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Phases In Retired Life
Old 01-07-2010, 07:02 PM   #1
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Phases In Retired Life

We've had a few casual discussions of phases in retirement in other threads about life changes, and I think it warrants it's own thread as I see a major transition unfolding in my own retired life right now.

When we made the decision to buy a house, it dawned on me that the time we spent full-time RVing ó about 5 years ó was almost exactly half the time we have been retired ó 10 years. And looking back it seems that each of those periods were definite phases and that we are now transitioning into our third phase. Rich in Tampa mentioned that he has seen phases like that in his life (although he hasn't retired yet).

Now I'm noticing an even stronger pattern on a longer cycle (perhaps). The first 10 years of our retirement was almost exclusively dominated by nature travel and nature photography. Over the past year or two, an old interest of mine has gradually returned to the forefront - "foodie" is perhaps the best description, or cooking & learning to cook fine cuisine. This now seems to have become at least as important as the nature stuff and a lot of my near term planning is focused on this.

Part of the motivation for buying a house was my frustration with an inadequate kitchen (RV) as my interest in cooking has returned with a vengeance and I started really missing having a "real" kitchen, and I fantasized about having a larger more versatile grill.

I also think that some of our future travel will be more cuisine and cooking class oriented and not exclusively nature travel like it has been for the past 10 years.

Can't explain why the cooking thing is so important, but it is pretty strongly "in the blood" from the maternal side of my family.

Anyway, I thought it might be useful to describe some of these phase transitions I seem to be going through. That it might be helpful to folks contemplating retirement and looking at it as a big blank space of self-directed time to realize that they will probably be going through a sequence of phases too. That you don't figure it out all at once, and that you don't get stuck in a rut doing the same old forever either. I think that with the longer retirement timeline that an ER is able to enjoy (with luck - finger's crossed for life, money and good health) a series of phases should be expected.

Audrey
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Old 01-07-2010, 07:12 PM   #2
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Good thread. I have been through many phases since retirement a couple of years ago. Many have been associated with letting go of my professional life and work persona. I still have dreams about work all the time. Don't get me wrong, I don't want to go back, but it's been a big adjustment for me. Perhaps some of us are more intertwined with work than others. I think I was.

I'm thankful so many folks here have been tolerant of my difficulty in letting go. Finally, I'm starting to feel at peace and OK about myself again. My volunteer work at the animal shelter has helped some. But, really, the change had to come from within.
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Old 01-07-2010, 07:19 PM   #3
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Many phases over a couple of years! WOW!

But yeah, those first couple of years were definitely rockier than the rest for me. I seemed to kind of "hit my stride" in about 18 months. Most of the time before that was decompressing and just getting my bearings. Not a good time to do too much long-term planning. You have to be pretty patient with yourself!

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Old 01-07-2010, 08:46 PM   #4
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At the end of 1998 I left my j*b and called myself retired. It took about a year to decompress and get my act together. I finally started to reach out and found a great volunteer opportunity. During this time, my DH put gas in his car and w*rked. I did everything else, so I was busy to say the least.

Fast forward to March, 2009 and the retirement of my DH. At first I wanted to talk about sharing responsibilities, but I figured he needed time to decompress. So I waited about three months while he slept and played. Since then, we're getting adjusted to being together and recognizing when we need our private time. He has also shed what I call the 'management stance' as he no longer tries to deal with me like I'm one of his employees.

He's still pretty new to retirement life and will face some of his own challenges. I believe he is still in the transition period. There are many good things about retirement; the best being you have time to ponder what you want to do and what will make you happy.
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Old 01-07-2010, 10:37 PM   #5
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Audrey I am glad and relieved to hear that you are settling down in a house, I remember reading your posts and admired the person who designed that type of house (RV accomodation).

Why am I relieved? While I appreciate the fact that travelling in a luxury RV can be a lot of fun, I feel that we need a place to belong to, a place to call home. At lease you can spend some quiet time without having to plan ahead all the time (where to go next, where to park you RV, etc.) I was wondering how long you were going to be able to keep that up without a break. I am sure you will be travelling again, but you deserve a break from all those driving, by the way I am still curious why no SoCal in five years ?

