Love Being Retired

As I write this week’s blog I sit on the deck on a rocking bench (like a rocking chair only a bench) looking out at the field of mature oak trees that fill the canyon behind our house. There is a slight chill in the morning air as a crystal blue sky peeks between majestic branches. The air is still with no hint of a breeze. Later in the day a predictable wind will whip through the canyon but for now all is calm. The peace and quiet is inspiring interrupted only by the buzz of a hovering hummingbird daintily feeding while flashing its amazing coat of iridescent ruby and emerald. And here am I doing what I enjoy.

I love being retired. Knowing that I am in control of how I choose to spend my days is empowering. The freedom to do what I want when I want for as long as I want is refreshing. And living where we do is ever inspiring. If sitting under the oak trees is a bit too cool I can venture to the other side of the house – the sunny side, where my wife can typically be found – and warm up a bit while watching the roses grow. We are situated in a valley that can get warm on summer days. But should the heat become too oppressive a mere 15 minute drive delivers us to the beautiful pacific coastline where the weather is more temperate and the waves ever breaking.

I love being able to be spontaneous. If something good comes along we have no problem acting on short notice. An unplanned dinner with friends we run into while walking or a quick escape to listen to a local musician playing down the road or an impulsive decision to catch the sunset on the beach – we can do whatever, whenever. And being retired allows us to take advantage of this spontaneity during the week. We are no longer forced to seek our entertainment on the weekend when everyone and their brother is doing the same. My wife and I find ourselves happily staying close to home on the weekends since our retired weekend is effectively five days long.

I love the smells of retirement. Now that my wife has retired the house is regularly filled with wonderful cooking aromas. I kid you not this morning while drinking my coffee I detected a heavenly scent that turned out to be freshly made Jamaican banana nut bread. An hour later the oven was sharing savory whiffs of an equally amazing blueberry coffee cake. It looks like I better pick up my exercise routine if I hope to maintain my waistline. I Swiss flag on Jungfrauyochlove the sweet scents of freshly cut roses, the rich aroma of newly brewed java, the earthy air after an infrequent rain (California you know…), and of course the salty tang of ocean breezes.

I love having time to exercise. Everyone knows the importance of trying to stay fit and for me working up a sweat is something I enjoy. The difference in retirement is you now have time throughout the day to do your thing rather than struggling to squeeze in an abbreviated workout somewhere in a busy schedule. I love getting outdoors whether to hike park trails or walk the neighborhood. My wife and I have a nice three mile loop that takes us downtown to our favorite coffee shop or local post office and then back up a workout worthy hill to the homestead. And should we find ourselves in need of a little fortification to make it back up the hill we can pause at one of numerous wine tasting rooms prior to heading home.

I love spending time with the people I want. We have only been in our new home for three months but have already been visited by most of the family. My best friend who I have not seen in many years visited us from Colorado taking advantage of his recent retired status. No more high power business meetings, no more company cocktail parties, we fortunate retirees get to spend time with those we want. We even have time to meet new people who share common interests and passions. Not too bad if you ask me.

I love trying new things. Whether learning a new piano piece or trying my hand at growing vegetables from a seed or cooking up a mouth-watering recipe or finding a new trail to hike. I can revisit passions from my past or seek out new ones. I can step outside my comfort zone or remain safely within its confines. And I have learned from those who have gone before me the time to do it is now. I will never be younger than I am today so am taking advantage of my relative youthfulness.

I love being retired. I realize how lucky I am to be where I am and do my best to never take for granted my fortunate situation. Retirement is a wonderful time to live, explore, experience, and enjoy. And we each get to make the most of it. Enjoy the journey.

4 Ways to Reward Yourself in Retirement

The path to retirement is rarely easy. While navigating your journey expect to encounter numerous potholes, unexpected twists and turns, and even the occasional dead end. Saving and preparing for your second act requires devotion and constant vigilance lest you stumble and as a consequence delay your arrival. The best laid plans often require modification, adjustment or sometimes even a start over. But with perseverance, determination, a good dose of prayer and a little luck we eventually hope to count ourselves amongst the retired.

