Retirement and a WordPress.com Anniversary

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Time flies when you’re having fun. 

I received a message from WordPress a couple of nights ago.  My blog, SheRetired.wordpress.com, has been with WordPress for one year.

Happy Anniversary to Me!

The news was comforting.  Earlier that day, I was making a stir fry and doing step-by-step instructions with photographs.  Just as I was finishing the dish, my camera fell off the kitchen counter and hit the tile floor.  I tried to take the final photograph for my blog, but the built-in flash was broken.  The last stir fry photos came out dark. 

I could not see myself without a camera, so it was off to shop for a replacement.  Although I always wanted a Nikon camera with all the fancy lenses, I didn’t want to babysit it whenever we traveled.  I wanted a nice camera that could fit in my pocket.  My husband, Mister Jack, came along with me.  Once we carefully picked out a camera, Mister Jack surprised me and purchased it as my early birthday gift.  He explained that he had planned to buy me a camera, but who cares if my birthday is in late May?

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Retirement, Retirement, Retirement

My early retirement was forced on me because of an on-the-job injury.  My ego was tied to my work, so it was very hard for me to retire.  I had no idea of what people did when they retired because I had planned on working until the age of 65.  I was nearly 44 at the time of my retirement, and spent nine years trying to get used to the fact that I was not going back to the same line of work that I trained for. 

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A Dinosaur Returns to Writing

I am a highly creative person, but I certainly am not tech savvy.  During my nine years of wandering and trying to be a retiree, I took a class about establishing a blog for fun or profit.  The class came with a step-by-step manual on establishing a Blogspot blog.  I didn’t know there were any other choices, so I sat in front of my laptop and created SheRetired.  I wanted to do some creative writing.  After several months of posting, I left to try content writing. 

My background is in journalism, photojournalism and creative writing.  When I graduated from college in 1981, it was all about Woodward and Bernstein.  My jobs before and after college came with a desk with my editor nearby.  My work will always have my byline because I created it.  It’s a pride thing because if your facts are wrong, you have to answer to your critics.  Or write a public retraction.  Luckily, I never had to do that.

I quickly found out that content writing was not my cup of tea.  For one thing, it pays in pennies, and no bennies.  In my case, I was confined to my kitchen table and pounding away at my laptop keys because making money required volume.  And volume does not allow you to leave the house.  Everything was done through email, so if you are gone, you miss the assignments or get dropped because at any time, your online bosses can blow you off.  In my case, I wanted the experience, and I knew that this kind of pay was too much bang for the job and not enough bucks.  I told one client that I made more money as an illegal farm worker ($2.10 an hour in 1970) than his pennies per article.  And the fact that he didn’t know what he wanted, and kept changing his mind on what he wanted me to write. So I fired him and permanently walked away from content writing. This type of writing does not feed my creative soul.    

I haven’t been writing online for a long time, but I’ve learned a few things.  As a Lois Lane and former prison guard, you can safely say that I am not afraid of confrontation.  What the Internet lacks is total communication.  People are pretty much anonymous whenever they want to be, and since you can’t see the eyes, the body language or hear the tone of voice, there is a lot missing.  And when you do business online, you don’t know who you are dealing with.  Then you have the cowards who throw darts at you because they can.  I don’t answer to rudeness, so I leave the trolls alone.  I won’t make time for them and feed their misery. 

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The WordPress.com Experience is a Keeper

I got away from content writing and returned to my blog. I wanted a fresh start, so I switched to WordPress.com after a food blogger suggested it. Okay, so I admit I still struggle with tech.  I push all kinds of buttons, and suffer later.  While trying to make a photo gallery, I erased numerous photographs to earlier blogs.  Whoops!  I fixed some of them, but most of them are missing.  I keep telling myself that I would fix the rest on a day that I wasn’t doing anything.  Of course, I was only lying to myself.  If you finally get retirement right, there are not enough hours in the day to do what you want to do.  I’ve finally come to that point.

In retirement, SheRetired is part of my life.  WordPress.com allows me to express myself, and I try to post at least twice a week.  At first, this blog was all about recording my retirement through my words and photographs, but it’s become much more than that.  The discipline it takes to meet my blogging deadlines has encouraged me to work on my novel.  I follow many bloggers for entertainment as well as inspiration because every writer, food blogger and photographer has their own POV and so much to offer.  I also have a few followers, and I treasure the comments.

I still have a lot to learn when it comes improving my blog, but the process is a very slow one.  All I want to do is write and take photographs.

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And She Finally Retired

Writing and photography are lifelong passions of mine, and they are part of my retirement.  I don’t go anywhere without my writer’s journal and my camera.  I love traveling with Mister Jack.  Going places and meeting people.  Picking brains.  At the same time, I love being at home.  I do a lot of cooking and gardening.  I go for long walks with our dog.  I am healing from my kidney transplant surgery, and I’m looking at December to return to 100%.  Since I’ve been given a second chance at life, I am eager to give back when I’m through with recovery.  I don’t feel alive unless I have my causes to support.  Dealing with illness can be a blessing.  I am fascinated with the subject of health and nutrition, and I take advantage of finding bloggers who cover the subject.  I am also a recipe junkie, and the food bloggers that I follow keep my printer going.  I know they are very busy with their posts, but they do give me tips and answer my comments.  I’m grateful for that.      

