November 13, 2015

Taking the Time

This post first ran over 4 years ago. As I re-read it, the message seemed to be worth repeating, and to fit with several recent posts I have written about schedules, freestyling during retirement and making sure I don't let opportunities pass me by. Even though some of the descriptions are of the house we sold 6 months ago, the message remains the same: a satisfying journey is my responsibility.

My schedule is not as busy as it was when I was running my radio consulting business. I no longer travel half of each month. I don't have to worry about making payroll, government forms, marketing, or keeping clients happy.

But, retirement is not a walk in the park. And, that is part of my concern. It should be. Literally.  I live about 1/2 mile from a very nice park complete with sports fields, picnic tables, and a large play area for kids. A full walking circuit from my house, around the park and back is exactly 2 miles. Without pushing it that is about 35 minutes. There is no earthly reason why my wife and I shouldn't walk around the park, or have a picnic dinner, or simply sit and watch the kids at play on a regular basis. Unfortunately, it is rare event in our lives.

I have written before about our backyard. Lots of planting, a fountain, a Ramada, a shaded porch, an eating area....sounds even better to me as I describe it. What a perfect place for starting the day with breakfast and a book, for lunch, or simply relaxing at the end of the day. Again, like the nearby park, this oasis is underused.

There is one part of my office that holds the equipment for my hobby, ham radio. There are eight different radios and various amplifier or power supplies, microphones, and enough wires and cables to open a Radio Shack. The roof  has several different antennas sticking up above the roof so I can hear and transmit to places all around the world. Amazingly, last week was the first time in almost a year that I actually used a few of the radios to make contact with fellow radio operators in Minnesota and Washington state. Thousands of dollars of equipment have been gathering dust for 11 months.

So, what's the problem?  I certainly have the time. While my schedule is pretty full with blogging, volunteer work, exercising at the gym, meetings at church, and the normal work required to maintain a house and family, it is rather flexible. I can fit in something that is interesting or enjoyable if I so choose.

The problem is I don't take the time. I think of something interesting or pleasant to do, but let excuses at the last minute derail the idea. I keep putting it off until the moment is gone.

Phoenix Art Museum outdoor cafe
A few weeks ago this flaw in my satisfying retirement lifestyle became evident, even to me. An interesting art movie was showing on a Sunday afternoon at the Phoenix Art Museum. The movie was free, so my budget was happy. Show time was several hours after church so we could go without a problem.

At the last moment, Betty and I decided to leave early so we could enjoy lunch at the museum's restaurant. It was a lovely, breezy day...perfect for having a spur-of-the-moment meal on the outside patio before the movie began. Lunch, a walk around the neighborhood, the movie, and then a brief look at the latest exhibit at the museum made for an absolutely delightful 4 hours.

As we were driving home, the thought struck me that my retirement should be filled with many more moments like this. At a certain age you realize putting off something until later may mean you have missed an opportunity that may not come around again.

Taking the time to embrace happiness, to do something different, and to experience the world around you doesn't require being retired. All of us, at any stage of life, can fill our lives with those special moments that can brighten our daily life.

But, being retired and relatively free to do what I want when I want, removes all plausible excuses. Taking the time to live and not just exist should be our goal.


  1. Time can seem illusive to me--especially since my schedule is fairly flexible in retirement. However, memories linger of of early mornings, tending little ones, packing lunches, daycare drop-offs, pursuing a career, making dinner, bathing babies, falling into bed, just to do it all over again in a few hours. Looking back, I wonder how we survived, but most of us did a pretty good job of juggling. It's good that the busiest phases come to most of us while we're young. Life and the lessons we learn along the way huge blessings. Thanks for the reminder to make time for new experiences.

    1. Over the last few weeks I have felt a subtle shift in my daily flow. Maybe it is because the weather has become beautiful and outdoor beckons, but I am more likely to spend a delightful hour on the back porch or go to a local park for a spur of the moment picnic.

  2. Funny this should come up -- I just did a post on the same subject, though from a little different perspective. I guess we're all beginning to realize that the time for procrastination is over.

    1. Hey, Tom, I received your new book in the mail today. I look forward to reading it and adding my thoughts to Amazon's sales page.

    2. Great ... thank you Bob.

  3. THANKS for the reminder to "stop and smell the roses." It has been hectic here, with the loss of my good friend and business partner, wrapping up the business, and deciding what to do next. Add in the Alzheimer's diagnosis for Mary' sister (bunches of legal stuff as Mary is the nearest relative), and I've been in a bit of a funk for the past few months.

    But your post today lifted my spirits. I realized I had taken two walks in the nearby park (the pooch still won't pee in the yard), had lunch on the patio with Mary, made it to the gym, wrote a blog post, and this evening I read a book - something I haven't done for a while. You reminded me it has been a very GOOD day - and that I need to rinse, repeat, and do it again tomorrow!

    Got back to AZ two weeks ago, so how about lunch? Good to be back, and it would be fun to see you again.

    1. Yes, that did sound like a pleasantly normal day with just the right mix of activities. Lunch sounds great, though it will have to be after Thanksgiving.

      Betty and I took this post to heart yesterday: spur-of-the-moment we went to dinner at a great Mexican restaurant in Old Town Gilbert. While sitting at our table on the patio our grandkids, daughter, and son-in-law came running up to us. They had just seen a local production of Mary Poppins and were having dinner out at the restaurant right next to ours. On their way in they spotted us! Then, on the way back to our car we ran into our pastor and his wife having dinner at another place. All in all, a perfect evening.

  4. Bob, I just read your last blog, "Taking the time. " As we begin each day as trivial as it sounds we should just stop and think. Think about what we want to accomplish today and the why, when and how. When I stop (pause) and think, then my day begins with some clarity and purpose. This applies to people who are still working or retired.

    The tragic events in Paris is a reminder of how life as we know it can change in a heartbeat. Those people in Paris probably began their day like you or me. Just like any other day with their morning routine not knowing some would not come home.
    Which brings me back to you post, "Taking the time."

    There is a youtube video called, "Just stop and think." The speaker is Francis Chan. If you listen carefully to what he says in the first 2 minutes. That is what I reflect on before I begin my day.

    God bless you. Keep working out and eat smart, Russ

    1. The events in Paris make it so clear that we have no guarantees. We do not know if the next breath will be our last. Right now, this moment, is all we can really be sure of. Making the most of it is our only smart choice.

      Thanks, Russ.


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