Category Archives: Reinvention

Our Encore Career – 10 Steps to Success

If I had a dollar for every time someone has said to us, “I want to do what you guys did!”, we could retire all over again!  If you have read our history, then you know that we sort of got thrown into the voyage head first.  Even so, there are some things we learned along the way that we can share.  So if you are feeling crushed by your current job, and want to start your own Encore Career, here are some things that you might find helpful.

 1.  Have some sort of savings in place.  That’s right – If you are going to strike out on your own, you need a bit of a safety cushion to cover the cost of day to day expenses for a few months while you get things off the ground.  I’m not talking about your retirement account! Do Not Ever steal from an IRA, even if you think you’ll pay it back!  It’s highly unlikely you ever will!  I’m not talking about a business loan.  It may be the case that you will secure a business loan to get your ideas off the ground – but you need some funds to sustain you outside of business expenses, at least for a little while.

2.  Find your passion.  I asked hubs what his dream job would be if he could choose.  Figure out what the thing is that you would like to do every day, even if it didn’t make you a dime…then figure out a way to make money doing that!  The whole point of the Encore Voyage is not just to be self-employed, but to be on a soul fulfilling journey!  Decide what you want your dream life to look like.

The voice inside

3.  Create an SOQ – A Statement of Qualifications.  It’s where you sit down and write out all of the marketable skills you have that you wish to promote. What are those things you do particularly well?  What goods do you have to sell?  Here is where you showcase your talents and abilities, and describe them in a nice format.

4.  Determine some short-term, mid-term and long-term goals.  Where do you want to be in 6 months, a year, or even five years? How will you know if this voyage is working for you?  Yes, not starving is a good indicator, but it shouldn’t be the only one!  It should be observable and measurable.

5.  Establish your business identity. What will you call yourself?  How will you explain what it is that you do? Will you have a logo? A business name and website?  Do you need/want to register your business with your state? Do you need to establish a separate business banking account? These were all the nagging little details that made the voyage seem scary and intimidating at first.

6.  Establish a fee structure. Do some research to determine the going rates for services or products similar to yours, and to determine what the market will bear.  Get an idea firmly written down of what you will charge for your services or goods.

7.  Take as many steps as possible to minimize business debt at first. Just because you start “a business” does not mean you can take a trip and call it a business expense!  You still need to consider profit and loss.  Hubs and I have very little overhead, because we work from our home, and have no other employees.  We are careful to keep control of our costs.

8.  Keep excellent records. It has taken us a couple of years to wrap our arms around the record keeping.  From costs related to each job, to keeping receipts and filing, you need to be able to see the bottom line quickly and clearly.

9.  Network and advertise yourself.  I think this was the thing that sets Jeremy apart from many others. He has a huge network of people he has met during the years, and I don’t believe he ever burned a bridge!  He started smilin’ and dialin’ – letting people know what he was up to, what he was wanting to do, and what he could possibly do for them.  Sometimes he met colleagues for coffee.  He took others to lunch.  He attended meetings of professional organizations and actively sought out places where he could make an impact.  From helping others to volunteering, the idea is to stay in front of potential clients.  This is not the time to adopt the notion that, “I’m good at what I do, so people will come to me.”  We’ve known several fellow voyagers who followed this course, and have sunk!

10.  Don’t. Stop. Moving.  To be successful on the Encore, you need to have some hustle!  Those who fail are the ones with an “I’ll do it later” attitude.  If you believe that you can do this with a TV flipper in your hand, you are sadly mistaken. Success is not easy…and it is certainly not for the lazy!

Being an entrepreneur

I know what you are thinking…You’re saying, “Wait…I thought you guys were retired!!”  Well, we are…sort of.  We are designing a life doing exactly what we want to do, when we want to do it, where we want to do it, and with whom we want to do it!   All of the steps above sound like crazy hard work, and initially, they were frightening, and nerve wracking. That said, the end result is that

We get to decide what to make of each day!

And as we’ve become more comfortable on the voyage, we often look at each other and say,

“Dang…This is a really sweet gig we’ve got going here!”

Here’s to hoping that you, too, can end up with a “sweet gig!”


