Is This All There Is?

What is it about retirement that bothers us the most? Is it that we feel useless, bored, or that life and ourselves have become mundane? You know the days I am talking about. Those days where we say to ourselves: “Why bother getting out of bed – it is just going to be another day like yesterday!”

Why did I pick those three words to start this article? Let’s take a minute to look at the definition of those words.

Useless – Not fulfilling or not expected to achieve the intended purpose or desired outcome.

Bored or boring – Not interesting, tedious.

Mundane – Lacking interest or excitement; dull.

Now let’s take a look at the word retire – Retire – meaning having left one’s job and ceased to work.

Work – activity involving mental or physical effort done in order to achieve a purpose or result. Prior to retiring – work usually meant that activity necessary to put food on the table and a roof over one’s head. Another word for work is employment.

Employment – the condition of having paid work; a person’s trade or profession; the action of giving work to someone.

If you will notice, both words – work and employment refer to activity one had to do. Retire or retirement is usually the time of our lives where we no longer have a job to go to and our time is now truly “our time!”

Unless we worked at a job we truly loved and enjoyed, chances are work was not truly fun. It was as the saying goes: “A means to an end.” According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary – the definition of “a means to an end” is ‘something done only to produce a desired result.’ Hence my reference above when I talked about putting food on the table and a roof over one’s head.

Now that we are retired though and going on the assumption that we have adequate income to still address the needs for food and shelter, the time once given to work should be given to ourselves. How else can we avoid boredom or the feeling of being useless?

I say this because even being as active as we try to be, there are days that I do feel useless, well, not so much useless as “Gee, isn’t there more than this?” But, then I also say to myself: “What is this? You are the one just sitting here looking at old “Murder She Wrote” reruns!”

Bottom line is that to enjoy our retired lives, we need to stay active. Read a book, put a puzzle together, go for a walk, visit the zoo, grab a cup of coffee with a friend, learn a new language, anything to keep both body and mind active. A busy person does not have time to sit and ask the question: “Is this all there is?” They are too busy living life and as a result, enjoying retirement.

Until next time!

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Where is the Fun in That?

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When Is a Test Only a Test?

What does the above sentence mean? I have always been fascinated with various quotes and what they mean. Most definitions or comments pertaining to this statement have religious connotations. Seeing that my style of writing stays away from two subjects, namely religion and politics, I prefer to go with a quote by Tom Bodett (remember him – the Motel 6 guy – “We’ll leave the light on for you!”), who said:

“In school, you’re taught a lesson and then given a test. In life, you’re given a test that teaches you a lesson.”

Isn’t that what we face every day – new lessons. The secret is to learn from them which in many cases we do. True, in some instances, we wish we would have known the outcome before-hand but where’s the fun in that.

Believe it or not, at age seventy-seven, I am still learning and it is comical (shame on me) at times to watch our children or even others go through the process of learning some of life’s simple lessons.  You want to share your knowledge of the subject involved and many times do. But, sometimes it is best to keep one’s mouth shut and let them learn for themselves.

While it pains me to see my children go through some of life’s lessons – how shall I put it –  sometimes it is for the best. If you are like me, we seniors learn early on, life is much simpler without confrontation and family confrontations. While they do happen, fact is they aren’t the most fun things to go through.

At our age, the only test I want to take anymore, is the one that I take every morning – that of searching the obituaries to see if my name is there. If it is not, well – the lesson I learned for the day is that I have one more day to get it right!

Until next time!

NONFUNCTIONAL CALENDAR

Here is my thought for today:

Ever feel like inventing something – but not wanting to be famous or anything like that – the invention would have to be something completely useless or nonfunctional.  Here’s a thought – Perhaps we could invent a nonfunctional calendar. I know exactly what is going through your mind – what do I mean by nonfunctional?  Well, each month would have 40 days instead of the usual 30 or 31; with that thought in mind each week would have 10 days. Oh, and let’s not list any of the days of the week, you know like Monday, Tuesday and so forth and so on. And for pictures – instead of great landscape scenes or for us guys – pictures of babes in bathing suits – we could use photos of random objects – you know like a rusty old wheelbarrow or a pile of broken concrete blocks. Something like this:

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1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20
21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30
31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40

By now you must be thinking – is he well? To respond to that allow me to leave you with a quote by the late and great Robin Williams, who said:

“You’re only given a little spark of madness; you mustn’t lose it.”

