The Road Less Travelled

road-less-travelled3We’ve just returned from another road trip and, once again, so thoroughly enjoyed the option of taking the road less travelled.

Last February, we drove to Texas and chose the road less travelled because we wanted to avoid as many major metropolitan areas as possible – especially Dallas. So, in the process, we found ourselves on many back roads, most of which offer a variety of interesting areas missed when taking the faster, busier interstate routes. For example, we never would have discovered the mysterious “Forbidden Zone” I wrote about back then had we not taken that route.

We often choose to travel the Nebraska back roads on our way to Denver as well, in order to avoid some of the hectic semi activity on Interstate 80. And, this trip was no exception. We drove from home to Kearney, NE, travelling Nebraska highways rather than Interstate. We enjoy seeing the country churches and the family farmsteads and prefer the slower pace that these roads bring to life.

This year, on our return home from Denver, we decided to travel by way of the Black Hills. We wanted to visit Hot Springs, the southern Gateway to the Black Hills…mostly because we had never visited that area, but also because we had been told that it is in the Banana Belt of South Dakota. For whatever reason, that sounded intriguing. So we did. We spent just one night there but we did a lot of driving around exploring the scenery, soaking up the history and experiencing the small town lifestyle that the area had to offer. It was quiet and thoroughly enjoyable.

At dinner that night in Hot Springs, Ken asked me how I felt about doing a little exploring on our way back to Sioux City. Over the years, we have made numerous trips to the Black Hills, always via Interstate 29 and 90. This time, he wanted to do something different…to return home via Highway 20 across Nebraska…just to see what it was like. So we did!

Once again, The Road Less Travelled offered us a new adventure with lots of intriguing eye candy along the way. Beautiful farmsteads, old barns, small towns and loads of beautiful fall foliage. After so many years of always living our lives on fast forward, there is something so very enjoyable about slowing things down a bit. There is so much out there to see.

It was a fabulous week, ranging from visiting wonderful restaurants, the arts district, Botanic Gardens and various other adventures in downtown Denver to a step back in time in the hills of South Dakota and along the back roads of Nebraska. We’re home again now but the “high” of our just completed vacation remains. I had to smile, watching Ken out on the deck grilling last night…in the dark, now, as fall closes in on us, but still enjoying his Bluetooth music and his glass of wine. We will begin planning our next road trip soon, but, for now, our “staycation” is pretty enjoyable too. Life is good!

Later.

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Retirement Favorites – 8 Big Things and a Few Extras

I recently discovered An Encore Voyage – A Journey of reinvention and discovery. It is SO me I am amazed. Thought I would share this particular post and hope you enjoy it as much as I.

An Encore Voyage

These are a few of my favorite things

A couple of days ago, I had lunch with two of my gal pals.  One is just beginning her second year of retirement. The other, a school district employee, has met the “Rule of 90” qualifications for retirement, but as yet is still working for the district.  In our conversation, as the two of us told the third about the things we missed about working (mainly, teaching children and spending time with our adult colleagues), I found myself trying to convince the third friend that she really should consider retiring.  We discussed the need for insurance benefits and the fear of boredom, and of spending too much time with our spouses.  We chatted and laughed and caught up on all the insider scoop of the school district, and then gal number three asked,

“What is your favorite thing about retirement?”

It would have been easy to give her a smart-assed…

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How Big Is My World?

I acquired a new follower yesterday and, as a result of that follow, I discovered her blog. I thought I would share her recent post because it speaks volumes about how I, myself, feel about life. Thanks for sharing wisewoodpigeon.

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I work in an environment where I am surrounded by older women. I see in them a variety of opinions, differing lifestyles, patterns of behaviour, and a variety of responses to aging. In some I see a reluctance to embrace new things – whether new technologies, different beliefs or concepts, new ideas, styles & fashions, or a reluctance to accept different cultural and religious perspectives. They are creatures of habit and known habits attract predictability and a sense of surety.

On the other hand, some of my colleagues are much more open to new ideas and technology; will try something new, go to see new movies, try different hairstyles and clothes, try new restaurants and strange food. These women seem more aware of what’s going on around them; the needs of others, their own needs and limitations; are not scared of change; don’t have a tendency to panic; they always attempt…

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Daydreaming

Sitting at my computer and looking out the window of my recently created home office (which has barely gotten any use since I “retired”), I realize that I have not published a new blog post since June 19. It feels like my plans were totally derailed and that took away all of my inspiration and enthusiasm for writing. Today is a perfect example.

