February 22, 2018

6 Retirement Lifestyle Questions: How Would You Answer?


When I began Satisfying Retirement several years ago one of my favorite bloggers was Tess Marshall, author of The Bold Life. She had fascinating insights and an engaging writing style that inspired me.

A little over two years ago she stopped blogging and moved on to other things. One of her posts that really grabbed me was a list of 50 questions about personal growth. Until the paper became to faded to read I had them on my desk. A few that still resonate with me might be ones you'd like to answer. I have included my self-confessional responses and then urge you to add your thoughts:

1) Have you been spontaneous in the last five days? 


Part of the joy of retirement is the ability to not be locked into a schedule as rigid as the one you probably maintained during your working years. Sure, you have obligations and commitments, sometimes too many. I've written often about the importance of time management. Lots of comments from readers tell stories of finding themselves busier than ever and wondering how to fit in everything. I certainly struggle with that problem.

So, the answer to Tess's question is: not nearly enough. I use Google's calendar function to the extreme. Between it and an extensive to-do list there is little in my life that isn't planned ahead of time. My family jokes that I have my weekend chore list done 6 months in advance. No, I don't. It only goes into mid April. So there.

Spontaneity and I are too often distant cousins. Sure, every once in awhile I'll suggest dinner out instead of what is on the menu for that night. Or, maybe I'll throw caution to the wind and decide to drive to a nearby lake for a picnic lunch. Wine tasting at a new cafe? Sure. But, a truly spontaneous act, like deciding on an overnight trip, throwing a change of clothes in a suitcase and jumping in the car 30 minutes later doesn't happen. I'm just too regimented, our schedule is too full, and there is the dog to consider. I would like to change but I don't know how. 

2) Have you spent quality time with a loved one in the past 48 hours?

At the time I am writing this on a Tuesday afternoon, the answer is yes. Our family gets together almost every Sunday for dinner, and a movie or game. My grandson decided he'd like to have us all take part in a book study. So, for the last few months we have been working through Ramona, The Brave. Everyone from my son-in-law's parents, to my 7 year old granddaughter has an assignment every time. It has been lots of fun and shows that even a simple children's book can hold important life lessons and stimulate interesting discussions.

3) Have you disconnected from all electronics for at least 24 hours in the last month?

No. Even though I wrote about the pitfalls of social media, Social Media, It's Risks and Pitfalls  just a few weeks ago, I remain involved. Blogging means being online an hour or two a day. My Amazon Dot, Kindle, streaming video and  smartphones are never far away.

Could I go 24 hours without any of these tools and toys? Seriously, I don't know. Then I guess the question is, does it matter? What would be better if I took a 24 hour sabbatical? I'd be willing to give it a try if I saw a positive benefit. So...is this electronic linkup bad? Should I disconnect for a day? Why? 

4) Have you read a book from cover to cover within the last 2 weeks?


Actually, two books finished within the last 14 days, and several more in various stages of completion. I find mysteries, some Sci-Fi, and thrillers relaxing so there is always at least one on the nightstand. I am reading a book on mindfulness and one on spirituality. I have a Bible study guide that is reviewed before meetings. 

As I wrote in 2011 in Super-Charge Your Brain, I try to read one book a week and have several others underway. I truly believe it helps my life, I know it helps this blog, and it keeps me plugged into the world in a way that the Internet and social media can't. Even though I am hooked into the electronic world, I continue to prefer physical books instead of the ebook version.

How about you? How much is reading a part of your day? Are you tackling a course of study, reading all the classics you skipped in High School or College? Or, is your reading now purely for entertainment?

5) Have you spent some time in nature this  last week?


This is the time of year when living in the Phoenix area is a true blessing. So, the answer is, absolutely. Picnics, walks around neighborhood parks, biking for a few miles, and enjoying places like the Desert Botanical Garden or one of the lakes that lie north of the Valley keep me and my wife in touch with nature. Sitting on the back porch and reading or having lunch in the backyard, allows us to enjoy fresh air and natural stimulation. All too soon the temperatures will make most of these activities unpleasant so we make an extra effort to be outside now.

