Monday, June 1, 2015

Monday, Getting Started. . .

 Yesterday's post was about looking back, reviewing the week. Now it's time to move forward, right? I'm trying to get some traction in making my transition to retirement. Between reading and gardening and, obviously, taking too many photos, I'm jotting items down on lists. Also scribbling associatively in mad webs across various pages. . . .
A simple yellow Gladiolus, species not cultivar, but I don't know which. Bought this years ago at the sadly-now-defunct Island Specialty Nursery in Chemainus. . . .

I think I'm hoping for a balance between getting the house and life in general sorted and organized -- all the detritus shifted, the daily necessaries more conveniently located, all corners dusted and shone, inventories made and filed, whether actually or virtually -- and making sure there will be some uncaptured time in which desire can emerge. . . .I have a tendency to castigate my own laziness. My husband would correct me to say that my tendency is to call myself lazy when I'm merely resting or reading or amusing myself with some activity that doesn't fit a strict enough definition of work or productivity. This goes way back and I'm unlikely to change just because I'm retired, but I'd like to find a way to be kinder to myself and to enjoy a productivity and creativity that keeps me energized.
The gladiolus again, along with some of its co-bloomers by the pond.
 This morning, though, was mostly selfish activity -- I ran, did yoga, ate my breakfast down by the beach, reading a book (it's chicklit, but it's in French, so I give myself some points for working on language. . . yes, I do that kind of accounting from time to time, and yes, I know it's ridiculous).
I love, love, love these Siberian Irises, given to me by a friend many years ago, a division from a plant in her nearby garden. 
 I read blogs, answered readers' comments on mine, left comments on others, posted on Instagram, and I'm writing this. I wandered the garden with my camera, taking pure pleasure in seeing, smelling, and hearing my garden.
 And I cleaned the bathrooms. Not my favourite job, at all, but I always feel rather virtuous when it's done. And either noble or a teeny bit martyred. Bathroom-cleaning always stirs me to think about domestic politics, and I do wonder how we'll manage that in my retirement. The last few years have been great, in that respect, with Pater taking on the bulk of the work once we were no longer able to find a compatible cleaner on the island. Before that, almost ten years of living in separate cities, with a really solid cleaner coming in weekly to keep things spiffy here, spoiled me and set a pattern I could happily live with. During the years I worked at home, I would regularly stumble into some of my own resentment over the way gender manifested itself in household chores. Don't want to go there again, and I'm hoping maturity has set in by now and we've evolved some reasonable skills for dealing with this issue. 'cause I'd rather be in the garden. And he's happy in the kitchen--and turns out beautiful meals regularly, but someone's got to clean those toilets. . . .
 Hmmm, interesting how that train of thought barrelled down the tracks. . . .

Next item on my organizational list is to compile a list of our many accounts and somehow find a secure way to keep their passwords sorted and find-able for those who might need them in an emergency. Or, say, if I get so stressed about cleaning toilets that my memory fails (joke!). At the moment, all that information is in my head (I've always looked after the banking, although Pater has taken on some of the financial tasks since his retirement). It only seems wise to get it on paper -- and I know, I'm sure there are all sorts of safe ways to park this information in The Cloud somewhere, but have you ever read Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale. Or any other dystopic novel about "the machine" either failing or taking us over? Naive though it may be, I like to have a paper version. . .
 So many other plans and wishes on my lists. Sort through my books to purge, edit, organize -- and dust! Write another chapter in my "French saga." Re-do my office here at home with a much smaller desk space, getting rid of the space-gobbling file cabinets. Renew my passport. Sort and clear out drawers in the bathrooms. Wonder why we have So. Much. Stuff. and Resolve not to get more. . .
























This stage, with all my list-making and puttering and planning too much and fretting just a little, reminds me of what my yoga instructors tell us when we're settling into a class, breathing, letting go of all those thoughts about the past and worries about the future. Rather than fight the intrusive thoughts, they always say, just let them arise, and observe them, and then try to get back to the breath. It's the only sure thing, and it can anchor us, if we let it. As does the garden, for me. . .

