teachers. This is an aspect of retirement on which I wish to capitalize further.

Task Completion:  Similar to the freedom to choose your own learning, is the freedom to complete your tasks at your own pace. I can binge-task on one day, and play hooky the next. (I also have ‘pajama days’, like today, where I just get stuff done…without ever getting out of my PJs). I can abort an unfulfilling task half way through, or simply shelve a project for a very long time. Ignoring tasks in front of me was an unfamiliar concept to me during my work life.  But, like with loafing and puttering, I believe that I am quickly catching on!

24/7:   I now get to do things in ‘real time,’ with much less need to delay gratification.  A perfect example is the day that our first grandchild was born. He arrived earlier than expected. The moment that I got the call, I was on the next ferry (literally) and was able to meet Charlie shortly after he was born. I plan to do this again when our next two grandchildren are born (this November and December). Now, how cool is that?

So, what are your defining retirement moments (real or imagined)? I’d love to read them!

 

We’ve Become the Hewitts

My husband and I have been long-time friends with Stan and Deidre Hewitt. That’s not their real names, but let’s call them that for the purpose of this post – they’ll recognize themselves soon enough.

The Hewitts retired a couple of years before us. ‘Extremely active’ does not begin to describe their lifestyle. At their home in BC they both regularly golf, cycle, camp, garden, cook, entertain, help out with the grandchildren (and the grand-dogs). They also are avid downhill skiers. Frequent travelers, they spend much time in California and Arizona, as well as trips abroad (they’ve recently returned from cycling in Cuba). Stan, the poster-child for retirement-energy-extraordinaire, frequently competes in triathlons and other endurance sports. In fact, Stan regularly sets his alarm clock for six a.m. each day simply because he does not want to miss anything. Deidre, an avid reader, said that she used to read multiple books per week…before Stan retired. “The year that Stan joined me in retirement, I barely finished a single book”, Deidre told me–with her broad smile, “we were simply too busy!”

Each retired couple that we know models a unique retirement lifestyle.  Some are much more content with a gentler, stay-near-home pace, while others maintain lifestyles that definitely rival the Hewitts for speed, stamina, and travel miles! When planning for our retirement, we were aiming for a balance between the two ends. In my mind’s eye, we were currently living that average, in-between lifestyle.

Yesterday, at a family gathering in Vancouver, a friend innocently asked, “how was your recent trip?”  I stared blankly. Was she talking about Kelowna, where we had just driven back from that morning? Or Victoria, where we were last week? Or Spain, where we were less than a month ago? Or England where we were for our youngest son’s graduation just before that?

“We’ve turned into the Hewitts!” I exclaimed to my husband once we had returned home. “How so?” he asked. I handed him our September calendar. “Four nights of camping, followed by family visiting from out of town, followed by another family outing in Vancouver, followed by our road trip to Palm Desert,” I said, highlighting only the key events. “You left out the visit from the Hewitts,” Richard said. “They emailed this morning–they’re stopping by in the middle of the month on their way to Tofino.”

So, maybe we do currently have a rather active retirement lifestyle. Like the Hewitts, we are having tons of family-time, friend-time, exercise, and adventure. We have also been able to do this in very low-cost ways (often with dog-in-tow). Most importantly, we are loving every minute of it. When it’s time to take a break or slow down a bit,  I know that we will do so.

As I am typing this, the phone rings.  A couple of minutes later, I grab my September calendar, smile,  and add in just one more thing!