Just In Time For Retirement

The older I get the more I accept the significance and gravity of the familiar adage “time flies”. From a day-by day perspective things feel about right – only occasionally does a 24 hour period slips through my fingers. Even looking back on the most recently passed week I feel I can account for the majority of moments passed. But the incredible speed at which years are now streaking by is a bit concerning. Here it is 2018 – where the heck did 2017 go?

In my early days it took forever to get to that next year older. How I wished I could accelerate into teen years and then jump to that magical 18 and finally pass the threshold of the sacred 21 years old. Time sure did not fly for me back then. These days I would be quite happy to decelerate to a slow, steady, memorable trickle of days going by.

It feels as if time runs at a different pace at different times in our lives.

Way back as a youngster, time was an insignificant component of daily life. I never worried about wasting time. I did what I wanted for as long as I wanted or until called in for dinner. Time mattered when it came to school, dinner time, popcorn time and bedtime. There was no need for a watch to keep me punctual. Because little stress was associated with being on time the day could be enjoyed wandering a bit, playing a bit more, and enjoying all along the way.

When I entered the work force things changed big time. Getting to work on time was essential if I hoped to keep my job. Being late to meetings was unacceptable and a tardy quarterly report could put you on the streets. Everything was on a schedule as I came to understand the true meaning of deadlines: basically get it done or you are dead.

Along with time pressures and deadlines comes the stress we all learn to cope with else sacrifice our health and sanity. Scurrying around madly in hopes of getting critical tasks completed on schedule introduced a constant level of anxiety – there just wasn’t enough time in the day. And that anxiety often followed you home, gnawing away at any chance for quality sleep and quick to re-enlist the minute you got up.

As a parent a new aspect of time emerges. While previously obsessed with one’s own time or lack thereof, as parents our time no longer belongs solely to us. Suddenly what is most important to others in our brood takes precedence. Scheduling becomes an order of magnitude more challenging with multiple lives involved. We surrender to the impossibility of being two places at once though often times find ourselves pulled and stretched in many directions. Where does the time go?

Is there any hope to slow down to a more acceptable, saner pace?

If you are fortunate enough to survive to this point mentally and physically intact, you may be in for better times, saner times, more reasonable times. Retirement time is a brand new experience and at least for me proved worth the wait.

Once retired you are no longer driven by external forces toward someone else’s ultimate end. Rather than struggling to survive the moment you can focus on living those moments. Instead of a flurry of vague scenes days begin to contain real content, filled with memories worthy of being remembered. Finally you have time for yourself.

Rather than worry about tomorrow you are free to concentrate on today. This moment – now – is what matters. You will never be right here again so make the most of right now. As the saying goes, “life is like a coin: you can spend it any way you want but you can only spend it once.”

It can take time to adjust to a new pace. Even six years retired I still find myself getting wound up when driving in traffic. Decades in Silicon Valley left me conditioned to rush hour traffic and the helpless panic felt arriving late for an appointment.  I still fight that reflex to push and get there as quickly as possible. Now I have time. Now I can go with the flow and get there when I do. But old habits die hard.

In retirement, you have time to focus attention on important little things. A thoughtful card given to a spouse, ample time to reflect upon your life and passions, relaxing wanderings in the park with nothing hanging over your head, a call to family of friends too long neglected. Now you have time to do something nice for someone. Now you have time to do something nice for you.

It is interesting as you focus on the quality of the moments rather than respond to in a knee-jerk fashion to outside stimuli you may face other challenges. For example, instead of wondering what time it is I sometimes find myself wondering what day it is. I joke with friends “I’m happy if I can keep the month straight!” How wonderful is it to not worry about approaching deadlines or responsibilities, to live the day as it unrolls before you, to go with the flow and wander wherever.

Yes time does fly. And yes it seems to do so even faster these days. But it is not just about the length of the day, it’s what you do with that day. Time may scamper quickly by. But memories we make are forever alive in our minds. Make the most of your hours.


