Sunday, May 31, 2015

May in Indy Part 2: Exhaustion

I keep reminding myself that we chose this crazy busy May schedule.  And maybe we overdid it this year.

If you live in Indianapolis, May is racing season with the Indianapolis Grand Prix, and the Indianapolis 500 Race.

Gasoline Alley on Pole Day

Releasing balloons at start of Indy 500

And we thoroughly enjoyed the racing and a few other events that filled out the calendar...

Chuck and Melanie's annual Derby Party
Chuck and Melanie

Michael Kelsey concert
Michael Kelsey performing at Rose-Hulman

Tedeschi Trucks Band concert

With Pat, Jane and Bryan at the concert

Dayton Ham Radio Festival (Mike, not me)
Mike assures me he did NOT have an antenna on his hat!

 Kevin and Kathy joined us for Pole Day weekend
With Kevin and Kathy in garage area
Like they needed to be "charged"

Gretchen and Craig joined us for the Indy 500 weekend
At the Indy 500 with Gretchen and Craig
Gretchen and Mike sampling beer at Sun King Brewery

And then there was...

Brian and Stacy's annual summer Block Party

Trip to Evansville to see mom on Mother's Day weekend

Retirement party for a professor at Rose-Hulman

And if that wasn't enough busy, we painted a guest bedroom.  

And then I got this crazy idea to get new deck furniture.  
New outdoor space!

Make no mistake...we lived life fully in the month of May!  We loved spending time with our peeps at races, parties and concerts. If only we could spread the fun out over 3 months...

And as you would expect, we had some crazy moments during the month...

Modeling the "Squirrel Baffler" (eventually went on our bird feeder)
Modeling "microwave antenna protective dome" at the Dayton Ham Fest. What can I say?

So here it is. The final day of May.  It's raining outside which is a great excuse for being lazy.  So I'm in my study, curled up on the recliner, listening to music and writing this blog.  And maybe there is a book calling my name.  Or is that a nap?

Thursday, May 14, 2015

May in Indy

It's May in Indy!  And that means a busy month of racing!

Last Saturday we attended our first race of the season, Angie's List Grand Prix of Indianapolis.  We enjoyed a day at the track despite a little rain...

Refreshments anyone?

Raincoats are a must!

Hearty fans

Our drive home after the race!
And May is full of flowers!  And my phone is always ready as I walk through the neighborhood...


Wish I could do "scratch and smell" with this photo

Flower petals everywhere!

Pink carpet

And here are a few other pictures from the week...

Another crazy selfie!

Feet don't touch the ground!
Blue Belle in mirror!

Have a super week and enjoy all the beauty around you!


Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Dear friend planning for retirement:

Dear friend planning for retirement:

I understand that you are in an anxious place.  You are tired of working mega hours for people who don't really value you or your work.  You have money saved for retirement, but you think you should keep working.  You want to work part time, but you don't know what you would do.

And then there's the whole identity thing.  Your current job is your identity.  It's who you are and how you spend your most productive time.  You have the career you were educated for and worked hard for, but lately it isn't enough.

And you think you are too young to retire.  You don't know what you would do with free time.  If you think about it, you haven't had free time (except for vacations) since before you went to kindergarten.  You were a student for a long time with at least 12-16 years plus of education.

And how would you spend time in retirement?  That huge expanse of time scares you.  And you think you should have a plan.  It's how society "trains" us.  Save money, and plan for your retirement.  Ok, you've been saving money, but what are you going to do with that time?

Before I retired, I thought all these same things.  I was a wreck trying to figure out when to retire and planning what I would do in retirement.  Now that I'm 3+ years into retirement, here is what I've learned so far...

1. If the current job is killing you, get out.  Life is too short to spend 8 hours a day at a place and/or job that you hate.  I know first hand that chronic stress creates all kinds of issues.  I couldn't sleep.  I spent my whole work week thinking about the weekend.  I was always racing and never fully relaxing.  I didn't have enough time for exercise or eating right or friends.  Not to mention health issues that can creep up on you in your 50's and 60's such as diabetes, heart problems or cancer.  You have got to look out for your own mental and physical health.  And if you can't do that while in your current job, get out!

2. Don't think that you have to completely plan out your future.  If you think about it, you didn't completely plan out your 30 year working life when you graduated from college.  So why would you need to completely plan a 20-30 year retirement?  I know that everyone asks what you are going to do in retirement.  So tell them you will figure it out as you go.  That's called living.

