Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Retirement: One Year Later - A Retired Baby Boomer Reflects on What She's Learned So Far

As of today, it's been exactly one year since I closed my office door for the last time.

And it has been a roller coaster ride. 

I revisited some of my earliest blog posts to remind myself of what I was feeling then and get a sense of how far I have come since I retired.

"The Long Goodbye"


In this, my first posting for this blog, I had just given my notice at work and was wondering what retirement was going to be like.  I talked about taking a Zumba class, joining a book club, meditating, volunteering and just enjoying the freedom to do what I wanted.  I also worried about how I would find meaning and purpose without a day-to-day job to give me that.

"The Long Goodbye Pt. 2"

Wearing my fascinator from my English-themed retirement party.

With only four days to go until retirement, I wondered what I would do with all of my clothes, would I stop wearing make-up, gain a bunch of weight, stop traveling and once again I worried about how I would find purpose and meaning in retirement.

"Retirement: Day 1"

OK, the deed was done.  I woke up and didn't have to go to work.  I didn't have to do anything really.

And I didn't.

"Retirement: the First Week in Review and What I've Learned So Far"

Here is what I came up with one week after retirement:

During this first week, I have learned the following things:
1.  How long it takes a woman to finally give up on herself and let it all hang out
(not long)
2.  What I was glad I missed while working
(all the bad stuff)
3.  Meditation is not easy
(I think I had managed maybe two minutes at that point)
4.  The common plot thread that governs Lifetime movies
(You can tell what I was spending my time doing)
5.  I am very boring
(this worried me)

"Retirement: Do Dogs Ever Retire?"

I humorously pondered whether dogs ever retire and if so, do they grapple with the same issues as we humans when they retire - loss of identity, loss of structure, loss of purpose, depression, boredom, possible lack of personal interaction and knowing the difference between leisure and goofing off.

This is leisure.



This is goofing off.

Going back and reading those early posts, I see that there was a lot of angst; a lot of insecurity; and a lot of doubts and worries about money, purpose and meaning. 

And some of those worries were well founded.  I mean, c'mon, only a couple of months after I retired we had to replace our roof! 

But I have to say, I am starting to get this whole retirement thing...AND I LIKE IT!

We had a little family thing where I would say to the kids when we were out and about in traffic on a week day in the middle of the day, "Who are these people out in their cars?  Don't they have jobs?"  Well, now I am one of THOSE people.  I like being able to go to a movie in the middle of the day in the middle of the week.  I like watching "The View" in the morning and lingering over a cup of tea.  I like going to the mall when no one is there. I like Happy Hour with Hubby at 4pm when everyone else is still working.

Something I heard over and over when I first retired was, "I bet you are busier now than you have ever been."  At that time, I wanted to say, "Uh, no.  In fact, I don't have anything particular to do."  But you know what?  I even get that now. 

I really am busier than I used to be when I worked.  And do you want to know why?

It's because now that I am retired, I have the luxury of saying "yes," rather than saying, "no."

When you are a working mother, as I was all of my life - the longest I was ever off work was two months and that was for the birth of each of my children - and you love your husband and family, you go to work and you go home.  Yes, you have commitments, but they are usually related to your children's activities.  I didn't belong to a bowling league, I didn't join any clubs and rarely had girl's nights out.  I wanted to be with my family so I probably said "no" a lot.

Now that it's just Hubby and me and no work obligations, I can say "Yes!"  And because I am saying "yes," I am really busy.  Or as busy as I want to be.

Also, I write in this blog about movies, DVDs, fashion, books, music, and food, which means I need to go to movies, watch DVDs, read books, eat at restaurants, go to concerts and shop!
That's a job right there!

So with all of that said, what did I learn about making a successful transition into retirement?

  • I learned that it's fine to make plans, but they don't need to be written in stone. 

For example, a year ago I had all of these plans about what I would do.

Did I take Zumba?  Yes, but I discovered getting to a class at 10am was just too stressful. I know, but remember, I already told you I wasn't a morning person. I also learned I am a lousy dancer.

