Archive for the ‘retirement’ Tag

06-27-2014 Journal Entry–Retirement!   Leave a comment

I still find my life difficult after six years of being retired. First of all I never expected to ever be retired and honestly thought I would have died long before this. For a change it’s nice to be wrong about certain things.

Adjusting my day-to-day existence from being an over achieving workaholic to a gardening, bird watching, and laid back retiree has been interesting and at times distressing.  I now understand that my high blood pressure issues were probably responsible for my former fast paced life style and the workaholic obsession.

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“The garden is producing already. I just thought I’d brag a little.”

But with my slowed down and medicated lifestyle I’m now a much more calm and controlled person.  Yesterday I spent a good part of my day taking photographs. I was able to spend more than an hour taking pictures without ever leaving my yard.  I’ve never had the luxury of free time like this and it still makes me feel guilty as if I’m being lazy and unproductive.  I’ll show you a few of my photo’s and you can judge for yourself if it was worth my time.  After looking at them I found myself very happy with the results and felt the time had been well spent.  See what you think.

I’ve placed numerous bird houses on the property and this year we have a number of winged residents living with us.  I’ve come to find out that birds can be a vicious bunch.  They’re very territorial especially when they’re nesting and protecting newborns. This first photo is of a mother spending twelve hours a day coming and going to feed her recently hatched babies. 

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This second photo is that same mother protecting those young from an intruder.  Two years ago this same bird had two nestlings killed by a bird of the same species.  I found their little corpses in the nest after the birds left on their southern migration.  I finally had to replace the box because they refused to come near the old one even though I’d cleaned out the old nest and dead babies. The first year after replacing that box they returned and took possession of the new one once again.  They seem to be much more protective these days than in the past and rightly so.

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Hopefully within a few weeks we’ll have a few little ones making a racket as they mature and prepare to leave the nest.  That’s assuming no further catastrophes occur such as other birds or the neighbor’s cat.  I might be forced to put a few Be-Be’s in the ass of that damn cat to help them a little if necessary.

I then moved through the garden to an area with freshly blooming day lilies.  They are some of my favorite flowers for photographing.  The colors are just so vibrant and beautiful I can’t resist them.

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Lets get just a little closer to see more of Mother Nature’s finest work.

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It’s these things that help keep me sane.  I could easily roam for hours taking pictures of anything and everything and never be disappointed.

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After a day of doing this I’m not quite so discontented with retirement.  Doing things I never thought I’d have the opportunity to do is even cooler than I imagined. I  do miss working more than I thought I would but it’s all a matter of adjusting to change. I’m almost there.

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09-04-2013   3 comments

Today I’d like to talk about retirement. Being retired has it’s pluses and just as many minuses.  You have the all the time you’ll ever need to do just about anything you’ve ever wanted to do. You have a type of freedom you’ve never experienced before.  The main thing missing from the mix is motivation.  Having that much time on your hands can lure you into closely examining your entire life, both good things and bad.  You can also fall into the trap of second guessing every bad decision you’ve ever made and make yourself crazy. That’s the worst and most dangerous thing about retirement.  If you can’t find a way to control it you just might become one truly miserable SOB with no friends or close relationships.

My transition to retirement has been a challenge to say the least.  It’s took me almost four years to make the changeover to where I could maintain a level of happiness and calmness about my life, my aging, and my relationships with others.  There’s no longer room for self-recriminations, whining about old mistakes, and rethinking of failed relationships.  As they always say "Life is too short." I’ve been able to make peace with my past life and I’m ready for the next phase.  I still spend time thinking about my childhood and my childhood friends many of whom have passed but it’s no longer a painful process and has finally become just a plethora of fond old memories.  I sat down and started making a list of certain things I do miss from those days and the following are just a few that quickly came to mind.

  • Spending a summer weekend at my grandparents house so I could attend the local carnival which came to town for just one week each year.  It was a big deal for that small town and all of us looked forward to it all year long.
  • I miss my childhood friends and knowing how to pretend. We had more fun using just our imaginations than we’d ever have had sitting in front of a TV playing a video game. Believe me, I’m not biased against video games at all.  I’ve been a member in good standing with  X-Box and Microsoft for decades. Imagination always offered me much more in the way of entertainment value.
  • Playing catch with my best friend for hours and hours.
  • Spending my summers playing baseball and roaming through the woods and streams near my home.
  • Playing with friends on and in the Allegheny River. Jumping from bridges, rowing an old bathtub across the river, being escorted to shore by the Coast Guard for being in places we didn’t belong.
  • Spending quality time with both of my grandfathers.  I miss them both everyday.
  • Eating baked potatoes with the family cooked in the ashes of a bonfire in the back yard.
  • Eating fresh apples stolen from a nearby orchard. They always tasted so much better when you could run faster than the owner who was chasing you.
  • Sledding with all of my friends in the hood of an old car. Ten of us flying down the hill together with no fear of anything.
  • Skiing with friends on skis made from barrel rungs. We couldn’t afford real skis. I never skied much further than twenty feet anyway before I fell on my ass and rolled down the hill laughing all the way.

That’s just a few of the many memories I love reliving.  I’m no longer pissed off that I can’t do most of those things anymore, I’m just happy that I had a chance to do them at all.

06-16-2013   Leave a comment

I’m about a month away from completing my fifth year of retirement.  I think a celebration of sorts is called for because this has been one of the most difficult transitions I’ve ever had to make.

I’ve always been someone who readily adapted to change.  I’ve lived in many places over the years as required by my jobs and I worked my way up the corporate ladder twice with two different national companies.  I had hopes of a great retirement and pension but unfortunately both companies were purchased by other companies and neither survived that purchase.  You adjust because you must.  When there is no choice at all you pick yourself up and get back to work.

