A journey of reinvention and renewal after retirement
Get to know me!
Get to know me!
This summer I planted a small garden devoted to native plants which will hopefully attract beneficial pollinators. The decline of beneficial insect pollinators has become a major concern for the future of our natural ecosystems. Approx. 90% of plants rely on these pollinators for reproduction. Which means a decrease in the number of pollinators means a decline in crop production.
Also recently the Monarch butterfly was added to the endangered species list. Numbers are dwindling due to climate change and loss of native plants along their migratory path. Plants like milkweed, echinacea, black-eyed Susan and goldenrod all provide a valuable energy source for these remarkable and beloved insects.
I encourage all gardeners out there to add native plants to their borders.
As a child I devoured every Nancy Drew and Bobbsey Twins book ever published, reading each of them multiple times. In my teens I discovered my mum's Agatha Christie collection and so began my lifelong love for the who-done-it. I still have a vivid memory of discovering an unusual book on the shelf in our living room, a non fiction book...The Trial of Steven Truscott by Isabel LeBourdais. It is an account of the wrongful conviction of this 14 yr old boy. Something about this injustice and the unsolved crime peaked my interest.
Speaking of hidden pleasures somehow implies a certain amount of shame attached to the activity. It is in our nature as humans to want to solve puzzles and accounts of true crimes, especially the unsolved, provide us the opportunity to satiate our instincts. So no shame just an admission that in addition to history, biography and philosophy, I am interested crime, the detectives who solve them and the lawyers who prosecute them. Yes I am a big fan of the original Law and Order.
Over the years I've read all the best sellers in the genre including classics like In Cold Blood, Helter Skelter and The Stranger Beside Me.
These days instead of the written page, I turn to the podcast for my fix. My favourites include True Crime Garage, The Generation Why, Casefile and The Most Notorious Podcast. Dateline NBC is a classic, featuring one of the best voices in journalism Keith Morrison. In my view the winner for best voice on a podcast award goes David Ridgen on CBC's Someone Knows Something and The Next Call with David Ridgen. David investigates cold cases along with the victim's family.
I listen along on my walks and they make boring tasks like housework a little more enjoyable.
We were so happy to welcome Boots and Snicklefits (Snickers for short) into our family last week. They are 10 years old and a bonded pair. Boots is the more outgoing of the two and is starting to make herself comfortable in her forever home. Snickers is still keeping mostly to the basement where she is most comfortable right now. We spend lots of time down there with her and I sure she will eventually make it up the stairs. They lived in an apartment for the first ten years so all these stairs are a brand new experience. Boots apparently has glaucoma and I am giving her eye drops twice a day. We will visit our Vet in a week or two once they are more settled. It's nice to have critters in the house once again!
Like many I have been glued to the television watching the horrors unfold in Ukraine. Putin is a war criminal, that is a certainty and the world needs to do all it can do to stop him. If we have to suffer through a period of higher prices then so be it....a small price compared to what Ukrainians are suffering through. I've done what little I can do to help out with donations to the Red Cross and the International Humane Society. I would encourage others to do what they can to help ..even moral support helps.
While the lockdown was mostly a bore, I do have one high point to report. After being on a waitlist for some time, my daughter finally got her opportunity to adopt a French Bulldog puppy. The breeder had purchased the puppy to breed eventually but discovered that because her tail was too long she was not a good candidate. A really big break for us! Her name is Lily and she is the sweetest little girl, with a great personality and very loving. She's been a real gift to our family. Now that the lockdowns have ended she and her mom are back in Toronto. The house is empty without her. You can follow Lily's adventures on Instagram at @lily.longtail
My interesting journey of self discovery diverged down a completely different path over the last couple of years. Some days I handled it well but on the whole it was a struggle. With that I know I am not alone.
Yes the pandemic itself was anxiety inducing but the lockdowns necessitated by it actually started out as a fun new experience. My husband was instructed to work from home. My daughter who lives in a small condo by herself also started to work from home and moved in with us to avoid being in isolation. So I went from being on my own 4 days a week to a full house 24/7. No more "me" time.
At first every day seemed like a weekend. The cocktails were served at 5pm and the fancy dinners once reserved for Saturdays and Sundays became everyday. Needless to say that the grocery (and liquor store) bills went through the roof. We all thought that this could only last a couple of months at the most then we would go back to normal, so we might as well make the most of our time together. Well we all know that didn't happen. Those few months went by the novelty wore off and boredom and repetition set in. Groundhog day!
As someone who has always struggled with anxiety and depression the conditions were ripe for a major relapse. Globally, mental health and substance abuse issues were heightened during the pandemic. Many more individuals reported feelings of anxiety, depression, grief and fear then ever before. I coped with my anxieties and depression/a general loss of interest in everyday activities in part by consuming more alcohol to numb the pain. This only made matters worse.
