The ironies of retirement

This is not a complaining post. I am very delighted with retirement. It’s just not what I expected.

When I worked, I always wanted more time. There were activities that I wished I had more time for so I could either do it properly or enjoy it more.

One big one was more shopping time so I could properly accessorize an outfit. I didn’t have a lot of time for that. When I shopped, it was for basics like underwear and business clothes. Those touches which bring an outfit together were sometimes out of my reach of time. I haven’t bought a piece of jewelry since I retired and I don’t need clothes either. I bought several pair of jeans and khakis when I retired and I am good for a couple of years. The real truth is that I care less about that because I don’t have places to wear them. (No, I don’t garden in my pearls!)

I did buy shoes even though I didn’t need them. I am not dead!

I thought I would take classes. So far, in one year, I have taken one class. It was awesome (Photoshop) but evening classes really don’t excite me anymore. I’d like the class to be at 10 a.m. (not too early, not too late) and the only classes offered at that time are “How to Play Pinochle” at the local senior center. Not quite ready for that yet.

More time for exercise. Bingo! Did that. I am not running (or walking) any marathons but I do get my exercise with the crazy old ladies at my local gym. If you want to know just how crazy, you can click here.

More time to read. This is a see-saw ride. When I worked, I would easily read six books when I went on vacation and very few the rest of the year. This year on vacation I read one book. I read one book a month now that I have the time. What’s with that? Do I read slower? Am I more distracted? I do read more current events articles so I may actually know when we are at war.

Non-retired friends look at me with wonder. All that time! How wonderful! Retirees just smile. They know that stuff expands to fill the time. To accomplish things on my bucket list I have to schedule, plan and squeeze things in just as I did when I worked.

New baby frog!

There are some things that I spend time on that wasn’t factored in my pre-retirement planning. Do you know how much time you can spend watching fish and breeding frogs in a pond? Lots! It’s way cheaper than therapy too.

There is nothing more special than lunch at the local pizzeria with the beloved husband.

I have successfully socialized Jake, my old, diabetic cat so that he isn’t terrified of guests. It took 14 years but most of the progress has been in the last year. Now working on Hazel!

I am writing! I always wanted to write and if I would have had more encouragement in high school I may have taken a different career path.

Writing takes time. You look at everything differently. Is there a story here? Will it offend anyone I care about? (I have great stories that I can’t write about!)

I have had lunch with some friends that are more difficult to connect with when I was working but other friends fell off the edge of the world.

At the end of the day, the things that I needed post-retirement are no longer critical. Every once in a while I miss the crisis mode that came with my old job, accomplishing new exciting projects and dressing up in pretty clothes but on the whole this new me is pretty happy.

28 thoughts on “The ironies of retirement

  1. I laughed out loud at the thought of a cat learning to accept company…after 14 years. I wonder if he secretly still despises all these extra feet and smell in his spot, but tolerates it for the extra food you give him? Kitties are wise that way.


  2. Don’t you think perhaps you’re still adjusting? After so many years of working, only one year into retirement would seem like you’re on an extended vacation, not “the rest of your life.” You have so much creativity in you, I think you will find a new flow. I do better under pressure. Now that’s not necessarily a good thing, but put a lot of time in front of me and I end up with my own equivalent of watching frogs! I don’t know why we do that, but perhaps we need it! At the end of the day that you can call yourself happy, is just the best thing anyway! 🙂


  3. I get a taste of retirement for 2 months every summer. Then I return to teaching. I plan to retire in 4 years and hope that I don’t squander my free time by being on the computer too much. Your ‘frog time’ sounds relaxing and enjoyable.
    Maybe I can finally schedule a trip aboard the Orient Express … and read the many books I’ve bought that I rarely have time for. You’re right. There’s never enough “free” time to do what you want to do.


  4. I’m glad you’re writing now that you retired.

    I enjoy teaching and find a great deal of satisfaction in seeing students learn, but the paperwork and meetings drive me crazy sometimes. I have lots of ideas of things to do in retirement. My main desire is to stay healthy so I can enjoy it.


  5. At first i was a bit lost in retirement, all those dreams of things that i could do when i had more time, now i “work” at my second vocation, nature photography, when i am not helping my mom or other family member. So i work at least three days a week at a “new” job. yippppeeee!!!, i am free, thanks kate for letting me get that off my mind, 🙂 MJ


  6. I have been working part-time for a while now and seem to have less time than I did when I worked full-time. What’s with that! Sounds like full-time retirement won’t be much different. But I do like this semi-retired life better than the pre-retired one.


  7. This post is wonderful because I feel like I’m reading about myself! There are just not enough hours in the day, no place to wear pretty clothes, a different mindset entirely. And life is still good. Thanks!


  8. I think once you are as old as you are – you can audit any class at the community college for free. You will participate in class and do the assignments – you just won’t have an official transcript. The only real drawback is that you will probably be in a class of 18-22 year-olds. A drawback for you, that is – they would be lucky to have you and your insight in their class.


  9. “once in a while I miss the crisis mode that came with my old job,” Not me. 34 years inner city high school in Miami and everything imaginable that went with it. I was exhausted and bitter near the end . Not with teens so much as bureaucratic and administrative nonsense. I just couldn’t do it any more. Best thing that ever happened to me was coupla heart attacks in 2006, got out and the rest of my time belongs exclusively to me.


    • From comments you have made here and other places, I suspect that your job was not only stressful but the administrative roadblocks made it less rewarding. Too bad it took a heart attack to get you where you are.


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