Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Retirement Favorites: 8 Big Things and a Few Extras!

A couple of days ago, I had lunch with two of my gal pals.  One is just beginning her second year of retirement. The other, a school district employee, has met the "Rule of 90" qualifications for retirement, but as yet is still working for the district.  In our conversation, as the two of us told the third about the things we missed about working (mainly, teaching children and spending time with our adult colleagues), I found myself trying to convince the third friend that she really should consider retiring.  We discussed the need for insurance benefits and the fear of boredom, and of spending too much time with our spouses.  We chatted and laughed and caught up on all the insider scoop of the school district, and then gal number three asked,

"What is your favorite thing about retirement?"

It would have been easy to give her a smart ass answer and say, "Oh, sleeping in til noon...", but as I was driving home, it occurred to me that this is a question deserving of a thoughtful answer.  So here is my assessment of this current gig:

1.  No stress! - By far, my number one favorite thing about retirement is that my days are no longer consumed by stressful situations.  Most careers are filled to the brim with deadlines, client demands, things that needed to be handled yesterday...but not retirement.  If something doesn't get done today, there's always tomorrow...ahhhhh, bliss!

2.  Fluidity of schedule - I get to decide for myself what to make of the day.  Should I blog in the morning or at midnight?  No, wait...I think I want to read now, and I'll do some client work later this afternoon.  The other day, my clothes drier exploded, and I needed to call the repair man.  As I was scheduling the appointment, it occurred to me how much easier this is than when I was teaching.  So repairman, how about we push that back until after 2:00 PM, because I might not be finished golfing before then.

3.  Freedom to learn new things - This is one of my favorite benefits of retirement. I now have time to explore anything in the world my mind can computer skills, foreign languages, building things, reading, even starting an entirely new career.  Never has there been this much freedom to pursue interests since the day I graduated from high school with the whole world spread out ahead of me.  Only this time, I have a few miles, a few bucks, some experience, and some wisdom to go with it.

4.  Time to be creative - I used to have so many things I wanted to sew, make, create and try...but that pesky job kept getting in the way.  Projects used to be pushed off until the weekend, and then could only materialize once the house was cleaned and the laundry was done.  Well now, that's just not the case.  I have so many projects going, I had to type up a list to keep track of them all - my only dilemma is deciding on what next to work!

5.  Getting lost in the literature - I have always been a voracious reader.  My only problem was that in my exhausted working life, I'd try to read in bed before turning off the light, would routinely fall asleep while reading, forget what I had read, and would need to back up a few pages the following night to figure it out.  Sound familiar?  Well in retirement, you get to make reading a priority and give it the time it deserves.  Heavenly!

6.  Time for travel and exploration - We're just getting started on this facet of our retirement life.  But we've learned that we need to Just Book It and go.  The concept of being able to decide when and where to visit next, without worrying about vacation schedules and work demands and deadlines is so liberating!  From a few miles to thousands, this part of the journey is proving to be a favorite thing!

7.  We're never tired! - I know that's a novel concept, but it's true.  Jeremy used to marvel at my ability to fall asleep every night within 3 minutes of closing my eyes.  The truth was that, during my teaching career, I was burning the candle at both ends, and was in a state of perpetual exhaustion!  Now, I'm never particularly tired.  I used to think that only old people went to bed early and rose early - but now I realize that it's the luxury of being able to follow natural circadian rhythms - without all of the artificial constraints that employment adds to our lives.  We sleep when we're tired, and wake when we're rested - and that, as they say, is that!

8.  Togetherness - It took a little getting used to, and a bit of compromise, but one of the very best things about our Encore Voyage is that we are making the journey together.  And while we make it a point to honor each other's need for space and private time, there's lots to be said for going down this road hand in hand.

So these would be the "biggies."  But there are a jillion other little small daily things that make retirement just the best:

  • Having time to enjoy my morning coffee and read the paper without rushing out the door.
  • There is no more laundry day.  When the basket gets full, I throw in a load.
  • The house is always pretty clean.  Doesn't have to be accomplished on the weekend.
  • The guilt free afternoon nap!
  • Spending time with my gal pals - while everyone else is at work!
  • Shopping any time but on a weekend.
  • Not having to go out in the snow if you don't want to!
  • My friends say, "spending time with grandkids." - I wouldn't know about that...
  • Taking time to really see and appreciate our surroundings - Life is not such a rush!
I know that there are lots of other favorite things.  So how about it?  What are your favorite things about retired life?  I'd love it if you'd share in the comments.


Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Chicago, That Toddling Town - 9 Fabulous Things to Do

Well, we just got back from spending a week in Wisconsin and Chicago.  Yup, we just Booked It!  One of the items on Our List was to visit the works of Frank Lloyd Wright.  That dude was the greatest influence on Jeremy's decision to become an architect, and we'd always said, "Someday..."

Someday finally came and we flew to O'Hare, got a rental car, and drove to

 1.  Frank Lloyd Wright's Taliesin, in Spring Green, Wisconsin.  It was the home that he designed in 1911 and continually changed until his death in 1959.  If you have any love of architecture, this place is truly inspirational.

We drove back to downtown Chicago, where we stayed at

2.  The Palmer House Hotel - This gorgeous historical hotel reopened in 1873, and has become the nation's longest continually operating hotel.  And it has such a romantic story - It was the world's best wedding present from Potter Palmer to his fiance, Bertha.  But just 13 days after it opened, The Palmer House burned to the ground in the Chicago fire!  Bertha rebuilt the hotel, and the result is crazy stunning!  You just have to see the goooorrrrgeous vaulted mural ceiling in the lobby.  (Swoon...I just love a good romance!)

One more beautiful thing about the Palmer House is that it is just a couple short blocks from

3.  Millennium Park -  Part of the Grant Park system, Millennium Park has lot to see and do. Located along the shores of Lake Michigan, the park is home to about a gazillion cool art installations, an outdoor amphitheater, gardens, fountains and miles of walking and bike paths. We just happened to be there during the Chicago Jazz Festival - How stinkin' lucky were we!

4.  Cloud Gate - This outdoor sculpture is their pride and joy, and is lovingly referred to by Chicagoans as "The Bean."  Its highly polished and reflective surface highlights the Chicago skyline and presents an ever changing view of the people who can move around and even under it!  Ya just can't resist going up to it and making all kinds of faces and poses.  But don't worry, because you won't be the only one acting dorky.  It really is a Chicago Gem.  A must see...

5.  And if you want to see even more of the park along Lake Shore Drive, I'm not kidding you even a little bit when I tell you that the most crazy fun way to do it is with Absolutely Chicago Segway Tours.  We arranged the Segway Art and Architecture tour, and I thought it was the best thing we did on the whole trip.  Not to worry, even the klutziest among us (and I'm speaking from experience here) can learn to ride a Segway in about five minutes! First they geek you out with stylin' helmets and then you are off and rolling!  Paul, our guide provided information sprinkled with fun stories, and was a willing photographer to boot.  We covered about 8 miles in two hours on those little hummers...Saw lots and lots of neat things. It would have killed us to have attempted to walk to all those sites.  When the two hour tour was up, I was wishing that I didn't have to give the Segway back!  I may very well now be a Segway junkie.  I can tell you that from now on, I'll look for Segway tours when visiting new cities. (I hear you can do it in Rome...hmmmmm....)

6. Robie House - Located on the University of Chicago Campus, this home was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright in 1910 for Frederick C. Robie.  The home's low pitched roofs and strong horizontal lines are the quintessential example of Prairie Style architecture.  You can tour the inside of the home and take in some of the furnishings and all of the exquisite woodwork and art glass windows.  It's beautiful, especially in light of the fact that he designed it in the early 1900's!

7. Museum of Science and Industry - This is a must do if you visit Chicago, especially if you have kids.  This huge place is a discovery center on steroids!  We spent an entire afternoon here, and did not even get close to seeing everything - From lightning and tornadoes to a coal mining operation, MSI has something for every interest.  I know it sounds gross, but you can look at all the nerves in your body, all your blood vessels, get the idea.  I think our favorite thing was the huge model railroad layout, The Great Train Story.  This layout models all of the train types, and includes landscapes from the port of Seattle to downtown Chicago.  Brought the big kid out in Jeremy!