Easy Gardening For A Happy Retirement

Written by Sally Perkins

After retirement, it’s important to keep an active lifestyle and avoid being sedentary. Staying active and keeping busy is the best way to maintain good health. Researchers found that retirees who did a moderate activity like gardening were two and a half times more likely to age in a healthy way. Doing gardening as a hobby you get to do a lot of exercises every day. All the daily activity of kneeling, bending, carrying tools, digging in the dirt, is a great way to stay healthy and in good shape. As a retiree, you can add years to your life if you start a garden at home. Additionally, think of all the healthy fresh produce you’ll get to eat and the money you’ll save on vegetables and fruits. More and more people are being drawn to the process of putting their hands in the dirt, digging and creating something beautiful.

Health Benefits of gardening

Taking up gardening goes beyond keeping you active and cutting down on grocery bills. When you grow vegetables your diet improves as you tend to eat the vegetables you grow. But it’s not just your diet that gets better, as you share your produce with your family and friends, you’ll help them eat healthy as well. With that said, spending time outdoors tending the garden and getting a decent exposure to sunlight fights off dementia and boosts your immune system.

Gardening tasks also keep you occupied and give you a sense of achievement. Studies show that being in a natural environment has therapeutic effects and reduces stress and anxiety. The same goes for participating in a community garden where you get to meet fellow gardeners, share tips and make new friends. Having a diminished social life is one of the problems of retirement. But with gardening, you could join a community that helps expand your social circle and network of friends.

Gardening made easier

If you suffer from low stamina and limited mobility, you might find gardening challenging. This might have a negative impact on your experience in the garden especially if it’s difficult to get around. However, the good news is there are ways to make gardening easy for you even if you have back pain and your joints are not as flexible as they used to be. Consider for example using waist-high raised beds. That way you can do your gardening standing up and remove the need to bend down altogether.

Now you can seed, weed, and harvest with putting pressure on your back. Vertical gardening is another way to eliminate the need to bend down. Some vegetables like melons, squash, and cucumbers grow well when trellised. With your plants at face level, it’s easy to walk around and tend to your vegetable patches. Remember to place stools and benches in your garden for rest. Stone benches are durable, functional and versatile. They also don’t require much maintenance.

Tools of the trade

If your knees hurt and you can’t kneel down easily, you should use a kneeler stool. These are stools that have a thick foam pad for the knee. You can also flip it over and it becomes a comfortable stool to sit on. It is also worth mentioning that when you squat down to weed in the garden always keep your heels on the ground. Lifting your heels puts a strain on your ligaments. Or you could try kneeling with just one knee down.

Ergonomic pruners are specially designed to be easy to use. They have comfortable handles and require less effort to cut than normal pruners. One thing to remember, however, is to always keep your wrist in a natural position. Twisting your wrist or bending it down at an angle for a prolonged time might lead to tendonitis. Also, make sure the pruners you use are the right size for you. When you hold the closed pruner in your hand, the handle should fit in your palm. Getting a pruner that is either too big or too small for you will put a strain on your hand and diminish your grip.

What to plant?

Finally, you should choose plants that are easy to grow. Plants that don’t need lots of attention and aren’t prone to disease or insect infestation are the best choice. Lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, and carrots are some of the easiest plants to grow and maintain in your garden. You can grow them in containers or in mounded soil. And apart from sowing the seeds and watering them, you won’t need to do much else. They practically grow from seeds and don’t require much care or maintenance.

If you’re new to gardening then you’ll need to wrap your head around the basics. There are plenty of books and information online to get you started. But if you really want to get the best tips then you should ask another gardener. You can find enthusiastic gardeners in community gardens and garden clubs. Most are more than willing to give advice and help a novice fellow gardener get their hands dirty, so to speak. And when all is said and done, what’s a better way to increase your home’s curb appeal than with a well maintained and beautiful garden?

What Do You Do For Fun In Retirement?

One of the great rewards of retirement is when you get there you can do what you want. Whatever you love, whatever you are most passionate about, whatever you have always wanted to try but never had the time, all await your undivided attention when you cross the retirement threshold.

I don’t think one really appreciates the nature of free time until you retire. While on the job any free time you may squeeze out of the day offers a brief taste, a momentary respite in an otherwise turbo world. In a flash you find yourself back on the treadmill quickly bidding adieu to that relaxed pressure free escape that too soon becomes but a memory.

As a retiree you are in the driver seat. As a retiree you set the pace that suits you best. As a retiree you have time for fun – finally. And now that you have all the time in the world, what do you do?

