Category Archives: Planning

Day 211: New Year’s Resolutions

I resolve to shower and dress before I go downstairs. 2012 found me in my pajamas at 4:00 in the afternoon too many days.

I resolve to wait to weigh myself until I’ve had my moment with the porcelain bowl. It makes a difference in my weight loss charting but might have been TMI to share here. I promised you honesty, though.

I resolve to use Goodreads with intention and actually write reviews. Usually I’m too eager to start the next book to take time to review the one I just finished. You can find me using the name GotMyReservations if you’re interested in what I’m reading and writing.

Seriously, folks, there are some resolutions out there on my horizon, but they’re not much different from when I started writing about retirement in June. I’m serious about weight loss and getting healthier and have two goal timelines — the trip to France in April and the wedding of my son in September. I’m still sorting and purging our stuff, even though at this point it seems as though it will take more than a year to even make a dent. On the other side of the ledger are my growth as a photographer and a writer. I’m really pleased with the changes I’ve made to Got My Reservations and the direction I’m taking with it — I hope that you are following Reservations along with Retirement 365.

I’ll leave you with a January 1 photo taken at Dawes Park in Evanston. I love the contrast between the light and dark in this photo. Happy New Year!

IMG_6432 Copyright

Day 166: Conferences — NOT!

If I were not retired, I would be participating in the marathon of conferences right now.

But I am retired and I’m responsible for no one but myself, so I guess it’s time for my retirement conference.

The first thing I said I was going to do was to build the Retirement 365 blog format. Check! I like the retro housewife theme and have gotten good reactions to it. A friend even gave me matching pot holders!

I said I was going to cook more thoughtfully. Check! With the exception of the two-ish weeks I spent being a full-time travel agent, I’ve been doing a lot more cooking at home and cooking a lot more carefully. I’ve worked with portion size and how to cook for just the two of us in our empty nest — I only want one meal of leftovers from anything I cook.

I said I was going to get rid of stuff. I can only give myself a C on this one, because although I’ve gotten rid of masses of stuff already, I still have masses to go. Yet, in school we rewarded progress toward a goal and individual achievement, so maybe I get more than a C on this one.

I said I was going to learn how to use my new DSLR camera. Check! I’ve made great progress toward understanding and using the manual settings of my camera. I’ve got a ways to go, but I even have one of my photos published on a friend’s web page and I photographed her recent glass show. I joined the local camera club and even submitted four of my photos for critique by the club.I’m proud of what I’ve done so far, and look forward to learning a lot more.

I said I was going to get healthy, and I’ve been going faithfully to strength training twice a week and have had good success with the chiropractic care of my neck and lower back problems. Check! Next stop, more¬†weight loss.

Although not in my goals, I have spent the last month revamping my main blog, Got My Reservations. If you have not signed up to follow me there, please do. I control everything on the blog — it’s self-hosted — so I don’t have the support of WordPress to send me new followers. Please visit me; it’s kind of sad that no one even knows it’s there and I can tell that through my addiction to watching my statistics. ūüôā

There are a lot more goals buried in the fifty-nine posts over the last 166 days, but these are the beginnings of my new normal. Since my mom and dad aren’t around for me to show them my portfolio, I’m showing you.

I appreciate your love and support as I figure out who the new me is.

Day 152: Redundabundance

Dr. Internet has finally figured out what’s the matter with me. I have Redundabundance Disease.

Thanks to my blogging friend Leslie, who says that she also has this disease, I have been able to correctly diagnose what’s the matter with me and why I can’t get my house in order.

Redundabundance
NOUN.
1. Disease of excess, caused by repetitious acquisition; the continual desire and ability to obtain more and more of what one already has too much of.
2. Cause: affluenza, n. a painful, contagious, socially transmitted condition of overload, debt, anxiety and waste resulting from the dogged pursuit of more
3. Cure: reduction in possessions.

I followed Leslie’s 31 Days of Home Staging posts during October and it quickly became very clear that I was not crazy when I said it would take five years of retirement for me to get our house to the point where we could actually sell it.¬†According to Leslie, who is a professional home stager,¬†data shows that a staged home sells much faster than a non-staged home. She calls this the Pottery Barn/Timeshare mentality; a prospective buyer should encounter a simplified and neutral decor similar to what you find in a Pottery Barn catalog. Let’s just say that our house represents the opposite of this concept¬†and leave it at that.

Leslie also hit our personal problematic nail¬†right on the head. It doesn’t do us any good to just keep moving stuff around and buying more and more storage bins and shelving units. We need to get rid of it, not store it. The fact that we have hobbies is our usual excuse for keeping stuff, and I do have some hope that someday I’ll make that Christmas quilt and those pieces of jewelry. But those items don’t take up our entire crawl space.

