Some Things I Like About Retirement – and Some Things That Are Hard

I have officially been retired now for almost five months; the first four months hardly count, though, since we were super busy with a home renovation project and then on the road, traveling until late October. Plus as a retired teacher, having the summer off is routine, so nothing felt different.

Since we’ve been home I have luxuriated in getting up when I please, and even though 6:30 or 7:00 is still early, it’s a lot later than my previous wake up call at 5 a.m.  I don’t have to pay attention to whatever time I want to go to bed, and even though 9 p.m. has been a long term habit, I read longer and sometimes don’t turn out the light until 11:00. Having that freedom is a pleasure I notice on a regular basis.

Having more time is the next most noticeable thing. As a teacher I was overwhelmed and overworked most of the time; there was always grading to do, data to analyze, meetings to prepare for, lessons to plan, and much more, and time, that most precious of all commodities, was scarce. The days were never long enough and even on my own time I was working a lot. Now, that stress is completely gone and the days stretch out just waiting for me to decide how to fill them. Ahhh, such luxury!

The trim work still needs to be finished, and the ceiling needs paint, but it's really almost done!

We’re still working on my office, but it’s nearly done, I have actually put all of my gardens to bed properly for the winter for the first time ever, I have read several books for pleasure, and I take the time to plan and cook much healthier meals. And the best part is that not only does that list go on, but I get to decide. That might sound weird, but as a teacher, there is little to no discretionary time; life is ruled by the clock. Class schedules are paramount, meetings start promptly, and deadlines hang over one’s head, always.

And so, that brings me to the part that I find hard: having more time and deciding what to do. (Isn’t it interesting when the positives are also the same as the negatives?) When one doesn’t have many choices during a work day, having no structure at all is a significant change. I have always been one of those people who functions most efficiently under the pressure of deadlines, and in the last month I’ve missed appointments, or been late (things I abhor!), and generally feel like I’m floundering on a strange shore. The irregularity of my blog articles is proof of this; I used to make time every weekend to write, and now a weekend doesn’t hold the same kind of importance, so procrastination takes hold.

I’m not stressed about this floundering, though; I know that eventually everything will settle in and I’ll find a rhythm. A blog I follow (Adventure Retirement) speaks of this often. I’m thankful to have that reassurance, and I have a friend, already retired for a year, who uses Sundays to plan the week ahead, which obviously provides a basic structure to follow.

I know I’ll get to a good place. The good things far outweigh any difficulties, and I love it that I can enjoy time, the company of good friends, and stopping to smell the roses — or the Thanksgiving turkey.

Life is good.

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3 thoughts on “Some Things I Like About Retirement – and Some Things That Are Hard

  1. Thanks for sharing your experience, Marilyn. It helps a lot. Your office looks like a cozy and productive place to be on a regular basis. Love to you and Doug, Brenda

  2. I retired just two days ago (11-30-2011). I understand completely what you are talking about. I too am learning how to live without externally imposed structures.

  3. Hi, Marilyn… As you know from following my blog, I’ve struggled with the very same recently retired “flounering” which you’re now experiencing. Please take heart that “this too shall pass” and you’ll eventually find “your true retired self.” All the best for the holidays. Bill

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