It’s going to be a busy week. We had a wonderful Christmas with family and friends and are now packing up for a trip to see the grandchildren (and their parents) in Charleston, SC. Before we hit the road however, I wanted to take a few paragraphs to hit the highlights of 2016…my first full year of retirement.
I’m not sure what I envisioned a retired lifestyle would entail. I suppose that I thought it would be a constant quest for something to do now that I was no longer working full time. However, I’m certain that I never thought that I would be asking myself this question…”When did I ever have time for work?” Admittedly, it took more than a few weeks to get to that point. When we returned from our first road trip–Easin’ Along the East Coast–I found myself staring at the wall for a period of time before I finally realized that road was leading nowhere fast.
Fortunately, I had decided in the months before hanging it up that I would create Easin’ Along, a website dedicated to participating in and promoting an active retirement lifestyle. But, once we came off the road, what else would there be to promote? Writing one article a week about an active retirement lifestyle required activities to write about. To my delight and amazement, it didn’t take long to discover an abundance of things to do that were fun and gave me great pleasure. When searching for material to share, I only had one steadfast rule—whatever I was involved in had to interest me or else I couldn’t make it interesting to others. More than anything else, I think that is the reason that our readership has grown from a few visitors each month at the beginning to over three thousand per month in November and December of this year.
As a result, Easin’ Along has filled a great need in this first year of retirement. The need for something to write about has kept me very busy, and the desire to stay busy has produced a plethora of activity that interested me enough to write down and share. Now, looking back over this first year, I thought it would be fun to make a few observations about the lessons learned and point out a few highlights of a year of Easin’ Along.
Good Health is Critical
During our trip up the East Coast we spent four days in New York. We were staying at the Navy Lodge in Staten Island and went into the city on the Staten Island Ferry every morning. Having no hotel in the city to work from, we did a lot of walking. After the third day of walking non-stop, there was not a single spot of my legs and feet that did not ache from fatigue. It was at that point that I realized that an active lifestyle required good physical health. In January of 2016, Helen (adorable wife) and I joined our YMCA and began exercising regularly (link here) both in the gym and in classes. Without a doubt, this was the most important decision we made the entire year. I love the classes, and never miss if I am in town. Not only do I feel better, but being in shape contributes so much to my overall sense of well being and reduces significantly the effort required to get up and go. Good health is just too important to neglect and I make sure to schedule annual physicals, dental visits, appointments with my dermatologist and, as noted in an earlier post, the dreaded colonoscopy.
Family is Still Most Important of All
We did a lot this year, but the absolute highlight came in July with the arrival of the kids and grandkids for a week at the lake. Our children live on each coast and we cherish every moment we can spend with them, plus having the cousins get the time to become reacquainted is so important to Helen and me. A picture gallery of that visit is posted here.
I am further blessed as one of the fortunate ones of my generation who still has a living parent. My Mother turns 89 in a few months and is a true treasure in my life and the life of our entire family. Time spent with her is precious. This year’s Mother’s Day outing was a fun article to write. I look forward to doing that again.
The Learning Never Stops
One lesson learned is that whenever I get bored, it’s time to put on the learning cap and take a class in subjects that interest me. A pledge to self was made that no matter what else was going on, there was always time for learning. This year I took two online courses in photography and, because I was able to retain the class material, I have reviewed them several times. Online courses are great but we have a top rated university in our lovely city, and there is no reason to avoid taking full advantage of the opportunity for enrichment. I enrolled in two classes related to website design and blogging from our university and learned much. In addition, I took a class from Alan Sims, a very successful local blogger (link here) and benefitted greatly from his willingness to share his steps to success. Learning is essential to a satisfying retirement.
Easin’ Along the American Highways
Perhaps the easiest articles written for Easin’ Along were the ones written about our two retirement road trips. In January we spent three weeks driving along the Florida Coast, then took off again in August for a four week trip through America’s Heartland and around the Great Lakes. I have repeated often and will do so again…America is a place of staggering beauty and the best way to see it is on a road less travelled. The small towns we visited along the way are forever imprinted in my memory bank as precious gems, and writing about those visits has created, for me at least, a priceless journal of wonderful experiences. Furthermore, the time spent with Helen has served to strengthen our relationship and our commitment to making the Golden Years everything they can be. There’s more to come. This year the plan is for a road trip of at least two months leading us into the great northwest then down the Pacific Coast before heading east along the southern part of the country. Stay tuned.
In summary, it’s been a great, fun-filled, and very active year. We’re looking forward to 2017 and whatever that brings. We extend our heartfelt and sincere best wishes to all of our readers for the very best in the New Year. We’re so grateful that you have been with us at points along the way, and that you will come back often to join us as we continue Easin’ Along.