December 27, 2014

Time to Come Clean

I am bored and feeling stale.

Considering my posts for the last several years that is a sentence you probably didn't expect to read on this blog. I preach the importance of staying active and involved, in trying new things, discovering new passions, and making the most of the amazing freedom that retirement provides.

Up until rather recently that would have been accurate for me. But, not right now. I figured I owed you an honest look at a satisfying retirement that occasionally finds itself down a dead end street. My life has been quite blessed, but it is not a fairy tale or a movie with a perpetually happy ending.

I am feeling unhappy with where I live, how I live, and what I am doing with my time. As I quickly told Betty when I mentioned my funk to her, it has absolutely nothing to do with our relationship. That remains as solid as can be; I am very much in love with my wife and family.

No, my dissatisfaction is strictly with me and my lifestyle at the moment. There has been no precipitating event or action. There wasn't a switch that was suddenly thrown and I woke up living a unsatisfying retirement. It is just a feeling that has been building for at least a month.

I am spending too much time reading. I take too many naps during the day. I watch too much Netflix at night to fill the time until bedtime. I realize these are some classic early warning signs of clinical depression, but that isn't it. I am not depressed, I am just without a focus, a spark, or something that really excites me. And, I don't seem to know where to turn to ignite the fire.

An example? I am planning all of our itinerary for our RV trip in July - not because it really has to all happen 7 months ahead of time, but because it gives me something to do. That isn't good.

So, what am I going to do about all this? I haven't a clue. I am stuck in neutral with no clear route forward. I have no doubt I will figure things out. At some point something will click and I will have a full plate again.

But, for now, not so much.


110 comments:

  1. Your life is comfortable, uneventful, with nothing new to look forward to.... no more challenge, no time clock, no reason to get out of bed in the morning.... plenty of time to take naps, watch movies. All these get old. My suggestion - go back to school, study something that you are totally uncomfortable with...then take a semester abroad..

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    1. Studying/trying something I am totally uncomfortable with is a good idea. I will give that some thought.

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  2. I have been a birdwatcher for many years and while I truly enjoy birding, it has gotten a bit stale. However, I came upon the website for the North American Butterfly Association and it sounded intriguing. So joe and I attended their meeting in Mission, Tx in November and met people from all over who knew all about butterflies and we're delighted to have a pair of newbies. Long story short, we bought a Butterflies of North America guide and Joe is planting native plants to feed the caterpillars and butterflies and we have a whole new interest. And I am bound and determined to learn how to photograph them. I agree with the poster above--learn something new. And instead of taking a nap, go for a walk.

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    1. My wife is an artist. Her paintings and photographs are quite good. I have always envied her ability to be artistically creative. Should I take a stab at something like that? I don't believe I have the talent for it but should that stop the attempt? Probably not.

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    2. As you know, I don't believe talent is required for trying something new. As someone with a sister who is an artist in the finest sense, just do it-and don't expect to be her.

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    3. I agree with Barbara. When my husband retired, he began doing rug hooking and needlepoint, creating his patterns with an online program and pictures. He has created gorgeous pictures of seashells and is now working on a needlepoint portrait of our grandson

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    4. Continuing my comment about my husband above, I would like to add that not only is his filling his hours with creative, artistic, and challenging work, he has the delight in giving his creative gifts and seeing the excitement of the recipient such as our daughter's pleasure in the gorgeous hooked rug of her favorite seashell.

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    5. I hit a wall in September - just three months into my retirement. I am afraid that it took a trip to visit my much missed children to shake me up and get me out of bed. I decided to make myself into what I wanted to be - outward as well as inward. Author, photographer - whatever came my way. As a woman, I guess my push to go for a "look" that fit with where I am in my life instead of the old t-shirt look I had defaulted to.was an unusual first step but so worth it! I also joined a writing group to push me to write more and better AND I took a chance and signed up for water color painting! Usually I don't jump in unless I think I have talent and drawing/painting was never my skill! I am loving it and happy I can put some energy into learning more about it (thank you, Google!). So, Kelly's take above is awesome - no talent required. I also like the idea for signing up for a course - I think I will embrace that in the future. Maybe the time right now is for reflection and discovery. Thanks for being so honest and direct - that in itself will attract energy and deep respect!

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    6. Actually, Eileen, I have been toying with the idea of trying some sort of painting or drawing class. My dad took up painting in his early 70's after previously showing absolutely no inclination in that area. He ended up with dozens of oil paintings, at least 8 of which made it to the walls in my parents' home.

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  3. You’ve taken the first step towards getting to a better place. Acknowledging what you are feeling and sharing this with others; this is all part of the process of getting back on track.

    Also, you have provided a valuable service to your readers by reminding us that life is not a bowl of cherries all of the time. There will be times when we lose our way. When this happens, what we need is not so much “advice” about how to fix the problem, but rather the support, encouragement and acknowledgement from those in our lives. It’s not as easy to send this type of support virtually through a blog, but I imagine that knowing your readers as well as you do, you will feel the love and support we are all sending your way.

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    1. Yes, Carole, I have come to count on my readers for feedback and support that has my best interests at heart. I will have to work through this rough patch on my own, but know that others in my life are rooting for me.

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  4. You are doing something very important, you share so openly with humility that so many of us feel the exact same way at various times in our lives and by doing so help many of us.

    Keep sharing. Get in gear.

    Peace and blessings,

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    1. Thanks, Rick. We are all in this together, aren't we, during the up and the down periods that are just part of life.

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  5. This sounds like what many pre-retirees are worried about and turn to your blog (and other resources) for - how to set themselves up for a retirement where they aren't stuck in a rut once they no longer have an employer (or customers) to set goals for them. In a nut shell a "Satisfying Retirement". I think it goes to show that even someone like you with much experience living an active retirement in good health still has down cycles - it's the nature of life I think. From time to time we all need to expand our interests and activities to get the juices flowing again but also that it's never as easy as some other "experts" seem to say. I'd say you need to do what you did when you were first retired, check out various things and see what grabs your interest - certainly you've done a lot so far in your non-working life.