Last night we had book club at a beautifully decorated home. Our hostess says that she loves decorating for the holidays and has many bins of decorations that she uses. Her rationale is simple; a house that is always ready for company is a happy home. This was her mother’s credo and it has become hers. Her house is always ready for company and I’d like mine to be that way, too.

Between now and Christmas I have six weeks to be ruthless. I need to go through¬†my house and purge, especially the two spare rooms. While it’s not yet time to Pottery Barn-ize my house, it is time to get it ready for company.

Merry Christmas, darlings.

Day 127: The Bare Refrigerator

My refrigerator is bare — it’s a good example of the meaning of the word¬†barren.

I’ve been so busy burning the retirement candle at both ends for the last couple of weeks that I haven’t had the time or, quite frankly, the motivation to go grocery shopping. The top shelf is full of condiments and the door is full of salad dressing, but there’s nothing to put them on. There’s some floppy broccoli that’s going to have to turn into quiche or something. And I discovered this morning that there aren’t any eggs in the house. I can’t remember when that has ever happened. We ALWAYS have eggs.

Since I usually choose to take the positive side of stories, I’m going to look at my vast wasteland of a refrigerator as an opportunity to clean it.

And after that I’m going to clean my socks drawer. ūüôā

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Day 113: Five Minute Friday — Grasp

This week’s theme at Gypsy Mama’s Five Minute Friday is grasp. It’s perfect for me as I finish up this week — I’m grasping and gasping for fresh air and deliverance from the chains of working in an office.

I’ve been interning at a travel agency for about a month.¬†For the last two days, I have been on my own in the office while my friend took a well-earned vacation.

Now I know that I never want to work in an office again.

After 100-ish days of being “retired” and working from home, I now know that it is my preferred style. Even when busy with customers and paperwork, I feel confined and less productive in the office. I can’t multi-task like I do at home. I can’t throw in a load of laundry and let it wash itself while I sit on hold on the phone. I can’t sort paperwork while watching a show on my DVR. I can’t work in my pajamas if I feel like it. I can’t step outside and feel the sun on my face and the wind in my hair because I’m chained to a landline.¬†In fact,¬†I can’t leave the office at all because I don’t want my friend to lose any business on my account.

I always wondered if I had the self-discipline to work at home, even occasionally, as my son, my daughter, and many of my friends do. This stint of office work has shown me that I do have what it takes to work from home. And I like it.

Bring on the next step toward my new custom travel business. I’m doing it from home!

Day 107: Revelations

I’ve been doing the happy dance a lot this week.

I¬†finished my first eight sessions of personal training and signed up for forty more. I have never worked out this well and this hard. It’s true what they say about exercise-based euphoria, because I experience it every Tuesday and Friday. It’s a revelation.

I’ve completed four weeks of eating like a thin person and have lost eight pounds. I’m right on target at two pounds a week. I’ve also found that having protein shakes made with fruit helps me to get through the witching hours of 11:00 am and 4:00 pm. I no longer feel as though I could eat my arm, and a result, I’m not snacking on bad stuff while driving home or preparing dinner. I feel victorious over a demon that has ruled my life for many years.

I went through all of my clothing and separated out the “fits” from the “doesn’t fits.” I made a stack of “I never wear this” stuff to give to Amvets next week, and then I put only those pieces of clothing that actually fit back into my closet. I’ll save the “doesn’t fits” for later this fall and winter as I reduce back into them. Or I’ll give them away when I find that they don’t fit my new lifestyle or outlook on life!

I’ve made some positive steps forward toward a new career in travel. I’m feeling (almost) capable of reserving and ticketing an airline ticket and I’m signed up for the Incentive Travel Show in October, where I’ll make some connections with people who want me to use their services or book their hotels in England. With the exception of the current issues with American Airlines, which worry me, I’m feeling really pumped about my future as a custom tours travel agent.

There’s also something I’m happy about that’s not such as clear-cut as losing weight and learning a new trade.

It all started at happy hour last week with my former colleagues when I found out that my work nemesis not only “quit,” she was escorted out of the building. Although I’m not usually one to dwell on the past, lingering resentment over unfair treatment and a tarnishing of what was previously a good reputation has followed me for six years. I have to admit it made me happy to know that there is karma in the world.

I’ve been listening to a good book in the car, and yesterday, the climax of the book was really relatable to my situation. The main character finds that the anger she’s been carrying around for twenty years is corrosive and it is time to let it go. Even though I’m retired and no longer in the toxic situation, I’ve continued to carry my own¬†resentment about my former boss and it hasn’t been good for me. Since I’m not with my work friends every day, the resentment has been under the surface, but it was still there, eating away at my soul. Just the act of writing this down is freeing — I’m done with all that and I don’t need to think about it again.

