Healthy Eating Leisure Recipes

Hi Ho, It’s Off to Work I Go

On last week’s blog I talked about some big changes around here and this is the deal.  I am a retirement failure.  I struggled long and hard before I made the decision to quit my job in April.  I liked my job, my boss and my team, but I needed more time and more balance in my life, and the direction of work just wouldn’t allow it.

I believed after I left my job and had time to research, new windows of opportunity would open for me.  I searched for part-time work, for contract work, for meaningful volunteer work and, with the exception of starting this blog, nothing was coming together.  Then very serendipitously a few weeks ago my old company, now my current company, opened up new positions similar to my old one but at a lower level that will allow me more freedom.  This was an answer to a prayer I didn’t know I had uttered.

Because I want to share my journey here in a helpful way, I want to be transparent about some of the pitfalls I found with early retirement and how I plan to better prepare next time.  I don’t think my road was all that uncommon, but here goes.

Kinsey capturing the spirit of the season

Inertia – I hear this a lot from other retirees and it was true for me.  “I’ll get to it tomorrow, I’m busy.”  Nothing is high on the priority list, so very little gets done.  Everyone says they are so busy and don’t know what’s filling their time.  Busy people get more done.

Volunteer work is hard to find – This is true in Arizona and is probably true in other parts of the country where active folks retire.  All the good “jobs” are taken by thousands of younger retired folks.  I personally know two people who tried to get on with the food bank and were declined because they don’t need volunteers.  I interviewed with the president of a large medical non-profit and he told me Phoenix had the largest number of highly educated volunteers in the country.  I really didn’t want to give my time and energy to something that was uninteresting to me.

Rush Hour Driving – now who’s with me on this?  When I worked I would always get aggravated at retired people who were out driving during my commute.  Could you not possibly drive at 2 p.m. when I’m at work?  With all the growth in the Phoenix area and all the road construction, it was taking a lot of planning on my part to avoid driving during rush hour if I wanted to go anywhere.  Now that I’m a worker again, I can go with a clean conscience any time of the day.  BTW, this same axiom holds true for the gym.  How about you leave the pre-and post-work hours for me to work out and you, retiree, workout at 10 a.m.  I have a lot of rules, as you can see.

Travel is difficult – everyone says they want to travel when they retire.  This is a good concept, but we had a couple of hurdles that made that not so easy.  1) we had one of our cats get ill with a serious neuro problem.  We had to change cat sitters to a vet tech who would be comfortable if something catastrophic (pun intended) happened.  Having a pet sitter seems traumatic enough, so we limited out-of-town trips to a few days which is what we were doing when we worked anyway.  2) leaving the house unattended can be stressful.  We had our water heater go out this summer the day after we returned home from a trip.  If that had happened while we were gone the damage and replacement would have been even more costly.  We have wild and unexpected monsoon storms in the summer and last year while we were gone, our neighbor’s tree blew down on our driveway.  Luckily it didn’t affect our home, but even with all the monsoon preparations we do, you never know what can happen.  3) it’s expensive.  We were financially prepared to retire, but we still had to live within a budget and adding several trips a year equated to thousands of dollars I wasn’t comfortable spending.

Boredom – I don’t have a lot of hobbies outside of reading and hiking, so I tried a number of different things my retired friends were doing and I just didn’t find them energizing or fun.  I HATE cooking and cleaning, but I LOVE home-cooked food and a clean house.  When that’s the focus of my day, I feel resentful.  When it’s just an add-on to my day, I’m happier with those chores. Really, if cleaning the cat box is my major accomplishment for the day, I’m having a problem.

Becoming an Oholic – I have seen the trap for many in my community of those who become alcoholics, shopoholics or exerciseoholics, and I knew I didn’t want to fall into that.  But, with everyday a Saturday and so much more socializing and/or free time, it’s really hard to avoid.  Having a cocktail at lunch is super fun.  Walking ten miles is super fun.  I’m not sure doing either every day is a good thing though.

Having said all that, it’s my goal to keep things balanced and continue down the path to finding things to do outside of work.  I’m keeping the blog and will continue to religiously post.  Thank you so much for reading and walking this path with me.

What I’m Reading

I read The Guardians by John Grisham in one day.  (It was raining, what can I say?) It was an easy read and a nice story.  I little politic-preachy but I got over it.  It’s a recommend if you normally like him.  And who doesn’t, right?  He’s like Kendall-Jackson chardonnay.  Everyone doesn’t like it but somehow it’s the best seller.  And the good news?  No Nazis! 

On audio I listened to Calypso by David Sedaris and he’s so dang funny.  I also listened to an old but re-released  Janet Evanovich Naughty Neighbor.  Her books are light and fun, but the narrator, CJ Crit is absolutely the draw on that.  It was ok.  If you need an audiobook to get through a long drive, it’s fine.  If you need one to get you through the winter (like Grant) nah. I’m now listening to Iron Lake by William Kent Krueger.  It’s the first of a series I’ve not read.  He’s a beautiful writer and I’m looking forward to it.

I did start the Poldark as promised, but surprisingly it is EXACTLY like the series so I felt it was so redundant to what I had just watched.  I put it down for a while and will give it a little distance.

What I’m Eating

Some other big news around here is that I have some disorder or other wrong with my intestinal tract.  So without too much information, I will just say that I’m starting six months of a really restrictive diet.  Ugh.  I’m going to be getting used to that and may not have a lot of recipes to share.  If you have anything fantastic, please take a pic and send it to me with the recipe.  I won’t be able to drink cocoa, but I had bought salted caramel cocoa from Trader Joe’s so I tried it today before I start the diet on Friday.  Delish.  Do you LOVE my new mug from West Elm? Early Christmas present from my sister Monique. And those adorable vintage-looking S&P shakers were a little surprise from my sister Susie.

What I did made this week was Superfast Salisbury Steak from an old Cooking Light magazine from years ago.  I made it for my dad once and he ate four servings.  He wasn’t a big eater, but when he liked something, he could hammer it down.  Of course, I make it GF and low fat, but Cooking Light was always easy to modify.  Here is my modified version:

Superfast Salisbury Steak

  • ¾ pound ground turkey
  • ¾ pound ground round
  • 1/3 cup dry breadcrumbs (I used GF)
  • 2 large egg whites
  • Cooking spray
  • 1 can condensed French onion soup
  • 1 can water
  • 3 Tbsp tomato paste
  • Fresh ground pepper to taste
  • Combine first four ingredients.  Divide meat mixture into 6 equal ½-inch patties.  Heat a large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray over medium high heat.  Add patties, cook 6 minutes or until browned, turning after 3 minutes. Stir in remaining ingredients and bring to a boil.  Cover, cook 10 minutes.  Uncover and cook until liquid is reduced (about 10 minutes)
Superfast Salisbury Steak
The gravy this makes is the best part!

What I’m Doing

The University of Denver alum group had another event this week we attended.  We are so happy we are connected with that super-nice group of people.  We always have a good time.  They hosted a tailgate party prior to the hockey team’s visit to Phoenix to play ASU and then the game at the Arizona Coyotes arena.  Hockey at ASU is new and the team has done fantastic.  I was secretly rooting for both teams.  It worked because the score was tied!

Me with “Boone” the mascot

2 Comment

  1. Your retirement failure = so much joy for the co-workers who have missed you terribly. This news ranks on my top five “best things that happened in 2019” list.

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