Exploring Retirement

Welcome to the December 2015 edition of Exploring Retirement! Each month we provide articles on well-being in retirement and also feature an activity to explore. This Christmas edition means we have now been on the world wide web for three years! From the very first we took a decision to provide an entirely free publication without pandering to commercial interests, to ensure our site remains free of irritating advertisements. With monthly visitor numbers now approaching the 2000 mark, we must be doing something right! Exploring Retirement is written by and for retired people. We hope you continue to enjoy our monthly publication and please do tell your friends about the site. All of us at Exploring Retirement wish our readers a Very Happy Christmas!

New writers are welcome, so if you are interested, please contact editor@exploringretirement.co.uk. For ideas to write about, have a glance at the July 2014 issue of Exploring Retirement, available by clicking on "Past Issues" in the navigation bar on the left of this page. These are only suggestions, please contact us if you have a different topic you would like to share your thoughts on.

Writing team

We have three regular contributors on our writing team. Here they are with a brief note explaining their principal areas of interest:

John Copelton, EditorDr John Copelton - well-being in retirementMichael McSorley, contributorMichael McSorley - lively comment on sport and cultureJeannette Lewis, contributorJeannette Lewis - inspiring ideas on retirement living

Activity Scheduling In Retirement

It is very easy in retirement to slip into a comfortable rut of familiar activities that may be mildly pleasant, while forgoing the opportunities that retirement freedom offers to spread our wings and try something new and more fulfilling. Activity scheduling is a technique from Cognitive Behavioural Therapy that was developed to help us examine how we spend our days and to reassess what actually contributes to our quality of life. Using this technique helps us focus our attention on those activities that make us feel good so that we can enjoy enhanced life satisfaction as a result.

Activity Scheduling relies on us making an accurate record of our activities over a minimum one week period. You are then asked to say how much you enjoyed the activity and/or how much a feeling of achievement you experienced. These two facets are recorded separately because it is perfecty possible to enjoy yourself without achieving anything and managing to complete a task you were dreading will give you a sense of achievement but maybe not much pleasure.

To begin, record how you spend your time for one week, in one-hour segments. It is best to do this as close to the actual time as possible. Also record how much pleasure (P) and how much achievement (A) you got from each activity, by assigning them a numerical value (out of 10) for both P and A.

Once you have got a visual record of your week to examine you can then start to plan the next week. Some useful tips are:

Activity scheduling is an effective technique for improving your mood, but it only works if you do it! To try it out, write the next seven days down on a piece of paper, starting with today. For each day, schedule one pleasant activity (anything you enjoy that's not unhealthy) that you wouldn't normally do. It could be as simple as reading a chapter of a good book or going out for coffee and a cake i.e. aim for small wins. An alternative version of this technique is to schedule an activity each day that gives you a sense of mastery or competence that will provide a sense of achievement. Again, choose something small that you wouldn't usually do and that will take you less than twenty minutes. This might be as simple as reading a chapter of a great book or practicing a musical instrument. Once you manage this you might want to move on to scheduling three pleasant activities per day - one for sometime during your morning, one for the afternoon, and one for evening!

Here are a few suggestions to get you started -

  1. Listen to some of your favourite music
  2. Visit your local paper shop and purchase a magazine you don't normally buy
  3. Have a mid-day soak in a warm bath - candles, soft music etc are optional!
  4. Watch a favourite movie clip on YouTube.
  5. Relive a recent holiday by writing up a diary of what you did.
  6. Look up the lyrics of a song you like and sing it till you know it.
  7. Buy some flowers for your home - especially if you are male!
  8. Plan a walk in the hills.
  9. Practice mindful meditation
  10. Look up lists of pleasant things to do on the internet using Google.

Featured Activity - Rotary International

I was contacted several months ago by John Goodrich, President of Woking Rotary Club. John believes that Rotary provides an ideal vehicle for members to contribute their time and talents in support of many excellent causes. While not every Rotarian is retired, nevertheless retired members have a very important role to play. I was delighted that John got in touch and invited Woking Rotary to provide a short article describing some of their activities and the satisfaction they get from helping others. Here it is -

Have fun and put something back into the community

Compiled by Graham Fagence, Woking Rotary Club

Almost everybody has heard of Rotary but in my experience few have a clear idea of what we do. We are a worldwide voluntary service organisation with over one million members scattered in almost every country in the world. Our motto is "Service before Self" and we aim to benefit people on a local and international scale wherever possible by "hands on" service by members and by raising money for specialist charitable organisations that can deliver services that cannot be delivered directly by our members. My club, the Woking Rotary Club, is one of the oldest in the UK and is typical of clubs around the country. Our membership is steady at about 40 men and women and we meet for lunch every Monday. Every year we have a very full programme of direct service and money raising activities coupled with fun and fellowship events. I joined 10 years ago and have loved every moment.