6) Have you looked into someone's eyes and said, "I love you" in the last seven days?


Yes..actually several times every day. That is one of the real benefits of satisfying retirement and a happy marriage. 


Again, thanks to Tess, wherever she may be, for the questions that prompted these thoughts.

And, if you enjoyed this post, may I ask a favor? Please share on your favorite social media source. I appreciate your support.


30 comments:

  1. Oh I love this post/list! Fortunately(!), we had a very good week here, so I can happily respond to your 'quiz' like so: 1) Yes! We spontaneously cleared our calendars last Sunday for a glorious bike ride along the coast on a gorgeous winter day. It was so much fun, and I think we both felt free of the normal routines of our lives during our four hours out pedaling together. 2) Yes, we have a weekly couples meeting where we go through a series of exercises to clear away the clutter and reconnect. It's the best part of our week, marriage wise.

    3) Yes, I do make it a specific point to disconnect from electronics, on Sunday in my case. Electronics meaning all Social Media, Email, and Internet. Until you've done so, Bob, you may not realize the negative effects being inundated with electronic clutter does to our sense of well being. It's really quite insidious.

    4) Yep - I've read three I think, two fiction and one non-fiction, and regarding 5) Heck yes! Daily, almost without exception. Being outdoors is where I reconnect with my inner higher power and regain my equilibrium. And finally 6) Yes, I make it a point to do so daily with my husband, and as often as possible with my daughters and my granddaughter. At the end of the day that is really what it's all about. Thanks for the little introspective exercise, Bob!

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    1. You are very welcome. I love this list, too. It helps one stay grounded in what is important.

      I will schedule an electronics free period. And, during our River cruise in May it should be easy. There will be too much to experience and the Internet will be a little tougher to use!

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  2. Bob, it doesn't count when you disconnect on a cruise. Try harder!! Yes to all questions except #3. I will try to take my own advice. I would also include #7 do you spend some time in motion (i.e. exercise) every day? Good questions, you know how I feel about balanced living. Take care.

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    1. OK, you are right. Disconnecting on a boat 6,000 miles away doesn't count.

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  3. Here are my responses to these interesting and important questions:

    1) Yes. We had planned a quiet evening at home, but when a friend suggested we come over to their place for a glass of wine, we decided to take them up on it and had a great time.

    2) Yes. Yesterday was our son's birthday, so we picked up his brother and the four of us went out for a nice family dinner.

    3) No. We have some things going on at the moment that would make it hard to be out of touch.

    4) No. As much as I enjoy it, I'm a bit of a pokey and intermittent reader as far as books go. And the one I just finished approached 600 pages. Bad combination for me for finishing in two weeks!

    5) Not really. It tends to be chilly to be in "nature" (assuming that means more than a walk around the neighbourhood), though a couple of days ago it was raining heavily and about 16 degrees (about 60 farenheit) which produced significant snow melt and flooding. Should have got out while we had the chance.

    6) Yes, the eyes of my dear wife and awesome birthday-boy son.

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    1. My last book, which did take almost 3 weeks, was Seveneves, which is over 800 pages. The one I finished today was a much more reasonable 376.

      In the summer I have a hard time with #5. Swimming in my daughter's pool and using the back porch until about 8 in the morning are the only safe activities.

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  4. As one who is transitioning to the next phase of my life (retirement sounds "tired") and so many alternative words are "re...". I love what I do but I want more time with family/life; I also think bringing new blood to my job will benefit my community. Looks like each of those that commented are married but there is a growing number of divorced or widowed. I divorced 11 years ago and consciously created a quality, less stressed life. In fact, I just attended a meeting and was told how much younger I am looking. Staying engaged, caring how one presents themself and removing stress make a big dent. I cant say I love you daily to anyone but life is every changing and full of wonder at 70.

