Saturday, July 5, 2014

Living Richly in Retirment-Enjoying the Process

Today, as always is a low key, relaxing day here at Chez Barbara.  When you own three dogs and live close to rec centers, parks and biking trails, the 4th of July becomes a challenge once dusk arrives.  Calming drops, closing up the house and using fans and music helps.  Still, fireworks are challenge for all involved, and it can be a long night.

Fortunately, I rarely feel deprived on this one. I lived in Washington DC for over twenty years, and for over twenty years saw the best firework display in the world every fourth.  Since there are no children around, I am quite happy having an early barbecue, enjoying the yard at it's fullest and retiring to the inside in the evening.  It does however mean that after dog stress the next day I am even moving more slowly than my normal non-morning self.

Today, I've been playing with altered houses, thinking ahead to the fall holidays and other events. The houses, paint and decorations sit on my crafting table, along with a couple idea sketches.  I spent sometime looking at a couple Santa Fe travel guides, trying to decide how I will spend my week in that lovely city. I've been experimenting with some summer style slow cooker recipes such as barbecue pork.  I've decided to begin writing Richly in Retirement, whether it gets published or not. Oh, and I'm jumping into an online art course with Open to Study that begins today.

Some of the projects and plans I'm invested in now will have an obvious end result.  Some will change many times before the final product or trip.  Some, quite frankly may never get finished, or at least not finished enough to share.  For me, this is okay.  The truth is that I enjoy the playing, process, and planning, the doing if you will.  I am not one of those people who feel that I have to have a positive or even a completed end result to feel that I have accomplished something worthwhile.

During my brief "working world" time, I managed and ran children's programs for various health clubs.  I also did birthday parties.  One of the most popular parties was a "concoction" party. Not really a science party, not really an art party.  The kids would make colored "goop" in Ziploc bags.  They would make homemade clay, edible clay and similar items.  At the end of the day, some of the children would have all kinds of sculptures or shapes made out of their clay concoctions.  Some however, would have nothing but the clays and goop to take home-and they were just as happy.  These kids made a shape, kneaded the clay again and made a different shape and rinsed and repeated.  While they had less to take home and "show", they had just an enjoyable a time, and were probably more creative than those who departed with finished "art" to show their parents.

Don't get me wrong. I enjoy finished products and plans. I enjoy the reward they bring, to me and others.  I just also get reward from the doing, and don't think every endeavor needs to be a finished project, or necessarily have an end goal as such.  I'm taking the online art course because I enjoy the process.  Will there be a finished project to share?  Who knows.  Certainly my trip planning has a specific end goal.  If I get to Santa Fe and decide to go an entirely different way in terms of spending my time, I'll not be upset or bothered. I'm writing the book because I like to write-it may get published, but if not, the writing will have had it's own merit for me.

Recently I've had two instances where I had a wonderful time in the creation process, but there was no end result. In the first case, I altered a recipe. I enjoyed playing with the ingredients.  The end result was, well, not what I was looking for.  I don't consider this a fail-but rather part of the process.  I've also begun encaustic painting (painting with wax).  So far I've done absolutely nothing but put colors and wax mixes on paper-which has eventually been recycled.  This is okay.

I love a sense of completion.  I don't expect everything I do to end up as a product or plan or be part of a product or plan.  If that were true, I would never just draw to draw, walk to walk, or experiment with new products or hobbies.  Life is meant to be experiential, experimental, playful, relaxed and enjoyable.  Sometimes structure or a goal is part of that process, and sometimes it isn't.

And on that note, I'm about to take a stroll.  Not because it's healthy, not so that I can get my heart rate up, not so that I can challenge myself, but just because a little walk sounds good.  Right now.


  1. A sense of accomplishment is important; but as you say, a sense of adventure is even more critical. We use a thunder shirt for our little doggy who's scared of the fireworks.

    1. Tom, so far the shirts have not worked for us. We use drugs, but still have some serious issues (with two, the third one has no issues)

  2. Loved Santa Fe in early June 2014, for 2 & 1/2 days. Loved the following: San Miguel Church (free), Georgia O'Keeffe Museum, The New Mexico History Museum & The Palace of the Governors (combined admission). Enjoyed The International Folk Art Museum out at Museum Hill. Liked walking around the historic area of Santa Fe although I had issues with altitude adjustment as it turned out I had a beginning bronchitis which hit hard upon my return home. On your latest posts I think it's great that you explore what interests you, and that your pursuits of myriad ideas mirror your inquisitive mind! Retirement means we set our own goals or not, and have the luxury of time. That's one of the messages I get from reading your blog as well as others as I continue my retirement journey which is only 6 months for now!

    1. Thanks, I have a long list for Santa fe, although knowing me I may throw half of them out the window. We are renting a large house outside of time. Yes, time is a blessing.

    2. Barb, several of Santa Fe' s most popular museums are free on Fridays from 5-8 PM, including all three listed in the post above.

      We are currently in the midst of a multi month trip around the US. I know what you mean about throwing plans out the window on any given day. You don't always know what's going to appeal until you arrive.

  3. Barb, Thanks so much for your inspirational blog. After reading several of your posts, I see we have much in common. I too am a widow (since 2002) and I live alone which I cherish. I like having a space that is mine and mine alone because I can make it whatever I want it to be.

    I think you have gotten the hang of this retirement thing much sooner than I did. I tried a lot of things before I found this blogging thing. My son said, "find a passion Mom." It looks like blogging is that passion.

    Retirement gives us freedom that we never had before. Some how I think its the time we can begin to tie all the aspects of our life together. I love being creative, I love to read about how to make the best of what life has to offer. For me contentment (some people call it happiness) comes only when I am willing to accept things as they are rather than the way they "should be" or I want them to be. A really hard lesson that really only began after David died.

    I am anxious to see what else you post. I want to add you to my blogroll, with your permission.

    Thanks for your thoughts and openness,

  4. Carol, my husband died in 2006 and I am actually attending a grief support group this summer. Feel free to add me to your blog roll. I suspect that I adjust well in retirement because I did not have a "career" and was at at home wife most of my marriage. I had many, many volunteer things and hobbies already growing and I just expanded on those. Barb


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