Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Week 1 - The Living Well in Retirement Weekly Challenge 2014

The Week 1 Challenge

The most important thing in our life is our health - not wealth.  Without good health life is miserable. Many of us have not paid much attention to our health during our working lives - and are living with often multiple consequences of that neglect.

Now that you are retired and have the time your challenge for this first week is .... to get moving!!! That's right - switch off the TV, computer, i-Pad or smart phone, get up out of the chair and walk right out the door!

Wear comfortable clothes and walking shoes, together with good socks to protect your feet.

Wherever you are walk first thing in the morning - breathe the clear air, take in the scenery, enjoy the bird song, take both your partner and the dog! With the walk out the way you won't have to worry about fitting it into some part of the rest of your busy day - and you will feel energised and vital!

If you have health issues get your doctor's advice regarding how to tackle this challenge. Start with a short walk, and increase the time and distance as your body responds.

Move and your body will love you - we humans are designed to walk considerable distances daily!

So walk, walk, and walk some more! Walking will cost you nothing, but in return your health - and you - will reap massive rewards! Simple really!

Let me know how you go!



The Living Well in Retirement Weekly Challenge 2014

Welcome to the Living Well in Retirement Weekly Challenge series for 2014.

Over the past year it has become abundantly clear to me that the riches in our life need not be always reliant on spending money! In fact as the saying goes 'many of the best things in life are free'!

Everywhere I read about the despair of retirees whose  retirement funds are limited. Of people who fear that they will be unable to live a fulfilling life on a shoestring budget. This idea is often fueled by marketing and media hype.

I believe that with wise budgeting, an open mind and a determination to make the most of retirement there is a fabulous life to be lived! Yes, sacrifices will have to be made - but savings and riches will be found! Already the glass is half full!

The low cost, no cost challenges - with the occasional splurge - will be set weekly. They will be aimed at challenging you to make the most of the resources at your disposal and to enhance your ability to live well in retirement!

What sort of life are you choosing to live?

Up for the challenge? Then join me! We can support each other and share this journey together!



Monday, 30 December 2013

The 13 Best Things About Retirement 2013

As the sun sets on 2013 I have been reflecting on just what an amazing year it has been! Using the Long Service Leave I had accumulated over 30 years of work - but which I had not used - I have been fortunate to spend 2013 'unoffically retired'!

 Here are my 13 best things about Retirement in 2013!

1.   Freedom

Freedom from the enormous pressures and responsibilities of the leadership and work that I loved - but which took it's toll on my life. Freedom from the weekly grind of 60 hour plus work weeks - and always working most of every Sunday. Freedom from night meetings - I really don't miss those!

2.   Farewell to Stress

Stress and I broke up in 2013! Whilst working I did not recognise  the stress I was under, nor the sacrifices I was making in pursuit of being the best I could be at my job - and trying to be all things to everyone! I need to extend the hugest thank you and my deepest gratitude to my husband, John, and to my children and their families for their unwavering love, kindness, patience, understanding and support over all those years.

3.   Hello Sleep, Rest and Relaxation

With copious amounts of sleep, rest and relaxation I was able to still my ever spinning work brain. I now feel a peace and contentment that had previously escaped me!

4.   Spending Time with the One I Love

How heartwarming it has been to rediscover and renew my relationship with John. I feel so blessed to have married my soulmate. Now is our time!

5.   Being There for my Family

This year I have been able to be a mum and granny! It is one of my greatest pleasures to be present in the lives of my children and grandchildren - and now - finally I have the time to be around when I'm needed! There is no greater pleasure than a warm, sticky, spontaneous hug from a gorgeous grandchild - or three!

6.   Time

This year is different from every other year! I have had time to smell the roses - literally and figuratively! I have noticed the changes of the seasons, watched the sun set, listened to waves lap on sandy shores - re-attuning my senses to the world around me. The alarm clock has been discarded!

7.   A Healthier Me

My blood pressure is down! Lifestyle changes have been made! I'm loving eating fresh fruit and vegetables from our little garden, exercising regularly - walking, at the gym and with my personal trainer, ensuring that my bones stay strong by training with weights, and paying attention to my Vitamin D levels by catching regular sunshine.  

8.   Letting Go

It has been so cathartic to declutter my life and let go of 'stuff' that I'd kept 'just in case'!  And, my goodness, there was lots of it!!!

9.   Discovery

It has been so indulgent to put myself first this year, after always putting others first throughout my life. I have so enjoyed pursuing interests I previously did not have time for, to have time for personal learning and to discover there are amazing worlds and communities just waiting for you to discover out there in the real and digital worlds! I feel a little like I've been living a 'pick your own adventure'!

