Friday, January 9, 2015

Time to Sit On My Laurels in Retirement??? Not A Chance!

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!

16 comments:

  1. Harvey and I had no time to travel when he was working. Now we can hop in the car for a weekend away whenever we want.

    Longer trips are now a breeze and we are enjoying them. When we went to the UK two years ago there was a young lady traveling with her grandma. Grandma was 89 and we had a blast with her.

    I say a person is never to old to travel.

    God bless.

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    1. Hopefully some kind of travel will always be in my future

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  2. We must forgive the twenty or thirty somethings their myopic point of view, for we were once young and ignorant ourselves. Meantime, while I'm not very intrepid myself, if you want to see the 60-plus crowd traveling, come to Florida. They're (we're) all over the place, and we look just fine!

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  3. I'm not very intrepid but I have many friends who moved here in retirement just so they could do things like climb 14 thousand foot mountains. I'm not up to snowbirding but a Jan on the gulf coast next year is looking better and better.

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  4. There is one blogger in particular who must lead a very unsatisfying life. Her main goal while blogging is to castigate those who choose a retirement path different from hers, and are therefore doing it all wrong. I would use a stronger word than bullox for those who are so judgmental, but I'll stick with it.

    Good post, Barb.

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    1. Occasionally I feel the need to clear the air, on principle, lol

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  5. Sounds like you felt pretty angry about what the younger bloggers were saying about older people. Sometimes it's hard to deal with implied criticism of one's life choices - I can certainly relate to that. I applaud your defense of letting us elders be who we are, make the choices we want to make, and create our own retirement designs.

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  6. With one exception, these blogs were written by boomers and retirees. Not younger people. I just hope to tell younger people life is not over at retirement. I am rather surprised, even shocked perhaps that a retirement blogger would suggest that other retirees give it up and stay at home.

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  7. The more I read your blog, Barb, the more I realize we would be friends if we lived closer! I so share your opinion that we make our retirement whatever we want it to be, regardless of age. When I imagine those critical bloggers in my mind, I also imagine that THEY will be the ones who end up unhappy in their retirement years - they have such a limited view of what lies ahead. It sure isn't going to be us! We'll be happily, learning, knitting, exploring, traveling, and experiencing for the rest of our lives! Thanks for a great post!

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    1. It's really hilarious because compared to so many other bloggers I really am a homebody-but I still manage to get involved in more ways than I plan every time I look around, lol

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  8. Hmmm.. I don't like to see ANY group homogenized.I was my own woman as a young woman, as a Mom, as a Nurse, as a writer, I don't like being pigeon-holed at ANY age!!! And now, as a retiree,I am still ME. We are all so different and, UNIQUE! In youth and in retirement!! We NEVER stop learning about ourselves!!!!!! Ken and I are loving living in our mountain town..something I would NEVER have guessed for myself, about 10 years ago! Also, we DON'T want to travel as much as I thought we would! LOL!! Retirement is the same adventure that LIFE ITSELF is..an ongoing process... filled with discoveries,surprises! and.. yes, some of the same old thing,some days! I ignore the negative people on the web. I feel sorry for pessimists. I dunno--maybe in a few years Ken and I will be ready to do some more far flung travels,I certainly won't let my age keep me back,as long as I can get around!!! Hey! I saw these interesting wheelchair devices on the BEACH on Coronado Island in California.I told Ken:When I am realllly old, if I can't get into the ocean by myself, YOU GO GET ME INTO ONE OF THOSE CONTRAPTIONS and you wheel me INTO THE OCEAN so I can get wet. Where there is a will there is a way. JUST LIKE LIFE, in retirement, there are days (weeks,months..) of ennui, of excitement, of plans, and of rest.. why would anyone think differently?? I don't compare myself to others.I love seeing the active RV-ers and the folks who travel to Europe, but I am happy with MY life and MY schedule. And, it will change as I grow....cause we NEVER stop growing-- if only we keep an open mind and heart!!!!!!!

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    1. I could not have said it better myself!!

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    2. I agree totally. I have not yet retired because I still love my job. I work my 12 hour days in a group so every two weeks I have 8 days off so it is a good lead in to being retired. I read blogs and go away with the sense that some of the writers are arrogant, self righteous and believe their way is the only right way. I am productive on some of my days off but sometimes I am not. I want my retirement to be interesting but also relaxing. I think I can have a great life even if I don't make it to every country in the world. Sometimes travel is very overrated in my opinion. We have moved to a one level house with a great view and will be getting a new dog this week. I love my town, my house, my grandkids and my new fur baby. I enjoy dinners with friends, walks thru town visiting with fellow walkers and drinking a microbrew while watching Rick Steves on TV. I imagine that it will be deemed to be an unproductive life by some but it doesn't matter. At some point we will travel, volunteer, take up hobbies but not at the frantic pace that some of the bloggers do.

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  9. Well that is one of my New Year's resolutions this year, to not care what other people think. So you won't catch me holed up in my house all the time when I have white hair just so other people won't be uncomfortable watching me stroll down Madison Avenue with my walker.


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