    - David

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    1. Keep pushing against the box of routine, right? That has worked before, so it is time again. I just have to find out what to push.

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  6. I think Anonymous, above, hit the nail on the head, Bob. It's important to always, always be looking to raise the bar on one's own life, otherwise life will quickly begin to get stale.

    One of my favorite quote's from Ernie Zelinski's excellent retirement primer, 'The Joy of Not Working' is this: When you only do that which is easy, life becomes difficult. If you continually do that which is hard, life becomes very easy.

    In my own life, I try to remind myself to look for those things which I find to be scary, and do them anyway. On a daily basis if at all possible. Each and every time I do so, I get a lift that carries me along for a good period of time. At which point, I begin to scan the horizon and look for that next 'big' thing. Someone once commented to me that it seemed like an awful lot of work, but in my experience, settling leads to boredom, where reaching and stretching leads to exhilaration. I prefer exhilaration over boredom!

    This morning Mike and I are biking to the beach and back, about 40 miles altogether. The first 30 miles will be easy for me, given my current fitness level. The last 10 will be the ones that hurt. They will also, however, be the ones that leave me feeling fantastic when we finish. Which is really what Mr. Zelinski's quote above is all about.

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    1. I rode a roller coaster at Disneyland two weeks ago...the first since I was 8. My grandkids shamed me into going, and I did enjoy it. Now, I am pushing Betty to join me on a zip line ride over wild animals at an African type game park about an hour from us. That's something neither of us have done before.

      So, maybe I am pushing out a bit more than I thought.

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    2. Bob, your post this morning finally got me to stop stalling and sign Mike and I up for a week long guided backpacking trip into the Grand Canyon next fall. I know we have the strength, I know we have the ability, I know we have the equipment, but a big part of me was still scared by the thought. So I thank you, because everyone of us has to be reminded to push through our fears and keep moving up that hill (figuratively speaking :-)

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  7. Hi Bob, sorry to hear about your blahs. I too have had them for a while. In December I have suspended almost all my normal activities to seriously think about where I am in life and if that is where I want to be. I will admit that I go through periods of depression on a regular basis.

    Starting in the new year I will be blogging several posts about what I have found during this time. It has helped me somewhat and maybe it will also give you some insight. We all need to step back once in a while to try to discover if we are controlling our life or if it is controlling us.

    Many of our Asian friends take this time of year for similar thoughts. It is healthy to do take stock once in a while.....

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    1. I am looking forward to those posts, RJ. I enjoy reading your thoughts. Your way of expressing yourself is often stimulating for me.

      I imagine I will do the same thing, once things begin to come together for me.

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  8. You expressed how I have been feeling for the past couple weeks. This feeling is giving me the impetus to start thinking through some actions to take in the 1Q2015 to get back on track, new volunteering efforts, writing, learning, search out new adventures, building on existing friendships and developing new ones .............. I believe this is a good position to be in, having the ability to continually redefine ourselves and explore more of what the world has to offer. We will see what the new year brings but I am very optimistic.

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    1. An end of the year reevaluation seems to be rather common. Yes, it is important for me to realize how much of a blessing it is to be in the position to be able to step back and think about a fresh start. For too many people in the world, survival tends to preclude worries about staying active.

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  9. Self-help is helpful but it's your second course of action. Always first is our examining our relationship with God. Without that vital relationship, all else leads to dead ends. Only God will carry you past this life which is coming to an end for all of us. Where will you spend eternity?

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    1. With my firm belief in Jesus and His place in my life, you can appreciate that prayer is an important part of my search.

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  10. ddavidson5647 is right. I'm 5 years from retirement and I found your blog to help the planning process. But you don't have to be retired to go through this. I wrote a blog post about it a few months ago. http://www.thinking2stepsahead.com/2014/08/10/whew-im-not-lazy/

    A ministry I've been involved with for nearly 15 years closed a few months ago and I found myself with a lot of time to do what I hadn't had enough time for in the past. But you're right....once you have plenty of time for those things, they can become boring. I think it's because we human beings weren't created to simply exist and keep ourselves occupied. We need purpose.

    I've given that a lot of thought lately, because in retirement we have the freedom to choose the purpose. Rather than doing what we HAVE to do (work at a job that provides for our needs), we get to choose what we WANT to do (choose activities that provide for our soul). What fulfills you? That's the real question. I love to impart my knowledge and experience so I can help make a difference in people's lives. I want to be a change agent. At my 90th birthday party I want people to say that I'm the wisest woman they know.

    My husband and I are considering ways to volunteer to teach in charter or church schools, to finally write that book called Thinking 2 Steps Ahead, to start knitting classes or model rocketry programs in local scout or 4-H programs, or to join a local SCORE chapter. The research you do on this topic could evolve into a book called something like 101 Ways to Ward Off Retirement Funk. It's a perfect tie-in to your excellent blog.

    What do you want people to say about you at your 90th birthday party, Bob? What do you have to do today and into the next year (and beyond) to make sure they are telling it like it is?

    Thanks for raising this topic, Bob. It's important and will, I think, give you some purpose in bringing this blog to a wider audience.

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    1. Your question about the 90th birthday feedback is an important one. I think we all fear just taking up space and when we die there is only a small ripple in a very large pond that quickly disappears.

      Like you, I am running through all the options I know exist. Now, I need to discover options that aren't on my radar at the moment. What am I missing? What haven't I considered before? Why not?

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  11. Maybe it's just the holiday blahs. I have to admit, this Christmas was a huge disappointment and put me in a bad funk. We'd been so busy renovating there was no time to think about the fact we have no friends near by, and family is fickle. If I published the blog post I started writing the other day my kids would never speak to me again. I wonder if that's all bad. But, seriously, there is something about this time of year that can simply drain the life out of us.

    I'll be joining the Cape May Artists' Co-op soon, and look forward to getting involved in that community. It may get me off my butt to start new art projects. Dave is volunteering with the local Habitat for Humanity, which gets his juices flowing, and while he's out doing that I get more writing done.

