A few years ago, in response to a chance remark from Grace Coddington, I wrote a post about being retired. Coddington, at age 74, had recently left her job as Creative Director at Vogue. And, replying to a reporter who asked if she planned to retire, she said: “Definitely not.” She didn’t want to “just sit around.” So Grace Coddington thinks that retirement means just sitting around.
“Uh. Okay.” was my first thought after reading Coddington’s words. “What the hell?” was my second. I admit I was a bit miffed at her comment. It was tone deaf, if you ask me. And like a post on the now defunct blog Man Repeller that same year which depicted retirees as wearing baggy pants and slippers, kind of offensive. And my post in response was, in part, about the many shapes of retired life. How experts say that most people these days don’t retire to sit around. Instead they do all kinds of things, including taking on new careers, partial careers, “bridging” careers, unpaid but meaningful work, and new ventures of every description. Like blogging. So, take that, Grace Coddington.
Today, when something reminded me again of Grace Coddington’s comment, I realized that however much I protested Coddington’s words at the time, I must accept that I have indeed perfected the art of sitting around. Of course I’m not necessarily sitting around all the time. But, since retirement I have had to learn to adjust to a slower pace of life. A life that is not punctuated by work commitments, and work deadlines.
In my case that means no more prepping, marking, or doing report cards on a strict schedule. No more living my daily life minute by minute according to bells. No more rushing to classes, cafeteria duty, staff meetings, committee meetings, department meetings, parent-teacher interviews etc. etc. Or hearing my name end in a question mark most of the time. “Ms. Burpee? Can you help me with…?” “Sue? Can we order…?” “Sue? Can you come to the meeting on…?” Well, you get my drift.
Retirement for me meant lots and lots more free time. Obviously. But adjusting to having so much unscheduled time sounds easier than it is. Especially if you have no intention of spending your retirement just sitting around. Especially if you have a well-developed sense of guilt. And perhaps a need to be seen as a productive and valued member of a community. Adjusting to retirement takes time. And, odd as it sounds, effort.
After the first fraught months of my retirement when Hubby was ill, I began to focus on what I was going to do with my new life. Who I would be, now that I was no longer Ms. Burpee. That bit was hard. At first I mourned the loss of the old me. Then, I focused on what was next. What did I want to DO? I wanted to write a blog. So I set about researching and reading all about that. I bought a dedicated journal and began to plan. I tried to set up a schedule or a routine for myself. And, hardest of all, I had to learn to value what I was doing.
I still had lots of free time left. Hubby and I planned trips, took trips, and I wrote about them in my blog. I travelled more frequently to New Brunswick to spend time with my mum. And I wrote about that in my blog too.
Perhaps the part of my work life I missed the most was the daily, casual interaction with students and colleagues. Retirement was a bit lonely. So I reached out to friends from work. I didn’t wait for them to call me. I remembered how busy work could get, and how time can slip by when you’re busy. Suddenly you realize that you haven’t seen someone for months. So I sent group emails and organized drinks and dinner nights. That was a lifesaver for me. I had so missed yakking with my colleagues.
Once I retired, I had way more time to focus on my fitness. I no longer had to worry about squeezing in my workout at the end of a day of teaching and before I sat down to mark. So Hubby and I ski, cycle, or walk together at least once a week depending on the season. The rest of the time we do our own fitness thing. I walk or ride my exercise bike six days a week while listening to an audio book. I do a weight work out once a week. And these activities have priority during my day. I break off blogging to go for my walk. Or plan a shopping trip or a lunch date around my morning workout.
Even with all these retirement activities, I do NOT neglect sitting around. In fact I am, and always have been, an expert at sitting around. Mostly because I have my nose in a book. And now that I have more time, breakfast book time, after lunch book time, and evening book time are a given. Unless Hubby and I are travelling. But even then I demand a slow day every couple of weeks on a long trip. I must have a slow day for sitting around with my book. Otherwise I become a very cranky traveller. And no fun at all.
And in the last year of retirement, I have even mastered the art of the afternoon nap. After lunch, after book time, comes nap time. Guilt-free napping is a joy.
