Sunday, November 24, 2013

The rest of the story

Mike's idea of humor

about those evil hickory nuts.

I wrote about this a couple of weeks ago, but here's a quick recap.  I went out for a walk, and I slipped on a hickory nut and hit my elbow and arm on the curb.  I felt lucky there were no broken bones (after a painful x-ray where they twisted my VERY SORE arm back and forth for the perfect picture), but it was majorly bruised and hurt a lot!

Happy band of hickory nut gatherers

My family arrived a few days later for an early Thanksgiving, and due to my arm being in a sling, I was forced to tell them the story about my stupid fall.

Well, much to my surprise, my mom recalled picking up hickory nuts when she was a kid, and she said they tasted great.  So, mom and other family members re-traced my painful steps to find the hickory nuts mother lode.  My arm was very sore at this point, and I couldn't quite bring myself to join in the fun(?).

Mom and sister Pam with the harvest
Pam and Alex taking a break

And yes, it was a bit difficult to smile...

Well, after almost 2 weeks of healing,  my bruises are fading, and my arm feels better.  And so Mike gets this brilliant idea to pick up more hickory nuts.  Now, never let it be said that I am a poor sport or that I can't laugh at my own bad luck.  So against my better judgment, I accompanied Mike down the street to pick up hickory nuts this afternoon.  Careful not to step on any, we got a nice little harvest!

And imagine my own evil smile when finding a Google article saying you need to crack them open with a brick!  Ah yes, I'm going to enjoy eating those little hickory nuts...

On a separate note, I want to thank Tamara Reddy for including my recent post "What I've Learned in Retirement" on her blog.  Tamara's blog, Early Retirement Journey, chronicles her experiences traveling, hiking and biking.  I enjoy her writing and live vicariously through her amazing experiences. I encourage you to check it out.

Have a great week! Diane

Note:  Thanks to my sister Angie for photos 2-4 above.

Friday, November 22, 2013


Beautiful sunset one evening this week

As Thanksgiving approaches we are busy with plans for the big day.  Our normal pace shifts into overdrive as we clean the house, buy the groceries and cook our favorite foods in preparation for the big meal.

And we are starting to think about  Christmas shopping about now.  Black Friday used to be the beginning point of the Christmas shopping frenzy,  but now stores offer pre-Black Friday sales, and larger retailers will be open on Thanksgiving day.

And then there's the Christmas decorating which seems earlier than ever as I notice homes in the neighborhood already decorated with trees and colorful lights.  Crazy busy is the way of life this time of year.  But I don't want to let Thanksgiving escape without reflecting on why I am thankful.

My sister, Angie, holding a Thankful sign we made this Fall

I am thankful for...

My sweetie.  Mike is my best friend, holding my hand as we walk down this sometimes crazy road of life.

Family and friends. They accept me and love me and are my best supporters.  And they enrich my life in innumerable ways.

Health, which I don't take for granted after my own bout with breast cancer.  Three plus years cancer free, I feel strong and healthy.  Ok, I still have the occasional klutzy move like bruising my arm by falling on a hickory nut, but certainly those problems are self-imposed...

Faith.  My strong belief in God is the cornerstone of my life.

Retirement and the chance to explore life outside work.  I am excited about a world of opportunities to meet new people, try new things and help those less fortunate.

Financial security.  We are so fortunate to live in our own home, have food on the table and live a comfortable lifestyle to pursue our hobbies and interests.

The beauty of nature.  Retirement has afforded a wonderful pause of time where I see beauty each day.  Clouds, flowers, leaves and the sunset give me a child like sense of awe and wonder.

A favorite Life is Good shirt 

And yes, I have been accused of being a Pollyanna with my  optimistic views and "Life is Good" t-shirts, but that attitude gets me through times of self-doubt and worry.  And believe me, I am a pro at worrying.  I tell people that I'm so good at worrying that they should give me their problems, and I'll worry for them.  But really, the problems and worries are so small compared to the good   And for that I am thankful.

I hope you find time during the upcoming holiday season to reflect on why you are thankful...


Thursday, November 14, 2013

Strange, wonderful and painful week!

Practicing my snow angel pose (hope the neighbors didn't see this)
It's been a wild ride of a week, that's for sure.

