Thursday, September 25, 2014

Cleaning the Cupboards

Monsieur and I live in an apartment of just over 900 square feet. When we decided to live together 19 years ago, storage was very important to us. Monsieur had lived alone in a 3 bedroom townhouse with carport and my daughter and I had lived in a small townhouse. Since that time, I have acquired many clothes and  much stuff.

Each year since my retirement, I have rented  much smaller apartments in Paris and I have found the space to be adequate for myself and an assortment of visiting friends. All of my rental apartments have  included a bookcase of left or resident books, some CD's, some basic kitchen supplies and linens. With my single suitcase, I have been able to live for five months very comfortably. A few household items from Monoprix and fresh flowers served to personalize my living space. What I buy in Paris (household items) stays in Paris so the next guests benefit from my nesting instincts.
autumn nesting at home

At home, I have been cleaning cupboards as Monsieur and I do REALLY have storage but it is not well utilized. As winter is approaching, I have been dealing with clothing and household linens.  I will be travelling to warmer places in November and December (Caribbean cruise and then another Tucson casita with Monsieur), so I can't really retire my lighter clothing but I am developing an all-season wardrobe. I am reminded that one of the bloggers that I used to follow Four Seasons One Wardrobe has just returned  this week from a lengthy break. After giving birth to her first child, she has returned to blogger world. If you are looking to create a multi-purpose wardrobe, this might be a blog to consider.

I am still working with Janice Riggs' ( of The Vivienne Files)  planning sheets and I can readily select what is essential and what is not. Three pairs of grey jeans! How did that happen? Purchased last year before Paris trip. Two would have been enough. One goes to thrift. Black/grey/white long sleeve t-shirt can be worn with skirt, jeans and capris and can be washed out and dried anywhere…it's a keeper. My travel wardrobe for the next few years is taking shape.
It's getting there but there are still too many items.
The last days of summer are too precious to waste inside.

The linen closet seems to be filled with photo albums??? Do I need 3 quilts and a bedcover? We only have 1 bed! I bought some of those compression bags to store the extras but summer and winter quilts should be adequate. The extra could be washed and donated as cold weather is approaching. This kind of sorting can be quite intense so I always set a time limit. Later I'll be walking some books over to the community library. It's in our recreational complex so I could even reread my own books if I wished.

Living in an apartment is very different from living in a detached house. We have no garage, attic or basement in which to store our excess belongings. As we get older, our needs are becoming fewer and perhaps we need to reconsider some of the memorabilia that is taking up vital space.

How do you deal with storage? Have you ever paid an organizer? For me, I just have to persevere and not get sidetracked or sentimental.

I even have my daughter and my own Brownie uniforms.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Hushing the Inner Critic and Random Thoughts

A few weeks ago, I went to hear Canadian mystery writer, Louise Penny speak. In my years in libraries, author visits were always a highlight. Like many accomplished speakers, Ms. Penny spoke in general terms about her works and at greater length about her personal involvement in the writing process. After leaving her employment with the CBC, Canada's national radio network, she began to write "her novel." After abandoning a historical novel, she started a mystery but found that she couldn't write. It was not until she was advised to "silence her inner critic" was she able to complete her mystery and to go on to write a series of ten mysteries, the latest of which The Long Way Home is at the top of the New York Times best-seller list.

How often I find myself feeling unsure! Uncertainty is a fact of life but it is so important that we don't let it hold us back. Last night, I was at a group meeting where the question was asked, "What is one new activity that you have tried or experience that you have had in the last few months?" The responses were varied but, as a group of older adults, we all acknowledged how important it is to continue to add new experiences to our lives.

I used to have a book called Fear the Fear and Do It Anyway by Susan Jeffers. Jeffers maintained that failure is a pathway to growth. Obviously, nothing can be achieved without a little risk. While intellectually I may know this, I still feel anxiety on a regular basis. Judging myself and finding myself not quite "meeting expectations"

Life is change! Retirement is probably one of life's biggest adventures. Whatever our financial circumstances are, we all have to face the challenge of how to spend our days when we are no longer employed. Some people find that relationships become more difficult the more hours that are spent together. When I bought our two wicker chairs, I thought that Monsieur and I would sit reading and gazing off into the sunset together. Monsieur, who would rather use the area as a rehearsal area, maintains that the chairs are too big and anyway, the balcony faces east.

Making changes, losing weight, starting new activities, meeting new people, travel….even  good things can cause anxiety.

"What if you fail?" that nasty critic voice asks. There are so many little niggling doubts. Yesterday at Weight Watchers, the meeting's topic was "Restart." When something doesn't work, you simply put it behind you and start again.  Impatience and negative self-talk are a pointless waste of time.

Going grey has been a major change this year.

One thing that I still struggle with is blog photography. My apartment does not have great light and I seem to have to resort to the Photobooth selfie from time to time. I find it hard to click and smile at the same time.
I am thinking about Scotland and what will be decided.
My travels this year have taken me many places and I have so many pictures. Looking back on my visit to Britain, I wonder what the future or tomorrow will bring.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Holiday Plans

Before I retired, I made a 5-year plan for the years between ages 60 and 65. I was at home with my daughter and was a student during my twenties and worked part-time as a Library Assistant for the first half of my thirties. Consequently, my pension, although generous by most standards, is not what it might have been.

Travel and the experience of other cultures and languages are my priorities. We quickly learned that Monsieur does not have an aptitude for languages or a particular interest in history or culture. He took up golf a few years ago but has since abandoned the sport. Right now, we plan a warm weather holiday together and I set out on my adventures solo or with a woman friend.

 I have now been retired for three years and I have found that I really miss teaching. Each week, I plan a reading and discussion topic for M., my French conversation student, and I am so gratified that she is feel much more confident speaking French. She volunteers at our International Airport and tries to find opportunities to speak with francophone travellers. In a short time, however, M. will be leaving to volunteer in an orphanage in Bangladesh.

As my funds will be more limited next year, I am planning to revisit The Oaxaca Learning Center. I enjoy the culture and the language of Mexico. Oaxaca is not a resort city so accommodation is relatively inexpensive and food is cheap. I plan to volunteer with Niños Adelante, an outreach programme of the Oaxaca Lending Library. When I am in Oaxaca, I buy a temporary membership to the OLL. I borrow many books and I have participated in their intercambios (free language exchanges).

vendor in Oaxaca

I very much enjoy the reading, teaching and learning part of my life so any opportunity to meet other scholars and to learn/teach in a different country is a welcome one.
The Mexican muralists tell a story of a rich culture.