Tag Archives: Retirement transitions

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!


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!


Photo credit: Austin Schmid ~ Unsplash

Retirement – What will you learn next?

A few days ago, “Sparky” over at Mr. Fire Station posted a list of the five stages of retirement.  In the third stage, the Bloomberg graphic claims that you need to be prepared for the boredom which will inevitably set in.  I voiced my opinion in my comment on his blog, and I will say it again now…

That’s bull pucky!

We live in a great big, vast world in which you have learned exactly 0% of all of the things out there to be discovered!  Even the inside of your own mind is endless!  (I admit, I read that somewhere!)  But it’s so true!  Anything that even remotely peaks your interest is yours for the taking, and in this Encore Voyage, you have nothing if not time to pursue those interests.

For me, I have found that each time I decide I want to learn something new, it keeps leading me to the next thing, and I can’t decide what I should try next!  In fact, I keep finding that I don’t have enough time to tackle all the things I want to try!  That age old expression, “When did I find time to work?” is certainly true!

What do you want to learn today-

Take, for example, my saxophone.  A few years back, commented that I wanted to play a second, more portable musical instrument.  I already play the piano, but it’s a little difficult to pack up and take to a party!  My piano teacher advised me that I have the “attitude of an alto sax player” whatever that’s supposed to mean, and now I’m the proud owner of a beautiful alto sax.  I’m committed to one day playing that sucker!  Right now, I’m at the “squawking like I’m calling geese” stage, but I will improve with practice and time.

The point is, in retirement, especially in this internet age, you can learn to do pretty much anything you put your mind to…So I ask youWhat will you donow that you're donedoing what you did-Instead of sitting around being bored and waiting for the next stage to arrive, how about you ask yourself some questions:

What’s next?

What are my goals?

What do I want to learn, do, or be?

Is there anything that I’ve always wanted to try?

Where do I see myself in the next 10 years?

Because, my friend, if you don’t pay attention, you will let your retirement years slip away. You will sleep in, watch TV, play computer games, go out to lunch with friends, play golf, babysit those grand kids, and before you know it, a couple of decades will have passed, and I don’t want you to get to the end of it asking, “Is that it???”  Because the only path to a rich, rewarding and vigorous retirement requires some soul searching, self-reflection, and learning new things!


When the Heck Did This Happen???

If it has not already happened to you, you need to get mentally prepared.  At some point along your Encore Voyage this WILL happen to you.  It will come as a shock.  You will not expect it to happen.  It will cause concern – nay, even some distress.

The events that happen occur at different ages, and under a wide variety of circumstances, but will look something like this:

You get down on the floor to fetch dog’s ball which has rolled under the sofa, and YOU CAN’T GET UP! 

You do a modest amount of yard work, perhaps pulling weeds, and the next morning, your lower back screams, “WHAT THE HELL HAVE YOU DONE!?”

You are on a ski hill, all set to enjoy a beautiful run through the cedar trees, and suddenly, you’re sucking wind, and you find yourself thinking, “GOOD LORD, PLEASE LET ME MAKE IT TO THE LODGE!”

And you find yourself questioning life:

When did it happen that I can no longer do 10 pushups?  Or 5…Or 1?

When did it become a problem to park too far away from an event?

When did it become impossible to stand on one foot to put on my jammies?

When did picking up a dropped item from the floor BECOME AN EVENT???

Sadly, this phenomenon happens to each of us eventually.  And then, the real question becomes:

Are you gonna Cowboy UP 2


Yes, while we know that none of us gets out of this life alive, we have considerable control of how we react to the changes along the way.  A brisk walk here, a yoga class there, and lots of healthy eating in the middle certainly will help to fend off at least a part of the aging process. Surely it must be helpful to attempt as many activities as possible that will help me to stay active, vibrant and healthy.  A fellow blogger recently posted that

“Attitude is the difference
between an ordeal and an adventure.”

I, for one, am planning on fighting like crazy so that I can continue having adventures without too many ordeals! How about you??? Are you planning to Cowboy Up?


Cover photo credit: Julia Ceasar – Unsplash

Retirement Remodel – Preparing to Retire in Place

A while back, I shared that hubs and I had decided during our Minimalist Epiphany to sell a plot of land we had purchased.  We realized that having more – a bigger house, more land, more stuff – was just not going to work for us.  Plans change, we adapt.

Which prompted for us the following conversation:

What were we running to?
What were we wanting to achieve by moving?
What do we need to do to this place to make it work for us?