Indulge me, then, if you will, but don't worry too much about my transition. I'm not as fretful about it as I might appear, but interested, rather, in all the fuss and noise it's evoking. I'm quite confident that much of this will fall away, eventually, and I'll find my new parameters. Meanwhile, I welcome your comments, as usual, and I hope you enjoy these sunny pond plants. . . .Happy Monday!

37 comments:

  1. Laughing to myself as I read this because you've captured my thoughts and feelings from five years ago so well. I had PLANS for retirement---and LISTS galore--about what I'd be doing in all those newly found hours.

    Your yoga instructor's advice is pretty good--let those plans come, observe them, but concentrate first and foremost on breathing. That's easier said than done when we live in a society that values "being busy"--even if the acivity has no real purpose other than keeping us in a state of perpetual motion. You're right in thinking that the transition for both you and your husband may get rocky at times, but you'll manage just like you managed all your other ransitional periods as a couple.

    Personally, I found giving myself "permission" to sit with my coffee in the morning, reading for an hour or two, was one way of slowing me down. It was hard at first to ignore all the "oughts" and "shoulds" that flooded my mind but, gradually, it became easier to be comfortable with stillness. And, to me, that's one of the greatest rewards of retirement--to give us the chance to recapture the gifts of quietness and reflection that so often got pushed aside in favour of meeting deadlines and fulfilling obligations.

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    1. Thanks, Marilyn. It's so good to hear from others who have been through this process. I'm starting to sense that this slowing down and letting be might be a new goal in itself (I'll put it on the list! ;-). Perhaps we contribute something, as elders, just by leaving room for, perhaps again, discernment through this filtering. Perhaps we develop a different sense of what matters which might help our younger, still-working-for-pay friends and family recognize that there can be other ways, other values, other tempos. We have the gift of quietness and reflection, as you say, so perhaps the challenge for me will be to use that gift wisely so that the faster-paced world around me can see its value. I'll try . . .

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  2. You've got a lot of energy for a Monday morning!
    I've been really lazy...I drove up to Mill Bay to meet a friend for lunch at Bridgeman's on the water and have accomplished nothing on the domestic front.
    Giving yourself permission to relax, read, run and do Yoga is as healthy as taking charge of passwords and bathrooms...I rationalize my days by accomplishing tasks and indulging in pleasurable activities...trying to maintain a bit of balance.
    Sounds like you are well on your way...and it's still "the honeymoon period."

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    1. See? You do what I do -- Lazy applies to activities we like even though that's a bit of a drive you put in and you spent time visiting with a friend. . . .
      When I see it in someone else, I can see how it's something we need to guard against, but it's harder to stop labelling my own behaviour. Your advice is good though. Balance, always, and taking/giving permission. Thanks for being a retirement model!

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  3. I struggle with the fact that "reading is what I do" and I should not need to explain myself. For someone else, reading is what they do to fall asleep. So what! I have a similar resentment towards household tasks. When I was in Mexico, someone came in and cleaned once a week. I had no proprietary feelings about the apartment. I was just happy that it was clean. I still have no fully unpacked my suitcase after 2 weeks because I want to reorganize my wardrobe. My book boxes have not been culled. Life will go on. It is important to give ourselves the permission to just be. Breathe the breath and live with the temporary uncertainty.

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    1. I've always struggled with this, an inveterate, profligate reader from childhood. It can look "lazy" and I do often feel a compulsion to explain it. . . But I like your "So what?"!
      I also like your advice to "live with the temporary uncertainty." I believe uncertainty and instability can be good things and too often we try to organize or rationalize them away. I'm going to try to ride mine out until I see where I settle. Thanks.

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  4. I don't comment much at all, but this is resonating with me as I mentally prepare myself for retirement in (hopefully) a couple of years. I know I can't second-guess myself too much in preparation, but I'm impressed with how you've approached this. Thank you for sharing this. Lyn (in Vancouver)

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    1. Glad it resonates, Lyn. It's such new territory, isn't it?! I hadn't intended to retire for another three years, but it just became obvious I needed to. We'll see how it goes. . .

