Tuesday, June 17, 2008

A normal, ordinary week

As I tried to think of something interesting to write about, I realized that this is just a normal, ordinary week. There isn't anything exciting happening and I even have some down time to get ready for vacation. How did this happen?

Since I've been off work for 5 months, people keep asking me what it is like to be retired (since that is what people seem to believe I am). They always want to know how I'm coping with the boredom. I just laugh. Boredom? Hardly.

I admit my situation is somewhat unusual, in that I've been doing the networking, research and planning for a new career while I've been off ,which ate up big chunks of time. I also had the opportunity to be home with my children for many years, so am pretty comfortable with sliding back in to that lifestyle (sans the children of course). The reality is, if money were no object, I would probably be retired because I'm too busy to go back to work! This phenomena has been verified by several friends and my father, a man with almost 30 years of retirement under his belt.

So what keeps me so busy? First on the list would be volunteering. Churches, schools and community organizations are desperate for people to support their programs. Once word gets out that there is fresh meat (I mean an available worker), the problem is beating off those friends who would like to help you get "involved". Knowing this, I tried to limit myself to one or two organizations. One visit to a local organization resulted in me doing about 25 hours of research for a special project. Joining the board of another local organization led to my being treasurer after the first meeting. Are you getting a feel for how this goes? It would be possible to be busier than I've ever been just by volunteering. I've seen a lot of retirees do that over the years but they also claim it was the most rewarding time of their lives.

What else? Friends and family are receiving a lot more of my time and attention. Calls, e-mails and visits all take time. It's not that I didn't have the time before, I was just too tired at the end of a long day or week. I kept meaning to get in touch "next week", which sometimes turned in to years (except for the annual Christmas letter). Nurturing those relationships takes a lot of time but is the ultimate investment in happiness.

More? Travel. In 5 months I'll have made 3 trips to Phoenix to visit my daughter, two trips to Iowa to visit dad and the kids, one trip to Omaha and several trips to Phoenix and surrounding communities for conferences. The tricky part of travel when one isn't working is the cost. You now have the time to travel but lack the resources to pay for it. Thank goodness for the futon I gave to my daughter which is now free accommodation at her house :-) I had the cruise to Greece and Italy all picked out but alas that will have to wait for an infusion of funds. Maybe if I plan for 2015.

And also - hobbies and "later" projects. I'm sure you all have those "later" projects you put away for a rainy day. Putting old photos in the album, sorting old papers for shredding and cleaning out closets are only some of the things I've been prioritizing. Knitting - enough said. Reading - enough said. I still have piles of VHS tapes to transfer to DVD, albums I'm transferring to MP3 since they are not yet available as CD's and shelves of depression glass I need to organize and inventory.

Then there is the miscellaneous category like getting small household repairs done, cleaning out drawers, running all the errands I've been putting off for 5 years and getting rid of the 25 year accumulation in the garage. It also includes all those things I didn't notice when I was working many hours like the grease on the range hood, cat hair on the lampshades and dead bugs in the light fixtures.

Probably the biggest time sucker of them all in "retirement" is the computer. Here it is 9:22 AM and I'm still writing my blog and drinking coffee. If I'm sitting down and not reading or knitting, my laptop is my constant companion. I can pay bills, buy cool stuff(again lack of funds rears its ugly head), chat with friends, read blogs, look for new knitting patterns, plan a trip etc., etc., etc. I also just got the Microsoft Office 2007 upgrade and haven't begun to learn the new format yet. That will probably take an hour or twenty.

Bored? Not likely. The problem now will be fitting work back in to the equation with a little more balance than I did it the last time. Oh well, I can always hope for the lottery.


Amy Lane said...

I'm with you--people always say, "What do you do on your summer vacation?" I'm like, "I've got WAY too much to do to call it vacation..."

Donna Lee said...

I am definitely cut out to be a woman of leisure. There are tons of things I would like to do if I didn't have this pesky job. There is a doll house in a box under my bed waiting for me to put it together and furnish it. It's been under my bed for 26 years. Yep. It was a Christmas gift the first year we were married and I've never had the time (nor the space) to work on it. Someday when the girls move out and the space opens up, I will somehow find the time....