Retirement and Personal Goals

My handmade bookmark.

“Whaatt?” You say. What does shirking all your responsibilities have to do with goals and retirement?

And I say, “Everything. And it is not shirking your responsibilities, but aligning actions with your core purposes. And letting the rest go.” A religious person might describe this as aligning one’s will with the Divine Will, but we don’t want to scare people off…so we can just use New Age language to describe the process.

When I was a working stiff, my days revolved around the routine of working and all the support efforts that kept that lubricated: washing and ironing work clothing, packing work lunches, cooking food for the week on my days off work, using vacations from work to take care of the house and the kids. Anybody else use a Staycation to paint the exterior of their house? Or a travel trip to scope out prospective colleges?

Years ago I noticed that my life was deficient in play and spontaneous joy. And since then I have been finding my way back to that childlike innocent perception of the world that both sees what is true and delights in the variety and consistency of experience.

(Longtime reader Linda who asked about the diet plan is beginning to lose patience, I think.) Let me be as practical as I can be. I think workability is an excellent test for any theory that humans can devise.

Two years ago, I retired from paid employment because I was exhausted and Just. Could. Not. Anymore. I moved in with my mom and threw myself into helping her declutter her home after 46 years of hoarding. I helped entertain her guests and kept trying to figure out how to play. I took classes. I like yoga. I don’t like formal drawing. I don’t like Tai Chi. I don’t like Frisbee Golf. I like walking in the park. I like garden design. I like home design.

Then my son became ill and there was that one horrible week when he was in a hospital in one city and my mother was in a hospital in another city. Play? I have no idea.

But I do. Over the years I have discovered there is a Hansel and Gretel bread-crumb trail from where I am to the place I need to be.

Goals in Retirement (from paid employment-I’m not very retired)

Every day when I wake up, I ask my self first, “What does my son Mike need today to be as successful as he can be?” and secondly I ask myself, “What do I need to be my best and continue to be a good caregiver to Mike?” My counselor tells me I need to reverse the order that I ask these questions. But we have to start wherever we are, right? And let’s be really candid here, usually the first thing I ask is, “Coffee?”

Photo of my calendar last week.

I would like to be around for a couple decades so I start with what promotes personal health.

Sleep– When I retired from nursing, I stopped setting my alarm clock on a daily basis. When I was working, I got up at 5am and went to the gym for a cardio or weight workout before I woke the kiddos and drove them to school and then on to work at 7:30am. Now I let my body wake up when it wants to, which is usually between 7-7:30am. But I am listening to my body in a way I was never able to before. So after spending 3 hours wielding  pick-ax on a landscape project, when I overslept the next day to 9am–okay, I get it. I am listening, beloved body.

Eat Healthy-For me this means organic, locally raised plants, which is why we have been members of a local CSA. But my son needs a lot of B vitamins, which are mostly found in animal products. So I try to keep the homestead meeting the needs of all the residents.

Minimizing Drug Ingestion-My favorite drugs are caffeine and wine. I’m glad that they are both legal for someone my age, but I recognize that some of my other goals are hindered by their ingestion.

Regular Movement-Some of us would call this exercise, but to peoples who live in cultures without access to cars, it is just getting on with your day. I want to live in a place that supports normal human movement (walking and more) and sometimes I need an intermediary support like a yoga studio, which supports my movement, local community and connection with others.

Connecting with others-Well, I have this blog, which connects me with you. I have my local church community (Yeah Quakers!), I have local friends I have made since I moved to St. Louis and I have recognized the importance for this introvert for creating down time from all these connections.

Play-Oh My Word…..this has been the most difficult part of the journey. What does “Play” look like for me? I’m completely bored by competition, so a retirement of golf would make me run back to work. It has taken a bit of effort to discern this but for me play includes: 1) a gift of service to community  2) a walk in nature  3) transforming something that is not functioning or beautiful into something that is both–this can be an article of clothing or an abandoned city lot or the decrepit tile situation in my current bathroom. Current arenas of play include: decluttering the Quaker Meeting house, planting native species plants there, hand-sewing projects, creating the zero-energy use house here in St. Louis.

What about all of you? What are your goals in retirement?

Native Species Plant Install

Fawn & Mike taking an iconic break from the planting.

You know…when you have a pitchfork and a gothic window, you have to give it a try. For my international readers: this is the famous painting that we are trying to imitate.

I think we nailed it.

This silliness was just a breather from the hard work of getting our 144 native species plants into the ground.

Here is Barbara panting Rose Verbena in the front bed near the street.

This bed was first planted last fall, but we lost a few plants to the shade and the snow plow and just happenstance.

While we were prepping the ground for the row of Little Bluestem grasses, a couple of neighborhood kids came by on their bikes and asked if they could help (they told us over lunch that they saw these old ladies working really hard and sweating and thought we could use their assistance.) And boy we sure appreciated it!  They worked really hard digging up the Zoysia grass, which has deep roots. Plus we found 2 pennies, a marble and a couple of cool rocks.

DJ and Fafayette were a big help!
Here you can get a sense of the scope of the plan–a soft wall of grasses between our parking lot and the neighboring parking lot.