Photo credit: Sergey Zolkin – Unsplash

Retirement Do-Overs Can Happen!


Yesterday, I was doing some freelance work which involved looking through a college search engine which is being developed.  The search engine provides a simplified way for students to get information about applying for our state’s colleges for the first time.  As I meandered through all of the college websites, I found myself thinking, “Dang!  It would be so fun to go to college again!”  Which got me to thinking about what I would have done differently.  And then that train of thought headed down the ‘would you choose a different career?’ track.

Now don’t get me wrong.  I was a special education teacher for almost 30 years, and I can honestly say it was my true passion.  But have you ever asked yourself,

“What would I do for a career
if I could do it all over again?”

I worked my way through the college websites, looking at all the degree and program offerings, thinking, “Oh, that would be cool” or “I’d like to study that,” and even, “Oh, yuck! That doesn’t sound fun at all!” And then it hit me…There’s not a reason in the world that we retirees can’t study anything our hearts’ desire!  It doesn’t have to be a commitment to an entire college degree program.  I’m not planning on starting a new career anytime soon. What I discovered is that most colleges and universities offer a reduced per credit rate for seniors over 60. (It ticks me off that I’m not quite old enough! – Yep, I’m too young for college…who knew?!)  Many postsecondary institutions have adult learning and ‘not for credit’ programs at a greatly reduced cost.  And for that matter, there are lots of web-based learning opportunities out there that are totally cheap!  A quick Google search brings up plenty of opportunities from campus based programs to YouTube!  All that is required is curiosity and a little time!  And we retirees have nothing if not time, right?  So why not?

Is there anything that you have always wanted to learn how to do?  Any topic that has always peaked your curiosity?  Something that you’ve always wanted to try? There’s no time like the present.  I’d love to hear your stories!  Have you tried any adult learning options or are you planning to do so?  Leave a comment, I’d love it if you’d share!


Photo credit: Kazuend – Unsplash


Retirement Rituals

Retirement Rituals-What are Yours-

Before the hubs and I started this retirement phase, we got up every morning and headed off to our respective jobs.  Patterns emerged…we sort of fell into a routine of who did what each day, each week.  He got up early and made the coffee.  I figured out what we were having for dinner and made arrangements.

Out the door we went, where we put in our 8 hours working for the man…(ha ha ha – Who am I kidding!  I was a TEACHER for cryin’ out loud).  But wait…I digress…When we finally did arrive home after work, we again settled into the motions of getting all of the required tasks done so that we would be able to successfully get up and do it all again tomorrow.  After 30 years or so, let’s just say

We settled into a routine!

But after just a short time on the Encore Voyage, guess what happened?

The routine got shot to hell!

You see, now, nobody absolutely must be out the door by 7:00 AM anymore. The entire house does not need to be cleaned on a Saturday because we have plenty of time over the course of several days.  We can shop for groceries…together…at midnight…on a Tuesday!  We can read books all night and snooze in the afternoon if need be.  Even our Encore Careers which we’ve developed have flexibility of schedule.  So many times, we just look at each other and say,

“This is a sweet gig.”

We now have time to pause, to reflect, to live our lives with more intention.  We enjoy being together, and are paying attention to what that really means.  Many different sorts of “routines” have started to emerge.  They are ours, they are personal, they are subtle. Some are just plain goofy things we do, some will probably make you gag – and they are all the exact opposite of rushing out the door.

Here’s a few to show you what I mean:

  • When we get up, hubs now comes around to my side of the bed, tucks the covers in around me, and tweaks the end of my nose. (Sickeningly sweet, I know!) I wake up every morning feeling cherished.
  • Often in the evening, we have a glass of wine before dinner.  I don’t know why or when it started, but with every glass of wine I drink, I now hand him my glass and give him the last sip.  My way of saying, “I’d give you everything?
  • Hubs often needs to fly to different project sites.  Not that I worry about his flying, but still…every time he lands at an airport, he sends me the following text – “Tranquility base, the Eagle has landed.”  I am his tranquility base.
  • Now, every morning, because we don’t have to rush off to our respective employers, our dog, Roxy and I head into hub’s office, where we both climb onto his lap for a second and be “daddy’s girls.”  Alright, I know you’re thinking that one is a little over the top…

My point is, we are developing new rituals – new ways of being with each other – that our working lives would not have allowed.  We are creating new life patterns that are based not on a hurried routine, but rather on lingering in the moments that matter.  Who knows – perhaps in retirement we have developed cases of “terminal mushiness.”  When I asked hubs about it, he said, “I don’t know…but I love you, and I appreciate you.”  I am confident that he always has!  But the Encore Voyage has given us time to delight in our new routines.