And now it’s time for me to move on too. I’m a blank slate and a clean book ready for a new story.

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Day 99: Contentment

They say it takes three weeks to break a habit and apparently I’m living proof of that.

I’ve lost the I’m-crabby-about-work mentality that has driven my every waking moment for years. I’m not angry anymore — and unless provoked by someone who wants to disrespect the teaching profession, ¬†I’m ready to move on to something that interests me more. I’m cured, and apparently it shows in my face. Several people this week have commented on the fact that my whole demeanor is less stressed and more calm. I’ve broken my crabby habit.

On the surface life now seems pretty boring.

As I’m sitting down to write and eat my leftover squash casserole from last night, I’m realizing that my days are starting to have a pattern. I get up at a reasonable 7:00 ish, check my social media sources, make a healthy breakfast, and then embark on the project of the day. I market almost daily for fresh food and household essentials, go to various appointments, and exercise. Two days a week I train at the travel agency for a few hours. I watch some tube and read for a while every day. I cook and make protein shakes. I go out with my friends. I listen to Music Man’s stories of work and share the need-to-know pieces of my day. I attend rehearsals of my musical groups and go to club meetings in the evenings. I’ve become a stay-at-home-wife and I like it.

 Change seems to have become the new normal, at least where it comes to food.

I’ve also broken the unhealthy food chain. I’ve been able to go out to restaurants and only order one glass of wine and yes, even decaf coffee. I didn’t order the chips with the fabulous fish and chips at Duke of Perth, and yesterday I didn’t have raisin toast or hash browns with my omelette at Buffalo. I haven’t cracked open a bottle of wine at my house for two weeks — what will the recycling men think today when my bin is not full of empty wine bottles? I’ve been having fun trying new recipes, and I don’t think that either Music Man or I have felt deprived in any way. And I’m continuing to lose weight, bit by bit, which is all I’m trying to do. It took me a long time to put this weight on, and it will take a long time to take it off as well. I’m okay with that.

Yet the essential me is still in there.

I’m devouring books and movies. I’m researching the city tote bag that I am going to create to carry camera equipment, one that won’t scream “I’m carrying thousands of dollars of camera equipment!” to pickpockets. I’m thinking about how I can turn my love of travel into a custom travel service for busy people who don’t have time to do the research themselves. The agile mind that has served me well as an academic is now enjoying the opportunity to be creative in a different way.

Friday, Friday has a new meaning to me now.

When we played Rebecca Black’s anthem to the weekend in my homeroom, it was as heartfelt for me as it was for the students (unless, of course, I had papers to grade over the weekend). But then, the weekend meant errands, projects, craziness around the house trying to catch up with the things we didn’t get done during the week. My being at home has taken some of the stress off of our household and we have the freedom to choose whether or not we can take the time to spend a day playing in the city.

There’s still a lot to be done, but progress is also habit-forming.

Every day I take a step toward establishing order in my home and my personal life. I’m breaking some life-long habits of ignoring what’s in front of me and hoping that somehow the hard stuff will just go away. I know that I’ve made the right decision for Music Man and for me, and we’re happy. I get some flack from people who question my choice to retire at age sixty, but thank goodness we live in a world where I have that choice.

Have a wonderful weekend. You deserve it!

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Day 92: Eating Organic(ally)*

A friend of mine told me that I’d spend more money in the first year of retirement than I did while teaching.

If this summer has been any indication of that, I am thinking he’s right. Every day I have a list of stuff — little stuff, mind you — to pick up. Most of these things are pent-up items that just needed to be done, but there are also some big-ticket items on my lists. And since I started entering the purchases on Quicken instead of Music Man doing it, I can see the daily totals with clarity. Scary.

That being said, I’m really happy with this week’s purchases.

I’ve been unsure about whether I wanted to talk about this on the blog, but here goes. In my retirement plan to get healthy, I included a 21 day purification program. It’s not a fast and there’s nothing unsafe about it, but the requirements are somewhat stringent. First on the list is that all fruits and veggies must be organic. Did you know that organics spoil rapidly? I guess I knew that intellectually; it makes sense, of course. I didn’t quite get it in practice, though. The first time I let a box of organic raspberries mold, it was soul-wrenching, not to mention a waste of good money.

So I’m at the grocery store pretty often. I think I’ve been there every day this week.

