Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Living Alone in Retirment-Sharing a Few Downsides

A few months ago, I wrote an article about Living Alone in Retirement. The point of that article (which appears on the sidebar) was to show the positives of living alone (in retirement or any time), as well as getting rid of some "myths and misconceptions" about single retirement.  That blog post is one of the most read on the blog ever, so it definitely struck a chord with many people.

It's only fair to talk about both sides of any issue, as there is no perfect retirement or perfect life. As such, I've been meaning to talk about a few of the less positive sides of single-hood and single retirement for awhile.  Some of these single retirement downsides I have yet to experience, and some of them are part of my life on occasion. Almost all of the downsides can be controlled and dealt with, but it's only fair to look at all the sides of this issue. 

I would also add that some of these downsides to living alone are more age-dependent, and some are experiences that the formerly coupled may have that long term single folks may not:

Help, I've Fallen And I Can't Get Up Syndrome While we all, even retirees, like to joke about these commercials, they show a difficult issue, especially as we age in retirement.  Many of us don't have the regular commitments that we had in our working lives, and if I simply miss a Wednesday knitting group the other gals may wonder what happened, but are unlikely to be come immediately concerned. For those of us that are by choice more solitary and are comfortable spending a day or two at home without "getting out", it can be a bigger problem.

Obviously there are ways to deal with this (beyond the necklace, although it certainly has value). One example is my good friend from Texas who was living alone in her late seventies had an arrangement with another friend from church. She called her friend in the morning when she arose, and her friend called her every evening before they went to bed. In theory, cell phones should make us feel more safe in our homes-perhaps more easily for men, who always have pants and shirts pockets for their phones (I could and sometimes will, write a whole post on how women's pants rarely have phones and jackets and blazers no inside pockets like men's do).

We are often unable to recognize small physical (and mental) changes that can be indicators in our lives.  The other day, one of my family members said "You really are limping today". This is just a small example, but it was something I didn't even realize myself as I went about my day and the yard. It also is the kind of thing that a casual social acquaintance might not notice, and the same thing for doctors you see a few times a year. And even if someone in my knitting group did notice, would they feel comfortable sharing such a thing, or even pointing it out to me?  These are the kinds of things that close friends and family members share. In my case, even if I was not living with family members, I still have a core support group that I see a couple times a week who would feel comfortable pointing out issues like this, or at least contacting a family member if they were concerned.

We also need to learn ways to evaluate ourselves, by looking in the mirror or even making notes on our health as part of our diaries and daily journals. 

It can be more difficult to make new friends as you age. While this does affect married couples as well, singles can feel it more intensely-especially if they are newly single, or have recently moved to a new area. Since loneliness has a correlation to depression for some people as well as cognitive issues, having at least some social interaction is important to all of us. I've written previously about "having a social life" in retirement, mainly from the frugal aspect, and it's probably time for me to do that from the single aspect.

The primary trouble, of course, is that in some areas people have established groups of long standing and breaking into that mindset can be difficult and take time. It's easy to say "I love to golf" and join a league (or in my case I love to sew and join a group). That certainly gets one out of the house and into a social situation. The problem is breaking to those often smaller groups that socialize afterward or at another time. Those are the interactions that lead to friendships. Or, as my knitting group friend says, "You really get to know someone when you go out to lunch or happy hour".

In my own life, my social group varies, and my level of involvement friendship wise varies. I was one of those people who relied on family for social involvement and friendship prior to widowhood, if you will. I've joked on more than one occasion that I have church friends, crafting friends, book club friends and exercise friends. Some of those social groups are very casual, but others are the type where I can say exactly what I think at any time, and we all need a few of those types of friends.

We have to do everything ourselves......or pay for it to be done. This applies to everyone, but more to single retirees and single women. Singles need to plan their homes in away that they can do as much themselves as possible and recognize what they cannot do. Because of my injuries, I cannot stand on a ladder, even a step stool. This morning, my smoke alarm gave a giant cheep at about six am. I could not have reached this myself, and would have had to call someone if I were alone-all the while it was cheeping and scaring canines. My son took care of it for me, but what if I did not have a tall person to call who could come immediately? I probably would lower the detector to a normal reach, in spite of the guidelines on the side.