3. Start thinking about hobbies and how you want to spend your time.  If you haven't retired yet, start developing those hobbies now.  As an example, I started doing bead work before I retired.  I took up oil painting and picked up my guitar again.  Others start volunteering before they leave the work scene. Don't wait until you are retired.  If you are able to work fewer hours in your current job, then spend some time on these hobbies.

4.  Begin looking at yourself without a "work definition".  Who are you? What are your values?  How would friends describe you?  You will still be you after the job, but it will be without a title, performance reviews and salary reviews.  You need to start examining yourself to find out what is important to you and about you in retirement.

5. Start talking to others who have retired.  Everyone has a different story, but there are some similarities.  Most people start out with a plan, but things change over time.  I expected to be working part time, but I haven't really been serious about looking for a job.  Some people panic when they retire and think they need to work full time or completely fill up their time with activities.  Take some time and relax and learn to smell the roses maybe for the first time ever.

6.  Get used to the question "what do you do?".  And get used to the fact that people who are working may be jealous with the "retired" answer,  or they may think you are a boring person with nothing to talk about.  It can be a conversation stopper at a party, that's for sure.  But really, did you ever talk that much about your job in social gatherings?  I know that I avoided work talk because it was stressful.

7.  Realize that "retiree" covers a very wide span of ages.  Some churches have 55+ clubs, and just think about the differences in lifestyle if you are 55 versus 75.  Over time you will will get used to that label of "retiree" even if you don't think it fits you at your current age.

8.  Think about how you spend money and how you might live more frugally.  You won't have the same expendable income in retirement as you do now.  But at the same time, you will find you don't need all those expensive work clothes. You may decide to eat out less, but you will have more time to cook healthy meals at  home.

9. Start thinking about having time available for ailing parents and friends you rarely see.  You don't have to be a recluse in retirement.  Yes, you may not see your friends every day as you did at work, but it just takes a little planning to get together for lunch, or a walk on the trail or a have a glass of iced tea on the deck.

10. Give yourself a break.  Don't obsess over this decision.  Relax and realize that whatever you decide will be fine.  And it will probably change over time.  It may be cliche, but retirement is a journey, not a destination.

Take care,

Friday, May 1, 2015

PIKS: People I Know Series 001: Diane

I have been writing my blog for over three years.  My original intent was to write about retirement so that friends retiring after me would know what to expect when they retired.

As time passed, I realized that each person’s retirement is an individual experience. And my blog morphed into the story of how I spend my time in retirement.   I talk about lifestyle topics as much as retirement.  And I am no longer “recently retired”.

It occurred to me that it might be fun to use the blog to highlight people in my life instead of just writing about me.  I know many interesting people, and so why not find out what makes them tick.

I plant to write one PIKS post a month, depending on how much I have to strong-arm my friends and family into doing an interview.  The rest of the blog will continue to be a chronicle of my crazy retired life, home improvement, crafts and DIY (do it yourself) posts.

I came up with a list of interview questions, and it seemed like I should be the guinea pig.   And why not start PIKS by talking about someone I know pretty well?  Me.

Here goes…

1. When and where were you born?
I was born in Evansville, Indiana in 1956, but I grew up in the country about 10 miles from there.

Sunbeam Bread Ad

2What is your first, most vivid memory? 
I remember dad taking me to “the store”, Weinzapfel’s, which had something for everyone:  general store, tavern, restaurant and barber shop.  Bert Weinzapfel would call me “Little Miss Sunbeam”, before he and dad would tell the latest jokes.  And “the store” is still there although now it's just a bar and restaurant. 

Me and cousins Kathy, Linda and Donna.

3What were you like as a child?  What did you do for fun?
I was a precocious and nerdy little kid.  I always wanted to sit with the adults at family gatherings because their conversations were more interesting than hanging out with the kids.

And I loved reading, riding my bike, teaching my younger siblings in our makeshift “school” in the basement.   And I was the fastest runner in 4th grade…my claim to fame.
With my cousin Linda.  I'm the little fashionista on the right.

My grandma on far left.  

4.  Who was the oldest relative you remember, and what do you remember about them?
I also loved hanging out at my grandma’s house where I helped with baking, gardening and preparing meals for my grandpa and the farm helpers during the harvest.  She was a strong woman who stood her own in any situation. In other words, you didn’t mess with her.  She hated to lose at cards, and possibly she cheated a little bit...

5. Describe your parents. What were they like? Where did they meet?
My parents were hard-working people who raised 5 strong and independent kids.  My dad was a route salesman at Pepsi Cola Company.  He was very competitive and often won sales contests at work by asking his clients (friends) to help him out by buying more soft drinks.  Mom worked at Pioneer Seed Corn and helped germinate new types of seed.  With our parents leading the way, we laughed a lot in our house and enjoyed each other. And we still do.

