Friday, March 9, 2018

Bountifully Blessed

Afternoon sky in North Dakota

It's been a week of introspection.  Looking back, and forward.  A celebration and a bit of a self-assessment.  A (sometimes surprising) re-affirmation of my passions.  On the whole, an eminently satisfying catalog of a year well-lived, well-loved, and bountifully blessed: it has been 12 months since I retired and started documenting my voyage with this blog.

Calypso Orchid
I won't apologize for my method to outlining this post: I organized my notes around the objectives stated in my blog profile.  I re-read all 72 of my blog posts, beginning with the first.  I perused (ancient!) notes I kept leading up to retirement and for the first 9 months post-freedom.  After all, even the most ad-lib writers structure their prose in some fashion ... but in the end, I sat back and let my emotions speak to me.  Here is what I heard:

Family game of Kings in the Corner

1. Letting go of perfection and structure is harder for me than I ever thought possible.  I deliberately bought a simplified Franklin planner that only has room for 10 Daily Tasks during the week and 4 on the weekend.  Nevertheless, my list often extends to a dozen or more, and I certainly don't finish them all.  I am learning I CAN give myself permission to engage in the 'fun' items even if there are still 'work' tasks on the list!  Enjoying the beauty of a moment can be difficult when my mind strays to tomorrow and its events and tasks.  With some effort, I am becoming more effective at re-directing my attention to my current environment and its gifts.
Sunset on Whitefish Lake

2. I am jazzed by the simple things and by traditions.  As I looked back through my blog posts, Fall Frolics, Autumn Antics, October Wind-down, The Spirit is a-Movin' and Treasured Traditions jumped off the page.  So maybe embracing adventure is not my bag; simple traditions ignite my passions.

3. If I could spend all day every day outside, I would.  This is not new and I am in 'outdoor' heaven here in Montana.  Hiking.  Snowshoeing.  Kayaking.  Skiing.  Outdoor dining.  All of which are even more special for the presence of Spousal Unit (also known as Man with Hat) by my side.  Our journeys frequent this blog, and you can be assured of many more in the years ahead.
Man with Hat among bear grass in Jewel Basin

The kids and Spousal Unit with
snow ghosts on Big Mountain
4. Family is a constant, a solid mooring, a source of pride and joy and new experiences.  Some of the posts that brought me to (happy) tears are those about family; we play together and make new memories, all the while recalling the family tales of yester-year.  Our children are adults, and times with them are at once simpler and more complex. 

Strolling San Francisco with 
#1 Daughter
We couldn't be prouder of their achievements - #1 Son has earned Dean's List honors for two semesters (Engineering Physics major!) and landed a teaching assistant position.  #1 Daughter will graduate from college in April, and has secured two jobs that will carry her through the summer months while she locates her first long-term stage management role.

5. Travel is a given that is interwoven with my other passions: family, the outdoors and time with friends.  It would be easy to turn this post into a month-by-month re-cap, but that would be predictable, structured Angie.  Where's the emotion, the importance?  These last 12 months, travel has meant catching up with college friends, making dreams come true for others, discovering new mountains, sharing UK culture and beautiful landscapes, and supporting our kids.
Upper left: Trout Lake Trail, Glacier National Park
Upper right: Palace Hotel in San Francisco
Lower left: Oughtershaw, UK
Lower right: Bow River, Banff, Alberta, Canada

6. Cross-stitch, embroidery and knitting offer an opportunity to relax while investing my love in a piece of lasting beauty.  I would like to produce more pieces, but this activity often gets sacrificed when I run out of time at the end of a full day.  As I look forward, I will consider how I can let go of some of the 'work' tasks on my list to make room for more craft time!

Hawes, UK
7. God is generous.  My relationship with Man with Hat.  Our relationships with our children.  Our log house. Our siblings.  Our friends.  Our health.  The stunning world in which we live.  In my retirement, I have made the time to pray every day.  A healthy chunk of my reflection time involves giving thanks, the other side of prayer.  Almost every week, I can add something new to my gratitude list.