Photo Credit: Emanuel Feruzi – Unsplashed

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!



Affording the Encore – 12 Ways We Cut Costs

When we first began the Encore Voyage, we had a few moments of total freak out at our complete loss of income stream!  Then, cooler heads prevailed and we took a deep breath. We realized that we would most likely not starve, at least for a day or two.  To all you youngsters (and by that I mean anyone under the age of 40), listen to me now:


We are living proof that you absolutely, positively,
need to have an emergency savings plan in place!


And that means before you go out and buy those jet skis or that snowmobile that you think you absolutely must have!  You don’t need it nearly as much as you will need to live in the event that you lose your income!  Just sayin’…


So back to the story…For the first couple of months we were able to draw upon our savings, without raiding our retirement account, while we figured out what to do.  We decided to start our own small business, and having some cash set aside allowed us to get that started. Having your own business takes lots of work and drive, and is the topic of many other blogs, from which we have learned a great deal.  But I also started following The Minimalists and Be More With Less, and I started thinking about how much we really need to be happy.  Now don’t get me wrong – this is not about being cheap.  I want to have some cash in hand just as much as the next girl.  But it is about really evaluating how and where you spend your hard earned money…and that’s where we woke up!


In the years when there was a much bigger income in this household, we spent a great deal.  I don’t want to think of it as being wasteful, but let’s just say we ‘squandered’ quite a bit.  We didn’t really give it much thought until recently. The Encore Voyage has started us thinking about some ways in which we could be wiser about our spending:


1)  We reduced our cable TV package to the minimum package.  When you actually sit down and calculate the cost of higher level movie/sports packages and then compare that figure to the number of movies or events you actually see, the cost per viewing for this convenience can be ridiculous.  You can rent a lot of movies from Red Box for a buck…

2) We paid attention to how we use the heat and air conditioning in our house.  Rather than just set the thermostat and forget it, we took an active role in closing shades, opening windows, adding another layer of clothes…and cut our heating and cooling bills by 4-10% over the previous year.

3) We cancelled our subscription to the newspaper.  It was a habit that was simply adding to the bulk of the recycle bin.  Lots of access to local and national news is available on my tablet.  There’s even too much news and I must be cautious not to let electronic media rule my mornings!  I even found a free app to replace the comics and my favorite daily word puzzles!

4) I monitored our cell phone use and ultimately reduced our data package.  Not because we put ourselves on any type of data diet, but because we were previously paying for data that we were not using!

5) We have changed the way we eat.  We now rarely eat at fast food restaurants.  Not only is this change way healthier for us, but it saves us a lot of money!  It is amazing how much fast food we used to grab, just for convenience. Seriously – I used to have the phone number for Pizza Hut memorized!

6) We plan, shop for, and cook more meals at home.  I’m a much better cook now that I have time to plan and shop for groceries.  I’m not “extreme” about any of it, but a coupon here and a trip to Costco there all adds up to savings.  Not to mention that we have found we actually love cooking, chopping, and drinking wine in the kitchen together – 
An added benefit!

7) We got rid of a bunch of magazine subscriptions. That stack of magazines that are sitting there unread???  Yeah those – You don’t need them!  You can find most of that stuff on line, and I have learned that your magazines should not cause you stress!  Bu-bye!

8) We turn off the lights!  There were times when this house was lit up like a Christmas tree! Crazy wasteful!

9) I download books from the public library.  Probably cut my book purchases in half!  My 
Carpe Librum post will tell you how.