8. Chicago Cultural Center - We learned about this old building from our Segway guide, and it was well worth stopping by to check it out.  The building originally opened in 1897 and was the first permanent home for Chicago's Public Library.  It's free to go in and see any number of art exhibits, performances, lectures and film screenings.  On the day we were there, we happened upon a textile artist, working with a variety of different looms and yarns. People were invited to try their hands at weaving!  But the main reason we went in was to see the world's largest Tiffany glass dome!.  They call this place, "The People's Palace," and it truly is just that.

9. The Art Institute of Chicago - So is it just somehow wrong to take a selfie with a Picasso?  Well that's exactly what we did, cuz we're just nerdy like that.  We wanted to take one with American Gothic (you know, the farmer, wife and pitchfork classic), but it was out on loan.  If it weren't, you could go to The Art Institute of Chicago and see it in person, because it lives there!  And those are just two of the bajillion awesome pieces of art in that huge and wonderful museum. And if you go right now, the Magritte exhibition is there.  (You know him...The guy in the bowler hat with the green apple in front of his face from The Thomas Crown Affair?  Yeah, him.)  Even the building's addition, which holds the modern art collections, is a really cool piece of architecture in itself.  Better plan at least a couple of days (or years) if you are any kind of art lover at all...

Since we returned, many people I have told about our trip have said, "Oh, I love Chicago! It's a really fun place to visit!"  They are absolutely right!  I can't wait to go back, because there are still things I need to do.  Like ride the el train (I think that would be fun for a western girl!), and see Sue, the T-Rex at the Field Museum, and go to Soldier Field and the Shedd Aquarium, and...

And just so you know, nobody paid me to write about any of this stuff.  I just wanted to share some of the cool things we did while we were in town.  All of the photos and ideas are things I wanted to share about our vacay.  So how about it.  What did we miss?  Leave a comment to share your ideas about what we should do next time!


Sunday, September 7, 2014

Just Book It! Seven Steps Toward Adventure

You ever look around and notice that it seems as if everyone else is doing more exciting things than you are?  I have friends who have been on 4 or 5 cruises.  Another couple has been to Italy, and yet another friend of mine just spent several weeks in Asia!  My Facebook News Feed is loaded with my friends' check-ins from places far and wide.  Seems like this one is headed for Disney World with the kids, and that one is on a bicycle, riding through the Redwoods of California.  I find myself thinking, "How are they doing that??

I don't like to believe that this is just the green-eyed monster rearing her ugly head (and I really do have green eyes, just sayin').  I'm genuinely happy for all my friends' adventures. But I sometimes find myself thinking, "How do they find the money?",  "How do they get away from work?", "How are they able to do that with xxx going on?"  

Jeremy and I have always had Our List, but we haven't made a whole lot of progress in crossing the items off.  I think that's because, up until now, we have always seemed to approach the list with an attitude of "someday, we'll..."  

(Insert picture of light bulb over our heads here.)  Well, DUH!!!  It's taken us almost four decades, but I think we're finally figuring it out.  In our effort to live with more intention, we have finally learned that meaningful living does not just happen by accident.  If we wait for "someday", it will never come.  We have learned that if we want a rich, fulfilling lifestyle, then we need to

Here are some of the things we've learned on the Voyage:

1)  Negotiate the next big thing - Pour yourself a couple glasses of wine and have the discussion about what you want to do next.  Sometimes it's his "thing", sometimes it's mine. Every time will involve compromises.  We figure out ways to make certain that each of us will enjoy the journey.  (For example, while we went to Chicago to explore its architecture, yours truly had a blast doing so on a Segway - but that's an upcoming post!)

2)  Mix it up - Not every pursuit needs to be a two week vacation.  We have started looking for little things that will enrich our day to day lives.  In the past month, we have been to our local museum and to our local science center.  We have a couple of picnics planned where we will put the dog and some munchies in the pickup, and head into our state's beautiful mountains to explore roads we have not yet traveled. Big adventure or small day trip - both deserve to be planned.

3)  Put it on your calendar - Ever notice how you never miss a dentist appointment or a haircut because it's scheduled on your calendar or planner?  We've learned that our adventures deserve the same amount of respect and planning.  Next Saturday, we will head downtown to explore our local farmers' market.  It's on the calendar - If it were not, I'm pretty sure laundry could get in the way.

