Retirement Observations — one year out and it still feels like a vacation

sunshine in my lifeToday 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:

Controlling time

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.

Managing health

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.

Enjoying Solitude

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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6 Replies to “Retirement Observations — one year out and it still feels like a vacation”

  1. Welcome to the ‘Happy in Retirement Club’

    1. And it is a happy retirement! Ciao, Jeanette

  2. Hi JL – who knew that after one year of your retirement I would also be leaving? One can never predict what life will bring to us!!!

    1. So true — we have only today! enjoy every minute! Ciao, Jeanette

  3. This is a tremendous summary of the possibilities in retirement. I have been retired for 10 years and have gone through a few different phases. The first few years were like a honeymoon-everything was new and fresh and exciting. Then came a feeling of dread: what have I done? My money will run out, I’ll get sick, I’ll get bored silly-all the fears that can fill your mind when those regular checks stop.

    Then, about 3 years ago I found my rhythm and my pacing. I discovered new passions. I felt a strong sense of calm and being in control of a good portion of my life. When I started my blog a year ago another whole chapter opened up. My latent writing need was suddenly being satisfied. I was sharing knowledge with others. I was making new, on-line friends and learning new skills.

    Retirement is as much an attitude as a time in your life. Congratulations on a very successful and pleasing first year, and the positive attitude that you project.

    1. Thanks for your comment which is as thoughtful as your blog posts which I enjoy reading. I didn’t know that you had retired 10 years ago! Congratulations! You might want to write a post about the cycles / phases of retirement with your observations and advice for those times when you need to make changes to keep the happiness in your life. Ciao, Jeanette

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