Easter 1966, a few days before my 10th birthday.

6. What was the best gift you remember as a child?
It’s a toss-up between a beautiful turquoise Schwinn bike I got when I was 10, and my first guitar that my uncle Joe gave me when I was 13.  I wish I still had that bike and guitar.

7What did you want to be when you grew up? 
At first I wanted to be a teacher, which I suppose is why I forced my siblings to attend my basement school.  Later in high school, I attended Indiana Girl’s State, and that got me interested in being an attorney.  But instead I had a career in banking and insurance.  Go figure.

8. Describe your first job.  What did you do with your first paycheck?
Like many kids in the area, I started de-tasseling corn at age 13. Basically, you pulled tassels off seed corn by walking through hot, wet corn fields.  If you were lucky, you got to ride a de-tasseling machine.  It was usually  at least 90 degrees, but you had to wear jeans and long sleeved shirts so the corn leaves would not cut you.  I hated the job, but it was a way to earn money.  I used my first paycheck to buy contact lenses.

9. What have you liked best about your life so far?  What is your happiest or proudest experience?
I have a natural curiosity that helps me get to know people (I ask a  lot of questions), tackle new jobs I know nothing about (my whole career) and enjoy new arts, crafts and music. I also have great people in my life who love and support me.  That along with my strong belief in God help me experience life to the fullest. 

Family weekend at our house
My proudest moment is getting my MBA from the University of Iowa while working full time.  It was 4 long years of night classes, and if that wasn't tough enough, during that time frame I started a new job and moved to another city.

10What has been the most frustrating thing or biggest challenge in your life? 
In my career, the most frustrating thing was assessing and hiring the best job candidate.  I could always find something in each candidate that I liked, and it sometimes clouded my ability to assess future job performance.  

I always gave employees the benefit of the doubt, usually trying to help them improve, which was sometimes at odds with my manager who wanted me to fire the person if they weren’t meeting job expectations.  This caused me a lot of internal strife over the years.

11What job did you do most of your life?  What did you like most about it?  Least?  
Most of my career was spent managing people and projects in banking and insurance. I loved the challenge of managing a wide variety of projects and departments while I was learning about the new subject matter.  I managed a a Programming Department though I was never a programmer, and I had to quickly learn about the construction trade while managing a new building project. All of this kept me on my toes and helped me learn something new each day.  The part I liked least was always pushing people to get the job done on time and despite all the obstacles.

12. If we asked a relative or good friend about your best and worst qualities, what would they say?
My worst qualities are being impatient and pushy. I finish people’s sentences because they are taking too long, and I am quick to tell someone how we need to solve a problem because I think I can readily assess the situation.  Oddly enough, I think these same qualities helped me be successful in my career.

My best quality is that I am kind, thoughtful and care about people.  And I have a good sense of humor.

13What do you do for fun now?  Hobbies? Special Interests?
I now have time to be creative with arts and crafts. I love repurposing things like jeans into purses, beads and found objects into sun catchers and bistro chairs into planters for flowers.  I love writing, and this blog has given me a wonderful outlet for lots of words.  I enjoy live music, listening to music and playing guitar.  I like to take long walks and ride my bike around the neighborhood with my husband.  I enjoy hanging out with friends and family, laughing and telling stories.  

14. What one item in your life would you never give up? Why? 
It’s probably a car.  My husband and I used to drive about 500 miles one way to see each other on weekends when we lived in different cities. Nowadays I drive to lunch, to shop and to visit family and friends. Since we don’t have public transportation in our town, I would be stranded without a car.

15What frightens you?  Why? 
Besides the obvious answer being “snakes”, what frightens me is the growing use of violence as an answer to problems.  The news is full of violence from shootings in our city to beheadings in the Middle East.  How has the value of human life taken a back seat to drugs, gangs and political and religious agendas?  As a person who tries to understand why, I can’t get my head around physical violence.

16. What is the best advice your parents gave you? 
My dad said “education is the one thing that no one can take away from you”.  And my parents always modeled the importance of working hard and “earning your keep”.

Mom, Dad and and 5 kids in 2004.

17What’s your best advice for living a good life?
Be kind to people whether they are your friends and family or the checkout clerk at the grocery.  You never know when a simple kind act or conversation can brighten someone’s day.  Be generous with your time and talents, and live in the moment.  And don’t forget to have fun and laugh!
Family in 2015.

Live it up!