I try real hard not to lose my little spark of madness.

On a different note, due to the holidays and all we have on our plates for the balance of 2017, this will be my last post for the year. Here is wishing all my fellow bloggers –

A Very Merry Christmas and a Happy, Safe, and Healthy New Year!

Be back in 2018.

 

Count to Ten!

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How many of us remember hearing one or both of our parents use the expression “Count to Ten” whenever they got angry? Back in the day, this was supposedly the sure-fire way to cool down when one was on the verge of becoming angry.

Today we are usually told to breathe – take a long breath – hold it in while saying one – exhale and then take another – hold it in and say the number two – and so on until you reach the number ten. Naturally if it is something that really has you frustrated and angrier than usual, you should probably do this until you reach the number twenty. Those of us who have meditated on occasion, might recognize that this is a form of meditation.  It is the systematic rhythm of counting and breathing that relaxes the mind so much so that it is almost impossible to remain angry once you have finished.

It is the oxygen intake you are getting due to the breathing in and out while counting that enables our brain to sort of relax by the time the entire counting process of one to ten or one to twenty is over enabling us to increase our perspective of the whole picture subsequently making the so-called “big stuff“ that created the problem or dispute in the first place to look like “little stuff.” Believe it or not, this little exercise works well whenever we get frustrated too. So, next time you find yourself – how shall I say – a little out of sorts with yourself or a project you are working on – try this counting exercise.

Actually, one could perform the exercise anytime during the day or week if for no other reason than to keep us calm and prepared for whatever might come next in our daily list of things to do. One doesn’t have to be angry to do it as it has a great calming effect and keeps us focused. Once you try it, you might just enjoy it as I do and sometimes just practicing it daily keeps me from losing my cool in the first place.

 

Old Geezer/Old Fart!

In my quest to meet the recent challenges I set for myself with regards my writing, I decided to define what an old geezer – or in my case – an old fart is.

First off – Your Dictionary.com defines the term “old geezer” as follows:

Old geezer is a somewhat insulting term for an older person, especially one who is no longer cool, hip, or with the times. An example of an old geezer is a grumpy old man who sits on his porch all day yelling at neighborhood kids.

Now the definition of an “old fart” is: An elderly person who holds old-fashioned views.

Now that I have provided dictionary definitions, let’s look at this from a different point of view. Seeing that I have expressed myself on my blog as an old fart ranting and raving, let us take a moment and see what the word fart means:

Looking at the noun: A fart is a flatus expelled through the anus or could be defined as an irritating or foolish person.

As a verb: A fart means to expel a flatus through the anus; break wind.

As a synonym: Cut one, cut the cheese, fart, let her rip, rip one, pass gas, or toot!

Are you with me so far? Seeing that I define myself as an “old fart that rants and raves,” and being that I am not only past the age of 70, but closer to 80 than 70, let’s have some fun with what it means to be an “old fart.”  

And with that I will “let her rip!”

Below is a partial list that, in my humble opinion, represents why I fall on the list of being an “old fart”:

(1) I make more noise getting out of bed in the morning than I did twenty-five years ago during a heated night of passion.

(2) As an ‘old fart’ I prefer to eat dinner at a restaurant that provides quiet ambiance than today’s typical Sports Bar atmosphere.

(3) I no longer consider fiber to be or represent a thread or filament from which a textile is formed. Fiber represents a whole new meaning in my life.

(4) Years ago my knees cracked when I used to walk up and down stairs. Now they creak when I walk period.

(5) It used to be that I could get out of a chair and make a mad dash for whatever I was going for be it a snack or a bathroom break. Now, just standing up is a challenge and after having done that, next thing to do is have my brain send a message to my feet and legs that says  “OK old person – you are up – now you also got to move!”

