Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Thankful for MIVida

Today seems like the perfect day and time to give thanks to my life partner, affectionately known as MiVida.    As I read through my blog, it may not be clear what an amazing partner I have.  I write about issues and problems, but I don’t think I spend enough time sharing just the joy of living with MiVida.  So for the ones listed below and others too numerous to mention, I give thanks for MiVida.
UNCONDITIONAL LOVE:  I’m not sure if everyone knows what it is like to be loved unconditionally – I can wake up and look like s*!*#, and he greets me with the same smile as when I am all dressed up and ready to go out.  Of course, both our eyesights are fading, but it has always been that way
GENEROUSITY:  I have been loved generously and I have known what it is like to live generously.  Even when we didn't have very much (and maybe in the future when we don’t) MiVida has always understood what’s important in life – education for all the children (even spread out on 10+ credit cards), trips together to remind us why we started all this together so long ago, great dinners at interesting places, opportunities to help others, gifts for family and friends – it’s always just been easy.  He isn't extravagant – he just gets it.  Money is only money.  It’s what you do with money that counts. He isn’t saving for tomorrow as much as he is investing in each and every day.
TRUE FRIEND: We just love doing things together.  We make everyday things more fun because we share them.  Maybe it’s just a walk on the beach, or maybe it’s taking the grandkids to eat, or maybe it’s just a quick errand.  He’s always up for the adventure, and he knows how to be really present.  Sometimes, he sees me hunched over the computer with a less than pleasant crease in my forehead, and he'll say – “OK, time to get out.”  His timing is perfect.
AMAZING DAD AND ABO:  No one could love their children and grandchildren more.  This man doesn't cry, but I have seen his tears when it involves a child or a grandchild.  He is never too busy to help, spend time, cook or just be there for them.  We have a family Sunday dinner almost every Sunday.  All of the children and their children are invited, and he makes amazing meals.  He still hasn't figured out that we are feeding less than 20, but everyone appreciates the leftovers.

So, is he perfect?  Of course not, he still tells me the news I’ve already read, repeats his stories, keeps the house too cold, and other things I’ll continue to blog about – but is he perfect for me?  OF COURSE.  I never knew more than 50 years ago that life could be so beautiful with MiVida.  He is.…My LIFE!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Baby It's Cold INSIDE

I have just uncovered another tricky area in the first year of retirement.  The problem is temperature.  You see, MiVida is a Polar Bear.  He loves all things cold and wears shorts year round.  He likes to get up in the morning and blow smoke rings with the cold air in winter.  I am NOT a polar bear, and I'm always cold.  It wasn’t really a problem for me when I was working.  I would shower and dress quickly and rush to my warm office and classroom as soon as possible.  I often worked late so when I dragged myself home, my husband was open to heating the house so I would be less grumpy.  I’m really not fun to be around when I’m grumpy and being cold makes me very very grumpy.

Now that I’m retired, we almost had a “melt down”- pun intended – trying to figure out the heating issues.    The conversation went something like this:

Me:         “I’m a little cold.  Let’s turn on the heater."
MiVida:   “I’m not cold."
Me:         “What part of “I” don’t you understand?"  
MiVida:  "Well, when the heater is on, my nose gets stuffed up because there is no humidity 
                 in the house.”
Me:          “Well, when my feet are frozen, my brain doesn’t work very well, and I need it to 
                  work when I’m in my office”
MiVida  “It’s not cold.”

Me:  No comment....(There are no words for what I was thinking or at least for this blog since it is G rated most of the time.)

Then MiVida realized that we were having a particularly bad moment, and he went and researched small stand-alone heaters and found one that was economical and safe.  Now it is installed in my office, and I’m happily working away and enjoying warmth.  When he wants me to leave the office, he agrees to heat other rooms.  He really isn’t a tyrant, and he is the most generous man I know.  He is just a Polar Bear, and he has a real fear of melting. 

Retirement Rule # 4:   Be sure you work out environmental issues when you share space with a loved one on a more permanent basis.  

Monday, October 8, 2012

Retirement and Time - A New Perspective

I’ve heard this comment from almost every retired person I know – ‘I’m so busy now, I just don’t know how I had time to work.”   So of course, newly retired, I’ve spent some of my time thinking about that statement.  And I think it’s the wrong take on time and retirement.    To me, it’s not that I am any busier.  I am busy, but I have always been busy.

