retirement-101 Blog

Let there be discovery & purpose in your new life.

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Lookee here–a Laptop for me!

photo (1)If I am going to blog, I need to be able to write anywhere. The problem is that all of my life I have written at a desk and I know I am seen as the proverbial dinosaur much like the previous generation who used only typewriters because they feared that new device–the computer. So here I am now in the living room with my Lenovo touch screen and windows 8 point something or other. whooohoooo. Coffee shops in quaint European cafes not far behind. I don’t what the hell I am doing!

My husband already wishes he never ordered it. The tutorial manual is on line but I can’t find it. “Ray, Can you help me?” I tried to transfer my pictures from my iPhone but only 96 came–where are the other 768? So I just sent one picture from my phone and found it on the desktop. Look how happy I appear. HELP ME. I could pay you. Cheaper than getting a divorce.


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Throughout elementary school there was always some social studies project about school safety or American Indians which required poster board and colored pencils and some artistic talent or least spatial knowledge so that you didn’t run out of room for the title. The pressure continued through high school and college—tests and term papers– looming over your head like cartoon bubbles saying, “YOU WILL NEVER MAKE IT!” Then you enter the workforce and the stress mounted but at least there was a paycheck.  Is it any wonder that retirees forget that they can stop the merry-go-round. Now the projects should be of your own choosing and the deadlines arbitrary.

I had this idea that the only way I could be a successful writer is to write every day. If I began a blog or a Facebook Page, it would be great discipline to post a new entry every day or every other day. Without thinking I have created a dummy deadline. Every blog must say something important or be well-written. I have standards to uphold and potential publishers who may read my work and catapult me to fame. I am not going to post pictures of my lunch.

I think most people like a routine because then they know what is expected and they can know exactly what I coming. I guess some writers establish a routine so that they feel like they accomplish something, but just pitting any words on a page is not working for me.

My latest insights on my Facebook page indicate that I have the same number of followers last week as I do this week, Yet my weekly total reach was down 32.9% from last week. The reason is that people read my column but it only comes out every two weeks. Sorry, folks. I will try to post something interesting in the interim, but yesterday was a glorious sunny day and I didn’t want to have to write about it.


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Would you sell your home and travel the world?

Home Sweet Home, How We Sold our House, Created a New Life, and Saw the World is the next book I want to read! I just listened to an interview on CBS News this morning with retirees and authors Tim and Lynn Martin who sold their home and traveled the world renting apartments and houses for a month or more at a time. Why sell the house? Susan says they didn’t want it hanging over their head. “I don’t want someone to call and say the water heater is broken. It ruins the romance.”

Gayle King comments about their choice, “Most people live their lives with a vast empty plateau between boredom and routine.” I am thinking about yesterday and how after I potted flowers and went to the grocery store, how utterly bored I felt. Whenever I travel to a new country I feel alive again. I have visited 15 countries around the globe but I want to double this before I die. Susan explains, “The most fun is meeting the people and embracing change. And learning all the time.”

Charlie Rose said, “I hope everyone is watching this. You give new definition to retirement!”

Is it time to have a conversation with your spouse? Do you think you could leave your family and friends? Sell or store all of your belongings? Would you miss feeling connected to a community or create new friends? Their motto is Postpone Nothing. Don’t ninety-nine percent of us just postpone everything?

Charlie Rose asks, “How long will you keep doing this?” Her answer, “Till the wheels fall off!”

I admire their courage. I really think it would be a healthy step toward letting go of material objects. I have too many things. You can’t take it with you. Where do you want to go first? I re commend Phucket, Thailand. Our daughter lived and worked there, teaching English. The snorkeling trip, the cuisine, the open markets, the massages for five dollars… My husband just walked in the door. I need to talk to him now.


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I need all the money I can get!

Here are a few lines from the USA Today article–How much income will you need in retirement? But read on to hear about my experience.
Robert Powell, Special to USA TODAY 6:06 a.m. EDT April 13, 2014

“When planning for retirement, you might be inclined to use an oft-quoted rule of thumb that has you striving to replace 80% of your income in retirement.

Don’t — there is no absolute standard, according to Michael Hurd, a principal senior researcher and director of the Center for the Study of Aging at the RAND Corp., and Susann Rohwedder, a senior economist and associate director of the Center for the Study of Aging at the RAND Corp., in Santa Monica, Calif.

Instead, Hurd and Rohwedder say you really need to customize your income needs in retirement based on highly personal factors…”

You got that right! I remember saying to my financial planner that I would be content to do very little as long as I didn’t have to teach anymore. Boy, was I wrong. When you retire you have loads of time to go out to eat, to take a vacation, to fix up your home, and once those paychecks stop coming in, all of the sudden you might have to choose to do only one of those or at least be mindful about spending it all too quickly. Nobody can help you there but you. If you are like me, you will want it all!

It might help if you talk to your spouse about your expectations. I was so anxious to quit work that I didn’t think about how it would feel to not do everything I wanted to do. And I didn’t count on missing teaching but I did. Luckily I am now teaching writing classes now and writing a column both of which bring in a small paycheck but largely contribute to my self-esteem.
These pictures were taken in Lucerne, Switzerland. I figured we should take one amazing trip at the beginning of our retirement journey in 2010— just in case one of us got sick or we ran out of money. I may not have new carpet but oh did I see a part of the world which will never leave me.IMG_0438IMG_0505

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Borrowing Lessons From a Mom

Once a month members of the Rehoboth Beach Writers Guild are invited to share their work. Each month there is a new theme. The topic was borrowing. Lots of time now in a retired life to reflect on my childhood memories and the gifts given to me by my mom.

When I hear the word borrow I think about the children’s books called the Borrowers and remember my mother. She loved the idea of fantasy little people stealing things that real people misplaced. When you raise six girls, things disappeared on a regular basis and of course we all expected our mother to find them. A maroon knee sock, a Nancy Drew mystery, a hair band, an overdue library book.
My mother gave me my true love of literature—we lived our lives looking forward to borrowing library books. I passed this tradition onto my own two children telling them that they could only check out as many books as they could carry. I can picture them at ages 5 and 7, trying to walk to the car balancing a two foot stack against their slim bodies, their eyes peering out over the top. A stack as high as Caps for Sale.
My mother also gave her children a fondness for butter. There were always Christmas cookies in the freezer beginning with the first week in November: walnut crescents, candy canes, mint surprise. Only it was always her surprise when she would go down to the utility room where the freezer was stored to find half a dozen empty Tupperware containers. Fuming she would rant at the six of us for stealing cookies—cold frozen cookies that we had to purloin one at a time and surreptitiously fold up into our pajama pants or pocket, but all of us vehemently denied wrongdoing. You can only imagine how quickly we could empty those containers. She taught us to bake more.
Stealing was a sin, but borrowing was acceptable as long as you returned it. My mother always wrote her name on the inside cover of every book she owned. “Just make sure you return it when you are done.” A good lesson for everything–no matter what you take. Return it.