So here’s where I’m going with this whole discussion of retirement, my friends. I realized today, that adjusting to retirement might well have been training for coping with lockdown. Except for the travel and meeting friends part. Retirement forced me to develop skills which have helped me weather this seemingly endless pandemic. I’m serious.
Consider the challenges of coping with life during lockdown. I’m not talking about the very real health worries of some, the stress of working front-line jobs particularly in health care, or the uncertainty of those who have lost jobs. Those are extremely difficult situations, and in no way resemble my retirement journey.
But let’s look at the challenges for those people who are healthy, who are not working dangerous front-line jobs, and are coping with life at home during a pandemic. Stress, uncertainty about the future, boredom, lack of social connections, loneliness, grieving what has been lost, lack of daily routine and structure, lack of personal space because everyone is at home at the same time. On a certain level that’s exactly what I felt I faced when I retired. Without the added fear of what the world was coming to, of course.
Experts including psychologists and psychiatrists interviewed by Jeff Wilson last fall for his New York Times article How Will We Cope With the Pandemic Fall agree that coping with lockdown life during a pandemic is tough. They suggest “acknowledging the hardship” that is pandemic life, and say that it’s okay to “grieve for what is lost.” But they counsel not to “get stuck” in one’s misery. They say that planning helps during uncertain times, that establishing routine can be helpful, that fitness and healthy eating are even more important than usual. And they stress how vital it is to maintain social connections.
Of course adjusting to retirement is not exactly the same as living through a pandemic. Especially a world wide pandemic. But when I was reading this article I began to see that the coping mechanisms that helped me navigate my first year as a retiree have also helped me this past year.
Without travel and seeing friends regularly, pandemic life can get boring. So Hubby and I changed up some of our usual routines. We planned more treats. Simple things, like stopping for chip wagon fries after a long walk or taking a picnic lunch when we go skiing. Last spring, we had daily homemade, midmorning lattes on our deck. We do more of our fitness activities together. We planned projects together. I began to include Hubby more in my videos and monthly vlog. That has been a hoot. I’ve begun to make phone calls to family when I’m on my exercise bike. It’s amazing how long I can pedal when I’m yakking.
Of course that does not mean that I have not had my COVID meltdowns. If you read my blog regularly you’ll know that when I have a wobble, I always acknowledge it. Ha. Usually by writing a post about it on my blog. Like the psychologists say, it’s okay to grieve, as long as we don’t wallow.
And I will say that my planning skills, the fact that I always try to follow on a loose weekly schedule, and make fitness a priority have served me well during the pandemic. We all know that too much sitting is not good. But judiciously applied, one’s sitting around skills can come in handy during lockdown. Reading is good. Educational. Diverting. Relaxing. If one chooses the books carefully, it can be very stress-reducing.
And let’s not forget the joy of a well-deserved afternoon nap.
Now. I want to come back to that reference I made earlier to a post on the blog Man Repeller back in 2016. The one that offended me because it depicted retirees as sitting around in their slippers and pastel baggy pants playing cards.
I’d forgotten about that until this morning. And now I’m chuckling because all around the world for months and months this past year we were all wearing slippers and baggy pants. Retirees, people who work from home, millennials, teenagers. Yep. Slippers and baggy pants or sneakers and baggy sweats. I don’t know about the pastels. We all swanned around the house in our “lounge wear” most of the time. Except when we got to dress up to go to the post office. Or the grocery store.
So maybe that Man Repeller post wasn’t as offensive… as it was prescient.
Now how about you, my friends? What skills do you have that helped you cope with lock-down? Are you expert at sitting around? Or maybe napping?
P.S. Thanks so much to Aaron Caycedo-Kimura for giving me permission to use his work. I love that cartoon. I guess that means that I do triathlon too. Ha. You can find more of Aaron’s work here.
63 thoughts on “The Art of Just Sitting Around”
Would be interested in knowing about your weight routine. Before I used the weight machines at our gym which worked well for me. I haven’t been able to come with a good routine using hand weights, bands, or body weight. So, I’m getting a little flabby! Any advice or recommendations would be great.
I just bought a couple of issues of Shape magazine and use their programs, especially the one that uses an exercise ball with hand weights. I cobbled them together with my physio strengthening exercises for my “problem areas.”
