Weighing the balance – busyness vs. reflection


Great place to sit and read in Chicago – Brauer Cafe in Lincoln Park

This is a little rant about growing older.

You retire. You’re okay as far as money goes – between Social Security and whatever savings or retirement plans you have. Now you face the big challenge – how to allocate your most precious possession: your time. As a single person – whether divorced, always single or widowed – you have sole control of that treasured resource.

Did you ever wish you could just sit and read for hours every day? All my life that was a frequent dream of mine. Did you imagine how great it would be to stop having to earn a living? I’m guessing most of us did at some point…even those who loved their careers surely got tired at times. Did you dream of traveling? If you did and you’ve got the money, this must be heaven for you.

But reading all the time – much as I love doing it – sometimes feels like an escape. From what, though? Working on my cookbook/memoir, for one thing. Seems every time I turn my mind to it, determined to get moving forward, I run smack into another obstacle. The most recent was the Adobe software program I bought specifically to help me sort through the hundreds of photos I need to go through to choose the right ones for the book.

One day, finally, I went to open the program and got – “Please provide us with a serial number and blah, blah, blah.” Of course, it’s been a couple of months since I bought the thing and I have no idea where the serial number is or how to go about doing blah, blah, blah. So then I put on the calendar, “phone Adobe support for help” and have to keep moving it and moving it because other things come up that take priority. So, once again, no progress.

Reading fun mysteries and crime novels certainly occupies the mind. And I feel virtuous that often I stand on the matt in front of the kitchen counter and work towards my “250 steps every hour” goal while I read. So, really, I’m not wasting the time. Ever try that – 250 steps every hour? Seems like you can never focus on anything long enough because you have to keep getting up.

But I remember often saying to my former husband – who seemed never, even for one minute, to stop reading: books, magazines, newspapers, legal journals, instruction manuals for cameras and other electronic gadgets, and ad infinitum – “When do you have time to process all the stuff you read?” But oh, well, we never know how another person’s mind works.

How do you allocate your time? Got guilt about reading or doing other “just entertainment” activities? Wonder if by the time you get in your 70s, you just realize it’s almost all over and who’s going to care what you do anyway? Maybe the trick is to just trust and respect your own feelings. That’s what counts. Whether you believe in an afterlife or not, follow your heart.



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Surprise! Retirement dreams fading


Whether it’s because the baby boomers are all so passionate about contributing to the world–which I suspect is true about lots of us–and/or the fact is that incomes/savings are simply not adding up to “comfortable retirement” sums, the age at which people first retire is fading into the distance. Here’s the scoop from the NAWBO Smart Brief:

The retirement age for U.S. workers is edging up after falling for 100 years. The Bureau of Labor Statistics says 29% of people in their late 60s still have jobs, up from 18% in the mid-1980s. More than 25% of baby boomers plan to never retire, according to a recent survey by the National Association of Realtors.

For many single women this isn’t a surprise. Making 70% of a what a man makes for the same work over a lifetime–and having to pay for so many services that many two-earner households either accomplish on their own or have two incomes from which to pay–cuts pretty seriously into what’s left to put away for savings and retirement. Combine that with the virtual disappearance from many companies of retirement plans and what used to be callled “loyalty” to long-time devoted employees, and you’ve got a vivid picture of people working til old age. As Oprah once said to the financial expert on her After the Show who said people will be working into their eighties, “What’re they gonna be doing? ‘You want fries with that?'”

But since so many single working women have been using their passion and creativity all along to survive and thrive alone against the odds, these longer working years will feel like just another “day in the life.”

Hmmm. Let’s see, I can apply for 50% of my Social Security benefits when I’m 62 and all of it when I’m 66. Check out your eligibility here.