    So it's time to snap out of it, and realize we can't be busy and productive and happy all the time. Sometimes it's good to step back, admit we're unhappy, and take a new approach. At least that's what I'll be attempting in 2015. We can compare notes along the way!
    b

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    1. You just experienced a major move and upheaval in your Life. So, yes, I am looking to you for feedback on how you and Dave manage to make a new life in a new place.

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  12. Well, you could move to a whole new town! That would energize you for at least a year, maybe two!! LOL!!! Drastic! We are pretty settled now in our new home, and I know what you mean about needing stimulation, something you are passionate about, something that makes you feel you are excited and vital..I went to real estate school last time I was in that space.Now, here in the mountains,I have been unable to pursue it and that's not what I had hoped for..so,I am also finding myself in a little bit of a rut,too.As much as I like hiking,reading, cooking, I have this part of my brain that likes to solve problems, and I just LOVE properties and real estate research.. so I may just try harder to find a niche up here.. I also have found that a pyshical challenge works to pull me out of those stagnant spots: A hiking goal, such as a hard trail I can't hike that has a great waterfall at he end of it (this is a current goal!) or getting back to light weights program . Ken, on the other hand, is quieter than I am, and really happy to have a lot of free time and space. As one reader suggests, this post is about support, not advice.Your vibrant intellect and big heart will lead you to the next adventure!!!! And you better let us in on it!

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    1. I get boatloads of support and great ideas, plus the occasional kick in the butt that I need. Blogging is much cheaper and quicker than therapy!

      Maybe you could specialize in vacation and summer rentals in the Mogollon Rim area. You certainly live in a part of the state that gets lots of interest during all seasons.

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  13. Congratulations on identifying the problem! That's 3/4 of the battle. :) maybe you need to choose a word to guide you this year. Here's an example - my word was "play"
    http://www.nitadances.com/index.php/2014/01/01/cheers-for-a-playful-2014/

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    1. A good friend does the "word" of the year, too and it works well for her. I will give that some thought.

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  14. Until you find peace within yourself, I'm sorry but anything else you 'do' will be for naught. Why do people think they need outside stimulation or oodles of things to do, to conquer etc. in order to feel alive? Why is retirement supposed to be different than your regular life? Odds are probably good that the way you feel today is the way you have always felt? You're just looking and thinking that if you fill your life up with activities you'll be happy. Wrong. Until you find that inner peace, or just the happiness from doing nothing, you'll just be spinning your wheels aimlessly.
    Anytime I felt a smidgeon of boredom, God always managed to send me things to make me feel 'alive'. How about a touch of cancer, or the death of a loved one? How about a lawsuit? Or a child falling on hard and disasterous times and all you could do was observe their suffering? Just going through one of those nightmares would make one ache for the peace and tranquility of boredom. Ah! The good old days, when everyone was alive and well. If I kept complaining, God would have made sure those borish days became a faint memory.
    You lived your whole life 'safe' Bob. You never took a risk, or if you did, it was a pre-planned one. You don't talk politics. You don't get into any skuffles, you don't talk religion. You don't do much to ruffle any feathers. Your whole life is planned. As in you are sitting down and planning your RV trip that's 7 months away. Why don't you just get into your RV and just drive. Period. With no set plan. Not even a map. Just drive. You'll never do it because of your fears. You don't have to go on the zip line, join a gym or take a class. Your life sits right before you and yet you do nothing. You know how much money you have in the bank. How much money you will spend. Ugh. I'm bored already and I'm not even you. Why don't you fly to a big city, like Chicago with only $20 in your pocket. Your life will turn exciting almost instantly. Why don't you use your brain to survive and hone your skills?
    Your life now is no different from how it has always been and will be. I am often amused at how people think retirement will be any different from how their lives have already been? You mean you waited all your life to do something different while in retirement? What a waste of time and life force energy.
    If you are really looking for something to 'do' why don't you take up yoga. Go to an ashram with just a penny in your pocket and learn to survive on yourself, not materialism or outside entertainment. Learn to depend on you for your life force. And personally, I would welcome boredom because the other alternative (a slew of bad luck sent down to you from God Almighty) would put things in a whole new perspective. Going to the Grand Canyon or exercising yourself to death still will not bring inner peace. Taking a risk, or actually arguing with another human being about politics will make you feel more alive than balancing out your secure budget.
    Bloom where you've been planted. You know the Bible verse. Until you've done that, everything else is just noise. And you will never be happy nor find anything to give you the happiness you seek. And revel in the boredom, because it only takes a second to unbalance what you so carelessly toss aside.

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    1. I deeply appreciate the time and effort that obviously went into your comment.

      I do want to assure you, though, that in many key areas you are wrong. Several chapters of my life have involved significant risk for me and my family. I have written a bit about politics and my spirituality, but this blog isn't designed for those topics. There are thousands of blogs and web sites that deal with both topics and all the heat and anger each generates. I am quite passionate about both subjects. To assume I don't have any interest is incorrect. I just choose not to make those thoughts part of a blog designed to deal with a different subject.

      The way I feel today is not the way I have always felt. Reading most of the past 4+ years of blog posts would make that abundantly clear. The reason this post has generated so many responses so quickly this morning is exactly because I am not usually feeling stale.

      Just going on the RV trip would mean I am abandoning my responsibilities to my father and the joy I find in being deeply involved with my family. To everything there is a season, and being gone from Phoenix during the summer is the appropriate season.

      Again, thanks for your passionate feedback. You make many good points, but some of your assumptions about me are off the mark.

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  15. Thanks for writing this Bob. I too find myself in exactly the same spot as you are. Everything is stable in my life, and I feel a bit like I am crying inside, but can't figure out why! I too am bored with the things I have been doing and need something to spark my life. I have been here before and have always pulled myself out of it, but this time I feel trapped.

    I have lived in this home longer than I have lived anywhere in my life. Part of me would like to sell the house and move somewhere else, but I have done that before. It works for awhile, but the reality is, I need to figure out how to spark my life where it is because where I could move to is not realistic. One of my brothers recently moved a little north of Kansas City (he is a pastor and was called and left with much trepidation, but it was the right thing for him to do) and I could move there and buy a home with the equity from our home and no longer have a mortgage - but that would mean I would be way too far from my mother who I will only have for another year or so and my daughter who is going to make me a Grandma for the first time in about 3 weeks. They both live in Calif, and I am in Oregon. I can drive there in about 8 hours. I have thought about moving back to CA, but really can't afford it, nor do I want to live there! I really do like where I live and don't want to move, and my husband definitely does not want to move or leave the area.

