Tag Archives: Second Act

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!


Not Completely Retired? 8 Tips for Working From Home

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about what actually “counts” as being retired. Obviously, times have changed, and “retirement” is looking a great deal different than it did during my parents’ time. In reinventing ourselves on the Voyage, hubs and I decided to start our own business, partly because we wanted the additional income stream, but also because we enjoy the creativity and opportunities we’ve discovered. Hubs will remind you that Frank Lloyd Wright did not actually hit his stride until he was 70 years old!

But we don’t pay for the overhead of an outside office space and instead, we work out of our home. In living and working together 24/7, let’s just say we’ve learned a few things as they relate to working from home. You might find these tips helpful:

1. Keep a workday schedule – If you want to operate a business, you need to treat it as you would a business outside of the home. Hubs gets up every morning, showers and is in his office generally before 7:00 AM. He recognizes that business is taking place out there, even across time zones, and he wants to be at his computer and participating in it!

2. Dress for the job – It’s a mindset. No, really it is. Hubs may start the day in khaki pants and a polo, change into jeans and a t-shirt to mow the lawn later in the day, then change back into “work clothes” when he returns to his office. Now I will admit that I’ve done some paperwork in my jammies, and occasionally I’m barefoot – but as a rule, we respect our business enough to dress the part.

3. Have a “space” dedicated to doing business – Perhaps it’s an office, maybe it’s a desk or even a table in a corner. The point is, it’s a space that is way different than sitting on the couch or recliner. It’s pretty darned easy to get distracted away from the task at hand if that TV flipper is too close! Wherever that space is, it needs to be functional for the demands of the job, with easy access to whatever materials and resources are necessary.

4. Professionalism on the phone is important – This was sort of weird for us at first, as we both use our personal cell phones. Decide, in advance, how you will answer your phone to take business calls or to answer numbers which are unknown. Your business persona is most likely quite different than the way you answer calls from your mom! In some cases, you may want a phone and dedicated line specifically for business. Either way, the current state of cellular technology has convinced us that “the world is flat” and that we can conduct business from nearly anywhere that we have a cell signal!

5. It helps to have a “hotspot.” – We’ve found that having a Wi-Fi hotspot, separate from our phones, has allowed us to have secure internet connection no matter where we travel. When we have traveled out of the country, we have put the hotspot on the international plan with our provider, allowing us to hook up as many as 5 different devices on the road.

6. Be aware of background noise – There is nothing that will make a business seem more questionable than a barking dog or a crying baby in the background! Do you want to do business with someone when you can hear the sounds of “Days of Our Lives” in the background? Didn’t think so…

7. Have a place to meet “clients” – Do you want to have clients come to your home? Early on, we laughed at having “Conference Room East” and “Conference Room West” – coffee shops on both sides of town where we would offer to meet and buy coffee for potential business associates. We also have several professional partners who have offered to let us use their business conference rooms when needed. Some cities have “incubator spaces” where a conference room could be rented on an as-needed basis. Once, when needing to meet with a members of a visiting out of town architectural firm, we had to scramble to find a professional place to meet! It would have been helpful to have a plan up front!

8. Know how to communicate, “I’m Working!” – This has been one of the trickier aspects of the Voyage, and while every instance will be personal, it is fairly universal for those working from home. It is easy for well-intentioned friends and family to believe that you should be able to set business pursuits aside in favor of other activities. “What do you mean you can’t go shopping this afternoon??? Can’t you just do that later?” It can be difficult to explain that while being your own boss does allow for some flexibility, business often must come first!

On the Encore Voyage, we claim to be one-third Frank Lloyd Wright, one-third Warren Buffet, and one-third Jimmy Buffet. We spend quite a bit of time on the Frank Lloyd portion of this gig…it’s not all Jimmy having cheeseburgers in paradise. And while we absolutely love being in charge of every day, stretching our entrepreneurial wings, working from home has been an interesting part of the journey. So how about it…any other tips you’d like to add? I’d love it if you’d share in the comments!


Photo credit: Bench Accounting – Unsplash

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!



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!



