Wednesday, July 22, 2015


A friend phoned the other day, who hadn't recently talked to, and he asked me what I had been doing. I said I have been taking art lessons. Of course I do other things, but that was the first thing I could think of.

It started when I went on a cruise from Brazil to Miami and I took watercolour classes on board ship. I hadn't done anything like that in years and I found myself really enjoying it.

Next, back home, I signed up for a water colour plain air workshop, which other than having a friend for company, was a total disaster. I felt way over my head.

But I don't give up easily. I decided to take a watercolour course drawing flowers. I loved it so much that I signed up for a second class and convinced a friend to do so as well. Each week we got to go to the nearby botanical gardens and paint and learn about painting with a lovely group of people. I wasn't so good at practicing when I wasn't there but I tried.

A friend saw a one day workshop on botanical drawing at the other botanical gardens. I heard the instructor was knowledgeable and nice, so I decided to do it as well. One good thing is I didn't even have to supply a pencil.

It was interesting and much more exact but I really found I learned more about what is involved in drawing a flower. I also not sure I really like six hour classes!!! Notice I seem to confine myself to drawing flowers. Small steps...

There are always brilliant people in these classes who really draw well but they are usually quite self critical. I am not a brilliant artist but I think I am improving and my friends on Facebook are always very encouraging. That really helps!

I bought some very small note cards and wonder if I will ever have a completed card I can actually give some one. Photography is certainly easier though I did take lessons many years ago but now I just use an iPhone, no need for different lenses etc. I just have to look carefully as you do as well when you paint and draw.

I am still not good at practicing. I took piano lessons for seven years and didn't much like that part. Of course, I actually wanted art lessons, and so here I am many years later doing just that.

I keep wondering if I will end up back in piano lessons or try to learn to play the ukulele or something. Maybe I will take paddle boarding lessons. Anything is possible. I am currently considering a Mayan cooking class...Sometimes people say I should give courses on how to be retired. I could teach you how to stretch a half hour walk into a couple of hours...But I taught a long time and learned lots along the way but right now I kind of am focused on just learning, and stretching just a bit.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

An invitation

I have always lots of ideas for this blog but not usually when I am on my computer!  I also have been quite diligent lately on my other blogs, My Beautiful Vancouver Blog and My Travel Blog.  I really love taking pictures and like to take people along on my travels virtually, far or near.  I plan to get back to work on this blog but meanwhile please feel free to check out my other blogs.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Advice for someone newly retired..

I got an iPhone and learned how to use waterlogue app
I just received an email asking, "What was life like for you the FIRST year you retired? What ADVICE would you give to someone newly retired  this year (as of Sept 2015)?" 

I thought great, this is going to inspire me to write a blog post, but I missed the part that you were supposed to answer these two questions with a maximum of five sentences!  

I actually have written quite a bit about what being retired was like that first year in this blog.  Someone told me when I was first retired, that the first year was wonderful, then I asked what the second year was like, and she said even better.  And you know I think that is actually true.

I think people do worry about what retirement might be like and of course, we are used to summers off so it doesn't really hit until September.  And I must admit I went to the retired teachers luncheon that first day of school the first year,  and kind of thought, "I am not ready for this and I don't want to deliver poinsettias at Christmas to the retired teachers over 85"  not very charitable I know.  I preferred to volunteer two mornings a week at my old school mainly with grade ones and I even coached soccer and basketball that first year.  Another morning I read to kindergarten students for half an hour at the beginning of the day.  I think I was afraid of empty time.  I took Spanish lessons, I went on long walks etc.  And strangely for me, retirement wasn't as difficult as I once had feared, and honestly kind of liberating in that I could do exactly what I wanted to do when I wanted to.

water colour lessons
I got to go on trips at less busy times and be away as long as I wanted.  I had time to reconnect with old friends.  I got to relearn how to knit and take watercolour lessons.  I had time to be a tourist in my own city.  I was able to pursue many interests. I got to be outside! And if I felt like it, I could just wander the beach when hardly anyone was there. And it was still important to feel that I was still making the world a better place by volunteering in different ways.    As teachers we have the beauty of really never having to question whether what we do is useful or important.  We know it is.  So I still need to feel that being retired.

So let's try to do those five sentences.  

"For me, life was really good my first year of being retired.  I loved teaching but I loved the freedom of retirement.  For me some structure was good but I didn't want too much.  I would advise you to find out what you really enjoy doing and what  you might want  to learn more about or have more time to do.  Be fearless and have fun!!!"