An Appointment with Retirement

On the fourth of July in 2015, I celebrated my independence from work and career and entered the uncharted waters of retirement.  It has been a fun and interesting 20 months. 

My retirement party

Regular readers of my blog know that I have spent several of those months traveling and volunteering around the world.  Travel has been a passion since I was a teenager and being able to volunteer in foreign communities has enriched and deepened my travel experiences. But what about retirement at home? How does one feel fulfilled in our own communities? In other words, how do we stay engaged and not grow old and disinterested?

Many retirees volunteer with local organizations. I chose to work with the Womens Center of Montgomery County. After a comprehensive training program I now spend one day a week at our county court house. There I am able to help victims of domestic violence navigate the courts to obtain protection orders. It is often sad and upsetting work, but it is essential. 

Me, a camel, the Sahara Desert

During my down time between trips I kept a running list of things to do.  All of those projects that would be fun to do if we only had the time. In the golden and free flowing days of retirement there is an abundance of time. I plunged into the first project with joy – turning my son’s old bedroom into a meditation and yoga retreat. I have enough skill at a sewing machine to sew straight lines and that is about it. But that means curtains and pillows are an easy task. And in an out-of-the-way yoga room I could go a little crazy with the fabric choices. The yoga room was followed by a garage redo, cushions for the patio set, a bench refinish, closet organizations, and the list goes on. My days were also filled with workouts, nature walks, socializing, and writing.

The Yoga Room
The refinished bench

 

 

 

 

So why, after my return from Thailand could I not seem to kick start my at-home life again? After I returned in early February it took almost two weeks for the jetlag to subside. There is a twelve hour time difference, and the travel time was 23 hours. And let’s face it – I am no spring chicken. But long after the jetlag was a memory I was still feeling at loose ends.  By noon most days I had accomplished little more than getting dressed and eating breakfast.  What to do?  During my working and parenting years, I lived by my calendar.  Why not live my retirement that way too? I can hear you moaning….isn’t retirement about leaving the calendar behind? Ugh, who wants to be chained to a calendar?  For many people that is true. But for this type A with a neurotic need to feel a sense of accomplishment….it was just what the doctor ordered.

Volunteering in the gardens, Scotland

The first item I put on my calendar was just a daily note that reads “Get up and do something!”  And it worked! Day One – I phoned my former personal trainer (which I’ve been promising myself for 6 months) and got on her schedule. Since then I have come up with a couple of project ideas and put soft deadlines on my calendar.  I rarely say no to a lunch or dinner outing. I am back to my workout and yoga routines and they are in my eCalendar, which beeps at me incessantly when it’s time. And, I wrote the first page of the book I have been so afraid to start. I can now cross off the calendar reminder that tells me to “write the first page.”  What a sense of accomplishment (smile). My calendar is lightly filled with enough “appointments” to keep me relatively occupied and feeling useful until I head off for the next adventure in May.

Volunteering in South Africa

 

 

 

 

This retirement prescription may not appeal to all the newly retired.  Probably most of you love the unscheduled nature of retirement. But if you recognize a little of yourself in my story, by all means, open that calendar and fill it up.

5 thoughts on “An Appointment with Retirement”

  1. You are now my official retirement mentor as I prepare for my transition in the next few years. Hard to unorganized an orgsnizer. Great advice. Love the yoga room.

  2. Your writing is so engaging! I can’t wait for the book, though I know it will be a long and difficult journey for you. But it will also bring back the joy of those years. Joy which you always savored and continue to do so in your explorations of both your inner and outer worlds. Keep moving forward, my friend. There’s a lot more out there, waiting for you. I will be cheering for you.

  3. Hello Kath,
    I just read Your latest blog. 1st let me say , I Loved It !
    In parts it reminds me of my life today. I can relate .
    Since retiring You have been on the go and have traveled thousands of air miles (Yes, lot’s of jet lag) You should take a rest/break every so often. Your Aunt Helen always said, “Kathy is a “Go Getter” and always keeps busy.
    I give You a lot of credit for doing ALL that You do. You’ll know when to slow down. All my best in all that You partake. Love, Me

  4. I love the calendar approach. I used it this past year when I was unemployed for about five months and realized it would be a great retirement tool. What’s so nice is you fill alot of the calendar with what YOU want to do.

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