4)  Figure out how to budget - For some adventures, a little financial planning is in order. The point is to not adopt the notion of, "I'll go when I can afford it."  If you do that, you'll never, ever go.  There will always be some other use for your money.  That being said, you also don't want travel to leave you in the poor house.  You need to figure out some way to finance the adventure you have planned.  Maybe its a dedicated travel fund to which you contribute regularly.  Maybe it's planning the trip enough in advance that you can save for it before you leave.  For us, we booked the airline tickets enough in advance that they were paid for before we left, and had saved up for other expenses prior to our departure.

5)  Do some research - The interwebs are our friends. Google your destination to find experiences that will add depth to the adventure.  Remember how I mentioned above, SEGWAYS!!!  Soooo much fun and something that would never have occurred to me had I not found them on-line.

6)  Leave some time in the plan - This one is still quite difficult for me, as I like to go, go, go, go, go.  What I have learned is that if you kill off your husband with the adventure, he is less likely to want to travel with you...(remember that compromise thing, well this is it.)  And it's not such a terrible idea.  We found that leaving unplanned time allows for serendipitous discoveries, reading, writing, reflecting, or even just a plain old nap!  Fight the urge to try to see everything and do everything.  Be intentional about how you spend your vagabond moments.

7) Just book it - At the end of the day, the really important step is to commit to the journey. Put it on the calendar.  Purchase the airline ticket.  Book the hotel room.  Whatever.  If the adventure is somehow "booked", with commitment and a plan, we will figure out how to work around it.  We'll take those vacation days.  We'll arrange other appointments around our plans.  We'll make it happen!

So how about it.  Do you have any other strategies for making your adventures happen?  I'd really love it if you'd leave a comment...


Friday, August 15, 2014

It's Not Just a Bucket List

I am a list maker.  Always have been.  When I was teaching, I would keep a stenographer's notebook with lists of tasks which needed to be done. Then I would artfully use a variety of colored pens to color out the tasks as they were finished.  A rainbow of accomplishment!  Now I use an app on my phone, tablet and laptop which syncs together so many lists that they are categorized in folders and assigned to different days.  Overall, my lists are so long that I will most likely never finish many of the tasks before they become unimportant - which is also OK.  My lists are living, evolving things.

But there is one list which is near and dear to my heart.  We keep it in the Notes section on my phone, and it is entitled simply, 
Our List

Our List has evolved through many bottles of wine, over dinners, while taking walks, and even while driving along in the car.  The rules for the list are quite simple:  It is the place for storing our dreams that begin with, "I wanna..."

  1. It is about activities that we wish to experience, not about accumulating things.
  2. Either of us can add a desire to the list. 
  3. There is no veto power.
  4. No dream is too big, or too small.
Our list is now a couple of pages long, and ranges from the silly to the sublime.  It includes things like "eat in every not-yucky restaurant in our town" to "zip-line somewhere where there are monkeys or parrots." Everything from "jet-boat through Hells Canyon" to "New Orleans jazz."

Every so often, we pull out the list, talk through the items, and prioritize what we should try to do next.  That's when we sometimes negotiate, adding and deleting from the list as our wishes change.  (I, for example, no longer feel the need to mountain bike down our local ski hill!) 

The beautiful thing about our list is our commitment to it.  It's not really a bucket list, but rather our shared journey list.  In the bigger picture, it is about our desire to fulfill each other's dreams, to voyage through life together, and to share our experiences.  A little sappy, I know...But we are committed to spending the rest of our lives trying to cross things off Our List!


Monday, July 28, 2014

Fixing the Funk - Living to an Objective

I am in a funk...You may have noticed from my non-existent posting schedule during the last month.  I am afraid I may have fallen into that regrettable state that frightens so many pre-retirees and new retirees.  I think I'm...wait for it...BORED!  Now, I know what you might be thinking, given my previous ranting about how it is impossible to be bored and given that there is so much to be discovered in this world.  And perhaps "bored" isn't exactly the correct adjective.  It's just that I am in a funk.  It has occurred to me over the last few weeks that I have been letting my days sort of just tick by...without really accomplishing much or having much direction.  Oh sure, I've been out to lunch with my gal pals a couple of times, and I've played golf a couple of mornings a week, but that still leaves a lot of hours that I've just sort of piddled around aimlessly.  Geez...You'd think that with this much time on my hands that my house would be absolutely spotless.  Nope - Not even!  And I'm finding myself daydreaming about the upcoming vacation we will be taking to Chicago at the end of next month.  Now hold on just a second, I say to myself...What about today???  I have let this month slide by, wishing for the future!  And that, my friends, is a FUNK!!!