10.  Travel

Travel is cheap when you can access off peak fares. And to be no longer tied to travel during holidays or stolen weekends has been bliss!  Long stays at our beach house at Coffin Bay have been something we'd only been able to dream about - but not any more! 

11.   Money, Money, Money

I've found this year that I'm wanting and needing less and less - maybe it's a sign of contentment, or that I already have what I need! Let's face it - how many white plates does a girl need? I'm at a time in my life where quality is definitely winning out over quantity! Whatever the reason our living costs are much less than when we worked - which has been a pleasant surprise!

12.   Finding Me

This year I have refound my energy, enthusiasm and zest for life. My sparkle is back! Watch out world - my retirement has just begun!

13.   Gratitude

I am incredibly grateful that I took the decision to begin my retirement this year. I loved my work - but have not missed it's pressures. 2013 has been the most amazing year of self discovery - one that I will treasure always. Life has really begun at retirement!

My Wish for You

As 2013 ends and 2014 stretches out in front of us my wish for you, dear reader, is expressed in this verse from "My Wish" - a wonderful song written by Jeffrey Steele and Steve Robson, and performed by one of my favourite groups, Rascal Flatts, on the album Me and My Gang. 

'I hope that the days come easy and the moments pass slow
And that each road leads you to where you want to go
And if you're faced with the choice and you have to choose
I hope you choose the one that means the most to you.'

Happy New Year!



Friday, 13 December 2013

In My Retirement ... in December

Christmas Time is Near!

In my retirement ... in December I'm preparing for Christmas! The pudding is cooked and hangs in the kitchen maturing until Christmas Day. The Christmas tree is up! I just need to get onto the Christmas cards!

New Wheels

In my retirement ... in December I'm enjoying my new car. A Honda Insight   .... it is a 5 door hybrid hatchback and has been averaging 5.4litres/100km driving around the city. On a country road trip of three hundred kilometres it averaged 4.6litres/100km. It has plenty of power, is nifty and manoeuvrable, seats 5 with plenty of leg room and has a large boot space.  It has exceeded our expectations!
*NB: This is not a sponsored spot!!!

The Shed Transformation

In my retirement ... in December husband John and son-in-law David have rebuilt our shed. It now compliments the house, and is large enough to accomodate the boat that previously took up valuable space under the carport. It needs few finishing touches - like paint and gutters - but the boys are very pleased with their efforts!

Watching My Garden Grow

In my retirement ... in December my vegetable garden is flourishing. I hope to be picking early cucumbers, tomatoes and zucchini by Christmas. I find it incredibly satisfying to serve home grown food fresh from our garden.

A Trip Down Memory Lane!

In my retirement ... in December I've been remembering this time last year, my last day as Principal, and that night dancing and partying hard until the early hours! These are my trashed shoes and one of the many bottles of bubbly consumed that memorable night! Apologies for the quality of the photograph - but is one of my favourites and represents fantastic memories!

Merry Christmas!

In my retirement ... in December I extend a very Merry Christmas, and happy and prosperous New Year to you and your loved ones.



PS: I welcome you to join me in this series - showcasing your retirement and giving us a peek into your world. All you need to do is to leave your  blog name, URL, and a comment in my comments box. If your post meets In My Retirement requirements I will add your name and blog link to my sidebar. You will need to link your post to this post.

Sunday, 8 December 2013

6 Surprises in the First Year of Retirement

It's almost exactly a year since I closed the door on my office for the last time. As I reflected on the past twelve months I realised that the challenge of living well in retirement this year has had many surprises!

Surprise 1 - Hitting the Wall

I was unprepared for 'hitting the wall'! During the first few weeks I was euphoric! So when I woke up one morning tired, depressed, feeling like I was unable to move - I was surprised! I had not expected such feelings to be a part of my retirement - especially after such a great start!

Surprise 2 - The Depth of Exhaustion

During this low period - that lasted around six months - I was surprised at the extreme depths of my mental and physical exhaustion. At a time when I was expecting to be feeling happiness and fulfilment I found instead I had nothing left to give - to anything. Just coping with the day was demanding. Projects that I had planned to tackle weighed on me as I found that I was unable to find the motivation to even think about starting them.

Surprise 3 - The time it takes to feel great again!

Because my time was my own I slept in each morning waking when I was ready - usually around 9.30am, slept for an hour or two each afternoon, and went to bed early because I was so tired.  I listened to my body - and my spinning brain - and let them both rest. I dreamed amazing and exhausting dreams about my work.

It took several months before I began to feel human again! Gradually my energy and enthusiasm for life returned, the dreams ceased and one morning I found myself thinking 'I feel good today!'
It was a great feeling, believe me!

Surprise 4 - No time!