The difference to me is that "work" was always the huge elephant in the room.  During the 40+ years in the workforce, 
I got up around it, ate within it's very restrictive timelines, stressed about it, cherished it, ran from it, mulled it over, and basically, I was defined by it.  Then, I SQUEEZED in my life - a wonderful husband, MiVida who was chasing his own time clock, and five equally wonderful, interesting, but often challenging children who were, rightfully, demanding their own fair share of that time.  Oh, and I added a few outings, some exercise when I could resist diving into a bed that never seemed to get enough of me, some friend times, time with my parents and extended family and yes, impossible as it seems, some "me" time.

Now work is NOT how I'm defined.  The rest of my life has come out of the corners where it was tucked away in a rather disorderly fashion, and that part has embraced me, challenged me, and enveloped in such a purposeful and delicious way.  I have gained back something I didn't even know I had missed - the wonderful concept of "choice."  

Now I choose each hour, each day, each week - what is important to me and where I want to spend more of this time.  Well, of course there are commitments and responsibilities that interfere and complicate my choices, but they don't seem to overwhelm me.  And sometimes, I CHOOSE work because I am passionate about my discipline of ESL, and that passion hasn't been erased.  It's just that work doesn't control me anymore.  I say, "I'm so busy with LIFE and loving every minute of it."  

Postscript:  If I hadn't worked so hard for so many years, I probably wouldn't have had the luxury of spending time on these reflections so you need to know that I have always been partial to elephants.  

Monday, September 3, 2012

Retirement Conversation or...He said/She Said


      She said…He said!

So...after 48+ years, we are having to learn how to talk to each other again.  I think I'll call this "retirement conversation."   All of a sudden, I seem to have heard his stories over and over, and I don't want to hear a synopsis of the news.  And all of a sudden, he thinks I don't have patience and am not listening to him carefully.

How did this happen?  Is this another retirement mystery?  Only in the sense that who we talk to and what we talk about has changed since we have been fortunate enough to retire healthy and happy together.    

I've been thinking about this a lot and I have a few ideas (of course I do - it's my issue!)  When we both worked, we were out of our home for large portions of the day sharing ideas, opinions, some pretty ridiculous and more often some treasured collegial conversations.  Then we came home, updated each other on what happened at work and what was going on with the kids as various ones checked in to one, the other, or both during the day.   That was our communication pattern.

Now, we share most of our days together.  That's the good part.  We have our work still - I'm up dealing with my writing and professional interests or just enjoying time to read and learn He is downstairs playing his music, studying or doing his own research and learning.  Then over leisurely meals or long walks or drinks on the patio we catch up.  It's the "catching up" that's the issue.

He has time to update me on the news of the day (and I've already looked at what I wanted to and avoided that which just drove me nuts (a lot of it actually) and tell a few stories.  I often cut him off quickly, and tell him I've heard it, don't want to hear it or act impatient.  These are not good strategies for meaningful communication.  HOWEVER, I need him to listen to my deep thoughts and challenges and other stuff rolling around in my head.  Often he seems like he isn't that thrilled by my conversations either.  What a shock!  

So...what are we doing.  We're talking about it and finding ways to give each other space to communicate (both listen and speak) respectfully and meaningfully.  I make it sound easy but of course it's not.  I'm learning:
1)  Give MiVida  time to tell his story - maybe I have heard it but sometimes there is a reason to retell it and focus on a different part.  (not always, but I'm trying)
2)  Let him tell me the news that is important to him.  Sometimes I even learn that what I dismissed as not interesting was really important after all.
3)  Remind him, gently, that he needs to hear my IMPORTANT thoughts too.  (not always important - but they often seem earth shaking to me.)
3) MOST OF ALL, remember to say thanks each day that we are learning about retirement communication together instead of wishing that we would have retired while we were still young enough to enjoy and learn all about it.

Retirement Rule #3 - Listening is maybe even more important than talking now.  And we finally have time to DO BOTH!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Strange Retirement Question

So Sylvia....You retired?  I'm so happy for you.  What are you going to do, TRAVEL?

The first time someone asked me, I gave a rather long answer about how we had always traveled and would probably continue to do it.  However, mainly we hope to insert ourselves in the middle of our busy children and grandchildren and figure out how to help them more.  It's time for a little "pay forward" since both of us benefitted from the love and support of our families.  

