Today marks one year since I left the office, put my briefcase into a corner and started retirement. It’s one year later and every day still feels like a vacation! The first 365 days of retirement have been wonderful. Moreover, I am confident that next year will be better yet. I look to the future with hope and optimism.
What aspects of retirement have been most enjoyable? The quick answer is — almost everything but some things stand out:
After years of having a rigid schedule of meetings, appointments and travel I am free to decide how I spend my time. This freedom is an incredible gift. I sleep until I naturally awaken. I eat when I am hungry — rather than when I have a break or at a scheduled luncheon. I use the hours of the day for personal projects or hobbies. If I choose to waste a day just sitting around — which I don’t often do — it is my decision.
I look forward to getting up in the morning and I love the natural rhythm of life. As a result of not spending my days in large buildings with artificial light sources, I am more aware of the cycles of the sun, the phases of the moon and the changes that come with each season of the year.
There is no dispute that my body is aging. Regular readers know that I had a total hip replacement in late November 2010. More than usual, I had to attend to my physical health as I learned to walk again and re-gained mobility that I had previously taken for granted.
My physical health is good — thanks to advice from Dr. Henry S Lodge and Chris Crowley in the book, Younger Next Year. I follow a pattern of regular exercise, a diet based on principles of good nutrition and a routine that allows for 7 to 8 hours of sleep. Once these habits become a part of life, they are easy to maintain and the results are reinforcing. Eating fewer restaurant meals has provided the bonus of losing 5 pounds — possibly because of reduced sodium content.
In terms of emotional/spiritual health, it was difficult to deal with news of a recurrence of my sister’s melanoma and her death as I recovered from hip surgery. Her death forced me to face end-of-life realities and to dig deeply into my emotional reserves. As a result, I have grown calmer with my own shortcomings and more patient with others. I recognize that life is fragile and precious. I take time to enjoy family and friends without feeling pressure to respond to emails on my blackberry or the need to rush off to write a report. Without multi-tasking, I attend to the joys of the moment — watching my cats languishing in the sunshine, drinking morning coffee on the patio, and listening to the silence of the day.
I love my husband — his strength, support and encouragement during the past 40 plus years have sustained me in countless ways. But as much as I value our time together, I also need solitude.
Retirement has reinforced the value of time spent alone. I look forward to those annual extended winter vacations that he takes. I have the house to myself. I also look forward to those times when I spend time alone at the cottage while my husband stays in the city and attends to his counselling practice. The thinking time is essential to keep me balanced and happy. And the reunions are as special as the time apart.
Pursuing New Directions
Retirement provides many opportunities to learn new things. During this past year I have taken courses in Indian cooking, photography, and gardening. I have found a book club with many interesting members and a fascinating reading list that has opened new doors. There is so much continuing education available that I have had to ration myself as I could spend all of my time taking various courses.
Writing posts for my Postworksavvy blog and thinking about the aspects of my retirement journey that are of interest to other readers has provided another challenge. Many of my posts have been successful. I take great pride in the fact that I have kept a schedule of regular posts — especially during those times when I did not feel much like writing. Surprisingly, a couple of hours devoted to writing or researching topics provides mental rejuvenation.
When I retired in June 2010 I felt a need for change. One year later, I have a deep sense of gratitude as I am having the time of my life. There are no regrets. I had a dream job. Now I have a dream retirement where every day does feel like vacation time!
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- Are you making each day count – strategies to ensure you keep growing (postworksavvy.com)
- Learning to say ‘NO’ – time management in retirement (postworksavvy.com)
- What your real retirement needs? (postworksavvy.com)
- Scoring your Retirement – How do you measure retirement well-being? (postworksavvy.com)
- Keeping in touch – social networks that matter (postworksavvy.com)