I'm sure you've heard it before from colleagues, family, friends who have retired - 'I don't know how I fit work in!' Well, I'm here to tell you - it's true!!!

Back on my feet again our lives are busier than ever - the difference is that now we are doing things that are our of our choosing - travel, hobbies, getting the house and garden into order, spending time with family and friends, time at our beach house, getting fit, reading, blogging ... the list goes on!

Surprise 5 - Money Matters

Another big surprise has been just how much it cost us to work! The significant costs associated with running our vehicles, work expenses including clothes, shoes and accessories, and leadership, teaching and professional learning resources to name a few - are ones we no longer need to meet.

We have found some ways to save money. I'm enjoying growing fresh veggies in the back garden, preserving fruit and making jams, and making bread. I have the time to do 'slow cooking'. Instead of always paying premium prices for cuts of meat for a thrown together dinner after work, I can now plan ahead and look for those tougher and cheaper cuts of meat that are just amazing after long, slow, moist cooking. Having the time to shop at local farmers markets has also bought variety and quality fresh produce to our table. Our grocery bill has plummetted as a result - and we are eating healthier than ever!

With time available to us we have also researched and renegotiated improved contracts for electricity and gas, insurance etc. These all mean extra dollars in our pockets for our discretionary spending!

In our first year of retirement we have managed our money carefully - but not gone without anything we really wanted - and have enjoyed a very comfortable lifestyle as a result.

Surprise 6 - Getting to know each other again!

One of the loveliest surprises of the year has been just how wonderful it has been for John and I to spend so much time together.

We have found our road trips to be a great time and place for meaningful converations that move us forward as a couple - those long hours in the car serve us well!

Planning the week together - usually on Sunday evening - ensures that days don't just drift past, that we each give voice to our individual needs, and that we are getting things done.

To balance the time we are together we have supported each other in pursuing creative outlets. By giving each other the 'space' to do these things means we each have personal time to spend as we wish.
So far, as a result, neither of us has had cabin fever!

I'm looking forward to next year! There's so much to do - and a life in retirement to be lived really well! Bring on that challenge!

What has been your experience of retirement - where your first months similar to, or different from mine? I look forward to hearing from you!



NB: My thanks to my wonderful staff at Vale Park Primary School for the archival photos dug up and made into the posters that appeared on my door in those last memorable weeks of school!

Saturday, 23 November 2013

In My Retirement ... in November

Where I live

In My  Retirement ... in November I am enjoying the spectacular display put on by Adelaide's many glorious jacaranda trees! I just love them!

South Australia is celebrating Lonely Planet's announcement that Adelaide has been ranked in the world's top ten cities to visit in 2014. Please visit!

Upgrading the House

In My Retirement ... in November we have repaired the cracks in the kitchen. Our lovely old house was built in 1904 on shallow bluestone foundations. As a result of this - in combination with Adelaide's infamous reactive soils - we need to do repairs every few years. This was the year! Oh, the dust! Oh, the mess!


In My Retirement ... in November I have been tackling the hoarder in me! It's been a very cathartic process to have time sorting through the accumulated 'treasures' of the last three decades - and I've taken great pleasure in making so many donations to local charity groups that they must all be looking for larger premises as we speak!

Christmas Preparations

In My Retirement ... in November I've been able to begin the all important preparations of the Christmas pudding early! The dried fruit and almonds have been soaking in port ready for the cooking and maturing of the pudding - and it's still weeks before Christmas!

Special Moments

In My Retirement ... in November we have celebrated three family birthdays - husband John, mother-in-law Maria and grandson Mattie. Mattie blew the candles out for his great Yiayia!

Health and Wellbeing

In My Retirement ... in November I have undergone major surgery and am now recovering well at home thanks to the care and support of my family. This medical wedge was certainly worth the expense for the support and comfort it provided when sitting and sleeping. Can't wait to get back on my feet!


In My Retirement ... in November John and I have begun planning for next year. So much to do! So little time!

What have you been doing this month in your retirement - or planning towards your retirement?



Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Living Well in Retirement - 5 Top Planning Tips

'When the student is ready the master appears.' 
Buddhist proverb

Do you believe in fate or karma? I've had plenty of occasions in my life where I've had reason to believe in both - none more so than stumbling across this article as I rummaged through a pile of papers in my office this time last year.

Thoughts of retirement had been running through my head for a while - and John and I had been working on being financially ready for many years. The article 'Going...Going...Gone: Thoughts on Retirement' by Brian Hawkins and Carol Barone published in Educause Quarterly No 4 in 2008 challenged me to think more widely and deeply about my retirement plans.

Like many I had believed that a successful retirement was all about financial planning. Hawkins and Barone suggested otherwise. Their recommendation was for four plans to be in place - a financial plan, an activities plan, a recreation plan and medical plan.

