I've now been retired for 11 years. Like everyone who retires, I was under the illusion life would get easier. After all, it's called retirement, as in sit back and relax, maybe take a breath, and ease into this new life. I thought being retired meant I would be in charge of my personal life better because I'm not balancing it with my work life. Makes perfect sense.
As I look back on the last decade, I've decided we need to change the term 'retirement' to something more truthful. I have no idea what it would be though. I'm not even sure one word could cover it. 'Redirected energy' seems a little vague, but it gets closer to what I've experienced.
Relax? I am busy ALL THE TIME. I've had to add a caveat to my 'to do lists' which describes what I mean in fine print. It states something to the effect of 'if I can fit it in'. I recently found a notebook in the garage where I had made a list of all the things I needed to do in the yard during one spring around 2012. There were probably 30 items on the list. After a quick review, I realized I still haven't accomplished more than half of them. Not only that, but they are still relevant today as needing to be done. Dang it.
I honestly thought I would have more time to accomplish more things since I would be adding at least 8 hours of supposed free time to daily life. I thought I would have more of a choice about what I do each and every day. I thought I would get to do all the things I had expected to have more time to do. Like read a book in one sitting whenever I want. Or travel more for longer periods of time. I thought it would be more relaxing.
I take full ownership of this though. I like to think the buildup of working a bunch of different jobs since I was in 8th grade led me to a lifestyle of many interests along the way. It fed and stored all those things for a time when I might be able to explore them more thoroughly at some point in my life. When that time came, it all came pouring out like lava from a long dormant volcano. There has been no way to slow the flow of possibilities.
What I didn't count on was the sneak attack of those possibilities leading to more possibilities. Or the people who joined my circle of friends bringing even more opportunities to thrive. Too many times my full calendar is upended by choices between what I have to do and what I want to do. Rarely are they the same thing.
I've decided I'm not going to think about what retirement was supposed to be anymore. I'm just going to revel in what it has given me over the years. Moments of wonder forever etched in my brain, guilt free naps, more quality time with my furry family, a somewhat better golf game although that's questionable, and taking the time to celebrate my accomplishments each and every day. Sometimes it's publishing my very own book and sometimes it's getting the yard mowed.
So, what was I thinking when I thought retirement would be all about relaxing? I've been wrong many times in my life and most of the time it's been more of a teaching moment I didn't know I needed. This is one time the lesson learned is don't think, just roll with it and find out what you're made of. So far, wonder is my favorite. It happens every day. It coexists with love and gratitude.