Category Archives: Things We’ve Learned

How Much is Enough? 8 Things We’ve Learned

When we first found ourselves both unemployed seven years ago, my younger sister posed a very simple yet important question:

How much do you really need?

At first, it calmed our fears.  We had saved up plenty to survive while we decided our next steps.  But more importantly, it started us on a journey to sort of pseudo-minimalism.  We lightened our load, examined our stuff, started conversations about our values, and took a hard look at what is really important to us.  We started designing our lives on this Encore Voyage with much more intention.

Examining ‘Enough’

In the early days, hubs would spend sleepless nights trying to answer the question, “Am I doing the right things?”  “Am I taking the right jobs?”  Am I taking all the steps I need for us to be successful.”  At first, those were questions born of fear and uncertainty.

The same questions are true for anyone entering retirement.  Have we saved enough?  Are we prepared both financially and emotionally?  Do we need to do more? Are we ready to take the leap?

Well, it’s taken us a few years, but we have finally learned to stop and take some very deep breaths.  And we’ve learned some things about “Enough.”

  1. We do not need to fill every hour of every day.  Down time is now cherished! We are mindful about doing “enough.”
  2. We do not need to exist on the 8 to 5 schedule of the working world.  It’s OK for us to skip out in the middle of the afternoon or to work on a weekend. We get to decide what to make of the day, and no longer feel guilty for not doing “enough.”
  3. We don’t need to buy much more “stuff.”  We want the items we own to be useful, meaningful or beautiful.  Generally speaking, we own “enough.”
  4. Taking time in the middle of the afternoon to read a book or pursue a hobby is quite OK.  You can never have “enough” curiosity or interests.
  5. We travel lightly.  I’ve studied up on many travel blogs, and it really is quite possible to go anywhere in a 22 inch carry-on and a backpack. Just “enough” is waaayyyy better when traveling than too much!
  6. Keeping up with the Joneses is stupid.  They are broke!  Our “enough” is not for anyone else to judge.
  7. You can never have “enough” meaningful relationships.  They are far more important than the things you own!
  8. There will NEVER be “enough” time for us to love each other and be together.  We need to take advantage of every moment we’re given in this life.

So how about it…What’s “enough” for you?  Any important things I’ve left off the list?  I’d love to hear your thoughts!

~ Lynn

 

 

Photo credit: Patrick Fore ~ Unsplash

An Encore or a Second Act?

As I mentioned in my last post, my absence from the blog has been in part related to the fact that we’ve been CRAZY BUSY with our “Encore Careers.”  He’s an architect, and I do virtual administrative tasks, and we have created our own second act that allows us to work mostly from home.  In the last year we’ve learned some great things in this Encore, along with some not so good…

The Great Things

  1. The world is flat – We can work from anywhere, provided we have a strong cell signal.  I purchased a wi-fi hot spot which lets us connect to people and projects, even if we are in another city or on the top of a mountain.  I have found that I can check email and send a quick response from anywhere.  Often, a client needs to hear, “I’ll have it to you by close of business tomorrow.”  They don’t need to know that I am on the 7th tee box at my favorite golf course!
  2. Starbucks is our conference room – We joke that we have many coffee house conference rooms in and around our city, perfect for meeting with clients.  Or we offer to meet at their offices.  Works perfectly, and I benefit from frequent pumpkin spiced chai teas!
  3. We don’t use an alarm clock – The voyage allows us to set our own schedules.  This is the best!  I never feel exhausted as I did when I was teaching.  We are able to schedule so that our days meet our needs, and we schedule our “down time” with intention.  Oh yeah, and I am always rested now….No seriously, I am!
  4. Togetherness with QUALITY – Back in the days of full time employment for others, we would both drag in at the end of the work day, and it was all either of us could manage to get some type of sustenance prepared for us.  The evenings progressed with me doing school paperwork and him manning the TV flipper, then collapsing into bed.  Now, we plan to do things together, often during the day!  A lunch out, an art museum, a park – whenever WE decide!
  5. Saying “NO” is an option – Because we get to decide what to make of our business, we get to select which projects we will take.  Which leads us to

The Not So Good

  1. We don’t say “No” enough – We have found from the early days of the voyage, we were a bit afraid to turn anyone down.  While we have adequate retirement funds in place, we like not having to draw upon them – and you never know if and when the next job will come along.  We’re more comfortable now, and we are seeking the perfect balance between encore and voyage.
  2. We’re always “at work”  – Even when we’re on that golf course, it’s important for us to care for our clients.  So even if I skip a hole to take care of business, it is that availability that ALLOWS us to make these chosen careers work well.  Being an entrepreneur isn’t a part-time job or a full-time job.  It’s a lifestyle!
  3. It’s easy to over-schedule – Number 1 above has occasionally caused us to pick up too many projects at once, making short-term scheduling difficult.  While we’re pretty good at scheduling our long-term goals, sometimes we let our alligators overload our hummingbirds…
  4. There’s no escape from the office – Our offices are at one end of our home.  We don’t have the luxury of leaving the office to go home.  Sometimes, for good or bad, the settings run into each other.  We are learning to consciously “leave the office” and shut down.