John and I duely considered this - took the advice provided - and, almost one year on, I can share with you how these plans are working for us!

The Activities Plan - what our day, week, month, year, and even next year look like was an essential starting point for us! We felt 'all at sea' until I purchased a Year Planner where we recorded commitments, appointments, visits to family, AFL football games we would attend and the like. We scheduled and planned getaways, visits to our beach house, major tasks and projects around the house - with start and completion dates - and began developing some rhythmns, routines and patterns in our lives. Finally the time has come when we feel have control of  our lives - what we do, and when, why and how we do it! We are making the most of every day, and that that's a great feeling!

The Recreation Plan  - what we 'play at' or do to follow and grow our interests, develop new skills and keep the brain cells firing has been incredibly rewarding for each of us! John's passion is music and he has indulged this interest for several hours daily. He has found a mentor and teacher online and delights in showing off and sharing his new skills and learning at every opportunity. A keen golfer John is planning to make it onto the golf course one day soon! To date there hasn't been time for that!

I had long dreamed of writing a blog - so I now write two - 'The Living Well in Retirement Challenge' and 'Apricot Tart'. I have found participating in the blogging community very rewarding. Given a Canon EOS 650D for my birthday I am a beginning photographer having only ever taken photos with my iphone prior to this. We are both gaining great enjoyment engaging with and pursuing our passions! It truly is one of retirement's great rewards.

The Medical Plan - this is so important! In my retirement finally I have time to think about myself. I've had time to get my health on track - making significant lifestyle changes. These have included getting back into regular exercise, eating a healthy and tasty diet, reducing stress and fatigue and improving my mental health and wellbeing all round. I've lost weight, am fitter, stronger and more flexible - and I'm feeling great! We have also reviewed our medical insurance cover to ensure it reflects and meets our needs as we are getting older, as well as exploring and familiarising ourselves with our entitlements, as older Australians, under Medicare.

The Financial Plan - we have spent time with our financial planner and accountant in order to understand all the elements of our new financial situation. As we are new to retirement we have also set aside time each quarter to sit together to monitor and review our financial position, budgeting and cashflowing the next few months to ensure we are living within our new means. Like many we have been anxious about that old elephant in the room - 'Will we have enough money?'  I am pleased to report that this planned approach is working and we are able to make decisions and adjustments regarding finances that maximise the quality of our lifestyle.

Having enjoyed the lived experience of retirement for almost a year I would add one further plan to those suggested by Hawkins and Barone.

It's the Lifestyle Plan. Lifestyle decisions we have agonised over this year have included short and long term planning about where to live; what type of housing needs we have; vehicles - one or two, what type, would we keep the current cars or purchase new /secondhand vehicles;  where and when do we want to travel - within Australia and overseas; will we stay in motel/hotel accomodation, camp, caravan or motor home it. And always the bottom line - how will all of these big decisions affect our financial situation - short and long term.

But that's not all! There are a myriad of smaller lifestyle decisions to be considered and made. Things as diverse as 'getting to know each other again', what's for lunch, changed wardrobe, hair and beauty needs - the power suits and killer heels have gone - right through to technology needs necessary keep each of us in touch with and engaged with the world. And the list goes on!

Lifestyle planning has been the most complex and emotive of all the planning we have done - but is critically important. We are taking our time with this area. We can only spend our money once - and many of the decisions to be made are potentially expensive ones. We want to get them right for us!

At this point I would like to sincerely thank Brian Hawkins and Carol Barone for their insightful article - it has had  a huge impact on our retirement. They really proved to be 'the masters' who appeared as I, the student, was ready. I still have no idea of how that article came to be in my papers! Fate or karma perhaps?

To conclude, I have to say that the time spent on planning has assisted us to cope with the many changes we have faced and greatly reduced stress, anxiety and uncertainty we may have felt about the future.

Strengths of the process of planning have been that it has placed us firmly in control of our new present and future, given us a strong, unified sense of direction and has us feeling excited and optimistic about the possiblities and opportunites our new retirement lifestyle offers.

The first year in retirement is a big year! We're enjoying it!



PS: If you're lurking out there - talk to me! What is helping you to prepare for or manage your retirement? I'd love to hear and learn from your experience.

Thursday, 10 October 2013

In My Retirement ..... October

I'm back! After a break of three months during which I worked my way through some unexpected low times following my retirement - I'm feeling well again! I can't begin to tell you how wonderful that is!

Recently on my food blog Apricot Tart, I participated in a monthly series named 'In My Kitchen' hosted by Celia of Fig Jam and Lime Cordial. I so enjoyed reading the blog posts of  all the contributing bloggers,and contributing my own. It really got me thinking about the importance and value of sharing with others.

