Friday, November 18, 2011

Living Richly in Retirement-Moving as the Mood Strikes

In a previous post, I talked about the fact that in retirement (or else where), you can have most anything you want.  You just cannot have it all at the same time.  Today it occurred to me that in retirement, you can also DO everything you want-within reason. More importantly, you can do what you want when you want.  This, to me, is one of the most important advantages of retirement.

Today, I got out of bed, kicked up the heat and returned to bed with my morning beverage and laptop. Since it's Friday, I did a quick run down the street to what must surely be one of the last yard sales of the season.  After this, I went into my sewing room.  Since then, I've done nothing but cut fabric. Oh sure, I made a couple bathroom breaks and grabbed some lunch.  At four thirty I did a half an hour of chair aerobics.  Basically though, my entire day was spent doing this one thing-by choice. No dishes have been washed. I honestly forgot to get anything out for dinner. I have done, literally, nothing else. I honestly don't know when I will return to my sewing room. Oh, I know it has to be eventually.  After all, I'm sewing things to sell as well as Christmas gifts.  I'll get there though, when the mood strikes.

Tomorrow, I have no idea what I will do. I know that I will get up when I feel like it. I also know that I have a church obligation (a Thanksgiving in gathering) that will require me being at church for all services this weekend (four total). I know that sometime between now and Monday, I need to reread a summary of the movie Life is Beautiful (which I have seen and refuse to watch again, even for a grade). I also know that I need to come up with a crock pot dinner for Sunday as we do as little as possible on Sundays. Other than that, I have no plans.  This doesn't mean that I will do nothing. It only means that I haven't planned or decided what I will do. 

Some people feel the need for structure in retirement. How much depends on the person. some retirees set alarms, and have a regular daily schedule.  That's not me. Other than meals and scheduled appointments, I don't have a daily schedule-I play it by ear. Again, this doesn't mean I do nothing, or that I sit on the couch watching classic movies (although I might do that, and right now it sounds like fun).  It just means that I allow my mood, the weather, energy levels and the full moon to guide me day to day. This is where I add that yes, I'm a widow and live alone. However, my husband was also a free spirit and I don't know that I would be MUCH more scheduled if he were here. I'll also admit that I don't need to go out of the house for additional income-I found a way to do that mainly from home.   Since many retirees need to add income somehow, obviously that creates a scheduling need. If that situation changes-I'll work with it.

I have many things in life that I do. I quilt many hours a week (for fun and money), I cook and can when the mood strikes. I read voraciously. I enjoy travel and the planning of that travel. I write on occasion. I'm learning to take good pictures. I buy things and resell them on line. I watch TV on occasion (give me Homeland and Top Chef, please). I volunteer (some of which is scheduled and some of which is done at home). I work on my house and yard-at my own pace.  Obviously there are many more thing I've missed here.  The point of all this is that I get things done, without a schedule or much planning.

Admittedly I am able to do this because my income stream is managed from home, and because I have an avid interest in everything I am involved in, even my small businesses. There are certainly disadvantages to turning hobbies into businesses.  The advantage lies in the ability to make the business part of your routine, to weave it in and out of your life, at home or on the road.

It's true that there are some situations where loose structure is required (thinking primarily of travel, church commitments, or when it's my turn to host the Christmas party).  I try and control those situations as much as possible. It's also true that I can live this kind of life because of certain things I do, such as stock up shopping (I can, if I choose, avoid stores for a long time-with the exception of a produce and milk run).

I know that this way of living is not for everyone.  Wanting or needing structure or repetition is understandable, and different people function differently.  For me though, to paraphrase Scarlett-"I'll decide what to do tomorrow-tomorrow".

What about you?


  1. I do so agree with you! I have been retired for 8 months and I refuse to have any commitments that are longer than one day. I love not having to be anywhere after so many years of being ruled by a calendar and a clock. I feel like a liberated woman who cannot get enough of EVERYTHING!! Great to read your blog.

  2. I dream of the day when I am not ruled by work stress and meeting everyone elses needs, except mine. I hope I live to see retirement and get a little time for me and able to enjoy life on my terms. I feel like I have lost myself.....not even sure what I would do if I had any "me" time (except catch up right now on some much needed sleep).I envy what you have.

  3. I think you have it just right. I have been retired only a few months but I can see a pattern forming in my daily routines already. For me, the day sort of presents itself to me in the morning. The day may feel like a "cleaning" day so the focus for the day becomes cleaning. Or the morning feels like a day for "reading" so that is what I do for hours...etc...Of course the other daily chores like meals, clothes washing, etc...still get done but they are arranged around my focus of the day. When I try to plan out a week with a schedule I invariably get cranky and actually don't do things as well as I do when the mood is right. Does that make sense? And I had orignally planned to do a bunch of volunteering when I retired, but now that I'm here I am loathe to commit to more "schedules". That may change as time goes on, but for now my time is my own.

  4. Oh, yes! I have one volunteer commitment and one meeting with like-minded people a week, and the rest of my time is my own. It's the best thing about retirement, this being able to decide what to do and when to do it every day.

  5. Although I may not have much money, I am rich with my time! Another thing that I do now that I never did before is to say "No" more often. If my husband wants me to go somewhere with him and I don't want to - I don't! Same with anyone else. Why should I put myself in a place I don't want to be? Plus, it is good to have hubby out from underfoot every so often.

  6. Michael is more of a planner than I am. I don't need to have an agenda when I get up (only on weekends as I'm still 2.5 years away from retirement). As I dropped him off at work this morning he asked are we going out tonight or staying home? I said I have no idea right now, we'll see what I feel like tonight! I like to go with the flow. My days are so highly structured during the week I don't want to have to plan anything on the weekend.

  7. Painted, I agree. there are days I have to be places and sometimes too many things to get done, bt I get to control the time and place

  8. Jane, that makes a lot of sense. I am fortunate that much of my volunteering is actually done at home (I act as chairperson and liason to various homeless and low income resruces so much of my work is crounging and scheduling others)

  9. I am one of those folks who remains rather scheduled, even after 10 years of retirement. I have enough commitments that I must be rather organized to fit in everything I want to do.

    But, there is a growing attraction to your approach. A day that just unfolds: for me that only happens when on vacation. Maybe I should "schedule" a day that is allowed to just be whatever it will be. I know that sounds silly, but if I don't plan for a day that is unplanned, it will never happen.
    Does that make any sense?

  10. Bob, it sounds like a great idea.I have a lot of things I have to get done, and many days are busy all day long, but I just choose day by day, with the excepetion of theose few out of the house appointments.


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