Don’t get me wrong.  We have had more fun since we started this voyage than we ever had in our “pre-retirement” years.  We love that we get to remain mentally engaged, with important work to do, on our own terms and in our own way.  Nearly every day one of us says to the other,

“This is a good gig, scooter!”

And so we we will continue to make adjustments as we journey down this road. Are any of you working any side gigs during your retirement years?  We’d love to hear the things you’ve learned!

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

Time, Treasures & Talent

Every year, around the first weekend in May, our local Boys and Girls Club puts on a huge fundraising event.  This glitzy over the top affair is called the

Denim and Diamonds Gala

Denim and Diamonds - Final

 

It takes place in our local sporting arena.  It’s a sit down dinner for about 500 people.  There are both silent and live auctions.  A restored vintage car is raffled off, and thousands of dollars are raised to sponsor our local children.  Last year, 1342 young people were served at our Boys and Girls Club, providing them with lunches on non-school days, and with over 60,000 healthy after school snacks. They were provided with educational programs and activities, along with positive role models.

But providing those services is not free, and it certainly is not easy.  It took a huge contingent of volunteers to make the gala happen.  Last Thursday and Friday, I spent hours sitting at a computer, entering attendee information into the computerized auction system.  I set up tables, I broke down tables, I packed up silk flowers and centerpieces and organized auction items.  And I didn’t work nearly as hard as many who spent night after night down at the club, preparing items for auction, and taking care of a thousand and one tasks that needed doing.

And as I looked around at the event, a great many of the volunteer folks were people my age.  Many were fairly recent retirees.  I found myself thinking about the folks who have nothing to do in their retirement years, and thought

There is a need for your time, treasures and talent!

All you need to do is ask.  Perhaps at your own Boys and Girls Club.  Perhaps at a local school.  Or maybe you could inquire of your local librarian, who is always in the know about such needs.  Maybe you could check out a women’s’ and children’s shelter.  No matter what community you hail from, there will always be some group or organization who could benefit from your skill and enthusiasm.

And if you are anything like me, the experience will be one of the most exhausting, thrilling, and rewarding of your year!

Lynn

Life is Good!

Jeremy’s mom passed away last year.  She had just celebrated her 100th birthday on the fifth of February.  She was an amazing lady, and I am so grateful to her for raising the kind, considerate son with whom I get to share my life.  With Mother’s Day rapidly approaching, I wanted to share just a bit about her.

Before she retired, mom was a teacher.  I have always said that mom led such a long life because God was keeping her here on earth to show the rest of us how we should live.  You see, I never heard her say an unkind word about anyone!  I never heard her say anything unkind to my father-in-law while he was alive.  It seemed as if she never really entertained less than positive thoughts!  She approached her life with the motto, “Life is Good!”

Life is Good

Even in the last year, as she became non-ambulatory and required the care of a skilled nursing facility, she did not complain or grumble.  Surely, body parts must have hurt.  She had fallen and broken a hip with its resulting surgery, but she pretty much kept her discomforts to herself.  She preferred to present an outward facade that life is, indeed, good!


In thinking about all we learn from our moms, I have come to realize how fortunate I have been. How lucky I am to be able to have a flexible work schedule on my own terms.  I love our home and its location, which gives us uncomplicated access to nearly everything we need.  I love that I have time to pursue music, books, exercise, travel and crafts.  While we are certainly not wealthy, we have enough. Jeremy and I share a love and commitment that is strong enough to walk through anything.  We are surrounded by family and good friends.


As Mother’s Day approaches I realize how much I learned from Jeremy’s mom – she was the consummate teacher. The most gratifying moment for any teacher is that moment when “the light bulb” goes on.  It’s that time when the kid finally “gets it” and can continue to do the work on his own.

 

Well mom, our light bulb has gone on…Your lesson has been well taught and now it is up to us to keep doing the homework.  It is up to us to keep trying to emulate your principles:

A steadfast refusal
to give voice to negativity

and

A constant grateful spirit

 

I hope the rest of us will be able to go forward practicing these lessons which you have spent a lifetime demonstrating for us.  I know I, for one, will be forever grateful for your loving influence, and I hope that I can do justice to carrying forth the mantra that you so genuinely expressed nearly every day:

Life is Good!

Lynn

 

Because We Can!