There are certainly are singles (and single retirees) who are great do it yourself-ers, including women. The bottom line though is that maintaining a home, and a yard, doing repairs, cooking and many other things are obviously easier when more than one person is involved-and more difficult when we age. Long time readers know that I originally did the downsizing thing because I did not want to have to do it all in terms of the yard and home repairs. My choice so far has been to rent and share a home with someone who is happy to do all the yard work.  Married or single, when thinking about a home and lifestyle, all of this needs to be factored in.

The money thing probably has to be mentioned. Singles are bringing in one paycheck or retirement, while more than a few of today's retirees are sharing a two income retirement, and yet they are often maintaining the same home and expenses that a married couple would with more funds.  This is not always true by any means. There are many examples of my generation where the spouse was either at home, working part time, or doing so called mommy track jobs, and I am one of them. If you compared my social security income to my husband's you would laugh (and he often did). This is also not a "woman's issue". It is true that traditionally even today women can earn less than men, and that some women have little experience with savings and investments. The world is changing though, and when it comes to single life and retirement, many men experience the same issues as women.

I don't know that two people can live as cheaply as one, but sharing a home via marriage, a room mate or other ways, can certainly lower expenses. This does not mean that singles live in poverty though as such, it simply means lots of advance planning and some lifestyle adjustment. We are all different. One in three retirees live alone, and it is usually by choice. Just like with anything else, we weigh the pros and cons, consider lifestyle choices and desires and go on from there.

And there you have it. A few off the top of my head downsides of retirement. I would not say these are negatives, but certainly something to consider as we look forward to choosing where and how we will live.

And so it goes, this Tuesday in retirement.


Friday, May 20, 2016

One Project Finished, Another Started

As a crafter, quilter and short attention span type, I always have multiple projects going at a time, be it crafting, writing, cooking, or other projects. 

In this case, I finished a quilt for my wall, and then allowed myself to start on something completely new: decorated USA letters, Americana birdhouses and decorated pots. A set for each homeless shelter and of course one for me. I figure Americana should be good till after the fourth of July!

And since it's  nice it's a relaxing in Friday, I'll add a picture of the canine....in his Ferdinand the Bull pose, if you will.

Happy weekend!

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

What to Wear After Fifty? Why, Whatever You Want!!!!!

Today I unexpectedly jumped into Internet Rabbit Hole! You see, someone sent me via Facebook an article about what not to wear-for the over thirties, of all things.  This list included everything from mini skirts to hoop earrings of any size. By the time I picked myself up off the ground from laughing (my thirty seven years old does Crossfit and is in good shape and wears mini skirts and hoop earrings and even tube tops on rare occasions), I had entered the "what not to wear" zone, this one mainly directed at more mature women than my darling daughter.

Let me tell you folks, there were lists, some of them long. One list was of what not to wear for fear of being seen as too old (belted trench coats and tweed skirts), but most were about how to give up everything you enjoyed wearing in younger years. Some things were the same across all the lists, some were unique. One list says to give up leggings, and one list says wear leggings-but only if you have on something long enough to cover your...ah...backside. Apparently sweats of any kind are a no no (even at home), but so are graphic ts, sleeveless tops on some blogs, and anything shiny, anything animal print-ish, colored eye shadow and more. Add no shorts and no floral dresses on another list, and what on earth is a person to do!!

These articles are of course what my fellow blogger Bob would call "eat your vegetables advice". Short bullet lists that are general and probably apply to a small percent of the population. My first thought after reading all these lists was "But where is the advice for men?  Do they get to just do what they want?" My second thought was "To heck with that!  If you are over fifty, you've earned the right to wear whatever you choose".

