Retirement for Dummies ~ surviving and thriving

Night sweats, terror dreams, restless monkey mind and walk, walk, walk and then walk a little more. Lots of walking. They say walking is good for your heart, your hips and you mental health. I must be fit as a fiddle. And then some!

And so goes my first official week of retirement.

What the hell was I thinking? It’s 10:0am on Day Two and I am OFFICIALLY BORED. I should have planned better. Thought this through. Booked up my schedule. Made more friends. Stayed in Oregon where I actually had friends. And like-minded friends at that.

Day One – I settled back in, got everything organized and then…??? You guessed it, went for a walk. Retirement is a whole new ball game and I am working on some long range travel goals, but at this moment it appears I need structure. I need mental stimulation. I need people. I need something to DO. Something with purpose. I need a PLAN.

Hubs has taken the act of doing nothing to high art. He loves it! He’s good at it! And he has no apologies for feeling that way. Good for him. We live in a small flat and everywhere I turn, there he is – so happy that I am finally retired and home with him. Doing nothing too. He is so damn pleasant and happy that I want to slap him and say “Get a job!”  Bless his heart.

I’ve never read Dantes Inferno, but I think I’m living in some version of it right now. “Lasciate ogne speranza, voi ch’intrate” Or the movie Groundhog Day. Without the alarm clock. Same. Same. Same.

Whew! This feels a whole lot like whining. Not usually my MO unless there is actual wine involved, but sometimes it’s the best you’ve got. Say it out loud. Let it go. Then get on with it girl. It’s time for the harder than I thought it would be work of sorting out retirement and what it will look like for me. Not hubs, not friends who have gone before, but ME.

To be continued…

P.S.  Retirement officially started when my feet touched American soil not while still enjoying play time in sunny Mexico. That was officially “I’m finally on vacation” time. I was walking but definitely not whining that week.

Superbowl – It’s not all fun and games

It’s the Superbowl calling!  Come to Phoenix for a week.  It will be fun!

I’ve made it a practice to say a hearty Yes! when an opportunity for adventure knocks.  And when my friend Sallie knocks I know that fun and adventure will always follow and whatever I say yes to will stretch me in some new way.

Vendors were hawking high-priced Superbowl gear everywhere - even in our hotel lobby.

Vendors were hawking high-priced Superbowl gear everywhere – even in our hotel lobby.

Well, a couple of months ago Sallie called and asked me to work for her at the Superbowl It was definitely an adventure and I was truly stretched.  And stretched and then stretched just a little more.  I was 66 when I flew from Portland to Phoenix and felt closer to 106 when I returned home eight days later.

It has been several years since I have felt the near constant pressure of putting on back-to-back high level events.  I was definitely rusty and out of shape.  Honestly, I wasn’t sure I was up to the task.  I was terrified of failing in a huge way like leaving a VVIP stranded at the airport, or at the golf course or dinner.  I worried about giving wrong directions to one of the many vehicles we had moving about town or sending a bus loaded with special guests on a merry trip to nowhere when they were supposed to be at Taste of the NFL.  (That almost happened).

I had been dubbed Transportation Czar for the week.  And it was a test of my ability to step up and Get ‘R Done.  I think I rose to the moment.  I hope I did.  I worked 18 hour days/nights and let me just say I felt every one of my years.  My brain always seemed to be a beat or two behind.  I hung in.  I bucked up.  I made it work.  And in a very strange way, I was proud that I still had it.  Even if “it” was a little slower and sometimes had a short fuse.

Thank you Sallie for inviting me to join you in another great adventure!  I can’t honestly say it was fun.  But it was a great opportunity to stretch and it certainly gave my aging brain cells a workout they haven’t had in a long time.  A few probably fell out, but I think we blew off a whole bunch of gathering cobwebs as well.


Getting ready to watch the game in the hotel lobby bar with a group of cheering strangers was actually fun.