    I just need to find something that will make me excited again. I am trying my own advice now - think about many different things, and whatever excites you is where God wants you to focus now. I am trying that and will continue to do so until I find where God wants me now. A poster my mom has up is, when God closes a door, another door will open, but it is hell in the hallway! I guess that we are both in the hallway right now trying to decide which door should be opened.

    Wishing you success in opening that door soon. In the meantime, enjoy this time of reflection - as that is part of the process, as you well know.

    PS: Just writing this has made me feel better!

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    1. Sometimes just "airing out" your feelings and questions can be important. I am finding the responses to this post to be so helpful and supportive (for the most part!) as I look for what is waiting for me around the next corner.

      By the way, you will love being a Grandma. My grandkids are downstairs right now watching the movie," Frozen," and having a loud, joyous time!

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  16. I can't add much to your honest and thought-provoking post, along with the insightful responses, except to say, thanks for bringing up the subject, it's an issue that we must all deal with from time to time. Here's a simple equation I once saw that might be relevant: restlessness+ re-evaluation + renewal = reward.

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    1. Thanks, Tom. There is a reward after the struggle, at least there has always been one before.

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  17. Bob,

    Maybe just a mini course correction would do the trick. I think I suggested this before but...with your background in radio I have always thought you would be a terrific podcaster. I could imagine you interviewing interesting people via Skype about their satisfying retirement, (many of whom read and comment on your blog) authors, and other experts, but especially just ordinary people. I find it fascinating to listen to a discussion between regular folks about topics of interest. It is like sitting in a coffee shop having a chat with a friend. I know it would involve learning some new things, but that might be just what you need. You could just record and post it, with minimal editing. It would also relieve you a bit from the challenging task of coming up with fresh material. Your guests would be the fresh material. And, as I have said before you undoubtedly meet a lot of interesting people on your RV adventures. You could be the retirement podcast version of the old CBS "On the Road" with Charles Kuralt." Just a thought.

    I have gone through such periods. Exercise, good nutrition and conversation with others usually brings me out of it, with renewed energy and enthusiasm.

    Best,

    Rick in Oregon

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    1. Betty and I just had a great discussion with one of our daughters and son-in-law about this situation. Being 30 years younger they had an different perspective that was good to hear.

      Does a hot meatball sub with provolone cheese qualify as good nutrition? It hit the spot.

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    2. Bob, if that meatball sub with provolone nourished the soul, then it qualifies as good nutrition! ��

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  18. Two things I find that can life my spirits - get moving, preferrably outside and somewhere I haven't been before. A new perspective can lift your spirits and get your thoughts churning. Secondly, de liberatley do things for someone else - not just semding a card or calling but running a errand, fixing a broken item, cleaningl, anything that takes your thoughts away from yourself.

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    1. Doing something for others is an excellent cure for too much self-analysis. You can bet that is an area I am exploring.

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  19. This too shall pass... We are all compelled to evaluate life right now - just by virtue of the fact that the year is coming to an end. Being somber and reflective before we get excited is just part of it. You have a beautiful family, friends, faith, loyal readers and plans for your future. Life is good. Aren't you seeing Tamara and Mike soon? She will give you a good swift kick in the butt!

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    1. We are joining them in Palm Springs in 10 days for the Film Festival. According to her comment she and Mike went on a 40 mile bike ride this morning. That is serious butt-kicking.

      The best to you and Malcolm in 2015.

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    2. Our best to you guys as well. We have to plan a get-together in the near future.

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  20. I understand perfectly. Right now I am having a satisfying semi-retirement. I am old enough for Social Security but don't need it right now. I work half-time as a federal contractor for a very high-profile part of the military. This keeps me involved in an area I'm very comfortable with and also gives me time off for other interests - including remodeling projects. I have a job share situation with another gentleman and our hours are easily flexed to accommodate for appts, etc. There are no employment benefits, only pay for hours, but I have two modest pensions which include medical insurance already. My Dad, for similar reasons to yours, worked part time until he was 84 years old - to keep active and still have time off - not out of financial necessity.

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    1. I do not want to go back to work - retirement is too liberating. I just have to find the next thing that will push me along. 2015 will be my 14th year of retirement. I have every confidence it will be fulfilling. I just have to keep my eyes and ears open, and keep reading all the great comments.

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  21. I got a p/t job as many hours a week as I wanted at a local Auction parking cars and driving the lanes on auction days. A blast. Many men and women far older than us enjoying themselves and making a little dinero. I look forward to every day I work. There are several auctions in your area and they only hire 65+. Find out!

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    1. I did enjoy my part time work as a guide for visiting business conventions, but after awhile I found something else....this blog, writing a few books, and RV travel. What's next? That's the question.

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  22. Yikes! What fulfills one person surely is not what fulfills us all.If I went out and did some of the stuff "anonymous" suggests I'd be truly off balance and unfulfilled! And my "inner peace" would be totally shot!! Go to a city with just $20 in my pocket?Well, first of all I don't like cities very often and that, to me, is not sounding like much fun. "Risk??" Well, obviously someone who feels you have not taken risks in life has not owned a business of their own like you and like my husband! LOL!!!!! There are seasons and reasons and there are cycles of content and also that "itch" that spurs us on to the next passion. I believe you and I and many of those on this post have plenty of peace of mind, "inner peace" etc. but we also have a lot of drive and energy, and so.. occasionally we start looking over the horizon for new challenges. Those challenges we seek don't mean we are spiritually impoverished or ungratfeul!! Like Walt Whitman says "I AM LARGE,I CONTAIN MULTITUDES!!" You know Bob, it's gonna be fun discovering the next exciting adventure,isn't it!? The liminal space you're in now (and that some of us are in..) is just the quiet ,ruminating space before the next burst of life giving action we will take!

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    1. I like the image of looking over the horizon for new challenges. That captures it well.