(6) While I was never into going to bars much when I was younger, going to wineries today is now a favorite past-time.

(7) When younger – one went to hospitals for operations – nowadays they are called procedures.

I could go on and on (you know me – I like to rant and rave) but instead allow me to end this with a quote from Pablo Picasso:

“It takes a long time to become young!”

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“I Can’t Believe I Ate the Whole Thing”

At times I wonder why it is I continue writing, be it for this blog, the one I contribute to at http://community.retirement-online.com/profile/IrwinLengel or my monthly column for our community newsletter. But no sooner does the question pop up in my mind, it disappears almost immediately once I turn on my computer and start thinking of wild and crazy things to write about.

Yup, to steal a line from Steve Martin – I am one wild and crazy guy. With that thought in mind I decided that I would try to write a post this week using a one-liner from a past tv show or in this instance an advertisement from one of those shows.  The hard part is going to be to try and work the one-liner into the blog so that it seems to be part of the post. But here goes:

For instance, for lunch today we had home-made Chimichangas.

Chimichanga

Now, for those of you who have had this Mexican Spanish dish, you know that in some restaurants they are moderate in size while in others they might be rather substantial. Well, with ours being home-made and a way to use up some of our fresh vegetables, suffice it to say ours are pretty substantial. But before I go much further allow me to give a brief summation of the history of the Chimichanga.

As a matter of information and thanks to Wikipedia – the words chimi and changa come from two Mexican Spanish terms: chamuscado, (past participle of the verb chamuscar) which means seared or singed, and change, related to chinga, (third-person present tense form of the vulgar verb chingar), a rude expression for the unexpected or a small insult.

Enough with the Mexican Spanish lesson, let’s get on with one of several stories about how this Mexican Spanish dish came about. According to Wikipedia and one of its sources, the founder of the Tucson, Arizona, restaurant El Charro, Monica Flin, accidentally dropped a burrito into the deep-fat fryer in 1922. She immediately began to utter a Spanish profanity beginning “chi…” (chingada), but quickly stopped herself and instead exclaimed chimichanga, a Spanish equivalent of “thingamajig.” We will leave it there by saying and the rest is history.

Upon devouring our huge chimichanga for lunch, when finishing the last bite, I looked at my wife and coyly said: “I can’t believe I ate the whole thing.” For those of you too young to remember this saying it is from an old Alka Seltzer advertisement. When someone overate, and was full of gas and/or bloated, they would reach for the Alka Seltzer bottle and prior to popping two alka seltzer tablets into a glass of water would say: I can’t believe I ate the whole thing!”  Hope you enjoyed my craziness.

alka seltzer

 

When Do I Get to Laugh?

Here it is time for me to rant and rave once again as an old fart. When I first started blogging several years ago, it was suggested that I find my niche – “Niche: a place, employment, status, or activity for which a person or thing is best fitted, i.e., finally found his niche.” 

As one might surmise from reading my “About Me” page – I have no true niche. Basically, I have two thoughts that serve as my ‘niche’ – talking about and sharing retirement experiences and ranting and raving on just about anything that crosses my mind. But, there is usually one common thread I weave through anything that I write about and that is – I try to make it comical.

For me, pretty much I am the happiest while in front of my computer attempting to create a piece of writing that is both informative and comical – and for those of you who have been following my rants and raves for some time – I am sure you will agree – at times the information provided is more comical than informative.There is a reason for my madness though and that is with all the negative news floating around the Internet, TV, Radio, Facebook, Newspapers, and whatever other means of communication is available to us: “Enough already” – when do I get to laugh?

With that, allow me to take you into my crazy mixed up world of sayings, signs, and a picture or two. Within the confines of my office one will find all types of mementos that we have picked up over the years, had given to us or are pictures that made us laugh at some silly moment in time. For instance – in the morning if I am not feeling up to par – all I need to do is look at one sign I captured via my camera once and I am ready for just about anything.