When I told hubs I was going to Phoenix for the Superbowl, his eyes lit up.  “Can you get me a ticket?” he asked hopefully.  “No chance in hell.” I replied.  When I told him that the closest I would get to the game was sitting in a shuttle bus in the parking lot, he felt much better.  He even smilled!  He and Mr. Ricky had a great time at home without me.  And he got to watch his favorite team pull off an amazing win – all in the comfort of his recliner chair with a beer and a bag of cheese puffs.


Home again! Feet firmly planted on our beloved carpet at PDX.

Life is good!  And as hubs is famous for saying, “Just keep saying yes until you have a reason to say no.”   Yes is where adventure lives.

Go Hawks!




One More Trip Around The Sun ~

Well it’s happened again, somehow I’ve managed to complete one more trip around the sun.  My 65th to be exact.

Sixty-five turned out to be a damn fine year if I do say so myself.  I am grateful for each and every moment, for adventures shared with friends and family, and way too many laughs to count.  Life is truly filled with magic moments.  And these days I take every opportunity to look back, reflect and savor my days on this planet.

So… I made a little movie.  It’s how I entertain myself when hubs is watching Mash reruns on ME TV.  Thanks to each and every one of you who made this movie possible by sharing your light, your laughter and your wine with me.  I am truly blessed.

And here’s my birthday gift to you… I gathered a few fun thoughts on being “older”.  Here’s the good, the bad and the what-the-what?

First the good ~

•There is nothing left to learn the hard way.

•No one expects you to run anywhere. (Except for Gil Peters – we expect him to run everywhere)

•In a hostage situation, you are likely to be released first.

•Things you buy now won’t wear out before you do.

•You can live without sex but not your glasses.

•You quit trying to hold your stomach in no matter who walks into the room.

•Your eyes won’t get much worse.

•Your investment in health insurance is finally beginning to pay off.

•Your joints are more accurate meteorologists than the national weather service.

•Your secrets are safe with your friends because they can’t remember them either.

•Your supply of brain cells is finally down to a manageable size.

And the not so good…

•Wrinkled was not one of the things I wanted to be when I grew up.

•In dog years – I’m dead.

•You sit in a rocking chair and can’t get it going.

•You can live without sex but not your glasses.

•The twinkle in your eye is the sun reflecting off your bi-focals.

•Your wild oats have turned to mush.

•At 66 you find yourself at that awkward age – somewhere between desirability and complete senility.

•Everything that doesn’t hurt, doesn’t work.

The silver lining…

•Age is only important if you are cheese or wine.

•The older you get the better you were.

•Old age and treachery trump youth and skill every time.

•It still beats the alternative.

So as I prepare to celebrate my own “sweet 66” (all weekend long – thank goodness Monday is a holiday), I raise my glass to each of you.  Enjoy every magic moment on your own trip around the sun this year – whatever number it is.  Because…Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, wine in the other, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming “WOO HOO what a ride!”








Rock on Older Ladies

Rock on Older Ladies!

When I saw this video I knew I had to share it on the blog.  Enjoy!

Hubs and I are lacing up our walking shoes and heading out to the Columbia Gorge for a birthday weekend celebration and lots of walking at the Columbia River Gorge Biennial Classic Volkswalk event  at Cascade Locks.  With 600+ walkers from all over the world, 13 different walks and 1 bike ride, plus fun social events, and lots of new people to meet I know it’s going to be a great time.  Now all we need is some sun.

Enjoy this toe-tapping tune and share it with women everywhere!

Cheers to weekend adventures and older women.

Rock on.


60 Things Every Woman Should Know By 60 ~

Well, in case you were wondering.  It was NOT my 64th birthday yesterday.  It seems the gremlins at WordPress spontaneously sent out an old post (August 2012).  I have no idea how or why this happened.  I apologize for any confusion, but I was thrilled to receive all the birthday wishes and the online card.  Thank you!  It made my day.

With age comes wisdom and experience.  Or so they say.