10) We spend waaaayyyyy less money on both gas and clothing.  Because we now work primarily from home, we don’t need nearly as much.  The savings on gasoline is huge!  And because our minimalist efforts are paying off, reducing all those clothes in the closets just makes everything seem lighter and less stressful!

11) I don’t know if this is going to be a savings, but because I have more time, I make many of the gifts I give.  Shhhhhh…don’t tell – quilted things for everyone!  And lots of pleasure for me!

12) Our most recent step was to get rid of our land line telephone!  Why is it that everyone under the age of 35 has already done this, and everyone over the age of 35 has a hard time cutting the cord?  We took the plunge, because the only calls on that number were usually solicitations! …And just like that, there’s another 20 bucks, and we found we really didn’t miss it!

So, you see, it’s not about being cheap.  It’s about paying attention to where the money goes!  And it’s about deciding with intentionality how you want to live.  So how about it…Do you have any other strategies that you’ve used to cut costs?  Please be sure to share in the comments!


Our Minimalist Epiphany – 6 Reasons We Are Lightening Our Load

About 15 years ago, Jeremy and I purchased a 21-acre parcel of land south of town.  In the time since, we’ve built a storage shed, acquired some farm equipment and have a local farmer using the land just to keep it productive and to keep the weeds down.  Our plan has always been to finish paying for the land, and then to build a custom home, designed by Jeremy, of course. What’s the point of marrying an architect if you don’t use him at least once, don’tcha think?

That’s the preface to this story…About a week ago, we received an e-mail from a friend and his wife, telling us their new address and contact information.  It seems they had sold their five-acre farm for the following reasons:  “The cycle of mowing, irrigating, fertilizing, mowing, fixing fence, paying to have the tractor fixed, mowing, moving pipe, paying for water, replacing pumps, and mowing” had finally gotten the best of them.  They wanted to be able to leave for one, two, even three weeks and travel without worry…

Now, let’s add this moment…In reading Twitter, I ran across this little gem from @joshua_becker at becomingminimalist

We own too much stuff. And it is stealing our joy!

And in an eye-opening moment, my world sort of got rocked.

It could not have become more clear if Joshua Becker had walked up and smacked me in the head!  What would possess us to move toward a life which included more and bigger property, more stuff, more work, more stress and less time for future endeavors?  And in the conversation that ensued, we arrived at several enlightened conclusions and even more questions:


Goals and plans change over time – The plans we made 12 years ago just don’t make sense the way they used to.  And over the next few days we examined our dreams and plans with real intention and honesty. It was an illuminating discussion about why we had wanted the land, the new home, the things we had accumulated…an awakening of sorts.

We are holding on to stuff for no good reason –  On the guest bedroom closet shelf are two brand new sleeping bags (wait for it…) which have been used exactly ONE time!  I don’t know why we have them…Anyone who knows me would realize that it is highly unlikely (read: NOT GONNA HAPPEN) that I will be camping anytime soon – My idea of roughing it is a Holiday Inn with a hard pillow!  I am keeping them because I bought them, and therefore don’t want to fess up to a bad decision!  And then I started going through every closet …Just sayin’…

Some stuff we keep because we think it’s sentimental – It really just isn’t – In that trip through the closets I mentioned above, I came upon a bunch of collectibles that I have acquired over the years- they just aren’t my style anymore.  Or how about the hundreds of LP albums from 30 years ago that grace an entire shelf.  Now I can see perhaps keeping a couple of Beetles albums, but Sheena Easton???  Seriously?  We don’t even OWN a turntable anymore!  This little voyage of ours is causing us to closely examine what we value.

Paring down our stuff is energizing – As it turns out, owning the property and all of that farm equipment was ultimately causing us stress.  And the decision to sell, reduce and donate is lifting a weight off our shoulders.  It is freeing up space, finances, time and emotions.

We have gained a sense of gratitude for the things we have, and an intentionality about how and why we use and keep our possessions.  We are not getting rid of stuff just to be doing it.  It’s not about monetary value.   Instead, we ask, “Is this thing important to me, and why do I need to keep it?”

We have been given an impetus to examine this Encore Voyage and to have a critical conversation about what’s really important – Where do we want to go from here?  What are our dreams and wishes?  What adjustments do we need to make to our current path to live every day with simplicity and to its fullest?  What do we really value?

