Category Archives: Things We’ve Learned

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.


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.

Eagle Creek NYTPhoto Credit:  New York Times

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.


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.”


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.


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!



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!




Retirement Travel Togetherness – 13 Compromises to Consider!

Hubs and I are getting ready to do some more Voyaging!  Next week, we’ll head to Phoenix, Arizona, escaping what is predicted to be the next wave of snowy weather here in Idaho.

In our years on the Voyage, we’ve learned some things about traveling together.  It hasn’t always come without some tensions and bumps in the road.  But as I’m sure many other retirees can attest, there are compromises which must be made:

Relaxation vs. Adventure – I’m more of an adrenaline junkie.  He’s more of a sip wine and read kind of guy.

Planned out or “Fly by the Seat of Our Pants” – Our compromise is usually a little of each.  I like to do some initial research.  We schedule things only as the events require.  (We’ve been saddened when attractions were closed on the day we wanted to visit.)

On water vs. On land – Some people love cruising.  Others can’t stand the idea of being stuck in the middle of the ocean.  Some crave the beach, others, the mountains.

Fly, drive or travel by other means – My brother-in-law will die before he will board an airplane.  Good to know.

Lots of driving or Little-to-no driving – Depending on the location, sometimes we take our own car, sometimes we rent, sometimes we hire car services, and sometimes it’s Uber or Lyft.  And did I mention that a smaller type RV is in our future?

The question of music – Yes, No and What Type? – In the car, sometimes our music tastes differ.  He likes classical, I prefer contemporary. Our best compromise is mid-seventies rock, turned up loud, with both of us singing at the top of our lungs!  Reliving our college romance!

Where to stay, and how much work that will involve – I’ve heard folks say, “If I have to cook and make my own bed, it’s not a vacation.  Sometimes we choose hotels, sometimes Airbnb , or rental condos, sometimes high-end resorts.

“Sleep in” or “Up and at ’em” – There is nothing more annoying than having someone try to wake you up when you’re on vacation.  Or conversely, there is nothing worse than tapping your toe waiting for someone to get up and ready.

Temperature and weather considerations – It’s amazing how many people responded to my McCall post with comments about how we could just keep our Idaho snow.  But some of us know that the correct clothing and preparedness makes this a winter playground.  Many would disagree.

Amount of down time – This is an important one.  Some people like to go, go, go, while others need or want more frequent breaks, and packing the day full of activities is not so fun.

Airports – When is the “right” time to arrive? – Surprisingly, this can be a point of contention.  While hubs wants to leave absolutely nothing to chance, I’m a bit more of a “what’s the worst thing that can happen?” kind of girl.  Depending on where we’re going and the travel conditions, we negotiate our departure times.

Shopping or No shopping – My advice is to be sensitive.  If your hubs is not a browser, please don’t torture him.  It’s his vacation, too.  As for us, we spend little money acquiring more “stuff,” so it’s not really an issue.  We both like to nose in unique, non-touristy, craftsman type of shops. (We do look for a “not cheesy” Christmas ornament to represent each adventure.)

Different Interests during different trips – We took a trip to the midwest, with the primary purpose of visiting all things Frank Lloyd Wright – including Taliesin in Wisconsin, and the Robie House in Chicago.  Our first visit to the Phoenix/Scottsdale area, over ten years ago, was for all things automotive – The Barrett-Jackson car auction and Bondurant High Performance Driving School for hubs. Our trips to St. Louis and New Orleans were primarily in search of jazz and blues.

In each of the above instances, communication is the key!  It is far better to discuss things before you go, rather than to discover them after you arrive, or, even worse, to brood in silence when you find situations which test your compatibility!

As we return to Scottsdale this time, we’re soaking up warmth and a vibrant art scene enmeshed in Southwest culture.

So how about it, fellow voyagers?  What compromises in travel have you needed to make as you go wandering during retirement?



My Retirement Yoga Journey

Anyone who knows me, or hopefully reads Encore Voyage, should have figured out by now that I am one of the most snarky, sarcastic chicks you’ll ever meet.  I am most emphatically NOT the type of person who comes to mind when you consider the practice of yoga.  But as we headed down this road in retirement, I began to notice that getting up off of the floor isn’t as easy as it once was!  I was losing core strength and stamina, and I didn’t like it ONE BIT!

Even I couldn’t imagine myself sitting in a room acting all zen-like.  Heck, most people can’t even imaging me being quiet for that long!  That said, about two years ago, when my brand new gym opened, I started one of the gym-based yoga classes.  I figured I wouldn’t feel too stupid if I started out new like everyone else.

At the time, my thinking was that this might be a nice gentle type of workout. (I’m not a big fan of feeling my heartbeat in my ears!)  I ended up attending two classes a week for the better part of a year.

What I didn’t realize is that

Yoga sneaks up on you, and quietly changes
the person you are, from the inside out.