8.  I am finding a niche in our community, from volunteering at the Whitefish Museum to activities at St. Charles Borromeo Church (lector, Eucharistic Minister, fourth grade religion teacher, prayer shawl ministry).  It feels good to give back, and to know people in town as we go about our routines such as visiting the library or eating out.  Looking forward, I know I will have to start over in Kalispell, which is closer to our new home, but I am sure I will maintain some of the relationships established in Whitefish over the last 12 months.
Top: September sunshine 
Bottom: December brings winter white to the same field
Near Whitefish

Scenes along Whitefish Lake and Whitefish River

McDonald Creek -
Glacier National Park

9. For me, blogging has blossomed from a tiny mustard seed of an idea to a tree with many branches.  A creative outlet for me.  (Hopefully) an inspiration to others who may have a down day, or dream of life in the American West.  A diary that is open to the world, allowing me to 'keep in touch' with old and new friends alike. A popularity contest for Man with Hat (he always wants to know the standing of 'his' post on the Popular Post list!)  A source of inspiration for me - my blogging buddies around the world can pick me up, teach me new blog tricks, help me find long-lost embroidery patterns and show me the beauty of the world around them.  A well-spring of affirmation - comments from fellow bloggers and others are priceless; I feel valued as a member of a community teeming in variety and geographic diversity.

10. I am not bored (this is for the people who asked me, before retirement - 'won't you be bored?') 

It is quite hard to recall the minutiae of my working life, 12 months on.  This quote from Without Reservations: the Travels of an Independent Woman by Alice Steinbach captures my feeling perfectly:

One morning while having breakfast on the King's Road I suddenly realized how foreign my life as a reporter now seemed.  When I thought of it now - the deadlines, the constant search to find material for a story or column, the compulsive need to read three newspapers daily, the fear of getting something wrong or not getting the whole story - it was like imagining a country I haven't visited in some time.
Keld, UK

And that's OK.  Because I have new 'countries' to visit: Having fun before my 'work' is done - especially my craft projects.  Being totally immersed in the moment.  Celebrating simple traditions. 

Stay with me and you'll have an inside track on the journey!

P.S.  I am starting now - I tweaked the content of my Profile/About My Blog, and have changed my background to something totally fun - jelly beans!  I saw it and had to have it!

Linking to


  1. Angie, It's a good thing I made a dessert for later, your photo of that marshmallow has me wanting something sweet. Happy 1 Year Retirement Anniversary! Nothing boring at all about retirement. I finally said I'm retired last Fall (can't recall the exact date) though some people thought I've been retired forever. That's what comes from being a freelance writer forever. He, hehe. I love not having deadlines other than my own, which I keep dropping.

    I like the way you present your posts. Always go with who you are, right? Cheers to you, Angie!

  2. #1 Wow, what an organized soul you are, planning doesn't naturally for me, I fly by the seat of my pants!
    #2 Simple sure is good.
    #3 For the last 50 years I have worked outside, I've like it, well some days have been better than others!
    #4 My three kids and 5 grandkids make me proud.
    #5 I will never be a world traveler, but I don't like to let grass grown under my feet.
    #6 I can't thread a needle.
    #7 Retirement is just around the corner for me.
    #8 I'm a bit of a loner!
    #9 My blog has become a BIG part of my life.
    Life is all about burning marshmallows!

  3. Wonderful optimistic and thankful outlook! The sunset on Whitefish Lake is gorgeous, and I love the shot of the roasting marshmallows!

  4. I used to do a lot of cross-stitch embroidery before the boys were born. Love the photos. God has indeed blessed you!

    Have a great weekend!

  5. I love this post and reflections on your retirement. I totally understand when you say people would ask if you would be bored. I have never been bored and often wonder how I ever found time to work. As you've discovered, even in retirement the hours are fewer and more precious. It is hard to find the time or set aside the time to do the things we love or want to do. I'm glad you have an opportunity now to have more fun.