      Anonymous doesn't know me or my story very well, but she/he is entitled to an opinion and feels a certain passion for the thoughts expressed. As long as there is no real name-calling or over-the-top rudeness I have no problem letting that type of comment see the light of day.

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  23. have you ever done any volunteer work? some folks need a schedule, something to do at the same time every day (job...). At the moment my husband is bored silly....heart surgery and the recovery is keeping him from doing normal, routine chores...so we watch a lot of movies and he spends time reading and surfing the internet. Every couple of days we venture out on an adventure

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    1. Yes, Linda I have done volunteer work. Prison ministry was very fulfilling for several years until it ended two years ago. But, I will be the first to admit I have not made a serious effort to replace it with something else that allows me to give back, and that has been a mistake.

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  24. Bob,

    I have always appreciated your candor in this blog, and, surprised as I was to read it, today's post was no exception. You honor your readers by being "real" in your thoughtful commentary, and I think that is a key ingredient in your longterm followers. You & Betty have had quite a year -- a hard act to follow! Can you expect to resume life as you knew it when you are not exactly the same people you were when you left? I know that you will find your way and that, in the process of figuring it out, you will continue to shine a light for the rest of us. Thank you... I am grateful that you have been a part of my (on-line) life. With blessings to you and Betty for the new year, and hope for the great adventures yet to come --
    Pauline in Ithaca

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    1. Thank you so very much, Pauline.

      You are exactly right; each year I am different than one year earlier in many ways. That is the reason I find myself where I am today: what I was doing and how I lived in December of 2013 is no longer as satisfying as it was 12 months ago. So, what needs to change? That is the question.

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  25. Thank you for your honest post. Right now I'm examining at a personal level the many ways in which Western society deeply structures us into believing and accepting that the meaning of our lives comes out of doing and being productive in some way, and that if we are not doing and not being productive, we lack meaning. This was the original formula for ageism, casting out and rejecting aging persons because they were unproductive and useless to society. To prove otherwise, the enlightened aging (all of us on this blog of course), strive to show, and often do indeed show, that we still are active, productive, and hence have meaning, not just to society, but to ourselves. Even hedonism has to be meaningful hedonism; every joy should have a point to it, not be an in and of itself moment in time. Life should be structured and engaged, because we are taught that life without structure and engagement is to function in a meaningless void. Even leisure should be productive in some way, preferably giving us the relaxation necessary to return to activity and productivity. I think it is a paradigm with many facets, all of which can be examined. Some function oblivious, fully bought in. Some function with a few jolts along the way, and then settle back in. Some may actually break out.

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    1. I read your comment several times to appreciate all that you are saying. You have addressed some very important issues.

      The point about older folks not contributing if not doing so through work or something society deems as productive has been so true, but I believe is changing. Too many of us believed the same logic for too long. Now, I sense a much more nuanced interpretation of what retirement can be.

      Productive leisure is not an oxymoron, either. But, productive for whom and how? More and more the answer is for the individual in a way that feeds him in a special way.

      Thanks, B.E., for a thoughtful addition to what has become a great exchange of ideas.

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  26. Bob, let me echo what so many have already said...thank you for your transparency. It is one of your best gifts to your readers. Now that I am retired, sometimes I don't even know what to expect or how to feel. For the first time, I don't have a well-defined schedule. Freedom is great, but it brings with it many moments and days of uncertainty. I'm grateful to have a positive outlook, most of the time, but once in awhile, it dawns on me that this is the "last act" of life. Not trying to be macabre, just being honest. I sometimes think there is something going on in our subconscious or maybe in our spirit that ushers us into those bittersweet pauses along the way, to simply allow us to catch a breath before we enter the next phase of life. Thanks for allowing us to join you on your journey. It's better when we all travel together.

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    1. This post has been quite an eye opener. The importance of the subject and the chord it has struck with readers is rather obvious but really not what I expected. I thought my staleness was just me, but not so. We are all traveling together.

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  27. Both my husband and I are in a funk right now- we look forward to the holidays, I decorate a ton, bake, make huge dinners,etc. but this year was just not the same. We both came down with the flu a week before Christmas and still are not 100%, Our son-in-law also came down with it same time, both boys had head colds, so our traditional big Christmas Eve dinner here was an abbreviated version of it, but we did end up at at daughter's on Christmas Day ( which we never do, but his parents were both very sick) and had dinner there.

    I find we get into this funky state every year, usually in January. I did book us a 5 night cruise on Jan. 17- just to give us something fun to look forward to. We had hoped friends would join us, but he has to be out of town that timeframe and can't go.

    Guess my point is, I am out of my normal routine and just miss it! I am looking forward to when school starts up again ( Jan. 5) and I can see the kids I tutor.

    Hubby is bored and does not have much to do- he likes to putter around the yard and that keeps him busy, but not enough. He plays golf once a week, but wish he would play more. He really does not have any male friends he can just call up and ask to do something. His golf buddies, are my friend's husbands ( we plot and plan together to get our husbands out the door and playing golf) and right now, most of the men are away visiting family. So, I come up with ideas for things for us to do. Many involve shopping at far away stores, a day trip to a cute town or now planning on doing several road trips in state . That's our life. Not very exciting, but I find if we have things to look forward to and plan, it helps.

    I know I will be out of this funk within a week or so- I think being sick has not helped.
    Hang in there, it will get better

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    1. Illness, even short term can really make a mess of plans. But, a cruise sounds like a tremendous cure.

      The male friends issue is one that many of us guys have. As we get older making new friends is very difficult That is probably a good blog post topic.

      Feel better, Joan, and look forward to school starting again soon.

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  28. I really appreciate your honesty because I so often feel the same way and I thought everyone else had it all put together and there was something wrong with me. I am up and down like a yoyo. I can get excited about something only to come quickly down with a crash... losing all interest. It is almost like I am trying too hard and grasping at straws. Lots of good advice from your readers. I think we can figure this out, Bob. Wishing you a wonderfully rewarding new year.

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    1. Same best wishes for 2015 to you, Judy. We are on a journey together with only each other as a compass, so I guess we'd best stick close!

