Life Changes


Lots of doings here at Smiling J.    We were going to let the farm go fallow, but it is just too relaxing and too wonderful to be here to let it go.      We’ve decided that if we are going to keep her, she might as well work for us and keep us from having to mow!

Front pasture being readied for new cattle
Front pasture being readied for new cattle

My sweetie retired last August and has been keeping me pretty busy since the beginning of the year.   We repaired the fences and at this point there are four head of cattle grazing on the pastures.    One steer, a bull and two heifers.   We are hoping for two more if the bull, Prince Leo has done his job.

Leo’s step sister, Princess Leah, is on a date herself.    She is at Running Bay Farm in VA hopefully being bred to Trooper.   He was one of our best Dexter bulls who was sold to some friends up North.    So we’ll have about 8 total once all the babies are here.   Should be great to see that again.  Calves are so fun to see grow.

In the mean time we bought a townhouse near the coast where we can go to fish, enjoy a small community and attend the Catholic Church that is nearby.     Now the problem is: when should we be at the farm and when should we be at the townhouse?    Decisions, decisions. …

Leo and the girls meeting the neighbors next door

Leo and the girls meeting the neighbors next door

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We will NEVER forget . . . May the Souls of those lost Rest in Peace

So I have retired. . . . It’s been almost two months now.  But I still laze about in bed while my husband gets up and starts his day.  He is so sweet to let the dog out and feed him early.  I have been getting up, having a cup of tea and making him a lunch to take with him to work.   It also helps him limit his food in-take (more on that later).

As the days go on, I am attempting to establish a pattern to my life.  It’s something I have thought about long and hard.  After over 40 years of someone else defining my schedule based on school or work responsibilities, I have to define my own schedule.  It feels liberating, but also it’s somewhat overwhelming.  Time is an asset that I’ve never been good at managing on my own.  Even as an employee, I could dawdle with the best of them.  Of course any deadlines were made as required, but there was always time to do what was needed.

So I’m now using a planner to make sure I remember events, appointments and things to do.  At the office I would use one for basically the same thing.  But now I set my own deadlines, schedule my own appointments and define my own things to do.   How to do that when one can be distracted by another free Big Fish game or a great old movie on the television, is a challenge for me.

There are larger goals:  Each holiday has its own traditions, a trip to DC for a political event, a fun vacation trip is planned and a longer boat cruise on our own boat must be planned.   But the day-to-day responsibilities and expectations to fill them are now for some reason, difficult to fulfill. . . .  I wonder why I allow myself to be distracted. . .  so far this is my mystery.

If I have any readers, perhaps you have suggestions, ideas as to how to resolve this issue. … okay Mary get your butt up and just Do It!!!  yeah, yeah, I know but do I HAVE to???  Just writing that makes me laugh.

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Okay so now I change the subject. .. . since I have been married I have slowly and steadily gained a significant amount of weight.  My husband has too.  It’s gotten to the point where we have decided to join Weight Watchers.  It’s been less than a week and I am amazed at how much better my joints feel.  I can sit for a while and then in standing, I’m not as stiff as I was last week.   I know that since I retired my finger nails are growing better, but this is even better.  It’s probably the lower amount of sugar I am NOT eating.  And actually Troy started a day before I did.  But the fact that he is doing this with me is truly a support.   We are always a good Team and I know that we will reach our goals together.

Let me hear from you faithful readers!  I’d like to hear if there are any of you reading my words.  Perhaps my blog will help someone else adjust to retirement. . . . and maybe Weight Watchers!

I am VERY close to getting off the treadmill that is my “working life”.   I’ve tried to move from employed to retired slowly so that it’s not as much of a shock as being on “leave without pay” was 20 years ago.   In 1992-1993 we moved from Maryland to North Carolina due to a military change of station.   In order to stay “on the roles” as a civilian employee, I requested and was approved for leave without pay.  We had purchased a nice small house on a major State Road in a tiny “don’t-blink” town just North of Fort Bragg.  But because of the highway I always felt nervous about walking down the street.  No on would drive the speed limit. . . our house was just at the pint where speeds were supposed to go from 55 to 45. . . go figure that was going to happen. . . .

Since I moved down in the fall I loved leaving the windows open for fresh air. . . but traffic was at all hours…It took me three months to be able to sleep through the night.  But I finally did sleep.   So I applied for jobs on the military installation, made follow-up calls and waited.  Keep in mind that “Mr. Gore’s Internet” hadn’t really taken off at this point and e-mail was very limited at best.  So although my applications and resumes could be completed on a computer, they still had to be submitted manually or through the mail . . . It was the early 90’s after all! ! ! !

So what to do while I waited? ? ? I found the “local” Catholic Church was over 20 miles away.  But I did do some volunteer work there.  I watched a lot of television and slowly went crazy!  I was unhappy and bored. . .  unfortunately even exercising on the Nordic Trak didn’t alleviate my feelings of inadequacy. . . . I started to take it out on my sweet husband . . . not good considering we’d only been married a few years. .. .

Anyway, by February we had devised a plan to get me back to work and send my sweet husband to Korea for a year. . . . BUT out of the blue came a job offer!   It was the best news there was. . . . I vowed that if I ever was without a job, I would find things to do that would keep me busy and around people more than I was. . .   According to Meyers-Briggs I am a closet introvert. . . but talking to the dog and my husband alone for 6 months made me a basket case!

So over the past year I have learned the basics of quilting.  I’m not good yet, but I can sew a relatively straight line!  And I have a nice sewing room to ply my “trade” now.   Also I have found a local community college which has classes in sustainable gardening.  Maybe I can grow a few things so we won’t have to pay for them. . . .I love home-grown beans and broccoli!

The lady next door, my friend Mona, has already signed me up for the Wednesday Ladies Bowling League. . . I’m not good at it mind you, but I can hold a ball and sometimes I can get a few pins down!  It’s a once a week appointment!

And if that isn’t enough, my “honey-do” list includes sorting and emptying out three storage areas. .. . I’ll be stuck in there deciding “keep”, “sell”, “give away” and “throw away” . . . .  It will be good to divest ourselves of all the stuff we don’t need. . . .  and we’ll save money NOT paying to store it!

I also had to tell the cleaning ladies goodbye. . . .so now the household “duties” are all mine.  As nice as it is to save the green, I still hate to clean bathrooms.   AND that den!  Oh my what a mess.   There are files which need to be purged, magazine to be stacked, photos to be saved and mail-order catalogs to throw away.  Although I’ve done pretty well this week about cleaning the house I still don’t enjoy it. .. perhaps I will develop a rhythm to my week and do a room a day with a load of laundry.

So as you see there are plenty of things to keep me busy . . . Also as we get closer to “the day” I have taken days off here and there to allow myself to become accustomed to being home more.  It will take some adjustments, but easing into all these changes should help me go gentle into the night!