Wind-Up Granny

Wind-Up Granny

There’s a book titled 30 Things Every Woman Should Know How to Do by Age 30.   Well, that ship sailed a long time ago, but it got me thinking about all of the valuable knowledge and bits of useless information I’ve acquired over the past 60+ years.  So… I thought it would be fun to start a list of at least 60 Things We Should Know, Have or Have Done by the time we’ve reached the Magical Age of 60.

Let’s play together, shall we?  I’ll list the first 50 Things  and you add the rest in COMMENTS below.  Here goes… in random order because that’s how my brain works these days ~

1.  Own a passport

2.  Say No.  Mean it.  Not feel guilty

3.  Order your credit report and be able to understand it.

4.  Get over it and move on

5.  Change a flat tire

6.  Do your own taxes (even if you choose not to)

7.  Plunge a toilet or unclog a drain

8.  Find the breaker box and flip the switch

9.  Light a grill and cook something

10.  Take yourself out to dinner or a movie – alone

11.  Get around in a foreign country

12.  Program and operate the TV (I’ll probably die still trying to learn this)

13.  Mix a classic cocktail or even a modern one

14.  Laugh at yourself

14.  Take a compliment with ease and grace

15.  Look good in a photo

16.  Open a bottle of champagne

17.  Read a map.  Fold a map.

18.  Hail a cab

19.  Jump a car battery

20.  Paint a room

21.  Ask for a raise

22.  Tell at least one really good joke well.

23.  Beautifully wrap a present

24.  Make small talk with just about anyone.

25.  Know CPR

26.  Ask for what you want

27.  How to keep your information secure online

28.  Where to find the best deals

30.  Buy the right sized bra

31.  Think for yourself

32.  The art of self-defense

33.  Do a breast self-exam

34.  How to talk to your doctor

35.  Have a retirement strategy

36.   Book your own travel

37.  When to throw in the towel

38.  Put together at least one piece of “some assembly required” furniture

39.  Make peace with your mother and/or your daughter

40.  Who ya gonna call

41.  Have an emergency fund (grandma had one in the cookie jar)

42.  Say I Love You

43.  Be able to converse in more than one language – even if it’s just basic greetings

44.  Own a pair of kick-butt boots or slinky heels

45.  Make a fire

46.  Count your blessings

47.   Know your numbers – blood pressure, cholesterol, weight, pulse etc.

48.   Whip up a signature dish that’s not meatloaf or turkey

49.   Own your own hammer, screwdriver, pliers and tape measure and know how to use them.

50.  Say yes to opportunity when it comes knocking.











Okay – Now it’s YOUR turn.  Whatcha got?   Add one thing not on the list above that every woman should know, have or know how to do by the time she’s 60?  

How many can you check off this list?


Happy New Year Resolutions!

I resolve to ~

~ Do better

~ Be smarter

~ Lose weight

~ Make more money

~ Save more money

~  Stop eating chocolate

~  Give up the glass (or two) of wine

~  Make friends with my inner child, my wrinkles and those damned age spots on my hands

Or not…..

Like a lot of people I know, I’ve pretty much given up on all the “resolving”.  It’s futile to say the least and frustrating at best.  Maybe I should tell all those folks who crowd the gym in January so you can’t get on a treadmill or find a tiny piece of floor space in Zumba.

Don’t get me wrong, I have big plans for 2014.  I’m setting my sites on new adventures, exploring more retirement options, discovering hidden travel gems close to home and across the globe.  I’ll be looking for information and inspiration to share right here on the blog.   But, here’s the deal.  I don’t need to resolve to fix me or make a better me to enjoy the life I have and the future I’m working on creating.

Here’s my very simple plan ~


And know that sometimes its okay to just relax and get on the bus.

And to put my feet up and enjoy the ride…

Wherever it takes me.

Cheers and Happy New Year!




It was a very good year!

Time flies when you’re having fun.

And, since 2013 seems to have flown by in a blur, I must have been having one heck of a good time.  I certainly hope so, because there is so much of it that I’ve already forgotten.  What’s up with that?  It’s a good thing I never go anywhere without my camera.