It’s 2 am and I am reading your post and I feel as if you are speaking directly to me. I retired in January and have been swimming under water in a heavily chlorinated pool trying to figure out a solid 24 hours. I’m a list maker and like to check off my tasks…43 years of list making is a hard habit to break when you end your professional life. So, I’ve been making lists and checking off tasks like disposing of papers and reference materials I’ve refused to let go of just in case I needed them. I am working on napping without guilt (catholic guilt about everything). And I’m getting reacquainted with my husband who retired 5 years ago and has his routine down pat. I do think I am getting more than I gave up by retiring. I simply couldn’t do it anymore. I just read your original post on retirement and appreciate your thoughts and advice on the topic. Timely post for me. Oh, I’m up by the way at 2 am because my back is killing me…cleaning my windows and screens was on the darn list for yesterday and by God after 4 hours of straight work I was able to mark that off the list. I may have to be careful what I put on the list moving forward.
I’m a list maker too, although cleaning tasks always get knocked down the list by something more “urgent.” 🙂
Lovely cartoon – made me giggle. I’ve been very tired today so my afternoon nap was 2 hours long! I had an operation 9 days ago and my first Coronavirus vaccine yesterday, so either or both of those may be implicated.
I continue to read, walk and get out of the house every day or 2. Today I attended the most wonderful lunchtime concert very close to home. Gorgeous music performed by an excellent flautist, a very talented pianist and an exceptional baritone, who made me cry he sang so beautifully. It was wonderful but exhausting and I needed a very long nap afterwards 😴
Sounds like you are doing exactly the right things for a peaceful recovery, Maria.
Long time fan of the nap. When my children were babies, I put them to bed after lunch and then headed off to the sofa or to bed and slept too; it saved my sanity and probably theirs as well. Even a 15 minute doze as they watched Sesame Street worked wonders. And now, in this peculiar life, I doze most afternoons because I get up at 6am on weekdays so am tired by 1.30pm. I come from a family of dozers and have always defended the habit stoutly, especially when I was in the crazy world of young-mum – dozing seen as quite decadent, along with magazine reading back then. But, like you, I dislike the idea that retirement means immediate withdrawal from the real world of action and money-making and forging ahead in a recognised fashion. It is patronising and patriarchal. There are many ways to live a long life.
I’m with you, Annie! I’ve napped since my first daughter was born, following the example of my mother. She had at least three under-Fives at home with her for the better part of twenty years, and every one of us learned to respect the sacrosanct nature of the afternoon nap — while we napped, she generally read. . .
I napped while my four were small, and then when they were in school, I kept on napping. The habit served me very well the years I taught music — kept me fresh enough to make it through the last lesson at 9:00, even if I’d been up by 6 that morning. Even during the years I taught at uni, a fifteen-minute nod-off on the yoga mat I kept in my office would do the revival trick (as students, we always suspected that’s what they were doing behind those closed doors, right?)
So I’m well prepared for retirement — the napping — or the sitting around — balances the productivity, and as you suggest, Sue, the skill comes in handy during a pandemic. Hmmmm, maybe we could all be giving Zoom Master-classes! 😉
My last principal used to take a twenty minute nap in the afternoon. Some of my colleagues mocked him for it. But I remember that he was always at school before anyone else, and had way more energy and creative ideas than his naysayers.
Funnily enough, I started the napping thing when Hubby was ill. The rehab program at the heart institute was very supportive of families and I went to a workshop ahead of Hubby’s discharge from hospital. It was about caring for him at home and caring for myself. They said that when he rested I should rest. So I took their advice, and every afternoon when he slept I read and napped. There’s nothing like a nap after lunch on a snowy winter’s day.
I left my work aged 49 . There was a deal I couldn’t refuse & to be honest I’d had enough – Enough keeping to someone else’s rules & timetables though I can understand a vocation , like teaching , being much missed . My youngest sister is a physio , a very good one who really cares about her patients . She’s still working part time in her early sixties with no intention of retiring . The actress Judy Dench recently said she will work as long as she can . Well if I was a famous actress I’d probably want to carry on too . But my office job in government service was no vocation , nor was it very exciting . Retirement can always be an opportunity for other work , paid or not . I was a volunteer with the local animal home for over twenty years , interviewing prospective adopters . It was very rewarding work but at seventy I decided to ‘retire ‘ properly & don’t have any regrets . It’s about freedom to me . Freedom to enjoy my own company when I feel like it . Freedom to take advantage of sunny days in the garden . Freedom to recharge my batteries with a little snooze . Even in these pandemic times there is lots to enjoy & be thankful for .