Did I join a book club?  Yes, but discovered it was too far away from home, and I didn't like an evening group (I am looking into a morning group closer to home), but basically I have learned that I am not really a joiner.

Did I meditate?  Yes.  I am still doing it and learning to be alone with myself.

Did I volunteer?  Yes. 
I am volunteering for the first time in my life.  I am on the County Council on Aging and the Advisory Board at my local public library.  I am also on a wait list to be a Senior Peer Counselor to help depressed and lonely seniors.

The Council on Aging is important to me because my mother could not "age in place."  She ended up in a horrible nursing home, indigent and alone.  Here where I live now, there are all kinds of services in place to help people age with dignity and stay in their homes.  I am proud to be a part of that.

Likewise, if you read my blog, you know how passionate I am about public libraries.  Hell, I worked in them for 40 years.  So I am happy to still be involved as an advocate on the library board of my local library.

As for the Senior Peer Counselor to help depressed and lonely seniors?  It takes one to know one, I guess.

So make plans, but ultimately, retirement is more about exploring.  I now have the time to explore new ideas, new activities and most of all myself.

I have the time to try things out and if I don't like them, I don't have to do them.  I can move on to something else.

  • I learned that it's OK to worry about what might happen when you retire,  but most of those things I worried about didn't happen.
What to do with all of my clothes? 
I have discovered consignment shops!

Would I stop wearing make-up and gain a bunch of weight? 
I do still care how I look. I wear makeup when I am going out, but I do pretty much look like hell when I'm hanging around the house.  Sorry, Hubby. But I looked like hell when I hung around the house before I retired.  And the weight thing, no gain, but the usual battle I had before.  Nothing has changed there.

Would we have to curtail our travels? 
Not really.  We had a lovely road trip to the Okanagan wine country in British Columbia for our 30th wedding anniversary.  And I was able to attend my little grandson's 3rd birthday party in California, something I probably would not have been able to do if I was still working.

He's the little one in yellow with the happiest smile I have ever seen.

Would we have enough money?  Thanks to my pension, it seems to be enough.  Of course Hubby is still working, so when and if he retires, that will certainly change things.  But I have discovered that we don't need as much money as we once did.  We still go out to eat, we go to concerts and the theatre, but we don't seem to spend as much in other areas.  Now it's not so much about acquiring things as getting rid of them.

  • And what about those potholes that are supposed to trip us up when we retire? - loss of identity, loss of structure, loss of purpose, depression, boredom, possible lack of personal interaction and knowing the difference between leisure and goofing off?

  • Loss of identity? I am still blogging which has enabled me to express myself and that strengthens my sense of identity.  After all, I am Rosy the Reviewer!

  • Loss of structure?  I am a structure sort of person so create my own structure no matter what my situation.  I have certain things I do every day and certain things I do on certain days.  For example, I get up when I feel like it, read some magazines if I feel like it, watch "The View" if I feel like it, go to the gym if I feel like it and Wednesday is my day off.  That's all the structure I need.

  • Boredom? Depression?  Can happen, but that can happen when you are working too. 

  • Personal interaction?  With my volunteer work, I am meeting more people than before and probably have more personal interaction that I actually want!

  • Knowing the difference between leisure and goofing off? 
       Haven't figured that one out yet.

Have I found purpose and meaning?

I have learned that finding purpose and meaning is not a retirement issue.  It's something we are all working on every day for our entire lives. It's our ultimate job.

As I said in that early blog post about dogs retiring:

"We may be retired from our jobs, but we are not retired from life. Our most fulfilling purpose in life is giving and receiving love and bringing joy to those around us. "

And that means loving yourself and making yourself happy too.

I still believe that and that's my day-to-day job now.

I will be working on that for the rest of my life.

Thanks for reading!
See you Friday for
 "The Sturm und Drung of Writing a Blog:
Tapping into the Creative Process
 and The Week in Reviews"

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  1. Congrats on your one-year anniversary Rosy! I love reading your postings! I am on a similar journey:)

    1. Thanks for your comment, Caroline. I would love to hear how your retirement is going. Did you experience some of the same feelings and fears?

