February 21, 2015

Getting Off My Duff

Toward the end of last year I began to feel somewhat stale and bored. Things were going well at home and with the family. We were recently back from a great two-month RV trip to the upper Midwest. But, my days had fallen into a routine that I didn't like. The stimulation of new activities and challenges was missing. In the post, Time to Come Clean, I detailed my feelings. 

Your response was overwhelming. That post generated more feedback than anything I have written in almost 5 years of blogging. Along with a few comments that wondered what I was complaining about, the bulk of the suggestions, support, and ideas were very positive and helpful. I began to play with some ideas and ways of shaking things up.


Less than two weeks after that Betty and I joined friends Mike and Tamara Reddy at the Palm Springs Film Festival for a tremendously creative and fun-packed 5 days. Maybe that was the final push I needed to move forward. Since then I have been experiencing all the newness I craved. 

In early January I began twice a week Tai Chi lessons. The simple, low impact, and slow movements are perfect for improving my balance and flexibility. I am forcing myself to learn something completely new, and being a stumbling amateur in front of others - something I generally shy away from. The people are a nice bunch and totally accepting of beginners like me.


If I am lucky mine will look like this!

A few weeks ago Betty and I took a ceramics class together. Again, this was something I had never attempted before. Betty cautioned me to avoid the potter's wheel and attempting to turn a lump of clay into a bowl or vase since that takes quite a bit of experience and practice. But, she felt I would enjoy shaping a simple plate and spoon holder. In fact, I did, and it was fun to work alongside Betty who has done pottery before. We go back next week to glaze the final products and bring them home.


Then, last week, we attended a fascinating presentation at the Scottsdale Center for the Arts: Around the World in 80 minutes. An organization, ProMusica Arizona, is a group of nearly 100 singers and musicians who have performed 150 shows over the past eleven years. The premise for the show we attended was simple: seven different styles of music from seven different countries would be presented in 20 minute, mini-concerts, over an 80 minute period. Ticket holders pick four of the seven and rotate between venues to hear each performance.

Betty and I listened to a 60 person chorale sing beautiful South African music in the Zulu language. That was followed by a women's ensemble singing songs of Scandinavia. After a short intermission we thoroughly enjoyed a trio playing Chinese melodies, and wrapped up the afternoon with a men's group singing songs of the British Isles. 

German music played by a brass group, a full symphonic performance of Russian music, and a jazz combo with music from Brazil were also being offered, but limited to four choices, we can only guess they were every bit as good as what we heard. 

A final performance of the entire Chorale and Orchestra sent us home after a moving version of Let There Be Peace on Earth. The entire experience was tremendous. If it is ever repeated we will be the first in line to buy tickets.

On top of these activities I am taking three on-line courses: making the most of social media contacts and opportunities, an introduction to American Law, and one to help me stimulate my creativity.

I feel comfortable in saying my dip in energy and enthusiasm is past. I am off my duff and having a truly satisfying retirement again. I am living my word for this year: move, and it feels good.


25 comments:

  1. Bob, you have weathered your recent ebb and flow of retirement, and come out on the other side, better for it. You humbly and honestly shared your experience with all of us, so the resurgence of your "energy and enthusiasm" is reason for all of us to be celebrate. Now I have a confession, I found myself a little bit jealous of all your new activities, because we're snow- and ice-bound on our farm. Just a couple more years until hubby retires and we can fly our coop, too. Thanks, again, for sharing your life with all of us.

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    1. I'll admit where I live is probably part of the reason I can kick myself back into activity. If it was snowy and cold I'd most likely still be in hibernation mode.

      Ebb and flow is an excellent summary of the retirement journey. Both are natural parts of life that must be endured or celebrated.

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  2. Bob, I am so happy for you. You certainly have "walked the walk". Maybe your examples will get me off my duff too. :)
    But then again as Pam says above, I am looking out at a foot of snow, half of it came last night, so I will just hunker down for a while yet....

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    1. You are given a free pass until April, when you can probably feel some springtime in the air...and a new spring in your step!

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  3. Love hearing about your new adventures! While we are in Florida for the winter, we are learning what is important to us in choosing a place to live in retirement. We love the quietness of where we are. It is not overrun with tourists, we have no problem with restaurant reservations or fighting crowded streets downtown. The ocean view is amazing, although if we were to buy in this area, I don’t think I would want to pay the premium in housing to live directly on the ocean year round. The opportunity to walk out our door and be physically active is very near the top of our priority list. We can do this easily where we are now. And the weather…just let me say that the brutal northeast winter just reinforces our plans to eventually move south.