Don't get me wrong. I think everyone, man women or in between should have a modicum of "taste" when it comes to clothing. I doubt many of us are ready to wear thongs at the local pool. And I think that everyone should have some sense of what looks good on them as a person, as well as what works with their lifestyle and climate. I also that we should all rethink those qualifiers throughout the years as needed, just as I did when I move from Texas (the land of maxi dresses and big hair) to Colorado (where one can wear t-shirts and flip flops to the most expensive restaurant in town).

Basically, I figure that what we should wear and should not wear will be different for each of us. I also know that on some occasions it makes sense to throw the rules out the window. I am not thin, and though I continually work on my arm strength, I do not have perfect upper arms. Send me to Texas during the warm half of the year, and you are going to see me in sleeveless tops-period. I may have a lightweight sweater for church and air conditioning, but common sense says that any guideline requiring shoulder coverage in triple digit heat is not a sensible one.

I have a friend who jokes that whenever they go out to dinner, no matter where it is, they always get a seat at the front of the restaurant.  This is because she loves to dress up, no matter the temperature, and has convinced her husband to follow suit (no pun intended). Pantyhose, heels, big earrings and lots of make up are part of her lifestyle, and I love her.  She puts on full make up and jewelry every single day no matter where she is going or what she is doing and it works for her.

I on the other hand have my own qualifiers. I consider retirement permission to never wear pantyhose or stockings ever again (except for a pair of tights and black skirt for cold weather funeral type events). I don't want to have to think too much about what I wear too very much (but I still want to look good).  I live in a climate that can go from eighty to fifty in an hour (and travel to other climates.  I craft and work with various materials, and I look good in certain very bright colors. I am one of those people who believes in dressing in the morning for the entire day I expect to have rather than moving from sweats to jeans to evening wear when going out to dinner.

For me then, much if this "what not to wear advice" goes out the window on a regular basis. I wear bright spring colors all the time and mix and match them. Yellow silky T shirt under turquoise cardigan with black leggings and matching jewelry?  You bet! Other than earrings (some of which are hoops), I wear little other jewelry. I wear nice (even velveteen) pants in the cold weather, no matter the occasion, and skirts and maxi dresses all summer. In other words, I wear what I like and (mostly) what I think looks good on me.

One of the best things about getting to our age, retired or not, is that for the most part we get to stop caring what other people thing, and ignore the experts as we feel the need. So go ahead, wear the holiday themed clothing, or the graphic T shirt with your work out clothing. Feel like wearing a strapless dress or halter? Do what you need to. Assuming that your husband doesn't refuse to leave the house with you (what exactly is that that HE is wearing, anyway?), and your children/grandchildren don't run and hide in shame, do what you will.

Be comfortable in your own skin, be who you are, and the heck with the rest, I say!!!!

And so it goes, this lovely Wednesday in retirement!

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Can You Travel and Have Pets in Retirement?

Hello again everyone! My new schedule is working much better and giving me more quality time, I just need to get that two day blogging schedule back on track.  This week I've been intensively quilting a large quilt (one of those large projects I was talking about), working on summer decor and crafts for my homeless shelter, working on a class project and shopping for a new patio dining set. Imagine my shock when, after going to Sears, Target, Walmart and a few other stores, Walmart had the best mid range set at the best quality!
Courtesy of Walmart, I did not want glass. Just need to get the umbrella in.

Last fall, I took a vacation to the South Dakota Black Hills, where I explored the Badlands at length, saw Mount Rushmore, visited the Crazy Horse memorial, met all kinds of animals at the Custer State Park, explored a huge winery (yes, in the Dakotas) and much more. It did not feel like fall of course, being that it was almost ninety degrees at the start of October. Along with us on this trip were two family members of the canine variety.

Said canines went pretty much everywhere with us, except for one indoor dining experience, and the interior of the winery. They saw Rushmore and Crazy Horse up close. When not with us, they remained in the hotel room (not in a cage, although we brought one). They went through a wild animal park (with the windows only half down), ate outside on a patio for one evening, and had a pretty darned good time. We were able to sight see both walking and in the car, eat at decent restaurants, and yes, dare I say it, stay at non smelly, good hotels. All with dogs. In fact neither of these dogs have been left (in the three plus years we have had them) except with another family member.