Fall put on an amazing display, and for some reason I couldn't pass up a chance to practice a snow angel in the front yard.

Little did I know that I could practice the real thing a couple of days later when we got our first (and very early) snowfall of the season.

I don't know, but it just doesn't seem right to see snow on bright fall colors...

And it's been an absolutely wonderful week from a writing perspective.

First of all, I want to thank Sydney for the amazing opportunity to write a post on her popular retirement blog.  I wrote an article, Top 10 List-How to Live Together 24x7 in Retirement, which you can find at Retired Syd@Retirement: A Full Time Job.

And thanks to her generosity, many new readers visited my blog this week!  Welcome to all the new readers!  I hope you will stop by often to see what's happening in my retirement world.

And now I can't get this phrase out of my head: "Pride goeth before the fall".  Well, after a week of floating on clouds with all the blog publicity, I took a fall.  Literally.

My newest attire
I did something kind of klutzy and stupid.  I fell while walking, actually slipping on a hickory nut.  You know I couldn't make that up...

I had an x-ray of my elbow, and nothing is broken, but I am VERY SORE.  In the words of the doctor, I "bruised the crap out it".  I have a sling for my arm, and I am taking pain pills to avoid wincing with every movement.

So, I am living proof of the dangers of simply walking down the street.  You just never know when a nut will land under your foot and quickly send you up into the air and down on the ground before you know it.  Hickory nuts, pecans or acorns.  All evil...

So it's been a strange, wonderful and painful week!  And I admit that on the day of the accident I forbid Mike to joke about my falling on a nut.  And being the sympathetic guy he is, all the jokes waited until the very next day...

Have a great and safe week!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

What I’ve learned about retirement

Two years of retirement and my 100th blog post have me in a reflective mood.  Here are some musings on what I’ve learned in the first two years of retirement.

I was ill equipped for free time.  Sure, I’d been on vacations, and I generally didn’t work on weekends, but having a clean slate of time was something new to me.  Without the constraints of a job, I have to come up with my own goals and plans.  I generally have a list of things I want to accomplish, much like my working days.  But now, I don’t have too much heartburn if I decide to delay a task until the next day.  Now, I’m the one giving myself “performance reviews”.  I only have to please myself (and my spouse, of course).    So after a lifetime of busy, I am learning to slow down and soak up life.

Hanging with Joleen and Roby
Leaving your job, selling your house, leaving your friends and moving to a new city is a lot of change.  Generally I like change and seek it out, but this was a heavy load.  At first we were so busy remodeling my house that I didn’t miss my job, and of course I could easily hook up with my friends for lunch or drinks.  It was only after the house was sold and I moved 500 miles away that I realized what was missing:  my long-term friendships formed over years of working together.  Even today it’s a bit lonely living far away from these friends, but I try to keep in touch. And I continue to work on making new friends here.

Dinner with Emily, Maggie and Brian

Walking with Ruth along the river

With my sweetie
Living with your spouse 24x7 isn’t necessarily easy.  Style differences show up big time when you are together all the time.   I am a neat freak, and Mike doesn’t need a world free of clutter.  I like to complete my chores before playing, and Mike prefers to play if and when a good opportunity arises.  Mike is the energizer bunny and prefers to be busy all the time.  I need my down time to energize.  We continue to learn more about each other and are adapting to all this time together. 

Getting the photo...

I get to be creative every day, and I LOVE IT!  Every day I can choose a creative endeavor whether it’s writing, photography, beading, sewing, painting or some other DIY adventure.  And some of my happiest moments are when I’m using my imagination to create something new.

Making purses out of re-purposed jeans

With mom at the Cincinnati Arboretum

Spending time with family is now a wonderful reality.  For my entire working life I lived 500-600 miles away from my family in Southern Indiana and Cincinnati.  I got to see them on holidays, but I missed the daily life occurrences.  Now I can pop up at my mom’s for a quick visit, I can see my nephew in a cross country race, watch another nephew play baseball, spend time with my sister and her husband at an Irish fest or go to an art fair with my brother and his wife.  I can’t undo those missed years, but I’m so happy to be a part of the family once again.