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  5. Hey, retirement is for watching Netflix series all in one day, right?

    :)

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  6. Leslie in OregonJune 1, 2015 at 9:47 PM

    I tried retiring from the professional work I was doing, but after a few years of doing personal work and relaxing, I jumped at the chance to resume my professional work. For me, it was so exhilarating to resume work with a purpose that served someone beyond me and my family. (During my retirement, I had not been enough of a self-starter to take on volunteer work that met that criterion). Unfortunately, my professional work has become unavoidably all-consuming too often, so once again, I am contemplating retiring from it. Whether I do that now or later (when my husband and I can afford to both retire from our professional work), it will be very information to read your posts about your experience of retirement. Thank you for sharing that journey with us, Leslie

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    1. That sounds a bit like LPC's pattern. I can easily imagine being excited at the right work offer coming along in a few years -- so much of my identity has been tied up in it, and, honestly, so much of the work is really rewarding, intellectually engaging, etc. But I also suspect it would take over again and I'd be frustrated and tired trying to juggle it with other priorities. It's tough to be in an either/or position, and I sympathize with you -- sounds as if part-time isn't an option. Thanks for commenting here and good luck!

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  7. Sorry, Mater, it's a (very elegant) hemerocallis. Enjoy the day.

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    1. It does look like a hemerocallis, doesn't it? And I have a daylily just opposite it, which isn't anywhere near blooming yet, but which will happily bloom all summer. The horticulturist who sold this to me as a Gladiolus was very knowledgeable, and I wish I could find the receipt I once had which had the species name on it. Obviously, it's not one of the more common Gladiolus Grandiflora. And you may be right and it may just be a daylily. It behaves very differently, however. This will be its only bloom of the summer, while my reliable daylily will bloom on and on. And on. Thanks for commenting -- have a lovely day!

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    2. is it scented at all ?? because it looks like a lemon lily to me! which is a Lilium and not a hemerocallis--
      laura

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    3. I can't get much scent of it this afternoon, but will try tomorrow -- my nostrils get a bit overwhelmed by the Sambuca nigra in full pinkiferous flower right now. I'm really doubting my memory now, and although I've found similar Gladiolus (species, not hybrids), I'll readily concede how much it looks like a hemeroallis. . . Now I'm off to look at lemon lilies in my plant encyclopediae. . . Great to have this community to crowd-source my queries to!

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    4. I've been doing a bit of research, especially after sniffing this morning and finding that yes, the flowers are fragrant. Not a lemon lily (size much different), but there are numerous Gladiolus species that get close -- citrinus (smaller), tristis (colour different, but fragrance sounds similar) -- This might give the first Anonymous an idea of the range of Gladiolus that look somewhat similar to hemerocallis: http://ag.arizona.edu/~daves/types.html . . .

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  8. Interpretating rest and recreation as laziness ... me too! And as you know my body is currently telling me in no uncertain terns that that is just plain wrong, resting and such is some of the most important work we do if we want to have as many hours and days in this beautiful world as possible.

    Enjoy this transitional time as you ease into what's next ... I'm sure your days will be overfull soon enough. We've just made the decision that the mister will not retire quite yet - he's older than me and also nowhere near the official UK retirement age but he had hoped to retire early given that I normally freelance from home. Ah well, no doubt the day will come soon enough!

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    1. Yes, this is where I was heading as well. Into increasingly fraught territory of not-wellness, spending hours and hours on weekends not able to stop crying or simply too tired in the evenings to do anything but watch an hour's TV and go to bed by 9. I like your perception that resting is important work -- and I have to trust that I will be able to contribute to the larger world in meaningful ways that might simply be my Being, Thinking, Listening. . . .We'll have to see, I guess.