Few of us entering retired life have a clear picture of exactly what may be in store for the next 20 or 30 years but as a whole we are plenty glad to be here. This should be our time to do what we want, what excites us and brings us joy. We have earned our time in the sun. So where do we start? How do we learn to be good to ourselves first after so many decades spent putting our personal desires on the back burner?

Is there any “thing” that would add to your joy in retirement?

All of us learn to do without on the way to retirement. If we hope to have sufficient resources down the road we have to watch ourselves along the way. That little red corvette, those amazing Italian shoes, upgrades to the home that are not 100 percent necessary, everything must be prioritized as we strive to keep that ultimate prize in sight. Once retired we still have to watch our expenditures – in some cases more than ever. But with some expenses no more – kids, college, commute expenditures, dry cleaning – perhaps you can afford a little splurge. Is there something that you have always wished for but just could not justify the expense? Think hard or maybe you don’t have to. Perhaps you can manage the books a bit and find what you need to go for it. It needn’t be Bakerysomething extravagant or over the top, just something you want. It doesn’t even have to be something you necessarily need. If you can swing it why not give yourself a well-deserved reward.

And if you really want to get the retirement off to a good start, find out if your partner has any secret wishes. Sometimes giving can truly be better than receiving.

Spend time with people you like

The realities of the working world occasionally require us to interact with people we would rather not. Putting on that happy face when you so do not feel like smiling can be stressful not only to the mind but to the face. How much better is it to spend your moments with people you love and enjoy? Is there someone at the top of your like list who you have not had time to be with? Retirement can be your chance to fix that. Now retired, I am able to reach out to old friends on a more frequent basis. I am free to arrange my calendar to make time for visits by the kids and the parents. I can join my sister for a lunch in the middle of the day and stretch the experience for hours if I want. What a welcomed change from a career peppered with meetings and conventions and business diners where I was often forced to talk nothing but business when it was the farthest thing from my mind. Reward yourself by spending time with those you choose.                                                      

Consider a furry four legged addition to the family

Not everyone is enamored with the thought of caring for a pet in retirement. The house if finally free of responsibility, so why not enjoy. With a pet, instead of being spontaneous you have to make arrangements for your four legged friend first and foremost. As many relate having a pet is like having another child. And nothing is cheap. But for those who like the idea of a loveable perpetually giving only-here-for-you companion a pet might be the ticket. You won’t be alone. Many places are dog friendly these days. In CV it is not uncommon to find yourself seated next to someone’s pooch while dining at the local bistro. Stores maintain full bowls of fresh water outside their doors just waiting to slake the thirst of visiting canines. Services available for pets include everything from walking to boarding to personality improvement. And what can be better than a warm body nestled at your side happily yipping and twitching as they dream their doggie dreams gloriously content with the occasional belly rub and simple pat on the head.

Use your good fortune to reward someone else

If life has been good you may want to give to those less fortunate. Retirees who spend time volunteering typically find the experience incredibly rewarding. Caregivers are in big demand in many communities and taking care of the aged is a good karma thing considering you too will someday be there. Small businesses can benefit from your counsel while at the same time you keep engaged and active. If you have a hobby or interest, share your passion by teaching others. “Memories of our lives, of our works and our deeds will continue in others,” said Rosa Parks. Find a worthy cause and pitch in. What have you got to lose? And the good you do may reward you in ways you could never imagine.

Retirement Checklist Revisited

Back in 2010 when I wrote my first post for Retirement – Only the Beginning I did not realistically have much of an understanding of what it meant to be retired. I knew or at least hoped I would retire sometime down the road. As for what that retired life would look like I was pretty clueless. That ultimately became the motivation for my blog – figuring out what I could do to best prepare myself to live a fulfilling meaningful retirement. And as I have reiterated in past blogs the focus of my efforts was on those many important considerations other than financial. Although money is a key piece of the puzzle I was convinced there was much more to living happily retired than just a fat wallet. The trick was to figure exactly what those pieces were before rather than after retirement commenced.