What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare?
Leisure by WH Davies 1911
You are so right, Wendy. It’s about freedom. And not signing yourself up for activities that you find out later you don’t want to do at all. 🙂
P.S. I wonder if you saw the comment on IG from the lady from Goa? She loved your travel post.
Thanks Sue . I missed that
The notion of that retirement means “sitting around doing nothing” is yet another expression of ageism. Some derive their identity from work, and for them, stopping is not valued. If Coddington wants to keep working, no one is stopping her. But deriding those who have chosen to step off that path shows a limited capacity for appreciating leisure, freedom, life-long learning and yes, a sweet nap.
It is totally ageism. I’ve wondered since if she felt a bit judged by the reporter, and that made her defensive. I had so many people ask me “What ARE you going to do?” when I retired. In that tone that said “how will you ever fill your days?”
Great post as always, I also remember being like a lost child when I first retired.
It took me about two years to really feel happy with my new life and get into somewhat of a routine. Ten years later , plus pandemic, I sometimes don’t have enough time in my day to the things I love to do.
Exercising on a daily basis is also a big part of my life, always find time to squeeze a short nap after lunch. LOL
Purchased an ebike last year and loving it, Looking forward to more cycling adventures this upcoming summer.
We are really missing socializing with friends and family. Hopefully soon we can get back to normal…
I did too, Denise. And I think that instead of adjusting to the new pace, many people rush back to work.
Your post could not have come at a better time. I am in my second week of retirement. Thirty-one years of elementary school teaching, and now I’m done. Right now it is still surreal and I feel like I’m doing something I’m not supposed to. When I went into town a couple of days ago, on a week day, in the middle of the day, I felt guilty. This, combined with the current covid situation, is a very strange situation indeed. I went back and read your previous post on retirement as well and it helped a great deal to hear that you had very similar feelings, especially that of grieving the loss of such a big part of your life. Thank you. -Jenn
Oh gad… I felt like that for a couple of years, Jenn. Especially in the fall. Especially when I was out somewhere enjoying life off the school grounds. Ha. It goes away, trust me.
I have been thinking about this too. I plan to retire in two and half years. After working all of my adult life I find myself wondering how I will manage no longer working. I have a routine at home for the necessities of a daily healthy lifestyle but how will I fill the “work hours”. I love reading and napping too but feel a pull to do something productive outside home. What will that be?
You’re smart to be thinking ahead and planning ahead. Practice your retirement. Try some activities now. Talk to retirees. Research volunteer opportunities. Try some out while you’re still working. Become the person you always meant to be.
A couple of years before I retired, I started casting about for the things I used to do and had abandoned over the years because I had no time. Old hobbies like writing, knitting etc. In the end O abandoned the knitting and kept the writing. When I was still working, Hubby used to say, “We can come here skiing during the week when you retire, bring a lunch and miss the crowds.” And we did. I did not sign up for organized activities for a few months after retirement. I learned from a friend who volunteered for too many things too soon, thinking she had tons of time. In the end she resented having no time to herself, and she was cramming her fitness and leisure into the weekend just like when she worked. But I did prepare by making lists, doing some research on art courses, morning fitness classes near me etc. Everyone is different, of course. Good luck with your journey, Mary.
My husbamd is an expert at doing nothing, slowly. I have always resisted this. But now, read a lot, sit a lot,nap a lot. Have one slob day a week-slippers,housecoat all day. dressing only for dinner,just s I can remember how to do it. I am not quite yet into phase 2 of retirement. I have good intentions of calling people,(never quit happens)and you know whee good intentions lead. I have not yet figured out what the next chapter will be in meaning activity! Any and all suggestions appreciated. I taught for a while,did lots of volunteer work,PTA activities ,etc,worked for my husband,got a graduate degree,we have been fortunant to travel lots, so now what?My favorite authors better get busy because I read so much! Keep up the good blogs. They are life savers in keeping the world open!
