Friday, October 11, 2019

20 Awkward Steps to Our Happy Retirement or There Was Not a Guidebook

I first published this article back in June of 2014. A lot has changed.
  • Two grandchildren are married and we have 2 great-grandchildren (both girls). 
  • The cat disappeared on Halloween one year and we are not getting another. 
  • We sold our park model in Tucson and moved into a townhouse last fall. 
  • We bought a dream car...Mini Cooper is now in the Oregon house garage.
  • We have two cars again and fly to Arizona in the fall and back to Oregon in the spring.
  • We both still golf with friends and we joined a club in Tucson that we love. 
  • I still blog but not as much as I did. My husband gets a little more of my attention. He had his 80 birthday last winter.  
The message is the same...change has kept us mentally young and healthy. Life is good!
Arizona Townhouse

Hillsboro Home

Remember that very first child...the one they let you take home without a guidebook or a test drive? Retirement is a bit like that. One day they just say "Good bye, good luck and let us know how that works out for you." It is probably one of the most challenging things you will ever do. Even enough money does not make it any easier.

Don't get me wrong, I love being retired but it has taken my husband and I 17 years to find smooth sailing. In that period of time we have invented and reinvented our lives so many times I have lost count. We love the adventure and I suppose that is why we have found ourselves changing direction so many times. If you just want to stay where you are and do what you have done all of your lives, it may be easier. I don't know how to talk about that. (Leave a comment to let me know.)

It seems to me the thing that has given us so much joy is the fact that we have never ever thought we had arrived at our "forever" place. We are a lot closer now but even so, we keep our options open. Here are the things we have done or considered doing:
  1. We moved from rural Eastern Oregon to Portland a year after my husband and I retired. 
  2. We bought a 4 bedroom home because we didn't know how to live in a smaller space.
  3. We joined a country club and learned to play golf a little better. 
  4. We moved from the 4 bedroom house with a big yard to a 2 bedroom condo with no yard and our youngest son moved back home.
  5. I took up multi-media art and spend several years immersed in that form of creative projects.
  6. We bought an RV and began to travel. Our youngest son took care of the condo and the cat.
  7. Our youngest son married.
  8. We made plans to sell our Oregon home and moving to the Southwest. The only thing that stopped us was the recession.
  9. My husband and I played golf together when we traveled.
  10. My husband found a mens group to golf with and I began spending more time at home.
  11. I became the summer nanny for 2 of my grandchildren.
  12. I began blogging and abandoned the art.
  13. We traveled for 3 months to begin with and later stayed away for 4-5 months.
  14. We sold and bought several RVs.
  15. We bought a park model in Tucson and moved into it for the winters. The RV was gone forever (maybe).
  16. We sold that park model and moved to a better location in the same RV resort.
  17. We moved from our condo in Oregon into a 55+ community near our daughter. We had a yard again.
  18. We became a one car family.
  19. We plan to fly back and forth to Arizona one year soon.
  20. Now we stay 6 months in Oregon and 6 in Arizona. The cat travels with us.
We love the lifestyle we have now. My husband still golfs with the guys. Five of our 12 grandchildren are grown. One granddaughters will marry in September. I have a beautiful flower garden that gives me great joy. Blogging gives me an outlet and I still have a wonderful time doing artwork with my younger grandchildren.

Is there a guide book for any of this? I would never have dreamed that we would have changed our directions that many times. I don't think any book could have guided us through all those changes. I could write a great book that gave the reader a general idea of what they were in for but I could not lead them. One of the central issues in the retirement like mine is actually living full time with your spouse and finding a way to compromise your way through life. Compromise the the key. The "how" is entirely up to you.

I would be interested in having you add your thought about your retirement list in the comments. How is it working out for you?

Oh, and do stay is not over yet!



  1. Excellent post. I like how you write. Been retired since 2009 and make it up as I go along --but am very interested in what others have discovered in this new frontier. Following!

    1. I think we all make it up much like we have the rest of our life. I am always interested in those "guide books for the perfect retirement". Is there such a thing?

    2. I believe there is. In fact there's a whole series of guide books by the same author about an elderly British pensioner and a retired Belgian detective. I have always had great affection for Agatha Christie. It's the attitudes of Hercule Poirot and Miss Jane Marple that alert us to the possibilities of post-retirement discovery. Clues come from within.

