Looking Back – Moving Forward

Last week I shared my WOTY, (word of the year) in a post where I lamented about needing MORE. When you scroll through the following post, you might wonder WHAT I could possibly want more of, but if you go back and read the previous post, I think you will understand.

2021 was both challenging and rewarding and I am grateful to have had many opportunities to learn and grow. We learned a lot about ourselves this past year, as our strength and resilience were tested through unprecedented times and change. I am proud of how our family responded. Many of you shared our experiences as I hit the publish button twenty-three times this past year. The recap below includes a few of my favorite posts and some you might have missed. As always, we appreciate your visits and look forward to your comments.

In the Rearview Mirror – 2021 in Photos


We started the year with a road trip to Crystal River (about two and 1/2 hours away from home) to visit the Manatees who migrate to Three Sisters Springs. I wrote about that in my January recap, Make Your Own Music.


Visiting Jekyll Island, GA in February has become a Valentine’s Day custom. Island Treasures recaps our time there. While we have never found one of the elusive orbs hidden on the island during the months of January and February, we continue to discover the true treasures of this beautiful place each time we visit.


Springtime in South Florida was glorious. We got our vaccines, COVID restrictions eased and we felt human again. The kids began apartment hunting in anticipation of vacating our home and returning to their offices to work while we started planning an extended road trip through several states.


This month I hinted at the theme and itinerary of our upcoming road trip in Waterfalls and Other Bright Ideas, and I started practicing slow shutter speed photography in anticipation of the many waterfalls we planned to visit. I also wrote about Our Evolving Retirement, which received a record number of visitors. If you’d like to get to know us better, that post is a good place to begin.


Malcolm and I drove from Florida to Rhode Island, making stops in Georgia, Kentucky and New York along the way. You can read about our big adventure in Miles of Smiles.


This month we visited Boca Grande, FL and the Gasparilla Inn for Beaches, Bourbon, and Barbeque, a culinary event featuring several bourbon distilleries. The weekend was filled with Bourbon tastings, good food, cooking demonstrations, great friends, and amazing beach weather.

Feelings of Empty Nest Syndrom resurfaced this month as our daughter and her boyfriend moved back to Miami after being with us for a full year. Morgan must have sensed it too since she planned a girls weekend in Palm Beach for the two of us. Mother/daughter time is always a good idea.


After all the fun and frivolity of June, we started seeing evidence of a housing market on fire, and we had a request from a neighborhood Realtor to sell our home. Malcolm and I had been contemplating a ‘downsize’ for quite some time, so we went for it. Purging stuff became our new reality as we donated, sold, and stored our things. It was a difficult month, but we got through it and closed on August 2nd. I wrote about our experience in this post – Moving, Not for the Timid.


We spent most of August and September redecorating and making improvements to my MIL’s home, (inside and out) as we figured out how to peacefully co-exist thrive in our shared space. The intention was to use her home as our ‘base’ for an undetermined period as we travel and wait for the market to cool. Being here has allowed us to take time to decide what’s next for us. Downsizing is our goal, but we don’t know exactly what that will look like.


After six weeks of settling into our new space, we were ready for an adventure. We booked a beach cottage from mid-September to mid-October at our favorite beach, just twenty minutes away hoping to find some clarity regarding our next move. It was just what we needed, on many levels, as we both realized that size really matters. We loved the proximity of our cottage to the water, the amenities of the neighborhood and island living in general, but the space (1200 sf) was too small. It’s a great place to vacation, but we both concluded that we wouldn’t want to live there.


We rented a house and celebrated Thanksgiving in New England with our daughter and her boyfriend. Malcolm and I spent a couple of days exploring Boston before heading to Martha’s Vineyard, our destination for a week. Our rental property was a last-minute find and was way too much house for the four of us. While it was very beautiful, we concluded that somewhere in between beach cottage and grand home would be the perfect living space for us.


We closed the year by celebrating Christmas at home. My MIL and I enjoyed combining our Christmas decorations and traditions and the house looked festive and bright. You can read about that in Christmas Around Our House. We even managed to ‘dress up’ for dinner and take a few family photos.

Malcolm and I spent the last day of the year on the beach, listening to the sound of the waves and sharing a good bottle of wine. Who needs conversation when you have this?

We were in bed by ten o’clock, feeling totally satisfied that the ball would drop without us.

Shared With

46 thoughts on “Looking Back – Moving Forward

  1. It is not the size of the home, but it is it’s functions that matter. For us that includes office, sewing room, lots of storage and one guest room. Add in the required kitchen, living and dining and you need about 3,000 square feet.


    1. John, you are not far off, we think we can have most of what we want in about 2700 SF. The problem is finding land to build on or at the very least a subdivision that is building homes similar to what we have envisioned. We will get there. In the meanwhile, life is comfortable. Cheers to you guys and a successful 2022!