Enjoying the Irish Fest with George and Pam

During my last 3 years of work, I traveled a lot to see my husband who lived in a city 500 miles away.  I am so happy that we are finally together in one city and one house, but I strangely enough I find that I miss the long drives.  I like the wide-open road.  Seeing the farm fields and small towns pass by helps me see the big picture and leave problems and issues on the road behind me.  So once in awhile Mike and I head out again on the open road...

I carefully watch my spending.  When I was working, I was fortunate to have money to buy what I needed when I needed it.  And I saved a lot during those working years, but I don’t necessarily want to spend it YET.  So I think very carefully about what I really need, and it’s actually very little.  Of course we have household, vehicle, insurance and food expenses, but I really don’t NEED much beyond that.  Of course I still like clothes, but now I need casual clothes and not expensive work clothes.  And living with Mike I am learning to re-use and re-purpose what we already own.

Enjoying California wine country
I don’t NEED vacation like I did when I was working.  During the long working hours, I needed an escape to an exotic location.  Now don’t get me wrong, I still love traveling and exploring a new place, but now it’s a WANT instead of a NEED.   And I still love talking about and planning a next trip, but I don’t feel compelled to have the next trip on the horizon.

Biking in Eagle Creek Park

Retirement doesn’t mean you will automatically start exercising more.  Whether working or retired, you have to be motivated.  And I’m not as motivated as I expected or should be.  I walk or ride my bike 3-4 times a week, but I know I should be doing more.  But similar to my working days, I find myself busy with other activities, and I don’t want to break away to exercise.  I’m working on this, and if you find my motivation, please send it my way.

Camping with Gretchen and Craig
I have more time for the important people in my life.  I have slowed down enough to listen intently and hopefully talk less.  I feel like I’m there for people more than in my past.  I remember my work mantra in the years prior to retirement:  “people are more important than tasks”.  What that usually meant was I would spend time with people while at the same time thinking and worrying about the tasks I was not getting done.  Now, l am finally living more in the moment and taking time for the people around me.

Tooth fairy cleaning bases.  Dream job?

I thought I might be employed by now.  I remember telling people I didn’t think I was finished working, and that I had more to offer.  I think this is still possible, and some days I really wish I could be contributing in a major way.  But you know I’ve become very picky about what I do next.  I don’t want to take just ANY job or volunteer opportunity.  My free time has become too important to fritter away.  It feels like I worked my whole life for this time in my life, and I want to savor it. And yes, I still keep my eyes open for that opportunity to make a difference. 

The label “retiree” is getting easier now.  I fought it at first, and it still can bring conversation to a standstill at a cocktail part.  It is my current stage in life, but it is only a label.   
Finally stripped of a work title and position, I am discovering and re-creating a new Diane.  It’s a bit scary at times like when I wonder where I’m headed next.  Or when people ask me what I’ve been up to and I don’t have an easy answer on how I spend my time.  It's not always easy, but I love this time of self-discovery and change.  And just maybe that's my own definition of retirement...

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Fall delights

Every day Fall delights us, with a few surprises along the way...

Iron man with skeleton trophy at local bar

Our local trick or treating was moved to Friday because of heavy rainstorms.  So instead of handing out candy we attended costume contests at two local bars.  And Mike won first place.  TWICE!  Besides bragging rights, there were nice cash prizes.

Iron Man wins at the Slippery Noodle, legendary blues bar in Indy

Black Widow and Iron Man

Fall is a great time for biking at  Eagle Creek Park, and nature's paintbrush did not disappoint.

Eagle Creek Park

Deer looking at the strange bikers

Enjoying an 11 mile ride

Mike takes the lead!
Slow down for the vortex?

We traveled to southern Indiana last weekend to visit my mom.  On Saturday morning I was shocked to  look outside and see men and women in military uniforms walking on the road in front of the house.  My first thought was some type of insurgency, but turns out it was the ROTC Program at the University of Southern Indiana hosting the fifth annual Norwegian Road March. Eighty seven men and women carrying 25 pound backpacks on an 18 mile hike.  I don't know...just something I didn't expect to see.

Greeted by a rainbow after trudging in the rain

And I don't have to look any further than my backyard to see the most amazing colors...
Park bench dusted in yellow

Red frames the house

Color bursting through green
Confetti of color

After a lifetime of racing to and from work, I'm so grateful to have time to enjoy nature.  It's a retirement gift that I don't take for granted.

Have a great week! Diane