 

 

Drink Coffee

And then there are days where I must do considerable research but don’t feel like it. What do I do – you got it – look at yet another plaque on the wall like this one about studying:

Why study

I could go on and on but I should save some of these for another post. Fact of the matter is that we all have our – how should I put it – our “Out of Sorts Day!” Fortunately, I do not have many of those days but when I do, all I need to do is make a cup of coffee, go in my office, sit down in my chair and just reminisce by looking at all the mementos, pictures, and wild and crazy sayings I have hanging there. Before you know it, I am back to my old self – thinking up goofy posts to write about and share with you here so that you can share in my madness too!

Remember: “Growing Old is Mandatory – Growing Up is Optional” and I choose not to grow up. Plus, I would rather be happy than grumpy – and besides, believe me when you get right down to it – it is so much more fun! 

 

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Have a great day.  Until next post!

Women!

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I don’t know about the rest of you, but I am finally willing to admit that, while not often, but definitely in certain instances, men and women act differently. Let’s face it guys, when was the last time you were out in mixed company and said to your neighbor – “Hey Fred, care to go to the bathroom with me?” Such a comment would not be made unless the individual asking the question was three sheets to the wind and has no problem getting a fat lip for his ignorance.

Of course, far be it for me to admit that I know the opposite sex. My wife and I are married fifty-four plus years and at times she still baffles me. What is it with women and yard sales? Don’t they know that the stuff other people are willing to part with for fifty cents is the same stuff we have sitting around our house, except in our house we call them souvenirs – (although I have been known to call some of it “junk” much to the dismay of my wife).  I am definitely not one that believes another man’s trash is going to become my treasure!

But, to each their own – for instance – I have a son and daughter-in-law that live for garage sales, and when visiting we make it a point to go with them on Saturdays making a day of it (Look out Dunkin Donuts – here we come!) And I must admit that on occasion while in their company foraging through other people’s stuff, I actually have found some items of value to me (usually in the form of a book or journal of some sort).

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Another reason why I would be the first one to admit that I do not know women – has to do with timeliness. Is it my imagination or is every woman always late getting ready to go someplace? Take me for instance, I love to go for a morning walk basically six days a week (I mean let’s face it – even God rested on Sundays), so I prepare and lay everything out the night before and as a result am ready to hit the door running (or I should say walking – I no longer run anyplace at my age) at about 5:45 AM. Why? Because I know that my morning walk will take me approximately 45 minutes, allowing me just enough time to have breakfast, grab a fast shower upon my return, still allowing me time to dress and be ready to walk out the door at 7:35 AM Monday through Friday.

Why such an early hour say those of you that prefer to sleep late most days now that you are retired? It just so happens that we teach a line dance class from 7:45 AM until 8:30 AM five days a week. More times than not, she runs at least five to ten minutes behind making our trip to the clubhouse which is just five minutes away – a marathon we are trying to win. But, truth be told – we usually get there as the others are arriving and so we aren’t truly late to the party. But, on the other hand, let the occasion be our going to the theater to hear someone sing or perform or perhaps make a trip to visit our daughter and she will be the first one out the door saying to me, “ Hurry up we don’t want to be late!” Priorities – we guys have our priorities!

Here is another example. We have this weekly event that we go to every Saturday morning – coffee and donuts at the clubhouse. The guys sit together at a couple of tables and the women sit together at a separate group of tables. That way they can gossip about female things while we guys talk about the important things happening in the world today – you know sports, vehicles, past job escapades and the like.

But the one question that tends to rise almost every Saturday morning is: What are you going to do when you leave here this morning?” Before I answer that allow me to explain a bit about where we live. Living where we do, we are about a thirty minute car ride to a casino. Did you ever give thought to how many senior citizens love to gamble? Living in the community we do, we have several couples that definitely look forward to going to the casino after coffee on a Saturday morning. While one particular couple actually goes to “yard or garage sales” most Saturday mornings, I would venture to say many of them prefer to go to the Casino after Saturday morning coffee.

In some instances, once there, they spend the balance of their Saturday feeding the “one-arm bandits” as we affectionately called them back in the day.  One thing I have learned from listening to the stories shared over coffee on these Saturday mornings is just this – in many instances, it is the women that win on the days they go to the casino. Now why is that?

