Everyone I used to know in my former life asks if I’m enjoying retirement. Well, the answer is “yes and no.”
It’s wonderful not to live by the clock and a weekly deadline anymore . . . to sleep in until 7 or even 8. To put off cleaning the house and doing laundry until a Saturday, when you always used to do it anyway when in the middle of your career.
But as a recovering workaholic, the transition from boring ahead full steam and owning our own business, to selling out and retiring, then being stuck in a home office twiddling our thumbs on Facebook, is an almost insurmountable sea change.
I’m trying to enjoy a life of leisure, truly I am. But here’s a catchphrase of caution for all those who are preparing for this big milestone called retirement: Limited income.
Now that we have the time to enjoy ourselves and travel, the money isn’t available, unless we want to cash in an IRA or a life insurance policy. Have you checked the price lately for a Mississippi River cruise? You could send a kid to college for what that costs!
So, we stay home and redefine traveling as something like a trip to the new Sprouts Farmers Market a few miles away.
The worst part of this whole transition is a new social isolation, brought about in part by our move from a small, close knit community to a large metro area. We not only left a business and the many daily social interactions that afforded, but we traded the hometown folksiness of Hamilton, MO, population 1800, for a place where we seldom interact with our neighbors. When a lady who lived across the street died recently, we learned from reading her obituary that she was a talented musician and a former professor. That caused us to berate ourselves for falling into the city trap of not taking time to get acquainted. Shame on us!
So, we recommit ourselves to searching out new circles in the city. I got a library card, joined a book discussion group and plan to join the other seniors at the local YMCA doing water aerobics and maybe Yoga. We go church shopping on Sundays. We strike up conversations with strangers at the doctor’s office (which has occupied a huge chunk of our retirement schedule). We also spend a lot of time answering robo calls that tell us we are pre-qualified for a medical alert device, a free alarm system or the best Medicare supplement insurance plan.
When our eyes open in the morning, we immediately recite the day of the week. We need to be prepared with that information, just in case our family doctor gives us the screening test for dementia. But it really doesn’t matter. Retirement days are all a blur of Sundays, with a few Saturdays thrown in.
It’s’ only been six months, so we should give ourselves a psychological break. We will adjust to this new, self-centered way of life. We will find new activities and people to pin our schedule around, including our first grandchild that’s due in September. But in this transition, we find ourselves anxiously seeking news of former faces and places, delighting in the progress and growth we learn about, and sighing with a tinge of regret at having left them.