What's it like to Be Retired? Interesting Commentary by Irwin!

New Years Resolutions

by Irwin
(Lakeland, FL)

Hello all:

I have been away for the holidays and apparently have also acquired “Writers Block” somewhere along the way.

Let me just say that while 2011 wasn’t really a bad year for us, I am glad to see it behind us. Normally I do not set New Year’s Resolutions but this year, being another year older, I feel that setting some resolutions for 2012 might not be a bad idea. Resolutions might just be the way for us to identify with the things we have wanted to do for years but couldn’t.

For many of us, if allowed, these later years could be spent just wasting away in front of the boob tube or some other non-productive activity. But they don’t have to be. Why not spend the years we have remaining years on the planet doing things we have wanted to do for years but couldn’t because of school, work, raising children and so forth. The neat part of doing them now is – we have the time - time to truly enjoy whatever activities we choose to participate in.

Plus, due to being part of that fabulous group of people (retirees), we can devote an inordinate amount of time and energy to whatever projects we choose. How many projects can you think of that were started when we were still working that really never were completed due to lack of time. Tackling projects such as these now during our retirement years will enable us to see and enjoy the fruits of our labor once the project is completed.

That being said, while on vacation, I began to think about the resolutions that really mean something to me. By the way, Webster’s definition of a resolution is: constancy of purpose; a resolve; a formal expression of opinion by a deliberative body, as there is a resolution before the house. While we all probably have quite a few things we would like to do before we leave this earth, I am sure that not all of them are achievable but am also quite certain that, with a little bit of effort, several are probably most definitely attainable.

My short list of resolutions (making too long a list is just a way of setting one’s self up for failure) represent objectives/goals that are actually achievable. While I did begin an exercise program of sorts shortly before the holiday season started, it is not as complete as I would like it to be. Thus, one of my resolutions is to add strength training to my program. I already do the cardio and stretching but need to incorporate weight training to regain some of the muscle mass lost over the years. Plus, it is said that by building back some of the muscle lost over the years, we will also reap a secondary benefit which is weight loss (another secret goal of mine) because muscle helps burn fat.

I have a problem using the word “diet” but instead prefer to use the term “lifestyle change”. Another resolution is to incorporate lifestyle changes such as better eating habits into my schedule during 2012. While my eating habits are pretty much on target with regards eating the proper foods, I do find myself “slipping off the wagon” so to speak at times by eating snacks that aren’t as good for me as other types of food would be. Therefore another resolution is to replace those “snacks” with healthier substitutes, maintain portion control (use smaller plates, don’t overload the dinner plate, and so forth and so on), and drink more water. Water can curb one’s appetite and by drinking more water, we tend to feel fuller faster (say those three words quickly several times in a row and see if you don’t get tongue-tied), but I digress.

Another area that I am constantly doing battle with is making (not finding) time to write. Problem is I tend to say to myself that other things are more important and that these other things must be done first. One thing leads to another and before I know it, both the day and evening have slipped away and those “first things first” are all that get done. Hence, no writing gets done. I consider writing to be “my time”. Time I truly enjoy.

I love watching the words go on paper. Once I sit down to write, my thought process just rambles on and before I know it, “walla” I have roughed out an article, short story, or just my take on what I hope to accomplish within a certain time period. Writing is so therapeutic for me. I enjoy creating articles, short stories, or just rambling on about what I did during the day. Other times I merely commit to paper thoughts about family and their lives as they are living them today.

So, another resolution is to commit to 750 words a day. When one thinks about it – 750 words daily could be a short article; a series of sorts (I did write a series on an escapade we had back in the 70’s when my sons were young and my wife was pregnant with our daughter), or even a novel. Baby steps! I used to use this corollary when an employee of mine would be overwhelmed with the size of a project they had just been given. They would ask, how am I going to find the time to do all that is required of this project? My answer to them was presented in the form of a question.