What to do, what to do??? Sometimes I think someone should just slap me upside the head - because after a great deal of consideration, it finally occurred to me that I should practice some of this stuff I've been reading, instead of just letting it go into my brain and fade away. The self talk sounded something like this:  "Hello???!!! How 'bout you try living with a little intention!  You remember that list you made? Hell, it was your last post, for cryin' out loud! How 'bout you try walkin' the talk! You know all those blogs you've been reading?  How 'bout you put some of this into practice!"

So here's my plan - I read somewhere that every day you should accomplish one big thing and do something you love.  That sounds like a pretty good idea, so we'll go with that.  And to make it happen, I've decided to take a little time at the end of each day (TV off, cup of tea in hand) to contemplate and intentionally plan at least a part of the next day.  I've always been a list maker, so I use the Any Do app that lets me keep my tasks current on every device.  That being said, I've also typed up my values list and hung it on the wall in my office, where it's right there in my face, begging the question,

What are you intentionally doing today to enrich your life
 and to actively advance what you value most?

Back in my teaching days, we used to call it "teaching to an objective."  Well, now it's time to practice "Living to an Objective."  I'm only on about day three of this plan, so I'll have to let you know how it goes.  How about it...does anyone else have strategies for keeping the "wasting my life away funk" at bay?  Drop a comment below to let me know what you're doing!  Then check back later to find out if I'm still feelin' funky!


Sunday, July 13, 2014

Retiring with Intention - 12 Ways

This morning I decided to write at the table on my patio, while enjoying my morning coffee and the smells of the summer day before the heat sets in.  It occurred to me that before the Encore Voyage I rarely took the time to just be observant about sights and sounds around me.  The Encore Voyage is changing us...Jeremy and I are choosing to live our lives more intentionally.  We get to decide what to make of each day.  The other night, while enjoying a glass of wine, we made a list of those things in our lives we really value.  Here's our list:

1. Our marriage - We both agreed that this is number one on our list.  Our number one priority is each other.  Jeremy once participated in a leadership training seminar where the speaker instructed the participants to take a sheet of paper, fold it in quarters, then write the things they valued most in each of the four quadrants.  After that was done, participants were instructed to tear off the least valuable thing and throw it away.  This was followed by the next least valuable, and the next, until each person was left holding only one quadrant.  The eye-opening part of the exercise is that people in the room threw their kids, God, their wives in crumpled wads onto the floor...because they thought they should value "becoming a vice president...." 

So often we hear that "marriage is hard."  Call me crazy, but I've never found this to be the case.  There is nothing hard about being kind, being thoughtful, putting the other person first - it's just that over the years we grow complacent, and forget the person we married in the first place.

2. Developing  soul - enhancing relationships - OK, I must admit that I have stolen this lovely expression from Erika over at All Things E, because she is spot on.  At first, we thought the important thing was our family members...but then we realized that while we will always try to support "family members," the label of 'family' is not what counts.  We have many people in our lives who are closer than family (gal pals, you know who you are).  More importantly, there are people whose relationships we wish to nurture because they add such a fulfilling quality to our lives.  So whether it be relationships with God, with siblings, with family members or with acquaintances, it seems important to intentionally decide how and with whom we spend our time. Thanks Erika, for putting that little tidbit into our brains.

3.  Learning new things - One of the best parts of the Voyage has been the opportunity for us to take on new challenges.  When I was teaching, I used to tell my students that they needed to learn something new every day, or they might as well have stayed in bed!  We delight in the notion that there is an entire unexplored world out there and we can learn about anything we can imagine!

