Rebalancing in Retirement

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I retired from full-time, paid employment in July 2019 so it is now 15 months since I was last in the office. My finishing date was pretty much decided at least 2 years prior to my retirement. I did not really contemplate gradually reducing my hours or other strategies to ease into retirement. This bemused many people who continually quizzed me as to what I was going to do when I retired. I did not really have a clear answer which made them even more convinced that I would return.

The last 15 months has been somewhat of a rollercoaster. 6 weeks after my final day in the office, we headed overseas for a much-anticipated 9 week holiday. It was an amazing adventure which we thoroughly enjoyed. Towards the end of the trip GMan and I independently came to the same conclusion – that we would have a break in 2020 and not go overseas. What a fortuitous decision that proved to be. We had previously considered travelling to Scandinavia this year.

Upon our return from overseas towards the end of October we had barely 2 months at home before setting off on a road trip to Victoria. We spent Christmas with family and then planned to visit areas in eastern Victoria and south-eastern NSW but the worst bushfires in living memory crushed that plan. We did manage to visit more family in Canberra and experienced the impact of the smoke first-hand. Not a pleasant experience.

Home again in early January and we imagined that 2020 would be a time to settle into a steady routine. Enter COVID19 and the world seemed to be completely upturned. We were very grateful for the space we had – house and large garden, a well-stocked pantry as well as a garden which supplied at least some of our food requirements, not having paid work to try to do from home or children to homeschool. We were unable to see or visit family and friends for several weeks but this was barely a minor inconvenience compared to what some people have had to endure.

In fact, COVID19 gave us the opportunity to focus on projects around our home. A quick scroll through previous blog posts provides a bit insight. Compost bays, a cold frame, more raised garden beds and finishing the pergola are some of the outdoor improvements. Meanwhile, I prepared meals made predominately from our homegrown produce as well as sewing and mending. Furniture restoration completed.

As restrictions were lifted we resumed some of our activities and interests outside the home. Which brings me to the essence of this blog post.

It is easy to become immersed in a particular interest or activity to exclusion of most others. Therefore, my goal is to identify broad categories and try to include a mix of activities/interests. It is probably not feasible to try to do this each day but I think that it is possible within the timeframe of a week.

After some thought, I have come up with a list of general categories which cover most of the things I do. Yours may be a little different.

Administration
Appointments
Community engagement
Craft and creating
Family
Friends
Garden/outdoor maintenance
Garden/outdoor projects
Health and fitness
Homemaking – regular/frequent tasks
Homemaking – seasonal/occasional tasks
Planning
Relaxation
Socialising and entertaining
Travel

Of course, some of these definitely overlap and some activities may even cover 3 categories. The list is in alphabetical order so that no-one can question my priorities. I do not envisage making specific lists but it certainly helps to keep things in perspective.


Finally, to those people who were convinced that I would not have enough to do in retirement – you were definitely wrong. My days are occupied, interesting and most of all, fulfilling.

Times Are Changing

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It is 7 years since I wrote this post.  The essence of it was about rearranging the wardrobe in the spare room but the aspect which I want to discuss further was the fact that we had just hosted our first Air BnB guests.

We were first introduced to Air BnB by our daughter and used it on our first trip to the USA in 2012.  Since then, we have stayed in Air BnB accommodations all over the world, including the United Kingdom, Ireland, France, Spain, Portugal, Singapore, Mauritius and Canada as well as in cities and rural areas in Australia.

In the spirit of the sharing economy, in mid-2013 we decided that we would offer our spare room on Air BnB.  We have not had huge numbers of guests due to our location and somewhat limited appeal but we have enjoyed hosting guests from all over Australia as well as many international guests.

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We had never really decided if or when we would cease to host on Air BnB.  Like so many other aspects of life in 2020, our hand has been forced with the appearance of COVID19.  Since our guests are in our home and share space with us, we decided to immediately suspend our listing until at least the end of August.

The hiatus created by COVID19 provided space for us to consider the future of our Air BnB hosting and it was some degree of sadness that we made the decision not to resume hosting as travel restrictions are gradually eased.

