Throwback Thursday: retirement ramblings

man and woman sitting on brown wooden bench

Photo by Monica Silvestre on Pexels.com

Today’s post is a Thursday throwback to the year 2010. Back in the summer of that year, I began this blog, Mama’s Empty Nest, never expecting that I would continue it for 10 more years. But once a writer, always a writer and I’ve been writing since the time I was able to hold a pencil and put words together to make a sentence.

Much has changed since 2010 and I’ve decided to share throw-back posts from the earlier years of this blog every now and then. Sort of a walk down memory lane.

One of life’s aspects that has changed since I first wrote the post you will read below is that Papa and I actually are retired now. Well, I am. I categorize my husband as semi-retired since he works part-time at a low-key, less stressful job just for something to do and a little extra income to bolster our travel fund.

Papa and I just got back from a trip out west. That’s the fun part about retirement. You can pick up and travel whenever you want. But back in 2010, here’s what I had to say about retiring:

Dreaming of retirement?  Apparently you can make all those dreams come true if you read articles about retirement.

But most of them address only the financial aspect of this stage of life, it seems to me.

My mind’s been roaming and roving around on a tangent about this milestone in life because I have a friend who recently retired.  What sounds like bliss to the rest of us, who still must endure the daily grind, isn’t exactly idyllic to her, and she is struggling with the day-to-day aspect of retirement.  I know she will eventually discover her way on this path because she is one smart cookie.  But for now, retirement is a considerable adjustment for her.

I remember when my father retired.  My mother, who was a stay-at-home mother and homemaker extraordinaire, confessed to me that Dad was driving her nuts!  He was accustomed to a job that kept him “on the go” all day; Mom was used to her daily routine at home which did not involve jumping in the car at the drop of a hat to “go somewhere.”  It took some time, but soon they adjusted to this new phase of their lives.

I’m the “baby” of my family, the youngest of three sisters.  My oldest sister and brother-in-law just retired.  They closed the doors of their business with finality and for now are traveling around the country in their RV and enjoying time with their children and grandchildren.  They are deliberating about spending winters in Arizona and perhaps heading back here to the homeland for summer time.

My other sister and brother-in-law are also living the “easy life.”  After years of hard work, they are taking pleasure in this time of relaxation and respite.  They keep busy with hobbies, interests, and friends and seem content doing so.  They have a first grandchild due to make an entry into the family near the end of this year, so they will be morphing into grandparent-hood shortly.

My hubby and I are not approaching retirement age quite yet.  Matter of fact, the economic prognosis in our country right now makes retirement for us seem like an almost unobtainable goal, remotely existing in the distant future.   I just researched a government website for information on when you can retire and take full social security retirement benefits. 

For most of us baby boomers, the magic age is 66.  For my hubby, who is only one year younger than me, it is 66 plus two months.  Of course, you can retire earlier if you want, you just don’t receive full benefits.  Hubby and I pessimistically think by the time we are ready to retire, social security will be insolvent, and we’ll probably get nothing.  Sounds dismal, doesn’t it?

I suppose that’s why a good portion of retirement advice dwells on finances.  But it also occurs to me that many of these article writers assume everyone wants to live “lifestyles of the rich and famous.”  

Do they all suppose we want to sell our current homes and retire to some exotic island where we can purchase a villa — smaller of course than what they think we own now, but way more expensive?  They must believe we desire to travel “around the world in 80 days” and then do it again every year after that.

Of course, I believe if you have the money, the inclinations, and good health in your retirement years, why not live it up?  You deserve to enjoy that period of your life.

But if you are anything like me, you might just want to live a simple life instead.  Sure, throw in a couple of fun trips to wherever you’ve always dreamed of visiting.  But for the most part, enjoy the freedom to indulge in your hobbies and interests. 

Enjoy spending time with your family.  Enjoy friends.  Give back by volunteering at some place that really needs your help and expertise.  Learn something new.  Share your godly wisdom you learned on this journey in life with those who can benefit from it.   Teach your grandchildren things they won’t otherwise learn.

There’s a wacky study, performed by some psychologists from one of those places in academia, which says retirees do not find their happiness spending time with their children and grandchildren.  I say, “Bunk!”

Naturally, I don’t adhere to the belief that your progeny should provide your only source of happiness, but I do think we gain much, much joy from our family ties.  So I don’t think retirement should be time for complete self-absorption.

