Friday, January 9, 2015

Dreaming up the ideal life

At Crossroads Winery in Hawke's Bay.  I was driver and expert wine sniffer.

Bonjour and happy new year to you!  I am back at work now after a petite Christmas holiday.  It’s lovely and warm here in New Zealand and summer is definitely showing her sun-kissed face.

Since we went all out for our Hawaii trip last Christmas, we kept it a bit more budget-friendly and close to home this year.  My darling and I embarked on a road trip that took us to Havelock North in Hawke’s Bay where I grew up, then down to the city of Wellington for a few nights and finally we stopped in Martinborough, a bijou wine-growing district.  Our entire trip was around 2,000km/1,250 miles and our final day we did almost 700km/435 miles!  I haven’t driven that far in a long time (well, been a passenger that far in a long time).

Going out for dinner in Wellington, wearing my Banana Republic coat-dress.

Despite the travel, our holiday was extremely relaxing and I read a few good books (including A Paris Apartment by Michelle Gable, which I did not want to end).  Following on from my last post on the importance of a good routine, well, I did get out of routine a little.  How can you not when you are away from home and doing different things and staying in different towns.

I enjoyed the walks I took but admit I did rather over-indulge in treat foods.  Oh well, you have to do it every now and again to re-remember that yes, it might seem fun at the time but no, you still feel as unwell afterwards as you did the other times you did it…

Whilst I was out on one of my walks I got to thinking about life.  What I thought about is that we spend most of our time working in a job, saving up money and paying off a house (if we’re lucky), so we can sit back in retirement and enjoy our hard work.  That’s if we are still alive or in good enough physical shape to take advantage of our free time.

Before I got myself too depressed, I got onto a different track.  Yes, we all work hard (whether it’s paid employment or not) and hope there is a payoff at the end of all that work, but that creates all the more reason to enjoy ourselves during our working life and not save up all the fun for ‘one day’.

We stayed at the Intercontinental in Wellington and it was very modern and luxe.

So I began to think of all the things I dream of doing one day when I’m retired and have all the time and money in the world (wouldn’t that be nice).

The retirement me will be fit, slim and healthy because I have been committed to a lifestyle of nutritious food and regular exercise for a long time.

I might even have a light tan from daily potterings in the garden.  Because the retirement me will be doing things such as weeding small areas at a time and tidying plants as I see them, we can enjoy park-like surrounds (that might be stretching it but it’s nice to have a goal) on a daily basis.  When I’m out walking it is so obvious the cared-for homes and gardens.  It’s not necessarily lots of money, but 'little and often' time spent on maintenance.

I also imagine our home being clean, tidy and organised.  We will live in a place that is just the right size for us, and, I hope it is rural.  In Martinborough we stayed in a tiny one-room cottage and it was so peaceful with no neighbours nearby, and a big open sky.

This very cute little fox terrier came over to greet us (from the main house on the property) on our first night in Martinborough.  She didn't make a peep and was such a honey.  I love terriers.

Naturally my retirement wardrobe will be a user-friendly and stylish collection of clothing in colours and shapes that flatter me, as I will have honed my style over the years.  I think I am closing in on that style now actually, although I did the amateur’s mistake of taking way too much with me on our trip.  I did the same in Hawaii.  That really is a skill I have to learn, but I go away so infrequently so can I use that as an excuse?

The ideal/dream/retirement me is a writer.  How can I make that a reality?  By writing daily and seeing how I can progress that.

Our cute cottage in Martinborough.  It's called Puha Palace, such a great name.

So that’s my vision of retirement, but really, what is stopping me from having and doing all these things right now?  Of course I have the small thing called ‘working in a shop five days a week’ but surely I can work around this and make, as Tonya Leigh says ‘the journey to the dream as beautiful as the dream itself’.

It just takes a little dreaming and planning.  

How do you picture yourself spending your golden years?  And if you are already retired, does the reality match up to how you imagined it would be?  I would be interested to hear.


  1. Hi Fiona, I'm an Australian who has retired to live in the south west of France. My husband and I talked about doing this for 15 years and eventually we made it happen. Not only are we discovering a different culture, we are learning a new language and redesigning our lives. We have our weekly language class,I am learning to watercolour paint, my husband has taken up golf again and also joined the local rugby club. We have started our own vegetable patch and experiment with new recipes. We have made lots of new friends from a broader base than we would have had in Australia and I write a blog for family and friends which requires lots of photos. Time races by but we feel more relaxed and happier than in our past life.Have a dream for your retirement , don't let it just happen to you.

