As of mid December, I have been retired for five years. It’s hard to believe. I can’t say they’ve gone slowly or quickly, but they are, nevertheless gone. So, what do I have to show for it? What have I learned? Have I figured out this chapter of life through trial and error? I thought it time to ask myself some of these questions. Milestones cause one to reflect on where they’ve come from and where they are headed.
There is no right way to retire, or wrong way for that matter. I’ve learned so much about myself and what makes me tick. I wish someone had written a book or a guide to prepare me so that Barclay and I wouldn’t have this great responsibility! We who are retired now couldn’t find anything that spoke to the raw feelings that we both felt – the anxiety, the puzzlement of what this new life should look like. There are many books that advise on when to pull money out of your 401K, how to choose the right Medicare plan, how to purchase long term health care, where should you choose to live. But we couldn’t find anything that addressed how one feels during this transition so, in spite of putting some very personal feelings out there into the stratosphere, we hoped we could help those thinking about retirement, new to retirement, or even several years into it. The idea of our Revisionist Retirement blog was born to satisfy a need to write. Cathartic, self-therapy (a lot cheaper than seeing someone) – our blog gave us a venue to vent, a place to express ourselves, a platform where even if we helped one person, we had accomplished something.
In the beginning, retirement is novel, just like anything else that is new. No alarm clock anymore, no regimen, no deadlines, no trains to catch, a blank slate that you must create a picture on every day (or not.) I learned that I desperately need to know that I have, at the least, one activity per day. To this end, I tried relearning mah jong and I dabbled in pickleball, a game that has swept us baby boomers up like no other sport before it. I also tried knitting (couldn’t get the hang of that counting and dropping stitches), hiked like never before, and took the dog out more times than he was interested in. Then I volunteered at a local stable working with disabled children through equine therapy, and I took a real paying job at a farm cooperative. Basically, I complained a lot to my poor husband that I was unhappy! God bless him for putting up with me. An unhappy wife does not make for a fun partner!
The pandemic that wouldn’t go away didn’t help any of us, although in some ways we were allowed to feel as though we too were working remotely. We were in good company with many others who suddenly found themselves not going into an office anymore. We could pretend that was us too!
What have I learned from these last five years? Try, try, try. Push yourself forward, both physically and mentally. Wallowing is the worst thing you can do for yourself. Depression can creep in very easily. Don’t wait to start spending money that you’ve saved up for all these years. Hopefully, your children will make it on their own. Your job is done on setting them on the right course. The rest is up to them.
Most importantly, if you get it wrong and you don’t like the end result, rip up the blue print and change direction. Nothing is set in stone. As I said in an earlier reflection, you are the director, the producer of this documentary. You can decide if it has the happy ending you desire or you can fill it with regrets. Time ticks by so while I can’t say I’ve loved this decade of my life so far, I’m hopeful that I can still get it right (my right, no one else’s)
As always, my key takeaway is…
Enjoy the ride!
xox Barclay and Joy