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    1. Retirement does sound somewhat old-fashioned, doesn't it. I've tried to find an alternative that is universally understood to represent this stage of life...I am still searching.

      It sounds like you are saying "I love you" to yourself, with your attitude and staying engaged. Good for you.

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  5. Yes to all six. But then, we're on vacation when we tend to think about those things more intently. I'll try to keep all these in mind when we get home and back to our everyday lives.

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    1. True. Vacations allow us a break from normal routines and obligations. I suggest the goal is for us to get closer to the vacation mindset during non-vacation times.

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  6. Yes, have spent time with Ken having lunch date and walking.That covers being out in nature too, we walk into the neighborhood behind ours, which has horse properties and we visit the animals. I've been lazy about hiking, we need to get out to Usery Park and do some longer hikes.. I bought us a State Park pass for Christmas!! I read at least two books a week. Just had a library date with Ken yesterday and picked up some interesting books to read, one a Joni Mitchell bio, also a book by the astronaut brother in law of Gabby Giffords,who has written about spending a year in space, the toll it takes on your body,your relationships, the boredom, the constant danger of bumping into space junk.Will read that one first! I don't disconnect from electronics ever, I just have days I don't use them much, I love saying HI to girlfriends and old classmates all over the country and the world, every day-- but I am ALWAYS forgetting my phone, I go out the front door often without it but that's ok.. BEFORE cell phones, we lived to tell the tale,didn't we !! ?? One can survive the day without a phone! Spontaneity: Not this week..we had a busy schedule of classes, plays, concerts, church,card game.. no room for spontaneity but I like to be, in general. Having a pet does cut back on longer spontaneous getaways.In retrospect,I think we should not have adopted a pet after retirement. But he's here now and I love him,so it goes. We enjoy shorter trips and can leave the cat alone for 2 nights. Longer trips we get a sitter. Great post, Bob. Oh, Ken and I always say "I love you" every day.,too.

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    1. The book by Mr. Kelly is one I have thought about reading..your reference will prompt me to get a copy. I have always liked your idea of a library date. Betty and I should adopt that, followed by lunch at some downtown Chandler spot we enjoy, like the Perch.

      Betty and I want to check out San Tan Regional Park, one I know you and Ken have visited but we have not.

      Yes, a dog limits travel options but the love and companionship makes it a very worthwhile tradeoff.

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  7. Yes to all. I laughed about your weekend to do list planned out in advance. I STILL haven't even started the one little project I had assigned to January!

    It's easy for me to get out in nature and be unplugged from electronics since I go to my cabin twice a month and when I'm there, I have no phone or internet. Much harder for me to do that at home, I admit.

    Your questions about being around loved ones made me think about how grateful I am to have all my kids and grandkids living in the area. Since I live alone, I don't have the daily contact like I would with a spouse, but I do see my kids and grandkids enough to keep me feeling connected and loved. And I'm lucky to have some good friends I see often, too.

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    1. Being close enough to see loved ones on a regular basis makes life so fulfilling and is something not everyone is blessed to experience. Those of us who can must make the most of it. Those of us who are farther away make those connections when we can...why do you think we are coming to Oregon this summer? !!!!

      BTW, I am getting better with lists....I just checked my weekend calendar and it on goes until the first week in April. I am doing better.

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  8. Thanks, Bob...

