Category Archives: Mindfulness

That’s Outrageous!

I’ve been thinking recently about causes of stress in our lives.  As I’ve said before, this is a pretty good gig!  What could possibly be causing angst?  And then I heard an expression somewhere that resonated with me:

We have become a country addicted to OUTRAGE!

As I started to examine that concept, I can see so many examples of its truth.  Everywhere we look, something in the media, social or otherwise, is just begging us to get riled up.  Remember the days when the paper was delivered in the morning, and the news was on TV at 5:00 and 10:00 pm?  Not much time for anything but reporting real events.  But these days, a 24-hour news cycle, coupled with thousands of different media outlets plying for your attention, has given rise to endless “click bait.”

Now I’m not saying that we should become complacent.  We SHOULD be outraged by some a$$hole who shoots hundreds of people in Las Vegas.  We SHOULD be outraged by an idiot who drives a truck into a crowd of innocent people.

But pictures of fat Trump? or Hillary with an enraged face? or Melania’s high heels? or what this or that celebrity did or did not say?  REALLY?????  Do we need to be outraged at that nonsense?  Reporters on TV are no longer “reporters” – they are “commentators”…and they are banking on their ability to get you hooked.

And maybe this is just a sign that I’m getting old, but don’t they teach how to detect bias in high school English any more? Like:

  • Are there inflammatory words in this headline?
  • Is this trying to sway my opinion or get me to hop on board?
  • Is this intentionally misleading?
  • Is it the intent of the publisher just to sway me to click on the site (and hopefully on advertisers?)
  • Is it their intent to incite or outrage the reader?

 

As I was surfing around, I found this video on YouTube which, while a little old, still rings true:

Outrage

So how’s about everyone just take a big deep breath, be grateful in the moment, and vow to look for happier, compassionate, uplifting events in our world.  OK, I know, that sounded pretty PollyAnna, even to me!  (gag me with a spoon!)

But my point is, we do have some control.  As consumers, we get to decide what ‘news’ to read, what sites to click on.  We have more control than you might imagine.  My friend over at Intrepid Kate has instituted her own Facebook policy.  She will scroll her feed until she comes across negativity.  When that happens, she shuts it down and wanders over to something more fun like Instagram or Pinterest.

As for me, I’ve taken to using the “Unfollow” button on my Facebook feed.  Those friends who insist on posting negativity are getting ‘turned off’ (not Unfriended, mind you – I’m just taking a break from their posts.)

I have successfully reduced my Facebook feed to friends who provide “soul-enhancing relationships,” advertisements, and PUPPIES!  Oh yeah, and goofy videos…

So I would encourage you to reserve your outrage for more than Tarantulas in the Guacamole (watch the video).

Random.Ranting.Over.  Can’t wait to hear your thoughts…

Lynn

 

Retirement: Using Time Intentionally

Lately, I have been thinking about the concept of Time.  It seems that when we started into this journey called retirement, the concept of time got tweaked a little bit.

Early on in the Encore Voyage, I found myself carefully examining how I wanted to spend my days.  Perhaps it was out of a fear that I would grow old in a rocking chair, sitting staring out the window, or, worse yet, at a TV screen.

What happened next is that we started examining what we really value and then we tried to align our values with our daily activities.  We poured some glasses of wine and discussed

What’s REALLY important to us?

Then we decided that we wanted to do those things.  On purpose. With Intention. All the time.

In reading other blogs, it seems that we’re not the only ones doing this type of activity in retirement.  I think maybe it’s because we’ve grown up a bit, and what used to be important to us has changed.   We no longer feel the need to have the coolest “stuff.” In fact, we really want less “stuff!”  And we no longer feel the need to impress anyone.  Climbing some perceived ladder – um, yeah… we’re done with that.

I wonder if it’s because we think time is more fleeting at this age, and that we’d better not waste even one minute – Good Lord, that made me sound old…but still –

The other thing that’s changed is the concept of being busy. When I was teaching, I could do about ten things at a time.  I could have a phone ringing on my desk, parents at my classroom door, a stack of papers to handle, students who were hungry, fighting or about to throw up – and that’s all before 8:10!  It seemed that “busyness” was the order of the day – Every.Single.Day.

