I have a confession to make: The longer I am retired, the less I feel obligated to fill my time. It's funny, because I'm one of those folks who used to be proud to have more things to do than time available. I've been known to write in days of old on this blog and wonder how I ever had time for a job (saying that with pride). Heck, I remember when I swore I would never, never be one of those daytime TV watchers in retirement. I mean, people who did those kind of things are boring, right? They have no life, give retirement a bad name, and sit around with bon-bons. I mean, our parents did that, right??
That was then, and this is now. In the now, I get to watch Bosch on Amazon after lunch, while working on my knitting for an hour. In the now, I have absolutely no guilt about sitting down and reading the newest Joe Pickett mystery in a day with breaks for lunch and playing with the dogs and my half an hour walk.
On an average morning I wake sometimes between eight and nine am (remember I am awake past midnight). I grab my cola, adjust the heat/air conditioner as necessary, and depending on the day, either jump back into bed with my journal and tablet or climb into the chair by the picture window where I meditate, pray, make notes and slowly wake up. Yesterday morning, my twenty something son walked by and said "If those folks who read your blog could see you now!"
I have more things that I enjoy doing than I can count, a few of them serious passions. I have a list of things that I want to try at least once. I think the phrase "Don't try, just do" is not one that serves folks, at least me, well. I want to try many things, realizing that I'll only be good at a small percentage, and that I'll also only want to repeat and enjoy a small percentage as well. Sewing, quilting, taking a college class, writing, being involved in my church, going to the movies, meeting folks for lunch-all of these and more are a part of my life.
But I would be being less than honest if I didn't say up front that an hour or so in front of the TV is also part of my life. Sitting on the patio swing daydreaming and watching the dog explore is part of my life, as is grabbing that book, curling up in a chair and coming up for air only because I suddenly realize I'm hungry or that I need to move.
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 loose 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.
The bottom line for me though, is that I don't want or need 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. On the contrary. I aim for no more than one out of the house commitment on any given day (and admittedly there are days when that goal is a fail), and only plan one project per day. The rest of my day is in flux, to be as busy or as relaxing as I choose.
Just so you all don't think I'm still in my chair from this morning, this afternoon I've volunteered at my women's homeless shelter for a couple of hours, and thrown together two loaded ham and baked potato casseroles (with Easter Ham). so they can go into the freezer when I am done. So I've been out of the house and into the world today.
Now that the cooking is done, the rest of my day involves reading (I'm introducing myself to Randy Wayne White and Doc Ford), television (yes, I will probably binge watch Bosch on Amazon), and a few weight strengthening exercises (I hope to go full normal workout tomorrow, knock on wood).
Naturally, I still have a pile of goals and "want to dos", including a family cookbook gift, family history research, designing a quilt, and planning my road trip, knitting a gift, just to name a few. But none of them have deadlines. And while I would make more of a schedule if I ever felt like I was stagnating, for me this time of life is mainly go with the flow. A schedule is a guide, not a rule.
And now, I'm gonna pull those casseroles out of the oven, grab a blanket and put my feet up and decide if I really like reading Doc Ford mysteries. Because of course, you can never have too many authors to read!