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

 

Throwback Thursday gratitude

blogblank page (2)Thowback Thursday. That’s what it’s called when you post a photo from the past on social media with that moniker on it: #Throwback Thursday.

Well, it’s Thursday. It’s also halfway through this Thanksgiving month of November. And I haven’t written a new blog post to share with my readers for today. So I’m heading for the throwback category.

With a click of the mouse, I traveled back seven years ago to the year 2010 when I first launched Mama’s Empty Nest on Word Press. I called up some of my old blog posts from the month of November that year, read through a couple of my entries then, and noticed that I was writing quite a bit about being grateful.

I still am…grateful, that is. But for some reason, words just aren’t flowing out of me right now. So I’m reposting (with a few tweaks here and there) one of my old November 2010 posts today:

Often friends encourage me without them even knowing they’ve done so, and sometimes they humble me as well.

Today a friend told me she keeps a gratitude list.  She’s been keeping it for four years.

I started a gratitude journal way back in 1998.  Want to guess how many pages I wrote in it?  Nine and a half. 

What’s odd is that I enjoy writing tremendously, so why couldn’t I fill all the pages of that journal full of words of thanksgiving and gratefulness and start another one?  

Actually, I should have an entire bookshelf of gratitude journals by now.  [And by this date, TWO bookshelves full.] But I don’t.

So I’m feeling humbled by this friend who has so much more faithfulness than me at being grateful and documenting her thankful thoughts.  It’s obviously something I need to improve upon or at least attempt.

I rummaged through my desk drawer and dug out my lovely 1998 gratitude journal, a gift from a good friend.  

On the front page, she wrote this:  “Take a moment each day and write down five things you are grateful for.  It could be a moment, event, or just something that brought a smile to you today.  Let me start by sharing how much I appreciate your support and friendship.  You are truly ‘a very best friend’!”

This friend and I became acquainted through our children’s elementary school when we both served as PTA officers.  I jokingly told her when we met that we would become “best friends” as we would work so closely together on school functions. 

We laughed about that a lot, but we really did become close friends and even now, so many years later, we still sign our Christmas cards “from your very best friend!”

I noted that her entry in my journal was dated April 5, 1998.  I wrote this three days later:  “I am so thankful for friends like K [she gave me the journal] who brighten my day; friends like KL who can give me godly and wise advice; that Mom is experiencing God’s power and peace while she’s dealing with her cancer diagnosis; that our gracious and loving Lord not only hears our prayers but answers them; for my children’s, husband’s, and my good health.”

I continued to write a paragraph or two from April through June.  And then the writing stopped.  Is it a mere coincidence that I discontinued writing the day after my family and I moved back to the homeland? 

I don’t know.  Life was extremely unsettled then and my mother was dying of cancer.  I spent a lot of time in prayer during that time, but maybe my feelings and emotions were just too raw to put into ink on paper.

Over the years, I’ve picked up this small bound book with the floral design on the front, read what I previously wrote, and closed the book again without writing one paragraph.  [And still haven’t written any more.]

I could excuse myself by saying I was too busy planning my new home, raising my children, running to sports events, getting involved in church and school volunteering, but I know I was thankful for many, many occurrences, large and small, in my life.  So why didn’t I take a moment to chronicle them?  It’s a puzzle to me.

Perhaps it is a lack of discipline on my part.  I failed to note over 10 [now almost 20] years of thankfulness in written form in that gratitude journal, but looking back over those years, I can recall much for which my heart is grateful. 

But the day-to-day items, the usual but not insignificant blessings I’ve experienced, those are tucked away in my mind’s memory bank like old, faded mementos buried in a dusty trunk in the attic and forgotten.

And there’s so much to be thankful for.

That was so true back in 2010 and still spot-on now in 2017. Even on Throwback Thursday.

“We pray for the big things and forget to give thanks for the ordinary, small (and yet really not small) gifts.” ~ Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together: The Classic Exploration of Christian Community

©2017 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com