I have a confession to make: I am one of those people who regularly has more things to do than time. I have been known to write here and elsewhere that I wonder how on earth I ever had time for a job, and said it with pride.
While some people have a single passion, I have many things that I like to do, and many more things that I want to try, at least once. In fact, a blog post down the road is surely going to be about how the mantra "Don't try, just do" is one that I think should be eradicated. Just off the top of my head, activities that I try and keep in my life include sewing, quilting, drawing, painting, photography, writing, church activities, taking college classes, travel, the movies, meeting people for lunch, knitting and many more. That list does not include basic house, family stuff, or the regular good book.
Retirement guides, gurus and books regularly instruct us on how to fill our days, using every method, and I have read more than a few, from Ernie Zelinski and his Get a Life Tree onward. Books abound on how to be busy in retirement, decide what you want to do in retirement, and more.
I certainly would not want to see folks not plan for retirement, don't get me wrong. Reading those books was valuable, and I know more than one person who has been at lose ends in retirement while deciding what to do with the rest of their post work years. In fact, I have had some more than filled retirement days. I have shared what I did "today"' on occasion, listed my retirement goals for a week and for a month, and more.
Lately, however, I have realized something. I don't WANT to be as busy in retirement as I was when I was working. I'm no longer particularly interested in having my days "filled" if you will. I want time, and lots of it-to sit and daydream, to stare out the window, to sit on the swing and watch the dogs in the summer, to read a book, even to binge watch House of Cards in two or three days if the mood strikes. I don't want to tell a friend I am too busy to go to lunch, and if I want to read a book from start to finish in two days, so be it.
Don't get me wrong. Anyone can have too much down time, and some of us need more scheduling than others. I have blogging friends who prefer to go from dawn to dusk and that works for them. It is true that for some folks too much down time is unhealthy, and it is also true that the old image of a retiree sitting in front of the tube snacking all day is a scary image for some.
As an enforced early retiree I get that. I've been through some of that, and dealt with the fact years ago of my new lifestyle change. I also feel pretty strongly that as a retiree I need to be contributory, and active both for my own health and that of the world if you will. What I am unwilling to do is do it all, or even as much as I possibly can on any given day. To that end, my new goal is to try and plan to do one "thing" a day.
On Monday, I baked many dozen sugar cookie cutouts, as I planned for one of my homeless shelter group programs to be decorating Easter Cookies (which they did). This took me three hours in total, and it was the only thing I planned all day. Now, this definitely does not mean it is the only constructive or semi-constructive thing I did, but it was the only thing I planned to do. The rest of my day was low key and played by ear. I read half of a book by a new author while eating some kettle corn (a true addiction), and I watched some of the new season of the Harry Bosch series on Amazon. I sat in my chair and cuddled with the dog for quite some time, and I forced myself to do a small local errand, just because it was sunny and 75 degrees out (I no longer walk outside, but in my living room to a program).
Yesterday, I volunteered at my shelter, and spent an extra hour making cookies with "my" women, before leaving them to their own devices and heading home. In earlier days, I would have gone straight to a crafting group, done some errands and then headed home-maybe. Yesterday, I drove home with all the windows down, and spent the rest of my day doing similar low key spur of the moment stuff at home, including downloading patterns to make felt food for play food kitchens (which I will give away, as I have no little people in my life as such-not that I mind).
Today, I planned not a thing-because we are paying for all those seventy and even eighty degree days in January and February with a blizzard day!! I have planned nothing, nothing I say, and in fact am still in my nightgown with a sweater and sweats added at two in the afternoon (I can hear the gasps now!!). My day to this hour has been a relaxed hodge-podge of printing out Easter stickers for a craft, writing, perusing new quilt projects and just sitting with my feet up.
I do still have a small notebook/journal and I do still write a few to-do's each day, but they are very few, and most of them have to do with things like making sure I entered what I was eating, remembering to find a quiet place to meditate, and doing my two mile in home exercise walk. Each day has only one "project goal" and that is flexible, to say the least.
I still have a pile of goals and "want to dos", including a family cookbook gift, family history research, designing a quilt, and planning a beach trip - just to name a few. I've just realized that I have few deadlines. The few times I do want to meet a deadline (to plan a trip, make a cookbook as a Christmas gift), I've simply put that deadline farther out. The bottom line is that I'll do everything on my list and more, just when it works for me. And I certainly will have some days when projects will take over my life from dawn to dusk-summer canning comes to min, as do those days when I will be taking senior college (Ollie classes) a couple times a week. As they old saying goes, this new slowed down schedule is a guide, not a rule.
Meanwhile though, my goal for next few months at least is to experiment with taking it slower and enjoying life more. Hopefully, it works for me!