We decided that our current home of almost 30 years has a great deal going for it.  We have wonderful neighbors and a great sense of community.  We are within 5 minutes of almost anything we need.  We can be downtown and to most cultural events in 15 minutes.  We can be to the airport in 7 minutes.

In the past 10 years, we’ve done some minor remodeling that makes our home even more comfortable.  New appliances and filtered water in the kitchen, a master bath remodel (complete with grab handles in the shower) – all items that we love and don’t really want to leave.

And so it begins…

We decided that we need just a tiny bit more space – just enough to seat our guests more comfortably around the table.  A few more square feet to be able to invite in some friends.

And remember when I said that if you marry an architect, you should use him at least once in your life?

3 sided patio

Well, a week ago, we started converting our three sided patio into a type of three-season room.  It will have new tile, and a giant 24 foot bi-fold glass door which will allow us to have an elegant patio in the summer, while continuing to utilize the space during the winter. New sliding and French doors, and updated insulation will make the house more energy efficient.

Heart on the beam
(New steel beam to hold up the big-assed door!)

Eventually, we hope to put up a garage/shop for hubs, where he can play with his cars and hobbies while reducing the amount of lawn to be cared for.

We are making these decisions with the intent of staying in this house for the foreseeable future – until the day that health or physical demands make it necessary for us to move.  We’re not looking at our remodel as an investment strategy, or as a preparation for a flip.  The changes we are making will not pay off at resale – we don’t care! Our decisions are based on our desire to have our home function the way we like and to serve us for as long as is possible.  I’ll try to keep you posted on our progress!


What Counts as “Retired?”

Today I stumbled upon a lovely blog over at Low Country. Felicity. Life,  where Sandra described her retirement circumstances as “life lived in sabbatical.”  I absolutely love that expression – I think I’ll steal it.  Sandra won’t mind.  What Sandra means is that there is so much more to experience and share in this post-career stage, and that she “refuses to be branded” as “retired.”

When I started the Encore Voyage, it was because, during the summer break, my school district decided to cut Special Education support even more, making my job essentially impossible.  And if you’ve read any of our back story, you know that hubs and I made a decision for me to end my teaching career early – Give it up.  Pack it In.  Call it a Day!

Now here’s where it gets dicey.  When I told my closest of teaching friends that I had decided to retire, what some said was,

“You didn’t retire…You QUIT!”

OUCH!!!  I had dedicated nearly 30 years of my life to teaching other people’s children, with crappy pay and very little acknowledgment or respect.  And when it was over, I didn’t get so much as a “Hate to see ya go – Bye!”   or a “What’s your hurry…Here’s your hat!”

Nope…No retirement party for me.  No celebration. No obligatory teachers sitting in chairs in a circle in the school library, eating Costco cake when they’d really rather be grading papers in their rooms. (If you’re a teacher, you’ll get the reference…)

This was all well and good, until some of my older teacher friends found out that they, too, could start collecting their teacher’s pension (at a reduced rate) without exactly waiting until full retirement age – and as teaching conditions worsened, suddenly everybody started “retiring!”

So it got me to thinking…

What Counts as Retired-

I’m fairly certain now that it has absolutely nothing to do with reaching the full retirement age according to the Social Security Administration.  It’s not about being able to collect an employer’s pension plan.  It’s not about being of age to draw from your IRA.  Our many blogging friends have shown us lots of different paths to “early retirement.”

Merriam-Webster describes retirement as “the act of ending your working or professional career.”  But I’m not sure that does it for me either.  In discussing it with the hubs, we both continue to do some outside “work,” which is much different than when we were actually on a payroll.  He claims that architects never stop working.  Frank Lloyd Wright didn’t hit his stride until he was 70!  And I know I will keep “working” and learning and doing new things until I draw my last breath!  Hubs describes retirement as

“Being in a financial position that I can do what I want to do, when I want to do it, where I want to do it and with whom I want to do it!”

And within certain financial realities, I think he’s pretty close.  No, we can’t rent a jet and fly off to Paris any time soon.  We need to be cognizant of our spending habits so we don’t do something stupid.  But the world is ours to work, learn, and experience for pay, for personal gain, or for just plain fun.

For all of you out there, retired by your company’s definition, or like I did, by just plain QUITTING, I raise my glass to you.  Let’s have a Retirement Party!  And for those of you yet to retire – You just decide when that is…I’ll buy!



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