Tips for Future Retirees

Happy Sunday, Voyagers!  Do you remember back a couple of months ago I asked you to ponder the following question?

What is the one piece of advice
you wish someone had given you
prior to your retirement?

Our retirement blogger community rose to the occasion and provided me with a wealth of suggestions.  Happily for me, I have been asked once again to guest post for Donna over at Retirement Reflections.  So I figured this was perfect opportunity to share the list I (um…..you all) put together.  So hop on over to Retirement Reflections and take a peek!  I’m excited to see what you think!  You’re the experts!

Lynn

Kauai – 8 Great Things to See and Do

Hubs and I just returned from eight days on the lovely island of Kauai, Hawaii.  Our visit towards the end of February gave us temperatures in the mid-70’s with a couple of warm, rainy days.  Kauai is known as the “garden island,” so travelers should be prepared for a little rain.

First, just for fun…It was pointed out to me that the east side of Kauai, when viewed from above, looks a bit like Chewbacca!

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Now on to the important stuff.  We stayed up on the north shore, in a condo (VRBO) in Princeville.  While there, be sure to visit:

The Kilauea Lighthouse

This landmark represents the northernmost point of the main Hawaiian Islands.  The unbelievable turquoise waters below the lighthouse point are worth the trip.

 

 

 

The Dolphin Restaurant, Fish Market and Sushi Lounge

Before I went to Kauai, I wasn’t a big fan of fish.  Well, if there is any place on earth to change that opinion, it was at the Dolphin.  The Dolphin boasts the freshest fish in Hawaii, and the servers were well versed in the characteristics of each type of fish.  These folks are also pros at impeccable preparation.  The Dolphin operates on a first come, first served basis, but there is a lovely garden where you can enjoy a cocktail and appetizers.  The menu has non-fish entrees, but trust me…try the fish!

Dolphin restaurant interior

 

Sunshine Helicopters

If you are staying on the north side of the Island, Sunshine Helicopters offers tours which take off from the Princeville airport.  Of all the places to take a helicopter tour, Kauai is the place.  Because much of this rugged island is inaccessible by road, a helicopter tour gives a unique perspective, along with fun narration from the pilot.

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Waimea Canyon by helicopter

A word of caution:  We allowed the concierge at the resort to book our flight, and found out upon returning that we’d have saved $200 had we booked it online ourselves.  (But wait…we’d have saved $190.00 if we’d attended the Wyndham timeshare spiel….hmm – learn from our mistake!)

Blue Dolphin Kauai Snorkel Tour

We took a tour over to the Na Pali coast on the island, via Blue Dolphin Tours.  Not only was the coast absolutely stunning, but the captain and crew aboard this large catamaran were over the top hospitable, offering breakfast, juices, sodas, lunch, and after snorkeling, the bar opened.  A wonderful day!

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Poipu, Koloa and the Spouting Horn

Be certain to follow highway 520 to the southernmost part of island. En route, you will pass through the Tree Tunnel, made of eucalyptus trees.  Old Koloa Town, the island’s first sugar plantation town, is charming and worth the stop.  Continuing on to Po’ipu, you will find Po’pu Beach Park and Brennecke’s Beach Broiler.  Enjoy one of the best Mai Tais ever built and some ridiculously yummy food!

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The Spouting Horn Beach Park is worth a visit.  The horn is made from a lava shelf, where water from waves is forced through an opening, squirting water out a blowhole.  This particular blowhole is different from others, because air rushes through another hole, making a moaning sound.  Some say it’s a dragon…

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What Kauai trip would be complete without a beautiful, beach sunset.  The stunning Kekaha Beach Park is part of a 15 mile stretch of white sand beach.  While this is not a beach for swimming because it is unprotected from the ocean and has strong rip-tides, it is a lovely spot for sunbathing or beach combing – or in our case, watching the sunset:

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We’re home now, and our Kauai trip did just what was intended.  Get us out of the snowy north until spring was at least visible.  My forsythia is starting to bloom outside my window.  Guess it worked.

Lynn

Retired Spring Break is Better

A couple of years ago, I read a very endearing blog post written by Lauren over at The Stuff of Life Blog.  It seems that Lauren found herself traveling with her son to Miami for spring break!

First off, she gets some seeerioouuusss cool mom points, especially since she footed the bill.  And secondly, she got me thinking about why I was glad not to be my former, younger, wild thing self of (eh-hem…) just a few short years ago.

