Therapeutic activities and filling in retirement hours.


        Therapeutic activities and filling in retirement hours.

LMC-3687-Edit                         I think this dear little boat is waiting for its’ owner to have more time to tinker and paint! 

Painting, walking, photography, writing, movies, reading, eating, cooking, mind games;  the list goes on and on. Everyone has their own way of cheering themselves up and filling in their leisure time.  Well; if only they did. People get lonely and down in the dumps quite easily it seems. The saying you can be lonely in a room full of people is absolutely true.

I am not going to give you the answers to eternal happiness either unfortunately. However I did receive a flier in my letter box recently eluding to eternal happiness. Mr Dino in Auckland can solve all “your love and social problems and destroy black magic, evil and bad spells” He offers a 100% guarantee. Really??

All I can do is talk from my own and my friends experiences. I have had a few setbacks In my life and times of darkness; I think most people do by the time they are in their sixties, it is called life.The daily activities we take part in play a big part in our ability to deal with adversity when it knocks on our door. Hobbies are a godsend, these days they are called ‘interests’ funny how word usage changes over the years. I think everyone should be encouraged to have a couple of ‘interests’ outside of their work, one passive and one active. Because when you retire they become of major importance to your happiness and those around you.  If you break a leg the passive interest will help get you through the recuperation and make your days more pleasant.  Well that’s my theory! Even if nothing is wrong and you are in great health after retirement there are over 12 hours a day to fill in. If you have a partner you spend several of those hours together, sharing chat over meals and going for walks.  The rest of the day you need to be focused on activities. Whether alone or in a relationship I believe you need to plan something for everyday; at least in your head, otherwise your head fills with those “what will I do now” negative thoughts. Invite people to dinner or lunch, go to galleries and walks on the beach, invite people to join you or go alone. Don’t wait for your phone to ring! Of course you can play golf and tennis or swim or do aqua aerobics or go to Pilates. You can probably play tiddly winks with someone I’m sure. There is a myriad of sporting activities you can do here and there too.  However they are not usually played every day. Hence you need more than one activity to fill the week.  Many men potter, fix things, spend time in their men caves who knows what they do but workshops and tools seem to occupy plenty of time.


I suspect Fishing can fill in many hours and does. you are never too old to learn to fish. Fly fishing classes are available or just buy a rod and go down to the water and cast your line. The fishing store will of course guide you on your needs.


This may all sound very obvious but I hear a lot of women commenting that their husbands don’t have enough to do in retirement. I won’t elaborate what else they say.  However for career  women I am sure the problems are similar.

Travelling probably takes up a few weeks every year if you are lucky,  and the planning and research can take many hours and be very rewarding. Travelling on your own is a challenge but one worth meeting. I have found this difficult  and I have decided small bites are best. I had three days in London on my own recently and it was wonderful. I certainly didn’t see everything but it wasnt my first trip. I stayed in a really good 5 star boutique hotel where they knew my name and asked me about my day, treated me like a real person. I felt part of their family for those days. You don’t get that in large hotel chains! I’m fortunate to attend Photography Congress’s in various countries  so this means you are with like-minded people. There are many tours for artists, photographers, golfers, foodies etc. check these events or tours as at least you share interests with your fellow passengers. Interestingly enough couples invite other couples to travel with them but singles don’t fit this formula. A lot of Cruises are full of older widows and divorcees, I can’t think of anything worse! So if you are going cruising check out the clientale before booking your fare, don’t be afraid to ask the questions. Such as “What % are single women”?



If you live on your own dinner takes about 10 minutes to eat on your own. Cooking a meal and spending hours creating great food for one’s self is a soulless pastime. On occasions I will have a cooking day just for me but really the enjoyment is not the same as if you have someone to share the food with. Cooking and Eating are definitely not therapeutic for me.  In fact it can make you sad or melancholy. However some people do find cooking therapeutic, just not me. Comfort food is not part of this equation!

Reading is a good way to escape into someone elses’ life, but I personally can only read for short periods, an hour maybe. Sometimes the book you are reading triggers personal thoughts and you drift into another place, returning to the empty pages having absorbed little. Sometimes the escape is exactly what you need.

Movies are I think a great escape and these days the Rialto theatres have many fantastic slice of life movies. The movies are a great place to shed a tear and have a small time of self-pity or indulgence of your emotions…however mostly I find the movies uplifting and shake me out of any melancholy feelings I may have had.   The fact that other people’s lives are such a drama helps one realise how fortunate you are. Some movies I avoid if the story is too poignant to my situation but as the years have gone by I cope and enjoy these movies too.