My wife also loves cooking shows (not necessary cooking), my TV is constantly on the Food Channel. Keep us posted.

I have not visited the Morningstar website in a while, do you still post on the Fido board?

mP
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Old 01-08-2010, 05:16 AM   #6
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Food is our great pleasure and retirement is giving us time.

Exploritas.org has some great food oriented programs. We did Vermont, California and Wisconsin ones and loved them.

JC Campbell Folk Art School, folkschool.org, has a great cooking program with hands on classes.

We are traveling with a Thai cooking instructor to Thailand this year, hopefully. She will order all the food. We also will be taking a cooking class from her in July at her studio.

Love retirement.
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Old 01-08-2010, 05:24 AM   #7
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It will be 3 years for me in April 2010.
I've had a lot of difficulty learning to relax in FIRE after so many years of doing the intense go-go achievement thing. I am still w*rkin g on that.
One thing I have learned since FIRE is that the world I live in (country) operates at a much slower pace, and I need to slow myself down accordingly.
Instead of viewing the slower pace as a source of frustration, I am assimilating the pace for myself. A w*rk in progress...
My energy level is still high and if it ain't broken, why fix it?
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Old 01-08-2010, 06:29 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by Disappointed View Post
Audrey I am glad and relieved to hear that you are settling down in a house, I remember reading your posts and admired the person who designed that type of house (RV accomodation).

Why am I relieved? While I appreciate the fact that travelling in a luxury RV can be a lot of fun, I feel that we need a place to belong to, a place to call home. At lease you can spend some quiet time without having to plan ahead all the time (where to go next, where to park you RV, etc.) I was wondering how long you were going to be able to keep that up without a break. I am sure you will be travelling again, but you deserve a break from all those driving, by the way I am still curious why no SoCal in five years ?

mP
I'll tell you frankly mP. I think some people need a "place to belong to" and some people really don't. We're in the latter camp. Didn't ever feel that need to "belong" anywhere - us together is our home and wherever our rig is parked has felt like "home" and called just that.

You don't need a house to "take a break" from constant traveling. Most full-timers take a several month break from traveling each year - usually on the less productive (i.e. much more limited travel opportunities) winter months. That was and has always been an option, and we've occasionally stopped for a few months for various reasons.

I know there are definitely these two camps of folks about "needing a place" because such discussions turn up regularly on the RV forums. Some of us are gifted(?) with excessive wanderlust and that seems to override any homing instinct. Us wandering folks are definitely in the minority, but there are plenty of us!

We decided to get a house instead of staying parked on just a lot here in south Texas because a builder created something that was an awesome hybrid, and it opened up some new possibilities to us that both let us leave the rig behind safely occasionally, as well as letting us have broader facilities and more privacy than an RV park affords for part of the year. If they hadn't started to build these things in one of our absolute favorite winter spots in the US, we wouldn't have done it. So for us this has been about broadening our horizons and getting past some of the limitations of exclusively RV living - in terms of travel as well as staying put for a while.

And who knows how long we'll be here? We don't see this as a permanent situation, we're already assuming it won't be.

But, regardless, I'm glad to know you feel relieved for me! I hate to have anyone worry about us and our lifestyle! Yes, travel can be stressful, but it's so much fun that it's usually worth it!

Audrey

Yes, still on Morningstar. Don't post much. Hang out on the Fidelity forum. And we did drive into SoCal a few years ago when camped right on the Nevada border, and we definitely need to return some February.
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Old 01-08-2010, 06:42 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by sweetana3 View Post
Food is our great pleasure and retirement is giving us time.

Exploritas.org has some great food oriented programs. We did Vermont, California and Wisconsin ones and loved them.

JC Campbell Folk Art School, folkschool.org, has a great cooking program with hands on classes.

We are traveling with a Thai cooking instructor to Thailand this year, hopefully. She will order all the food. We also will be taking a cooking class from her in July at her studio.

