Do you need a vacation in retirement?

Taking time to get away from the daily grind while you are working is an important ingredient to maintain sanity and a healthy relationship with your partner. The stress and hectic pace of full time employment requires downtime to stay on top of you our game, recharge the old motor and reinvigorate what might otherwise become stagnant thinking. Who does not remember that wonderful feeling after a week or so away when you return to work ready for action? Well at least until you quickly find yourself overwhelmed as you are forced to return from that slower pace you so easily were able to adapt to. Vacation when you are working is important.

What about after you retire?

Supposedly retirement provides an escape from all those stresses and hassles typical to the working world. We are no longer working full time so problems associated with that state of life should be a distant memory. Do you really need to take a vacation from a retired life spent doing whatever you want? Does the old engine need to recharge when it has not been subject to those same demands that wear it down?

Having been retired for three years now I have my routine down. I keep busy pursuing activities and passions that I love. I try to avoid stressful situations and with the flexibility of running my own life am generally successful, at least to this point. But just because I don’t need to escape my day to day life does not mean I have given up vacationing.

My wife and I are in Maui at the moment. We have been here a few times including an idyllic wedding not so long ago. Maui is a special place for us. And yet I cannot help but feel that it might be better suited for a younger generation. All around us happy families with little ones are enjoying the sun and surf, splashing and playing in the numerous pools that decorate our surroundings. Squeals of joy pierce the air and we cannot help but get caught up in there young exuberance and love so obviously displayed. What fun for all! But what about those of us whose kids have grown up?

Young adults pursue a myriad of activities from parasailing to paddle boarding, from sunset cruises to snorkeling excursions. We did these same things when we were a similar age. And I am sure we could do them (most of them anyway) today if we so chose. And that is where I find myself challenged. I don’t really want to do those things. Am I taking full advantage of these wonderful islands if I am happy taking a walk here and there or sitting on our balcony reading a book? Shouldn’t I be out there doing all I can to not waste a moment of our limited time here?

If there is one thing I have learned in retirement it is I do not need to stay busy every moment to enjoy myself. Downtime is good time if that is how I choose to go. A balance of activity and relaxation is a what keeps this ship safely on course. I enjoy doing things at my own pace and choosing those things I most want to partake in. What I do is what is right for me at the moment. That is one of the joys of retired life.

Maui is truly beautiful with warm tropical breezes wafting through the palms, miles of white sandy beaches and an ocean a color of blue that takes your breath away. But it is just one place amongst a multitude. There are so many wonderful destinations we could visit, places we have never been to. And as retirees we finally have the time to get out there.

I think the trick in retirement is realizing you no longer vacation to get away from something. Instead you are blessed with the freedom to vacation just to get to something wonderful. Rather than escape you now vacation to add to your list of memorable experiences. Stay as long as you want. Do as much or as little as you choose. And if you like what you have found you can do it again. Could it get any better?

And who knows – I just might try my hand at a little paddle boarding tomorrow if I am so inclined. Aloha for now.

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.