The following are some thoughts collected from our members.


In 1989 neighbour asked me to go along to a Rotary meeting and I thought - do I want to do this? One meeting later and I was hooked and after 26 years I still find a huge amount of satisfaction from being a member of this brilliant organisation.

It is so rewarding to be helping so many good causes and charities in our local community. Our club is always looking for new ways of helping the local community. It's a privilege to meet brilliant people working in Rotary, other charities and organisations. Over the years our club has run many different projects and has raised hundreds of thousands of pounds (£100,000 in the last two years alone). We respond to local needs and international disasters - earthquakes, tsunamis etc. We are making a difference.

Sanctuary Garden

Digger at workRotary completely refurbished this garden at a local sanctuary for women and their childrenSanctuary GardenThe finished garden


Four years ago I was looking for community challenge which would supply some form of accomplishment for me. I was recruited into Rotary and found the stimulus of like-minded men and women helped me to appreciate the plight of others and at the same time provide a practical way of contributing.


My husband was a keen Rotarian and when he died in 2008 I was asked if I would like to join and I said yes straight away as I had already made so many good friends, and I had the time to help in any way I could. Rotary organise many events for disadvantaged and disabled children such as Kid's Out and when you see the look on their faces you can see how much they have enjoyed it. As well as raising money for good causes locally, Rotary International helps people in poor countries who need help, especially when there are disasters like earthquakes, flooding etc. For example the substantial contributions of Rotary International and the Bill and Malinda Gates Foundation means that endemic Polio around the world will soon be a thing of the past.

I have never regretted becoming a Rotarian and will continue as long as I am able to do so.

Disadvantaged and disabled

Day OutAn annual day out for over 800 disadvantaged and disabled children at an Army sports field in AldershotChildren's slideChildren enjoying the slide


I was invited to join Rotary when I was in my late 40's. I was working full time but wanted to be involved in some form of community service. Now over 20 years later I look back on my decision to join with no regrets.

Quite apart from the avenues for service which Rotary has provided, and continues to provide, I really value the fellowship and lasting friendships which I have made through Rotary. Our club is like an extended family and our club fellowship weekends both in the UK and Europe have created a pool of happy memories.

Woking Rotary Bikethon

Digger at workNearly 1000 young and old riders completed a course of 28 miles to raise money for local charities.Sanctuary Garden


The Rotary badge is an important symbol. I joined Woking Rotary Club in 1983 after asking a visitor to my office about the badge he was wearing. He explained that it is issued to everyone in the Rotary movement. We went to lunch at his Rotary club that day and I joined shortly afterwards. Over the ensuing weeks I made over 40 new friends at the weekly lunch meetings.

Once at business meeting I was stopped by a stranger wearing his Rotary badge. My hosts at the meeting were so surprised that I had been approached by a complete stranger because of the badge.

I believe that all rotarians have so much to give to the community which is why most of us join.


I was invited to join Rotary 45 years ago in Wisbech, Cambridgeshire and since then I have been a member of 3 Clubs and been President 4 times. I worked in education before I retired and Rotary has always provided an extension of the service I gave in education. Many people think Rotary is about meeting for lunch and collecting money but it is more than that. The Rotary motto of "Service before Self" is one that all Rotarians try to live their lives by. Rotary has provided fellowship and fun for me, my wife and my family and through that fellowship, with like-minded people, it is much easier to give service both to the local community and internationally.

Christmas Collections

Christmas CollectionsSanta and his little elves collect at Woking town centre and local supermarkets.

For full details of Rotary in Great Britain visit the website of Rotary International of Great Britain and Ireland (RIBI): www.rotarygbi.org or worldwide, Rotary International: www.rotary.org


Michael McSorley

Michael enters into the Christmas spirit with a light hearted look at Christmas Carols, as seen through the distorting lens of Health and Safety! To read his thoughts on the subject, click here.

Jeanette Lewis

Jeanette continues the seasonal theme by exploring what the holidays mean for someone living in a multi-cultural society. Click here.

Letter to the Bank

It wouldn't be Christmas without a touch of "Bah, Humbug!" Thinking of Scrooge, the tight fisted old miser of Dickens classic story "A Christmas Carol", I couldn't resist including this letter, written by a feisty 82 year old lady to her bank manager. The bank manager thought it amusing enough to have it published in the New York Times. If you have ever been tempted to dash off a letter venting your frustrations to your bank, read on for an object lesson in how to go about it! Click here.


Reflections is intended to showcase short pieces of poetry or prose that reflect on our life experience. This month features another poem by my late friend and colleague, Philip Clarke. Philosophical as ever, Phil muses on there seeming to be two sides to everything.

To read "The Dark and the Light", by Philip Clarke, click here.


Our intrepid film goers have been to see Sir Tom Courtney and Charlotte Rampling in "45 Years". To read their review, click here