To me, retirement is your time to spread your wings and fly if you can.   But also ground yourself from time to time with those you love the most on this earth.   This Mama is hopeful that once retirement comes for us, the empty nest will still be open, waiting to be filled up from time to time with young birds’ visits and maybe someday, grandbaby birdies too.

So here’s what’s different today 10 years later in 2020:

  • My oldest sister and brother-in-law did decide to take up residence in Arizona where Papa and I just recently visited.
  • In our own retirement, Papa and I thoroughly enjoy traveling and taking more time to do so. 
  • Mama’s empty nest certainly is still open and happy to be filled up from time to time with our grown children AND grandchildren. Three of them!!
  • And I definitely can de-bunk that study that said retirees don’t find happiness spending time with their families. I beg to differ. Some of my happiest days are spent with those loved ones.

And here’s what hasn’t changed – I still believe what I wrote about retirement in 2010:

  • Enjoy the freedom to indulge in your hobbies and interests.
  • Enjoy spending time with your family and friends. 
  • Give back by volunteering at some place that really needs your help and expertise. 
  • Learn and experience something new. 
  • Share your godly wisdom you learned on this journey in life with those who can benefit from it.  
  • Teach your grandchildren things they won’t otherwise learn.

“Retire from work, but not from life.” ~ M.K. Soni

©2020 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

 

Maybe dinosaurs, but not fossils

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Dinosaur exhibit @ Carnegie Museum of Natural History

I’ve been unplugged. When I do take time to perch in front of my keyboard lately, I find I have nothing to write. Easier than forcing myself to drum up writing inspiration, I just unplug instead.

Maybe, I mused, I’ve contracted cabin fever and dreary weather causes me to be so uninspired. It seems to be a cyclical thing with me as well, often occurring in February.  

I could blame my lack of creativity and motivation to write during this month because of that doggone lack of sunshine we have in my neck of the woods.

Even though we’ve experienced a mild winter (so far), overcast days on end with little to no sunshine takes its toll on me as does the fact that January lasts soooooooo long and daylight is so short. As usual, when February finally arrives, I do find myself infected with a full-blown case of cabin fever. 

At the beginning of this month,  Papa and I were relaxing in the family room one evening. While he flipped through Amazon Prime and Netflix trying to find something worthwhile to watch, I alternated between reading a library book and an inane color by number app on my iPad.

Suddenly, I thought “Enough! We are so predictable and this is becoming much too much of a regular routine!” So I looked at Papa and said, “We need to get out of here. We need to go somewhere, do something, to get me out of these winter doldrums.”

Of course, Papa works part-time so for several hours a week, he does get out. But Nana keeps the home fires burning in this country ‘cabin’ of ours and in between bouts of cleaning out clutter and babysitting Little One, Nana’s been antsy to get out of the house.

“Okay,” Papa replied, “where do you want to go? What do you want to do?”

Well, there’s the problem. I didn’t have any good ideas. We are scheduled to take a week-long excursion this spring, so my attention has been on making those plans with Papa. But where to go nearby now? What to do? I was stymied.

At this point, you need to know the back story. Born and raised in this area where we now live, this was my home until I went off to college. So I’ve seen just about every site within driving distance, in our nearby city, and in this part of the state that’s worth visiting.

But Papa, he grew up in our capital city several hours away and we spent almost half of our married life residing in other states here in the USA.  And even though we’ve lived in this house for 20 years now, there are still some sightseeing spots in this area he hasn’t visited yet.

The Carnegie Museum of Natural History and Art in Pittsburgh is one of those places. Since my husband is quite the history aficionado, he’s always wanted to visit this museum. And it’s been more years than I care to recall since I visited the museum as a youngster.

Several times in the past, we’ve discussed attending the Carnegie but would relegate it to one of those “we’ll visit it in the winter time when it’s better to be indoors” kind of places. Well, what better time than a winter day during a snow squall?

So we headed to the city one morning to spend an entire day at the museum, arriving shortly after it opened and leaving almost at closing time. Papa enjoyed a hey-day since he was in his element. This Nana got just the stimulation and photo ops she needed to light a little spark under my inertia.  