This is in direct opposition to the two dogs that were previously part of our family, both of whom lived to be over seventeen years old and were transported from DC to Europe and then to Texas. European travel involved cruising, barging, regular and speed train travel and more-never mind the fact that we were usually four people in a small car. This meant that our dogs were boarded fairly regularly (no family nearby) and truth be told, the darned dogs loved it. They would go off wagging their tails and never look back, knowing that they would have fun with their "friends" and the people who took care of them. Once back in Texas, the dogs went to doggy day care and were boarded depending the travel and location.

So while I am neither an expert on dogs or travel, after innumerable years of various types of travel (all while having two or more canine children), I have learned a few things about travel, dogs and even spontaneity.

My first observation would be that boarding dogs is neither cruel nor unusual, if you plan ahead for it. I do know certain people that can't imagine leaving their dogs with someone else, but then again I also know folks who never had a date nite because no one else was qualified to care for their children, even for a few hours. So I do understand the fear, I guess. Just like with kids, we need to give our dogs time to bond and be comfortable, and find a boarder (or sitter) that works with us dogs. (We never had a house-sitter/dog-sitter because our dogs preferred to go and play with others, but that certainly is an option). 

In both cases, the places we took our dogs were also daytime doggy day care locations, so before we boarded them for even a night, we started at the daycare slowly but surely, so that they knew the staff and location. One location had doggie cams where we could observe the common areas every day, and even gave us pictures upon our return (and also were never offended if we called to check how they were doing.). For older readers who remember Magic and Elvis, I still have a picture of them curled up together on blankets and a bed on one overnight (they were inseparable). There are multiple options for dog boarding these days. My daughter in Texas who has two beagles uses a fellow who runs a daycare/boarding facility out of his home.

My second main observation would be simply that travel with dogs is not what it used to be. No longer do you need to stay at a cheap motel or at the last room at the end of the hall near the door-unless you want to. My regular stop between Denver and the Texas coast or Dallas happens to be a very nice Drury Inn-a nice upper mid range hotel that even has a happy hour and free snacks and food at dinnertime. There are no dog specific rooms, and dogs wander freely. Amtrak trains have begun experimenting with allowing dogs on train trips (although only small ones).

This year, I'm only planning on two vacations as I want to spend more time on one and two day local trips, with one being a city trip and one being a road trip to the beach and back. In both instances, I have found hotels as well as nice Airbnb and VRBO locations that are dog friendly.

What about the cost and busy work of traveling with dogs? Obviously that depends on how you travel, and the type of dog you have. I now have an SUV, but my dogs are not put in the trunk. I lay a blanket in the back seat, and put suitcases or coolers in between the back seat and the front seat (to avoid the dog falling in that proverbial hole should I have to slam on the breaks). They spend much time (just as at home) just curled up on the blankets, occasionally perking up depending on where we are in our journey. I stop every three hours at a minimum for myself to stretch out and or eat my picnic lunch, and they do the same.

I do have a dog that is sort of a barker, if you are wondering about that issue. I keep the windows closed, and sometimes turn on music. I also travel with a crate, but not usually to put the dog in, if you will. I use it at the end of the so called entrance area of the hotel room, or the narrow space by the bathroom, and block that off so that the dogs cannot go right next to the door. And that's it. If I didn't have a crate, I would simply use luggage and a luggage rack or not even use it.

I also end up paying, depending on my location, for my dog's stay. Does this up my frugal retiree travel cost a bit?  Yes, but no more than boarding would, and the cost is relative. Some places charge a flat fee, some a refundable deposit. I have no problem paying for this, even though my dogs are fully trained. Why? First because I have family members with allergies and asthma and know the challenges, and second because I don't want to have to stay in a designated "dog room" where dogs who are less trained may level permanent evidence. The average cost of a mid to upper level hotel motel room seems to be around twenty bucks. Obviously those who are campers or travel via RV don't have this specific cost.