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See, I told you I don’t know much about women!

Weekends

It is time for my weekly contribution to Word Press and I decided to share with you an article I wrote for our community newsletter. Hope you enjoy it!

What is it About Weekends?

Why is it that about seven o’clock every Friday night our world – as we know it – falls apart.

Think about that statement for a moment. Usually around seven or eight p.m. there is one tooth in our mouth that decides to send a message by causing thumping pains in your jaw saying: “I told you to see your dentist about me – but noooo – you thought it would be OK and now here it is eight p.m. and the dentist’s office is closed. Guess what? I am going to bother you all weekend now!” Oh, and come Monday morning the pain goes away and your mouth feels perfectly healthy once again.

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Later in the evening (still Friday) you sit down to watch your favorite television show and yup – you seen this one coming – didn’t you – the TV cable goes out. Now you must spend more of your valuable weekend time on the telephone and chances are you will either listen to a recording or you will be unable to understand the person at the other end of the phone because they are in some foreign country and not even your seven-year old could understand what it is they are trying to tell you.  Or ………there is one last option – you know – the other great response they provide you with – the response telling you to call back Monday during their weekday office hours.

Another Friday night scene is that someone in the house will come down with some mysterious malady – remember the movie “Saturday Night Fever” – well seeing that it is the beginning of the weekend – let’s nickname it “Friday Night Fever.” You know what I am talking about. It is when your temperature is not high enough for the emergency room but not normal enough for you to ignore. The number is just enough to make you think if you don’t act, you will suffer this way for the balance of your life which you are thinking could be a matter of hours.

We all know that while it is true, there are quite a few weekend services available to people – services that may cost you an arm and a leg – or if we were much younger – your first-born child, it is amazing how some things sense when you can be brought to your knees – times that we are most vulnerable.

Take bill paying for instance – some people like to pay with cash while others use checks to pay their bills. Being a check-writing person, when would I run out of checks – Friday night! Here is another thought – when we didn’t travel as we do today, we used to own a dog. Speaking from experience though, while our dog didn’t get lost often, when it did get lost – you got it – it was between Friday evening and Sunday – you know – the time when the word “Help” falls on deaf ears. If the refrigerator/freezer breaks down – when will it be – you got it, Friday evening just before you are ready to go to bed. And I might add it will probably be immediately after you filled it up with food for that upcoming party you were planning.

Oh, and here is another biggie that can occur at any age – it is Friday evening around ten p.m. and you go to take your prescription drug – you know the one I mean – the pill that keeps your blood pressure under control. Yup, you got it – you are out of that prescription medicine and upon reading the bottle, you seen that the last time you filled the prescription was the last time it could be done without your doctor’s OK.  Isn’t that always the way? You never needed a doctor’s OK on any other day except Saturday and Sunday. Is that your blood pressure I see rising?

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Let us talk for a moment about those wonderful inventions – the automobile. You know, those marvelous machines built back in the late 1800’s. Some might consider them lifeless hunks of metal that have no brains and are incapable of thinking. Not true… they know that during the week, they get used very little and given the chance – now that it is the weekend – you are going to drive the devil out of them. So, what do they do? They refuse to start just when you are ready to go flea-marketing Saturday morning. 

Another weekend nightmare is the house. Why does our house decide it needs to call it quits on the weekend? You know what I am talking about – first thing is that the toilet overflows – then the dishwasher decides to stop working in the middle of the cycle – you go to get the laundry out of the washer and notice that the water never drained completely out of the machine so you must wring it all out by hand and when you place it in the dryer – yup – you got it – the dryer doesn’t start. But, you are not done being surprised. If all that wasn’t enough, it is late and you say to yourself – a nice relaxing bath might just soothe your aching body and calm your mind. You go to the bathroom – turn on the spigot – what do you get? Just a trickle! No water pressure, nothing, fini, fertig! By now you are saying “Why me?”

bathtub

Remember the good old days when we used to chant “Thank God It’s Friday” well those of us now retired live in fear of those TGIF days every day of the week because when retired, any day can be a Saturday or a Sunday when all the things we depend on decide to break down, quit, or say ‘adios amigo’.

