Settling In

This blog is written by Lee Gale Gruen to help Baby Boomers, seniors, and those soon to retire find joy, excitement, and satisfaction in life after retirement. Her public lectures on this subject are titled, “Reinventing Yourself in Your Retirement.” Her memoir, available at, is: Adventures with Dad: A Father and Daughter’s Journey Through a Senior Acting Class. Click here for her website:

Now, on to my blog:

Leaning agnst Moving Van 7-'16

This is a continuation of my two previous blogs about moving from my house of forty-five years:

I arrived at my new, empty condo and settled down for the night on a mat on the floor which I’d brought tied to the top of my car. To put a positive spin on a bleak experience, I chose to view it as camping out complete with dinner by flashlight.

The moving van arrived with my furniture the next day. Aside from some minor damage to a few articles, most of my belongings were intact.

It’s strange to accept that this is my new home and not just a vacation rental—temporary digs until returning to my real life. It’s strange to realize that there are new people living in my old house now. They are cooking in my kitchen, showering in my bathroom, storing their possessions in my closets, and generally displacing me. Will my old house remember me and all the years I spent painting her, repairing her, gentling her as she broke down?  We aged together, my old house and I, our parts wearing out and needing fixing.

My condo is becoming a home. It’s an adjustment, but I’m slowly personalizing it. I’ve installed my own furniture, tchotchkes, and even some beloved plants which accompanied me in my car, gently covered to shade them from the harsh sun. Pictures and other touches brought from my former life to make me feel comfortable are coming out of boxes. Oh, the boxes—daunting as they stare at me, tease me. They are slowly disappearing as I tackle them, sift through their contents I so carefully packed, rediscover my possessions, and make decisions where to situate them.

I’m arranging, rearranging, and learning how things work. There are so many decisions to make—big ones, small ones, and all sizes in between. Where’s the light switch? Okay, I found it. Now, how do I turn it on? In my new abode, the refrigerator opens on the opposite side from my old one. My kitchen sink is a double like before, but the garbage disposal is on the right, not on the left—grrrr. I concentrate hard on everything; nothing comes automatically—tiring, very tiring. I need a vacation from decision making.

There are lots of problems to solve: the toilet that leaks when flushed and the air conditioning that doesn’t properly condition the air to name a few. Yes, my home warranty covers them.  But, it still means I have to figure out who to call, be there for an appointment, and live with the problem until the problem solver arrives. I remind myself that they are only bumps in the road—first world problems as I’ve blogged about before.

My son mentioned how unsettling it felt when he called my old telephone number, the only landline he ever knew for me, to find a mechanical voice referral to another number. I’ve spent hours on that new phone calling all the enterprises that define my life: credit card companies, insurance companies, utilities, my HMO, and on and on, to inform them of this major, traumatic change in my life and to give them my new address. Oddly, they were only interested in the latter.

I’m making almost daily trips to such establishments as Target; Bed, Bath and Beyond; hardware stores; and others of that ilk to purchase anew the things I left behind and, of course, now need.

Deer from my Condo

On the flip side, I love my new condo; it’s everything I wanted. Deer and wild turkeys stroll through my backyard from time to time, and I watch them from my office window. I can’t get enough of that.

Wild turkey w chick 7-'16

Wild Turkey & Chick

My son  came over with his tools to help me set up a few things. This is the first time I have lived close to him since he left for college twenty-five years ago. He’s coming over again next weekend to do  more and just generally hang out. He’ll bring over my daughter-in-law and grandchildren soon so everyone can see grandma’s new pad.

My neighbor stopped over a few days ago to introduce herself and bring me a box of candy and a sweet note. Friends I made when I rented for a few months in this community last year to try it on for size have reached out to me and are eager to reconnect.  It makes me feel welcome, like coming home again—back in a comfort zone.

I have downsized and aim for a slower, less stressful life. I love it here and don’t regret my move. Yes, this was the right decision for me.

It’s hard to admit when something has run its course. We hang on, hoping to return to a time of contentment, refusing to admit that it has passed and lives only in memory. Change is frightening, but we must forge on when life gets stale. It’s calming and soothing when you know you’ve gotten it right.


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10 responses to “Settling In

  1. Jill

    Sounds exciting,
    Lee…lots of luck😊🌻👍
    Jill from Hamilton High

  2. Lovely post, Lee Gale. Glad it’s all going so well for you!

  3. Proud you should be. I admire your undertaking and transition. Your writing conveys the issues–what you have given up– how that feels, the challenges and the beauty that you have moved into. Wishing you all the positives purrs from our house to yours. Incidentally, I started or rather my cats started their own web site/blog. If you have a chance, could you check it out? @ Would love to get your feedback. If you know of any other cat lovers that might enjoy the blog, please share with them. It has evolved…slowly at first until they (me, actually) found some better ‘voices.’ I love that we can stay in touch with this wonderful medium…the electronic medium. I have a drawer full of notecards….I know I should get rid of them but I can’t. You never said or I didn’t get where you move to. I love the deer…I was raised in Colorado…we had deer, fox, skunks etc passing through our yard. Wild life is so beautiful. I spoke with Grace Reeves the other day. They have finally sold their apartments near the Coliseum. They need to come out in November to clean out their belongings and papers from the top floor of the apartment house that was theirs. They own several properties on Martha’s Vineyard; she inherited one property but they purchased several others. They keep going. I visited her there. She is an elder in the Wampanoag Tribe there on the island. I went to their cultural center and read a book written about the tribe that was mostly true — a historical novel. She has had some issues with breast cancer. I must give Ashkhan a call…and bring her up to date re Grace. Plus, I haven’t seen their new digs. I know they recently went on a cruise. Take care and I love your writing.

  4. Sheila Sauber

    Hi Lee Gale, You’re getting what needs to be done, DONE. Good for you! Sounds like you’ve made a lot of progress. Any social activities yet? Sheila

    Sent from my iPhone


    • I’ve gone to the Philosophy Club a few times, the Horse Club, a few social events, and some new member orientation meetings. I’ve also been trying to stay home and rest from the month after month at breakneck speed exhaustion of everything entailed to make this move.

  5. Linda Miller

    Where are you? You are very brave but having your son and family
    nearby is a bonus.

  6. Margi Bertram

    Congratulations on this new adventure Lee Gale! Can’t wait to follow as you navigate your new place.

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