Preparing for Retirement: Know Who You Are

Not Pretending is proud to introduce our first Guest Author: Boyd Lemon.

Boyd Lemon is the author of Retirement: A Memoir and Guide (2012), which guides readers on the path to a happy and fulfilling retirement.


Planning for Retirement: Know Who You Are

By Boyd Lemon

To live a happy and fulfilling retirement, you must discover a passion to pursue, something to do that provides a purpose for your life.  You cannot discover your passion unless you know who you are.  Most of us have heard the famous command attributed to Socrates, “Know thyself.” However, have you struggled, as I did, to understand exactly what he meant, or, like many, did you promptly forget it after the final exam in Philosophy 101? Socrates may have meant something different from the modern equivalent that I have heard most of my life: know who you are, be who you are—in question form, do you know who you are? Even the modern version of the question sounded, like much of philosophy, especially this “new age” stuff, too vague and complicated to understand. A few years ago I got it. I don’t remember how or what the circumstances were, but the answer hit—and turns out to be quite simple when you get a little more specific.

Knowing who you are essentially means knowing what, to you, is important and what unimportant, knowing what makes you feel that you are doing something worthwhile, what you like and dislike, what interests you and what does not, what you want out of life, and what makes you happy, fulfilled, competent, esteemed, sad, frustrated, angry, or inadequate. It is knowing those needs and wants and dislikes that make you a unique human being, different from anyone else.

One would think that, by the time we reach retirement age, we would know who we are. Most of us don’t. We have been accommodating other people and various situations for so long that who we really are has been buried beneath the surface of the someone else that we have been trying to be—what society, schools, employers, spouses, friends and others have demanded of us. The real, authentic person is not dead, just dormant. We must know and revive this authentic person to lead a fulfilling retirement.

I knew, but could not articulate, who I was when I was a small child, before authenticity was drummed out of me. When I watched my two-year-old grandson, there was no doubt in my mind that he knew exactly what was important to him, what he liked and disliked, what interested him and what did not, what made him happy, and so forth. Between the age of two and retirement, most of us lose that knowledge of who we are. We take on responsibilities to others and forget about our responsibility to ourselves. As a result, as we approach retirement age, many of us have no idea what we want out of life or what truly appeals to us.

The idea of experiencing life like a two-year old sees it with the maturity of one who has lived for six or seven decades is glorious beyond belief, and it is within our grasp.

For me the process of discovering the authentic me wasn’t easy, and it didn’t happen quickly. It took time and effort, and that effort never ends. Part of the wonder is that we continue to learn new things about ourselves as long as we keep trying. Once we know who we are, to be fulfilled, we must love and accept ourselves for exactly who we are and not resist.


Thank you Boyd, for your contribution, and the day off!

🙂  J

When Sh*t Does NOT Roll Downhill

Caution: If you have a weak stomach, you may want to pass on this post…

I used to think that the saying: “Sh*t rolls downhill” was true in real life, just like it was in the corporate world.

I was wrong.

Because we live up in the mountains, I assumed our sh*t would roll downhill. Given that we live near the top of a mountain, and the law of gravity was on our side, I thought it was safe to flush the toilet.

Here I go, learning something newagain.  I only pass along this knowledge  to you, dear readers, so you are not taken by surprise like I was. Graphic images will not be used (like I had a camera at the time – Ha!)

OK. New homes have all the latest fixtures, they get inspected, during construction, to make sure they conform to all the current building, energy and environmental codes.  Even toilets have to “be up to code”  these days.  Gone are the normal commodes with nice round seats. Say hello to the larger bullet shaped toilets. These are the new environment-friendly and up-to-code potty’s, that don’t use much water.

I will agree that they do not use much water. But, they need to.

The long bullet shape means (pardon my potty talk), that you are now pooping on porcelain and not into water.  AND… because the “low-water flow” flush system cannot dislodge a turd from a level porcelain surface… it just stays there. I repeat – it just stays there. Looking at you. Probably thinking “neener-neener”.

Now, what do you do?

Another flush pushes the turd slightly, and it now creeps slowly toward the hole. When the flush finishes, there is now a turd partway down, plugging up the works, so the 3rd flush almost over-flows turdy water on the floor. You dare not flush again.

So, you stand there stunned, waiting for the water to recede, hoping against hope that the offending turd will disappear (roll downhill) and another flush will get you that sparkling water you started with. Well, you can hope all you want, but it ain’t gonna happen that way.

That 3rd flush takes 12 minutes to trickle down, and the bullet bowl now has a chunky brown lining, and no water.


Yes, ladies and gentlemen, it has come down to the Turd vs. You.  The 4th flush, rapidly accompanied by plunger-humping the toilet bowl, does not go well. The plunger is better at sucking up water than forcing it down the tiny hole. Now you have a whole bowl full of you-know-what AND a poopy plunger to match.

You realize that you are going to have to plunger-hump this stupid bowl  while it’s full of you-know-what, and you are NOT happy. This activity was not on your to-do list for the day. Determined to prevail over this situation (and to hide this embarrassment from your spouse who is due home any minute now), you continue on with this crappy (pun intended) job.

You start plunging very gently, very carefully. The last thing you need is to splash you-know-what all over yourself because that might send you over the edge. After a dozen plunges you figure out that you need to plunge backwards; at a 30 degree angle towards you, instead of away from you, because the bullet bowl’s stupid hole is backwards.

Progress is in the making, and the poop-water in the bowl goes down at last. The 5th flush (along with more backward plunging) goes well, and the 6th flush is accomplished, un-assisted, like the whole thing never happened.

Whew! You vow to never do that again. Then it hits you that all you did was poop, into your very own toilet.  By definition, a toilet is the place for you to do what you did, and the toilet is supposed to take care of whatever you do, in an efficient way.

At least they used to, before they were brought up to code.  😦

Are YOU Smarter Than a Seven Year Old?

I am not.

On a nature walk around the neighborhood yesterday I learned things I never knew before. We were looking under pine trees for acorns, when suddenly Phoenix squealed “Grandma look!” She pointed to a grayish egg-shaped rock.  Owl Pellet

Me: “What is it?”

Phoenix: “It’s an owl pellet!”

Me (typical mother response): “Well, don’t touch it.”  I looked closer, skeptically. “It looks pretty big for bird poop”

Phoenix (impatiently): “Grandma. Owl pellets aren’t poop!”

Me: “Then what are they?”

Phoenix: “It’s bones, fur and stuff they can’t digest, so when the meat is all gone they cough it up.”

Me: “Really?”

Phoenix: “I’m not kidding Grandma”. She looked up at me to make sure I knew she was serious.

Me: “Like a hair-ball?”

Phoenix: “Yep. I’ve got to take it to school and show my class!”.

She used the baggie we brought along for acorns to pick up the thing. It was light in weight and thank goodness it did not stink. When hubby (a.k.a. grandpa) got home from work, Phoenix showed him her find. I figured he wouldn’t need an explanation because he watched Animal Planet and all those nature channels, but he had never heard of this before either.

Phoenix Age 7

So we both learned something.

From a 7-year old.

How awesome is that?