These days, the Encore Voyage definitely does not include spring break antics.  Here are a few reasons:

1. We don’t need to escape – Our daily life is pretty damn sweet!  Back in the day, we would count the days until we could ditch college and get some relief somewhere…anywhere!  Now, there’s just not that much to run from.

2. Sleeping in is no longer our priority – God knows I never thought anyone would hear me say this…I have become a lark.  This from a perpetual night owl!  I worked my way through college as a bartender – staying up half the night was part of the routine.  Spring break was when we dreamed of sleeping until noon.  But now – wait for it – I love the sunrise!  I believe this is because we are no longer exhausted as we were during our working careers.  Weird, I know, but true!

3. We don’t need to use spring break to catch up (on studies or other chores) – Remember when you would use spring break to start reading that 50,000 pages that you had put off reading?  Or would count on having the time finally to start that term paper? For us, those things that need to be done have either already been done, or they’ll keep until tomorrow…or next week.

4. The party of a few hundred thousand can go on without us – Spring break evokes pictures of beaches full of wall to wall young sweaty bodies.  Not my idea of a good time anymore.  Does it say something about us that on our recent cruise, there were few people younger than about 25?  And that we planned it that way?  I don’t think we’re old fuddy-duddies, but we sure as heck plan our springtime travels for the times when the little revelers will be safely back in their academic constraints!

5. We know our limits –  Ahhhh, that dancin’, loud music, beach filled, booze fest attended by thousands of our new best friends.  Back then we could hardly wait.  Older – wiser – I can’t remember the last time I puked on my shoes!  Perhaps it’s because we can now afford better cocktails and good wines?  Or maybe we just grew up enough to know that needing to shave your tongue or hold your eyelids open with toothpicks is not a great feeling…

6. THEY come to US – I don’t know about the rest of you, but when I was in college, I couldn’t wait to go HOME for spring break.  Most years I was out the door and headed for good old mom and dad’s!  Laundry in tow and expecting a paid for, home cooked meal was about the best thing ever.  We don’t have kids, but my friends tell me that one of the perks of retirement is getting to spend time with children and grandchildren on their spring breaks – On your own terms!

7. No more bikinis! – Lauren truthfully points out that it is difficult to walk around all day with your stomach tucked in, but that if she had to, she could – She just doesn’t need to anymore!!! I couldn’t have said it better myself!

So how about it, fellow Voyagers?  Got any other reasons why retired spring break is better for you?  I’d love to hear!

Lynn

Encore Quote ~ You Worried Too Much

If you read my post earlier in the week, you’ll know that this is one of the things I wish I’d learned much earlier in my life.  So many of the things I’ve learned since we started the voyage include slowing down, being present, reducing stress, breathing.  The quality of our lives has improved so much that we often think, “Why didn’t we know this before!?!

So how about it, fellow Voyagers.  Are you stressing over things that in the end won’t really matter?  Are there things you can eliminate?  Ways you can slow down?

I wish you a peaceful and worry free weekend!

Lynn

If We’d Only Known Then…

Last night we were at dinner at a local chain restaurant and overheard (um…eavesdropped upon) some young people discussing their desires for the future, and about how it would be so difficult to obtain those desires.

We’ve been journeying on the Encore Voyage for over six years now, and so many times have found ourselves saying

“If only we’d have known then what we know now!”

Not that we’ve got this retirement gig completely figured out, but there are so many things we’ve learned since we retired that would have made our pre-retirement lives so much richer!  Here are my top ten:

