Saturday, May 11, 2013
Do I now qualify for a college degree in retirement? It has been four years since I left my post at Harris County Public Library. Here are some thoughts on the state of retirement.
1. Call it re-engagement, not retirement. There is much to do and learn and try!
2. Carry on with at least a few professional activites or disciplines from Before Retirement. In my case, I still write reviews for Library Journal, not to mention this blog (though much less often than I used to), and attend the book club I started as a librarian. And for two years I served on a very time-consuming, yet wonderful Texas Library Lariat Reading List committee.
3. Temptations abound. If you like to shop, you may find yourself shopping a bit too much. If you like to eat, watch out. So apply some discipline in these areas. Slow down and enjoy these tempting activities, but don't go overboard. I was able to lose weight after I retired since I became more physically active and used the Lose It app to monitor my food intake. Some of those pounds are creeping back, so I need to rein myself in again.
4. Volunteer opportunities abound, so choose wisely or all your so-called free time will disappear. I like to leave a couple of days a week unscheduled so I can pursue my favorite art, gardening and writing activities. Of course, the tipping point here depends on where you fall on the introvert-extrovert scale. I am an introvert, so retirement offers much more time for beloved solitary pursuits.
5. Exercise is key. I know some people who work out at the gym 5 or 6 days a week. I prefer to go to yoga twice a week and add in a swim session whenever I can. Yard work, walking and cycling also round out the mix. I feel a little off if I don't get daily exercise.
6. Family obligations tend to multiply in midlife. I see this in the lives of many of my friends right now. If I had not been retired these last few years, I don't know how my family would have handled my mother's care. She is 94 and living with my brother and his wife. There have been plenty of health and lifestyle crises. I have worn a beaten path with Southwest Airlines flying so often to New York. It has also been nice to be able to attend a nephew's high school graduation or house-sit for my sister-in-law. A few months ago when my husband had cardiac surgery, thank goodness I was no longer working. He is much better now, and the doctors tell us he has added twenty years to his potential life span.
7. Take advantage of discounts and savings. Change your car insurance to reflect your retired status. Pick and choose through the grocery ads to find bargains, but don't make it into an all-encompassing mission. For sure I spend a lot less on clothing (especially pantyhose!), makeup (hardly wear any now) and gas since leaving the library worklife behind. Of course, in my case, I am spending much more on art supplies than I used to. I do earn some money making art, but I've got a long way to go before it might pay for itself. Therefore, I treasure my Hobby Lobby and Michaels coupons!
8. Some routine is good, but also allow yourself to be spontaneous. I like a mixture of the tried and true along with making it up as I go along. The freedom factor of retirement is magnificent!
Okay, that is about the sum total of my retirement wisdom at this point. It hasn't all been roses. In fact, a couple of weeks ago a freak hailstorm came through Houston and really wrecked my yard. I am still catching up with the damage. It was especially hard to see my eight tomato plants pulverized. A few green tomatoes were sent straight to the frying pan. The storm also fried the AC and affected our Internet and cable tv service. The electric panel of our gas stove was zapped. And so it goes.... "Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans." Cliched but oh so true; what's interesting about this cliche is that it fell from the mouth of John Lennon! And before that, in 1957, it was seen as a quote in Reader's Digest. Go to the Quote Investigator website to read more about it!
collage: Boom Bloom, 2012, by Keddy Ann Outlaw