When I began Satisfying Retirement several years ago one of my favorite bloggers was Tess Marshall, author of The Bold Life. She had fascinating insights and an engaging writing style that inspired me.
A little over two years ago she stopped blogging and moved on to other things. One of her posts that really grabbed me was a list of 50 questions about personal growth. Until the paper became to faded to read I had them on my desk. A few that still resonate with me might be ones you'd like to answer. I have included my self-confessional responses and then urge you to add your thoughts:
1) Have you been spontaneous in the last five days?
Part of the joy of retirement is the ability to not be locked into a schedule as rigid as the one you probably maintained during your working years. Sure, you have obligations and commitments, sometimes too many. I've written often about the importance of time management. Lots of comments from readers tell stories of finding themselves busier than ever and wondering how to fit in everything. I certainly struggle with that problem.
So, the answer to Tess's question is: not nearly enough. I use Google's calendar function to the extreme. Between it and an extensive to-do list there is little in my life that isn't planned ahead of time. My family jokes that I have my weekend chore list done 6 months in advance. No, I don't. It only goes into mid April. So there.
Spontaneity and I are too often distant cousins. Sure, every once in awhile I'll suggest dinner out instead of what is on the menu for that night. Or, maybe I'll throw caution to the wind and decide to drive to a nearby lake for a picnic lunch. Wine tasting at a new cafe? Sure. But, a truly spontaneous act, like deciding on an overnight trip, throwing a change of clothes in a suitcase and jumping in the car 30 minutes later doesn't happen. I'm just too regimented, our schedule is too full, and there is the dog to consider. I would like to change but I don't know how.
2) Have you spent quality time with a loved one in the past 48 hours?
At the time I am writing this on a Tuesday afternoon, the answer is yes. Our family gets together almost every Sunday for dinner, and a movie or game. My grandson decided he'd like to have us all take part in a book study. So, for the last few months we have been working through Ramona, The Brave. Everyone from my son-in-law's parents, to my 7 year old granddaughter has an assignment every time. It has been lots of fun and shows that even a simple children's book can hold important life lessons and stimulate interesting discussions.
3) Have you disconnected from all electronics for at least 24 hours in the last month?
No. Even though I wrote about the pitfalls of social media, Social Media, It's Risks and Pitfalls just a few weeks ago, I remain involved. Blogging means being online an hour or two a day. My Amazon Dot, Kindle, streaming video and smartphones are never far away.
Could I go 24 hours without any of these tools and toys? Seriously, I don't know. Then I guess the question is, does it matter? What would be better if I took a 24 hour sabbatical? I'd be willing to give it a try if I saw a positive benefit. So...is this electronic linkup bad? Should I disconnect for a day? Why?
4) Have you read a book from cover to cover within the last 2 weeks?
Actually, two books finished within the last 14 days, and several more in various stages of completion. I find mysteries, some Sci-Fi, and thrillers relaxing so there is always at least one on the nightstand. I am reading a book on mindfulness and one on spirituality. I have a Bible study guide that is reviewed before meetings.
As I wrote in 2011 in Super-Charge Your Brain, I try to read one book a week and have several others underway. I truly believe it helps my life, I know it helps this blog, and it keeps me plugged into the world in a way that the Internet and social media can't. Even though I am hooked into the electronic world, I continue to prefer physical books instead of the ebook version.
How about you? How much is reading a part of your day? Are you tackling a course of study, reading all the classics you skipped in High School or College? Or, is your reading now purely for entertainment?
5) Have you spent some time in nature this last week?
This is the time of year when living in the Phoenix area is a true blessing. So, the answer is, absolutely. Picnics, walks around neighborhood parks, biking for a few miles, and enjoying places like the Desert Botanical Garden or one of the lakes that lie north of the Valley keep me and my wife in touch with nature. Sitting on the back porch and reading or having lunch in the backyard, allows us to enjoy fresh air and natural stimulation. All too soon the temperatures will make most of these activities unpleasant so we make an extra effort to be outside now.
6) Have you looked into someone's eyes and said, "I love you" in the last seven days?
Yes..actually several times every day. That is one of the real benefits of satisfying retirement and a happy marriage.
Again, thanks to Tess, wherever she may be, for the questions that prompted these thoughts.
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