It is not always easy to effortlessly transition to a life where no one tells you what to do. Freedom might even feel a bit scary if you find you are at a loss over how to fill the hours.

Fear not – many have gone down the same road you now navigate. A little practice, a pinch of creativity, a willingness to step outside your comfort zone and you should soon find your second act all you hoped it to be – maybe even more.

What do people do for fun once they retire?

One regular LBR reader typically ends her correspondence with “keep on dancing.” Two years into retired life she explores opportunities to volunteer and engage with her community. Each day is a chance to try something new and her perpetual optimism fuels her journey.

A friend has become very involved with the quilting community in our area. She attends regular get-togethers, man’s booths at local events, and enjoys conversing with others similarly inclined. Plus she creates some truly beautiful quilts whether to decorate her own home or donate to worthy causes.

Senior Playing at Water's Edge

My wife has a dedicated table (on wheels) set aside to build challenging jigsaw puzzles. She works on nothing less than 2000 pieces and has completed some majestic works. And once again proof it’s about the journey rather than the destination – once completed she calmly takes them apart and puts back in their box (after taking a picture of course).

One neighbor teaches a yoga class weekly out of her house. A handful of dedicated locals show up regularly to bend, stretch and meditate their way toward better lives.

Gardening is a wonderful way to feed your creativity while at the same time enjoying the outdoors. There is always something to do if you hope to keep things ship shape. And in the end efforts spent weeding, pruning, fertilizing and defending the crop from varmint’s results in beautiful flowers, tasty veggies and juicy fruit.

Along the lines of enjoying the outdoors taking a walk or hike through the neighborhood and surrounding parks is good exercise, puts you in contact with people around you and gives you a chance to ruminate as you take in nature. No planning is required – just head out the front door and start walking. You never know where you might end up.

My wife discovered the wonders of Pinterest on her iPhone. Each day she scans the site for new creative and tasty recipes to try out. Talk about a win-win situation! My favorite to date is the Pear Tart with powdered almond crust.

Another friend has become quite the bicycle rider. He is often seen wandering the back roads or slipping and sliding down mountain paths in local parks. Great exercise and he sure covers some ground.

My brother has set a goal to visit all the California Missions. His family joins him as they track down new locations near wherever they happen to be traveling. History, beautiful scenery and quality family time are rolled into one memorable outing.

The same brother feeds his passion for music by joining with a handful of similarly minded young-at-heart to play songs for friends and family. He still composes original works and I find there is nothing better than sitting in on a jam session to share his joy of music.

My dad has always loved going for an afternoon drive. The nearby Sierra Foothills offer unlimited views of gnarly old oak trees sprinkled across expansive rolling hills. And when the wild flowers are blooming there is no prettier spot on earth.

My Aunt Lydia took up oil painting later in life. With no formal training just because she enjoyed doing it she began putting on canvas colorful still life portraits as well as a multitude of scenic views. All family members have a picture or two from her gallery.

Have you ever felt the urge to write a story? Or perhaps document your family history for future generations? Retirement can offer the perfect opportunity to release the writer within you.

Our neighbors are avid bird watchers. They love spotting a new winged visitor in the trees and figuring out what the heck it is. They turned me onto a great app that helps identify unknown fliers by their size, colors, and even the song they sing. Check out Merlin from Cornell Lab.

My wife and I have incorporated a few games into our end-of-the-day agenda. Come 5:00 you can expect to see us sitting down on the patio engaged in a spirited battle of Gin Rummy, Backgammon or Dominoes. We find a little friendly competition helps get the juices flowing before dinner.

A few other options you might consider: learn a new language, learn to play a musical instrument, volunteer, become your own handyman, figure out your family tree, add a pet, travel, join a choir, try your hand at the art medium of your choice, learn to cook, start a business, buy/rent an RV and hit the road, babysit, be a mentor, and the list goes on.

Having fun in retirement is not so difficult. Of course you have to give yourself permission to do so. Occasionally you may feel slightly guilty having free time to do what you want while so many others struggle in the same old day to day grind. But remember you paid your dues. You survived the grind and this is your chance to make up for lost time. Now is your time to have fun.