And then I kept getting the same question over and over and the answers got shorter and the thoughts got longer about this question.  It almost seems like people see their lives as bookends - the BEGINNING - romance, adventure, and that first pregnancy...the MIDDLE tough years - raising the results of 1 or more pregnancies and solving all the myriad of fiscal and personal family problems and then finally the "golden years"  I think this is supposed to be the travel and relax and reward yourself time for getting through the other two times.  But our lives have never been so separate.  Maybe it was because we traveled like gypsies for the first 5 years of our marriage - my husband pursuing his dreams of being a flamenco and classical guitarist and my just plain pursuing him.  There was so much traveling - but we traveled in a way that probably you can only do when you are young, poor and with no real future plans.  We really lived in the moment.

Then came the kids - baby1, baby 2, baby 3 all within 3 1/2 years.  I don't even really remember those years.  However, I was thrilled because initially we didn't think we could have children.  Boy were we wrong!   Then we both started thinking about jobs and college and two more kids arrived and life really began to go into warp speed.  However, we decided early on to take time for ourselves too.  We found crazy ways to combine business with pleasure, sneak off for weekends we may not have always saved enough for and just genuinely carve out time to remember that we were first and foremost a couple - and that we needed to nurture that part too.  We didn't always make the smartest financial decisions, but we were never in serious debt.  And of course, we had lots of support from our parents to make those "get aways" possible.

So now we are retired, and yes we will travel.  We continue to look for opportunities to share experiences.  Sometimes I travel for the book series I am involved with, and MiVida comes too.  Sometimes he needs to go somewhere, and I try to join him -  except when he goes fishing...ugh!   We are going back to Hawaii and hope to go to the Galapagos, and we are planning a wonderful trip to Italy, but that isn't why we retired.  

We retired because we have five amazing grandsons who rock our world.   And we want to share their lives and bring a little relief to their equally amazing parents.  We want to go to as many sports events as possible; we want to be there when they come home from school; we want them to call us with problems, and we try very hard to be their "sugar nana and abo."   We love when they come over and
spend a few weeks like this past summer.  Yes, the house resembles the picture above, but most of the time it is way too neat.  We love the chaos, the commotion and everything that represents our infamous grandsons commonly known as the COUSINS.  

And at the end of a busy time, when the house is all settled and quiet again, I love just having time with the person who got me in this so long ago and...
I hope we have many many nights like this.

So - why did we retire?   For all of the above reasons with a little travel too of course!

RETIREMENT Rule #2:  NEVER ASK THAT QUESTION TO SOMEONE WHO HAS JUST RETIRED.  Instead trust that they probably know exactly why they are retiring, and if not, they wil figure it out soon enough!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

A Bathing Suit Story - and yes it's a retirement story

I don't love to shop for bathing suits.  I just try to find one that covers what needs to be covered, is comfortable when I swim and paddle board, and doesn't embarrass my family or me too much.  So today I made a quick run to the department store in the afternoon to try to replace my very old swimsuit that was starting to get a little threadbare.  I felt very lucky to be able to shop in the middle of the day when the stores weren't so crowded.

Of all things, there was a woman with her "retired husband" shopping near me.  He was the most annoying shopper.  Instead of waiting patiently in a chair while his poor wife tried to find something, he was actively involved in the selection.  They were both more advanced in age than me, and I could tell that the wife didn't like shopping for bathing suits any better than I did.  So there was her annoying husband pointing out suits (very ugly ones at that) and then when she showed him one, he would remark in a very loud voice - "Is it big enough?"

To make matters worse, he started talking to other women shoppers nearby.  I hid behind a rack of bathing suits so I didn't have to deal with him. He told them how he was helping his wife find a bathing suit, and he wanted to be sure she got one that was big enough!  Another woman began laughing and almost flirting with him, and his poor wife just kept plodding through the racks.

Later I found a bathing suit that met my criteria and was hurrying to pay for mine and get out of there.  Sure enough, there he was at the checkout presumably to oversee her payment skills and telling anyone who would listen how he helped her.   MiVida has never wanted to go bathing suit shopping with me, and I think I love him even more for that.  I just hope when she got home, she make him very unhappy for a long period of time.  And that brings me to

Retirement rule #1


Hopefully, I won't have to shop for one for another 7 - 10 years.  

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Holidays, Retirement and TIME

So.... I remember talking to colleagues near the end of June and hearing them wish me a wonderful holiday.  Of course they were referring to the upcoming national holiday.  However, it gave me great pause for reflection since, when you are retired, there ithe difference between holidays and regular days becomes blurred.

