The Rule of Threes

I was telling a friend of mine recently that I divide my post-retirement life in threes these days. I try to live every day with some combination of all three of these. And I work hard at living one day at a time. Trying not to worry about the future or lose myself in the past.

Here are my three primary time-spent buckets:

  1. I want to create
  2. I want to be informed
  3. I want to be entertained


Whether it’s writing, taking or organizing photos, painting, drawing, or working on a project with one of my friends, I want to keep myself alive by creating something original. Creativity is my most satisfying activity. Even if I’m the only one who reads my stories or appreciates my art, it’s an incredibly healthy endeavor.

Being Informed

I want to be current on the news of the day. Every morning before I get out of bed, I read HCR’s overnight letter and any top news that I may have missed overnight or the previous day. Throughout the day, I will read articles, blog posts, and social media commentary. At night, I make sure to watch the news. My preference is the PBS NewsHour, but I’ll watch MSNBC too. At night, I fall asleep listening to a podcast, usually political analysis or foreign policy.

Being Entertained

I’ve appreciated the nearly unlimited time I have to watch streaming series and movies. I will occasionally go out to hear live music or to a show too. I absolutely love the time I have now to READ. Not just non-fiction too, but fiction! I even joined a book club at the library. After a career of always grinding out the hustle, it feels so good to relax with a good book or to watch a great, mindless series.

Of course, I waste time scrolling through social media and leaving comments for my friends. I also enjoy cooking and working on my weight loss plan. I do serve on a couple boards too, so there is a lot of activity to keep me busy.

Once COVID slides back to a manageable level of risk, I will probably want to travel to see my kids and grandkids too. But for now, I’m content. That’s about the best you can hope for in retirement.

The Long Game

It’s the day after Christmas. I was going through my old photos of Europe. I found this old unretouched one. It not only brought back a fond memory; it reminded me of why I took the photo in the first place. I wanted to preserve the moment to inform my future self.

This photo was taken on the lawn in back of the Eiffel Tower. You can see my teenage son napping on the lawn in a fetal position in the background.

It was the spring of 2012. I was living in Austin at the time with my son who was a Sophomore in high school. My daughter was studying in Paris enrolled in NYU’s prestigious semester abroad program. Every spring, the second week of March turned the city of Austin into a carnival. One of the country’s best festivals took place downtown: SXSW. Pre-pandemic, SXSW brought hundreds of thousands of festival goers to the Texas Capital. But, if you were an Austin resident, it was chaos and the traffic was more-than-usual insufferable.

I knew someone, okay a rich guy, who had a flat in Paris that he allowed his friends to use when he was not in town. I figured I had nothing to lose by asking if he would allow me to stay there, so I could have a nice Paris holiday with my kids, and avoid the SXSW madness. To my surprise, he did.

I remember exactly when I took this photo. My son was predictably acting like a moody teenager and expressing his indifference to our Parisian excursion. My daughter was happy to see us, and loved staying in the million dollar flat off of the Champs-Élysées. For about a week, we could pretend we lived a different life.

But the fact that we were all together in Paris, my son was well on his way to his own college journey, and my daughter was going to graduate with honors from NYU was a remarkable achievement.

I took this selfie to remind me… IT GETS BETTER.

I had come so far in my life, and I wanted to remind myself that even in times where it looks like there is no hope and no way out, you never know what the future holds. In nearly every circumstance when I’ve hit a low, the successive highs have been demonstrably better.

Life is a long game. Hold out for the upside. Even if you only see it sometimes in the rear-view mirror.

Saying Goodbye to my Life Partner

The end is coming soon. Mouse, my BFF, is 14 years old. The vet told me she has a mass on her heart, and there is nothing they can do. I just have to try to keep her comfortable.

Mouse arrived on my doorstep in 2007. It was a turbulent time in our life. My husband and I had just divorced months before, and the whole family was struggling to adjust to our new life.

A tiny baby kitten, The Mouse* simply, “arrived.” There was no indication how she got there, or where her mother was, or any clues about who she was. My son, who was 11 at the time said, “Mouse is a gift from God.”

Of course, we took her in and fed her. We noticed she walked with a limp. She did not have use of one of her hind legs. The vet said she had nerve damage and that he could amputate her leg, but he recommended we wait and see what happens as she grows.

Mouse grew healthy and strong as a young cat. Yet, she walked with a limp, and therefore could be labeled, “disabled.” But her disability never got in her way. She would jump 6-ft fences, and run around the house oblivious that she had a physical handicap.

Somewhere along the way, I realized Mouse and I shared that in common. I, too, had a lifelong disability, but it didn’t prevent me from enjoying my life and pursuing the fun things I wanted to do.

Mouse and I have been on a long journey together. She has been at my side moving from NJ to Texas; seeing my kids graduate high school; moving from Texas to Florida; seeing the kids graduate college; moving from Florida to South Dakota. She’s comforted me through many difficult transitions.

She has really been the only sentient being that has been anchored in my life. Always present; always loyal. Never asking too much and giving her love freely.

As her small spirit travels back to where it miraculously came from, I will miss her dearly and continue to be grateful for her loving presence all these years.

Sweet , amazing, very best friend. Thank you for a life well-lived.

*My daughter Amie, who nursed her as a baby, named her formally, “The Mouse.”

Update: I found this photo when she first arrived. It’s dated July 13, 2006. That means she is 15, not 14. It also means she arrived weeks after the divorce. A gift, indeed.

Sweet baby.