Oh… I have slob days too, Susan. Those I am doing nothing at all except read my book days.
So glad your retirement included blogging. I always enjoy your blogs.
Thanks, Pat. 🙂
I get up earlier and happier than I did when I worked.
The only thing I miss in this pandemic is travelling, that was our biggest perk to retirement. People ask how w keep busy and I am always surprised by it. There is so much to do when you live in a big city to keep us busy exploring and learning. Even though we are locked down we still take drives outside the city, look for interesting sights.
With the lockdown we instituted Cheap Tuesday Movie afternoons complete with popcorn and coke. Sometimes we “buy” the VIP tickets and have nachos and beer with the blinds pulled down.
We started Saturday Shakers – cocktail hour experimenting with different drinks.
I miss the travelling a lot too. That has been our biggest lifestyle change during COVID. And I think for the next year or so it will be no big trips abroad for us.
It was only in my early 50’s that I bravely acknowledged and owned my introvertednss. After retirement, I was gradually and unknowingly learning to be comfortable with and unapologetic about my preference for aloneness, which I blissful refer to as “soulful solitude”.
Fast Track to 2019 and COVID and I am a professional social distancer. I have left my house about 8 times (not including a week Husband and I spent in Tobago August) since COVID hit here in Trinidad & Tobago in the West Indies in March 2019.
I am surprised at how much I enjoy my own company since I retired. I think I’m a bigger introvert that I realized.
I am introverted and love to read, watch birds, read. I have worked part time for a number of years now and never feel “bored”. I have a house and yard to keep up, volunteer at our local food shelf, kid’s ministry at church, belong to a women’s group and 2 book/study clubs. I don’t think retirement will be too different and look forward to traveling more and more exercise. This past year when my husband worked from home we did get out and walk a lot more together and loved it. I am glad we like each other and are willing to grow and change together. Oh, my dad retired at 55, had 2 kids in university and one in high school and has never wanted to get another job. Driving kids around, paying bills, being in Rotary, church committees, Meals on Wheels and some travel has kept him busy. He is a really good “Puttering”.
You sound like a busy person, Christa. But just busy enough to suit you, and allow time for the activities you love.
I am incredibly conflicted about work right now. On one hand, I normally love my job as a secondary teacher. I was devastated when the normal school year abruptly ended in March last year, and I felt like I had a boring life with a lack of purpose and lack of job satisfaction. When we returned to school this past fall, I was initially excited. Now….months into this new world of teaching….I’m starting to think of retirement or quitting. Retirement is 11 years away, and quitting isn’t an option. What we are putting kids through – go to school, then get locked down, then go back to school, then get locked down, and so on, depending upon outbreaks, coupled with four hour classes, every other day with courses changes every other week – is becoming unbearable for everyone. So what do you do when you love your job but hate your working conditions? And you look to the fall and realize that it may not get any better? Hence, my conflict with work right now!
I guess, as with many other people, I’m thinking in terms of lists for “when life gets better.” And, although retirement is still years away for me, the pandemic is making me think about it, and start wondering “what would I like to do in the next phase of my life?” What will be on that list? Other than the days when I’m pouting about my working conditions, this is an exciting thing to think about. After a career of having work define us, retirement is a much deserved reward for people, and how it plays out should not be justified to anyone!
When you love your job and hate your working conditions? Hmm. Well, I changed schools and applied for a headship, but that wouldn’t be applicable for you. Different school, same unbearable conditions. I think it will be better in the fall. So many people will be vaccinated by then. What about planning a self-funded leave? Then again, by the time you get your leave school will be back to normal. And with two kids and a mortgage that might not be feasible anyway. So many things that I’d suggest in a normal world, like the both of you applying for a teacher exchange, are not realistic right now. Stu and I considered applying to both go to Europe on an exchange. But by then he was too close to retirement. So I just did the half-year leave without pay.. twice… where we went to… guess? 🙂
Such a timely post for me. I retired from teaching high school (Spanish and French) in January. Although I thought ahead a little, and have some projects to work on, my motivation is low. I blame part of that on the pandemic. My husband is in health care and has worked more during the past year than ever before, so there has been a lot of alone time. My book consumption has skyrocketed.
