Having Fun With Pottery

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Hey everyone! I hope you had a great Father’s Day weekend. I had a relaxing Father’s Day at home. Mrs. RB40 got me a retro Snoopy T-shirt from the Charles M. Schulz Museum store. It’s great. All my old shirts are getting threadbare. Alright! I have a new shirt for our trip to Japan. Also, I got some bowls back from my ceramics class. They are awesome. I had a lot of fun crafting them. Today, I want to share my experience with starting a new hobby and keeping busy after retirement.  

Keep busy

One of the secrets to a happy retirement is to keep busy. What!? Some people will object. Why do I want to be busy after retirement? I want to watch TV, play video games, and relax after retirement. It is healthy to relax, but you will get bored if you have too much free time. That’s a ticket to depression.

Think back to when you were a kid. Summer was awesome when the school year was over. But it got boring after 3 months. By the new school year, you were ready to return to school and see your friends. Similarly, it’s good to be a bit busy after retirement or you’ll get bored.

After early retirement

I was very busy after I retired from my engineering career in 2012. Our son was a toddler and he needed a ton of attention. I also published 3 blog posts every week back then. I didn’t have time for anything else. Life was very busy. Fortunately, it wasn’t stressful. It was a good kind of busy.

Being a stay-at-home dad got easier as RB40Jr got older and spent more time at school. Now, he’s a teenager and he doesn’t need (or want) much supervision. Simultaneously, I’m spending less time on blogging than in the early years. These days, I publish only one new post per week. It’s more difficult for me to write a new post now. I think that’s due to waning interest in FIRE. I’m not as passionate as before because we made it. The struggle is over. In addition, life seems harder now for young people. They are struggling with inflation and high housing costs. FIRE isn’t an option when you’re living paycheck to paycheck. Traffic is down and blogging is not as exciting as when I started in 2010.  

Oh, I almost forgot. Last year, I drove 10-15 hours per week for Uber and Doordash. This year, the pay got worse so I cut way back. Now, I only deliver a few catering orders per week.

Consequently, I have more free time than ever this year. I found myself watching a lot of TV and napping the days away. It was nice for a while, but I need to be a bit busier to stay happy.

Intro to Ceramics

Earlier this year, I was looking for a piano class for RB40Jr. Our community center offers a piano course and I might as well take something while I wait for him. I browsed the program and found several ceramic classes. Coincidently, I was looking for a tea bowl (chawan) to make matcha tea. Maybe I can make a chawan myself. These tea bowls can get quite expensive. It’s art…

Unfortunately, all the ceramic and piano classes were filled up as soon as they opened for online registration. Apparently, ceramics and piano are very popular these days. I looked for other ceramic classes in town and they were full as well. What the heck? Anyway, I put my name on the waiting list because I have been through this before with swimming lessons. Some people sign up for classes and cancel before it starts. I was number 3 on the waiting list.

As it turned out, the community center called me one day before class began. A spot opened up in the Intro to Ceramics class. Alright, I’m in! The class was great. I focused on making tea bowls, but the teacher showed us how to make mugs, plates, and other forms. I learned a lot.  

Surprisingly, forming a bowl is very soothing for me. It’s almost like meditation. I can easily get into the “flow” when I sit down to make a bowl. It feels good to craft something with my hands. The nice thing about a chawan is it doesn’t have to be perfect. It can be asymmetrical and imperfect because it’s meant to be. That’s wabi-sabi. Nature is organic, imperfect, and temporary. I love the concept. My beginner bowls aren’t as nice as the ones in the stores, but they are part of the process. I know I’ll improve with practice. I enjoy making imperfect bowls because I’m not a perfectionist. They turned out pretty nice, though. Check them out.

The bowls have taken over the dining table. Heh heh. I still have about 10 more bowls in the kiln. I’ll go pick them up next week.

Enjoy life after retirement

In conclusion, I had a great time crafting these bowls. Pottery kept me busy and out of trouble. Surprisingly, making a bowl feels therapeutic. I can get into the flow and it feels good! Apparently, your brain releases all kinds of uplifting neurochemicals when you’re in the flow. I’m glad I found this hobby.

Ok. Here is the price tag for my new hobby.

  • Intro to Ceramics class – $350. This is pretty good for 10 lessons.
  • An extra bag of clay – $16. The class includes 25 lbs of clay, but I was prolific. I made bowls at home so I needed more clay.  
  • Beginner tools – $28.
  • A banding wheel – $30. I got this from Amazon. It is good, but I want a better one already.

So far, I spent $424 on pottery. That isn’t cheap, but many hobbies are more expensive than this. We can afford it. I’ll be frugal with our grocery.

From here, I can craft more chawan at home and bring them to fire at a ceramic studio. I think I can fire 4-5 pieces at a studio for around $20. I need to go check them out. Alternatively, I can take another class. That will be more expensive, but I don’t mind supporting our community center. It’s a great resource.  

Alright, that’s it for today. Do you have a hobby you enjoy? How are you going to stay busy after retirement?

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Joe started Retire by 40 in 2010 to figure out how to retire early. After 16 years of investing and saving, he achieved financial independence and retired at 38.

Passive income is the key to early retirement. This year, Joe is investing in commercial real estate with CrowdStreet. They have many projects across the USA so check them out!

Joe also highly recommends Personal Capital for DIY investors. They have many useful tools that will help you reach financial independence.

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