Knowing how much we love to travel and be away from our humble abode, I can truthfully only think of one saying that is befitting of all that I have just described. I refer you to the catchphrase from the 1991 film Terminator 2: Judgment Day, where the Terminator (Arnold Schwarzenegger) says to John Connor (Edward Furlong): “Hasta la vista, baby.”

Time to saddle up the horses and mosey on down the road. Tomorrow is another day – baby steps – one day at a time.

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Until next time!

How to Plan for a Good Retirement

retirement

Having been retired now for 20 plus years, reading articles about how to prepare for retirement (other than the usual financial aspect of retirement) often amuse me.

Most of us go through life concentrating on our jobs, family, day-to-day projects that come up whether good or bad, planned or unplanned. By the end of the day, the only thing on our mind tends to be – an hour or two of relaxation before retiring for the evening knowing we will be doing it all over again tomorrow.

While I do not dispute what is being said in these retirement articles, I must admit, due in part to the way my retirement came about – none of the things that I supposedly should have considered ahead of time came to mind, leastways not in a “pre-planned retirement sort of way.”

For instance, one thing we all should think about prior to retiring is deciding where we want to retire to. In our situation, first thought – due to being unemployed/retired was where to move because the house as well as the size of the mortgage payment was okay if we wanted to stay there and be “house poor” (meaning we would not be able to travel or do much else as all our funds would be spent maintaining our house). As a result, we decided to take the same approach as my company did – down-size. We purchased something smaller and less expensive so that we could do more than just live in our house. By down-sizing ourselves we have been able to enjoy our retirement as well as do some of the things we wanted to do in retirement.

Another thing people refer to when discussing retirement is that they should put together a “Bucket List” – you know – a list of those things you want to do before leaving this earth. This one has me stumped – mainly because I guess I am too simple a type of guy. For the life of me, I cannot think of one thing I must do before I die and so I do not have a “Bucket List” of sorts.

Another biggie on most pre-retirement lists is: Continue being sociable. This is one activity I would not have included when preparing for retirement but I must admit we are more sociable now that we are retired than we ever were in all our married lives even when my wife was President of the PTA and I was President of the Dad’s Club back in Jacksonville, Florida.

I would be remiss not to mention exercise as s pre-retirement thought. Why, because one cannot be active during his or her working life and then just sit around eating donuts and drinking coffee once we are no longer working. In our case, while we remained active once retired, eight years into retirement, line dancing entered our lifestyle and to this day our exercise is done in the form of line dancing both teaching and doing. By the way, there is a completely different story that could be told regarding how line dancing came into our lives – but that is for another day.

Both of us are quite wary of how one’s health changes as we age and so we eat appropriately, paying attention to what is good and what is not good for both of us. But that is not to say that we will not have the occasional donut (Saturday mornings you will usually find us socializing with friends within our community eating donuts and drinking coffee. Besides we would not want to avoid our social responsibilities – now would we?

Another item on the pre-retiree list of things to do once retired is learning new things. Learn a foreign language, begin painting or some other hobby that used to excite you but took a back seat to your family and career, become involved with puzzles or some other activity to engage your brain. We need to keep both the body and brain active if we are going to live in retirement as many years as we were employed.

Other lists I’ve read talk about volunteering and getting a part-time job. While I cannot speak to the volunteering activity – I can discuss part-time jobs. Shortly after we retired we needed additional income to cover that span of time between our retirement date and the date Social Security payments kicked in. We went to a job fair held by Busch Gardens and through some great negotiating, landed a job for both of us with scheduling to match – meaning we worked the same hours and the same days – the only catch was that we could not work in the same shop. It was a great three years and we learned new skills – how to operate a cash register.

There you have it – bottom line – whether you plan for retirement or do some fancy finagling should it sneak up on you when you least expect it – putting your heads together and taking into considering some of the topics just mentioned – you will be in for a great adventure. Hope you enjoy it as much as we have.

Until next time!