The benefits of an afternoon nap are many. When my children were young, I put them down after lunch and either napped or read a book for an hour. I maintained that schedule until they went to school. They didn’t have to sleep, but they had to spend quiet time in their rooms, alone. That practice saved my sanity.
Thank you for sharing your thoughts on retirement. I’ll be re-reading this post!
Funny this past year my book consumption has plummeted. I once defined retirement to my friend as being able to go downtown for a lovely chatty lunch with a friend, drive home feeling rejuvenated, and happy, and know that I could still curl up with my book and a cup of tea for an hour before dinner. Two treats in one day kind of life.
In a normal time, retirement would be 4 years away, but now who knows and who cares? I have always loved my job but 2020 is (it’s still 2020 for all intents and purposes) THE year, I could/can “serve” and that’s why I became a civil servant in the first place. So when I retire I will really enjoy to be the master of my time, in spite a well-developed sense a guilt and no napping skills to speak of :-).
Thank your for another great post!
Being master of one’s own time is the key for me.
I was an expert at sitting around even before the pandemic.! 😉 But, with the pandemic I knew I needed more routine, because our routine of weekly events (mostly playing music with others) was gone. My husband and I came up with a daily ritual of writing in a journal, playing music together (me on piano and Larry on the double bass), reading non-fiction books together and exercise. One thing I hope to do now that we have both received our second shots is to walk outside more. We live in a city, so most of our exercise was in the back yard and on the treadmill. I also have gotten quite busy with Zoom events, which I enjoy, but can become wearing (Zoom fatigue is real). 😊
We are looking forward to playing music again soon with our band mates and friends.
Interesting post Sue. Thinking of your Mom and hope she is doing well. Is she home now? ❤️
Thanks, Liz. Mum is doing well. Getting stronger bit by bit.
I much enjoyed this cute, “spot on” post.
Really interesting topic! My first reaction was that you seem really busy to me! Figuring out how to make fruitcake, skiing up a storm, walking, vlogging, blogging, studying fashion, choosing books, analyzing themes in the books and writing about them, and curating your wardrobe…when do you have time for a nap?
I have been giving this subject a lot of thought, though. I retired from a university faculty position in 2015 (still teach one online grad class per term) but revved my psychology practice up to full time, and three years ago I signed a five year lease on office space, thinking I would of course want to keep going until 68! Do I? Maybe. Work provides structure, which I I need. I learned this while staying home for a year after each of three babies. I get depressed if I don’t have structure.
I was on a panel at a psychology conference a couple of years ago and the topic of our presentation was retiring from psychology practice. I had the psychological segment–others had ethics and professional wills. Anyway, one comment from a Milwaukee psychologist really stayed with me. She said, “Being a psychologist is my identity. Without that, what am I, who am I?” I can relate.
My husband’s retirement a couple of years ago has me thinking more about my own, however. That and the huge demand for services due to the pandemic. I have been able to work via telehealth and more recently a mix of telehealth and face-to-face, but the pandemic has taken some of the wind out of my sails. I’m thinking harder about cutting down my schedule, or stopping entirely. When I do retire, I know it will be a big adjustment, even though I never have trouble finding things to do.. I’m not a napper, but I love to read. Will I be able to drag myself away from the books and stay active physically? What will my identity be? What status will I have, once the professional role is gone? Lots of questions. Thank you for a very thought provoking post!
Ha. That first bit made me laugh, Pat. I do spend a lot of time on the blogging. That’s why the topics have to be what interests me because, like reading, I can’t stand writing or researching something in which I have no interest. I’m remembering university essays as I write that.:) I think finding a new way to define yourself is important especially if work has defined you before retirement. That was key for me, anyway. People would ask me “how will you pass the time when you retire?” And I didn’t want to just pass the time, just fill in my days. I wanted to be more conscious and deliberate about what I did.
I retired 36 years after a long and rewarding professional career in a local hospital. After experiencing the pandemic up close and personal and the bureaucratic nightmares and bungling that occurred I was happy to leave. I miss my colleagues and worry about their physical and emotional well being. Having just learned that we are going to a grey zone this weekend and knowing that many of the staff are working through an out break is hard. I really feel like donning my scrubs and PPE and running over…..but not vaccinated.
