Someone I met on a cruise in March warned me not to make too many plans too soon, because retirement changes almost weekly as you settle into it and get better acquainted with who you are outside of work. He hinted that retirement might even become a bit dull over time, and to therefore be careful what I committed to in the event I found myself looking to return to work for added stimulation at some point. Sounded reasonable at the time.
Now that I have five months of early retirement under my belt, I can say with confidence that yes, many changes have occurred over that time, and I am not the same person I was when I walked out the door of my company on the last day. However, much to my pleasure (and my advisee's chagrin I suspect), I am having the time of my life, and I can not come even close to squeezing in all of the various activities I have dipped my toe into!
I am splitting up my week between activities that feed my mind, my body and my soul.
My mind is being fed by the enrichment classes I am attending at our local university through the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute. OLLI, as it is more commonly called by those of us "in the know," is a foundation that promotes learning at universities throughout the United States for the sheer joy of it, not in pursuit of credits, or units, or an advanced degree. The requirement for enrollment varies by college, but in general, being retired and somewhere near or over the age of 50 will suffice.
This semester I am pursuing classes in Spanish, Advanced Photography, History, Religion and Film. The presentations are terrific and the ensuing discussion among the young-at-heart students is even better.
I'm also involved in four (yes, four!) book clubs, one of which is through my local library. The other three are groups I discovered and joined via Meet Up, an online site meant to harness the power of the internet to get people off of the internet and into little communities of similar interests. There are Meet Up groups for just about everything; cooking, hiking, sports, literature, wine tasting, socializing, traveling, even bar hopping. Sometimes you have to try a few before you find a group that fits, but that's part of the fun.
My body is being fed quite nicely as well. Also through Meet Up, I've discovered a variety of hiking groups in my area, and I now hike three days a week with a variety of folks on a variety of terrain. I take tennis lessons through my local city community center for a very nominal fee, and then took advantage of the USTA's Partner Search feature to find tennis partners in my area to play and practice with in between lessons. (I may have neglected to mention I pay for two lovely tennis courts via my monthly HOA dues, but prior to retirement never had time to utilize them.)
My husband and I are also doing some pretty exciting vacations now that we have the time to really strengthen our bodies and expand our horizons. Like recently hiking 102 miles through the Swiss Alps. As fit as my husband and I were becoming with all of the hiking we were doing, taking a trek through the Alps seemed like a really challenging thing to attempt. We went through a company called Sherpa Walking Holidays that made all of the housing, meal and luggage transfer arrangements, as well as providing us with detailed hiking maps. More on that in a later post, for now I will simply say "Amazing!"
On the soul spectrum, I'm taking yoga, finding time for daily meditations, attending a lecture course about the history of religion, and starting a class on spirituality in the coming weeks.
When I run into old work acquaintances and they ask how I'm holding up in retirement, I assure them I'm holding up just fine. And cross my fingers they won't ask what exactly I do all day, because I'm pretty sure they won't really believe me!