Now, we actively seek strategies to reduce the busyness. – Opening up space in the day to breathe, think, rest, and meditate.  What’s that all about, huh?  Perhaps being more busy does not make you a more dynamic or important person.  It just makes you tired and stressed out.

So I hope today you’ll take some time to

Think about what’s important

Then do that!

One thing I’ve learned on the voyage is that time can control you, or you can control it.  You get to decide what to make of each day.  Make it a great one!

Lynn

Photo credit: Anna Dzuibinska ~ Unsplash

Yet Another List – Needs vs. Wants

Recently, Kathy Merlino over at Kathy’s Retirement Blog, wrote a post called What Is Your Relationship with Money?  It seems that some folks really took exception to Kathy’s use of the term ‘Blow Money’ for that money which has been earmarked for “discretionary spending.”  She and her hubs allot a certain amount each month to spend as they see fit – without questions!  I think it’s great – It’s not “Money Blown” as her next post suggests, but rather money which is spent making their lives wonderful!  Yep, actual money for LIVING!

Hubs and I use a similar but slightly different “strategy.”  We keep what we call the Needs and Wants List:

Our Needs-Wants List

On the Needs side, we list things that are going to REQUIRE upcoming expenditures:  A new roof.  Tires for the car.  On the Wants side, we list things that come up that we would like to purchase, but are not actual necessities:  New tile in the guest bath, refacing the kitchen cabinets, those diamond encrusted wine glasses (OK…. Not really…. surely you know me better than that by now!)

The point is that the list accomplishes two things for us:

  • First, by putting an item on the list, we are forced to analyze our motives.  Is this something we really need, or is it something we’d just like to have?
  • Second, putting items on one list or the other allows us to prioritize our spending, while slowing down impulse buying (at least on larger items.)  Have you ever stopped to think something through like this – “Which would be more important to us…a new toilet or new carpet in the family room?”

The list is generally for bigger ticket items.  We have always had a shared bank account, and because we both have similar financial values, we don’t get crazy on the day to day splurges.  (Yep, occasional quilt fabric counts as day to day spending.)  Neither of us is a compulsive shopper – I repeatedly remind him that he is a lucky man, because clothes shopping is just not in my wheelhouse!  Our Needs and Wants list helps us to think about the question, “What do we need to save for, and what should we “blow money” on?”  In either case,  we believe that as long as it’s thoughtful, deliberate, and within the retirement budget, none of that money is actually “blown.”

Retiring with Intention – 12 Ways

Live less out of habit and more out of

This morning I decided to write at the counter, while enjoying my morning coffee and the sunrise as it peeked in my kitchen window.  It occurred to me that before the Encore Voyage, I rarely took the time to just be observant about sights and sounds around me.  The Encore Voyage is changing us…Jeremy and I are choosing to live our lives more intentionally.  We get to decide what to make of each day.  The other night, while enjoying a glass of wine, we made a list of those things in our lives we really value.  Here’s our list:

 

1. Our marriage – We both agreed that this is number one on our list.  Our number one priority is each other.  Jeremy once participated in a leadership training seminar where the speaker instructed the participants to take a sheet of paper, fold it in quarters, then write the things they valued most in each of the four quadrants.  After that was done, participants were instructed to tear off the least valuable thing and throw it away.  This was followed by the next least valuable, and the next, until each person was left holding only one quadrant.  The eye-opening part of the exercise is that people in the room threw their kids, God, their wives in crumpled wads onto the floor…because they thought they should value “becoming a vice president….” 

 

So often we hear that “marriage is hard.”  Call me crazy, but I’ve never found this to be the case.  There is nothing hard about being kind, being thoughtful, putting the other person first – it’s just that over the years we grow complacent, and forget the person we married in the first place.

 

2. Developing soul – enhancing relationships – OK, I must admit that I have stolen this lovely expression from Erika over at All Things E, because she is spot on.  At first, we thought the important thing was our family members…but then we realized that while we will always try to support “family members,” the label of ‘family’ is not what counts.  We have many people in our lives who are closer than family (gal pals, you know who you are).  More importantly, there are people whose relationships we wish to nurture because they add such a fulfilling quality to our lives.  So whether it be relationships with God, with siblings, with family members or with acquaintances, it seems important to intentionally decide how and with whom we spend our time. Thanks Erika, for putting that little tidbit into our brains.