In the next few months, I hope to get Wilson, the coon dog, into dog day care. He is very shy and possibly was abused before he came to me, and big as he is, is terrified of dogs his own size and prefers small dogs. My primary reason for dropping the pup of is good old socialization. I also know I cannot take him with me on a plane to say, the Cayman Islands, so this is pre-boarding training and comfort as well. So, looking forward to my planned vacations for the next year and a half (longer vacations that is), the dog will go with me to Texas Hill  Country  and Padre Island Seashore. He'll stay with my son or daughter on my train trip to San Francisco (25 pounds he is not!!!), and hopefully be ready to go away to "camp" by the time I fly to Grand Cayman.  

And there you have it. Me traveling with the dog, and me traveling without the dog. In other words, it all works!

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Keeping the Spontaniety in Retirement

If you were to ask me the best thing about retirement, the first things out of my mouth would be the ability to throw out the alarm clock, and the ability to act spontaneously. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy so many other things about retirement. I appreciate having the time to give back to others in a big way, to challenge myself mentally, creatively and physically, to do things off season and much much more. But much of my retirement enjoyment streams directly from those first two things.

Sometimes, as we look to become involved in various activities, it can seem as if we are giving that spontaneous lifestyle away, but I would suggest that there can be a happy medium between getting involved, and having that "free as a bird" feeling, and we all need to find our own level.

In my case, I do have quite a few regularly scheduled weekly commitments, with some taking a summer hiatus. On a weekly basis, I take at least one college class. I belong to a knitting group. I volunteer for about three hours each day two mornings a week, and on most Thursday nights I attend a dinner followed by either an educational class or an activity through my church. Not to miss anything, I also have a few "monthly engagements" including two book clubs, two craft groups that meet once a month and my quilt guild.

These are the regularly scheduled things in my life, although life also includes exercising and home improvements and writing and more-those things are just not part of my "regularly scheduled program" if you will.

So how to keep the spontaneity in retirement while being "involved"?  Well first, I always keep Fridays free, and unless there is a senior college class that truly floats my boat, I keep Mondays free as well. Thats right, the majority of my scheduled commitments on a weekly and even monthly basis are mainly on three days of the week. And, since I recently committed to no more than two commitments on any day, that certainly limits my involvement, by default. On Tuesday I volunteer in the morning and take a class at nite. On Wednesday I knit and go to happy hour, and on Thursday I volunteer in the morning and have a regular dinner and social at night.  And so it goes. I'm looking to add an art class for a short period, and will probably have to settle for whatever day is available.

To be sure, this in no way means that I have nothing to do on these days, rather that I don't regularly schedule long term commitments on these two days unless something really, really catches my eye.

Why live retirement his way?  Simple really.  This allows me to have two days (and the weekend) where I can do whatever strikes me (or doesn't strike me) in the morning. These are the days that I can: read a book from cover to cover with just a small break, decide at the last minute to take a drive to the mountains, spend the day working on a big art project, simply loll around, call someone to meet me for lunch, have a weekday brunch by myself, or even jump in the car to head out for a four day weekend. In other words, whatever floats my boat. These are also the days that if someone says "do you want to....", I can almost always say yes!

We all have to find our own balance in retirement including between planned and spontaneous activities, and if you are anything like me, those unplanned times vary widely from week to week (and even from day to day). Tomorrow for example, my kinda sorta plan is to do some serious sewing most of the day, uninterrupted. On the other hand, I really want to see the new Captain America, so might decide to run off to the morning movie tomorrow first. Next Friday, who knows? 

We all have to find what works for us, but trust me, there is a balance between commitment and freedom in retirement. We just each have to find our own level, and be unafraid to say when we've found it.

And so it goes, this Thursday in retirement.


Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Making Do?

As a frugal retiree, I consider myself to be frugal rather than a tightwad. Admittedly, on some occasions I can be extremely frugal.  However, I pride myself on not being "tight", mainly as that is not how I choose to live my life. You'll never see me wearing my socks after they have holes, or even darning them. While I may re-purpose the socks into rags or anyone of a dozen other things, trust me, they are out of my drawer.

