Living in Tomorrowland

I have a long time to work before I could consider retirement—around 20 years—and I probably won’t be able to afford to retire then anyway. I’ve always hated the word “retirement”, and thought it would never apply to me.

Instead, I’ve decided that I’m not going to wait until I retire to do the stuff a lot of people take up at that time. I’m going to somehow find the time to do it now.

Two years ago, I took up painting. Instead of sitting in front of the TV in the early evening, I now get out my easel and paints, or whatever other medium I’m using. I’ve just started an online art course from the London Art College, and I hope this will help me improve.

In the two years since I started my new hobby , I have completed more than 40 paintings. Except for the last month, when long work hours have had to take precedence, I’ve painted on about five nights a week. You can see lots of my work on other posts of this blog tagged “art”. The pictures at the top of my blog pages are all detail from paintings I’ve done, too. Here’s a charcoal drawing I did recently:

© Caron Eastgate Dann, 2013

Charcoal drawing by Caron Eastgate Dann, featuring the first native-American ballerina, Maria Tallchief, as Firebird for the New York City Ballet in 1949. The reference was a black & white photograph in the 1987 book Ballerina, by Mary Clarke & Clement Crisp.

The Retiring Sort, a blogger I follow who has just celebrated her first anniversary free of work, has issued Future Challenge – Enjoying the Fun Stuff to ask bloggers to consider what they would like to do in the future or in retirement, no matter what age they are now. I think it’s a worthy topic to think about, whether you’re 20, 40, 60, 80 or older.

I say that the future is here and you shouldn’t put off these things to some far-off time when you will be “retired”. I’ve known people who have then missed out on their greatest desires, because in the meantime they’ve become ill or even died, or their circumstances have changed (such as having to become carers for grandchildren, for example).

The thing is, we never know what we’ll be able to do in future and how long we’ll be able to do it for.

One of my other ambitions was to write a blog. I had been introduced to this world by my friend Kenny at Consider the Sauce, and I wanted to try it. Despite being paid to write all my adult life, I shook off the shackles of professionalism and jumped in to the blogosphere…and here I am.

Of course, we are all time poor, and it’s hard to find time to do the basics, such as cleaning and maintenance, let alone the fancy stuff. It’s amazing though, how it is possible to find this time if you have to. Here are some ideas for clawing back some time:

*Cook in a more simple way. Not every meal has to be a “recipe”. Even if you have guests, as a friend of mine advises: “Throw some steaks on the barbecue, make a salad and bake some potatoes in the oven. They all love it”. Provided they’re not vegetarians, of course. I have lots of simple but wholesome meals I can do in a jiffy. Here’s another: slice some zucchini and fry gently in olive oil until brown on both sides; throw in some garlic and chopped fresh chilli (optional) towards the end of frying; meanwhile, boil some pasta until al dente. Combine the two, season with salt and pepper, and serve with parmesan and parsley. Sometimes I add low-fat salami to the zucchini.

*Watch less TV. I even stopped watching the news closely on some nights, though it is still on in the background. I found that the TV news wasn’t telling me anything new that I hadn’t read on line already.

*When you are watching TV, get up EVERY ad break and do something. I often paint in the ad breaks. It’s amazing how a dabble here and a dabble there can turn into a painting eventually.

*Get off line. Limit your Facebook and other internet access to certain times of the day. I do not always practise what I preach here.

*If you take public transport, get a tablet computer and use part of the commute time to send emails and so on.

*If you drive to work, consider swapping to public transport. I did that this year.  Even though I have to take two trains and a bus to work most days, it takes about the same time all up as driving. The huge benefit, besides being cheaper, is that the time is my own, so I use it to read books—I can get up to 50 pages a day read—and to do my emailing and keep up with social networking.

I really want to finish writing my second novel, too. I don’t like to write at night, so somehow I’m going to have to find the time to do that. I’m thinking that less TV late at night would be the smart thing to do so that I could go to bed earlier, get up earlier on the days I’m not working, and get that novel written.

But I really like staying up late when it’s not a work night. So, I have a decision to make, don’t I?

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7 thoughts on “Living in Tomorrowland

  1. Totally agree Caron – seen too many people save up all life’s exciting stuff for retirement – then be too old or sick to do it. Or die.
    I took up saxophone 4-5 years ago and love it.
    Went back to art classes after enjoying it at school (your charcoal sketch is lovely; nice shading).
    Did some travelling with family – and some without.
    Learnt Russian. A bit, anyway.
    Now gardening is taking up much of my time.
    There is so much to learn and so much enjoyment to be had from the learning.
    Still enjoy writing – every feature is a learning curve, every person’s story fascinating.
    But now there are too many things in my life and, with a husband who gets up at 6am, can’t stay up too late doing them.
    So maybe I should retire?

    • How fabulous to take up the saxophone—one of my favourite instruments—and all the other things you have been doing. Thanks for your kind comments on my sketch. Well, I’m the one getting up at 6am at the moment, while my husband, newly retired from his career as a journalist, waves me goodbye as I trudge off to the train. Lucky him!

  2. What a wonderful attitude! I love your guidelines – and I applaud your ability to just get right to doing the things you love. Your drawing is beautiful. I have a niece who, with the support of her husband (and 2 small boys), is making her painting a career. For about a year she has been seriously showing her work and will have her own show this week. I am in awe of her dedication and professionalism, as I am in awe of you. Stay at it! (And thanks so much for the pingback!) 😉

  3. Hi Caron, found you through The Retiring Sort – love this post! Great reminder to live fully and do what you enjoy NOW. Beautiful charcoal sketch, and it sounds like your painting is a real passion. Keep it up!

    • Thank you. Yes, I have to remind myself, as much as anyone else, to do things just for me. That’s why I like art so much. I did a bit at school, but have always thought I wasn’t very good at it. I think as you get older, you are more patient, and now I will sit at a piece and, if it’s the forgiving medium of acrylics, for example, paint over it 15 times until it’s right.

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