Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Interesting question...

"How are you enjoying retirement?" 

I get asked that a lot, for obvious reasons, I retired just under a year ago. If you follow this blog, you will be aware of that, and the fact that I have been sort of obsessed with it—mainly because it was not planned. I was afraid that I would be bored and, as a result, I put a lot of effort into making sure that didn't happen.

Of course, working from home for a year before retirement helped a lot. I had an home office set up and as mentioned before more than once, I have a number of hobbies. Machine embroidery, fishing and writing—not just this blog, but also I am working on a novel—my god that is not easy! But then, neither was my job when I was working. Of course I also spend time on my continued education, Masterclass being my main source. I can't get enough of it, in particular the writing classes of course, but there are others that are interesting.

Some weeks I can't stop writing, that is usually blogging. Blogging, as I think I mentioned before too, is my therapy. Some weeks I don't blog at all; that is usually when I am working on my novel. When I am fishing I spend a lot of time thinking about my stories. Multi tasking!. I have not done any embroidery in a while, because I have more t-shirts with smart-ass expressions on, than anyone needs; besides it is more of a winter occupation, when I can't fish I can embroider. 

I do workout, but that is for health and most definitely not enjoyment. I reward myself for staying on the treadmill by reading; a good book will keep me walking for miles. Recently I added yoga to my workout routine. I wanted something that would help with strength and balance. I found it, and it is definitely challenging. 

Part of the challenge is working around the various inconveniences of old age. I injured my right knee a long time ago—possibly had I been born in the US I would have sued; it seems everyone here sues for the least little thing. I tripped at work. Coming out of the exercise room there was a long, narrow corridor, badly lit with an uneven floor. I caught my foot on one of the lumps of uneven concrete and twisted by knee in a way it was never designed to twist. Now, twenty five years on, it is proving to be challenging. I also have the left hand that was already weakened by arthritis and since has developed Dupuytren's Contracture, this prevents my hand from resting flat on any surface For yoga that surface is the ground, well, the yoga mat, but that is on the ground. Then I have this stupid shoulder. 

I have whined quite a bit about the shoulder. A rotator cuff related issue, which causes the long head bicep tendon to pop it's groove. Seriously, that is a thing. And I assure you, it is painful. Two separate rounds of Physical Therapy, twice a week for eight weeks each time, helped. But really what helped most was the PT physically manipulated my arm and shoulder to put the tendon back in it's groove. Towards the end of my last Physical Therapy treatment, she actually showed me how to manipulate the tendon back myself. It is not quite so dramatic as Riggs relocating his shoulder in the Lethal Weapon movies, but brings every bit as much relief. It also means that I do not have to return to PT if it pops out again, which it has done more than once. Each time I have been able to coax it back into it's groove. However, this ongoing problem and not only the pain associated with it, but the constant risk of popping the tendon again, makes some yoga positions, such as downward facing dog, seriously challenging. 

Finally, I had surgery on my right foot about fifteen years ago, to correct three hammer toes and a bunion. Hammer toe surgery requires removing the joint in the toe and fusing the bone, hence no more bending of the toes. Yes, you can bend at the joint where the toe meets the foot, but that middle joint that allows you to curl your toes—not happening, gone. Stubbing your toe is painful as everyone knows. Stubbing it when it has no joint is most definitely an added level of pain, but any exercises requiring bending of the toes, while not a non-starter without joints, is uncomfortable, so some of the yoga exercises have to be adjusted to take that into account.

To work around these various disabilities I have yoga blocks for my hand, I use hemp cream for my knee and shoulder and I bought a hand massager that does absolute wonders for my hands and a heating pad for my shoulder.

So, the answer to the question is: "I enjoy not working." The jury is still out on the retirement thing. I guess like every other condition, there are pros and cons and as always silver linings abound. 

I think it is not retirement that I get frustrated with, it is old age. Just as youth is wasted on the young, retirement is wasted on the elderly. 

Sunday, May 8, 2022

Edith Piaf

One of the many tips I picked up from my hours of listening to Masterclasses on writing, was the idea of listening to music while writing. The theory is that once you start the music it reproduces the state of mind you were last in when writing. My music of choice covers a very wide variety. I love Country & Western, in particular the classic C&W, I also like some show music, such as Les Mis and Phantom of the Opera, and of course the music of my teen years, late 1950s and early 1960s. But after some thought, I decided that Edith Piaf was the music I would be most likely to write to.

I shared a love of Edith Piaf with my mother. So it is appropriate that today, as I sit down to write, I plug into my Edith Piaf playlist. Today is Mother's Day in the US. It is also the 25th anniversary of my mother's death. 

I find it hard to decide which is my favorite. I think perhaps "Non, je ne regrette rien", No regrets. A close second is "La Vie En Rose", which essentially means looking at life through rose colored glasses: "Rosey Life".

My mother's favorite was "Milord"

About 30 years ago I was going to visit my daughter in France and spent a day in Paris catching up with an old friend there. He brought me to visit Père Lachaise Cemetery. I would highly recommend a visit if you are ever in Paris. Of course it was interesting to see Jim Morrison and Oscar Wilde's graves but to stand beside Edith Piaf's grave, in the knowledge that she was born just a short distance from that spot, that was something I will never forget.

Mother's Day

Sunday, May 1, 2022


I used to keep a diary when I was a teenager. I would be fascinated to read those now! I do currently carry a small notebook in my purse, to jot down ideas for my writing rather than my private thoughts, but is not a diary, it is not journaling. It occurred to me that this blog is very much like a journal. Of course, I don't share all of my thoughts, dreams and observations here. Some are best kept quiet.

Today I remembered a post I published, on the fear of my impending retirement. I thought it was probably almost exactly a year since I wrote it. Looking back, it was actually a year and a day. April 23rd 2021. Impending doom or a whole new lease on life? How interesting it would be to have a daily diary to look back on.

I was genuinely very worried about how retirement would work out for me, because I was not emotionally ready for it. Because my husband and I are not social animals at the best of times, but in the midst of the COVID crises we were even more isolated. Work was not only a distraction and a challenge, it was regular human interaction, albeit virtually. Many of my posts approaching my retirement, and since then, have dealt with the dilemma I found myself in. 

However, COVID had also given me a year of testing out what it would be like to be stuck at home all day every day. One thing we discovered that year was that we, Larry and I, get along very well, even when exposed to highly concentrated doses of each other. That was good to know. Of course, as mentioned before—many times—I do have a long list of hobbies, and still I had space to fill with more, new activities.

Rereading my post written prior to retirement, things seem to have panned out exactly as expected. Of course, we didn't expect COVID to last quite as long as it did, in fact it is still not gone. However, according to most sources, it won't ever be gone but will remain around just as influenza has. 

I have been exercising regularly. I have been writing every day. Some days I blog, most days my writing is not for my blog. I have not been as productive as anticipated. I get distracted by my husband calling out "Let's go fishing." Or by researching some point in my story that needs clarification, and of course by Masterclass. 

I have written a lot, but so far completed only one short story. I have at least five that are in various stages of completion. Perhaps I need to go back to keeping a journal, the discipline would be good and keeping track of all those mundane events and reactions to them, could spark more ideas. I particularly like the bulleted journal idea and think I just might try that.

As for retirement. I am enjoying it. I am looking forward to being able to travel again, while cost is obviously a consideration due to reduced income, time is most definitely no longer a consideration.