Rarely do I comment here about other blogs, except to reference the occasional good advice or experiences. It's not my style and this blog is about me and my life and experiences and as such I try to keep commentary to a minimum. That said, in the past three days I have read four blogs that have implied, in one way or another, that I'm too old to be traveling, camping, adventuring or any one of a dozen things that many many retirees do. Not only that, but two of these blogs implied that at seventy I would look foolish when I travel. These blogs were written by boomers and other retirees folks, not young people. The general gist was "Do everything worthwhile when you are young, because when you retire you will be to old and decrepit to enjoy all the fun stuff". To that I say, bollux!
Some of these blogs certainly made some good points. I've posted before about not waiting for retirement to live one's life. My hubby and I both had active hobbies in middle age. I've been to every country in western Europe, all those countries in Africa that border on the Mediterranean, and many former iron curtain countries. I however, acknowledge that I was only able to do that because I lived in Europe both as a kid and as a parent. Had I lived in the US, travel for two weeks in Europe with four kids would have likely been a one time experience to a few places. More importantly, I understand that not everyone has the same ability-for a variety of reasons. For many people some types of experiences will not be possible until children are raised and free time is greater than two vacation weeks a year and the occasional long weekend.
I've also blogged more than one time about my eighty five year old father in law. Two years ago this man rebuilt an entire TR6 (with help from his in-laws lifting the engine out and replacing it). Were he a blogger there would have been numerous pictures. In retirement, he and my mother in law took a barge down the Amazon, a cruise to Alaska, an extended 2 months trip exploring Scandinavia, and more (camping was not their thing). These are trips that probably were not possible before retirement. Raising four kids and putting them through school was certainly expensive. A cheaper house, less responsibilities and much more free time opened up those experiences for them. My mother in law died in August. Dad now lives in an independent living apartment-where he still has the car and goes to the basement for a full hour every morning to work out on the machines. He's going on a cruise in March!
I also agree that travel and high adventure is not necessarily for every retiree. Many of us are more "vacationers" and some not travelers at all. That's fine. There are other retirement challenges to embrace. Take a class. Start a business. Learn yoga and aromatherapy. Whatever! I love my home enjoy spending time in it. There are days when I never leave except to walk. But staying at home is not enough, at least for me.
Some of my fellow blogging buddies and retirees travel a great deal, some of us a few weeks a year and some not at all. Some of us attend classes, some do not. Some of us are homebodies, some are not. One of my fellow bloggers jumps out of perfectly good planes. I have no desire whatsoever, but I wouldn't mind learning to fly. Another blogger travels and splits her time between two locations. A blogging friend has moved across the country in retirement-and purchased a home near her children and the Maryland beach. Bob has decided to reduce lengthy travel trips but he still enjoys travel and is looking for new challenges in other areas of his life. One friend has moved to a mountain home in retirement, and seems to be enjoying that home in the extreme. A couple bloggers including myself have started businesses-as much for the fun as the money. Some bloggers work part time, some do not. There is no should, have to or other requirements in retirement. Every one's retirement is different. I absolutely adore looking at pictures of an African safari, although I'll probably not make that retirement choice. In other words, I can appreciate the choices of others without making them for myself.
For me, personally, the first part of my retirement involved a great deal of "nesting" interspersed by some really long road trips (Dallas to Denver to Moab to Monument Valley to Phoenix to San Diego and home by the lower route, for one example). Eventually though, nesting was not enough. I suspect this is true of other retirees. The initial reaction post retirement tends to be one extreme or the other. Some folks want to relax, do nothing, and enjoy a low effort retirement. Others jump to experience everything, as fast as they can. The answer for most retirees is, I expect, in the middle. So if you are new retiree, realize that your normal may change, and that's okay.
Most important to this discussion is this: Limiting oneself by age is in my opinion a mistake. I say this as a mainly low energy person with shattered knee who walks with a cane, and who lives on social security and a pension. Acknowledging reasonable limitations (physical, geographic, financial, and otherwise) is wise in every sense, as long as it's done within reason.
The fact that have a crappy knee means that I'll never climb a mountain, or try jumping out of a plane (although I have nothing but admiration for those who so on a regular basis and can only imagine that experience). Said knee does not keep me from taking a train from Denver to San Francisco and exploring that hilly city with said cane. It does not stop me from learning how to create metalwork art objects. It will not stop me from exploring Washington, NY and Boston (all places I've been before), or returning to Europe to live. It does not even keep me from Volksmarching or hiking, depending on the day. And while my income may preclude a three month far east vacation, it does not stop me from planning to return to Europe for a year or spending time driving cross country, glamping in Jackson Hole or taking college classes. And yes, I did many of these things before retirement. I just happen to still enjoy all of the above.
For me, personally, retirement has to be a happy medium of comfort and home, mixed with activity and challenges. For me these challenges currently include travel (both vacation style and other travel), learning a new language, learning to use serious power tools and a torch, doing physical volunteer work through Habitat, trying upper body weight lifting and more. My life also includes lots of sitting by the fireplace, enjoying the hot tub, TV, movies, knitting and the like.
Everyone's retirement has it's own balance and this is mine. Next year my daughter will have two mother in law rooms, and I'll be spending part of my year in Dallas. And if you see me walking with my cane to the cockpit of a plane for flying lessons, or doing the same thing as I walk the cobblestones in Florence heading to the Uffizi, just remember this: It's not what you think about what I'm doing, it's about what I think. Meanwhile, give me the couch and hot tub, but you can keep the rocking chair!
Friday, January 9, 2015
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