It has inspired me to begin a monthly series here documenting 'In My Retirement' as a way of celebrating the joys of retirement and the many positive changes it has bought to my life. Thanks so much for the inspiration, Celia!

For my inaugral post I have selected a range of diverse and flexible headings to start me on this journey of reflection and appreciation. What else would you add?

Where I live

In my retirement I live in one of the most livable cities in the world - beautiful Adelaide, South Australia. In October the roses everywhere are blooming - making Adelaide the 'Rose capital of Adelaide'. These roses ramble gloriously over our front fence.


In my retirement I'm finding time to spend in the garden. My wonderful husband has built me this raised garden bed in a previously non-productive area of the garden. I've planted thyme, basil, bush beans, capsicum, a chilli bush, an eggplant, silver beet and cucmbers in this small space! I'll let you know how they go!


In my retirement it is a pleasure not be tied to work timetables. We were able to secure really cheap plane flights to and from Melbourne flying off peak and with minimal luggage ie carry on luggage only!

Health and Wellbeing

In my retirement I have the time to really focus on improving my health. I have found personal training to be by far the most effective way to increase my aerobic fitness, strength and flexibility. My personal  trainers Nick and Sarah at InBody Health and Fitness have me work harder each week than I ever believed possible! I love it! It makes me feel alive, strong and young again!!!! Pictured is my current goal written on the goals board in their gym - I've just three kilos to go! I'm doing it!!!

Products and Services

With a less frantic lifestyle, in my retirement I'm going to try tri-focal glasses. I'm hoping I will no longer have to fumble around in my bag for three pairs of glasses - for reading, driving and sunnies.


In my retirement I have time to cook! Yesterday's healthy and tasty lunch was Hamburger with the lot! Served on toasted grainy bread the pork and veal patty I made was topped with bacon, caramelised onions, an egg, grated fresh carrot and beetroot and oakleaf lettuce fresh from the garden. The base was spread with tomato sauce while a dollop of tartare sauce was placed on top. It was so good!


In my retirement I'd like to say I'd been enjoying fine wine but I'm really working hard on losing those last hard to lose kilos - 5 of them! With no fuss at all this simple soda stream turns tap water into instant 'bubbles'! And that keeps me drinking water!!!


The luxury of spending fun filled time with our family is special in my retirement. I recently attended a beautiful brunch at Two Beans and a Farm, Mernda, Victoria. This sign in the carpark had me on high alert! Yes, I'm scared of those things!


In my retirement I'm finding my wardrobe needs are really different! I'm looking to replace the killer heels I wore to work with some stylish sandals!


In my retirement I've found that one of the things I can't go without is my monthly nail appointment. My natural nails crack and split and are just aweful, so it is one special indulgence I will allow myself.

Special Moment

 I loved this playdough person which the grandson who made it said was 'Granny'! I think the sparkling colours truly represent how I'm feeling in my retirement! I'm back to feeling great!

How's your October? I'd love to hear about it!



Sunday, 14 July 2013

The 5 People Key to Your Successful Retirement

The decision to retire is not necessarily an easy one. There are many critical decisions to be made pre and post retirement in order to meet the challenge of living well in retirement. 

The good news is that you do not have to make these decisions alone or uninformed - there are 5 people whose skills and expertise will be key to your living well in retirement!

The 5 people are your

  • doctor
  • dentist
  • chemist
  • accountant
  • financial planner.

Take the time to find good ones! 

The first three - your doctor, dentist and chemist will help you to live the healthiest life possible, assist you with addressing health issues and monitor your wellbeing. The last two will be key to managing your financial situation, ensuring that you make the most of your finances and take advantage of any government entitlements for which you may qualify.

Your Doctor

Your doctor will work with you to manage health issues - minor and major. You have time now to have regular check ups, ensure you have flu shots, and put effort into addressing and managing health issues like obesity and overweight, diabetes, high blood pressure and giving up smoking. 

Your quality of life will sky rocket as a result! You deserve that! Live well!

Your Dentist

If you are like many people - including me - you may have avoided regular visits to the dentist. Find a great dentist! They will diagnose, prevent and treat various diseases and conditions that affect our teeth and mouth - and overall health. 

Did you know that scientific evidence strongly suggests that poor oral health is linked to heart disease? Bacteria in your mouth can cause gum disease which in turn can put you at increased risk of heart disease. 

From my perspective - as someone who was previously terrified of dentists (sorry to any dentists out there) - treatments seem to have changed and improved remarkably in recent times to a point where I have overcome my fear of those six monthly check ups! Make that appointment right now!