    On the negative side (and it is a substantial one when considering where to live in retirement), there just is not enough to do locally. This is a small city of 22,000, (south of Daytona) and just not large enough to support the kinds of enrichment activities we are looking for. 40 minute drive to hear the nearest symphony, for example. The city has a transient feel to it, mainly because many of the people here (including us!) are here just for the winter.

    What is your source for online courses? Your choices sound fascination, especially the one on American law. Your ceramics course sounds like fun! Good thing you have Betty to give you tips along the way. You may be discovering an artistic side that you did not know that you have

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    1. Like you, I need to be within an easy commute of good shows, music, restaurants, art and craft shows, and other activities. Phoenix is blessed in this regard: 4.5 million people, a large university and several colleges keep the list of choices extensive and varied. Our current neighborhood is quiet, close to several large parks, but still only 25 minutes to downtown.

      The on line courses are from Coursera. The law and creativity courses are good; the one on social media is a little too basic for me.

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  4. I think it is not unusual to have a sort of life review towards the end of the year.. and then.,after some rest and exploration of new ideas..we emerge again like the crocuses peeking up through snow.. oops..that's an East Coast reference!!!!!! Your activities sound invigorating..and I'm sure there are more activities around the corner as the year progresses, especially a few RV trips to plan and then enjoy!!

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    1. We hope to take a 4 day trip to the Show Low area in April, and then 2 months to and from Portland this summer. Otherwise, our rolling home is staying put.

      The plants and lawn are starting to green up...maybe that has something to do with the new sense of action.

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  5. You are setting a critical example for us all, particularly us little older active folks, moving past the "poor pitiful me" syndrome to "Just Do It" to accept the value/importance of change and continued growth, both spiritual and not. Peace and blessings from Gulf Shores, AL

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    1. Thanks, Rick. Blessing to you and yours from the desert!

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  6. Great job, Bob! You have recovered your balance and positive outlook. The activities you shared sound wonderful - food for the spirit. I think that is what the arts do for us: fill our cups and lift us to new heights of transcendence. I think your plate is gorgeous in both shape and color. I appreciate so much that you shared all of your feelings with us - the good, the bad, and the ugly - which leaves us free to share also, because we know this online community will accept them and give us encouragement. Thank you as always for this blog. It is an inspiration for me.

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    1. That plate is not mine..just an example. I will glaze, fire, and finish my plate in the next week or two. If it looks half that good I will be happy! But, it was all about the experience, not the result.

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  7. Excellent! After just about two years for my husband and almost one year in retirement for me, I too can see that we are starting to get into ruts. We've taken some wonderful trips but our day-to-day lives could use a little more imagination. I really appreciate your honesty about becoming stale and bored and I expect that we will need to focus on changing things up a bit too. I don't want to go back to work (yikes!), but I do want to challenge myself more that I have lately.

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    1. It is easy to get into a rut and sometimes tough to get out. We all like our comfort zone left undisturbed .But there is also something inside us that pushes for more, thank goodness. Otherwise, things would get rather boring.

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  8. We are venturing out with our Senior Center, going on their outings, etc. Meeting people our age is interesting and uplifting. Gives us a needed break from helping my parents who are in assisted living. Have a couple trips planned for summer with our timeshare. Just getting use to this thing called "retirement."
    Mike/ Sue in Colorado

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    1. You have identified an important point for many folks our age: caring for our parents is part of our life. A break on occasion for something that stimulates us and allows us to focus on ourselves for a little while is vital.

      Enjoy your retirement time - it is the best.

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  9. I never doubted you would get out of your 'rut'. Glad you're doing some new and interesting things, and liking them! We are on our first real vacation in ages, visiting friends in Key West, and half way through day one I'm starting to relax. It's 9 degrees at home and high 60's here, with 70's expected tomorrow. Gotta love that!
    b

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    1. I read that Key West had a record low temperature a day or two ago. Of course, for the keys that might mean 50! Whatever, it is certainly warmer than Cape May.

      Key West is one of our favorite spots in the country. It is so different and everyone's attitude is so refreshingly open. You and Dave enjoy yourselves. The cold will be there when you get home.

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  10. "Get off your duff." That's exactly what my dad would tell me when I was lounging around the house as a teenager complaining that I was bored. I guess we DO learn something as we get older.

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    1. I had to double check that "duff" meant what I remembered it meaning! It is a much more polite term than some of the alternatives.

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  11. Good for you, Bob! I'm glad you've found courses you like on Coursera. Right now I'm taking Microeconomics (with husband Art) and Genetics and Evolution. Love that the classes are free and for no credit. Just for enjoyment and learning!

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    1. I like that I can complete at my own pace and can skip the peer discussion exercises without a problem. The videos are well done and the reading extracts are well chosen.

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  12. Its so great to see people learning at any age, you've taken it to a inspirational level!

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  13. Just catching up with your blog and can only say: that's great to hear

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