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Retirement Talk for Boomers, Seniors and Retirees

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Episode 100 Retirement by Projects

Happy anniversary – I heard someone say. This is the one hundredth podcast for Retirement Talk. It was almost three years ago that I became interested in podcasting and combined it with my interest in radio broadcasting and writing. It also fit with my lifetime interest in what we are doing with our lives on a daily basis. Thus the brief general description of the program or project on my home page: "Retirement Talk is an audio podcast (written script a click away) intended to help people who are retired, or considering retirement, to examine their own lives. We will consider retirement in all its facets - not just financial. We want to examine our own lives and those of others, who seem to have looked closely, made choices, and are pretty happy with the consequences. We want to encourage thought and action." Here was an idea that seemed likely to provide something new to learn and a challenge to create. I thought by meshing them all together I might create an interesting project for myself and others. So far - so good.

This is Retirement Talk. I’m Del Lowery.

There are probably as many ideas and approaches to retirement as there are people retired. But we, my wife and I, are project- oriented people. Thinking and planning in terms of projects may not fit your style, but it works for us.

Our retirement has been marked by a series of projects. They have come to form a method for our approach to retirement. They give us direction and purpose. They also give us a way of moving that creates a sense of happiness. By that I mean moving from one state of being to yet that of a greater state. That means feeling a little bit better about your work skills, exercise routine, family relationships, writing, painting or whatever. You can fill in the blank. It has to do with what Nietzsche called that, “plus feeling of power” – sort of like when you hit a home run, discover the key to a puzzle, figure out how to make the computer do what you want it to. It just feels so---- good. You just want to jump up and do a little shadow boxing. When there is movement; that's when we get that plus feeling.

That’s happiness to me. It doesn’t have to be anything great. It just has to be better; just a little better than before. That's where projects come in. When (Once) we conceive of a project it’s then just one step at a time for many,  many days; perhaps evolving into years. What matters is the movement.

I try to draw out each project as long as I can. My friends laugh, but it is true. I figure that once one project is done another will pop up. I am in no hurry. When we – and I say we because the projects are usually undertaken by both Brenda and I – approach some special addition to our routine, our pace is measured. We work on these for perhaps two hours a day. That’s all the time we have. Most of each day is taken up with more long term projects such as classical guitar for me and watercolors for her. Then there is the obligatory daily ritual of exercising, a leisurely lunch, perhaps a nap and a late afternoon visit to a favorite coffee shop. In between the rest and the coffee is time for a project - a special project. Of course, sometimes evenings or weekend hours are added. Some flexibility has to be allowed.

Throughout the years of retirement these projects have included learning how to build an addition onto our house and actually doing the construction, and learning how to build artistic furniture from a friend who is a professional and then building our own dining table and a few other pieces. There was the organizing and establishment of a farmers’ market in our town. That was an intense one. For a couple of years we studied Spanish and at another time Italian. For eight years I served on the city’s Greenways Committee buying open spaces for the community and developing trails. Today I still serve on the County Parks Board. These projects have gotten me into the community and into the outdoors - both good places to be.  We also managed a political campaign and then I ran for political office.

One of the most enjoyable projects was our effort at ballroom dancing. How fun - moving to music, holding each other and laughing our way through the lessons and dances. One of my favorite projects was our gift to ourselves on our fortieth wedding anniversary. We made a disc of flute and guitar music at a cabin high in the Absaroka Mountains in Montana.

Hosting a weekly one hour interview program on the local University radio station lasted four years. I talked to lots of interesting people in the community and learned a little bit about radio production.  Trying to stay up with changes in the technological world has consumed much of my time.

Creating this podcast has certainly served as my special project over the last three years. I had to learn about audio recording; how to set  up a studio, which computer programs to acquire, which software to purchase and use, and
  then how to set up a website. I am not a technophile. I am not good at this sort of thing. Sometimes I had to call in assistance from my son or son-in-law. And when pushed to the wall in ignorance, I called in Joe, a computer/audio magician. Most of the time I seemed to move forward learning just a little bit more each week. And of course, in my scheme of what retirement is all about, that has been satisfying.

Projects have a way of appearing, creating a challenge, and providing some direction for movement.  Retirement Talk still serves my purpose. Perhaps another hundred shows are yet to happen.

This is Retirement Talk.