Your Chemist

Why did I include your chemist you may be wondering? It's simple really - your chemist is in a position to monitor your medications in a way that your doctor is not. 

If you are being treated for a number of health issues and seeing more than one doctor or medical specialist each will be prescribing medications for the particular condition you are presenting to them with. One important area of your chemist's expertise is to understand and analyse how any medications you may be prescribed may interact with each other. 

Ask your chemist to review your medications and how they might be working together! They are in a position to talk to doctors if the case may be. Use them!

Your Financial Planner

Your financial planner will develop strategies to help you manage your financial affairs in a way that meets your life goals. 

Choosing the right financial planner is critical. They need to put your interests first - not the products for which they may be earning a great deal of commission. To get the best advice road test a few - we met with  five different financial planners before choosing one that was the best fit for us. Most offer a first obligation free visit. Provide the same information and ask the same questions of each - then choose wisely!

Importantly, never be rushed into or commit to a plan you don't understand or have some questions/uneasy feelings about. If it sounds too good to be true - BEWARE!

Your Accountant

Your accountant is key to assisting you building wealth. They have specialist knowledge in areas of taxation, taxation management and capital gains as well as compliance, succession planning and business structure analysis. 

In addition to managing our taxation and providing answers to our many financial questions we use the skills and expertise of our accountant - who works for a separate company - to peruse the work of our financial planner. This has left us feeling confident regarding the long and short term strategies our financial planner has developed for us - he has been very good indeed!

A last piece of advice! 

Use these key people and their expertise, but remain in charge - it's your money, your health, your retirement! So ensure that you
  • Schedule regular meetings with each - every 3 to 6 months is ideal - that keeps you in charge and on top of things.
  • Find professionals with whom you can develop a strong, positive and honest rapport.
  • Question, question, question! Ask questions like 'Why this and not that?' 'Can you explain...?'
  • Keep learning - it's a lifelong thing! Develop and continue to fine tune your own financial and health literacies.  
With each of these professionals working for you you should find yourself very much able to to meet the challenge of living well in retirement.

Enjoy every minute!

Monday, 24 June 2013

Retirement: Knowing When the Time is Right

A question I’ve been asked many times since I retired is 'How did I know the time was right?'

It was a combination of factors – personal, professional and financial - that led me to the realisation that the time was indeed right.

Let me set the context. I loved my job passionately – and still do. As the leader of my school I prided myself on the energy and passion I bought to school every day.  Supporting, inspiring and enabling every person in our school to make a real difference to the lives of the children we taught was my focus. Paramount, and underpinning this, was constantly nurturing and developing the strong school culture we had built while focussing always on school improvement. It really does fascinate me how calm schools look on the outside but how incredibly, insanely and intensely busy they are on the inside!

Because of my love for my work I had little time for other things – however I took a week’s Long Service Leave in in Term 4 last year to treat my wonderful husband to a week’s cruise to Noumea and Isle of Pines. It was our first cruise - a Country Music Cruise on Royal Carribbean’s Rhapsody of the Seas.  What a treat it was – nothing more to do than relax, be entertained and thoroughly enjoy ourselves! I can highly recommend it! We’ll be doing it again!

During the trip however I began to realise just how tired and deeply exhausted I was. Lying on a beautiful tropical island beach on Isle of Pines I began thinking about going back to work. It was Thursday – I would be back at work on Monday.

I was truly frightened by the realisation that my energy reserves were completely exhausted, and no amount of willing their return was having any effect. I realised that if I didn’t change something significant in my life my health was about to suffer. John and I had long talked about all the things we wanted to do together in our Golden Years – and I didn’t want to jeopardise those dreams.

So, like falling in love, the realisation hit me - overwhelmed me really - the time was right to retire!

Have I had any regrets? Not one!

Retirement has been everything, and more, that I dreamed it would be! The challenge of living well in retirement has well and truly begun - and what a fabulous challenge it is turning out to be!

PS: Apologies for the picture - but it was the only one of me laying on that beach making that life changing decision! It was important!!!

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

6 Top Tips for a Mini Vacation

One of the many joys of being retired is the ability to be flexible with most travel arrangements you need to make

  • where you go
  • when you go
  • how you get there
  • how long you stay - all the while being mindful of your budget.

John and I love car travel, and regularly travel from Adelaide to Melbourne and back to visit our son and his family, spoil our youngest grandson for a few days, go to the AFL football and do a spot of shopping in Australia's fashion capital!

While we worked this trip was always rushed, so for our most recent trip we decided to turn the drive into a mini, budget friendly vacation - an overnight stay somewhere along the way. Of the many possibilities our chosen destination this time was beautiful Hall's Gap tucked away in the Grampians National Park, a favourite place we've visited a number of times before.

