Tag Archives: retirement

Am I What I Wear?

Lately, I’ve been going through an identity crisis. A sartorial one, primarily, stemming from the question, “Who am I if I’m not working?” combined with the dread of becoming invisible with the passing years.

As a freelance writer/retired (mostly) by choice, I could spend the day in ratty sweatpants and no one would notice. But that’s just not “me”; I worked in an office for 30 years and dressing for work is a difficult habit to overcome. Plus, I’ve always loved fashion.

This particular crise du jour is also accompanied by weight loss, which would normally be cause for celebration but is in fact cause for alarm/introspection/analysis as I have to decide: Since I have to buy new clothes that fit, WHAT should they be?

The delightful blogger Lady Sarah offers a brilliant suggestion: Create a pie chart for how you actually spend your time so that you can buy accordingly. Instead of shopping for a fantasy life, I’m taking this a step further to analyze not just how I currently spend my time but how I’d like to spend it.

Categories

• At home doing chores, scrolling through online articles, contemplating working out, watching TV, contemplating cleaning, actually working out, reading, actually cleaning

• At home writing (want to project a professional image, if only to myself)

• Running errands: Stained tees are a non-starter even though the chances of bumping into someone I know — since I know virtually no one in Texas — are slim to none

• Lunch dates: All too few. Goal: expand opportunities

• Dinner dates with husband and friends: Ah, safe ground here. Need to look nice but not overly fussed over

• Opera/Symphony: Unlikely to run into anyone here either but a good excuse to dress up

• Entertaining at home: What to wear that is chic but won’t get stained while cooking?

• Travel: My sweet spot, wardrobe-wise. I’m a big-city girl at heart and enjoy being able to wear my favorite pieces without feeling overdressed. Not that anyone’s looking – but it’s all about how you see yourself, isn’t it?

• Playing with grandchildren: Not the time for a silk blouse, but surely I can do better than an old band t-shirt and leggings even if the baby is likely to spit up

• Summer hiking/walking: Anything goes, as long as it’s waterproof

• Wine tasting (a favorite summer activity): Upgraded casual, mostly dark colors in case I spill something – a real possibility around Glass #3

FullSizeRender 7All in all, what I’ve learned from this exercise is that I shouldn’t buy another leather jacket since I live in a warm climate (much as I adore them) and that I should create more opportunities that are appropriate for my favorite items rather than “dumbing down” my wardrobe to match my mostly-stay-at-home activities.

Sign me up for: adult education classes, more travel, more lunches/dinners with friends, more evenings out, volunteering at anything where you shouldn’t look like a slob, and so on.

Anyone else having an identity crisis as you change jobs, become a stay-at-home parent or approach retirement? Please share your solutions and insights with the rest of us!

Xx, Alisa

There’s No Place Like Home(s)

I was born with wanderlust in my heart. I emerged not head first, but with an outstretched arm. Although this was widely interpreted as a sign of friendliness (quickly disproven, as I was a shy and introverted child) I believe it was a deliberate reaching-out for someone to grab my hand and get me out of the womb as quickly as possible so I could explore somewhere new.

As my husband and I (and many of our friends) approach retirement, one of the big questions we’re debating is: Where will we live once we’re not tied to a job? For many, there’s a desire to return to their childhood hometown. I envy those of you who have a clear vision, because I can’t picture any single destination that feels like the perfect fit.

I come by this schizophrenia naturally, having grown up in two places. My family lived in Manhattan (and, later, Long Island) for nine months of the year but spent every summer on Cape Cod as my father, a professor, had summers off. Although we were only there from June until Labor Day, the Cape felt like my true home. I was just marking time the rest of the year until I could return.

These days, I feel the same impatience to begin the summer in coastal Oregon. It’s the pull of the ocean: the smells and sounds of the waves as we fall asleep, the cool temperatures, and a pervasive sense of relaxation.

At the same time, though, I wouldn’t want to live there year round. It’s too remote and too far from a city; I’m still a New Yorker at heart. But which city? I have no desire to move back to Manhattan, so the conversation goes round and round as we keep exploring where to spend those other 6-7 months.

Maybe I’ll never find that one perfect place. And maybe that’s ok. As the cliché goes, home(s) is where the heart is.

Aging Gratefully

Lately I’ve been hearing more and more people—and you know who you are—complain, however humorously, about being “old”. This may seem benign, but it encourages a mindset that dwells on the negative and that’s never healthy.

So I’m dedicating this post to my delightful, vibrant and beautiful cousin Helen (shown above), who is 93 years young. Helen has had her share of challenges in life, but she faces every day with energy, enthusiasm and passion. She still lives in Manhattan, where she traipses about the city to museums, lectures and the symphony; she also works and travels the world for the UN, raising awareness of the needs and contributions of the elderly. Check out this inspiring video.

I’m not in denial about the passage of time, but here’s the thing: We may be grayer, wider, gassier and slower, but don’t think for a minute that our best years are behind us! Kiss that rosy glow of nostalgia goodbye and do a happy dance that these (and more) are in the past:

  • Gym class
  • Tie-dye anything
  • Canned spaghetti
  • “Second base” in the back of a Chevy
  • Ironing our hair
  • Avocado and harvest gold appliances
  • Hot pants
  • Ripple, Boone’s Farm, Cold Duck, Thunderbird and Wild Irish Rose
  • Learning to parallel-park
  • Songs like “Feelings”, “I Honestly Love You” and “Billy, Don’t Be a Hero”
  • First job jitters
  • Paisley shirts, especially on men
  • The Thighmaster

And let’s look ahead to what the future holds:

  • Legalized pot across the U.S. —who’d a thunk it??
  • Retirement, a.k.a. time to read War and Peace, learn new languages or binge-watch every episode of The Real Housewives
  • Space travel (Can I book a one-way ticket for my ex?)
  • The Rolling Stones’ 75th Anniversary tour
  • Seaweed that tastes like bacon
  • Your daughter acknowledging how hard motherhood is
  • Finally being considered “wise”

Of course we’ve all got stuff to worry about, but it’s easier to cope if we keep reminding ourselves of everything good in our lives: friends, family (well, perhaps not all of them), pinot noir, music, and the roof over our heads—even if it needs to be painted and maybe leaks a little.

Life wasn’t perfect even in the “good old days”. Besides, if you think you’re old now, just wait another ten years.