Make the Most of Retirement by Staying Active

Retirement promises a chance to escape the busy lifestyle demanded by fulltime work and raising a family. After decades spent racing madly down the path of life ever struggling to make ends meet retirement tantalizingly tempts with that light at the end of the tunnel, that shelter from the storm, that taste of freedom well deserved.

Before retiring I imagined what life would be like when (and if) I finally got there. No more stress, no more hurry-hurry, no more time spent frozen in immovable traffic, no more struggling to make ends meet. I envisioned myself setting my own comfortable pace, choosing how I spend the hours, content in the knowledge I was in charge. And for the most part it turned out to be just that. But few things worthwhile just happen.After seven years retired (that went fast!) I learned when you finally arrive at the doorstep of retirement it is important to keep moving. Without a variety of interests or passions or distractions the dreaded boredom may find its way into your days and that we do not want. It took supreme effort and commitment to get here – now is not the time to live anything less than the best possible retirement we deserve.

Keep physically active

My wife gave me a Fitbit for my sixtieth. I have always been someone who keeps active. I can’t sit still for long before I feel the urge to move. Whether heading to the garden for a little trimming or firing up the vacuum to tidy up or throwing the ball for our ball-obsessed Boston Terrier Frank or walking up the hill, I like to keep moving. After wearing the Fitbit for a month I found my antsy nature translates well into steps taken for the day. The target is 10,000 steps each day which it turns out I regularly attain. I try to walk rather than ride when possible and take the stairs rather than elevator. I confess at the end of the day should I find myself close to but not quite at 10,000 steps I will walk up and down the house until I get there! Not really cheating since the goal is to ultimately get to 10,000 steps.

A friend from years ago who was a dedicated bodybuilder used to say “If you’re not lifting, you’re shrinking.” I like to retune that sentiment with the emphasis on staying active each day. “If you’re not moving you’re slowing down.”

Keep mentally active

The reality is if you do not keep your mind engaged you begin to lose your edge. That first year after quitting my job for the final time I felt I was not as sharp as while working. Nothing drastic it just seemed I didn’t have the same old pop in daily conversations. Without the job I did not have a lot new to talk about. My career was in sales where I talked with people all the time – that was the job. Now in retirement I was spending more time alone without the interaction I was accustomed. I love having time for myself. I am able to do what I want when I want for as long as I want. That was not the problem. The problem was since I found myself talking less those speaking skills taken for granted were beginning to dull. And that was after only one year! My retirement should last 20-30 years God willing so something needed to happen.

When I left my final job I swore I would never work again. Retirement was to be my salvation from fulltime employment. There was no place in my busy retired life for another job.

After a handful of years feeling relatively content ensconced in an assortment of interests that insidious boredom started to creep into my world. What I was doing began to feel routine, the same thing day in day out. I was running out of things to do earlier and earlier in the day. There were no new activities I wanted to explore. It did not look good.

Then I found what turned out for me to be the perfect retirement gig – pouring wine at a small tasting room within walking distance of home. Three days a week I engage with people from all over the world sharing some excellent wines along with the story of our winery. We tell tales and share laughs in a friendly happy environment (it is a wine tasting room after all). But more importantly I engage with others on a regular basis, keeping my mind active. And I believe my thinking is sharper than it would be if I was alone.

Find meaning (or a reason for being)

One positive aspect of a job is when you look back at the end of the day you feel you have accomplished something. You may not have solved the problem of world hunger but in your own little piece of the universe you made a difference. Achieving goals and completing tasks has a positive impact on our psyche. We are worthy, we made it happen, we matter. Retirement does not typically offer such milestones, such measures of achievement. But you can find your own ways to experience that satisfying end-or-the-day contentment. It may be as simple as pruning a row of roses in preparation for winter. You may exceed those 10,000 steps a day for a whole week. Maybe you plan a surprise sixtieth birthday party for your spouse who comes home from work to be totally surprised (totally) at the whole thing. That expression on his/hers (my) face can be incredibly satisfying.

With time on your hands there are many activities and undertakings, hobbies and interests, passions and experiments to investigate. Whatever floats your personal boat it is important to stay active and engage. You will feel more energized. You will be more interesting. And ultimately you will make the best retirement possible for you and those around you. Good luck and enjoy!

LoveBeingRetired.com

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.

LoveBeingRetired.com

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?