  6. That's a really thoughful, optimistic and inspiring post Angie. Retiring early about 12 years ago was the best thing Sue and I did. Since then we have enjoyed a wonderful time, taken lovely holidays and taken great joy in welcoming 5 grandchildren. As you suggest, having an active but flexible routine is the one tip I would give to anyone about to retire. Best wishes to you and Man in Hat.

  7. It's been a pleasure to visit you increasingly in the last few months. Your look back was warm and fun. Congratulations on your anniversary and I'm looking forward to more Montana beauty and reflections on faith and family.

  8. Great sky shots! And how wonderfully you seem to be doing with your major transition in life and how blessed you are ~ all great photos and posts!

    Happy Weekend to you,
    A ShutterBug Explores
    aka (A Creative Harbor)

  9. I love your jelly bean background. First thing I noticed.

    You are most thankful and it shows in this post. I too am retired and I've never been more busy or more happy. If we just look at all the wonderful around us we can't be anything but grateful.

    I so enjoyed this post.

    Have a blessed weekend. ♥

  10. I have a weakness for Jelly Beans, so I love your new background, Angie! Happy One Year retirement Anniversary! My husband and I have been retired for awhile--6 years for me, 3 for him. I retired early as I was helping to care for my elderly mother, and my husband waited till full retirement age. Neither of us has regretted it or have been bored at all! In fact, we often wish we had more time to do all we want. When my Mother passed away, there was nothing holding me in NYC any longer and we moved west to be closer to our children who had moved here first, and to be closer to our grandchildren. We feel blessed to be able to watch them grow and be a part of their lives. Living in a new state brings us much enjoyment as there are many new places to see and different recreational opportunities to enjoy, much as you are experiencing in Montana. I'm sure once you move into your new home you will find yourselves very busy and happy and the second anniversary will come very quickly! Enjoy every day!

  11. Great post! It is so rare for people to stop and count their blessings. Sounds like you have achieved one one of the most important things in life - to be content in every situation. Did you have friends or family in Montana before you moved there, or did you just follow your heart there?

  12. I love this post. I am trying to decide whether to retire now, or find a new job (because I don't like the job I have). You seem to be enjoying your life tremendously.

  13. Hello, I love being retired, 3 years now. I enjoyed all your photos, the Whitefish lake is beautiful. Montana is a beautiful state. Congrats to your son and daughter, you should be very proud. Wonderful post and photos. Happy Sunday, enjoy your day and new week ahead.

  14. I am so happy I found you and your blog. I love coming here to read about your take on life, jelly beans... perfectly colorful and sweet. Crack through the outside shell and the chewy sticky insides are a bit like life. Get your teeth into it! You do. Congrats on retirement. I'm never bored either. With so much to explore why ever be bored? LeeAnna
    ps, I'd love to include you on our Thurs likes posts if you want to do an extra one

  15. Retirement does wonderful things...:) It looks as if you've found them, Angie!...:)JP

  16. Your post kind of made me tear up! So sweet! Looking forward to reading more!

  17. I prefer everything to be organized, no matter what the circumstances, but I certainly don't always get it, so just learn to take things as they come and enjoy life!

  18. you read all your posts, amazing. Great post and good luck with the new ways of blogging. Love the jelly!

  19. Wishing you good health and happiness in your retirement.

    God bless.

  20. I do enjoy your photos! I especially like the photo of the sunset.

  21. Thanks for sharing your lovely Pics. The Calypso Orchids caught my fancy especially. I live in Trinidad and here Calypso is a form of indigenous folk song.
    Happy Mosaic Monday

    much love...

  22. Angie, Retirement is wonderful. I sure you will enjoy your new home when it is finally ready and you can really settle. Thanks for sharing. Sylvia D.