  2. Fiona, you are looking so very chic and slim! I'm glad you're including more photos of yourself and your world on the blog; It's fun to see how you are "walking the talk" when it comes to living a stylish life.

    Retirement is something we're thinking about a lot here, and we're starting to make a solid plan to create the ideal retirement we've always dreamed of. It's still a ways off, but time passes so quickly that one can never start planning early enough. I love that your retirement plans include a healthy body and lifestyle - so many people just focus on the money and find their retirement plagued by poor health and medical bills.

  3. After having been retired for three years, I find that retirement life has it positives and negatives just like working life. My passion is for travel and for experiencing different cultures. In the last three years, I have lived in Europe (mostly Paris) for 11 months. Unfortunately, my husband does not want to travel as much and has abandoned his efforts to learn another language. My body is not as slim as I would wish but I am healthy and can walk for 5 or 6 hours a day. Like you, I have always wanted to write. I have been blogging for two years and have recently finished a course in writing children's books. I am working with an editor but as with blogging sometimes the ideas just don't flow. Retirement is not perfect. I find myself missing the day to day experience of being an educator and so I teach French to a friend. I will be volunteering in Mexico later this year. My father has passed away since my retirement and my mother relies upon me for company. I have a definite travel priority for the first 5 years of retirement and at 65 will scale it back to spend more time at home. You seem to have a sound retirement dream and you are laying the ever so important groundwork now. Good luck and you do look lovely and healthy right now. Enjoy!

  4. As you say, it's important not to put off everything for the 'one day', and, instead try to do as much as you can to weave in the enjoyable parts of life.

    I saw up close with my father how even the best laid plans can go awry as he died just before he retired, never having done some of the 'fun' things he put off in favour of keeping his nose to the grindstone. And that, even though he was the most health-conscious and athletic person I knew.


  5. I wholeheartedly agree with Anonymous above. I, too, lost my dad just before he was to retire. He worked so hard all his life and sacrificed so much for 'one day'. Now, he is not here to reap the rewards of all his hard work and my mother is left a lonely widow who has never completely recovered from his death.

    I approach this as a cautionary tale of how to live life to the fullest. I do however think it's sometimes a struggle to find the balance - on one hand enjoying life to the fullest, taking the trips, treating ourselves and rejoicing in every day, while on the other hand not being too frivolous or irresponsible with our money and time and planning for the future.


  6. I am retired and am busier than I ever imagined...I thought retirement meant slowing down but I have amped it up!
    Having grand children is one of the best things that has happened to me and I love being able to see them regularly...our garden is large and requires a lot of attention so I have hired a fellow who comes once a month to do the heavy work. It is a luxury to go outside and pick fresh flowers for the house! Keep that garden dream alive as working outside is good exercise.
    Writing was a dream of mine too and that is why I have a blog. I am going to Patis this spring to fulfill a lifelong dream....isn't it wonderful that there are so many opportunities available to us ?

  7. Hi Fiona,
    I really do love reading your blog and find you to be a very inspiring and delightful person.
    I always find that the best way to pack for holidays (although easier for a long weekend than a week or more) is to have a list of outfits I plan to wear as I can then mix and match items so that I need to take less and layer items up as needed depending on how the weather turns out.
    I also always add a few basic spares to my list of cover the unexpected as well as what make up and hair products I need and also what hobbies I wish to take with me such as books, knitting projects etc.
    I have a basic list saved on my Macbook so that it never takes me too long to work out what I need and I save previous lists so that I can reflect on past trips too.
    I hope this advice may be helpful to either yourself or fellow readers of your wonderful blog.
    Very best wishes,
    Hannah x

  8. Helen - my mother also had a very tough time after my father died and it really affected her life in retirement although she was very much a child of the "Keep Calm and Carry On" generation.

    It is tough to find the balance. I know I veered the other way a bit for one period of my life, choosing to live in the moment more (more, more!) rather than make sacrifices for the future; it was partly a reaction to what happened to my dad.

    I'm looking for that balance and getting closer, and I find that following Fiona's blog (along with a couple of others) has helped me find a sweet spot.


  9. Kerrie, thank you for your comment. I have visited your blog before and adore it. Your lifestyle sounds idyllic but I know it would have taken a lot of planning and dreaming, and one day just taking the plunge. You are an inspiration!

