Radical Retirement Review

Since I started this blog, I’ve mentioned more than once that someone told me it takes about five years to settle into a rhythm in retirement. Before I retired I was sure I’d nail it from day one, but my friend was right.

Today marks the end of year five. I think–although I’m not so smug about it–I’m finally getting it right. Not doing too much, not bored. The days are still not long enough, but that’s not a bad thing. It’s better to have a never-ending to-do list than to be bored or idle. I am NEVER idle. A neighbor says I’m “driven.” Maybe so, but the older I get the more aware I am of time running out, and there are so many things I still want to accomplish while I can.

Today I’m looking back over the five years. I’m not re-reading blogs or pulling out diaries. This is just what pops into my memory as I look back.

Year One, 2010: I had the privilege of serving on the search committee that recommended Meg Barnhouse as the settled minister at the First Unitarian Universalist Church of Austin. If it’s possible, her ministry has even exceeded our hopes; the congregation is growing and a capital campaign is raising money to expand the physical space.

2011: Traveling with Texas Choral Consort to Uruguay and Argentina; singing Faure’s Requiem in Montevideo and Colonia, Uruguay, and Mozart’s Requiem in Mercedes and Buenos Aires, Argentina. Eating empanadas and drinking malbec. Making new friends, especially my Montevideo Posse.

2012: A chilly spontaneous spring art trip to Washington and Baltimore. Taking the then-five-year-old granddaughter on a road trip to Carlsbad Cavern and San Diego. I became nearly ill from the stress of nine days 24/7 with a young child. My doctor eventually diagnosed me with anxiety disorder and put me on Prozac. That trip made me discover I had been suffering from severe anxiety all my life, so I’m grateful for the trip, and we did have a good time in Coronado, La Jolla, Sea World and the Zoo.

2013: Our four-week tour of England and Scotland was the highlight of the year. Seeing “Matilda” with my New Zealand cousin and her husband, who were in London when we were; visiting the Yorkshire cousins and their families; Edinburgh, St. Andrews and Inverness; Bath; Cambridge; Newmarket (my birthplace) and a very warm London, including museums, galleries and more shows.

2014: Singing Mozart Undead with Texas Choral Consort at the French Legation, and the Beck Song Reader at the Blanton Museum, were peak experiences. A week at the coast with the grandchildren. A week in New York in November.

Most of my creative output has been been writing poetry and blog pieces. It was cool getting a poem and painting in Postcard Poems and Prose this month.

But I’ve mostly just dabbled in art, using my graphics skills for things like the condo association newsletter and publicity materials for my husband’s theater company.

In April I got into a postcard swap and something about the format lit my fire. I have mailed more than 70 cards in a variety of media including water color, marker, collage, monoprint, acrylic, photography, poems and quotes incorporated with art. I have a million ideas I want to try. I launched a second blog solely to show my art.

Newest postcard, "Monkey Shines." I can get silly and whimsical with the small format. (Water color, metallic marker, sticker)

Newest postcard, “Monkey Shines.” I can get silly and whimsical with the small format. (Water color, metallic marker, sticker)

I’ve also been knitting quite a lot, but I’m not good about keeping photos or records, and I give most of it away.

Current project, a sampler blanket for Chloe, trying out stitches from a book I got at a garage sale.

Current project, a sampler blanket for Chloe, trying out stitches from a book I got at a garage sale.

Now I’m excited about… drum roll… stitchery! I have several pieces working, one of my own design, in a postcard-size format, so someone may get a stitched postcard. For a person who is constantly moving, I find needlework to be calming and meditative (yet productive!).

Sampling stitches from another garage sale book, painting with stitches and cloth.

Sampling stitches from another garage sale book, painting with stitches and cloth.

The best use of retirement has been being able to spend time with the grandchildren, especially the now-eight-year-old, Chloe. She is a ball of fire, light of my life, force of nature. I adore her and she exhausts me. I  pray for the stamina and energy to keep up with her as long as she needs me to.

I haven’t come up with any new year’s resolutions, but I hope to laugh a lot, meditate a bit, get enough sleep, and keep living a healthy and active life. I’m getting a new laptop, replacing my reliable workhorse seven-year-old Dell Inspiron with a Dell Latitude; the only other thing I want now is Google Fiber in the complex–a real possibility this year.

With gratitude, wishing everyone a beautiful, healthy, joyful and richly rewarding 2015!



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