Retirement is not a cookie-cutter deal where everyone works for decades at the same job and retires with benefits and pensions.  I’m sure you’ve got the picture that everyone is different because we all have different paths, and no two people experience the same thing.  Retirement is like everything else in life.  It’s a crapshoot.  Can you actually plan for it?  I never did.  Yet, I must say that I’m very happy because I now have the ability to deal with changes.   

Retirement gives you time to get to know yourself.  It’s the wisdom that puts life in perspective.  I’ve found that for me, very little is needed for a happy life.  I am finally content with my own retirement because I have time to play instead of work.  Instead of chasing the money and buying stuff, I’m chasing my dreams.  I’ve come to terms with the past, and I very seldom visit Memory Lane.  I’ve connected with my spiritual side.  I want life experiences instead of material things that hang around our home and collect dust.  I’m getting rid of things that I don’t want or need.  Someone else can enjoy them.  

 

So I continue to write and take photographs.  I wake up in the morning, and the day is mine.  I no longer answer to an alarm clock or The Boss.  I avoid toxic people.  Instead, I surround myself with family and friends.  I chase my interests and my dreams.  I have causes that I support.  I make time because my retirement is all about me.

My advice?  You have to write your own retirement because it is yours.  You earned it–now enjoy it!

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A special thanks to WordPress.com, my followers and the bloggers.

7 comments

  1. marlenebertrand · April 1, 2014

    Congratulations Arlene! You’ve done a lot in one year. I have enjoyed all of your blogs. It is a real treat to be on this retirement journey with you. By the way, were these photos taken with your new camera? They look amazing… brighter. I love that field of flowers.

  2. Arlene Poma · April 1, 2014

    Marlene! Thank you sooooo much! I absolutely love, love, love hearing from you because we are both so blessed to be retired. I do enjoy knowing what you and other people do during retirement because retirement is a personal thing. I get a lot of inspiration from retired folk and their activities. So much to do, and not enough hours in the day. Don’t you just love that? As for my new pocket camera? I am intimidated with it right now because it has far more features than my last camera. Very slowly getting used to it. The flash broke on my old one, but Mister Jack suggested that I use it for daylight photos. He was right. So I’m still using the old camera for outdoor photography while trying to get used to the new one. Sure, I would love to have one of those fancy cameras, but I am used to traveling light. Hope everything is going good with you, and that you are enjoying this rain. At this point, I’ll take anything.

  3. marlenebertrand · April 1, 2014

    Hi Arlene. Yes, I am truly enjoying the rain. This may sound silly, but I like to sit on the porch in the morning with a cup of coffee in the morning or a cup of tea in the afternoon. When it’s raining, I enjoy it even more. Everything looks and smells so clean. It’s not too hot or too cold. A light sweater is all I need. I put my feet up and enjoy it.

    Well, Arlene, you know I started trying my hand at voice acting in my old age. I have a home studio and the rain kind of interferes with my recording time. The studio is not 100% sound proof, but it’s good enough for what I’m doing. The two sounds that keep me from recording are airplanes and rain. I don’t mind. This voice acting gig is either going to work or not work. I’m just trying it on for size. It’s fun… right now. But, to tell you the truth, it’s much harder than a lot of things I have ever tried. I’m rethinking how much effort I want to put into this new venture. It’s cutting into my retirement time. I’d much rather be out taking pictures of my roses, capturing butterflies and birds in flight… stuff like that. I haven’t thrown in the towel regarding the voice recording activities. I’ll give it a try for a little longer. I do want it to work out, but I also like being free to be me. There aren’t many people like you and me who have the opportunity to be truly “retired”.

    I’m still searching for myself. But, one place I am sure I won’t find myself is in the rat world. If I see myself heading down that road, I’ll make a “U” turn and head back to the road to retirement.

    I have absolutely nothing planned for today. I’m actually just sitting here wondering what I want to do. Maybe I’ll pour another cup of coffee and hang out on the porch. Seriously! I have nothing to do today (by choice, of course).

  4. Arlene Poma · April 2, 2014

    Marlene, you have a voice like a lullaby. In my lifetime, I’ve only met two people who have very soothing voices. The kind of voice that one likes to hear. I have no doubt that you will be successful in anything you do, but only you have the choice to go “all in” or not. I have chased interests all of my life. My definition of failure is not trying–not taking risks. Unfortunately, people define their experiences as successful or as a fail. Or if they are making a lot of money out of their work. I give myself full reign on what I want to do. If it doesn’t work out, I can chase something else, go back to it later or walk away. I’ve done this all my life, and I’m not going to change.

  5. ChgoJohn · April 2, 2014

    Congratulations, Arlene. The first year is the hardest. It’s a breeze from here.
    How nice of Mister Jack to give you a new camera for your birthday, even if it is a little early. He sounds like a keeper. 🙂

    • Arlene Poma · April 2, 2014

      John, thank you so much! I love your blog, and you are my inspiration! Yes, Mister Jack is certainly a keeper. I finally made the right choice this time around, so I guess I learned something from my disastrous first marriage. I enjoyed your recent recipe on chicken thighs. What a hilarious title! I love chicken thighs, but I can’t stand my own flabby thighs! I will forever be your loyal follower.

  6. Emmy · May 14

    That’s a wise answer to a tricky quesiton

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