Particularly fascinating to me were the National Geographic: 50 Greatest Wildlife Photographs exhibition (amazing!!); the Hillman Hall of Minerals and Gems, which displays more than 1,300 minerals and gems from all over the world; and the Wertz Gallery, where some of the minerals have been fashioned into beautiful gemstones and jewelry.

That breathtaking gallery includes close to 500 gems, crystals, and pieces of jewelry displayed in glass cases in a mirrored room. The spectacle of it just boggles your mind and seems maze-like. Trying to capture photographs and gazing at the astonishing beauty of the gallery truly was exquisite.

And of course, one of the most famous exhibitions of the Carnegie (one that I remember so very well from my childhood) is Dinosaurs in their Time, a remarkable collection of original fossils and actual dinosaur skeletons found out west.

When I was a kid, the dinosaur collection was merely erected bones and fossils displayed, but the exhibition now is remarkable, depicting those creatures in replicas of what their natural habitat might have been like. So much more intriguing.

But that wasn’t the only intriguing aspect. As we wandered through that exhibition viewing the displays, a pleasant elderly man, leaning on his cane, tapped my arm and asked if we had a minute to spare.

We stopped, nodded our heads, and listened to him tell us most interesting facts about the displays. We enjoyed listening to the gentleman, an enthusiastic museum volunteer, share his knowledge.

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The knowledgeable museum volunteer

My curiosity aroused, I questioned him about how he became a volunteer and knew so much about the fossils and dinosaur displays, wondering if he was a retired professor or researcher.

He then shared how he had worked in research of a different kind in his working career,  retired in the 1980’s, and promptly became bored with retirement. So he decided to volunteer at the museum and has been doing so for the last 30-some years.  

His eyes sparkled as he recounted his story and he ended it this way with a huge smile on his face: “It’s fun!” What a great attitude he had!

A day at the museum with my husband. It truly was fun. It was fun to get out of the house. It was fun to shake off my case of cabin fever.

And it reminded me that at our age, especially now in these retirement years, we may be dinosaurs, but we don’t have to be fossils. Papa and I will continue to seek out new experiences (even if they’re new, old experiences), learn new things, and most importantly, have fun together.

“Retirement is when having a good time is your only job.” ~ unknown

©2020 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Change of pace, change of place

blogIMG_2930One of the perks of this semi-retirement gig that Papa and I have entered into is that we’ve had time and opportunity to embark on some journeys from home.

Since Papa left his full-time (headache-filled, stress inducing – need I say more?) job a couple of years ago, he has been working part-time in another place of employment.  Eventually, he will fully retire but not just yet. 

He enjoys this current position but appreciates even more the fact that when he departs from his job,  he leaves work-related worries behind and doesn’t ‘bring them home’ with him.

Even though in the last few years I only substitute taught part-time, I too have vacated the working world to babysit one of our granddaughters a couple of times a week.

So far, it’s worked out well and we’ve been able to realize our dream of traveling. We’ve actually ventured on more trips this past year than we have taken in a long time.

One aspect of retirement that we discussed long before reaching our 60’s was that we wanted to do a bit of traveling when we hit our retirement years. Not big extravagant trips like an 80 days around the world thing, just jaunts here and there to places we’ve never been.  

Partake of time off to go visit our grown up offspring who live in different states than us. And maybe, if finances and health endure, we dreamed about perhaps one day visiting the old countries – places in Europe where our ancestors once came from.

I don’t know if we will fulfill that dream, but for now, we’re content to travel right here in our own native land – the USA. I’m not really one to make bucket lists, but I do have a goal of visiting all 50 of our states. I have 10 more to go and I’ll have achieved that aspiration.  Plus there are a number of places that we would like to visit again because we didn’t see all that we hoped to see.

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Visited states marked with blue car

Last June, we journeyed north with stops in New York state (where we’ve been many times before) for some sightseeing in areas we had not seen. From there we drove to Massachusetts and my history buff husband ticked off some historic sites from his own to-see list including Concord, Boston, Quincy, and Plymouth. We both thoroughly delighted in a drive to the tip of Cape Cod as well. And from there, we visited Rhode Island and Connecticut.

In the fall, history won out again. Our middle daughter inherited that history-loving gene from her dad. She had never been to a well-known Civil War battlefield in our own state. Both Papa and I have been there before, but we knew it would be worthwhile going back, so we loaded up daughter and granddaughter and spent a few days there.