Spending days on end hassling with tech support regarding a web site I am working on is DEFINITELY not how I intended to reinvent retirement. It is more like a blast from my past showing up to mock me. Does anyone in tech support EVER admit that a problem may be due to something on THEIR end? Not in the tech support world I have visited.

Just sayin’. I’m thinking it’s about time to move my giant clock and myself into a more creative environment where I belong.

Later.

Eye of the Storm

What is on my mind this evening is not so much about re-inventing retirement as it is about an issue involved with reaching so-called “retirement age.”

Just heard someone mention the eye of the storm on the news and it occurred to me that was the perfect title for this post. Here’s why.

Last Tuesday I had cataract surgery. Nothing unusual for someone my age In fact, it seemed like they were moving people through there in droves last week. So, for most people, there would be no way that the experience would provide fodder for a blog post. But, in my warped world, it has spawned the Eye of the Storm.

The procedure itself is brief and basically uneventful. Uneventful if you have no problem with the fact that you are literally watching a scalpel dissect your eyeball and a new lens being implanted in place of the old. But, they give you drugs for that and it doesn’t last long nor does it hurt and that is not what this is about. My story begins with the follow-up exam an hour after the surgery itself.

I assumed the exam would basically involve inspecting the eye to ensure that everything was properly in place and that there was no unexpected bleeding, etc…which it was. But, first – the dreaded vision exam. I’m sure that in most people’s world, a vision exam is no cause for dread. But, remember, I said this post was based on MY warped world. And, I have absolutely hated vision exams since I was in elementary school, when the school nurse would call us to her office and have us stare at a chart with a big E on top and smaller E’s as you went down the chart. We were asked to point in the direction that the arms of the E were facing. The big E? No problem. But I didn’t have to go very far down the chart for it to become a big problem for me. And, here is where the warped part comes in. For me, this was embarrassing. It was like failing a test. I knew I was giving the wrong answer and that was torture for me. I have hated vision exams ever since. They always involve asking me to read something that I can’t see and it makes me feel like a failure.

So, it was like a kick in the head when, almost straight out of surgery, I was tested again. She put some letters up and asked me to read them. I literally could not even tell that they were letters, let alone tell her what letters they were. She brushed it off saying things would become clearer once the dilation wore off.

This afternoon, I had to go in for another follow-up, prior to surgery on the left eye tomorrow.  I stupidly assumed it was just for the purpose of making sure everything was healing properly. But, OMG, the first thing she did was another dreaded vision exam. This time she pulled up a screen with something like 6 or 8 lines on it and asked me to read the smallest line that I could see. And, I couldn’t read any of them. I twisted, moved my head around, blinked, but nothing. Not even the top line. FAILED! And, it really didn’t even surprise me, because following my surgery everyone was asking me if I could see better. So, I kept trying and trying to see better. I would test myself by covering my left eye and trying to read the time on the DVR with my right, but I couldn’t do it. So, failing that exam this afternoon was absolutely no surprise. Still, I felt a storm brewing in my stomach as I watched her reaction. She didn’t say anything but she gave me several more “tests” and then asked me to wait while she checked on something. I could see her consulting with someone. And, then she returned and said she was going to have to dilate my eye and take a look to make sure everything was OK. NO! Dilated again and, this time I didn’t even have a driver. But I gave the go ahead and she put the drops in. This was followed by taking a photo of the back my eye, after which I had to wait again for the doctor to come in.

Apparently the problem is the inability to correct my astigmatism. But, he said the good news is that with a prescription, they will be able to correct me to 20/40, which will still allow me to drive. And, the second surgery is still on for tomorrow at 7 AM  I left and went out to my car where I sat for awhile trying to get my dilated eye to adjust to the bright sunlight that had replaced the cloudy darkness of most of the day and to get my attitude to adjust as well. I was really feeling devastated. SO MANY people had told me that I would be able to throw my glasses away and see perfectly following surgery. But, that didn’t  happen and I felt totally devastated

Fortunately, my little thunderstorm soon passed and as I drove home I realized that I am extremely grateful for what I did get. I may not be able to see as far as I would like, but, what I CAN see is much brighter and more clearly defined. I will take that. And, tomorrow is another day…and another eye. Who knows – maybe they will be able to correct the left eye enough to help make up for the right. We’ll see. If they can, GREAT! And, if they can’t, I take whatever I can get. In the overall scheme of things, wearing glasses is just not that bad.

Later.