And so I’m planning to sell or donate four large tubs of children’s books.  They are my personal library, collected over a nearly 30 year career.  I thought I would be sentimental about giving them up – that somehow they represented imparting a love of reading in so many children…and in a way, they do.  But it is much more fitting that I share them with some new teacher, who will use them to continue the tradition.  The joy of those children and their journeys will always be in my heart.  It’s not the books that keep them there.


Retire Like a Shark – 8 Ways to Keep Swimming

Today sort of tied my brain in a knot.  As part of my Encore Voyage, I’ve been doing some contract work as an administrative assistant.  In my What Am I Now post, I talked about finding new ways to use your skills.  Well mine, it turns out, have allowed me to start my own small business doing all sorts of writing, editing, production and organizational types of tasks.  Seems there are some folks out there who really value my teacher’s wicked red pen and my ability to juggle lots of items at once – who knew???


One of my friends is working as a project manager on a grant to assist and encourage high school students to go on to a postsecondary education (now there’s a leap from teaching kindergarteners, huh?)  We met today to discuss a whole bunch of projects that needed to be done.  As I sat there with him taking pages and pages of notes, it occurred to me how exciting it is to be thinking about all of these new things and working in an entirely different realm.  And there was so much to think about that it was just a little overwhelming, but so much fun!  We were finishing up, talking about “retirement” and all of the new things we are exploring, when he made the following observation:

You must be like a shark – 
If you stop swimming, you’ll die!


Wow!  He is exactly right!  The Encore Voyage is about continuing to swim, changing course and moving forward in such a way that your life makes a splash!  Here are 8 strategies to keep in mind when navigating the retirement ocean:

1. Be curious – Take time to pay attention to your mental wanderings, and notice those things that pique your curiosity!  There’s no time like the present to dig deeper and explore things that fascinate you!

2. Read, read, read – As the saying goes, “So many books, so little time…”  Well now you have time to read not only books, but newspapers, blogs, poetry, articles.  Several of my elderly relatives read daily newspapers from cover to cover and stayed mentally sharp well into their nineties!  A coincidence?  I think not…

3. Maintain contact with friends and colleagues – During my teaching years, I would see other adults on a daily basis, and formed lasting friendships.  What I’ve learned is that it takes a deliberate effort to keep those relationships fresh.  Now you must seek out opportunities to stay connected. 

4. Get Unplugged – Especially from the TV, but also from other screened electronics. It would be easy to sit at home playing Candy Crush for hours, or staring at the TV, but really?….Examine your habits – just sayin’!

5. Learn new things – Listen to your heart when you hear yourself saying, “I’ve always wanted to…”  Well now’s the time!  First I learned how to knit, then I learned InDesign, and next I believe I’ll take a crack at Photoshop.  Oh yeah, and I’m going to take up the saxophone!!  So what’s that thing that you’ve always wanted to try – There’s no time like the present!

6. Volunteer – There is nothing that makes you feel more alive than to give of yourself to someone else.  What are your skills and talents?  How can you give them to others?  Or just look around you and pay attention to the needs that you can fill.  Need I say more?

7. Travel – And no, it doesn’t need to be a big expensive trip.  Jeremy and I are trying to find roads in our state that we’ve never traveled on!  We pack a sandwich and take off to go ‘splorin’ – you should try it!

8. Seek out new experiences – The hubs and I have created what we call Our List.  If either of us starts a sentence with “I wanna….”(and it is an activity, not ‘stuff’) then we write it on Our List.  The rules are simple.  It doesn’t matter how big or small the activity – from going to a nearby winery (his wish), to going on a zipline, somewhere where there are monkeys (mine).  We have created a long list of things we’d like to experience and will spend the rest of our lives trying to cross things off the list!

So I’m curious.  Are there other strategies you’ve used to keep swimming after retirement?  I’d love to hear from other sharks!



Embracing Fearlessness – Mad Scientist or Master Chef

If there’s one thing I’ve learned after 33 years of marriage, it’s that men don’t want to be told (especially by wives), how to do stuff!  But you put a couple of men on a patio with some beers and a barbecue, and sh*t happens!  In this case, an incredible transformation took place – something I never in my wildest dreams would have imagined.