 

3.  Learning new things – One of the best parts of the Voyage has been the opportunity for us to take on new challenges.  When I was teaching, I used to tell my students that they needed to learn something new every day, or they might as well have stayed in bed!  We delight in the notion that there is an entire unexplored world out there and we can learn about anything we can imagine!

 

4. Building and creating – High on our list is the notion that we value our creative yearnings. Anyone who has seen my craft closet knows that I can never be tied down to one thing.  I have stacks of PhD’s (projects half done!)  The opportunity to try our hand at new creative ventures makes us both thrive.

 

5.  Exploring new places – It could be travel, it could be places in our own town. It could be a picnic in the local countryside.  It doesn’t need to cost money.  There is so much in this world to see and experience.  We value our wanderlust!

 

6.  Reading Forever – Borrowed that phrase from Nook at B&N.  So many books, so little time.  Nuf said!

 

7.  Appreciating and making music – Music has been important to both of us since we were very young.  From playing my piano, to learning to play the sax, to enjoying the fruits of our local symphony, to good old rock and roll…we want our lives to have a sound track.  Which brings us to number 8…

 

8. Supporting the arts –  Shakespeare, local theater, dance groups and galleries, just to name a few – Life is about collecting experiences, and the arts provide us with some of the richest.

 

9. Health, physical activity and self-acceptance – We have been giving a lot of thought lately to our pursuit of good health.  We eat a lot healthier lately, and I have logged hundreds of hours at the gym in the last two years, cycling and treadmilling to nowhere and challenging my muscles with weights.  It has occurred to me that all those hours at the gym may not be the best use of time.  What if, perhaps, we actually took a walk or went for a run or swim?  What if we climbed a trail instead of the Stair Master? How about walking the golf course, climbing real stairs, parking at the far side of the parking lot?  It seems to me that an intentional life would value more authentic types of activity.  

 

With that in mind, I’ve also decided that I’m tired of searching for a different me.  Yep, I’m a little heavier than I’d like to be – I’ll keep working on it.  But it does me no good to wish for the body of that college girl 30 years ago.  And it is self-defeating to keep saying, “Six months from now I’ll wear a smaller dress size.”  So I’m committed to doing the best I can to keep this body healthy and strong, and to be OK with the woman in the mirror.

 

10.  Good Food – Exploration for our senses! – Keeping in mind number 9 above, we decided that exploring good, real food is something we both value.  We want to experience the flavors and combinations of different cultures and cuisines – from fresh tomatoes and lettuce that we grow in our garden to cheeses, wines and dishes from other countries.  That’s not an excuse to eat an entire cake in one sitting (again, see number 9.)  It is, however, a statement that protein powders and tofu are just not going to cut it for us…we crave real, whole delicious foods creatively prepared!

 

11.  Taking time for rest, relaxation and meditation – I used to go through life like a freight train.  Now we have realized the value in taking some time to just be…time to think, to recharge, to de-stress and to let go.  Oh, I wish so much that we had learned this value while we were working for others.  Because we now take time for ourselves, the quality of our lives has improved ten-fold.  You should learn. from. our. mistakes!

 

12.  Gratitude and giving back – These days we pay more attention to how blessed we feel to be able to travel this voyage.  We are thankful that we have ‘enough.’  In fact, we have more than we could possibly need.  We’ve come to realize the importance of giving back and have found that greater selflessness is life enriching.  And face it – It’s not hard to look around and find a need to be filled.  

 

When I look at our list, it’s clear to me that none of this is about accumulating “stuff.”  A successful life isn’t about money or possessions.  Every item on this list is about how we act…those behaviors which enrich and give fullness to our lives.  Yes, I realize that people, including us, still need to work for a living.  For us, intentional living is about trying to make our actions fall in line with what we value. It’s about paying attention to what we do, and determining if those actions fit in with our list.

 

So how about it…what do you value in creating an intentional life?  Leave a comment – I’d love to hear!

Lynn