Shortest Post Ever

blog quote small2Feeling somewhat guilty that I have not posted for awhile but was very busy with graduation and then a monkey wrench in retirement plans. Two weeks away from my transition from Director of Marketing and Business Development to VP of the Rest of my Life. Not looking exactly as planned but in staying open to my options, realize God is in charge, not me. So hectic right now but will elaborate as time allows. Still not seeing the top of that staircase.

Still Alice

Just finishing up a busy, busy week-end of preparation for next week-end’s graduation celebration for grandson, Alex. But, all day, my thoughts have drifted to a movie we watched last night…Still Alice.

It was very, very good…but heartbreaking and haunting. It brought back many memories of the years that my mother was going through a similar experience. My mother was a victim of early onset Alzheimer’s as well. And, the problem, though it had to have begun while she was still working, became much more obvious following her retirement.

When I was debating my retirement decision, Ken, at times, seemed to be apprehensive. And, one day, he finally admitted that he remembers so well, that my mother retired and, very shortly thereafter began her decline into dementia. That scares him. You hear stories like that quite often, but I’m not sure that it is the retirement that causes it. Still…I have to admit that it was one of the motives behind my determination to challenge myself to re-invent retirement. I face challenges daily in my job, and it will seem very strange when that goes away. So, I am determined to remain open to other challenges that may present themselves. I read a lot about dementia. I’m not paranoid about it… just very cognizant of the fact that it’s out there. So, when I read that eating certain foods may help delay Alzheimer’s, I try my best to incorporate those foods into my diet. And, when I read that brain games may delay Alzheimer’s, I work on some brain games. So, when I read that retiring from a challenging career and not “working” on a regular basis may accelerate the onset of dementia, you can bet I will do everything in my power to ensure that I am still challenged to use my talents in some way.

One of the daughters in the movie made the statement that she would rather be diagnosed with cancer than Alzheimer’s. That struck me, because I made that exact same comment myself. At the time my mother was going through Alzheimer’s, my Dad was diagnosed with cancer. Not pretty, either of them. But, it seems like dying of cancer preserves your dignity in a way that dementia can not. However, you don’t get to choose… and, sometimes you wind up with both. My mother had Breast Cancer as well as Alzheimer’s. I followed in her footsteps with cancer. Hopefully, not with Alzheimer’s. But, if Alzheimer’s decides to choose me, then I will face it with the same tenacity as Alice.

Until then, as my retirement date approaches, I am keeping my options open. I know there is an opportunity for me somewhere out there, and writing this blog is just the first step in re-inventing retirement.

If you haven’t seen the movie, do. Still Alice.

Later.

Wish I Had Thought of This

This post may seem better suited to one of my previous blogs, but I thought it had some validity here as well. This link is to one of the greatest ideas I have seen since my illness.

Los Angeles–based designer Emily McDowell, turned her experience as a cancer patient and survivor into a line of greeting cards she calls Empathy cards. These cards help people to express the words for situations that are just difficult to put into words. They are cards that she would have liked to receive during her illness. I’m pretty sure that Emily is not retired, but this is the type of thing that I would love to pursue as I reinvent my life in retirement. It is a creative outlet for her feelings that offers something that can be a godsend for others going through difficult situations. I really wish I had thought of this.

So, here is a link to a blog post written by Kristin Hohenadel . It is her work, not mine, but it spoke to me so much that I just had to share, Hope you enjoy. And, thanks so much Kelli, for originally sharing it with me.

A Cancer Survivor Designs the Cards She Wishes She’d Received From Friends and Family

Later.

Walking With Wine?

If you followed my cancer blogs, you are probably familiar with my references to walking with wine, My sister…Lake Enemy Swim…oh, yeah. But, if you’re not, that’s possibly a good thing. However, I heard a cute story this week that made me think both of “walking with wine” and reinventing retirement.

I must admit, I spent some time debating whether or not I should share this…it’s not really my story to share. However, I will not use any names here in order to protect the guilty, so, hopefully it’s OK.

Was talking with a friend about retirement. He was saying that his wife retired several years ago and it is great because neither of them feel that they need to spend every minute together. They also enjoy their own friends and activities. And, he gave me an example that just cracked me up.

His wife has a small group of friends that get together from time to time to enjoy each other’s company. The other day they decided to meet for a drink and a movie. But, here is where the story gets funny, When they finished their drink and headed to the movie, someone smuggled a bottle of wine into the theater. They brought plastic glasses so they wouldn’t clink and sat in the back row. Then, they shared this bottle of wine while watching the movie. Now, THAT gives new meaning to walking with wine. And, definitely reinvents the way some look at retirement. That is like the Golden Girls personified. I don’t know about you, but I just love that story and wanted to share.

Later.