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  9. I did a thorough cleaning of the carpeted floors (half the house) on the weekend and felt very virtuous. But by the time I'd tidied and vacuumed it seemed to take up most of my weekend, so much for leisure time. I'm thinking I'll keep the house cleaner and the garden weeded once I retire. It looks like that could be like a full time job! Not my ideal retirement plan.

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    1. Exactly this, Northmoon. I've been imagining being able to impose such order in my retirement. Now that I'm here (especially since it's summer!) I can still the flaws in this vision. . . Parameters will have to be set. . . ;-)

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  10. Reading. Just bliss. But so often misconstrued as time-wasting. I plan to finally read all of Dickens in near future (but not Nicholas Nickleby...really cannot abide it) but there is that peculiar sensation. There you are, delightedly sitting with your book, perhaps a cuppa to hand, trolling down the first page...then a little internal voice starts...clean this, do that, shouldn't you be, you ought to be, go for a run.....this voice absolutely never appears when you are cleaning. Fortunately, I enjoy cleaning toilets and bathrooms (I know!) but this internal overseer is most aggravating. I have never, ever heard a man refer to it. My watchword: Being Good Will Kill You. I attempt to be disobedient as often as possible. In fact, it is now time for gin. Huzzah! I just don't want to find myself on my deathbed wondering why I never read A Tale of Two Cities.

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    1. Absolutely! It is so often misconstrued, but what do they know anyway! I was managing to fit in a Dickens a summer until I lost my way a couple of years ago. Read Nicholas Nickleby as a young teen, although I probably skimmed it (also read Martin Chuzzlewit as part of that Dickens guzzle. . . can't remember the slightest bit of either). I did read A Tale of Two Cities a few years ago when I travelled between the two -- and then complemented it with Hilary Mantel's A Place of Greater Safety.
      Really? Enjoy the bathroom-cleaning? I think that would be a marvellous capacity to have! My MIL used to get up and start cleaning after a couple of drinks while card-playing (Whist, Bridge) or whatever, of an evening, just because she enjoyed it.
      I'm adopting your watchword, stat! No gin in the house, but I'm off to pour myself a Scotch ;-)

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  11. Not to be morbid, but I am currently in the process of closing my father's house so I have a few suggestions that would have helped us. We thought we were in good shape since all the legal documents were there and we knew what he wanted the family to keep. But....if you have treasured art a note on the back as to what it is, where and when purchased, approximate value and care would be invaluable. Same for anything else that is unique or just important (even plants in the garden). My parents lived in Mexico for years and bought lovely things, but we have no idea of their provenance. It's the same for items inherited from an actress great grandmother who traveled around the world. We have no idea why there were five sets of old china hidden in top cabinets or who the sets belonged to. Why were these so important that they were moved multiple times probably at a significant cost?

    When I get home I plan to make a list of the important items in our house with this information as well as a note about what we would like our children to keep. Whatever their decision, at least they will know what things are.

    Then I might think about cleaning.....or not......
    Lynn

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    1. This is actually when I resolved to start ordering our accounts, etc., as soon as I get the chance -- when we cleaned out my mom's place after she died. We were lucky that much of the sorting had happened when she moved to the condo from the house, but it was still suddenly clear what my kids would have to confront if we went soon -- so much STUFF! Mom had made notes, as you suggest, on the important items she wanted someone to treasure, and we were able to work out others without too much stress, but I'm going to try to get the lists started this summer. At this stage of life, I don't think this is morbid but rather common sense. Thanks for the helpful suggestions.

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  12. As I haven't yet retired I have no advice to add but it seems to me you are "transitioning"well. While we all need a certain amount of structure and purpose , surely the whole point of being retired is having the time to while away as one wishes. I can think of no more lovely start to the day than a nice cup of coffee and a few hours reading. I think with your many interests and natural curiosity you will have no difficulty in making the most of your time. Mary

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    1. Thanks, Mary. Reading and a cup of tea suits me very well in the morning -- perhaps I should put that at the top of my list! ;-)

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  13. Just before I sign off for the night to read a wonderful Dorothy L Sayers... re anonymous and clearing a parents house. So sorry you are doing it in grief. I am helping my mother do it prior to a last move. Stuff has real power but we really need to know what has true meaning. Like you, I have made a list of things I would take in extemis. About 8. Four pictures. My wedding ring. A pair of truly beautiful earrings. A couple of photo albums with pictures of my children when very young. Cleaning items. 0. Here's to travelling light. Sorry, Mater. Intruding on your balliwick.