There are definitely things I don't spend money on, that I have identified here on more than one occasion. Some of the things I don't spend money on are things that would be important to others but not to me-expensive make-up and grooming, eating out multiple times a week, and other things. There are also those things I don't buy because there are too many free alternatives-such as my trusty library, where I can get both digital books and old fashioned paper books for free (as well as movies, games, and more).

For the rest though, I simply prefer to find good quality things at the cheapest price, rather than do without. Socks are bought on sale with coupons added and hopefully with gift cards I've earned through rewards. Instead of giving up on the movies I go during the weekday and unashamedly use my senior discount (and also my movie rewards card which gives me both discounted munches and a free ticket every so often). You get the idea.

Which is why I had to laugh recently when my son looked at me and said "Mom, why don't you just go and get some winter nightgowns?".  You see, before I moved from Texas to Colorado, I had purchased a huge amount of sleepwear, all of which are short sleeved knee length silk nightgowns, appropriate for the temperature. Then I got to Denver, where I truly met cold weather again, as I have the past week. Denver weather is psychotic, in that it can be seventy five in January, and yet April is the snowiest month. All you folks elsewhere who say things like "Wait two hours and the weather will change", have yet to live in a place where, because of the mountains, the weather can drop forty degrees in fifteen minutes.

Anyway, to get back to the tightwadish-ness at hand:  In the three years I have lived in Denver, I have bought a whole two pairs of winter sleepwear. Trust me, this is not because I am always warm, I am the girl who keeps her house at 74 in the winter and 68 at night. Rather, I did not want to waste that couple dozen of expensive mild weather night gowns. Instead, I had two long sleeved fairly lightweight sweaters that had been purchased at Walmart and given to me. Having cold feet, I also have a veritable plethora of those fuzzy socks. So up until now, I have slept with a sweater over summer nightgowns and fuzzy socks as needed.  Next year, I'll probably have to actually get some velour or flannel pajamas or gowns. Meanwhile, this works for me, as strange as it looks or sounds. And since I'm fairly new to sleepwear in general  (my late husband was one of those people who gave off  heat like an oven, requiring me to only have something warm for when I got out of bed), comfort is of the most importance.

When I began visiting my family in Denver while in Germany and Dallas, I had purchased my own bed for the guest room. Being a person who needs a really firm bed and lots of pillows, I purchased my own firm bed and basic bed frame without headboard to replace the guest room futon. It worked at the time.  In Dallas, I ended up selling my expensive bedroom set (with large sleigh bed, double wide end tables, and a four drawer wide dresser with mirror) before I moved.  Remember, I thought I was moving into a condo with small to moderate bedrooms. Since then, I have been sleeping on the expensive, firm mattress I bought-on a bed frame with wheels that are blocked. I ended up taking two large sofa pillows from a couch set partially left behind, and pilling up the pillows against them-all against the wall. At the time I thought it was a temporary solution. I still have not purchased the bed frame. Heck, I have not even looked for one. This temporary rigging has been so comfortable (and actually looks so very good) that I have never bothered to date to serious look for a solution.

Now, if you asked me, I would probably not say that either solution is "making do". Rather I would say, "But this works for me". The end result though is that I have avoided a new purchase-whether deliberately or accidentally I'm not sure.

In the end I expect, it goes back to priorities, as does all spending. It is what it is.

Meanwhile, I'm off to get a few more socks. It is sandal weather, but I need them for working out. And while I'm there, I may even look for queen sized bed frames-who knows!

Saturday, April 23, 2016

The Joy of Dabbling in Retirement

Yes, it's been awhile!!!!

While I have been enjoying my slightly slowed down retirement schedule, the last week has not been in that vein. I've had some full volunteering days due to some special events. On Thursdays my church has a short service, a dinner and presentation, and the current one has to do with multi faith relationships with a Muslim educator and a Rabbi and so on, and I have been engrossed (look for a blog post on this topic and tolerance). Add that to a couple deadlines and I have, literally been running this week. Hopefully next week will return to a more even retirement keel.