As well as the obvious continuing risk of COVID19, there are a multitude of reasons that have combined to lead us to our decision.  These include:

  • acquiring a new dog in the future
  • desire for more short-term travel
  • want more flexibility in activities in retirement
  • being able to welcome friends and family to stay at any time
  • physical demands of changing an extra bed frequently
  • additional cleaning that is required

The experience of being an Air BnB host has been amazing but it is time to move on.

Time Out

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Things have been quiet around here for a couple of days because despite the limitations due to COVID19 we managed to get away for a couple of days.2020-06-27 01It was great to see some different scenery and catch up with a couple of friends along the way.

If you would like to know more about our short break and see some photos, please pop over to my travel blog, Somewhere, Anywhere.  The blog covers our planning and travels, mostly overseas, for the past 8 years.  This is the link to our latest jaunt.

Making a Mask

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**DISCLAIMER**  Everything written in this post is based on my experience and the best information I can source.  It is general information only and should not be taken as medical fact.

If you had seen this blog title a year ago you would have assumed that I had an invitation to a masquerade ball.  Fast forward to March 2020 and many of us are thinking of some sort of protective mask.  A couple of months ago in Australia, it was bushfire smoke and now it is coronavirus.

Wearing a mask is no substitute for practising ‘social distancing’ which means keeping a minimum distance of 1.5 metres between yourself and any other person when you are out in public or preferably, staying at home as much as possible.

A homemade, cotton fabric mask does not offer the same level of protection as masks manufactured as ‘fit for purpose’.

This article lists different types of masks and their intended purpose, cost and effectiveness as well as some general information on mask-wearing and control measures.

Due to the extent of the coronavirus outbreak, masks seem to be in short supply and people for whom they are not necessary or recommended should not be buying them.

If I don’t need to be wearing a mask why did I make some?

  • I am currently healthy but that may change
  • I will not feel like making masks if I am ill
  • A cotton mask worn correctly will reduce my risk if I have to leave my home for essential tasks
  • Wearing a mask will remind me not to touch my face when I am in public
  • A mask is a visual reminder to others to keep their distance

How to wear/use a mask:

  • Wear it once
  • Wear it over your mouth and nose – not around your neck or on top of your head
  • For maximum effectiveness masks should be changed every 20 minutes or after sneezing, coughing or talking
  • Handle only by the elastic/ties when removing after use
  • Disposable masks should be discarded as soon as removed
  • Reusable masks should be contained immediately in a lidded bucket, thoroughly washed and dried in sunlight

So, you want to make masks for you and your family?

There are many, many links, instructions and tutorials.  Like all instructions, they vary enormously in the detail and quality.  Furthermore, some do not look as though the finished product would be of any use at all while others are so complex that they would be beyond they capability of many people.

As a retired operating room nurse, I am very familiar with the general size and construction of a mask as I wore one every day of my working life for over 30 years.  Therefore, I had several features in mind which I felt would make it as effective as possible under the circumstances:

  • Ties instead of elastic loops
  • Pleats to assist in contouring it to my face
  • Wire to conform over the bridge of the nose
  • Several layers of fabric
  • Tightly woven cotton fabric for the outer layer

I found this link which met my criteria.

I made 2 alterations to what is in the instructions:

  • The ties on my mask are only 36 inches in length rather than the 54 inches recommended.  That was the length of bias binding I had available and it works well for me.  You need to be guided by the size of the head of the intended wearer but you definitely do not want to be hampered by excessively long ties.
  • I added an additional layer to make a total of 3 – outer layer is a strong, tightly-woven cotton, middle layer is very fine, lightweight cotton and the inner layer (next to my face) is used cotton sheeting which is very soft and non-irritant.

The fabric you choose is important.  A tightly woven outer layer will provide the best physical barrier while the inner layer should be soft and comfortable against your skin.  If you add an extra layer keep it fairly lightweight otherwise it will be too bulky and sewing the pleats will be difficult.

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I bought a roll of plant tie wire from Bunnings for the wire to conform over the bridge of the nose but any plastic-coated twist tie would be suitable.  Be sure to turn the ends over and flatten them.

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Remember, a mask may be an adjunct in preventing the spread of COVID19 when used properly and in conjunction with effective handwashing and keeping your distance as far as possible.

The better a mask fits, the more effective it will be.  It must completely cover your mouth and nose at all times when you are wearing it.  A neat fit, without being tight, over the bridge of your nose, under your chin and in front of your ears is desired.

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Please take care and stay safe.