They say that looking back in gratitude at where you’ve been helps you adjust your sights on where you want to go next.  With that in mind, and with much gratitude to those who made my journey through this year the thrill ride that it was, here are just a few highlights from my 65th turn around the sun.

My 2013 Mandala -

My 2013 Mandala –

In January, I set my intention for 2013 during a Mandala Workshop at Via Artistica.  My words for the year were passion and risk.  The tarot card I drew was the Chariot which, among other things, signifies travel, change and movement.

Everyday Magic

Everyday Magic

I challenged myself to find a little bit of magic every day through the lens of my camera.  Thanks Tammy Strobel for inspiring my creativity this year with your brilliant online classes.

Published an article

Published an article

I officially became a published author.  Thank you Mark Chimsky for inviting me to take a very scary leap with my writing.

It's mom with FOOD!

It’s mom with FOOD!

I became a “grandma” when a momma Junko built a nest and laid 4 tiny blue eggs in the lettuce bowl planter on my front porch.  Yep, those are 4 tiny, wide open baby bird mouths.

Doing our best Vrikasana at the gate to the Japanese Garden

Doing our best Vrikasana at the gate to the Japanese Garden

Hubs and I participated in our first (but not last) Urban Adventure Race.  Thanks to my husband and partner in crime for (almost) always saying a hearty YES! to my hair-brained ideas.

Two weeks worth of Medicare Love.  XO

Two weeks worth of Medicare Love. XO

I signed up for Medicare.  Yep, I’m that old.  Thank you to the Government for providing this safety net.  Now, please quit trying to de-fund it.

And the race is on!

And the race is on at the Milk Carton Boat Races.

I participated in the 2013 Word Count Blogathon and blogged every day in June with the theme 30 Fun, Funky and Fabulous Things to Do Within 30 Miles of Portland.  I love this town!  Oregon ~ Things Look Different Here.

NancyCaminoI celebrated my 65th birthday by walking 65 miles on the Camino de Santiago in Spain.

Looking back over this year, I’m reminded once again that “Life should not be measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the number of moments that take our breath away.”

I am grateful for every breath I take these days, and it is my fondest wish that 2014 leaves each and every one of us absolutely breathless on more than one occasion.




Female Nomads ~ retired women are taking to the open road

My friend Lois is a nomad.  She’s also single and pretty much retired.  Lois doesn’t have a huge income or the security of a well-stocked trust fund.  And yet, Lois has one of the richest, fullest lives of anyone I know.  This delightful, spirited woman lives in a 10 foot 1965 vintage Aloha trailer that she pulls with her aging Mercury Montero.  Freedom?  Oh my! She’s got that in spades.  A couple of weeks ago, Lois waved goodbye to Portland’s rainy winters and headed south with “Li’l Homey”.   She shares her travels and nomad lifestyle on her blog Playing a New Game.  Thank you Lois for  inspiring the gypsy hiding in me.Lil Homey

These days more and more senior single women are taking up life on the road.  They are firing up the RV or hitching up the trailer to explore the highways and back roads all across the country.  They are creating new communities and making friends as they go.  And, while there are are some very interesting challenges in this lifestyle, these gals are rising to the challenge and loving their new home on the road.

If you are feeling the call of the open road as a retirement option, check out these very informative links for more information and a some stories that are guaranteed to make you smile

Unlikely Nomads ~  the Christian Science Monitor

Happy End of the Road for RVers – Assisted Living on Wheels ~ AOL Real Estate

And, finally, if you are not sure the RV life is for you, perhaps you like to give it a try for a night or two in one of the beautiful vintage trailers at the Shady Dell Resort in Arizona or one of the eight cuties available in Bend, Oregon at Cowgirl Cabins.

Who’s in for a Wild Women’s Weekend this summer at Cowgirl Cabins?  Sounds like fun, doesn’t it.

See you on the road.


Today’s Inspiration ~




Becoming a Backpack and Rollie Retiree ~ Spanish Lessons

¡Vamos a hablar en español!