Meanwhile, in a post-Christmas post, I previously shared with everyone that I was blessed to receive a serging machine for Christmas. I also received a full set of art supplies after I commented that I would not mind some paints or colored pencils. This set included oil paints, watercolors, acrylics, water color pencils and regular colored pencils-and that was not everything in the box. Basically, everything I could possibly need to draw or paint or color or anything else artistic.

Believe it or not, until this weekend I have not done anything with the art stuff except use a few of the colored pencils on grid paper to design and color in potential quilts. As of this week though, I am ready to begin experimenting with all my fun stuff-but on my own.

No, I am not taking an art class to improve my skills and be truly proficient (although I may eventually).  Right now, I am simply playing, "dabbling" if you will. On my desk, I have paper, water, brushes and all of these supplies and more. I have no plan, I've just decided that each day I will do something that is fun or an experiment. Nothing more.  And if I don't get to my art stuff each day, that's perfectly okay as well.  I don't feel the need to be "artistic" or to "develop my skill" as such, but just to have fun, and possibly learn a few things along the way.

Since childhood, we are taught that if we are to do something, we should do it well (and forever). When our kids drop out after one year of ballet and wants to do tap, we object and say things like "You need to pick one thing and stick with it". If a child wants to play soccer one year and softball the next, we think they are "flighty". What about creativity, experimenting, or even learning what we like through trial and error?

There are some things I like to do that are passions, and I am constantly and consistently learning more, advancing my skills and perfecting. Quilting would probably fall into that category. There are some things that I love to do that I will probably never be more than "okay" at-but that has never, ever stopped me doing them. There are some things that I like to do but do less than passably. I do them anyway, because I love it. Singing is definitely in that category. And finally, there are things that I try and only like enough to do once or twice, as well as things I try at and completely fail at. And of course, as in every life, there are those things that I do poorly or don't love that must be done as part of life (cooking, for me is something that has to be done and I don't do it well. Eating, that's another thing entirely)

All of this is okay. Retirement (and life in general) is about learning and doing and having fun. Don't get me wrong, I am all about learning new skills, improving ourselves and life long learning, as I have shared more than once. But every thing we do in life does not have to be at that level or intensity. 

I did check a couple of art books out of the library and will probably get a couple more. Only, these are kids art experimentation books, which are the perfect level for me. After all, the joy should be in the doing, no matter the result. 

While most of the example above are craft related, I have experimented with many things in my life, most of them temporary. Sometimes the end result was so so, somethings good, and on rare occasions, horrible. But rather than decide by the end result (as long as no humans or animals were hurt during my play time), I judged success by the enjoyment I experienced at the time, rather than the end result.

I am not the queen of the world, as family members regularly remind me. If I were, I would say, go and take that pottery class. If you don't like it, just don't take another. Go out with friends to cocktails and canvas, and darn it, hang that picture on the wall when you are done. Join the 50 plus singing group at the rec center-even if you know your singing is best done in the shower. Think about the fun you will have and the people you'll meet. Take up golf in your sixties, and keep playing even if you are, well, not great. You'll meet other women (or men), have fun, be outside and get lots of exercise.

I don't know about anyone else, but for me life would be pretty boring if I only did what I already knew, knew I was good at, and knew I liked. Where's the fun in that?

Admittedly, I may have more than my share of the dabbling gene.When I see something that looks like fun, I generally want to jump right in. Occasionally I "wait for instruction", but just as often, I jump in with both feet. I learn as I go, and enjoy the process and end result no matter how amateurish they may be. I'm sure more than one of the results from my upholstery attempts qualify as epic fails. On the other hand, I do have the painting I made at Kanvas and Cocktails on my bedroom wall!

So no matter how good or how bad my painting is at the end of this journey, I still will have had fun, and have a full sketchbook of memories to share (or not!)

And so it goes this weekend in retirement. Why is it that on the nicest days, my leg hurts the most from top to bottom??