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  29. I read through all the comments above (albeit quickly) in order to avoid adding the same suggestions that others have stated so well. If someone mentioned gratitude journaling, I missed it. Have you ever used a gratitude app?

    http://intentblog.com/how-be-thankful-every-day-top-5-gratitude-apps/

    I don't have an iPhone or an iPad, so I'm looking for an app that I can use on my Samsung tablet or even on my laptop. I might try this one: http://thankfulfor.com/ or I might just make a point to add what I am grateful for to my regular online journal on Penzu.com.

    I also make it a habit to say "thank you" to God for every little thing throughout my day -- I feel such sweetness enveloping my heart as a result. All the best to you and your family through these Twelve Days of Christmas.

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    1. Yes, I have done a gratitude journal but it has been awhile. It was a calming, positive exercise that I should revisit. I took a look at the thankfulfor site; I like reading through the public gratitudes as a positive exercise.

      So I'll start by saying, "I'm thankful for your positive thoughts and suggestions."

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  30. Steve in Los AngelesSat Dec 27, 11:31:00 PM MST

    Bob - There have been many times (more times that I can count) since I retired in March 2007 that I have felt that my retirement has been less than satisfying. When I have nothing else to do, I often go outside for a long walk. Walking helps me boost my emotional spirits and gets me closer to my long-term goal of celebrating my 70th birthday, which is now less than eleven years and two months away. The decade of my fifties has been the most challenging emotionally of my life so far. I am looking forward to celebrating my 60th birthday as I have a lot of things to which I look forward during the decade of my sixties. Life certainly is not a picnic. However, I take one day at a time. I wish you the very best. Take care. Steve

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    1. Walking is something that I enjoy as well but don't engage in as frequently as I should. I know you walk a lot and it has been an important part of your healthy lifestyle.

      My 6th decade has been a very positive experience so far. While I am in no rush to reach 70, I have no fear of the numbers of my years. My life has been an interesting journey that has been overwhelmingly positive and satisfying.,

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  31. I commend you for your candor, Bob.I know you set the bar high for yourself, and not just in this blog. Acknowledging that you're in an uncertain place must be scary. And yet, as you've seen from the responses, we really are all in this together.

    I've always been a doer. It was like what I did defined who I was. I've not often been a good "be"er. I'm getting better at it, though, because it's usually when I'm in a quiet space that it turns out to be actually a waiting space. If my life is full, where is the room I need to accept something new from the Universe? This year I resigned from the planning committee of my city and the board of an HOA. I said it was because I live in Arizona in the winter. But I now see that there's space in my life for Whatever it is I'm supposed to do. So far I am waiting but I know it will come along.

    Peace to you!

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    1. The idea of having "space" in your life that is meant to allow you to move to something else when the opportunity presents itself is a fascinating concept. You have really noted something quite important to me at this point in my life.

      Thank you, Linda. Blessings to you and Art and your kittie!

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  32. I too am grateful for your honesty. I am just coming out of several months of feeling as you have described - aimless, lonely, without focus. Two things have helped me: making a five-year plan, and challenging myself not to be so insistent on "doing" things, but rather to concentrate on "being". By that I mean enjoying each moment using my five senses, whether it's a great Thai latte, a beautiful sunset, petting my dog, listening to public radio, smelling the fresh Christmas tree scent, hearing the bluejays fight at my bird feeder, seeing the blue sky and sun after 10 gray days, etc. Being in the present moment has reminded me to be grateful that I am still above ground and will encounter beauty each day if I let myself. Good luck to you.

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    1. Enjoying the present fully is certainly important and something I don't practice enough. I have been reading a bit about simple meditation techniques to see if that is an avenue for me to explore.

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  33. Bob, I think you have touched on a very important issue for most of us. I agree mostly with all the commenters. One thing I might add is that when I was working.....I would also get bored and/or restless from time to time. I think that is part of God's plan to tell us to not get stale and appreciate what we already have and seek out new ways to love and serve. I know you will get it figured out. You are truly a genuine writer whom I admire and trust very much!

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    1. Like you, I got bored and restless while working also, particularly during the last few years of my consulting career. I just felt like I was saying and doing the same things over and over. That was not providing the service my clients were paying for and wasn't satisfying to me.

      Thank you for the trust you place in what I say. I will always try to not betray that in any way.

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  34. Keep it real! Granted no one wants to read endless blogs on depression, but we all come to that time when we just vegetate. Just like when we were kids, or in school, or married, or working, we got "stuck." One of the great things about being retired is the ability to indulge and those moods do pass. Eventually, we get sick of ourselves and find something to do.

    I have no magic cure. I've been known to stay in my pajamas til 3 sometimes. Truthfully, I wouldn't dress on those days, but I have a dog who will make me deeply regret not going to the dog park. Other times, I'll set daily goals to accomplish and be out of the house almost every day.
    Roll with it, because you can.

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    1. Bailey, our dog, makes it quite clear that we must take her to the local park every day so she can run free and hunt for gophers (that aren't there but that doesn't stop her from trying!). Maybe she has discovered an important truth...just keep plugging away and someday something will pop out of that seemingly empty hole.

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  35. Bob - Your posts frequently hit close to home for me but this one really hit the nail on the head; so much so that I'm making a comment which is a first for me.

    I've been struggling to find my "passion" since I retired 2 years ago. I exercise 5 days a week and volunteer about 10 hours a week but I'm still feeling like I'm not having enough positive impact on others.

    As I've read through a number of comments, I see many saying to try something more challenging. And others who are working on "be-ing" rather than always "doing."

    Thanks to you and all of the people who commented on your post, I'm making a promise to myself to find a volunteer opportunity related to helping people deal with bereavement. Thank you all for giving me that extra push I needed to try this. This is the "try something more challenging" part.

    I suspect the "be-ing" part will harder for me but maybe I'll start out small like taking 5 minutes each day to look out the window and try to find how the environment changed from yesterday.

    Thank you again for making me feel like I'm not alone in this struggle.

    Nina

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    1. You are quite welcome, Nina, and thanks so much for making your first comment. They are the real lifeblood of this blog.