  • Slowly, steadily, your body becomes stronger, through the many asanas or poses.  Anyone who thinks that yoga is just a bunch of stretches has been misled.  Yoga is not for wimps!  I can work up quite a sweat in a yoga practice.
  • Your balance is improved from attempting balancing poses.  As we age, lack of balance is one of the most common causes of falls.  I figured it couldn’t hurt to be able to stand confidently on one foot while putting on my jammies, right?
  • You do not need to be flexible to practice yoga!  Flexibility is a benefit of yoga!  I heard someone say, “You are only as young as your spine is flexible.”  I have found that my lower back pain has disappeared as a result of my practice.
  • Yoga is about self-acceptance!  One of my favorite aspects of the yoga journey is that it is not about competition – not even with yourself!  It’s about listening to your body and finding what feels good and right in that moment.
  • There are many different types of yoga for many different purposes.  Some move quite quickly, and others are more restorative.   Certain yoga poses accomplish different things, and with a little training, you can pick and choose what is best for you.  (As for me, hot yoga…two words – never.again!)
  • Attending to the breath in a yoga practice yields a mindfulness and a quality of meditation that surprised me.  This is where my snarkiness got tamed.  I wasn’t expecting it.  The more I practiced, the more I was able to see the carry-over into the rest of my day.  I don’t get crazy in traffic.  I don’t feel rushed.  I am generally more peaceful, appreciative, and balanced than I was before. Crazy – I know!

I did find when I was first starting out that it was helpful to have a knowledgeable yoga instructor who could really guide me into the intention and correctness of the poses.  It’s not about just yanking yourself around, trying to get into some shape.  Yoga is much, much, more.  Now I find that I really also enjoy a home practice, and YouTube has an endless supply of yoga videos, of all lengths and styles.  A particular favorite of mine is Yoga with Adrienne.  Adrienne Mishler has just the right personality, and is not too fast or too serious.

So how about it retired yogis?  Anything else you’d like to add?


Oh…one more thing.  If you do take up yoga, don’t cheap out on purchasing a yoga mat.  Get a nice, slightly thicker one.  Your knees will thank you!

#JusJoJan Day 4 ~ Are You “Passionate?”

I’m not sure why, but this concept of Just Jot It January has intrigued me.  Each day, there is a one-word prompt, and participants are encouraged to just jot something down in response.  Well, today’s word is “Passionate,” and when I saw it, visions of my dad came sharply to mind.  You see, my daddy had this saying:

“Find someone who is passionate about what they do,
and they’ll always do a good job for you.”

As I have grown older, I have come to understand the truth of what he said.  It doesn’t matter whether the person is your banker or the guy who shoes your horses – if he is passionate about his work, that work most likely will be of quality.

It was easy to tell that our builder was passionate about what he was doing as he lovingly rubbed his hands over the wood.  The guy who repairs our appliances is so proud of having built his family owned business with his sons.  It’s not about the money being made or the importance of position.  It’s about the love of the task.

I’m curious.  Do you tend to hire people who are passionate?  Do you surround yourselves with passionate people?  Are you passionate in your own pursuits? Leave a comment and share your thoughts!


Retirement Learning – I Can Take Off Your Head!

The other day my girlfriend called me with a special request.  “Don’t you have that program where you can put someone else’s head into a picture?” she asked.  Ummmm…yeah, I have Photoshop, but that doesn’t necessarily mean I know how to USE IT!

She wanted to include some friends, who had been absent from an event, into a group Christmas photo – a tongue in cheek joke that said, “We’re thinking of you, and we missed you.”

Well on the Encore Voyage I have learned a couple of very, very important rules…

I can figure out ANYTHING with YouTube


Google is my friend

With digital photographs in hand, along with a couple of YouTube tutorials, I was off and running on a search and destroy mission to learn some new skills.  And before you know it, our friends, Donna, Sandra, and Deb, were poking their absent little heads right outta that Christmas Tree!

I can move your head

Because I didn’t want to post a picture of all those folks without their permission, I thought I’d show you that I really can remove your head from your body!  Fun, huh?!

I am certain that a professional photographer would have done it differently, and would have done a much better job.  But for me the exercise had several benefits:

  • It barely scratched the surface of the things I could learn about Photoshop, and it piqued my interest to do so (along with a desire to get much better at it!)
  • It made me want to take and edit better photos (that, and looking at Terri Webster Schrandt’s pictures!)
  • It reminded me that there are so many other fascinating things to learn about, which require only some time and focus – all of the information in the world is available at my fingertips.  Web design, desktop publishing, even playing my saxophone – Yep, I can learn all of those things, too.

This Photoshop exercise made me realize that retirement doesn’t mean that a person stops learning and exploring new things.  In fact, I would never have had the time to play around like this during my pre-Voyage career!  So how about it – What new skills are you learning to make your Voyage an adventure?