I am approaching one year of retirement (or unemployment, however you look at it) and am surprised about some of my reactions and feelings. The positive ones were happily anticipated and mostly predictable. I enjoy longer, more relaxed trips when I travel. Gone are the tedious teleconference calls, meaningless meetings, and aggressive (impossible) deadlines. I am free from corporate politics and the compromises I had to make to play the game. Relief from this kind of stress is wonderful, a deliverance, like getting out of jail. No surprises here. Other things have been a mixed bag.
The lazy mornings are luxurious — sleeping in when you want to, lingering over a second cup of coffee — until they start to feel aimless. Checking things off the “honey do” list is great, too. Lots of busy busyness. Organizing, cleaning, throwing things out. But the list is too long, the sense of accomplishment fleeting, the neatness only temporary. I do a small amount of free-lance web work, which is intermittent and unpredictable. I am taking a yoga teacher training program, more an interest than a passion. Yes, I do have more time to garden, go to the gym, read, write. Nice…yet somehow I always managed to do those things anyway while working.
Work has been the organizing principle in my life and now I am at a loss for structure. Everything seems random. Maybe self-discipline would do the trick, or grandchildren, and I have neither. Other than taking care of my elderly mother, nothing feels pressing or important. Every day there are many possibilities. Most of them are optional. I can do them now, or later, or not at all. I am surprised how much time I waste on the ‘net or doing crossword puzzles. While I am grateful that I am available for family crises and to help my partner or friends with difficult situations, I cannot depend on other people’s dilemmas to fill my life. Nor, do I want to.
The feelings that I really didn’t expect are reprised from my few years as a stay/stuck-at-home mother. When my then-husband went to work and the children went off school, I felt left behind with nothing meaningful to do, just the laundry and housework. They had somewhere to go and I didn’t. It truly bothered me. Coffee with the neighbor ladies, tennis or a little golf, shopping. They were merely fillers to me, entertaining at best, never satisfying. Completely lacking gravitas. I found that I was not cut out to be a suburban housewife and, 30 years later, this stage of retirement feels much like that.
So…I am looking to work again, but just not full-time, which is the catch. Finding an engaging, part-time, paying job is not easy. (If I am going to work, I’d rather get paid. I am not as financially comfortable as I had hoped.) That not forthcoming, I will explore volunteer work. Right now, I am in the “Retirement 12-Step Program”; I accept that I need an external framework and source of motivation. Maybe I always will. Funny the things you learn about yourself when you have a lot of time on your hands.