      The comments have been amazingly helpful to me and to others. Volunteering is a key area for me that must be taken care of in 2015. After my several years of prison ministry ended 2 years ago I have let things slide. That must stop now.

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  36. Bob, I think you are going through a normal process. When any of us gets comfortable with our lives in retirement, when things are almost on autopilot, periods of funk will ensue. They happened during our work lives as well, so why not expect them in retirement, too. And don't forget that you guys are not that far removed from an awesome journey in the RV. Hard to replicate that adrenaline rush when you are home for the winter.

    As others have pointed out, shaking things up always seems to work. Doing something challenging will be key, as well as it being something outside your comfort zone. I have no doubt you will soon be back in your usual state, my friend, so hang in there.

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    1. Thanks, Chuck. I have been spending a lot of time reviewing options and thinking through what might make sense. Nothing is clear yet but a pattern is starting to emerge.

      And, yes, three months since we returned from the long RV and I'm getting antsy to hit the road again.

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  37. Your forty days in the desert are coming to an end?
    Seems like Jesus had to take some time out to think things over. :)
    I haven't heard you write about prison ministry lately. It might be to long term for your travel in between. Have you thought of the Andre house downtown? They do loads of counseling while helping the homeless. Shorter spurts, but still needs help.
    Like Madeline, I simply drove 1300 miles this week to start the new year in the correct place for me. Emerging out of a three year fog is an amazing experience.

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    1. A staleness in Scottsdale doesn't quite compare to 40 days in the wilderness!

      I will take a look at Andre House - I'm not familiar with it.

      Where did you drive from- to?

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    2. We are in the process of moving from Kansas to Delaware :) ~ without my computer Janette

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  38. From: RJ Clarke

    Bob,

    I definitely hear you. My spouse an I have been deeply involved with an elderly parent's care (dementia) for the past several years. After a very long goodbye, she passed away a few months ago. When this all started,we had committed to remain in the area as long as she was with us and her affairs settled afterwards. Our commitment should be completed by the end of March 2015. Then we REALLY need to figure out where to go and what to do when we grow up! :-)

    When I was flying airplanes for a living many moons ago, one thing has stayed with me: when you encounter a problem : Stop, Think, and Collect Your Wits.

    Sometimes my routine becomes a rut and I start to show the same signs you are describing to a "T", I think my inner self is telling me to step back and look at everything I am doing, where I am, what are my options for the future, and plot a course, For me, this reassessment generally happens around the this time of year.

    Some of the old things I was doing just aren't rewarding (i.e. FUN) anymore and I have to let them go or curtail them. I found out I am NOT a serious photographer (i.e. another Ansel Adams) who needs to schlepp a big bag full of fancy equipment. Rather, I am a duffer who like to take pictures of things I enjoy (grandkids, old airplanes and cars, people and places I visit) and my smart phone or a simple point & shoot camera that fits in a fanny pack works just fine.
    Some things (the gym - it's good for me physically and I like my "tribe" there) I'll continue. There are some new things I'm interested in looking at maybe trying (archery, metalworking) and they get racked-and-stacked.

    FWIW, I grew up in northeast Phx and my mother lived near McDowell & Hayden Rd in Scottsdale for many years. :-)

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    1. The number of comment tells me this feeling I have written about is virtually universal. I have been through it before but not so intensely as this time. I remember feeling very stale during the last few years of my consulting career but that resolved itself when the decision to retire was reached.

      I am anxious to move forward and see where all this is taking me, but as you note I have to give it the proper amount of time and do your "Stop, Think, and Collect your wits."

      Based on your geographic references you and I probably know many of the same places. One of my daughters lives not far from where your mom was.

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  39. Bob, I feel like I'm preaching to the choir in any attempt to offer you advice when you offer such sage wisdom in your blog. Once in a funk I confided in a friend who said, "Good. Stay there for awhile and see where it takes you." That's not what I expected. I've since learned to just keep asking the questions and wait for the answer and if the "answer" doesn't come, just keep asking the questions until I don't need to anymore. In another funk, I was watching the cows in the pasture out the window as I washed dishes, thinking - aren't they lucky with nothing to concern themselves with but walk about, chewing their cuds, crapping wherever, going to the dugout to drink. What a funk, when I was even mad at the cows! But I developed my cow theory. What is the cow theory, you might ask? When my life, or my thinking, gets out of control, I apply the cow theory - concentrate on drinking water, eating healthy, daily exercise, rest and sleep - the basics. I approach these activities of daily living with purpose and consciousness, these things that I do have control over. It's amazing how I soon feel purposeful in other areas of my life, with or without the answer to some of those questions. And finally, communing with nature which is very connected to my exercise. Happy New Year.

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    1. Great advice, Mona. The cow theory makes tremendous sense at this time in my life. I am feeling a nice sense of calm these last few days as I have experienced a whole bunch of great family time that has given me a needed break from routine.

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  40. You know, I think sometimes we just go through cycles and we just come out of them with no explanation. When I came back from Southeast Asia earlier this year I felt TOTALLY bored. I guess the void left from all that planning--it just felt like I had nothing going on. Suddenly the volunteer work, meeting up with friends, piano, exercise, blogging, and taking classes just didn't seem like enough anymore. It all felt boring.

    Then a few months later when I came back from our month in New York, all of a sudden all of those same things felt like WAY TOO MUCH. Not boring anymore, but like I had too much going on and I couldn't keep up with it anymore. I felt overwhelmed.

    For the last few months though, it's all felt exactly perfect. Not too little, not too much. But actually I'm doing pretty much the exact same things I've been doing all year long. Nothing's really changed. I haven't done anything differently. It just feels different.

    So all I'm saying, is sometimes it's just a funk and you don't really have to do anything. It just fixes itself a few months later. Not sure what to attribute that to, but maybe it's not something we have to overthink, maybe it's just a natural cycle that happens and we just cycle in and out and we should just realize it's just natural and not worry too much about it.

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    1. Thanks for that perspective, Syd. I certainly felt both bored and a little overwhelmed after the long RV trip this summer. But, for the last month or so I think I am experiencing a strong sense that it is time for a change and freshness. All I have to do is give those feelings time to percolate and see what happens.

