Saturday, March 5, 2011

The gifts of choice

It's been over eight months since my last day of work. I haven't been bored. I've discovered the delight of free time - or, at least, time to spend as I choose. Art and I have an hour-long exercise class three days a week. When the weather is good we walk the mile and a half to the rec center, and the shortcut mile back. The weather hasn't been good enough for about five months, but I can see the day coming as the days get longer. We've joined the neighborhood gym and I walk a mile there and back another three days a week to work on balance and strength with the help of a trainer every now and then. In each of these cases, the exercise has become something I do, rather than something I think about doing. I need to take care of my body if I want to do anything else.

One of my blogging friends, an avid hiker and skydiver, has recently taken up swimming. I read about her continuous commitment to exercise and I am encouraged to keep up my own. I'm wearing a pedometer again with the goal of 10,000 steps a day, even though it will probably be weeks before I'm to that level again. I have a touchy SI joint and a weak left ankle, but I can still move, and I will.

I've spent more time writing since I stopped working than I expected to. The blogging community is rewarding but it requires time and commitment, just like face-to-face friendships do. I also belong to a writers group that meets twice a month. Last week we submitted a joint piece to four journals in the hope of getting it published. I am the point of contact for that group, so it was my name that went on the cover letter. My Facebook Cat piece was not accepted by the magazine I sent it to, but just the act of putting it together and sending it out was satisfying.

The goals I set for myself when I quit my job are coming along. In one more unit I'll be finished with my online ESL class. In two more weeks I'll have helped build a Habitat for Humanity house in the deep south. In June I'll take mediation training. But I think the things that have happened that weren't goals at all have been more interesting. Like now, I can lie down for an afternoon nap with my cat on my lap without feeling like I really should be doing something else. We order a box of vegetables and fruits most weeks from a local farmer, and I have learned how to cook fresh beets and found out they are delicious.

Last month I made my first volunteer commitment when I joined the planning commission of my little town. Now open on my dining room table is a very thick, very dry planning book. I am wading through the relevant sections, grateful that once upon a time, in a life far, far away, I was in the legal profession and learned how to read dry language.

Next week we leave on our 11th trip since I left work. We're going to Louisiana to participate in a Habitat for Humanity build. Since June I've traveled to San Antonio, Whistler, California, Alaska, Maine, Italy, Alaska (again), Idaho, Mexico, and the Washington coast. After Louisiana we'll be going to Santa Fe and then the Midwest. That will be 13 trips in 11 months. I'll be ready to take a break.

I think I've been able to be active like this because we haven't had any crises or emergencies and we live fairly frugally. Our health is good and our eight kids are doing well at the moment.

And now I think I am ready to work part time. After the freedom of not work, I can choose to work again.

Choices - such a gift!


Arkansas Patti said...

Well you pretty much wore me out but that is the beauty of retirement. We can move at our own pace and pleasure.
As long as it is something you want to do--just do it. The opportunities are endless and the only restraints are either physical or financial.
Fantastic about the Habitat for Humanity. Hope you run into Jimmy.

Tracy said...

Goodness, you certainly aren't allowing grass to grow under your feet, are you?
It is good to stay busy and have plenty of goals to try to achieve. I am proud of all the philantrophic work you are doing...good for you!

Out on the prairie said...

Everyone told me i would be busier, but i haven't got to that part I guess.The nap is nice, I have to watch sitting in the lazyboy and reading in the early afternoon or else.

Lynilu said...

I loved retirement, and I was never bored. Since returning part time to the work force, I've enjoyed it, too. I must admit, while I wasn't bored, I missed the interaction with clients/patients and coworkers. I think I'd be happy either way, and this arrangement, part time retirement and part time employment, seems to be just what I need.

Sally Wessely said...

I am very tired, and all I did was read your blog! How do you do all that you do? I feel like a very big slacker.

What journals have you submitted to? I am interested in doing a bit more serious writing.

Retirement will not be wasted on you. I love the way you just keep getting more and more ideas that seem to get better and better.

DJan said...

I wonder who that avid hiker and skydiver might be? :-)

Thirteen trips in 11 months?? Sheesh! Also ready to stop traveling already. I am traveling back home on Tuesday after three weeks in Florida, and I frankly am looking forward to the different weather. I won't enjoy my allergies returning, but I don't think I could happily live here in the summer.

You are certainly making a full life in retirement. The only thing I see differently is the return to the work force. I actually have an aversion to that, because I feel I paid my dues and can volunteer now as I choose. Kudos on the Habitat for Humanity work; I look forward to hearing about it.

Sorry about Facebook Cat not being accepted. And Linda, I missed that part about having had eight children! Wow, you have always been an overachiever, haven't you? :-)

marciamayo said...

Linda, since your Facebook Cat wasn't picked up by the magazine, how about putting it on your blog? I would love to read it.

Olga said...

Whew, you put me to shame! But, I do so throughly agree--having choices is the best part of retirement.

Tom said...

Interesting you point this out, and it's so true: After retiring, and achieving the freedom of not having to work, we (ironically) often feel the pull of wanting to go back, at least part time. Nothing wrong with that, esp. if we have the energy.

Jenn Flynn-Shon said...

Blogging definitely is a committment and I have been very bad at keeping up my end of the bargain these days. I still read but rarely ever comment and even less rarely write anymore. Sigh. I guess when one area of life takes over its hard to place focus on another. That's the beauty of being retired though right? You aren't forced to focus on anything in particular except the enjoyment that comes from what you're doing!

I'm sorry to hear FB Cat didn't get accepted but if they saw something in it I bet other places would too! You can always submit somewhere else...if you want to :-)

Linda Reeder said...

We traveled more in my first four years of retirement, especially big trips to Europe. Lately we have been satisfied to stay closer to home. We've been working on home improvements, and have two more projects in the works that are somewhat costly. But I am getting to the point of wanted to go again.

Staying healthy does take a lot of time and work. That's my big goal right now.

As to returning to work, not a chance. Teaching is way too stressful, especially now.
We don't do much volunteer work either, which sometimes I feel selfish about, but after all those years we both put into teaching young children, we feel like we earned our rest.

Eight kids, huh.Wow. No wonder you have no problem being so busy. What an amazing life you are leading.

Nancy/BLissed-Out Grandma said...

As you say in your profile, your life now is an opportunity to say Yes. And you surely do! Congrats on all the exercise, too. I'm still in the "thinking about it" stage.

Deb Shucka said...

Such an abundance of choices you're making! Your life is as full and rich as I would hope any retirement might offer.

I'm sorry to hear your article didn't get accepted - this time. And glad to hear you see the process itself as success.

Teresa Evangeline said...

I just re-read your profile for the first time in quite awhile. I love that you list yourself as a "freelancer."

Meryl Baer said...

I can't wait until my husband retires and we can travel more. I envy you all those trips! I am settling into a part-time freelance writing career as well as my blog writing. I think the best thing so far about not working full time is the flexibility.