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??


  1. I think people who enjoy many varied activities, in all areas of life..are called "polymaths." I'd have to be in that group! I am enjoying the heck out of retirement, wherein I get to indulge ALL my interests! I love tour guide duties at the Desert Botanical Garden and I am good at public speaking/teaching. I love crafts/art/collage art but I am only so/so at most of it,in my opinion.Yet I LOVE DOING IT!! I always wanted a real estate license so I WENT TO REAL ESTATE SCHOOL and got my license.Turns out I don't really want to WORK AT it however.LOL!!!! SO I don't. But I have a license! I enjoy music and so Ken and I are taking some classical music appreciation classes online at Coursera. I love to cook! And have plenty of time to do it now.. I am not rushed!! I enjoy kayaking but will never be VERY good at it..we kind of amble along.. but love it. I am a good writer and I feel in the next year I will try my hand at writing a book and also a blog. There are interests I haven't gotten to yet:I'd like to take piano lessons again and get good at piano (I played in my younger years, but am very rusty..) I read Tarot cards and do astrology charts,I enjoy constant studies in those areas and do a lot of online classes and exploration. I'd like to develop an online Tarot/Astrology class and maybe even do podcasts! SO MANY INTERESTS,I dabble at some of this, and go deeper when the urge hits..that is truly the beauty of being retired,isn't it!Thanks for your posts!

  2. Retirement is a perfect time for us dabblers. I am a lifelong birder and get to indulge myself with that now. I've cut back my gardening to just the succulents. I peruse cookbooks and find new recipes to try. I read an excellent book on James Madison recently and decided to visit his home at Montpelier, Virginia and while I will be so close, we will to go Monticello too. I have joined the North American Butterfly Association and travel at least once a year to the Rio Grande Valley for the Texas NABA meeting. I am not in a book club but am an avid reader. I am a lifelong quilter and am slowly working my way through my stash making quilts from leftovers. And the beautiful part is getting to do it all at my own pace and when I want to. I was meant for retirement!!

  3. While I love art in all its varied forms, I really am no good at it. Give me fabric or yarn and that is another story.

    Our sons on the other hand are wonderful artists and one regularly hangs his work on the walls of his home. The other just sketches for his own enjoyment.

    God bless.

  4. Barb, you are an inspiration to us! We all need to keep our options open to try new things. Thanks for the encouragement.

  5. Retirement is such a good thing, and we can dabble as we like. I write nonfiction and wanted a change of pace so I am writing poetry now. Also I got lots of art supplies like you did.

  6. I think doing what we want to do is one of the perks of our later years -- to be as active as we want and health will allow -- to have as many or as few commitments as we can comfortably accept -- to dabble along the way if we're so inclined and curiously explore new activities and experiences. If not now, when? Mostly, after other matters are handled, I read and write as the spirit moves me.


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