We took the road that winds through the picturesque Wartook Valley. In the late afternoon light photo opportunities abounded. Mountain views, mobs of kangaroos and old derelict buildings wreaking of history gave me, a learner photographer, scope for numerous great shots. Well, a few good shots and lots of snaps - like I said - I'm a novice at this photography business!

Tip 1

  • Take a camera and experience a whole new view of the world. You really do look differently at familiar landscapes when you have a camera in your hand. Through the lens even familiar things seem unique, interesting and photo worthy.

Using apps on my iPad I researched local accommodation choices. Fortunately the #1 rated motel matched our budget and cost only $99.00 for the night. For this we got a warm friendly country welcome from motel staff, a clean, comfortable room and ensuite, kangaroos bounding around the motel grounds and kookaburras to wake us up in the morning.

Tip 2

  • Use technology to get the best deals on accommodation. I make comparisons, checking ratings and reading reviews before making my decision, and have not been disappointed yet.

Once settled in a quick tour of the town eateries showed we were spoiled for choice for dinner. We finally chose a busy little cafe a short walk from our motel. The friendly staff, promising menu, interesting wine and beer list (comprising only local labels), and live entertainment provided by an open mike session influenced our choice! We knew we were on a winner when locals began arriving for food and entertainment, and were not disappointed. We had a fantastic night that cost us just over $100.00!

Tip 3

  • Choose a friendly, busy, happening place - especially one the locals patronise - for good value and an enjoyable night out.

Next day we were awakened to a glorious morning by those resident kookaburras cackling in the gum trees. We decided not to rush off to Melbourne, instead taking the time to explore some of the local attractions.

We had driven past a sign to the Wonderland car park on the way in the previous evening, and intrigued by the name, decided to start there. Oh my! We took the shorter of the walks on offer and after crossing Stoney Creek took the path that veered left and climbed through the impressive Grand Canyon. The scenery was magnificent and the bush walk a most wonderful way to spend a couple hours on a Friday morning.

This walk confirmed that making full use of our gym membership is a very good thing!

Tip 4

  • Look after your health! If you need to - get fit, keep fit, lose excess weight. Walking can take you to breath-taking places - and it's free!

Back in the car park we chatted to a friendly tour guide waiting for the last of his tour group to return. He told us that the Little Desert National Park - easily accessed from various spots along the highway we travel between Adelaide and Melbourne - was well worth a visit.

Now I must admit we have seen, and ignored, those signs for years - but with some time up our sleeve on the way home decided to make a quick visit, as the park is only ten kilometres out of Dimboola.

Wow! What a surprise was in store for us! The scenic Wimmera River bordered by massive River Red gums flows lazily through this section of the park, wildlife and birdlife abounds, with an appropriate licence you can fish, and yes, the park is sandy! Tracks leading off into the scrub would tempt four wheel drivers, and walks of various lengths beckon campers and bush walkers. Who knew!

We're planning to go back sometime soon to camp for a few days. I can smell the campfire now!

Tip 5

  • Talk to fellow travellers - they have stories to tell of places worth visiting!

We certainly packed a lot of little adventures into each memorable leg of our drive. We arrived home as invigorated as if we had been away for a week or two - but with a budget more intact!

Tip 6
You don't need a great deal of money or time to have a memorable mini vacation!

Had a wonderful mini vacation experience? What tips would you add!

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Magic Mondays!

Now that I have retired there is something quite magical about that most denigrated day of the week - Monday!

I am no longer at the mercy of the shrill shriek of the alarm. No longer is breakfast a rushed affair of toast and vegemite and a cup of instant coffee. I do not need - before I close the front door - to run through the mental checklist of handbag, makeup case, phone, glasses, lunch, computer, planning journal plus the myriad of papers and other items I had bought home to work on over the weekend. I no longer need to navigate the morning peak hour traffic. I do not have dozens of email to check, and I do not need to attend one single meeting!

These have been replaced with the still guilty pleasure of sleeping in a little. Upon rising I enjoy a leisurely cooked breakfast and a real coffee. My current favourite breakfast is perfectly poached eggs served with wilted spinach flavoured with spring onion and dill, on a slice of toasted homemade bread. This John and I eat outside in the garden enjoying every perfect morning that comes along - and there have been a lot lately! To start the week on a heady mix of sweat and feel good endorphins we head off for a workout at the gym. The rest of the day is then ours to do with what we wish!

It hit me like a flash the other day -  there are 52 Mondays to enjoy each year! How about that as a challenge!

Is it any wonder that these days I just love the magic of Mondays!!! 

PS:  See the recipe on my other blog Apricot Tart http://apricottart.blogspot.com.au/.

Monday, 6 May 2013

Letting Go!