  2. Hi Suzanne – what a great wrap up of your year (it helps that you had so many lovely photos of you and your family – and plenty of scenic shots as well!) It sounds like it was a fabulous year for you and that you’re making the most of your transitioning process. You’ll know exactly what you want for your next home and I have a feeling it’s going to appear on the horizon in the not too distant future. I hope 2022 brings you new adventures and interesting times x


    1. Janis, photos tell the story of our lives much better than words and we are grateful for happy times with family and friends.

      I hope you are right about finding what we want for our next home. ‘Appear’ is the correct word, as we pay attention to the subject almost daily. In the meanwhile, we are making the best of things and breaking up our time in my MIL’s house with travel. After six months she still hasn’t kicked us out!


      1. Suzanne, I have enjoyed your year wrap up. So many fun times with family and friends and lots of beautiful photos.
        I have not been very diligent at writing blog posts this year, but I hope to get better at it in 2022.
        We are currently travelling in Brazil and I have decided not to blog whilst travelling.
        Interesting how your thoughts about what your new home should be like has changed throughout the year, therefore it certainly has been a good idea to take your time to decide.
        We still love our townhouse since it is so easy to lock up and go when we travel.
        I am sure you will find the right place for you. Have a fabulous 2022 !!


      2. Gilda, a townhouse (lock and leave) situation would be ideal if we could find one with the elements we are looking for – All on one floor, big kitchen, plenty of closet space, etc. We vacillate from day to day about what we want. Trying to be patient and get it right. I can’t wait to read your travel posts from Brazil. I know you will recount it all when you return home. Until then, have a wonderful time.


  3. I’ve very much enjoyed following your various trips in the US over the past year – you give me lots of ideas and inspiration for when we are able to visit again! Good luck with the search for just the right home for your next move. I’m confident it will come along 🙂


  4. Wasn’t 2021 a crazy year, Suzanne? You are one of several folks who sold a home and moved on, and not an easy thing under the circumstances! When we were searching for just the right manufactured home to build on our half-acre, I had physically walked through 10 model homes, but did extensive online research in March 2020 to find our current home. It’s good to rule out what you DON’T want. We ordered the home purely by 360 online views, reviews, amenities, and square footage. I’m sure the right place will leap out at you and beg to be bought 🙂 I love your wrap-up and really enjoyed going back with you to your lovely destinations. Such beautiful photography and your joy and zest for life shine through in your images. Glad you could link up and be inspired by Sunday Stills. Cheers to amazing ’22!


    1. Terri, I know you can relate. You took your time and got what you wanted in the end. At this stage of life, why settle? I am looking forward to devoting more time to my photography hobby this year. It’s time to learn the new equipment and get ready for Italy in September. Take care and thanks again for hosting. I always enjoy reading what folks have to offer on Sunday Stills.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. What a busy year you’ve had, Suzanne! I enjoyed your lovely photos and narrative. We never expected to stay in our first home, but it’s in a lovely neighborhood that has evolved over the years. After many remodels, renovations and additions, it’s 2700 sq ft is just fine for us now. We have an en-suite master, great room, guest room, home office and very large deck out the back but are not rambling around in a hugh house.


    1. Susan, the concept of ‘aging in place’ did cross our minds a couple of times. We love our neighborhood and have been here for nearly 20 years. Unfortunately, the house was just too big and it had two floors. We couldn’t wrap our heads around tending all that as we get older. My MIL’s house is about 2200 SF, which works, but is poorly designed (too little space in some areas and too much in others). I know I sound a bit like Goldie Locks, but I really don’t want to settle. Especially since we intend the next to be our last home.

      Thank you for visiting Picture Retirement. We don’t have a regular posting schedule, but we appreciate any time you spend visiting with us. New friends are always welcome. Happy New Year!


  6. It was fun seeing the photos of your life this past year! It looks like you have enjoyed and made many memories!
    We tried so hard to make a move closer to some of our grandchildren over the past two and a half years, but with COVID shutdown and the rising cost of building the home we wanted turns out it just not meant to be – plus, like you, we did not want to settle for something, so we were extra picky. We’ve made some improvements and updates to our current home (that we still absolutely love). We moved in 14 years ago after downsizing from a 3,300+ SF home to a 2400 SF home and have not looked back. The design is and layout is perfect for us (no more stairs), and our backyard is one of our happy places! Good luck in your search – it is out there somewhere!


    1. The layout is very important to us also. I know we will have to compromise in some areas, but I need a well-laid-out kitchen. It is the part of my old house I miss most.

      It’s too bad you can’t be near the grandchildren, but at least you love your home and are comfortable there. Take care.


    1. Janis, thanks for traveling down memory lane with me. And, thank you for having read all those posts. My goal last year was to be consistent but not overload everyone’s inbox. Hopefully, it will be more of the same this year. Wishing you the best. Keep writing those beautiful short stories.


  7. Thank you Suzanne for your coffee share. What a wonderful 2021 recap and beautiful photo galleries. All the best with your house search and having More of what you feel you need in 2022.