It all started when we were invited to my sister’s country home for steaks on the grill.  As it usually is with these get togethers, gals were in the kitchen visiting, guys were out on the patio gathered around the grill.  I imagine the conversation out there went something like this…


Jeremy:  “So…what’s in that stuff you put on those steaks?”

Sister’s hubs:  “Oh, you just get in the fridge and start digging around.  Put in a little bit of this and a little bit of that.  There’s no recipe.”

Jeremy:  “So you just start makin’ stuff up?”

Sister’s hubs:  “Yup! I use some vinegar, and some ketchup, and maybe some barbecue sauce.  Don’t use any of that girlie premade stuff.  Add whatever spices sound good. Be brave and just start brushin’ that stuff on.”


Now you’ve gotta know, that in our entire working lives, the kitchen was pretty much my domain.  He could get dirty dishes to the sink, but not quite to the dishwasher.  He would stand with the fridge door open, in his underwear at midnight, looking for something upon which to graze.  But with our Encore Voyage – a transformation!!!  (Picture here that cartoon where Bugs Bunny encounters Jekyll and Hyde.)


In just a short evening, my guy fancied himself a regular grill God!  And he did, in fact, start “making stuff up.”  He would get out a bowl and start adding ingredients…stir, add more ingredients, stir some more, go to the pantry and stare for a minute, add something else, stir some more, and then…(holding the bowl out to me)


“Stick your finger in here and taste this!”


Now ladies, let me give you just a little bit of advice…Keep your mouth shut!  Resist at all costs, the urge to advise him that Italian Seasoning and Hoisin Sauce come from two distinctly different styles of cooking!  Do not point out the difference between sweet and savory.  Never start your sentence with, “What did you put in that???”


And the results …


I don’t know what he put in there, or how he came up with the idea, but…Oh My God, that’s good!  I now have a guy who’s a damn good cook! Try to control your twinge of jealousy when I tell you that he’s recently been heard to say things like, “Don’t worry about dinner. I think I’ll do something with a chicken breast,” or “I need you to pick up some feta cheese.” 


In our pre-Voyage life, just figuring out some type of sustenance was a chore.  I had the telephone number for Pizza Hut memorized. But these days, the Encore Voyage has allowed us both the freedom to explore and try new things.  A good friend of mine told me that in order to be a really good cook, you need to be fearless. Jeremy has embraced that fearlessness, and now most evenings find us together in the kitchen, slicing, dicing, and laughing with a glass of wine in hand.  New foods, new flavors, new recipes combined with the opportunity to reinvent how we approach meals and each other.  And for the record…”Stick your finger in here” = YUM!


So what new things have you experimented with recently?  How have you embraced your fearlessness in your own Encore Voyage?  Leave a comment, I’d love to hear your Jekyll and Hyde stories. 

A Different Way to Travel

Prior to the Encore Voyage, it was always rush here, do this, accomplish that, cross things off the list, get very important chores done, GO, GO, GO, RUSH, RUSH, RUSH. The weekends used to be an effort to “catch up” in hope that we would have an easier “normal life” on Monday through Friday.   On more than one occasion, when asked a question by a friend or colleague, I have responded with, “I don’t have time to think about that right now!” 

 I have discovered that one of the greatest gifts of the Encore Voyage is that yes, in fact,

I DO have time to think about that!

I have had many people ask me if I was afraid of becoming bored.  I know plenty of people who spend their days at home, staring at a television or playing computer games.  Now I’m not saying that I have not occasionally spent some time working on Candy Crush, or playing Words With Friends.  But my friend put a post on Pinterest that summed it up perfectly:

bored quote

I call it Mental Wandering – It’s the process of letting your mind wander where it may, and then taking note of the things that you think about and the things that interest you; and then taking those thoughts even further and digging into them a bit deeper with intentionality.  It leads you to read new things, study new things, try new things.  From there, who knows what will happen!  Albert Einstein said it best: 

“I have no special talents.

I am only
passionately curious.”

