Friday, April 18, 2008

The List - Part 2

On the one hand, I believe we all do what we want to do in life. On the other hand, there are so many wonderful, delicious options that many people can’t find enough time to do all the things they want. I have many retired friends who get up in the morning and literally run through their day to fit it all in. Some are having fun and others have traded the overwhelmed feeling of work and raising a family to the stress of ongoing pleasure and fun.

I spent most of my life believing I didn’t have any artistic talent. When I was going through a difficult time in my life, about ten years ago, I decided to start painting. I still didn’t believe I had any talent, but I wanted to see if I could tap into the creative part of me.

As a side note, I’m often frustrated when people talk about talent in art. It’s assumed if one wants to be a great musician, it is going to take hours of practice to reach any level of proficiency. Why do we assume if one is an artist, he or she was born with the ability? Just like any other endeavor, art takes practice, learning and effort. Are there people who are born with a natural inclination to be great painters? Absolutely. I’ve spent most of my adult life helping people connect to their natural gifts. Regardless of the talent; communicating, leadership, organizing and art, there is learning that one needs to engage to reach a level of mastery. Even if you don’t have any talent, you can learn and enjoy most any activity. I think humans are naturally endowed with a need to create. It may not be painting, but deep inside each of us is the desire to tap into creative expression.

Painting has become an important part of my life. Unless I’m traveling, I’m at the
Phyl Doyon Gallery and Studio every other Tuesday. I started painting in watercolor and most of my art is in that medium. I’ve occasionally branched into acrylics and collage. I also enjoy making my own paper, which I use as a canvas for other art.

Several years ago, I was at the Thousand Oaks Art Walk occurs every June attracting artists from all of the country. There are rows and rows of artists who work in every art form imaginable. On this particular day, I went up and down the rows and thought how much I’d love to learn how to work in pastels, make jewelry, pottery, and photography. As I completed the tour, I became really sad. I realize there is not enough time to do all the art I want to do; nor enough time to take all the trips I want to take or learn all the subjects I want to know. I occurred to me that having too many choices results in the same feeling as not having enough choices. We can not have it all. If getting more is what we seek, then we are doomed to never having enough.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The List-Part 1

Whenever my husband and I traveled, we would always look at real estate and the cost to live where we were visiting. It didn’t preoccupy the trip, but we always asked the question, “Would we like to live here when we retire?”

After returning from a road trip to southern Oregon ten years ago, we concluded there was no place we would rather retire than our own home in southern California. The home was built in the early 1960’s. It is a typical ranch style home. While not large, it had six bedrooms, a large living room we went into once a year to open presents on Christmas morning, a small family room and tiny kitchen.
When we concluded we wanted to stay in our home, we decided it needed a complete overhaul and spent the year gutting seventy-five percent of the house to make it ou
r dream home. And it is. We took three back bedrooms, average size 11 X 11 and converted them into a large master suite. We eliminated walls in the main living area to enlarge the kitchen, eliminated the family room making the space much more livable. Finally, we converted the former master bedroom into my office. I love my home. The space feels more livable.

Ten years later, facing retirement, we’ve concluded it doesn’t make financial sense to stay in this home. Oops! Like many in this area, the cost of living here would preclude us from doing many of the other things we’d like to be involved.

We’re in no hurry to leave. Our son is returning from Iraq soon, leaving the Army in a few months and we want to provide a place for him to regroup.

We don’t know where we want to live. On a trip back to Denver last fall, I spent a day with a real estate looking at homes in the area. Denver is where we are from, but I concluded I don’t want to go back.

We’re going to look in Texas next month. My mother lives just west of Austin. I will write later about our trip to Texas.

When we decided to leave so California, I started a list of places and things I want to do before we leave the area. I wrote earlier about going to see the poppies. That was on THE LIST.

I love to go to museums, galleries and cultural events. When my children were younger, we would visit many of cultural and tourist destinations in the area. Now they are grown and gone, so we don’t do that. It’s not a bad idea to create a list of things you want to do, even if you have no intention of leaving. I don’t know about you, but it seems like most of us get so busy, we don’t take time to enjoy the place we live, unless we have company visit.

In the next few blogs, I’ll write more about THE LIST.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Playing Hooky

This blog is about retirement. As a career counselor and transition coach, I’ve worked with other people’s retirement. Now, I get to experience my own. Not exactly my own, but my husband put in the paperwork to retire June 30 after working for the same company for the last twenty-six years. I’m not retired. This blog is about our experience, what I know or am learning about retirement to help others, my husband and myself live a phenomenal life post ‘earning a living’.

Today, we played hooky. Well not exactly. My husband works graveyard (from 10:00 pm until 7:00 am). I picked him up from work at 6:30 (so, I was playing hooky) and we drove up to the high desert north of Los Angeles to look at the poppies.

We’ve lived in the area for over twenty-five years and have never seen the poppie
s. It’s on my list of things to do before leaving California. There was just the right amount of rain this year, not too hot or too cold in temperature resulting in one of the most beautiful springs I’ve ever seen. Everyone I know who has allergies is suffering. Besides that, the hills are green, and the wildflowers are going crazy. There is one area in Antelope Valley that has golden poppies that pop for only a couple of weeks during year and now is the time to see them.

There is
poppy preserve state park, but we were told of another area north, so that’s where we started. You can see what we found with the top photo. We were disappointed the poppies weren’t opened. We arrived early, about 8:15 as the sun was still rising. As we talked to others we discovered poppies are particular about opening. It’s quite windy in the high desert and that affects whether or not they open, as well as the time of day and the temperature.

We then drove to the preserve and walked the pathways with all the other retirees and their cameras. EVERYONE had a camera. It was nice. I liked it. I thought to myself, “I could get used to this.” Of course, once we got back, I had emails, phone and a list of things to do.