  8. What a comprehensive wrap-up post Suzanne plus your lovely photos. Hope you are settling in and wish you well for 2022 whatever it might hold for you, so exciting in many ways! #weekendcoffeeshare


  9. What a wonderful year you had Suzanne and your photography is spectacular. I think it is good to look back over the year. I know I was plesantly surprised when I did because I felt our year had been taken over by a family issue but when I reviewed the year there we many, many happy memories. My favourite photo is the at the begining where you are both feeling playful. I also love all of your Nature photos. Happy 2022 to you both, Suzanne xx


    1. Hi Sue, looking back reveals a lot, doesn’t it? I am grateful to have this blog and my Shutterfly books to tell the real story when memory fails. Even the adversity we go through doesn’t look so bad when we get to the other side of it. Thank you for the inspiration you provide through your blog. Wishing you a productive and happy 2022.


  10. So much change in your life during 2021. Love seeing your photos and explanation of what happened. I’ve written off 2021 as a lost year. However may we all have the opportunity to move forward to where we want to be in 2022.


  11. Suzanne,
    Great wrap to 2021. I went back and re-read Miles of Smiles–big fun! It looks like you have slow shutter speed down pat. When we finally found our downsize spot, we picked a 2500 sq ft condo in a great neighborhood. It had kitchen issues, (dated, poor layout, old appliances) so we gutted the first floor and started over. Not a lot of fun, but, in the end, we nailed it. You’re both talented people and you’ll know the spot when you find it. Great pics this week!


    1. Joe, we have built a few homes and wouldn’t be opposed to a renovation in the right location. I think it is going to take some time, so patience is key right now. We are on a waiting list for an apartment in a fun location, so if that happens, it will ease the sense of urgency a bit. Have fun in California!

      Liked by 1 person

  12. What a wonderful write-up of your year. Since I’ve been off=line the past few months, I’m looking forward to getting caught up with everyone. Downsizing ain’t for the faint of heart 🤣 and 1200 sq. ft. is tight. However, after Al and I spent the past eight years in 300 sq. ft. (RV), our 1500 sq. foot home feels about right for us. Although, I think 1800-2000 is perfect. Best of luck on your house hunt.


    1. Ingrid, I think I would endure 300 sq ft to have the adventures you guys have had. Maybe not for eight years! Wow. We take a lot of road trips (not the same as RV travel), but it is satisfying. We are looking forward to the next house, but until then we will carry on. Welcome back to the blogosphere. I look forward to following the next chapter.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. It’s really great you are thinking through what you need/want in a home. I wasn’t certain about only 1900 sq ft of space, but it is working for us. We don’t have people coming to visit very often, so the spare bedroom being my “office/reading place” seems to work especially as we spend so much time during the day outdoors. Our biggest challenge is storage space – since we did not do a good job in downsizing from up north. Location was critical to us, I wanted to be able to walk and bike to places – beach, library, even stores & restaurants. I don’t think this is our “last place”, so we were not too worried about age-in-place aspects. I do think the “right thing” is out there for you!


  14. Pat, since we do intend this to be the last home we will own, we want to get it right. At least to the extent possible. I like your list of requirements – it sounds a lot like the setting of the apartment we are on a waiting list for. Getting in would mean that we can relax a bit and not be anxious about making a decision right away. Your home sounds ideal. Thanks for stopping by.


  15. I always loved seeing manatees when we visited Florida. Love all your photos. Those sunset ones were stunning. Wow…what a fun road trip that seemed to be. I would love that. Sounds like a great year!


    1. Hi Kirstin, thank you for complimenting my photos. It is a hobby I enjoy very much. We did have a good year and look forward to 2022 being even better. We are going back to Crystal Springs in March, so hopefully, I will get to see the Manatee again. We have them in our area, but it isn’t the same as seeing them in those crystal clear springs. Thanks for stopping by. Wishing you all the best in 2022.


    1. Judy, we managed to ‘carry on’, despite the stops and starts of this past year. Like most folks we know, our goal was to minimize our health risk while living as close to normal as possible. It wasn’t the year we had hoped for, but it wasn’t bad.

      Of course, you liked the photos for March! I will try to include more like that in my posts for 2022. I get so caught up at the beach, I forget there are other beautiful things to photograph. Thanks for visiting. Enjoy your time in SC.

      Liked by 1 person

  16. You two had an eventful year with lots of fun times and travels. I’m sure you will figure out what’s next, regarding a new, downsized place to live. I totally embrace your last day of the year – it made me sigh inwardly. Listening to the waves with a bottle of wine. Aaah… Have a fabulous 2022, Suzanne and Malcolm!


    1. Hi Liesbet, Malcolm and I have lots of days like that, not always with a nice bottle of wine. Sitting at the beach, watching a sunset is a very satisfying non-activity. I know we will find what’s right for us, it’s just going to take time and patience. Some days I don’t have much of the latter. Hope all is well. Take care.

      Liked by 1 person

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