My best friend and I are both retired teachers.  We have talked on the phone, pretty much every night, for the past 30+ years.  We live in towns that are roughly 15 miles apart, and we have been talking on the phone since the days when it was long distance for us to call each other.

These days the favorite thing about retirement, for both of us, is that we can pick up the phone and call each other at ten o’clock in the morning.  We will often call just to chat about something stupid that just happened, or to share what’s going on.  And our new favorite phrase is,

“I thought I’d call…Why???…Because I can!!!”

It is our favorite thing!  We no longer need to wait until the end of the workday to share our stories.  And it got me thinking about the many, many things that we now are able to do…

Because We Can

Read a book until 3:00 AM. Or in the middle of the afternoon.

Take a nap in the middle of the day, or whenever we feel the need.

Work on craft projects – for me it’s quilting – whenever the urge hits.

Eat popcorn for dinner or pizza for breakfast!

Run errands in the middle of the day.  Mow the lawn on a Tuesday. Shop for groceries ANY day but the weekend!

Take a trip, near or far, and leave on a Tuesday, with very little notice and not too much advance planning!

Enjoy the many, many venues that exist in our city, but which we have never previously taken advantage of:  the art museum, the history museum, the botanical garden, the local parks, our many craft breweries…you get the idea.

Oh yeah, and have cocktails or a glass of wine – at 4:00 in the afternoon!

Putter our way through household chores – We no longer need to get everything done on the weekend.  A little laundry here, a little dusting there…good enough!

Take a walk in the middle of the day, or go to our 24-hour gym at 9:00 at night!

Go out for brunch any day of the week.

Meet up with friends, pretty much whenever it’s convenient!

So how about it.  What are those things that you love doing now in retirement, just “because you can?” I’d love to hear how others are enjoying their voyage!

Lynn

Photo credit: Charlz Gutierrez de Pineres ~ Unsplash

 

Seven Ways to Make Retirement Seem Easy

Lately, it seems that many retirement blogs and websites have been issuing warnings about how difficult it can be to retire.  They warn of the dangers that lurk right behind the euphoria of new found freedom. Tales of depression setting in, boredom developing, and my personal favorite, “disenchantment” – that realization that freedom from employment ain’t all it’s cracked up to be.  There seem to be endless lists about the things that make retirement hard…

How about, for a change, we examine those elements that, with just a little planning,

Make Retirement Easy

Understanding “enough” – When we first started the Encore Voyage, we were in a state of mild panic. Oh my God, we have no steady income stream…Until my little sister wisely asked, “How much do you really need, anyway?” And it started our examination of exactly “How Much is Enough?”  Not in a financial planning sort of way, but in a philosophical, examine your life and decide what is really important, and think about what you really need to be happy. Hopefully, you can make the cash and the needs match up.

Minding your people – I would agree that retirement could get lonely if you don’t pay attention to your tribe.  It could be family, current friends, or new friends to be made.  The point is that relationships matter, and because the work environment no longer automatically forces us into talking with other humans, we must be diligent in nurturing our relationships with intentionality.

Embracing funny – There are lots of things about retirement, heck – in the world in general – that if we didn’t laugh about them, we would cry!  If you can laugh about your colonoscopy, you can laugh about most things.  And as we age, you simply must try to see the humor in the journey, or you’ll find yourself yelling, “Get off my lawn!”

Pursuing your passion – Retirement is nothing if not a Huge Opportunity to take the time to enjoy all of the interests, hobbies, and activities that always got pushed out of the picture during our working careers!  It is worrisome if you don’t have any, or if you don’t know what they are – the world is your oyster. If you are bored, you just haven’t examined all of the possibilities.

Having a purpose – It could be a working for a charity. It might be involvement in your church. Perhaps it is volunteering in some way in the community (Eh-hem…former teacher here ~ have you checked out your local school for volunteering opportunities?)  For that matter, like us, it could be an “Encore Career” – doing something important (maybe even your dream job.)  Retirement is made more sweet by having a good reason to get out of bed in the morning.

Cuddling the globe – OK, I will admit, I have blatantly stolen that phrase from a lovely travel blog that you can find here.  Exploration and travel, even if you never leave your own community, open your mind and your senses to all that exists in this big, wide, wonderful world.

Fighting the flabby – Not that I would ever think that you can stop the aging process, but there are lots of things you can do to stay as fit and mobile as possible.  I know it’s not always easy, but we need to get off the couch and move in order to make the most of our retirement years.

I have had so many people tell me that “Not everyone could do what you and Jeremy do.”  They imply that this voyage is, for some reason, very difficult.  I guess I’m just a “glass half-full” sort of gal, because I think this retirement gig is really pretty simple!

Lynn

Photo credit: Austin Schmid ~ Unsplash