Saturday, May 21, 2011
Woke up refreshed and without an alarm clock, at 5:30 AM. Went downstairs to enjoy a morning cup of coffee with my daughter before she headed up to get ready for work. We chatted about her upcoming move to a beachside apartment and how much fun it was going to be to get together for picnics and barbeques once she moved in. I put together a butternut squash and lentil stew for dinner and left the stew to simmer in a crockpot while I went upstairs to get ready to go hiking with one of my Meetup hiking groups. Spent three hours hiking through beautiful wildflower and oak filled ravines before returning home to shower and meet my sister-in-law for lunch. Strolled over to a new neighborhood bakery after lunch to pick up a some fresh bread. Returned home again for a much needed nap and then headed outside with a book and a glass of wine to read a bit before dinner. My spouse and daughter joined me for a glass of wine as they each got home from work before we all headed inside to enjoy stew and freshly baked wheat bread for dinner. Decided to leave the dishes for later and leashed up our dog for an evening stroll, stopping to chat with neighbors along the way. Returned home for a little television before turning into bed.
Just a typical day in retirement.
Wednesday, May 18, 2011
It's been a whirlwind of activity and emotions over the last 30 days. Even though I had made a conscientious effort to read several books on what to expect in retirement, not to mention working to ensure I had a full calendar of activities to step into when I left work on the last day, I was not prepared for the emotional roller coaster of those first few weeks. Here's a sampling of what I went through.
Week One: Took off for a week of vacationing along the California central coastline. Woke up every day with a joyful sense that I was playing hooky as I ticked off the days of my previous workweek - Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday. Had a thoroughly wonderful time hiking, kayaking, biking and running in and around the coast, and could feel the stress oozing out of me as the week progressed.
Week Two: Still going strong now that I was at home for the first time during the week, splitting my "new" time between doing long-delayed chores around the house, and working to fill up my new Outlook calendar. Discovered the online sites Meet Up and Groupon and wondered how I'd lived without either. Joined a variety of Meet Up groups and went hiking, out to lunch and to a photography seminar. Visited our local farmers market to enjoy and purchase fresh flowers and fresh produce, and rediscovered the public library where I had a wonderful time combing through the racks of books, magazines and DVDs - all completely free. It felt like I had struck gold there was simply so much to do all around my community.
Week Three: Full blown identity crisis! Out of the blue, and completely unexpectedly, I was overwhelmed with a sense of extreme sadness and loss. I could analyze what I was feeling well enough to understand it wasn't about giving up my job (I had absolutely no sense of loss about that!) but rather that it was about having to finally deal with who I was and what I wanted from the rest of my life now that work wasn't keeping me distracted from having to give thought to either of these major life issues. Desparately needing assistance in understanding what was going on, I went to the library and checked out several retirement books that addressed the emotional transition of retirement, including The Joy of Retirement by David Borchard. David Borchard is a life coach with a focus on helping adults to identify their passions and develop new vision for their lives. And a major theme in David's book, and the others I checked out, was that a feeling of loss was a very normal part of the transition process. Phew, what a relief it was to see that in writing! Perhaps I wasn't losing my grip then after all! And, as the week progressed, it appeared they were correct, because by the end of the third week most of the sadness and confusion had lifted and life was looking pretty darn good again.
Week Four: Full steam ahead! Or, having the time of my life! Each day started with a run as I worked through the training schedule for my second marathon, the San Diego Rock 'n' Roll Marathon in early June. I added on two days of yoga and strength training as well, checking off two more items on my retirement To-Do list. Thanks to the volunteer training I'd undergone with Read OC, an adult literacy program, I was fully and enjoyably engaged with my new literacy student. My Meet Up activities from week two had led to even more Meet Up groups that were now populating my Outlook calendar with daily options for me to choose from. Already I was finding that there was more items listed on my calendar than I had time to do. What a great feeling! And I hadn't even gotten started on cooking more creatively, carving out time to practice my Spanish or working in my garden. I ended the week by flying up to the Bay Area to run San Francisco's legendary Bay to Breakers with my daughter (that's me post-race on the left in the above photo) and some dear friends. I stayed over a couple of extra days, just because I now could, and although I had an absolutely wonderful time bopping around San Francisco, Oakland, Alameda and Berkeley, I was excited to come home and pick up where I'd left off.
The phrase "How did I ever have time to work" is increasingly flashing through my brain as I begin week five. And now that I've survived the first 30 days, I can't wait to see what the next 30 will bring!