I received notification - via a form letter - from DECD last week advising me that my retirement had been approved. Today I saw that my position as Principal has been advertised. This means that someone will be appointed within the next few weeks to take up my job – the one I poured my heart and soul into for 13 years - from the beginning of next year.

Seeing all this in black and white – well, it was certainly a moment for reflection!

The outcome - not for a heartbeat do I doubt that I have made a wrong decision. The time was right for me. Yes, I miss the fabulous people I had the privilege to work with and lead, together with our amazing students and their families. They were the reason I went to work every day armed with the determination to do the very best that I could - it was such a great privilege to serve our school community for so many years.

I know I am not irreplaceable – I learnt a long time ago that if you put a hand in bucket and take it out it does not leave a hole! All that’s left is a little ripple!

I have the opportunity now to redirect my drive, passion, energy and enthusiasm into the things I have never had the time to do – spend time with my wonderful family including three gorgeous grandsons, to be creative, learn new things, cook up a storm on a regular basis, create a haven for the fairies in our garden, travel and explore unknown places, explore my creative side through photography, read until I fall asleep and reach out to the world through my blogs.

Yes, it’s my time now! 

Sunday, 5 May 2013

About Retirement - My Most Frequently Asked Question

When catching up with family, friends, colleagues and acquaintances I have been amazed that the first question most frequently asked of me has been not ‘How are you?’ but ‘What’s it (retirement) like?’

My reply - ‘Delicious!’ It feels and tastes AMAZING, sweet, delectable…. delicious! Of all the wonderful words in the English language this one seems to best sum up what it's been like for me - and I can’t recommend it (retirement) enough!

The luxury of not being dictated to by the clock is, I believe, one of life’s greatest indulgences. I can read, pin on Pinterest (you can follow me! I am Marian Paleologos and found on Pinterest at http://pinterest.com/marianep/) or watch movies - until late, really late if I choose! I can wake up naturally each morning – usually somewhere between 8.30 and 9.00am, rather than reach for the dreaded 6.00am alarm.

John and I have enjoyed long lazy healthy home-cooked lunches under the brolly in the garden – which beats hands down bolted lunches – often of a dubious nature - on the run at work. I’ve been able to dust off the cookbook collection and try some new recipes. I really do love cooking!

If we want to hit the road - we can! If we want to drive in any direction for any amount of time – we can! This has generated another challenge for us – vehicles. We are currently reviewing our needs – I’ll keep you posted!

While we have time on our hands and can choose to use it as we wish an unexpected challenge has been keeping track of days! Having lived a life determined by the patterns of the school year I was surprised to find that I felt ‘all at sea’ without its structure. Tell me it’s Week 2 Term 2 and I know exactly where I am in the year. I’m struggling with knowing just the date and month – that doesn’t tell me anything – at least not yet!

I’m sure we’ll develop our own rhythms and routines as time goes by – until then the year planner I purchased from Officeworks is doing the trick!

Thursday, 2 May 2013

The First 100 Days

What a roller coaster ride the first 100 days of my new life have been!

The first heady weeks were a whirl of excitement, travel, drinking Moet on the deck of our Coffin Bay beach house and ticking one item off my bucket list – driving to Tamworth in northern New South Wales to attend the amazing Tamworth Country Music Festival. Held in January just as school goes back I had promised my husband John – an avid country music fan – that we would go the first year  I retired! It was certainly worth waiting for, surpassing all our expectations!

I felt elation, optimism and relief as I soaked up and enjoyed my first days of freedom – and also just a little bit guilty to be enjoying myself so much. I was running on adrenaline – there was so much to do!

I was completely unprepared therefore to wake up one morning to new feelings – of overwhelming tiredness and lethargy. My energy levels had plummeted to zero, my spark had completely gone. I was depressed. I had trouble sleeping. It was evident that I needed rest – both physical and mental.

Good books, the beach, sun and an understanding husband and family have got me through this. My batteries are recharging – and I’ve got plans! You can’t keep a good woman down for long!

The challenge of living well in retirement has begun!

Tuesday, 9 April 2013


Welcome to my blog - The Living Well in Retirement Challenge!

My name is Marian and I am currently transitioning to retirement after many years of working as a school principal.  My work - about which I remain absolutely passionate - was always challenging, often stressful, required long hours and my total commitment. I gave it my all and do not regret a single minute!

Deciding to retire has been the single most challenging career decision I have ever had to make! And, once that decision had been made daily questions and challenges have needed to be faced - some expected, others unexpected - but all important.

Please join me in my journey as I share with you the challenges of embracing a new lifestyle and the next exciting chapter of my life! I am joined in this quest of living well in retirement by my wonderful husband John.

I get the feeling that it's an interesting road ahead!