Painting is not something I have never tried although I sometimes dream I am a painter!   I think this is a great interest for people and one you can dabble in paint at any age. There are many art classes in most communities and you can express your feelings with colour and the stroke of a brush. Studying an interest like painting means you can google artists work and read their stories online . You can  participate in this activity alone or with a group. There are always exhibitions to see; definitely an interest to consider for men and women, you don’t have to be a Ralph Hotere or a McCahon  to enjoy it.

download (1)

Word games these days are readily available. Suduku and Crosswords in the paper are popular.  My personal preferences are Brainium ( a type of Solitaire) and Words with Friends on the iPad. These keep your mind active and while away plenty of spare minutes. Words with Friends is Scrabble and you can play with a friend, with an opponent the internet find you or play against the computer. One of my friends plays 30 games at a time and she works!  Games like Angry Birds help with hand-eye co-ordination ( turn the annoying music down ). So check out the huge game world on your computer or iPad. Bridge and Fishing Games are also online options, but don’t forget to turn them off and be sociable as well 🙂

Photography is for me, of course, the most therapeutic activity I can think of. The most enjoyment, fills in the most hours and can be done alone or with others. Anyone can pick up a camera. A woman I know was 88 and in a wheel chair when she took up photography. She did all her creative work in her kitchen using coloured cellophane paper and imagination. Awe-Inspiring images were the result. I will never forget this woman for her determination to pursue her love of photography. See the photos of Jeannie with the tripod on her mobility scooter.

Jeanne HartJeanne Hart & Hilda Gosling

Photography is  created within your soul, your heart, your eyes. The best way to stop dwelling on a problem or feeling sorry for yourself is to take your camera for a walk.  You are looking for a subject to photograph, not thinking about yourself. The iPhone, point and shoot or an expensive SLR camera, it doesn’t matter, the exercise is the same. You will stop thinking about you! After 30 minutes or more you will be a much happier person and hopefully have taken a few photos of the beautiful world we live in. Seeing is a gift, use it. Look in your garden – look closely there will be insects, dewdrops, leaf patterns as well as the obvious flowers. You don’t need to leave home to create good photos.After you sit back down at home download your photos and play with them with the amazing free software available. Picasa or Snapseed, Photoshop for iPad etc. Turn your image into monochrome or sepia, play with your images, add borders; seriously there are hours of free entertainment to be had. There are tutorials free online, thousands of them.  BLIP is a place you can challenge yourself to take one photo a day and upload it. It is called ’Blipping’ and people love it, you comment on work and they comment on yours – all if desired, under a pseudonym. Never forget the little moments. Keep a simple record of your life with just one photo a day, it becomes contagious but it is an activity that is great therapy and fun.

You can join clubs, not everyone is a club person but there are many amazing groups of people. We all know about tennis and bowls, golf and bridge clubs. Spending time with like minded people is therapeutic. Consider also Ikebana, Floral art,  Computer, Camera clubs, Probus, Art groups etc.

Writing is something I hear people talking about. “ I want to write my memoirs” they say it, but often never quite get started. I urge you to keep a book and write a few ideas down. A page here and there, a concept, an outline or maybe just the subject. These days it is easy to self publish using companies like the online BLURB Books in the USA. They have templates for photo books and text books so you can be creative or just follow a design. You can combine photos with words, it is a most satisfying activity that is not beyond any of you. Seriously contact me if you need assistance.  In New Zealand you can go onto Grab One and buy a half price book template from Kroma for $30-40, or if you use a MAC they have a book making program. I am talking hard cover books of good quality. Blurb are better quality than Kroma but cost twice as much due to the postage from overseas. There are numerous other book publishing companies around too and the great thing is you only need to order one book. There is a book in every one of you…start today!and serious;ly contact me if you need help, I’m on the end of an email every day!



Many of you know all of this but there are many folks I know struggling with decisions on what to do when retired or laid up with health problems  – this blog is for them ENJOY.

Recycling – then and now!

LMC-8551 Photo by Lynn Clayton Photography

Tawharanui – one of our pristine beaches north of Auckland –

A friend emailed me this and I am sharing with you all as I know how you feel about recycling. Recycling has increased in gazillions over the years… not because we are better at it but because we have more rubbish to recycle.  At Christmas I ordered a small candle from Neiman Marcus in the USA to be sent to my USA residence. The candle measured 16 cm tall x 10 cm wide [6×4 inches] approx. The carton full of  plastic bubble measured 60x70x60 cm. Total overkill. How many stores sent out excessive packaging by the thousands that all goes into the trash or recycle waste? consequently this story hit a note with me.

Checking out at the supermarket, the young cashier suggested to the
much older woman, that she should bring her own grocery bags because
Plastic bags weren’t good for the environment.

The woman apologised and explained, “We didn’t have this ‘green
thing’ back in my earlier days.”

The young cashier responded, “That’s our problem today – your
generation did not care enough to save our environment for future

She was right — our generation didn’t have the ‘green thing’ in its

Back then, we returned milk bottles, lemonade bottles and beer
bottles to the shop. The shop sent them back to the plant to be washed
and sterilised and refilled, so it could use the same bottles over and
over. So they really were recycled.


But we didn’t have the “green thing” back in our day.

Grocery shops bagged our groceries in brown paper bags, that we re-
used for numerous things, most memorable besides household bags for
rubbish, was the use of brown paper bags as book covers for our
schoolbooks. This was to ensure that public property (the books
provided for our use by the school), was not defaced by our
scribblings. Then we were able to personalise our books on the brown
paper bags.