    KBG, thank you! I agree with you that one can never start planning early enough. The more I look around, the more I believe the saying 'the first wealth is your health'. Even if you've saved up lots of money and have a happy relationship, if you don't have your health... It's a good reminder for me.

    Madame La-Bas, your retirement is so full! I admire that you take yourself off to Paris even if your husband doesn't wish to go. Many women would not do that (I don't know if I could). Best wishes for your children's book writing!

    Alison, I'm sorry to hear about your father. That really is rotten luck isn't it? You just never know when your time is up, even if you keep yourself healthy. I think a lot of us are looking for the perfect balance (and it is a balancing act, you teeter more one way than the other and then back again), and I also gain a ton of motivation from my favourite blogs.

    Helen, I'm sorry to hear of your father also. It's so sad for the one who never had a chance to live his retirement, but also devastating for the one left behind without a retirement companion.

    Leslie, your retirement is such an inspiration to me. Your life is so busy and joyful. And Paris! Not long to go now. I agree, we are so lucky to have so many fun things around us to choose from.

    Hannah, thank you so much for your wonderful packing tips. I've truly never thought about it this way. Because our latest trip was city/country and hot/warm/cooler, I thought to be safe I'd just take everything. Your way sounds much more sane. I can't wait to try it out! Merci!

  10. This post really resonated with me. After a very tough couple of years I am trying to rebalance my life in 2015 and am looking forward to finding the joy in simple pleasures once more. I am a lot better at 'living in the moment' than I was, and at trying to find something special in each day. The stories from other commentators make me appreciate this approach even more, since it would be so sad to save up all enjoyment in life for a point that could be far in the future, or might not ever arrive.

    I love packing for trips, and spend time thinking about what I'll be doing and planning the perfect outfits for each occasion. I try and have a limited colour palette, so that things mix and match as much as possible. I find that way I get the most wear out of whatever I take. Comfortable yet stylish shoes are always crucial as well! I really enjoyed the photos of your trip. It's good to see the sunshine. Here it's midwinter, so we've had some beautiful frosty days.

  11. I retired 3 years ago and since then have had the opportunity to travel(North Carolina, Ireland, Germany, Austria and Switzerland.) I am looking forward to more travel in the future. I, too, have had the time and opportunity to spend time with my grandchildren, both here in New York and in Massachusetts. I also began to learn guitar, something I had begun as a young girl and had to quit. And I've been participating in an interval aerobics class that has introduced me to some wonderful retirees.

    The only thing that bothers me is that I sometimes feel a bit selfish and hedonistic, that I should be doing something meaningful. I just can't seem to find an endeavor that piques my interest.

  12. What an important question that most working people never ask themselves. I haven't seriously pondered what my retired self will be doing, but now I'm inspired to start dreaming about it and figure out if I can focus less on work now so I can enjoy life more.

  13. Hi there, as a woman who has had an unexpected addition to our family at 49 and am now 52 retirement seems to be no longer on our radar now having to bring up another child when my "last" one finishes high school this year. My husband will be 75 when this child is 18 and I will be 68 so our priority is now our health so we can get to these ages fit and well and then we will "retire"! As usual with me my life plans never go to plan, I have found out that the universe always has other plans for my life! So I have let a lot of things go and let the universe direct me these days! Love your blog and the inspiration you give to us all! Catherine from Aust.

  14. Hi Fiona. I have been retired for 5 years and am busier than ever although not as stressed. We play tennis twice a week, go to the gym 3 times a week. Tramp or cycle the other 2 days. We imported a motorhome in to New Zealand 5 years ago and we swap that with people from around the world. It is great fun and we spend the NZ winter touring Europe, meeting wonderful people and experiencing all the different cultures.

  15. Fleur, thank you for your candid comment, and I agree, the comments on this post especially are wonderful and so insightful. Thank you also for your packing tips. Wishing you a fabulous 2015!

    Kristien, I love the sound of your retirement with travel, companionable group exercise and even a musical instrument. I know exactly how you feel regards selfishness as I often feel the same way - that I should be doing more to help others. That feeling often pops up when I'm doing something that I've planned and saved up for strange as it sounds.

    Stephanie, you have an exciting and life-changing time coming up. Preparation is a good idea to ease the transition. The saying goes that one can never have too much preparation (of course most of us don't heed that advice...).

    Catherine Lynn, thank you for sharing. I've heard that if you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans. And it's so true!

    Sonia, your retirement makes me envious! What a fun and active time you are having. You are an inspiration.


Merci for your comment. Wishing you a chic day!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...