4. Building and creating - High on our list is the notion that we value our creative yearnings. Anyone who has seen my craft closet knows that I can never be tied down to one thing.  I have stacks of PhD's (projects half done!)  The opportunity to try our hand at new creative ventures makes us both thrive.

5.  Exploring new places - It could be travel, it could be places in our own town. It could be a picnic in the local countryside.  It doesn't need to cost money.  There is so much in this world to see and experience.  We value our wanderlust!

6.  Reading Forever - Borrowed that phrase from Nook at B&N.  So many books, so little time.  Nuf said!

7.  Appreciating and making music - Music has been important to both of us since we were very young.  From playing my piano, to learning to play the sax, to enjoying the fruits of our local symphony, to good old rock and roll...we want our lives to have a sound track.  Which brings us to number 8...

8. Supporting the arts -  Shakespeare, local theater, dance groups and galleries, just to name a few - Life is about collecting experiences, and the arts provide us with some of the richest.

9. Health, physical activity and self-acceptance - We have been giving a lot of thought lately to our pursuit of good health.  We eat a lot healthier lately, and I have logged hundreds of hours at the gym in the last two years, cycling and treadmilling to nowhere and challenging my muscles with weights.  It has occurred to me that all those hours at the gym may not be the best use of  time.  What if, perhaps, we actually took a walk or went for a run or swim?  What if we climbed a trail instead of the Stair Master? How about walking the golf course, climbing real stairs, parking at the far side of the parking lot?  It seems to me that an intentional life would value more authentic types of activity.  

With that in mind, I've also decided that I'm tired of searching for a different me.  Yep, I'm a little heavier than I'd like to be - I'll keep working on it.  But it does me no good to wish for the body of that college girl 30 years ago.  And it is self defeating to keep saying, "Six months from now I'll wear a smaller dress size."  So I'm committed to doing the best I can to keep this body healthy and strong, and to be OK with the woman in the mirror.

10.  Good Food - Exploration for our senses! - Keeping in mind number 9 above, we decided that exploring good, real food is something we both value.  We want to experience the flavors and combinations of different cultures and cuisines - from fresh tomatoes and lettuce that we grow in our garden to cheeses, wines and dishes from other countries.  That's not an excuse to eat an entire cake in one sitting (again, see number 9.)  It is, however, a statement that protein powders and tofu are just not going to cut it for us...we crave real, whole delicious foods creatively prepared!

11.  Taking time for rest, relaxation and meditation - I used to go through life like a freight train.  Now we have realized the value in taking some time to just be...time to think, to recharge, to de-stress and to let go.  Oh, I wish so much that we had learned this value while we were working for others.  Because we now take time for ourselves, the quality of our lives has improved ten-fold.  You should learn. from. our. mistakes!

12.  Gratitude and giving back - These days we pay more attention to how blessed we feel to be able to travel this voyage.  We are thankful that we have 'enough.'  In fact, we have more than we could possibly need.  We've come to realize the importance of giving back and have found that greater selflessness is life enriching.  And face it - It's not hard to look around and find a need to be filled.  

When I look at our list, it's clear to me that none of this is about accumulating "stuff."  A successful life isn't about money or possessions.  Every item on this list is about how we act..those behaviors which enrich and give fullness to our lives.  Yes, I realize that people, including us, still need to work for a living.  For us, intentional living is about trying to make our actions fall in line with what we value. It's about paying attention to what we do, and determining if those actions fit in with our list.

So how about it...what do you value in creating an intentional life?  Leave a comment - I'd love to hear!


Monday, June 30, 2014

Retirement Togetherness - 10 Steps for 24/7 Success

It seems that whenever we tell people our story, one of the first questions they ask is, "How can you stand to be together 24 hours a day???  Apparently, this is the thing that keeps some from making the decision to retire at all. Jeremy has talked with lots of guys who have said, "I'd love to do what you have done, but I can't imagine what I'd do if I had to stay at home with my wife all day!"  Yikes!  Ladies, I don't know what we're doing to scare our men out of retiring, but if your hubs is feeling this way, take him by the hand, get your coffee, sit down and share this blog with him.  It really isn't that difficult!