  2. Rosy, just two days until I begin my own retirement journey . . .

    1. So Betsy. How are you feeling? I can imagine for someone like you who has had such success as a public servant, so many kudos in your community, having been so invested in your career...you are wondering what's next? You will be fine but I have to say, it takes about a year to get used to it. I was lucky when I was appointed to the Council on Aging to have a mentor who had retired about a year and a half before me and we were talking about this. She struggled a bit too as someone who had been working all of her life and she said to me "This is my life now," and that resonated with me so much. At that time I wasn't sure what that meant and I was a little scared. What was that life going to be? You are embarking on a new phase but I guarantee you, someone with your zest for life and many interests, you will flourish. Just think...no more snarky patrons, no more having to deal with snow days if you don't want to and you can do whatever YOU want. It's a remarkable freedom. Freedom can be scary but it can also be the beginning of the real you. I wish you all the best and great happiness. And check back in. I just love to rant about stuff on this blog! :)

  3. Glad you enjoyed the movie as I did, but wanted to respond to a couple of your comments.

    WRT Sophia Vergara in Chef: Not sure what you meant by your comment "Sophia Vergara...well, is Sophia Vergara, in all of her unbelievably pulchritudinous pulchritude". Your comment infers all she does is look great but doesn't have much to offer. I don't know if you watch "Modern Family" but I do regularly, and as that is her vehicle which I'm familiar with for me her performance was a revelation. As Gloria Pritchett on the show she's the over-the top-Latina who gets hot headed at the drop of a hat and regularly butchers the English language. While I enjoy Vergara's depiction of the character I expected a variation of that same character when I learned she was in "Chef". I was happy to see her bring a totally different character to life--she was even-tempered and her English was impeccable--and I for one felt that she was a great part of an ensemble.

    Speaking of the ensemble I see no problem with all the heavyweights taking on small roles, for me it makes it all the more entertaining, and beyond simply doing a great job as expected it adds an additional dimension to those who love movies (one could see the Downey character as getting even with Favreau for putting him through the paces in the "Iron Man" movies--and I don't mean that literally). And as for Scarlett Johannson's black hair I would pose the question of "why the black hair" to Favreau. I'm guessing that your comments are really in jest as you know as well as I do that character-related items like that are dictated by the script, that Scarlett didn't just show up that way and no one noticed or cared (that could be possible, but unlikely). Remember she also had tattoos in the film which proves my point.

    I have to agree about your comment about John Leguizamo quitting his job but for the sake of not suspending disbelief I had to assume he too was driven away from the Hoffman character. But that reminded me about an aspect of the movie that I really appreciated, I expected some lame backstory behind the reason for Leguizamo’s quitting leading to some subplot—but to my relief that didn’t happen. Along those lines after Favreau returned to the restaurant to confront the reviewer portrayed by Oliver Platt (another of the film’s entertaining performance) I expected him to bring the dinner he intended to present, showing up both the reviewer and Hoffman’s boss—but that didn’t happen either. There were other examples where the movie thwarted my expectations which led to my overall enjoyment even though I could generally see where it was going,

    Finally, it's always great to see Favreau act (last role of his I can recall was as Jaime Pressley's irritable but horny husband in "I Love You, Man"). While the blockbusters are fine I wish he would make more movies like this.

    1. First of all, yes, I could explain many of my comments as "I keed..." but as for Sophia. I don't feel the same as you about her as an actress, though I thought her performance here was sensitive. My comments about her pulchritude came mostly from Hubby. But I don't know enough about her work to judge her yet on her acting. You also give the cameos more credit than I think they deserve. Yes, it's ensemble, I guess, but when I watch a movie like this, I find it jarring to have heavy weight actors show up and then not do much. As for Scarlett, I wonder if Scarlett's black hair really was dictated by the script. What in the story dictated that? But overall, you and I are not in disagreement. I really enjoyed this movie and I wish there were more like this around. BTW, did you know you were commenting on a blog that was actually the one before I reviewed this movie? :) Thanks for commenting, though. I appreciate your insights.