My Retirement Years: Work, Writing, Kids

I officially began my retirement in 2015… so I’m five years into it. A few things remain the same, but most things are a little different. I’m intentionally trying to slow things down, relax more and enjoy what is left of my life. I’m still painting, but not as much. I sort of feel like I can work as hard as I always have, but I know I’m getting older, so I made the decision to get rid of all my tall 32 ft. ladders (I recycled them). I just work now with a 20-footer. Besides not doing high work, I have also cut down on my hours. Instead of 8 or 9-hour days, I limit it to six hours; and I also take a 3 or 4-day break between jobs. But I want to tell you that my work is just as good as it always was, maybe even better. Since I’m trying to slow things down, I’m paying more attention to details. I love my work and also my faithful customers; and I will be working just as long as I can hold a brush and do a good job.

As for my writing, I think I am writing more now than ever. I have more time to write and I think I’m even better at it. I guess the more you read and write and experience life, the better you get at it. At present I am just finishing up my book After the Rapture, and I am also almost finished with this book on my life story—although I haven’t thought of a title for it yet. What’s next? I don’t know, but I’m sure God will nudge me to write something. I have some ideas but nothing solid yet.

Another area of my life that is constantly changing is my relationship with my kids. They are all adults now and their families are multiplying. I already have seven, almost eight grandkids. They came so fast. Justina, the oldest of my children, age 35, is married to Rusty, and they have two kids. They live in Virginia and they both work as nurses. Anthony, age 33, is married to Crystal and they will have two kids in a month. They live in Bloomington, just a half hour drive from me. They also are both working at very good jobs. Joshua, age 31, is single. I keep telling him to remain that way—ha! He also lives fairly close to me and we get together as much as we can. Abigail (Abi) is the youngest, at 29, and she just had her fourth kid. She lives in Texas with her husband Aaron who seem to always have two or three jobs going.

I really love my kids and pray for a them, but I don’t really know them that well. I put the blame mostly on our divorce arrangement, not being able to see them except for two hours a week. But I can’t put all the blame on that. I really could have worked harder to see them more. I could have fought for it, but didn’t. I’m not real sure why. I have sort of a hermit-like nature. I naturally don’t have a great desire to connect with people, not even my own kids. It’s my own selfish nature.

But I still have hope that things will get better. I think we all are working on connecting more—texting and even calling. And I think the more we pray for each other the better it will be. I also want to make regular trips to see my kids and grandkids in Virginia and Texas. That would be good—for them and for me.

Making the most of the Pandemic

Fish practicing social distancing.

I’ve gotten in the practice now of picking up my breakfast and coffee at some fast food place, getting a newspaper, and then parking at this place near a walking trail where people walk by. I like to wave and greet them. Yes, we can still wave from a distance. We need to make the most of this pandemic.

My Work: House Painting

This is my work truck. I had a small painting job at this location.

My work. It’s been a while since I had work. But I’m retired. I started a house painting business in 1981. At the beginning it was just me and one employee—a good friend. We had no contacts so I had to advertise. I put adds in the local newspaper, and I also made small, half-sheet fliers to distribute. Sometimes I distributed them by hand, door-to-door, with help from nieces and nephews. Other times I paid to have them delivered as an insert. That kept us busy, just busy enough.

The summers were good, but the winters were spars. After the first couple years I hired more help. That was fun during the summer time, but during the winter months I had to lay them off. There was just not enough work. So in the spring time I usually had to rehire and retrain people—because the ones I had before, had gotten other jobs. But then there were a couple guys who kept coming back—the faithful.

Well, I don’t want to bore you by giving you a year by year run down. But there were some interesting stories to tell. Working with a crew of guys is always fun—but sometimes aggravating for me, the boss. I remember, one of my guys would always call me Boss, or Boss man. I hated that! Because I didn’t think he was genuine. Yea, I had some characters—all different. Those were the days.

I retired when I was 63, seven years ago. But I didn’t totally stop working. At first, I cut about a third out of my hours. Today my hours are cut about in half. I have never had so much work that I was able to save a lot. So I figured that with my Social Security payment I still need to work some.

But you know, I really think it’s for the best. I like working a little. At 69 I don’t feel much like working full bore, but I think its good for me to work a little. And I like seeing faithful clients. I have some clients that I have done work for, for over 30 years. For some of them, I have painted their entire house 4 or 5 times, or more. Some of them call me for work almost every year. And I try to call all of my clients once a year, just to keep in touch—but of course I will ask them if they need any painting. Out of about 30 calls I get roughly one job out of it.

 I’m waiting for someone to call me right now. I am ready for a job. A small job. This retirement at times sucks! All I do is sit around writing, blogging, reading, and doing my chores. Other things too, and it’s getting very routine. I need a job. I’m getting too lazy.

I’m afraid retirement for me will never be typical—like rich folks. You know, traveling and golfing and going on cruises. I will have to keep working as much as necessary to have enough in savings for when I get too old to work. I have to keep a tight budget. And it will always be, for me, a life of trusting God. That sounds good to me. He will provide and keep me joyful.

My Retirement: Life Is Slower These Days

This is the trail I walked on just after I wrote this post.

My retirement. Let’s see. Where to start. Life is a little slower these days. Everything is in small increments. I plan it that way. I am 69 years old. I have been officially retired since I turned 63. Or was it 64? Actually, I’m only semi-retired. I still work a little. I have had a residential painting business since 1981, and I occasionally get calls from faithful clients. I am proud to say that most of them still like me and know I will do a good job for them—so if it’s a small job, I don’t mind doing it. I can always use the money.

It’s Saturday morning and I’m at Perkins, trying to decide if I should get pie. I may not be able to resist—even though I had a great breakfast. Yes, pie would be good. Pie and coffee. Ah, life is good. God is good!

Now that I’m on the subject, I will share my breakfast schedule. I don’t know why, but much of my doings is scheduled these days: my eating, my time, my jobs, my duties—everything. I like to think ahead and know what I’m doing. I guess it makes me feel more secure and in control. But I know that as a Christian I must also leave room for the Holy Spirit to lead me. So I will not be too set to my to do list.

 So my breakfast schedule is this: Saturday is Perkins, Sunday is coffee and doughnuts at church, Monday I will eat at Panera—Coffee and steel cut oatmeal, Tuesday at McDonalds (cheaper), Wednesday I will eat oatmeal with fresh pineapple at home (I make it), Thursday and Friday are a little more flexible, but I usually go back to Panera again. And when I go out to eat, I always stop at my favorite gas station to buy a newspaper, and I usually bring a book too. I do most of my reading when I eat.

I don’t think I mentioned that I am single—divorced. But I’m happy to be single. It gives me more freedom to do what I want to do. I don’t think I’m a selfish person. I like people. But I also enjoy living by myself.  I regard it as a gift of God; and I think He has called me to it.

I was reading this morning from Psalm 139:5, how God has enclosed me behind and before, and He has His hand on me. He not only keeps me safe; He keeps me feeling secure, and I know that He is always near me. He takes me gently through the different phases of life. He knows what I need, and even gives me things (services) that He wants me to do. He keeps me busy doing His work.

Mainly, I think that the service He has given me is writing. For the last 30 years I have been writing as a self-publisher. I also do blogs. I have two other blogs going besides this one. So writing keeps me very busy, and I am glad to be doing it. I don’t make much money on it, but I’m still glad to do it. It’s the Lord’s work and I know that the benefit people will get from it will be my heavenly reward. It is now filling up my heavenly treasure chest. Well, I think this post is finished, and I didn’t even have pie. But I feel fine—very content.