    3. I am a huge fan of Agatha Christie...I see your point entirely. I do find myself shaping my life around what I have read. Thank you so much for coming back.

  2. 21. Glamping! What a list - you've inspired me to do one myself just as a reminder how much my life has changed since retirement. I'm glad you were interested in my camping post!

    1. I loved that post Keith. I was raised camping in damp tents and trenches keeping the water out. I miss it a lot but the reality is I love to be warm and dry! Let me know when you do the list.

  3. I am only one month into retirement - sold our house in the city, moved to a different province and into a small resort type town. Big changes all at once. I agree - learning to live 24/7 with my partner is the challenge right now. He has been retired for several years; has taken over the kitchen; and, now we are tripping over each other! Makes for some interesting discussions! Happy to be here, however, and excited to keep evolving my new life where ever it may go. World travel is just around the corner! My blog:

    1. eileen, I will be stopping by soon. I love to watch those of you that are just starting out on this journey. Thank you for stopping by.

  4. Learning to enjoy and share retirement with one's spouse is a biggie. While I don't particularly like the term "compromise", the (continuing) basic idea of learning to negotiate, communicate, and appreciate with one's spouse becomes even more key to enjoying retirement and life in general. When to give each other space as well as how to find things to do together that both enjoy doing. Quite a challenge as well as quite an opportunity.

    1. You are so right...and I will stick with compromise because it fits our situation perfectly. My husband moved the silverware to the other side of the was a big adjustment for me but it was my first lesson in the fact that it was his house too. Just because I had been left with it all to myself for so many years didn't make it any less his. :)

  5. It takes a few years to get it right. For us, our main concern was income. I surprised even myself at how financially creative one can get in retirement. I retired early, but hubby was forced into early retirement. Thus the financial challenge.
    We've downsized from a 9 room home to a 4 room home. While hubby was working, we traveled abroad allot. Now, with both of us home we had the option of either buying a vacation home in Florida (and staying put) or getting an RV and seeing America. We chose the latter. We can always buy a place down in Florida but wanted to travel while we were still 'young' enough to do it! Plus, RVing is so economical if done correctly.
    Now that hubby is 100% retired he has taken on all the cooking and laundry which has been perfectly fine by me! He does ALL the heavy cleaning. I just dust up, mop and vacumn. Maybe. We go shopping together and he loves it. Says it's the best part of his week. He's quickly becoming a frugalista like me and to be honest, saving money really is a lot of fun!
    We're enjoying all of the changes we've been going through.
    Love your blog!

    1. Cindi,

      I see so much of our life in yours. It give me a lot of joy to hear someone like you enjoying the life they have rather than lamenting the life they could have had if things had turned out differently. Truly, it is all about what we make of each day.

      My husband too loves to friends think I am very lucky and so do I.

      Thank you for stopping by.

  6. My husband and I had a few happy retirement years together, until his death in 2016. Now I am learning to be retired as a widow; my blog post today sums up some of what I am doing. You two have a great and flexible retirement and change it up as you choose.

    1. Terra, yes I will stop by to look at your blog post. I am alway interesting.

  7. Well you've certainly proved your point . . . retirement is an adventure!

    1. Yes it fact it is the adventure that we should enjoy no matter our age don't you agree?

  8. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  9. Dear Barbara, I retired, at age 65, in 2001. Yet, that "retired" is somewhat of a misnomer. I had been a freelance editor and curriculum developer and college teacher of professional editing for 17 years. When I quite all that, I couldn't let go of the written word--of the finely tuned sentence. Of the cadence of alliteration and the pause and breath of a good analogy. Given my passion for the word, I continued to write for several years and did not retire in the sense we normally use the word. Instead I "tired" myself out from pursuing my passion. It truly took until the pandemic of 2020 to let go and simply rest in the moment. To sacramentalize the breath of that moment. So 19 years of writing and also of moving back to my hometown and making new friends and learning how to live with illness and learning also to follow one friend's injunction "to go with the flow." I now have five books in print, and finally having truly retired, I'm wondering if I'll do any more writing. The words keep flowing through the labyrinth of my mind like a rise in flood. Yet my energy has waned. Life is good as I continue to look for possibilities for growth in the human spirit. Peace.


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