The Five Things Retirement is NOT!

I “retired” from teaching in the public school system at the age of 51, after a 29 year career.   But weird things started to happen:  People would ask me, “What do you do?” and if I told them I was retired, they would give me that very strange “You’re Not Old Enough” look.  Some of my friends told me that I had not retired; I had “Just Quit.”  And that got me to really thinking about what “retirement” is and is not.  So here’s my list of the things that “retirement” definitely IS NOT:

  1. It’s NOT an age – Yes, I’ll be happy when I get to collect Social Security (if it’s still around), but I’m not letting some “age” define when one career ends…and another adventure begins!
  2. It’s NOT the end – I think some people view retirement as that point when they will stop having a job, will stop getting up and going to work, will stop trying to earn a living.  Let me just say this:  YUK!!!  I can’t imagine anything worse!  Now I’ll admit that for that first couple of weeks, it’s kind of nice not to have the responsibilities of heading off to the job, and to be able to go to a coffee shop instead.  It’s nice to feel like you can get caught up on all those “weekend chores” – I learned to LOVE doing the laundry in the middle of the day!  But after a couple of months, we realized retirement isn’t an end, it’s a new beginning…
  3. It’s NOT a time when you stop being what you were before – Jeremy has been involved in an on-line discussion with other architects about “When Does an Architect Really Retire?”  The consensus in his field is that they really don’t!  Architects will ALWAYS be designing and creating.  It got me to thinking.  You don’t really “stop being…” you just change it up!  I’ll always be a teacher at heart.  Now I have the opportunity to decide where that teacher spirit should take me next.  If you examine your passions and your dreams, and combine those with your strengths and talents, retirement becomes not a stopping point, but a changing point!
  4. It’s NOT Boring! – I’ve heard so many people say that they are afraid to retire because they are afraid of becoming bored.  Well that only happens if your vision of retirement is sitting in a recliner, staring at the TV.  I saw a post on Pinterest that said that “you have learned exactly 0%” about the world we live in.  One of the best things about the Encore Voyage is the ability and time to learn new things and chase new interests. How cool is that???
  5. It’s NOT the end of opportunities – When I first quit teaching, the two things I missed the most were the children and my interactions with my colleagues.  And then I realized that those things didn’t necessarily need to stop.  I just needed to find new opportunities to get those experiences.  Now I do a little freelance work for a neighboring school district.  I make it a priority to stay in contacts with my teacher friends.  I’m finding new ways to stretch my professional strengths in new ways.

The point is that this retirement thing is not necessarily an end of anything.  We didn’t stop our careers; we just started a second act – an Encore Voyage.  I hope you’ll continue to check back to see all of the fun experiences we’re having this second time around!




I Am The CEO!

Keep calm and love the boss

First step:  Register our new business with the state – Check.  Second step:  Print the guy some business cards – Check.  Third step:  Start smilin’ and dialing, and drumming up new business – Check, check and triple check!  Perhaps I am the most proud of Jeremy’s motivation and charisma in making our new business venture succeed.  He has been tireless in his pursuit of opportunities in the field of architecture, and it’s paying off.

So how do I fit in to the scheme of things?  I am

The Chief Everything Officer

As it turns out, I now do everything that is NOT architecture!  I am the bookkeeper, the proof reader and the secretary.  I am in charge of the maintenance department (think about it…we work out of our home!)  I run the cafeteria.  I am the IT department.  When something won’t print or his computer gets hosed, I hear him yell, “Lyyyyyynnnnnnnnn,” and I come running.  Make no mistake…What I know about architecture, or about setting up and running a business you could fit in a thimble!  But I’m nothing if not tenacious.  Before I retired from teaching, I used to tell my students that if they didn’t learn something new every day, they might as well have stayed in bed.  Wow!  Has that ever turned out to be the truth.  Every single day I am challenged to figure out how to do something new!  But that’s been the scary, heart pounding and invigorating fun of this second act career – to not be afraid to try new things, learn new skills, and pursue new interests.

Have you been letting the things you don’t know stop you from taking your Encore Voyage?  I’d love to hear your experiences!