  1. Practice mindfulness – We both rushed through 30+ year careers, and while we’ve had a lot of fun times, I wish now that I’d paid more attention. I wish I’d have spent more time breathing deeply and relishing those special moments.  We never get them again.
  2. Become an Automatic Millionaire – This book, by David Bach, is a game changer. The takeaway is simple.  Use an automatic, direct deposit of some amount of money to an investment account WITH EVERY PAYCHECK.  Pay yourself first.  Use the power of compound interest to make you wealthy.  For those who believe they don’t make enough money to save – baloney.  You will never miss it, and believe me, you’ll just buy one or two fewer beverages at Starbucks.
  3. Pay attention to how much junk you’re accumulating – We have neighbors whose garages are stuffed full! My brother-in-law spent half a year going through a deceased parent’s lifetime accumulations!  All those things you are buying or saving now may end up in boxes in the future.  Do you really need them?
  4. Life is about collecting experiences, not stuff – See number 3 above, then mentally calculate the monetary value of the “stuff” you’ve accumulated. Now translate that value into how many plane tickets you could have bought! How many hours of your life did it take you to earn that “thing?” What experiences could you have had, given that same amount of cash?
  5. Take care of your relationships – It is the people in your life who make you whole – Not the work you do, the house you live in or the car you drive. At the end of the day, the people are the ONLY ones who will matter.
  6. Learn to say NO – During my working career I filled every minute of every day. I wish now that I had understood the value of not being so busy.  I wish I had learned to spend my time on what is important, rather than on what was urgent.
  7. Quit responding to negativity – It has taken me many years to learn to turn off the news; to stop allowing negative media, social or otherwise, to infiltrate my life; to stop listening to the negative blather of people judging others. It may seem a bit Pollyanna, but the same is true on a more personal level.  Do you engage only with people who lift you up, or do you spend time with those who bring you down.  Are you a positive influence in the lives of others?  The less you engage in negativity, the more peaceful your life becomes.
  8. Pay attention to your passions – What are the activities you truly love? Are there things you always wish you could do; things you’ve always wanted to try? What gives you a warm glow inside? It’s good to know what will bring you joy when that time comes when career is no longer the priority.
  9. You are responsible for your own happiness. Miserable people focus on the things they hate about their lives. Happy people focus on the things they love about their lives. The choice is a conscious one.  The power of gratitude is very real. I have realized now as I look back that I spent a great deal of time worrying about things that didn’t really matter.
  10. Character counts – Tell one lie and all your truths become questionable.  Do something that is ethically or morally questionable and people will forever question your motives.  At the end of the day, your character truly is your honor.  Take care of it and it will serve you well into your retirement years.

This is a short list of ideas we wish we had known.  I’m sure my fellow Voyagers could add plenty more.  I’ll be interested to hear.

Lynn

Packing for the Voyage – Our Best Tips

I am a packing BOSS!  Now, I understand that there are about a million and one bloggers who have created packing lists, so I’m not really going to do that.  And right up front, I want to assure you that nobody is paying me anything to write this stuff.  (I haven’t even yet figured out HOW to get anyone to pay me anything for blogging – but that’s another story.)

I did want to share that as hubs and I have been doing more wandering on the Voyage, I have been studying up, and here is one thing I have seen over and over again:

Checked Luggage = Lost Luggage!

Maybe not this time, maybe not next time…but eventually.  And so I have learned how to use packing cubes and envelopes to enable us to travel anywhere for at least 10 days in a 22 inch carry-on suitcase and a backpack.  We’ll be leaving on Monday for Hawaii, and we’ll only be taking carry-on items.

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It starts out by using the Eagle Creek Pack-It system.  Again, Eagle Creek has no idea I feel this way.  I wish they did, as I’d be a great sales rep!  Here’s one thing I’ve learned:

Clothing Wrinkles When It Moves

In a suitcase that is.  Eagle Creek Packing Cubes and the Envelope make it easy to compress a whole bunch of clothes into a very small space.  These are the pieces we’ll use.  With the envelope up top, you use a folding board and can compress at least 10 – 16 tops, skirts, dresses, shorts or pants into a six-inch thick bundle (seriously…I’ve done it!) the beautiful thing is, the clothing travels well, with minimal wrinkles.  Each evening, I hang tomorrow’s items, and by morning, they’re perfect.

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The medium packing cubes let me roll knit skirts, pajamas, and palazzo pants into a small compressed bundle.  Swimsuits and all that stuff will go in another cube.  The smallest cubes are perfect for underwear.  There is nothing better than having the hubs know exactly where to find his stuff, with no rooting around in a suitcase!  We use the tiniest cubes for electronic chargers, etc.

Each of us has TSA approved travel kits, which are always packed with the liquids that we need when traveling.  (In between trips, all I do is refill the shampoo bottle!)  It’s pretty much “grab and go.”

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And then there’s this little baby.  I call it my “anything you need kit.”  While I swore that I wouldn’t give you a packing list, you could probably fix your car with less than is in this little pouch.  It holds everything from superglue and Velcro to toothpicks and teabags.  It has a mini-lint roller, band-aids, eye drops, laundry detergent and wet wipes.  And a whole bunch of other tiny, but very useful things! It’s saved us on many occasions.