I will admit that some of our friends say that our relationship is somehow unique...that we are not a typical couple.  Now I don't know if that's true, but I can tell you that, by choice, there are certain premises that we have adopted over the years, that seem to be working during the voyage:

1.  We made a conscious decision to be kind and respectful to each other.  Neither one of us will participate in a fight.  I can hear some people right now saying, "If you say you never fight, you must be lying."  Well, believe what you will, but here's the deal...My mamma taught me to "keep a civil tongue in my head."  That advice has rung true for a lifetime.  It does not mean that I am not honest with the hubs, or that we never disagree.  It simply means that if  I'm about to say something hurtful, I bite my tongue!  I will wait until calmer heads prevail, and then we'll figure out a way to discuss.  I have always judged it this way - Would I say this to my best friend?  Many times, the answer is no - I wouldn't say something to my best girlfriend because it would hurt her feelings.  Why, oh why, is it true in our culture that married people believe that they can say anything to each other, without regard for hurting feelings!  The one thing I am most proud of in our relationship is that in the 35+ years we've been together, Jeremy has never, ever said an unkind word to me!  And while I know this is not true for all, it's something to consider...

2.  We have separate individual spaces in our home.  Early on, we realized that each of us needed a personal space.  In our home, we created separate "offices," but it could be a desk, a corner, a room, or even a garage.  There is some truth to the concept of the man cave, just as I had need of a 'woman cave.'  We each need a place to retreat to, to hold our stuff, to call our own...

3. We've been careful to keep and nurture separate outside interests.  He's a car guy.  I'm a golf girl.  He has guy pals.  I have gal pals. He does guy stuff.  I do girly, crafty stuff.  The point is that by continuing to go our separate ways, learning new things, making new friends, engaging with others, we bring a fresh perspective and new topics of conversation to the table.

4. We've learned new things about each other...and adjusted.  You would think that after being together for so long, a couple would know just about everything there is to know about each other.  WRONGO!  I would never have believed it myself, but being together during the work day hours was very illuminating.  Who knew that the hubs was such a linear thinker, who absolutely hates to be interrupted when he's involved in a task.  For a couple of months there, I about drove him crazy when I would derail his train of thought.  I'm sure he learned some choice things about how I operate as well.  The point is that we always keep #1 in mind, while working out ways to co-exist!

5. We became more flexible in our roles around the house.  It's not unusual that during their working careers, people fall into a sort of routine about who does what in running and maintaining the household - He mows the lawn, She does the laundry, He takes out the garbage, She does the cooking...But when the perception of available time changes, the nature of the roles must change as well.  Early on, I started feeling like I was the "charwoman" at our house, while he was working hard to build the business.  We learned that we needed our roles to be more flexible.

6.  We plan, always with consideration of the other person in mind. We share a calendar on our computer, and we make sure that we communicate what events get scheduled. Neither gets to plan an event involving both without consulting the other.  No one's event is more important than the other's.  You would think this would be a no-brainer.  But in retirement, it's easy to fall into the trap of "Of course, we'll both be there!"  Or, "Sure, I can schedule the plumber to come, cuz hubs will be home." It only takes a couple of times of misguided expectations to figure this one out.  I hope you learn from our missteps...

7.  We've become better listeners.  You see numbers 1-6 above?  Well, in order to make them work, you've got to listen...really listen to what your partner needs, thinks and feels.  Just sayin'.

8.  We find ways not to take it all too seriously, and to laugh at the quirky things that happen daily.  And they will happen...believe me they will! I did not know until recently that hubs is able to quote a huge amount of Looney Tunes dialog!

9.  We are a team in all things.  We plan together, make lists together, prioritize together, budget together.  I can see why the guys in the introduction to this piece don't want to be home if they feel that they are alone in the journey.  The voyage is a shared one in every way.

10.  And finally, our guiding principle - When we were first married, we both read John Gray's Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus. (Gray, 1992), and for all of our married lives we have taken to heart what we believe to be the most important phrase of the book:

Men want to be appreciated, 
Women want to be cherished.

It's quite simple really, and if you think about it, so very, very true.  And to that end, I try to make sure that every day of his life, I let Jeremy know how much I appreciate him - things he does for our business, for me personally, for us as a couple.  And every single day of my life, I feel truly cherished by him.  And in the end, that's all it really takes!