I would say to them - think about the project as though you were just given the task of (this is going to really sound far-fetched) eating an elephant. I would say, if asked the question – “How do you eat an elephant”, how would you respond? They would look at me puzzled and I would quickly say: “One bite at a time”! Break the project down into smaller more manageable parts and the project becomes more manageable thus allowing you to complete it one step (one bite) at a time. By setting an objective of writing 750 words on a daily basis, hopefully my overall goal of writing every day will become attainable. Baby steps! “One bite at a time”!

Having recently turned 71, from a health standpoint, I have found that as long as I am active, for example, line dancing for two or more hours, or taking a 45 minute walk, I do not have any problems. But let me sit in the recliner for several hours just watching the “boob tube”, and when I attempt to get up from the chair, all of a sudden, I actually feel old and somewhat ancient. Some people like to say that age is just a number. Or age is only relative to the subject at hand; not absolute, having force or meaning only in connection with something else.

That may be true but I will be the first one to admit that as long as we are active, we do not feel our age. But give in to that sedentary lifestyle and within minutes, no let me say seconds (think of how you feel when you first stand up after sitting and watching a couple of hours of TV), boy does one feel their age. So, another resolution for 2012 is to stay active (we presently live a pretty active lifestyle and hope to continue doing so for years to come).

Part and parcel of the resolution to stay active in 2012 is to finally do some of those projects around the house that keep getting put off for another day. None of these projects are large (paint the master bathroom, clean out the garage, install new tile in the kitchen, and so forth, and having done similar projects since we purchased our home several years ago, I know that we will be happy once they are completed. So, that is another resolution for 2012 – complete unfinished projects.

Another area I keep putting off for another time is learning more about the various applications on my computer. I use several applications (Microsoft office and Microsoft excel come to mind) and know enough to be dangerous but not quite enough to fix a problem when one comes up. As many of you will probably attest to, there is nothing worse than spending long periods of time doing something that, you know in your heart, should be easy but isn’t because we did not spend the appropriate time learning all that the computer and applications can do for us.

What should take approximately one hour to do, can take us the better part of the day because we do not know enough about the program we are working with and when a problem arises within that program, we literally can spend hours trying to correct that which should have only taken a few minutes to correct, had we known what to look for or what keystrokes to make. So, my goal for 2012 is to allow/make time to learn more about my computer and the applications found on same, particularly those that I tend to use on a daily basis.

Last, but not least, my wife and I have not been line dancing as much in 2011 as we have done in the past (a good week would find us line dancing five days a week). We also miss performing for others (we are part of a group of seniors that line dance at retirement homes, assisted living facilities, VA hospitals, and the like). So, another resolution for 2012 is to resume dancing with our former line dance group, so that we can provide entertainment to individuals unable to get out and see various forms of entertainment due to physical or other health-related reasons.

This particular resolution serves several purposes. Line dancing provides both physical and mental exercise; performing at the various places mentioned earlier enables us to socialize with our friends and others, and line dancing (the performing part) is a means of giving back to the community. Truth be told, I think we enjoy performing for these people more than they enjoy watching us. Line dancing is fun, entertaining and keeps one fit, both physically and mentally.

So, trying to sum them up, my New Years’ resolutions would line up as follows:

  • Exercise – incorporate weight training with cardio and stretching exercises
  • Lifestyle change(s) – eat healthier snacks, portion control and drink more water
  • Make time to write every day – 750 word daily minimum
  • Complete various home projects
  • Become more knowledgeable of my computer and the various applications on it
  • Incorporate line dancing back into our daily routine

By staying active and following the resolutions mentioned above, our days should be full and rewarding in many ways. Such a plan should provide us with the desire to wake up each morning bursting with energy and ready to face whatever the day throws at us.

Will we accomplish them all? Perhaps! Perhaps not!

But, if not all of them, I would venture to say that most will be accomplished. As long as we make an effort to become more physically active doing things that provide satisfaction to both us and those around us, 2012 should prove to be a happy and fulfilling year.

What about you, what’s on your agenda for 2012?

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How Do I Eat An Elephant? 
Irwin, Kudos to you... great article! I *always* use the "how do you eat an elephant?" question... reminds me that even seemingly large jobs can get …

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