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  41. I read a lot of retirement blogs in preparation for my retirement. It just seems that the expectations are high as far as what makes a "successful" retirement. Experiences are highly valued with many people trying to one-up each other on the number of countries visited or miles driven. The number of volunteer activities and clubs you belong to also seems important. If you stay home and don't have at least two activities that you need to do there is something wrong with you. The new group of retirees seem almost frantic to prove that they are still vibrant, useful, attractive and in demand. During our lives we work to have a house but when retirement arrives people are almost criticized if they enjoy staying home to enjoy it. It's hard to explain but I think that sometimes we put too much pressure on ourselves to enjoy the later years of our life.

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    1. You make a very valid point, Karen. Activity for activity sake or because we are "supposed" to doesn't satisfy in the long run.

      At the same time, different personality types need different simulations and environments to be happy. The key is finding out the mix of relaxation and involvement that works. I am very happy at home, but not if I just just sitting. I don't have to be scheduled every moment but I have to have something that gives a sense of productivity.

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  42. Wow I was having these thoughts of what will I do with my time when I'm retired. I decided to check your blog and realize it [retirement] is not what I should be pursuing, but a more authentic life that includes work I WANT to do. Bob you're in a funk. Step out of your comfort zone and do something you wouldn't ordinarily do. Trade places with Betty for a day or a week. Take a spure of the moment trip to a place you've never been to or pick a subject and research the heck of it. You a new pursuit. I'm going to pursue semi-retirement instead of full. I think it'll better for me mentally. Good luck.

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    1. What we want to do versus what we think we should do is so important. Thanks, Gail, for that reaffirmation.

      I have a few ideas that are out of my comfort zone. I will run them past Betty and see if she thinks I have gone round the bend...or should go for it!!!

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  43. Another thought...does Betty do the meal planning, shopping, cooking, laundry? If she does, take it over for a month. It is a type of productivity and it definitely psaaes time.

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    1. I do more than half of the meal planning, share the shopping, half the cooking, and all my own laundry...a busy guy!

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  44. All I can say is, that when I'm in a "vegetative state," I'm indecisive, unable to commit and nothing sounds particularly good or interesting. Many of the ideas, especially doing something outside your comfort zone, are great, it's just that I'm not there (yet) at that time. These periods have gratefully passed relatively quickly, but if they didn't, my first activity would be seeing my doctor.

    Also, sometimes I think I just get tired and want to take a break.

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    1. I am beginning to get some rumblings of ideas or at least the idea of ideas, and that's a good start

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  45. Wow! Amazing post and responses! I'm feeling a little late to the party here! And I certainly don't want to imply that I know what to do about your funk...but how about music? My BIL took up the saxophone after age 65! Check out New Horizon's Music - It's for seniors who never played, or who haven't in a long time. Just an idea!...

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    1. Actually, I am teaching myself guitar. It is slow going but I am in no real rush...I figure I missed my chance to be a Beatle.

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  46. Well , I certainly could not add to the many comments already made. But from an outsider looking in...it appears you have a lot of very good things going for you. Rather than trying to find things to fill your time, step back, take a deep breath and review all the good things you already have going for you...family, wife, a successful and an impressive following on this blog, etc. Everyone can relate to having the blahs, and you have a very large following wanting to help. Take a review again of all of the good things you have going for you...there are some of us here, that actually envy some of what you do have. Might be just a little be of depression...depression is anger turned inward. So what are you angry at yourself about? By reviewing how fortunate you are at this stage of your life, other ideas may come to help continue and enhance it...but...if none of that works...then...slap yourself on the back of your head and SNAP YOURSELF out of it! GET OVER it! That has worked for me, sometimes.

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    1. Really I am just trying to make the most of the fabulous opportunities I know I have. That's why it is important to not just coast but do the best I can with the time and resources I have available.

      By the way, thanks for allowing the total comments on this post to hit 100...I have never hit that number before

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  47. Don't know if this will help, but at this time of year I do a review of the past year and set my intentions for the coming year. I think what you are feeling is normal for someone who is preparing to make a change. Good luck and Happy New Year.

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    1. I tend to avoid the standard New Year's resolution thing since I break them rather quickly. But, a thoughtful review of the year past is important and a good idea. Thanks, Donna.

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  48. Happy New Year, Bob! May it be a truly sublime one for you and your wife.

    May I recommend a book? "Just One Thing: Developing a Buddha Brain One Simple Practice at a Time." It was one of the books that I borrowed from my public library and liked so much that I bought several copies to give to friends and family members for Christmas.

    http://www.rickhanson.net/books/just-one-thing/

    All the best,
    ~ Suzie in San Jose ~

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    1. I just checked - the Phoenix library does have this book. I will put it on my hold list. Thanks for the recommendation, Suzie.

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  49. Bob, I think even the happiest and most satisfied of people go through periods when they feel like this. When it happens to me, I think of it as a low-grade depression -- sort of like a low-grade fever: you aren't really sick enough to just give in and go to bed, but you don't feel fully alive either. One of the features of academic life that I always valued was the sabbatical. Every seven years, just when you were feeling burned out and that you were just going through the motions, you got a semester (at full pay) or a year (at half pay) off from teaching to do something different. Your post makes me wonder if I will hit a serious wall in my retirement as I start to approach the seventh year and realize I don't have a sabbatical coming. The wisdom of the sabbatical system, however, seems to be the same wisdom you are getting from many of your readers, re-engaging by trying something new. Good luck with it. -Jean

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    1. I am starting my 14th year of retirement so I guess I am owed two sabbaticals.

      This post has generated some amazing responses and feedback. I feel reenergized just by reading all the ideas and support. I have a plan beginning to form around the "move" word I wrote about in the newest post.

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  50. Wow Bob: I'm really glad to have caught your posts today. Sounds like many of us have been going through this. Similar to your response above, I'm already feeling an upswing, maybe part of the 'out with the old, in with the new' philosophy...

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    1. I just returned from an open house at a Tai Chi to see if that is something I might enjoy. Trying new things!

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