For our 40th wedding anniversary, our children gave us a monetary gift to take a respite away for just the two of us. Their suggested idea was a bed and breakfast somewhere within driving distance, but Papa and I decided instead to use the gift for airfare.

In February, we boarded a plane and flew westward to spend some time with my oldest sister and brother-in-law who have retired to a beautiful spot in Arizona. Two more states checked off my list as we ventured not only to interesting places in their area but also to Nevada as well.

In addition to those jaunts, we also traveled out of state to visit our children, taking a couple of little side trips for sightseeing along the way.

And just last month, a vacation to the New England states of Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine gave us a time of refreshment away from home.

We stopped at various scenic sites  in Vermont – covered bridges, the Quechee Gorge, and a few small, quaint towns there. Traveling into New Hampshire, we viewed the majestic White Mountains and on Papa’s birthday, we rode the Cog Railway to the summit of Mount Washington, the highest point in New England.

From there, we ventured into Maine to the Acadia National Park and took a leisurely drive down the coastline stopping at a few lighthouses on the way.

It was just the ticket this Mama needed. A chance to get away from the hum-drum of everyday life. A welcome change of scenery. A trip making memories.

My plan is to share some of my travel photos with you as they inspire me to write future blog posts.  A change of place, even through photography, can serve as a catalyst for creativity, at least for me. 

Since we’ve been back home, I’ve felt refreshed and renewed. That’s what travel does for someone who enjoys a change of pace and a change of place every once in a while.

“Travel and change of place impart new vigor to the mind.” – Seneca

©2018 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

 

The state I’m in

blogIMG_7547I’m in a New York state of mind.

That was my first thought when I read that this week’s Word Press photo challenge theme was ‘state of mind.’ Of course song lyrics to that old Billy Joel song would dance through my brain, it’s how my quirky mind works.

But really. State of mind. Hmmm.

The ancient Greek Plutarch once said, “In words are seen the state of mind and character and disposition of the speaker.”

Truth, right? Our words (and this week even our photos) do declare our character and disposition or nature. I’ve often said that rude and vulgar language shows your true character just as kind and gracious language does.

So do I want to share my state of mind for this challenge in a picture and words as well? Often I’m not sure I want to share publicly the various places my mind goes.

An online dictionary defines state of mind as the “state of a person’s cognitive processes.” Well, my cognitive processes are all over the map.

In one fail swoop, my attitude can change from gracious to sassy.  My perspective can be swayed by circumstances.  My disposition varies from day to day.  My mood often even depends on the view outside my windows – sunny equals good mood; overcast and dreary mirrors my mood.

And no, I’m not bi-polar. I’m just one of those people whose state of mind fluctuates – a lot. That’s the thing, my perspective changes frequently because I generally can see both sides of the coin.  I see your point, but I see his as well.  I sympathize with you, but I see where she’s coming from too.

My state of mind is my way of looking at things.  If I was truly in a “New York state of mind,” I think I’d be continuously moving and busy just like that hustling, bustling famous city. 

But that’s not the case.  It used to be. Back when mama’s empty nest was a full house.  My mindset then stayed in continuous motion.

I recall this vividly because recently I peeked inside some old yearly planners I had stashed away in a closet.  Every day marked some kind of activity, event, or item to remember. 

And most of those daily notations revolved around my growing children: piano, dance, swimming, or gymnastic lessons; soccer, volleyball, track, cross country, basketball, or baseball practices; appointments for doctors, dentists, or haircuts; school events like book fairs, musical concerts, PTA meetings, school carnivals and fundraisers, classroom volunteer days.

Then there was the social aspect of my children’s lives: birthday parties, sleep-overs, play dates.  Scout meetings, day camps, youth group meetings. They were all duly noted in my day timer planners.

In addition to my children’s schedules, my own also proved very full.  Church events, volunteer opportunities, dinner parties, lunches with friends, baby-sitting friends’ children, writing newsletters for church and parent-teacher organizations, church socials, the list continued on and on.

And you know what? It made me tired just reading it all and I honestly wondered how I managed to accomplish everything each and every day with three active children and a traveling salesman husband to boot.

As I’m approaching retirement age – 62 on my next birthday –my way of looking at things, my perspective, yes, my state of mind has changed considerably.