    1. Spontaneous? Yes! Just yesterday on the 6th tee box, and on a whim, I switched from a Callaway to a Noodle golf ball. Crazy, huh?
    2. Quality time? Yes! Just ask my wife and, I think, she would tell you that her quality of life has skyrocketed now that I am with her that extra 10 hours a day since my retirement.
    3. Electronic disconnect? You bet. (This one is serious). When I retired, I decided to replace my "smart" phone with a TracFone flip phone. No bells or whistles or browser...nada. As hoped, my free time, waiting time and time-filling time are so much more enjoyable because those times are so less busy and/or stressful. I can be, truly, present.
    4. I read a book nearly every day but I do not set a time limit for it's completion. For me, Bob, this new method of reading both fiction and non- allow me to savor...even reread...passages that pop into my head after having put the book down for a day or two.
    5. Nature? Yes, daily. I, too, live in AZ. There is not excuse, except a bad one, to avoid the outdoors in AZ since we have 320 days of sun every year. And, unlike my MN and IA past 64 years, that sun does not include 220 days of snow and slush. (Golf, lawn bowling, daily tai-chi walks, biking, racewalking)
    6. Yes, wifely ditto. Sadly, our kids and grandkids are in CA and IL so eyeball-to-eyeball "Love yas" are infrequent...but not the verbal and text-ual ones.

    Thanks for the list and reminders!!

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    1. #4...I usually have two or three books going at a time. So, I must re-read the last few pages to remind myself where the story is going if I have not picked that one up for a few days. Old age!

      #5...I am just about to take the dogs to the park and then a 3 mile bike ride. A little nippy today (upper 50's) but that ever-present sun makes it quite nice.

      I see on your profile link you like Jimmy Buffett. Parrotheads unite!

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    2. Thanks for your reply! #4 You and I ARE on the same page, your re-read of a page is the re-read that I, too, require after a few day's dwell time. Don't you find that this re-read is actually a nice brain and mood trigger...not an old age requirement (please). So glad to know that you, too, enjoy the music and philosophy of Jimmy Buffet! Did you read that he is modifying his Margarita imbibing legend? To reduce his intake of carbs, tequila is a Sunday-only beverage of choice. Now THAT is a sign of old age...or Parrothead treason.

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    3. Putting his brand on a Broadway musical and a retirement village in Florida really marks the evolution of the Buffett image of hard partying and free and easy living.

      I wrote a post several years ago: Everything I need to know I learned from Jimmy Buffett!

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  9. Well, I think we all know that my answer to number one is of course yes. Most of what I do I do spontaneously, and I hate lists. Even with the dog I have been kown to just jump in the car, grabe a few things for over night and go-with the dog.

    As for the rest:
    2. Is frighteningly couple specific, but yes, I have spent qality time with people I care about.

    3. Nope. But I do disconnect for long periods, am not as hooked as many I know and attempt to do texting wth family only on Sndays. My commnication with family is texting and skyping and I wont give that up in case of emergencies. I did however give up all of my facebook and other online "groups" for lent and actually thought abot not blogging until Easter. A choice I did not make.

    4. Ummm, more like in the past two days. I read multiple books a week (admittedly I scan fast and prioritize reading at the top of my retirement lifestyle. It's what I'm doing while other people are reading the news or playing online or.......

    5. Yes, but not every day. Although nature probably needs to be behind. I have a large, growing back yard that I consider nature and I love in a canal walking path. So nature is aongst me.

    6.Again a VERY couple specific qestion,(just observing). I tell my kids I love them, but I don't thing that was how the question was designed.

    7. Yes to the exercise question, whoever said that , every day, but not all outside.

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    1. Yes, you are quit correct. Some of these questions work better with couples. That is the world I live in and just naturally default to it, though I should make an effort to be more inclusive.

      I am really spending much too much time looking at my smartphone, particularly at night. I really have to work on that.

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  10. Seven great questions to consider at any time of life not just in retirement! My answers: 1) Spontaneity is not and never has been a part of my life. I struggle with not planning everything! 2) I am fortunate to be married to someone who likes to be with me when time allows. I also have two children, a grandchild and an elderly parent so definitely Yes! 3) I have not disconnected totally but I don't "allow" myself laptop time until the late afternoon if at all possible and my cellphone is old so unless someone texts me or calls me I don't use the phone on a daily basis. 4) I LOVE to read and constantly have more than one book on the go at a time! A former coworker once told me she hadn't read a book in over two years and I nearly fell off my chair! Books are definitely a huge part of my life! 5) We live in a semi rural area so we have a couple of acres of property that I enjoy mostly in the summer. I love to watch the birds, deer, squirrels and spend time outdoors on a daily basis even if it is just walking around the yard! 7) Every morning and every evening my husband and I tell each other "I love you!"! On weekends (because he's still working during the week) we throw in a few extra I love you's during the daytime. I enjoyed thinking about these questions and reading other people's answers! Thought provoking as usual!