Image Credit

The good news is that after five days, I’m getting a handle on how to manage the fruit and veg issue. I’ve also come up with some new recipes — the beet and carrot slaw was quite tasty. The bad news is that I found out my store doesn’t stock its organic shelves as often as I am at the store, so there were days that I saw entire shelves of wiped out stock. And then there was the day that I bought arugula instead of spinach. It was on the spinach shelf and I didn’t look at the tag. It kind of looks like spinach, doesn’t it? We’re eating arugula and kale in our salads, scrambled eggs, and I even put some in last night’s meatloaf. Hopefully these greens will become an acquired taste, because they’re very good for us!

The other side effect of eating nothing but fruits, vegetables, and lean meat is weight loss.

I’m down four pounds at the end of five days. Since I put on two pounds over Labor Day weekend, that’s a net of two pounds for the week so far, and that’s all I’m aiming for. I’m trying to do the turtle weight loss program; slow and steady will win this race.

* Even though the title would be more catchy without the adverb ending, I just couldn’t do it.

Day 85: Ten Things…

When one retires, the most common question is, “What are you going to do with all that extra time?”

What is this extra time of which you are speaking? I haven’t found any so far.

Well, maybe a little.

Ten things that retirement meant to me this week ¬†…

  1. I can go to the doctor during the day. Amazing.
  2. I can hem the pants that have been sitting in my sewing corner for two years.
  3. I can go to the outlet stores mid-day on a weekday.
  4. I can shop every other day for organic produce.
  5. I can do the laundry on a weekday — (thanks, Debbie K., ¬†for that realization)
  6. I don’t have to have enough clothes in my closet to last for two weeks (or more) in case I don’t get around to laundry.
  7. I can be a tourist with friends and family who visit on a weekday — I’m really looking forward to my brother and his wife coming for the Christmas in Chicago road trip!
  8. I can learn quilting techniques and tricks that have emerged in the last twenty-five years since I actually made a full-out quilt.
  9. I know you’ll hate me for this one, but I can sleep in when I want to — no more 5:15 AM¬†wake ups.
  10. I don’t have crazy stories to tell about school — I can listen to my husband’s stories with my full attention.

And one thing more…¬†

  • I can dye my hair a new color on a weekday and no snarky teenager will comment on it. Sweet.

Have a wonderful weekend. Even though I love weekdays now, I still love my weekends just like I always did.

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Day 81: Monday Morning Quarterbacking

Music Man asked me yesterday if I was still writing Retirement 365.

Indignantly, I gave him a long story — and you know how I tell long stories — about the difficulties I’m having going back and forth between two blogs. I will spare you the details, but that’s why I don’t always write faithfully on either blog.

But what is faithful blogging?

I have a friend who wrote faithfully once a week in a travel blog and very few people commented on it. Blogging is a two-way street, and she and a few friends were the only ones driving. She became frustrated and has been trying to find other alternatives to promote her travel services and her book. But I miss her wonderful, in-depth posts and recommendations about places that I’ll visit someday. I can understand her frustration, though. When I put my soul out there for the world to see, I am¬†desperately¬†hoping that I’ll make a connection with someone else who is sharing my emotion.

It’s a trade-off between writing to be read and writing for writing.

I think I used to write because it was a personal outlet for me to escape from the shackles of teaching eighth graders. There was a certain inner triumph in knowing that although my students did not appear to be listening to or applying much that I taught, I was a different person online. In my blogging life I ¬†kind of felt like Sally Field — “you like me, you really like me” — instead of knowing that I was perceived to be the grammar nazi in my classroom. I was writing to save my soul.

But for what and for whom am I writing now?

When I created Retirement 365, I thought there might be a book in it. I know that’s probably a crazy notion, but it’s a really good thing to say when people are scratching their heads over why someone would retire from teaching. But I’m pretty sure that there’s no book about retirement in me; maybe there’s another book, but I think the retirement card is being played pretty well by others.

When you signed up for Retirement 365, what did you expect to find? What do you want to know? Are you, like me, looking for meaningful ways to structure your retirement? Are you looking for a more mature blogging voice that doesn’t revolve around home-schooling and tantrum-throwing? Are you looking for recipes? My son says that I need to target my audience better if I want my blog to grow. I’d really like to know who you are and why you are visiting my blog… ūüôā

¬†And now for the rest of the quarterbacking about last week …

As I started to write about all of the things I learned and got accomplished last week, it occurred to me that I really should be writing about these as they happen. That was what I thought I’d be doing when I started Retirement 365 — chronicling the first year of my retirement.

So I’m expunging ¬†last week from this post — oh, the glory of the “highlight, copy, paste” commands — and I’m going to start Retirement 365 again.

I hope that you’ll first¬†give me some feedback and then¬†stay with me. I appreciate the time you take to read my self-indulgent reflections.

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