Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Retirement Brain

Have you ever been sitting in the living room at 4pm with a glass of wine watching "Ellen," and you look down and realize you are still wearing your nightgown and you haven't brushed your teeth yet today?

Have you been walking around smelling something you didn't like and realized it was you, because you have been to the gym the last couple of days but never showered?

If so, you are probably retired and "Retirement Brain" has taken over.

Do you remember that old ad about drugs, where a guy cracks an egg and as the egg boils and crackles, he says "This is your brain on drugs?"

Well, that's your brain on drugs

and this is your brain on retirement.

Kind of like that.

How do you know you have "Retirement Brain?"

  • You rarely know what day it is or the date. 
  • You walk into a room and immediately forget why you are there. 
  • You recognize the face but the name just won't come - until about three hours later in the middle of the night. 
  • Some days your hair looks so bad you can't even call it a "rat's nest," because the rat doesn't even want to hang out in there. 
  • You can't imagine being anywhere before 11am or going to bed before midnight. 
  • It's Tuesday and you don't realize you have been wearing the same shirt for three days until you notice a piece of pepperoni from the pizza you had for dinner on Saturday night stuck to the front.
  • Sometimes you forget to put on underwear.
  • You keep looking for your favorite work out clothes and discover they have been in the dryer for a week.
  • You really enjoy the four-hour "Sister Wives" marathon while eating a pint of Ben & Jerry's Cherry Garcia ice cream.  You almost start on the Mint Chocolate Cookie until you realize you will need it for the "Naked and Afraid" marathon.
  • You find yourself proudly wearing unusual outfits.

(That big fat part around the bottom of that coat is faux fur. The other fat parts are me! I look like I am wearing an upside-down English Beefeater's Bearskin hat) !

  • You get great joy dressing up your dogs (but come to think of it, I have always done that)!

(This is my version of Miss Havisham from Dickens' "Great Expectations.")

  • You find yourself trying to explain the finer points of Vicki's and Tamra's argument about Brooks' cancer treatment to Hubby during Happy Hour (some of you will get this one and some of you won't - consider yourself lucky if you are in the latter group)

  • Your idea of a perfect day is doing nothing.

If you have nodded your head "yes" to at least five of these (or some variation of these), you are in the throes of "Retirement Brain."

Just what IS "Retirement Brain?"

 "Retirement Brain" is a slow-onset condition that usually kicks in about six months into retirement.  This is because the first six months of retirement you are in shock and keep getting up in the morning expecting to go to work.  You wander around the house looking for people to help and keep recommending books to your husband (I was a librarian).

But when you finally realize those days are over, "Retirement Brain" kicks in.

But my fellow retirees and those who love you, don't despair. Even though you are acting unlike yourself and your brain feels like a huge vacant airplane hangar, there is a reason for "Retirement Brain."

"Retirement Brain" kicks in to relieve your brain of all of that junk you had to put up with for the last 40 years - people complaining, people whining, problems, questions, tasks you weren't really feeling, bosses who bossed, employees who slacked, people who annoyed, worries you had about dealing with all of that. Yes, you were a competent, efficient, interesting, productive person all of those years.  So why are you suddenly staring off into space or watching YouTube videos of kittens and wondering what the hell is going on?

Don't worry.  "Retirement Brain" has a plan.  The plan is to clear all of that old stuff out, all of that stuff you didn't want to do, all of those worries you didn't want to have, so that now you can fill that vast void with what YOU want to fill it with.

It could be all sorts of things: saving the world, moving to Europe, giving a damn, getting a new job (well maybe not that), shopping excursions, meaningful volunteering, trips with your kids and grandkids, finding true meaning in your life.
The point is that "Retirement Brain," though it seems to disconnect you from the "real world," is actually connecting you to YOUR real world, the real world of what you really, really want to put your mind to NOW. The Real You.  It could be getting caught up with all of those TV dramas you missed over the years.  It could be finding the perfect restaurant. It could be reading the classics. It could be losing 50 pounds or it could be eating whatever the hell you want.  And it could just be finding yourself for the first time and really, really enjoying life.

That's the point. "Retirement Brain" is now allowing you to be your true self...before it's too late.

You might have spent your working years doing something you enjoyed.  Good for you.  Most of us can find something positive and rewarding in what we did or we wouldn't have done it.  But that's not the point.  Most of us, whether we enjoyed it or not, HAD to do what we did.

But now "Retirement Brain" is telling you that you don't have to do anything you don't want to do anymore.  So if you don't want to remember what day it is or you forget to brush your teeth, so what?  Your old brain has left the building and "Retirement Brain" has taken over and "Retirement Brain" says, let it all hang out!

That might be uncomfortable for some.

Don't despair.  "Retirement Brain" knows what it's doing.

If you have been working since you were 15, then it will probably take you about 15 months to actually enjoy retirement.  "Retirement Brain" is there to allow you some relief from feeling guilty about not making money anymore or having a real job or forgetting to shower.  Soon, "Retirement Brain" will clear out the cobwebs and will start a new mind set that will give you joy (See "The Joy of Retirement") and a new, meaningful outlook on life.

You have another 20 years (at least) to live your true life.  Do not fear "Retirement Brain."

"Retirement Brain" wants you to be happy.

And "New-You Brain" is on its way!

Thanks for Reading!
See you Friday
for my review of the new movie 
"Beasts of No Nation" 

The Week in Reviews

(What to See or Read and What to Avoid)

and the latest on
My 1001 Movies I Must See Before
 I Die Project."

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  1. I qualify. I can identify with at least five on your list. Here's where I haven't succumbed to Retirement Brain. I am good about the day and date. I never stay in my nightgown cuz I have to take the dogs for a daily adventure which requires me to be clean. It used to require me to look nice and have makeup on but now I settle for clean.

    Here's where I qualify....I DO plan my ice cream binges. I never get out of the house before 11am. I do have some odd outfits.I DO dress up the dogs and am on my way today to find a good outdoor spot for their halloween photo. They are working dogs after all and they do this for me with joy. Oh and for new toys and cookies. No comment on no underwear.

    Yep, I have retirement brain and am enjoying the heck out of my retirement.