  23. Well, I have to say, I noticed the jellybeans and thought that was genius! Very fun and happy. And it's interesting to go back and see how life has changed in just one year. Of course, for you retiring has made a huge difference. It's nice to embrace change and 'go with the flow'. I am never bored...always busy. And I agree...if I could I would spend all of my time outside in nature. Love your blog! Happy blogging! Hugs, Diane

  24. Love the sunset over Whitefish Lake photo, I could sit and look at it for quite a while if I didn't have so many other things to do.LOL! I enjoyed your 12 month recap and finding out how you're managing to let go of the Bay Leaf, I stopped making lists years ago except for grocery shopping and nine times out of ten that list gets left behind on the kitchen counter!
    It's been a pleasure to get to know you through MM and see your corner of the world each week, so looking forward to when you move into that beautiful new home.
    Have a wonderful week, enjoy the skiing!

  25. I'm approaching my 5000th blog post, having retired in 2006!
    I can appreciate all of your thought here.

  26. Thank you for your nice comment on my blog! Now I'm here and I love your post! My english is not the best, but I understand, what you will say.
    I wish you all the best! Habe a nice time, hugs Rita

  27. Happy First Anniversary here in the land of (definitely not boring) Retirement! Which is a lovely land to inhabit -- I still treasure it after 20 years (oh good grief, I scared myself counting back that far); only a little over decade less than my working years! I enjoyed every word of your reflections .. and especially appreciated the one about the benefits and joys of blogging. Sometimes my (IRL) friends ask why I do it. You explained very well. Please keep it up -- I look forward to more of your passions and joys!

  28. Such a full and wonderful blog post. I hope you will find a way to let go of work and relax because it's good for your soul. The photos I enjoyed most are the ones closest to my home here in Western Canada: Trout Lake Trail, Glacier National Park
    Bow River, Banff, Alberta, Canada
    An Unfittie's Guide to Adventurous Travel

  29. Your first year of retirement was full for sure. You did a good job of identifying how to fit in more of the fun versus the work that is always there. These days my blog is a great reminder of what happened and when it happened. Glad to come upon your blog this past year.

  30. Hello Angie, came here to check out my comment ...and saw it didn't go through! Okay, second try - retired life is nothing like they told me it would be. Am still doing everything I did before, only there are no deadlines, meetings, extra reporta! Liked your comment - you are a thinker that goes beyond recipes and housekeeping - I like that!! Also many thanks for your All Seasons "smores" and have a beautiful week!

  31. I love this post! I like the way you think. Just this weekend, I said to my husband that I can't imagine being bored and he replied that he couldn't either. I plan to retire in 2 more years, a few years ahead of my husband. Your blog posts are always enjoyable to read and leave me with something to think about. I look forward to reading many more!

  32. This is such a thoughtful and candid post Angie...I had trouble after my retirement because it was too early and due to my health. It took a while to look at my newly found time as the gift it really is to do what I want within what my health will allow, but learning about nature has really inspired me..Michelle

  33. I really enjoyed your photos! Great post!

  34. I'd a very pleasant feeling reading your refreshing post. Your writing style is so inviting. I gather that you're an accomplishes lady.
    All pictures are marvelous.

  35. Excellent post! I retired early and I rarely get bored, unless I am waiting somewhere too long. I relate to discovery #1 especially.

  36. Wow - great blog. And it seems you are learning the art of retirement and I really like your summary of what is important to you now. I was downsized to one day a week and quickly downsized right out of a job at age 62 (almost 10 years ago) and I decided it was time to give up searching for another job and I jumped whole heartedly into retirement - and have enjoyed every minute of it. I'm an avid list keeper - sometimes my lists will contain up to 20 things in a day - but they might be small things - like wipe down the appliance fronts, freshen the water in the bouquet, etc, but it give me as much a thrill to cross off little things as to complete a huge task - and then I really relax and enjoy crafting, outdoors and family and friends. Happy retirement - enjoy enjoy enjoy!

  37. A years blogging. Great keep doing it. It is fun and your photos are great.

  38. I share your opinions about blogging: it is fun and it makes you feel part of a community. For me, the best part is taking photos and sharing them. Have a good time!