Fortunately that was one of the things my father made sure I had.  I had no fear of hard work and I also had a killer work ethic.  I worked my ass off for thirty years, 6 days a week, tons of travel, and change, change, change.  I started three business over the years and had reasonable successes with two and failed miserably in the third.  Shut up, get up, and keep on keeping on.

Making the change to early retirement was something I never thought I would get to do.  I’d already  excepted the fact that I’d be working until they found me slumped at my desk or in my car.  As in all things timing is everything.  After the failure of my two most important employers I took a public service position  with the State of Maine.  My fear of having another company hire me and then fail had sent me there. Whoever heard of a State going bankrupt?

The State of Maine surprised me a little.  They didn’t go bankrupt but they did call me in to tell me my work load was going to increase by 30% without a comparable wage increase.  I received a confidential call a short time later from a friend in the state capital who told me my position was on the chopping within two months. I had no choice and was lucky enough to be able take early retirement before the axe fell.  Hooray for me right?

Making the transition from workaholic to retiree was the worst.  I made the change immediately by giving Goodwill all of my suits, shirts, ties, and dress shoes.  I threw away my wrist watch because it was no longer something I needed.  It took at least eighteen months to find a comfortable rhythm for my life and to end the depression I was suffering with.

I hate making this sound like a sad story because it isn’t. I’m retired for God’s sake.  How can I possibly be whining?  I found these quotes recently that just made me laugh not because they’re all that funny but because they’re all so true.  My sense of humor has gotten through a lot of change and it’s things like these quotes that really help.

  • The money is no better in retirement but the hours are! — Author Unknown
  • "According to your latest data if you retire today, you can live reasonably well until 5 p.m. tomorrow."— Dave Erhard
  • My retirement plan is to find a shopping cart with good snow tires.
    — Patty Doyle
  • ‘The best time to start thinking about your retirement is before the boss does.’  Anonymous
  • ‘When a man retires and time is no longer a matter of urgent importance, his colleagues generally present him with a watch.’  R C Sherriff.
  • ‘It is time I stepped aside for a less experienced and less able man.’  Scott Elledge.
  • ‘There’s one thing I always wanted to do before I quit…retire!’  Groucho Marx
  • Retirement kills more people than hard work ever did – Malcolm Forbes
  • Except for an occasional heart attack I feel as young as I ever did – Robert Benchley
  • What do gardeners do when they retire? – Bob Monkhouse

I love being retired.  It gives a lot of freedom to do all those things I said I was going to do but never did.  I spend most of my time concerned with the care and feeding of my better-half who is still caught up in the rat race.  I try to be her stress reliever and to keep her as happy as I can.  I may bitch and complain about a lot of things but my life is good.  I’m what my Dad used to describe as, “fat (not too much), dumb, and happy”.

05-07-2013   2 comments

I’m what most people would consider a person who dresses down instead of up.  I’ve always been much more concerned with comfort than fashion (ask anyone who knows me).  For most of my adult life after serving in the Army I was required to wear a suit and tie every day.  I started out wearing sport coats and dress slacks, then to three piece suits, and finally to a more expensive brand of suits required by my position and the company I worked for.  Even as a police officer I wore the company uniform when not working undercover. A tightly tailored and uncomfortable outfit with a big hat, lots of leather, a gun, and other assorted tools of the trade.  I hated it.

I was forced to maintain quite an assortment of garments for a number of different companies because I didn’t want to look too stupid or out of style.  I eventually had almost a hundred ties, dozens of shirts, suits, and all of the stupid accoutrements  that seem to be required for each.  It was awful.  I’d have preferred on any given day to wear a T-shirt, shorts, and a raggedy old pair of flip flops.

After many years of "dressing for the man" I finally saw that light at the end of the tunnel and it was my retirement.  I actually never thought I’d retire but the State of Maine in it’s infinite wisdom offered me early retirement since my job was being eliminated due to fiscal concerns. I was pissed and upset for about five minutes and then began planning my future.

I needed to simplify my life in many ways. I decided that with no company or boss to help dress me I would finally get to go my own way.  My final day of work was one of those days where everyone comes around to say their goodbyes and to tell you how much they’d miss you (and good riddance).  About seventy percent of them are just being politically correct and couldn’t care less.  They should have just held an official funeral service right then and there because that’s what it felt like. I said all the right things, shook the right hands, smiled, and all the while thinking, "get me the hell out of here".

The next morning I awoke a new man.  I spent a good portion of that day packing up all of my suits, ties, sport coats, overcoats, dress shoes, and anything else I could think of.  That was one trip to Goodwill I’ll never forget. I kept one good suit, two dress shirts, one overcoat, and one pair of dress shoes for the occasional wedding and/or funeral. My closet was finally empty.  It took a few weeks longer to rid myself of all those other little things that tied me to certain companies for such a large part of my life.  It felt good to be free of it all and it also created a need for a huge wardrobe change and a serious shopping trip.

It’s now four and a half years later and things have changed dramatically.  I look in my closet and what do I see?  Three pairs of sneakers, four pairs of flip flops, one pair of dress shoes, two pairs of beach shoes, and four pair of Crocs.  Next comes ten pairs of jeans, fifty assorted T-shirts, twelve pairs of shorts, four dress shirts, one suit, one raincoat, and a flannel shirt or two so people will know I’m still from Maine.  One pair of hiking boots, a back pack, camera equipment, a walking stick, and a pair of really cool snow shoes w/ poles.

Welcome to my new so called life.