I like this non-New York state of mind I’m in.  Granted with grandbaby in my life, it isn’t always tranquil and quiet here in the empty nest.  Actually, it’s not really empty any more with daughter and grandbaby here. 

But this state of mind is one I can handle in this season of life.  I choose an outlook that’s bright; my approach is to be thankful and content; and my mindset is to stay focused on my faith and trust in my God.

“My trust in God flows out of the experience of his loving me, day in and day out, whether the day is stormy or fair, whether I’m sick or in good health, whether I’m in a state of grace or disgrace. He comes to me where I live and loves me as I am.” ~ Brennan Manning

©2016 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Rambling About Retiring

blogScan_0170429 (21)Dreaming of retirement?  Apparently you can make all those dreams come true if you read articles about retirement.

But most of them address only the financial aspect of this stage of life, it seems to me.

My mind’s been roaming and roving around on a tangent about this milestone in life because I have a friend who recently retired.  What sounds like bliss to the rest of us, who still must endure the daily grind, isn’t exactly idyllic to her, and she is struggling with the day-to-day aspect of retirement.  I know she will eventually discover her way on this path because she is one smart cookie.  But for now, retirement is a considerable adjustment for her.

I remember when my father retired.  My mother, who was a stay-at-home mother and homemaker extraordinaire, confessed to me that Dad was driving her nuts!  He was accustomed to a job that kept him “on the go” all day; Mom was used to her daily routine at home which did not involve jumping in the car at the drop of a hat to “go somewhere.”  It  took some time, but soon they adjusted to this new phase of their lives.

I’m the “baby” of my family, the youngest of three sisters.  My oldest sister and brother-in-law just retired.  They closed the doors of their business with finality and for now are traveling around the country in their RV and enjoying time with their children and grandchildren.  They are deliberating about spending winters in Arizona and perhaps heading back here to the homeland for summer time.

My other sister and brother-in-law are also living the “easy life.”  After years of hard work, they are taking pleasure in this time of relaxation and respite.  They keep busy with hobbies, interests, and friends and seem content doing so.  They have a first grandchild due to make an entry into the family near the end of this year, so they will be morphing into grandparent-hood shortly.

My hubby and I are not approaching retirement age quite yet.  Matter of fact, the economic prognosis in our country right now makes retirement for us seem like an almost unobtainable goal, remotely existing in the distant future.   I just researched a government website for information on when you can retire and take full social security retirement benefits.  For most of us baby boomers, the magic age is 66.  For my hubby, who is only one year younger than me, it is 66 plus two months.  Of course, you can retire earlier if you want, you just don’t receive full benefits.  Hubby and I pessimistically think by the time we are ready to retire, social security will be insolvent, and we’ll probably get nothing.  Sounds dismal, doesn’t it?

I suppose that’s why a good portion of retirement advice dwells on finances.  But it also occurs to me that many of these article writers assume everyone wants to live “lifestyles of the rich and famous.”   Do they all suppose we want to sell our current homes and retire to some exotic island where we can purchase a villa — smaller of course than what they think we own now, but way more expensive?  They must believe we desire to travel “around the world in 80 days” and then do it again every year after that.

Of course, I believe if you have the money, the inclinations, and good health in your retirement years, why not live it up?  You deserve to enjoy that period of your life.

But if you are anything like me, you might just want to live a simple life instead.  Sure, throw in a couple of fun trips to wherever you’ve always dreamed of visiting.  But for the most part, enjoy the freedom to indulge in your hobbies and interests.  Enjoy spending time with your family.  Enjoy friends.  Give back by volunteering at some place that really needs your help and expertise.  Learn something new.  Share your godly wisdom you learned on this journey in life with those who can benefit from it.   Teach your grandchildren things they won’t otherwise learn.

There’s a wacky study, performed by some psychologists from one of those places in academia, that says retirees do not find their happiness spending time with their children and grandchildren.  I say,  “Bunk!”

Naturally, I don’t adhere to the belief that your progeny should provide your only source of happiness, but I do think we gain much, much joy from our family ties.  So I don’t think retirement should be time for complete self-absorption.

To me, retirement is your time to spread your wings and fly if you can.   But also ground yourself from time to time with those you love the most on this earth.   This Mama is hopeful that once retirement comes for us,  the empty nest will still be open,  waiting to be filled up from time to time with young birds’ visits and maybe someday, grandbaby birdies too.

©2010 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com