Retirement Talk

WHAT to do with the rest of your life?


Episode 394(100) Retirement by Projects

Eight 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 looking closely at what I was doing with my life. Thus the brief general description of the program or project on my home page: "Retirement Talk is an audio podcast 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. 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 works for us.

Our retirement has been marked by one project after the other. 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. It means feeling a little bit better about your work skills, exercise routine, family relationships, writing, painting or whatever. 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.  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  approach some special addition to our routine, our pace is measured. And I say we because we usually work together on then.

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, 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. We worked night and day for several months on that 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. Then I serve on the County Parks Board for eight years. 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 that lasted two or three years. How fun - moving to music, holding each other and laughing our way through the lessons and dances. We moved through the silver level before being diverted in another direction.

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 Absoroka 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  eight 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, for a year or two 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.

My last technological challenge was clean my sluggish computer of viruses and reinstall a copy of Windows Vista. Then I had to re-install all of my audio and website creation programs and tools. I considered calling a pro but decided to utilize google and you tube as advisers and approach it as a learning opportunity. It wasn't easy but...if your listening to this podcast it means it all worked.

Projects have a way of appearing, creating a challenge and providing some direction for movement.  You might want to start thinking in those terms. It might help.

This is Retirement Talk.


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