As the years progressed I began to better comprehend the challenges as well as opportunities that awaited me. I started digging into what I thought would matter most in my second act. What would I do, what was important to me, what would challenge me and keep me engaged, and ultimately what would make me happy? I began to create a mental checklist – a work perpetually in progress. Over the years I have modified my checklist making an addition here and a deletion there.

Here are a few of what I have identified as most important considerations to foster a happy retirement. Let’s see how things are progressing as I enter year number three of retired bliss.

Take time to smell the roses

In other words learn to enjoy life. After 30 years living at a pace slightly slower than the speed of light it is not easy to take it down a notch. In the startup world the focus has always been on getting more and more done in less and less time. Rolling into retirement in this state of mind was not a good idea – at all. In the early days of retirement I felt guilty if I was not doing something “meaningful” with every free moment. I was unable to enjoy Welcome Flowerthe freedom I have since learned can be a most satisfying part of each day. But I am getting better. For example, in our new home we have a lot of roses – I’m talking about more than 80 bushes sprinkled around the property. My first instinct was to tear out the thirty-or-so in the front and replace them with saw grass, ornate lava rocks and a splash of low-maintenance color. I had a picture clearly in my mind and was planning the changes from the first day we moved in. Then I began to look more closely at the roses, to see them for the beauties they really were. Colors ran the gamut from yellow to blood red to peppermint. Wonderful aromas wafted up from each as I sniffed them in turn. Maybe it made sense to enjoy them a bit before taking any drastic action. Why not keep an eye and a nostril on them for a year or two and see if we like them as they are. What was the hurry? It sounds simple but coming from my do it now background this was monumental. This morning I cut a sample from four bushes to create a bouquet for the kitchen that reinforces my decision to take it easy, don’t be in a hurry, just smell the roses (literally). I have to say I am enjoying this healthier happier pace.

Be sure to sync up retirement plans with your spouse

As I have shared earlier my wife recently joined me in retirement. Until then she was hard at work while I endeavored to perfect the retired life we would live by getting started early. As she inched closer to her final months we began to discuss in more detail just what was ahead. There are views we hold in common and some where we differ. Nothing surprising here as that could describe any time in our relationship. But in retirement we are learning to pay closer attention. Since we are together 24/7 little annoyances might grow in significance if ignored. On the other hand by sharing openly we may discover shared interests we have ignored and now have time to explore. I think the retirement sync will be ongoing. What has helped us is a willingness to discuss and compromise. Another work in progress but we are making progress.

Try to be healthy in body and mind

It is not always easy to squeeze in time for exercise when you are working 60 hour weeks. And when you finally have a spare moment you are more likely to collapse than drop and give 50 pushups. Retirement is a whole different ball game. You are now in control of your time. What I love about this freedom is I don’t have to force a workout into a designated time slot. I can get my exercise when I feel most inspired to do so. Of course sometimes I have to push myself a little should the inspiration fail to materialize. Eating right is also less challenging once retired. Instead of scarfing a sandwich during a fleeting five minute window you can prepare a more balanced tasty repast. We have located the best French bakery in the area (think fresh baguette) along with the closest weekly farmers market (think fresh fruit and veggies and local fish) and a cheese shop to end all (fromage!). I look forward to meals as we creatively combine local goodies never sure exactly what we will end up with but always pleased. We all know how important it is for our health and wellbeing to get regular exercise and eat well. Retirement can provide the time and flexibility to take care of yourself like you should.

Unleash the creative you

Retirees have free time on their hands. How they choose to spend it is entirely up to them. I don’t think there is a right or wrong way to keep busy. If what you do is what you enjoy, keep doing it. I have found retirement a good time to revisit old passions as well as investigate new things. I like to write (blogging), I love music (back at the piano keys), I love nature (hiking nearby park or walking coastal paths), I have discovered a previously unknown love for Paris (taking history classes, learning the language, and visiting when I can), and I am trying my hand at cooking. Who knows what might be next. Doing what I want when I want makes retirement pretty special. I can’t wait for tomorrow!