You have to know that I was the kind of person in the work world that religiously documented all national and school holidays as soon as the new academic calendar arrived.  I LOVE holidays - they mean sleeping in, fun times with family and just a break from the hectic days at work.  Don't get me wrong - I have been one of the lucky ones.  I love my job and my profession.  I could and did lose myself in a myriad of important, and, maybe not so important, tasks that engaged, challenged and inspired me as a teacher and department chair.

I still love holidays - I love to decorate the house (for grandkids now), plan holiday menus (but not actually cook them - that's Raymond's job) and activities, and participate in fun activities.  However, I sleep in or not...any day I want to, and my time with family and friends now happens based on needs and wants as opposed to squeezing free time out of a very crammed work schedule!

And think about it - I've been thinking about this the whole month of July and just found the TIME to write about it.  Life is different, but life is definitely GOOD!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Sanibel and Great Idea

This is the third time I have been invited to present at the Sanibel Symposium.  It is a very special 2 1/2 day event where Florida administrators, faculty and technical staff get together and share ideas and best practices.  I always love to go because I learn so much.  The way I seem to learn best is to listen to a great idea and then begin to apply it to my teaching and work environment.

So I was happily learning new technology strategies to use with the students when I had to stop and say - ummm, but I'm not teaching any more.  After I rolled that around in my head for a while, I took a new step for me.  I just let the ideas percolate,  and I began to reflect more and visualize wider possibilities  and connect these thoughts outside my personal sphere of knowledge.  I enjoyed this very much, and for a fleeting moment, I think I understood the concept of wisdom - but that was very fleeting  :-)

The other amazing thing about this trip was that even though it was my third trip, it was the first time I had TIME after the symposium to look around and explore Sanibel and Captiva islands.  I loved so many things about this amazing place...

1) swimming in the ocean at bath water temperature  
2) finding interesting shells (but so strange - almost every one was "shelling" but often I was the only one in the water.  I wanted to yell, "Excuse me, there is an ocean here."  Oh well, different culture I guess.
3)  Eating the freshest seafood ever.  I'm still drooling over the shrimp and the fresh fish.  I could give up chocolate for those tastes.
4) Being next to a Brown Pelican and just having him (or her - not sure about that) stare at me - like "What are you doing in the water?  Don't take my fish!"  I was so close so I could almost touch him. 
5)  Enjoying a beautiful sunset on Captive.  It seemed like the whole town ambled quietly to the beach and watched the sunset quietly and patiently and then disbursed.  It was magical!

So I really like this ability to think differently and travel differently.  I think I'm going to like this - Anyway, I'm off to a great start!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Camp Nana Abo V

Work might be easier than taking care of all our grandsons, but it certainly isn't as fun.  

5 boys, 13 days, extreme exhilaration and exhaustion

Some of the sounds from the annual Summer Camp:  

"I 'm hungry"
"Lift the lid, flush, wash your hands!"
"Can we play soccer, play Wii, watch TV?"
"I'm bored."
"I'm hungry"
"Take off your shoes."
"Don't fight, I'm going to count to ten."
" Can we have an otter pop, some gum, Gatorade?"
"We're hungry."
"If you don't settle down, no movie tomorrow!"
"I need water."
"I love you Nana and Abo."

We love you MORE...

One of the favorite activities was soccer in the yard. My legs look like one big not human bruise.   The youngest two loved to play soccer against Nana and Abo.  They said to huddle for a strategy session.  

When Abo and I huddled, we just looked at each other and said, "Don't die!"

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Top 10 Things I Loved Doing On The North Shore - Oahu

10.  Sharing Brandons birthday and our anniversaries at Olas
9.  Eating amazing dinners on our beautiful deck
8.  Watching MiVida remember how to surf again
7.  Trying to learn how to surf too
6.  Falling and getting up so many times - and boy was I sore the next few days!
5.  Paddle boarding whenever and wherever I got a chance!
4.  Buying our first gallery limited edition print and having the artist there to dedicate the painting
3.  Watching Samantha and Brandon exercising, playing very competitive card games, swimming and taking major snoozes like only the young can
2.  Enjoying fabulous sunsets at Wine Thirty in the Jacuzzi
1.  Sharing each and every vacation moment with MiVida
We are already counting the days until our next trip to the North Shore and we don't even have to think about a vacation schedule because WE'RE RETIRED!  ALOHA....