But too bad we didn’t do the “green thing” back then.

We walked up stairs, because we didn’t have a lift, or escalator, in every
supermarket, shop and office building. We walked to the local shop and
didn’t climb into a 300 horsepower machine every time we had to go half
a mile. [Yes, I’m guilty of this too]


But she was right. We didn’t have the “green thing” in our day.

Back then, we washed the baby’s Terry Towel nappies because we didn’t
have the throwaway kind. We dried clothes on a line, not in an energy
gobbling machine burning up 3 kilowatts – wind and solar power really did
dry our clothes back in our early days. Kids had hand-me-down clothes
from their brothers or sisters, not always brand-new clothing.

But that young lady is right; we didn’t have the “green thing” back
in our day.

Back then, we had one radio or TV in the house – not a TV in every
room and the TV had a small screen the size of a big handkerchief
(remember them? mind you tissues are more hygienic! ), not a screen

the size of Scotland In the kitchen.We
blended and stirred by hand because we didn’t have electric machines to
do everything for us. When we packaged a fragile item to send in the
mail, we used wadded up old newspapers to cushion it, not Styrofoam or
plastic bubble wrap. Back then, we didn’t fire up an engine and burn
petrol just to cut the lawn. We pushed the mower that ran on human
power. We exercised by working so we didn’t need to go to a health club
to run on treadmills that operate on electricity.


But she’s right; we didn’t have the “green thing” back then.

We drank from a tap or fountain when we were thirsty instead of using
a cup or a plastic bottle every time we had a drink of water. We
refilled writing pens with ink instead of buying a new pen, and we
replaced the razor blades in a razor instead of throwing away the whole
razor just because the blade got dull.[ I don’t miss spilt ink either!!]

But we didn’t have the “green thing” back then.

Back then, people took the bus and kids rode their bikes to school or
walked instead of turning their Mothers into a 24-hour taxi service in the
family’s $40,000 ‘People Carrier’ which cost the same as a whole house
did before the “green thing.” We had one electrical outlet in a room,
not an entire bank of sockets to power a dozen appliances and we didn’t
need a computerised gadget to receive a signal beamed from satellites
23,000 miles out in space in order to find the nearest Pub or Cafe!

But isn’t it sad that the current generation laments how wasteful we
old folks were just because we didn’t have the “green thing” back
then? Surely they don’t really blame us??



Guest Photographer – Mike Hollman

Mike Hollman switched careers, a brave move that has paid off.

Mike Hollman  was a Flight Service Manager with Air New Zealand at the same time doing professional photography. After too many years flying he became a full time photographer, check out his story.



This is such a good story as too many men stay in their jobs for ever despite their hearts not being in it.

It takes courage to change careers and Mike did just that over several years. We are fortunate to be the benefactors of his outstanding and unique photography these days. We often see beautiful imagery in magazines but we rarely are told who the creators are. I am proud to showcase some of Mikes’ work here.

One of the best photos I have seen in recent years of Ngauruahoe . The wisp of cloud says it all, tells the story how this mountain can be treacherous one minute and at peace the next.  Definitely an artwork one might purchase.

 imageToitū Otago Settlers Museum, Dunedin.

I asked Mike was their a catalystic  moment when he decided to become a photographer?

“There was no real catalyst or special event that made me change.  My photography was going from strength to strength and I was following a five year plan that enabled me to switch to full time photography.  There was no problem financially and the opportunities are greater now than ever.”

Who inspired you back in those days?

“There were lots of photographers who inspired me, but it was a book that was really an early influence. The title was “Focus on New Zealand’.  It was a collection of landscape and travel images shot by more than 160 NZ and international photographers, including Brian Brake and Ernst Haas.  It was an incentive to get out and capture some great images.”353046427

And one more question – What is your advise to people wanting to collect fine art photography by NZ Artists/Photographers?

“Fine art photography is still quite a small part of the art scene in NZ. It depends if people are collecting for investment or for work they have a connection with and want to hang on their wall. I’m not sure many New Zealanders would be paying 6.5 million dollars for a Peter Lik* print, but there’s certainly a lot of great NZ fine art photography available at very reasonable prices. ”

*(See also my blog on world photographic auction prices)

imageTokyo Rail
Faces from ChinaimageThe Forbidden City –  Beijing  (one of my favourites)


Pudong Airport in Shanghai

Mike has an enviable list of credits to his name and his photographs speak volumes about why he is one of New Zealand’s most successful photographers. Currently a commercial photographer based in Auckland, New Zealand, specialising in:Travel and landscape photography.

♦Travel Photography

♦Architectural photography

♦Hotel & Resort Photography

Mike has  travelled extensively around the world for photography assignments, projects and to capture the beauty of the landscape, nature, architecture, culture and people.

Mike currently claims some prestigious awards:

NZIPP Travel Photographer of the Year 2014
NZIPP Commercial Photographer of the Year 2014
Nikon Ambassador NZ

imageFinally Lake Wakitipu looking towards Glenorchy. 

Thankyou Mike for sharing your work., blog readers feel free to comment on the work, which is your favourite?