Benefits to this landscape change include: native species will support local pollinators (bees, butterflies, moths, humming birds,) the tall grasses will drink up the rain run-off from the parking lot keeping it out of the local water waste system, taller grasses are able to convert more CO2 to oxygen than the low lying ornamental species, the grasses will create a wind block and collect some of the local trash for easy retrieval, it increases the natural elements in the local landscape making things prettily green for a good portion of the year, it increases local habitat for native fauna (though I am still trying to discourage the local squirrels-most other species are welcome).

I will post photos when the planting of the Little bluestem row is complete.

More Vision Board Manifestations

August 29th-sleeping with the windows open when an electrical storm passed through.

I felt the electricity on my skin when two nearby lightening strikes occurred. Yowza!

Carpet of moss on boulders (from the vision board.)

And a carpet of moss hidden in a nook of the Missouri Botanical garden that I have strolled past dozens of times.

No boulders, but moss carpet.

And bonus–not on the vision board, but any time I encounter a fawn in real life I feel I have stumbled into a secret dimension where my people live.

While on a walk in a local park today. See how pretty the spots are!


Birthday Wrap/Card

I bought this adorable faux plant at a fair trade store.

My daughter’s birthday is coming up. She likes to decorate with both live and imitation plants. I won’t see her in person, so I’m mailing it. I boxed it up.

Box repurposed from another use, and plain roll of paper that I can decorate.
I thought about printing a repeated pattern, but went with the idea of just using the wrap as the birthday greeting.

It’s a little scribbly–but enthusiastic. [Don’t tell her it’s on the way]

Bonus Content:

No green linen here.

I had an idea for a piece of fabric art I want to make and I went searching for some green linen for the project. I didn’t find any at the charity shops OR the expensive new fabric store. I did find all this beautiful fabric that I will turn into … I don’t know… something. While there are some design constraints to using not new fabric, I love the sustainability and frugality and required creativity of using found cloth. Just for comparison purposes, that brown linen in the lower left corner is new, one yard and cost $27.00 USD. All the other pieces combined were $13.00 USD. I’ll post completed projects here.

Quaker Landscape Plan

My hand-rendering of the Meeting house landscape plan

The local Quaker church has an ambitious plan to convert the landscaping from invasive species and alien ornamental species to native plants in order to support the local fauna that depend on them.

We are fortunate that a local foundation, Brightside, provides us with free plants and a lot of information to make our landscape plan successful.

This bed was planted last year, but needs a little infill to replace the plants that did not survive the winter.

Each summer they put on a symposium with speakers who teach us how to be better native species gardeners. I have learned so much these past two years.

This 2 foot x 90 foot space will become a grass fence between neighboring parking lots.

Then they allow not-for-profit organizations to apply for grants of native species plants. Last summer we received a grant of about 140 plants and a hose and sprinkler. This year we are requesting about 130 plants.

Can you tell I have fun making these drawings?

This year, we hope to double the size of our butterfly garden.


Fourth Box of Vegetables

At top and moving clockwise: lettuce, tomatoes, eggs, beets, dill, potatoes, yellow squash, green beans, cherry tomatoes, onions, eggplant, cucumber.

Photo of the bounty and variety of my fourth box of the growing season. And here is what I made with it:

Bacon [vegan version], lettuce and tomato sandwich. The fixings are so big you can hardly see the bread underneath!
Cucumber soup, with dill.

Son, Mike, loves this soup. If I want any, I have to sip it before he knows it is ready to eat. He can down a quart of soup in about 30 minutes.

Here are the various beets that went into the salad…..

….that I apparently deleted the photo of. But the salad was made of red potatoes, green beans, beets, eggs and an Italian type dressing. And it was delicious.

Summer squash casserole. This is a comfort food in my household. If we get squash and I do not make this dish, I am asked where it is…

….and that makes sense, as in addition to the squash, this dish has cheese, eggs, bread crumbs, onion, garlic, and some typical seasonings [salt, pepper, oregano, marjoram, thyme.] For a vegetarian, this is a complete meal.

Eggplant parmesan: with the CSA eggplant and marinara sauce made from the tomatoes. And cheese is Not parmesan, but shredded cheddar.

Because that is what I had in the house….and that is how we cook around here.

Just a head’s up to new readers–the reason that QuakerStylist bogs about community supported agriculture is because the food is grown locally and organically [a win for the environment] and is therefore more nutritious [a win for those eating the food prepared from these vegetables and eggs.]

These foods were eaten by that Stylish Quaker herself, her resident son and members of the Quaker Church that they attend.

First Sighting from Vision Board

Tri-colored roundish solo cloud with waves of white sand beneath, from the vision board.

On the Fourth of July, son Mike and I rode the Metro down to the arch to watch the big fireworks display that the city puts on for the holiday.

There was an air show, several music concerts and lots of fair food so we went early to check out the spectacle.

We waited on the steps to the levee that are just beneath the arch for the sun to set. Ahead and to the right appeared a solo, roundish, red, white and blue cloud. While there were no waves of white sand to be seen, just below the cloud were brown waves of the flooding Mississippi river.

I’m really liking this new game.