For the last year or so, I’ve been preoccupied with retirement—what it promises and what it portends. Retiring may seem like a huge relief, but don’t let that fool you. It’s just as intimidating as starting any new job. There are things you need to do when you retire. Belt-tightening, for one. Learning how to fill up your day, for another. Taking care of yourself spiritually, emotionally, physically, intellectually, in whatever order you choose. Figuring out who you are without the “work life” label you’ve had all these years. Deciding what you have to give.
I am almost, but not quite, retired. More like “demi” retired, which, because it’s French, sounds a little more elegant than “semi,” which also means a big truck. I still work, but without the frantic deadlines or long days on the road of prior years. I still find my work satisfying and challenging, and I still believe that I do it well. But I also have some time on my hands. I’ve been trying to decide what to do with it.
Merriam-Webster says “retired” means “withdrawn from one’s position or occupation: having concluded one’s working or professional career.” That surely wouldn’t describe me or, I’m guessing, you, because we are way more than our work. Plus, I’m not “withdrawing” from anything. Most of the fully retired people I know are busier than I am; some tell me they’re busier than when they were in the workforce.
Never a joiner by nature, in my “demi” state I probably won’t be busier than I ever was, especially since I raised two kids largely on my own and often juggled more than one job at a time. I’m enjoying the air in my schedule. I love to plow through one book after another and bake bread or take a nap if I feel like it. But a trace of frustration, maybe even guilt, nags at me when the day slips away without a major accomplishment of some sort to report. Cue my daughter, who responds to that with, “So what? You’re #retired.” One day she also said, “You should start a blog and call it that.” So here I am.
The intent of this blog is to be fun and interesting and helpful. Regardless of your age or stage, I hope you will find something to inspire you to try something new, make you laugh, provoke an “Aha!”, or just provide a pleasant break when you need one. I hope #retired will be like a conversation with a good friend, especially on those days when you (a) are a mess because the rest of the world is, (b) you can’t keep the floor clean, (c) the cost of having your roots done has gone up 15%, (c) one of your kids is about to crash your empty nest, or (d) you’re just trying to scale another hurdle. From time to time, I’ll be welcoming guest contributors, too. I encourage you to comment—again, the goal is a conversation.
Photo: Salisbury CT, in the Berkshires. Like that beautiful, expansive tree, I hope to continue “branching out,” in every way but dress size, as time passes.