Love retirement.
Years ago as part of planning for retirement I had gotten a lot of information about cooking vacations in Tuscany, etc., but I have lost track and it's been over 10 years. Now I find I have to track all this stuff down again. Tuscany and Spain are on the top of our list for cooking vacations.

In our second trip just a few months after retiring, DH and I went up to stay in Pecos, NM, and we took an afternoon cooking class at the Santa Fe School of Cooking and had a blast. DH went nuts over the intense red sauce made from loads of Chimayo red chile powder. We got their wonderful cookbook, and we still reminisce about the experience and occasionally make one of the dishes.

I should mention that DH loves to eat good food - he's got quite the palate - and he occasionally cooks too and enjoys cooking classes. I do most of the exploratory cooking experiments by far. But this means that every time I make something good I have a very appreciative audience! I can't tell you how much that matters!!!!

I've gotten real smart though. If there is something particularly good and it's not that involved, I teach him the dish. Somehow we end up eating it much more often!

Audrey
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Old 01-08-2010, 07:25 AM   #10
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Interesting topic Audrey. I think the whole life after FIRE section will be valuable for younger members who can watch and learn as we slightly older folks crash and burn or thrive and fly. Unfortunately, simply because of the Internet is a recent development, we don't have many pre-boomers on the forum to chat with and to give us early boomers (I am 61) a preview of what may come. We have to rely on the old approach of physical world interaction with our older acquaintances.

I have experienced major changes in interest over the years and expect that will continue in retirement. For 20 years windsurfing was a major focus but I haven't been on a board for a couple of years. Other pursuits have followed a similar path. Cycling has now become my obsession and, since DW shares it, I hope it will continue into old age. But who knows, that too may get supplanted.

This mater of changing interests would make me cautious about something like retiring with a small portfolio based on an intent to live in a cheap country or pursue full time RVing or sailing. You really need to know yourself well to make such a choice. And some people do - witness the Kaderlis and a few other posters. I, on the other hand, am risk averse - I need to be comfortable that I can afford to change course whenever my ADD brain moves on
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Old 01-08-2010, 07:46 AM   #11
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This matter of changing interests would make me cautious about something like retiring with a small portfolio based on an intent to live in a cheap country or pursue full time RVing or sailing. You really need to know yourself well to make such a choice. And some people do - witness the Kaderlis and a few other posters. I, on the other hand, am risk averse - I need to be comfortable that I can afford to change course whenever my ADD brain moves on
I think you have a great point there!

Certainly when we retired we had no idea that we would buy and RV and go full-time 5 years later. We expected we would move out of the city, but we had no idea we would do it that way. We might not have had the funds for an RV. We didn't know we would spend a bunch on pro-level photographic equipment either!

Of course, I would not have retired really nearly so early if we hadn't had more than adequate funds.

Audrey
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Old 01-08-2010, 08:16 AM   #12
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Good thread Audrey.

In reading it I realize that I am about to leave one community (work) where I am old and have lots of experience to a new community where I am young and have no experience. Just like in my working life I expect to shift "careers" and go in directions that I never planned.

In my working life I always had a plan but was prepared to switch to a new plan at a moment's notice. (age 16 - took courses for a job in Chemistry / biochemistry, age 18 started a degree in Electrical Engineering, age 22 started work as a Radar Engineer, age 24 moved half the length of the country to work in process control .. and on and on through 3 countries, jobs in IT , Business Systems, Project engineering etc)

We are starting our new life with a plan for the next 3 years that will have us living in rented houses in 3 different countries in 3 continents and lots of hiking and biking etc. We have already sold up and downsized so we are mobile and home is definitely where we are at the time.

People ask me "what next after that?" and my reply is "who knows how we'll feel after that?" I hope our financial preparation has been such that we won't need to be too concerned about money so hopefully our future decisions will not be driven by the need to earn money. I certainly don't rule out the possibility that I may want to work as I have never not worked so don't really know. From age 12 I always worked weekends - from 7:30 all day Saturday and half day Sunday at a very physical and dirty job in my Uncle's scrap wood business collecting wood, sawing and chopping and selling it around the streets as bags of logs or bags of kindling, so not working for an extending period may not be right for me.

