November 30, 2022

Predictability is Not in Fashion Anymore


Predictability is not very predictable anymore. The world, our country, our schools, our politics, what is up and what is down are in constant flux. Rules and social norms of even just a few years ago no longer necessarily apply. In many cases, we have become immune to the constant shifting of what we take for granted and what we believe to be true. The shift under your feet isn't just an earthquake, it is a societal shift. 

*Have you tried to find a cell phone recently whose primary function is a phone? Does it matter since texting has replaced real conversation? 

*Desktop computers are pretty much gone. Even laptops are giving way to tablets and smartphones. Oh, and e-mail is no longer used by many of us.

*The promise of a pension or 401k being there when you need it is not true anymore. We are mostly on our own.

*Health studies are produced every day that contradict what yesterday's said.  Now, coffee can help prevent heart attacks?

*The political climate is as unstable as the actual climate.

*Even something as commonplace as repairing your own car requires specialized computers. "Check engine" light? To the repair shop, you go.

*Network and cable television have lost the war to Internet streaming that has become as complicated as cable ever was. Who decided everything is now + ?

So, what should our response be to this onslaught?  Can we do anything to get a sense of control back? Simple living or voluntary simplicity is a lifestyle choice that has several attractions. Cutting back on possessions and avoiding much of the material society in which we live have benefits that I have detailed in earlier posts. But, it really has little to do with a response to a complicated and uncertain world. Here are some thoughts to get your own creative juices flowing:

Put more stock in you.  Gather all the opinions you want. Do all the research on any subject that helps you get a handle on the issue. But, when it is decision time, trust you. You should not doubt your own abilities. Learn to trust your gut and intuition. If something doesn't seem quite right to you, then it isn't. Will you make mistakes? Sure you will. But, guess what, you'll make mistakes even if you wait for others to tell you what you should do.

Personal responsibility must make a comeback. The time when we could safely outsource all our decisions to others has ended. Believing the experts almost brought down our economy not that long ago. It should be obvious by now that promises to you by corporations or government aren't always binding. You need to take on more of a load of managing and guiding your own life.

Decide what adds clutter to your life and reduce it. It could something as obvious as too much time on the computer or the Internet. It could be too many possessions to repair, maintain and insure. It might be a house that is much too big for your needs. Maybe a three-car garage doesn't need three cars. Over-commitment is a dangerous form of clutter. Are you the go-to volunteer for everyone? Determine what can be eliminated or cut back and do so.  Less clutter means less stress. Less stress means less complexity.

Learning and changing never stop; don't even tryIt is useless to dig in your heels and try to keep things the way they were (or are). Your life will probably be OK for a while without rushing out for the newest 5G phone. But, to refuse to consider change is a doomed strategy. Read, study, ponder. Try to understand how a change you've been reading or hearing about may affect you.

In summary, I believe there is one basic truth that gives us hope: the more we learn to handle complexity, the simpler it becomes.

Question: Am I overstating the problem of complexity and its effect on us? Have I missed a way to find more simplicity? I encourage your feedback.

November 26, 2022

At Least It Keeps Me Busy

Every once in a while I feel compelled to display what I have painted over the last few months. I show them to push myself to improve and tackle new subjects. If  I didn't have anyone other than me or Betty see what I am up to, I am not sure there would be much improvement, or I would find one thing that is decent and just reproduce the same scene again and again. There is power in accountability.

Also, I know my humble attempts to put brush to canvas have inspired a few others to pull out the long-dormant easel and paint to give it a go, or some other creative attempt that has been forgotten.

My granddaughter noticed months ago that I prefer landscapes to people or animals as my subject. She is correct. I have tried living things, particularly when sketching. But, the end result is more Halloweenish than I prefer, plus I  find landscapes more calming to paint and look at afterward.

So, what follows is a sampling of some of what has been finished. I am averaging a new painting about once a week; some survive and others get covered in white gesso, never to see the light of day until I try something new.

I have asked Betty to share some of her flow art, too. It is a technique that appears deceptively easy but is not. Pouring paint on a canvas and then blowing all the colors around with a straw and hairdryer takes a real artistic eye. I have found the freeform abstract approach isn't my thing.

And, here are some samples of Betty's flow art

I hope this leaves you inspired to follow your passions and interests wherever they lead you!

November 24, 2022

Happy Thanksgiving To All


Though the election season is past us, there remain powerful feelings and a sense that we have a long season of healing.

Even more than most years, for this day I want to keep my focus on the good things in my life, and that starts with family. As we gather together, all the other problems will disappear and become unimportant, at least for a day. Covid may not be gone, but it no longer preventing me from being with the ones I love.

I also must thank my faithful readers. For over twelve years you have made Satisfying Retirement a labor of love for me. You are part of my family, too.

God Bless you and yours on the day to remember the good things in our life. 

Happy Thanksgiving,

Bob and Betty