I am very fortunate that no one in my family became seriously ill and I do not know of anyone who suffered a loss from this virus. Many families experienced unspeakable grief unable to spend precious last moments with their loved ones. My heart breaks for them. Grief came to me with the deaths of the last two of my four pets at the height of lockdown restrictions. Saying goodby to my sweet Ruby in a tent set up in a parking lot behind the vets.
Spring of 2022 is nearing , pandemic restrictions are lifting and I am beginning to break out of this dark spell. After successfully completing a "dry" January and a return to a regular exercise routine I am starting to feel the life force awake within me. I am looking forward to my garden once again and have been looking to adopt a cat or two. I'll keep you posted on those developments.
I have always wanted a beautiful flower garden and over the years have tried with limited success to create a backyard paradise. Being retired has allowed me the time to really devote to the project and it does require time and effort. I've also found out that it also involves some trial and error. I've had a few flops but overall my garden is starting to shape up nicely.
I have always been into fitness but as I've aged I've become more aware that the body needs to move. Stiffness, aches and pains can come from nowhere and sitting seems to be the worse culprit. The great news about retirement means that you suddenly have more time to devote to health and wellness. My attitude towards fitness is that it should be fun and as such I have developed a routine that adds to my enjoyment of life overall. Because of this I work out almost every day. My fitness routine varies between cycling (listening to my favourite podcasts), yoga (listening to either Classical or MoTown) and a dancing/weight routine to Rock and Roll classics. Music for me is inspirational and I let loose in the comfort of my own basement. Dance like no one is watching! Highly recommend it...
The Canada goose that has been nesting behind my house for the last month, rain, shine, cold and warmish, has finally hatched her brood. So adorable. My anxiety levels will be high for the next while, hoping that they all stay safe while they develop. Nothing much I can do about it though. Mother nature is in charge.
I really enjoy watching the birds in my backyard. I find it to be a relaxing hobby. I've added to the selection of feeders over the past couple of years to attract a wider selection of birds. The most recent addition was a feeder to attract Finches. It only took a couple of hours before they found it. Amazing.
Yesterday I said goodbye to my sweet Eddie (Edina Monsoon) who was suffering in the final stages of kidney disease. I know it was the right decision but it was still painful. She was exceptionally loving and cuddly. Every time I sat down to read, she would jump on my chest, making it difficult to see the page but I loved every second of it. Heartbreaking! She will be missed.
I know it is now coming up on the end of February 2019 but I was thinking about some of the books I read last year and thought I would share with you my top 3 favourites.
I started out 2018 reading Leonardo DaVinci by Walter Isaacson and what a great start it was. It is a brilliant biography of one the most creative minds ever to have lived. Beautifully written and filled with photos of his art and illustrations. A joy to read.
Another of my favourites was Red Famine, Stalin’s War on Ukraine by Anne Applebaum. The book impeccably details Stalin’s policy of agricultural collectivism and the attempted destruction of the Ukraine peasantry. The ensuing famine and starvation is devastating and the struggle to survive is epic. Although the subject matter is difficult and some details are horrifying, it is an important reminder of the evils of Stalins reign of terror. Mankind should never forget.
My absolute favourite read of 2018 was The Road Not Taken, Edward Lansdale and the American Tragedy in Vietnam by Max Boot. The book details the life of Edward Lansdale an American covert operative working first in the Philippines and then in Vietnam in the days leading up to the US build up there. Lansdale is a larger than life character, who some say was the model for Graham Greene's The Quiet American. Lansdale followed a "hearts and minds" approach to counterinsurgency and had some initial successes. His attempts to convince leadership to follow this approach in Vietnam fell on deaf ears and the result is well known. A absolutely fascinating page turner. I struggled to put it down!
When I retired, I developed a range of activities and objectives to ensure that I stay active and engaged with the world around me. Most were activities that I was always interested in but never had the time to devote to them. Taking my fitness to the next level was first and foremost. Thais includes both my physical and emotional fitness. I do feel more physically fit now, given that I can work out every day. At the same time however I am developing some of the aches and pains associated with aging, Achy hips, knees and at one point had a frozen shoulder to deal with. When it comes to emotional fitness I still find it a struggle. Boredom and loneliness are an ever present hurdle to overcome. I am a major introvert and I relied on my workplace for most of my interpersonal connections. Losing that was a big void to overcome. I do try to get out every day to at least have a conversation with a human being but am still trying to find a solution that works for me. Even though I am not an artist by any stretch, I have taken up watercolour and discovered a group of women who get together twice a week to paint. Looks promising but will keep you posted.