Call me crazy but I’m not particularly fond of making a fool of myself in public.  I did it a lot in my twenties and thirties and yes, there was usually some amount of alcohol involved.  But, even so, it’s one thing to wear silly hats or put straws up your nose and another thing entirely to trot yourself out with four whole weeks of Spanish learning under your belt and walk into a room with a dozen fluent speakers so that you can engage in conversation.

That’s exactly what I did last night.  What the hell was I thinking?  And, no, there was no alcohol involved, but in this case it would probably have helped.  A lot!

We’re traveling to Spain next month.  We’ve spent time in Mexico and hope to spend lots more time in that lovely country.  And I’m exploring a whole bunch of South American cities for future travels and possible retirement living.  So it seems like at least one member of the Backpack and Rollie Team should attempt to learn the language. spanish now

Before our last San Miguel stay a few years ago, both hubs and I signed up for beginning Spanish at our local community college.  If you’ve never heard Spanish with a strong Boston accent, you’ve missed something quite special.  Hubs lasted a few weeks and quietly became too busy.  I hung in there a little longer but found it boring and not at all applicable to two adults trying to carry on normal life.  I didn’t need to learn my way around a classroom, I needed to be able to converse with the shopkeepers, the bus driver and the woman sitting next to me in the Starbucks (You know there was one and I found it.)

I quit the class, but held on to the dream.  I have a very clear vision of myself chatting away en español.  Time to give it another go.

Lecciones de español segunda ronda.  Enter the lovely and talented Clara Grabel who comes from Argentina and gives Spanish lessons to eager gringos like me.  Clara makes learning easy and fun.  I love that in a teacher.  So, in early July Clara and I had our first lesson.  It was great!   I was on my way.  Then came week two and it was like a scene from the movie Groundhog Day.  I was starting from square one all over again.  Week three, pretty much the same.  Oh, I have few words I can usually remember.  I’ve mastered some of the basic verb and grammar concepts, and I can get the general idea and answer questions when I’m reading, but let me just say that learning a new language with an aging brain feels a bit like I’m pouring flour through a sieve.  Not much seems to be sticking.

Of course, everyone knows that you will never learn to speak a language if you aren’t actually speaking it.  A lot!  I knew that, but I didn’t really want to do that.  The thought thoroughly terrified me.  I knew my brain would freeze and none of the 25 simple words I actually knew would pop up when I needed them.   And, as I said at the beginning – I am not fond of making a fool of myself in public.

But, this time I felt the fear and went anyway.  And I did make a fool of myself.  And I did have a moment of sheer terror when one of the young men from Mexico turned to me and asked me several questions and I had absolutely no idea what he said.  Not one word.  All eyes were on me.  It was a deer in the headlights moment.  I froze.  I turned 50 shades of red and then I mumbled “No comprendo.  Yo estudio español por quatro semanas solamente.”  I’m sure the grammar wasn’t correct, but he smiled and nodded and then another person came to my rescue asking me “¿Donde vive? (where do I live?) “Yo vive en Beaverton.”  “¿Tiene Familia?”  (do you have family?)  “Si, tengo un esposo y dos higos.”  “¿Tiene animales?”  “Tengo un gato.” (I have a cat) Como se llama?  “Se llama Mr. Ricardo y es gordo.” (his name is Mr. Ricky and he is fat).

Okay, this is not a conversation that is going to take me very far in Spain or Ecuador, but I did it.  I had a (very strange) conversation with a complete stranger that didn’t involve asking for a beer, the bathroom or the check.

And, everyone in the room agreed that I did quite well with only a month of lessons.  I’ll take it!  I was humbled but also rather proud of myself for going so far outside of my comfort zone.  And next week when I go back, I’ll see if I can’t come up with something a little more interesting to talk about.  I listened, I learned, I shared and I had a great time.

And it gets better.   I found another conversation group that includes margaritas and chips and salsa.  I think I’ll check that one out as well.

¡Con mucho gusto!