What did I do on my first day of retirement? First I went to a morning yoga class. Great start! Then I came home and spent an hour finishing a report for work that I hadn’t turned in last week. Bad habit! At least I also spent some time figuring out what I would accept as a consulting fee for future projects. (I sent the proposal in, and haven’t heard back – hmmm.) I went on to work in the garden, do laundry, practice clarinet, read, and bake myself a celebratory apple cake. Not a bad first day.
What did I do on my second day of retirement? I went to work! Crazy? I had agreed to stay with one of my programs this year, and although it only requires one day per month, this was the second day of so-called retirement. At least it was a beautiful day, and I was in the woods doing environmental field studies with 6th graders. Afterwards, I ran into town for a workshop on retirement plans and health insurance. It starts to feel real, and the amount of homework required to make intelligent decisions is daunting.
On the third day it was retirement mindset again. I played tennis in the morning. Feeling strong! But when it takes a half hour to get to the court for an hour’s lesson, and a half hour to get home, plus time for some errands – the morning is gone. When I thought about it, I realized that two of my three errands in town were work-related (and unpaid). Bad habit! The rest of the day was focused on making apple butter and canning it, having recently (on a weekend, of course) picked a half bushel at a local orchard. The day also included more clarinet practice, more laundry, and more relaxing with a romance novel.
The fourth day arrived, and the exercise for the morning was house cleaning – no excuses, because a family guest coming for the night. The garden-kitchen activity was making and freezing pesto from the last of the garden basil, and chopping herbs and garlic for “salamoia”, an Italian herbed salt. The accounting chores couldn’t be put off, so I finally sat down to write checks, make appointments, and answer email, but I got distracted by sorting and deleting old photos (that’s further down the to-do list). I still have ties to work, including references to write, but I don’t feel motivated to do much in that area. It’s hard to make a clean break. At a rehearsal in the evening, I realized that the musicians on either side of me had been retired for a decade or so and were going strong. Good role models!
It’s Friday and raining. I can’t avoid sitting and writing, although I circle around the computer, finding little. My retirement to-do list includes sharing deep thoughts about retirement and self-discovery. That seems like an impossible and arrogant goal now, as I’m stuck in the day-to-day, even hour-to-hour, flow of more concrete activities. I am starting to chip away at a list of postponed tasks and projects (“I’ll do that when I retire”), and it seems like a Sisyphean task. Am I using this to avoid the more difficult task of looking at my past self and then exploring new goals? Perhaps I have to work through a crust of deferred desires before I can access a deeper level. Wait – it’s only the first week! I have time. I think I’ll go bake an apple pie.