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


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

Retirement Favorites – 8 Big Things and a Few Extras

These are a few of my favorite things

A couple of days ago, I had lunch with two of my gal pals.  One is just beginning her second year of retirement. The other, a school district employee, has met the “Rule of 90” qualifications for retirement, but as yet is still working for the district.  In our conversation, as the two of us told the third about the things we missed about working (mainly, teaching children and spending time with our adult colleagues), I found myself trying to convince the third friend that she really should consider retiring.  We discussed the need for insurance benefits and the fear of boredom, and of spending too much time with our spouses.  We chatted and laughed and caught up on all the insider scoop of the school district, and then gal number three asked,

“What is your favorite thing about retirement?”

It would have been easy to give her a smart-assed answer and say, “Oh, sleeping in til noon…”, but as I was driving home, it occurred to me that this is a question deserving of a thoughtful answer.  So here is my assessment of this current gig:

  1.  No stress!– By far, my number one favorite thing about retirement is that my days are no longer consumed by stressful situations.  Most careers are filled to the brim with deadlines, client demands, things that needed to be handled yesterday…but not retirement.  If something doesn’t get done today, there’s always tomorrow…ahhhhh, bliss!
  2.  Fluidity of schedule– I get to decide for myself what to make of the day.  Should I blog in the morning or at midnight?  No, wait…I think I want to read now, and I’ll do some client work later this afternoon.  The other day, my clothes drier exploded, and I needed to call the repair man.  As I was scheduling the appointment, it occurred to me how much easier this is than when I was teaching.  So repairman, how about we push that back until after 2:00 PM, because I might not be finished golfing before then.
  3.  Freedom to learn new things– This is one of my favorite benefits of retirement. I now have time to explore anything in the world my mind can imagine…new computer skills, foreign languages, building things, reading, even starting an entirely new career.  Never has there been this much freedom to pursue interests since the day I graduated from high school with the whole world spread out ahead of me.  Only this time, I have a few miles, a few bucks, some experience, and some wisdom to go with it.
  4.  Time to be creative– I used to have so many things I wanted to sew, make, create and try…but that pesky job kept getting in the way.  Projects used to be pushed off until the weekend, and then could only materialize once the house was cleaned and the laundry was done.  Well now, that’s just not the case.  I have so many projects going, I had to type up a list to keep track of them all – my only dilemma is deciding on what next to work!
  5.  Getting lost in the literature– I have always been a voracious reader.  My only problem was that in my exhausted working life, I’d try to read in bed before turning off the light, would routinely fall asleep while reading, forget what I had read, and would need to back up a few pages the following night to figure it out.  Sound familiar?  Well in retirement, you get to make reading a priority and give it the time it deserves.  Heavenly!
  6.  Time for travel and exploration– We’re just getting started on this facet of our retirement life.  But we’ve learned that we need to Just Book It and go.  The concept of being able to decide when and where to visit next, without worrying about vacation schedules and work demands and deadlines is so liberating!  From a few miles to thousands, this part of the journey is proving to be a favorite thing!
  7.  We’re never tired!– I know that’s a novel concept, but it’s true.  Jeremy used to marvel at my ability to fall asleep every night within 3 minutes of closing my eyes.  The truth was that, during my teaching career, I was burning the candle at both ends, and was in a state of perpetual exhaustion!  Now, I’m never particularly tired.  I used to think that only old people went to bed early and rose early – but now I realize that it’s the luxury of being able to follow natural circadian rhythms – without all of the artificial constraints that employment adds to our lives.  We sleep when we’re tired, and wake when we’re rested – and that, as they say, is that!
  8.  Togetherness– It took a little getting used to, and a bit of compromise, but one of the very best things about our Encore Voyage is that we are making the journey together.  And while we make it a point to honor each other’s need for space and private time, there’s lots to be said for going down this road hand in hand.

So these would be the “biggies.”  But there are a jillion other little small daily things that make retirement just the best:

  • Having time to enjoy my morning coffee and read the paper without rushing out the door.
  • There is no more laundry day.  When the basket gets full, I throw in a load.
  • The house is always pretty clean.  Doesn’t have to be accomplished on the weekend.
  • The guilt free afternoon nap!
  • Spending time with my gal pals – while everyone else is at work!
  • Shopping any time but on a weekend.
  • Not having to go out in the snow if you don’t want to!
  • My friends say, “spending time with grandkids.” – I wouldn’t know about that…
  • Taking time to really see and appreciate our surroundings – Life is not such a rush!

I know that there are lots of other favorite things.  So how about it?  What are your favorite things about retired life?  I’d love it if you’d share in the comments.

It’s Not a Bucket List


Our List

I am a list maker.  Always have been.  When I was teaching, I would keep a stenographer’s notebook with lists of tasks which needed to be done. Then I would artfully use a variety of colored pens to color out the tasks as they were finished.  A rainbow of accomplishment!  Now I use an app on my phone, tablet and laptop which syncs together so many lists that they are categorized in folders and assigned to different days.  Overall, my lists are so long that I will most likely never finish many of the tasks before they become unimportant – which is also OK.  My lists are living, evolving things.
But there is one list which is near and dear to my heart.  We keep it in the Notes section on my phone, and it is entitled simply,

Our List

Our List has evolved through many bottles of wine, over dinners, while taking walks, and even while driving along in the car.  The rules for the list are quite simple:  It is the place for storing our dreams that begin with, “I wanna…”

  1. It is about activities that we wish to experience, not about accumulating things.
  2. Either of us can add a desire to the list.
  3. There is no veto power.
  4. No dream is too big, or too small.

Our list is now a couple of pages long, and ranges from the silly to the sublime.  It includes things like “eat in every not-yucky restaurant in our town” to “zip-line somewhere where there are monkeys or parrots.” Everything from “jet-boat through Hells Canyon” to “The Guggenheim Museum.”

Every so often, we pull out the list, talk through the items, and prioritize what we should try to do next.  That’s when we sometimes negotiate, adding and deleting from the list as our wishes change.  (I, for example, no longer feel the need to mountain bike down our local ski hill!)  There has never been any pressure about trying to complete the list in any given amount of time.  And we most certainly are not considering “kicking” anything!  It’s just a way for us to record all of our ambitious and sometimes stupid ideas!

The beautiful thing about our list is our commitment to it.  It’s not really a bucket list, but rather our shared journey list.  In the bigger picture, it is about our desire to fulfill each other’s dreams, to voyage through life together, and to share our experiences.  A little sappy, I know…But we are committed to spending the rest of our lives trying to cross things off Our List!