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    1. No need to apologize. I love hosting a gathering like this. Happy to see you and Lynn chatting about this important matter. And yes, travelling light. Presumably it gets even easier as we discern what's really important.

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    2. My mother disposed of nearly all sentimental objects (including her wedding ring) before her final two year stay in a retirement/nursing home. She liked knowing her things were "being looked after".

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  14. We are in such a similar place at the moment. You should see the lists! But I struggle with apparent inactivity unless I can justify it in some worthy way. My husband can sit and read or research on his computer for hours with no such compunction.

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    1. Yes, we have the gender difference working here as well, although perhaps it's as much personality as anything. Mine is naturally much more prone to physical activity than I am and has more of a certain kind of stamina. And I'm prone to judging myself against others which really doesn't help anyone. I'm going to work on that. It's on the list. . . ;-)

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  15. There is such a deeply ingrained focus on "productivity", when one has absorbed endless workplace imperatives to do more with less, contribute to measurable outcomes, achieve certain ratings or awards etc. etc.. A friend's daughter once asked her mother, "But when do we get to LIVE?" The answer, is, now.

    (The young girl was no slouch; just graduated from Harvard last week.)

    I have discovered a real talent for the pleasures of "far niente".

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    1. Yes, it's really deeply ingrained. Especially so for me, as the oldest of a very large family. From very early on, I was always aware of what could/needed to be done to help out, and it was easy to feel guilty. . . On the other hand, my mother gave some good example in her afternoon "nap" which really meant quiet time for whichever kids were around and reading time for her. . . Yes! Those Italians know how to savour that Dolce far niente. . . something I think I might practice. Often!

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  16. Is it a trait peculiar to the female brain that while doing one thing (relaxing, reading, sewing), it is simultaneously thinking about another (what to make for dinner, laundry that needs folding)?
    I do the cooking here, mostly because I enjoy it and Tim has zero interest in it. I've noticed that he comes in and expects food (not in a demanding way, but because it's always been there.) When we work together in the yard, I have commented several times that I'll bet he's not thinking about what's for dinner.
    "Nope," he admits. He never gives it a thought.
    Yet there I am, working alongside, engrossed in the same task, and my mind is thinking about what's in the fridge.
    Do males have a decided advantage in being able to engage the moment? Or is it a learned behavior?
    Interesting thought about passwords and such. I like to keep a paper copy as well. There are just too many passwords required for all of life that it's hard to keep them straight.
    Tomorrow we're headed to the Maritimes for 10 days and in my bag is The Handmaid's Tale. I've read much of Atwood's poetry but none of her novels. Time to remedy that.

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    1. I've seen (too simplistic, certainly) explanations that Men's programming suited Hunting while Women's shaped us for Gathering. Thus the long, narrow vision that lets my guy concentrate and exclude distractions while I tend to be sorting all sorts of incoming messages and trying to work several things at once. Makes a certain sense to me, although I mistrust such sweeping generalizations about gender, and this one can really work to keep us in the kitchen with the kids. . . ;-) As you wonder, Nature or Nurture. All I know is that I would like to grab me some of that before I'm done!
      The Handmaid's Tale, eh? A little light reading? That one packs its dystopic wallop, but none of hers are exactly easy novels. I'll be curious to see what you think. And I'm looking forward to your photos of the Maritimes -- so many gorgeous subjects there. Enjoy!

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I'd love to hear your response to my post. Agree, disagree, even go off on a tangent, I love to know you're out there, readers. Let's chat, shall we? I apologize, though, for the temporary necessity of the Word Verification -- spam comments have been tiresomely numerous lately, and I'm hoping to break that pattern.

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