We'll see how it goes, and I look forward to continue to read about others' experiences on this forum and post our own.
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Old 01-08-2010, 08:48 AM   #13
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As I look down the road at retirement, I realize that the phases we go through will be dictated by health issues to a great extent. Our traveling, hiking and other adventures should probably be indulged early in our retired years before the inevitable age-related problems make driving or walking difficult.

Our vision of retirement includes a taste of the RV lifestyle, but not to the extent of full-timing. We would prefer to have a home base so that we always have the option to "go domestic" at will. I'm one of those people who needs to change things up on a fairly regular basis. Kind of a retirement buffet; some of this, some of that. Oh, I'm full! Time for a nap.
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Old 01-08-2010, 10:24 AM   #14
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Quote:
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Years ago as part of planning for retirement I had gotten a lot of information about cooking vacations in Tuscany, etc., but I have lost track and it's been over 10 years. Now I find I have to track all this stuff down again. Tuscany and Spain are on the top of our list for cooking vacations.
...(snip)...
Have you considered the wine country in Northern California as an alternative? Nice Mediterranean climate, plenty of food and wine emphasis, beautiful drives and out of the way spots to visit. I might be a little biased living here. But if you get around to it I could suggest some day trips north of San Francisco.
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Old 01-08-2010, 11:02 AM   #15
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But yeah, those first couple of years were definitely rockier than the rest for me. I seemed to kind of "hit my stride" in about 18 months. Most of the time before that was decompressing and just getting my bearings. Not a good time to do too much long-term planning. You have to be pretty patient with yourself!
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At the end of 1998 I left my j*b and called myself retired. It took about a year to decompress and get my act together.
I am most definitely in the decompressing phase, still, and love it.

In my life thus far, I have tended to develop overwhelmingly intense interests which I then pursue. After a few years I feel like I know about whatever-it-is in some depth, I develop another intense interest. Some people say this is typical Gemini behavior, but I think it is just me, trying to learn and experience all of the world that I can. These interests have one thing in common: They represent real life mysteries, to me, and are sufficiently complex to be impossible to resolve after some brief examination and to provide some opportunity to learn new things.

For the past few years, preparation for retirement has been a big interest. Now that I am there, it should be interesting to see whether my plans actually work, and after that what the next phase is. I am in no rush, though, and I am enjoying the decompressing phase quite a bit.
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Old 01-08-2010, 12:37 PM   #16
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When I was planning for retirement I thought it is important to leave room for serendipity but it never crossed my mind that today, 16 months into retirement I would be thinking about designing a collectible signature item to leave in geocaches which btw is a very addictive inexpensive hobby/sport/game/social network. I do feel Iíve entered a new phase and am communicating with people in a different way, not just geocaching but in other ways of getting to know new people. Itís ironic that yesterday I spent lunchtime roaming around my old w*rk stomping grounds, having a great time and not checking my watch to get back to w*rk on time, a four-hour escape is so much healthier than a half hour.
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Old 01-08-2010, 12:44 PM   #17
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Now that my home is sold I am entering a new stage. I still do not know what it will look like.

Last year for most of the year I watched a baby three days and nights a week, from the time he was 2 weeks old until he was a year old. It was an experience I never planned for or ever expected to have. Retirement brought that to me.

The little one, with first mukluks:

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Old 01-08-2010, 12:54 PM   #18
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Oh Martha...such a precious pic! But just the thought of a baby/toddler wears me out.
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Old 01-08-2010, 01:23 PM   #19
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Believe me, he wore me out. Especially the first couple of months with feedings in the middle of the night and early a.m. Or when he was inconsolable. CFB kindly gave me swaddling tips. What gave me an appreciation for new parents was the degree of boredom involved in the first few months of caring for a baby. You need to interact with him all his waking hours. Bouncing and rocking led to a lot of tv watching. You can only sing so many jolly songs.

I wouldn't have missed it for anything and I miss having him around.
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Old 01-08-2010, 01:38 PM   #20
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He is so cute ! Kudos to you for doing that . I hope it was really appreciated .
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