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How it all fits together is dependent upon whether or not we’re TSA Pre-checked.  Our electronic readers and tablets go in the backpacks so we can access them easily.  I always wear a large scarf or pashmina.  It can serve as a blanket on a cold airplane, can be a swimsuit cover-up, a shawl, or even a throw for a picnic.  (Ummmm….and I always put the heaviest stuff in hub’s backpack.)  There are always quart and gallon sized zip lock bags in my suitcase – perfect if you have a damp swimsuit or need to make an ice pack!  And lastly, copies of all important travel documents and information, including passports, emergency credit card numbers and prescriptions are stored safely in a cloud account (we use One Note) – so that we can access them from any computer.

So that’s how we roll.  Does anybody have any other great tips to share?  I’d love to hear!  And Eagle Creek, if you’re trying to get hold of me in the next couple of weeks, I’ll be on a beach in Hawaii!

Lynn

 

Overcoming the Guilt of Being Retired – 6 Ideas for Letting it Go

Retirement Guilt

Recently, I’ve been experiencing some “down time” on the voyage.  My side hustle gigs have slowed down considerably, I didn’t get a contract that I desperately wanted, and I find myself with an abundance of TIME on my hands.

Most people would say, “Isn’t that what retirement is supposed to be about?”  Having nothing but time to do what you want?

Now that I find myself in that situation, a new monster has reared its ugly head – GUILT!  There is a nagging voice in my head that I should be doing something more “productive.”  Somehow, sitting reading a book in the middle of the day could be considered lazy.  How can I work on a quilt in the middle of the afternoon when I should be “working!”

I  have been working hard to fight off those nagging “shoulds!”  I should be doing the laundry.  I should be cleaning something.  I should be doing almost anything that would be considered worthwhile around the house, rather than what I WANT to do.

And just to pile on a little bit, there are always those pre-retired friends, who feel the need to express, “You’re sooooooo lucky to be retired!  Some of us don’t get to sleep in late.”

So what’s a Voyager to do?

Setting Ourselves Free

Recognize that you are deserving of your good fortune.  You’ve worked hard for many years and have made prudent financial decisions which allowed you to retire.  There is no need to apologize for those decisions.  Embrace your well-earned life style.  It’s quite OK to get some rest after 30+ years of racing with the rats! When someone says, “You’re so lucky,” just smile and agree with them!

Change your definition of productivity – When you were employed by someone else, you were paid to produce some type of product.  In my case it was well-taught little people.  Now I am my own “employer,” and I get to decide what the “product” is.  Perhaps it’s a clean house, or a weeded flower bed, or a well written article. Or as my own boss, I can tell myself to “take the day off!”

Volunteer:  Share your time, talents and treasures with others.  If you must combat the guilt of being somehow better off than other people, perhaps you could share your good fortune by giving of your time.  Pick any group which appeals to your heart, and it is not difficult to find an abundance of volunteer opportunities!

Embrace being unbusy.  It takes a little bit of study and practice to intentionally decide that it is OK not to go full-steam ahead all the time.  After all, we burned the candle at both ends for an entire working career.  For me, the practice of yoga helped with the first steps.  And Josh Becker’s post at Becoming Minimalist makes note of some practical advice.  It is important to let go of activities that don’t suit you.  It is not necessary to have a jam-packed calendar.  Set it Free. “Take time to let your soul breathe!” (His quote, not mine!)

Identify your own values – For Jeremy and I, it was a conversation over a glass of wine – “Now that we are retired, what is it that we truly value?”  Of course, many of our lifelong values have remained steadfast, and a few have been adjusted or added as we refined the list.  It’s not an easy conversation, and calls for some introspection over time.  But once identified, I found it freeing to compare what I was doing with whether or not it aligned with our values.  For example, we have determined that we value “Personal growth – creating, learning, exploring.”  Creating a new quilt clearly fits, and becomes even more valuable in that light.  Pat Doyle over at Retirement Transitions recently wrote about the stages of adult development.  Ownership of your own values is an important part of stage 4.  Go check out Pat’s post.

Plan something each day to bring you joy.  It started as sort of a New Year’s Resolution.  In my journal each morning, I plan something for the day that will bring joy.  Such a simple suggestion, and the effects have been so positive.  It seems that joy and guilt are sort of mutually exclusive.  Planning a joyful activity gives legitimacy to the pursuit and puts it high on my ‘To-Do list.

Recognize that this is not a dress rehearsal.  None of us know how long the Encore Voyage will last.  Don’t wait.  If there is something you want to do, it might be best to do it soon!  Be spontaneous!  Those other “should do’s” will still be there later!

So how about it Voyagers.  Do you endure feelings of guilt because you no longer trudge off to a nine-to-five job?  I’d love it if you’d share your thoughts and experiences!

Lynn