Hell, I don’t know the first thing about blogging.  But allowing myself to wander from thought to thought has led me to a whole new universe of information and talented bloggers who are willing to help me learn new things. Now I make a habit of taking the time (no guilt allowed) to just let ideas run where they may, with no mandate to accomplish anything.  Someday I’ll have to tell you about how I learned to knit just because I saw something beautiful!  Or how I learned InDesign because I was curious.  Maybe next I’ll take on Photoshop because you can teach a “not quite old yet” dog new tricks…and this young dog is loving traveling down the mental highway!



Being More With Less – 6 Things We’ve Learned

The Encore Voyage, and it’s resulting reduction in salary, began as an exercise in cheap. Well, not so much cheap as an effort to figure out ways to reduce our daily spending.  We were drawing on our savings when we first started, and needed to make our cash stretch as far as possible.  Little by little we began whittling things that seemed less than critical in our lives.  I found out that standing at the ironing board, doing Jeremy’s dress shirts, would not, in fact, kill me.  I learned that I can read a recipe, and with the extra time for shopping, I can be a pretty good cook – I have not killed him yet, either!  We don’t need to pay a lawn service, and mowing and digging and planting are something we take pride in.  Early on, I used my extra time to go through every closet in the house, getting rid of unused junk.  The point is that this Encore Voyage is causing us (allowing us) to reevaluate what is really important in our lives, and we’re learning to

Take Control of What’s Important…

  1. We have learned not to squander – It’s not that we were wasteful in the past.  It’s just that we didn’t give as much thought to where it was all going.  We are more selective about how we choose to spend.  Whether it’s lunch out, purchases for our house, travel, or even groceries – it’s now purchased with much more intentionality. We differentiate between what we want, what we need, and “Yeah, it would be nice to have…”
  2. We pay more attention to our health – It’s amazing what happens to you when you no longer have company supplied health care.  That little journey into self-insurance was quite the wild learning experience.  But more importantly, we started looking at our lifestyle and choosing different actions. There’s now time for the gym. We go for more walks.  We eat better. I know it’s hard to believe, but we haven’t eaten a meal in a fast food restaurant in nearly two years!  Ok, we’ve had a taco or two, but you get the idea.
  3. We pay more attention to our home – Pre Voyage, our day looked something like this:  Get up, shower, leave for work.  Get home, dump your stuff, figure out something to eat. Veg out in front of the TV for a while, maybe a little time on a computer, go to bed…Repeat.  Home was just the place where we went when we were not at work.  Now that we’re here most of the time, we are more aware of a sense of space.  We are working on making every inch of our home live in a way that gives us comfort and makes us happy.  It is evolving through paint, rearranging, rededicating spaces and eliminating the unnecessary or unused.  Ahhhhhh…….it’s so peaceful and cozy now!
  4. We choose our leisure activities more carefully – I’m not even certain why it happened.  Perhaps it’s because we are no longer so exhausted.  Maybe it’s because we need to get out of the house sometimes.  It could be that we don’t have the adult contacts that we used to have when we were out in the workplace.  For whatever reason, we now choose more carefully how we spend our free time.  We plan for it.  We make more deliberate arrangements with friends.  We look for events around our city that would be fun.  We read more, we explore more, we dance more – and we’re having a hellova good time!
  5. We pay more attention to each other – Who would have thought that we could learn anything new about each other after being married for nearly 33 years!  Working together has uncovered a bunch of previously unknown quirks.  And who would have thought that, because we are living with more intention, we deliberately plan more quality time together!  Most nights we set the dining room table, turn off the TV and share a glass of wine.  We decide together what the day will bring.
  6. We have a passion to learn and create – One of the best things about the Encore Voyage has been having the time to be curious.  Nearly every day I find myself stumbling upon something  that I want to learn more about.  Sometimes it feels as if my brains will explode because there’s so much out there that I want to learn, so many projects to complete, so many activities I want to try. So much to explore – So little time.

Many of my baby boomer friends who are getting ready to retire have expressed a concern to me that they will have so much less after they retire.  But that’s not the case at all. What we have found is that reducing the clutter, both physical and mental, has allowed us to reinvent a lifestyle that is much, much more!