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    1. I am encouraged by the number of book readers who have responded. I may be off base, but I sense that the generations that have come after us are leaving the printed (or e-reader's text) behind. Everything has become so visual and rapid, that a 3-400 page book just seems insurmountable to many folks. I have read two 800 page books in the last few months, and my current one is 500+. If the story or approach is well done, the length is an absolute non-factor in my enjoyment of it.

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  11. Yes to all but the electronic disconnect. I seriously need to pay more attention to that one. I used a lot less technology yesterday and it's great for mental health.

    --Hope

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    1. Yep. I am going to leave my cell phone in its holder in the family room today, except when I leave the house, and see if my use diminishes. Most of the time I am checking a fact or following up on a random thought because it is so easy. mMybe if I have to walk to get the phone I will check less often.

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    2. Yes, I find my first response to any question is google. haha

      --Hope

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  12. I've got to agree with Barbara about the couple-centric nature of some of these questions. I'm single by choice and hope never to give up living alone. With that in mind, here are my answers:
    (1) Yes. Living alone and setting my own agenda make it easy to be spontaneous (although spontaneity is not my natural inclination).
    (2) I don't really have "loved ones" in my life, but I have spent quality time with several people I like very much. And, equally important to me, I have spent quality time with myself!
    (3)No, but I spend several hours every day out of reach of electronics. I don't turn on the computer until late morning, don't answer the telephone before noon, and don't generally use a cell phone.
    (4)Yes, several -- although I agree with Conveyance Doctor that some books merit a slower, more careful reading.
    (5) Yes, every day. I live at the end of a dirt road in beautiful rural Maine. Connecting with the natural world every day is essential to my quality of life.
    (6) No, but I'm not feeling the absence of this kind of relationship as a lack in my life.
    -Jean

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    1. I'm glad you used electronics to post your thoughts, Jean. And, yes, I will try to be more inclusive in the future with couples versus single type questions.

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    2. Bob, I didn't mean to be snotty about the singles thing -- but the societal message to those who are not coupled that we are living a lesser life is so inexorable that it is wearying to always have to be pushing back. -Jean

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  13. 1. Yes to spontaneity. Although I am considered the planner of the family, I love to be able to choose to do things on a whim, or depending on my mood or the weather. That said, I always have a mental list of about 15 projects on the go or other possibilities to choose from. 2. Quality time with a loved one. Yes, Rob and I spent today at a ski hill with friends. 3. Disconnect from electronics. No, sad to say that the phone is always in my pocket, the tablet is in the pile of books by my chair, and the computer is blinking away on my desk everyday. 4. I generally am in the process of reading 3 or 4 different books at a time. Although I finished two books last week, both of them took more than 2 weeks to read. Lately, reading blogs and other articles online has been cutting into my book reading time. 5. Nature: yes, every day! It is a high priority for me and I feel grumpy and deprived if I don’t get out. 6. I tell Rob that I love him many times a week, and vice versa.

    It has been interesting reading everyone’s responses to these questions.

    Jude

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    1. Good balance to your life, Jude.

      The electronic disconnect is an interesting question that has generated a variety of responses. I use my computer and cell phone a lot, my tablet almost not at all. Even so, after reading some of the comments and thinking about how I use electronics I am comfortable with my time with them because I am doing specific things, not just randomly surfing the web, following links here and there, or playing games just to kill time.

      As long as my time with the computer and cell phone have a specific purpose, I am comfortable with their use. A fast from them would serve no real purpose for me.

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