The hardest part of retiring during this pandemic time is that plans we had to shelve so many plans. Not forever of course but it’s like putting the brakes on when you are going at 100km. My extended family is in Toronto and we cannot travel there. We have a lovely cottage in PEI and cannot travel there at this time either( we need to get permission from the government, have point people set up to assist us and two week quarantine.)So we do day trips, order in, walk the dog, read and have far too much screen/sitting time. Going to bed at 4am is not unusual. I find myself envying those who retired before Covid and already had a ‘plan’ to work from. Intellectually I know the pandemic will end and better days are ahead. Emotionally I find retirement a struggle at this time.
I feel bad about my privileged, well pensioned whining when there are so many that have lost so much.
I hear you. When I retired at the end of January 2013 Hubby was diagnosed with a major heart blockage the day after my retirement party. It was totally unexpected. We both were in shock. And that first winter was hard. People kept saying it was good I was retired, but it didn’t feel like that. Time hung heavy for me, and we were both stressed to the max. I thought I was ready for retirement but not for one that looked like that. I really only started to adjust to retired life after his surgery, and when he was well on the way to recovery. So I do feel your pain at being thrust into retirement during a pandemic.
I retired 12 months ago after over 30 years as a teacher and as a government employee. My retirement coincided with the COVID-19 pandemic which meant significant rethinking of what I would be doing, seeing and experiencing.
For most of myfirst 12 months I have bumped along quite contentedly however after about 9 months I started to feel a bit depressed and unmotivated.
In order to take control of my newly retired lifestyle I realised that I needed to reinvent myself. This of course is easier said than done. My plans so far have included going back to hobbies and interests that I enjoyed before study, family, teaching and all the other things I thought were important took priority. In fact to help reinvent myself I needed to revisit myself. For me this means learning the guitar, reading heaps, watercolour painting, sewing and most importantly being a good wife, friend, mother, sister and daughter. It’s all about relationships. I’m not there yet but I’m working on it.
Also sometimes you need to sit around doing nothing. That’s when you check in on yourself and make more plans.
That’s kind of what I did, Helen. Examined what parts of myself I’d had to let go over the years when work and life became too busy. Good for you. I admire the sewing… I cannot bring myself to like sewing.
Your posts always make me smile and get me thinking about things. Like how much I am looking forward to retirement. As someone about 10 to 12 years away from it, (fingers crossed for health and a must call to that financial planner) I view it as freedom well earned, freedom to travel, learn new things, try new things, and really achieve independence – as the typical week’s structure and routine is no longer a 40+ hour commitment to others, but to me.
For the sitting around part, I have never sat so much during a day teaching as I have this year with Covid. I have a small classroom, and students both at desks, and on the desktop computer who are learning remotely. In order to maintain social distancing, and to present my computer screen for instruction and to monitor the class chat, I find myself sitting, way too much. My schedule is teaching 4 classes in a row before my prep period, with 4 minutes between each class. I need to remind myself to get up and move before the aches and pains do. I have recently discovered “chair yoga” and “yoga for classrooms” that I am trying to incorporate into my classes for 5 minutes or so a day. Due to social distancing, and more computer based learning, the students could use more movement breaks in their day too.
Oh gad, teaching while sitting would drive me crazy as well. Good idea to incorporate chair yoga for the kids. I love that.
I m going to quote my father: “now that I am retired I have no idea how I had time to work every day” He happily filled his retirement hours with all of the things he had wanted to do when work got in the way. And, yes, napping was a retirement activity if he so chose 🙂
What a fabulous example for me to follow
Ha. That made me laugh. I remember Hubby saying that when he retired. He wondered how he even had the time to work.
This post resonated strongly with me. I too retired after forty years of secondary teaching in science and biology. While teaching I also took a very active part in my school’s co-curricular programme and we were a family who did a lot together.
Two years ago I retired and for the first year I felt like a spare part and after working to bells for most of my life it felt strange to be able to do things at will. We walked, cycled, read, gardened doing a lot of the things that had been put off until …
Last year put paid to any plans we might have had. I tripped, hurting my back, the week lockdown started and had to wait weeks to see my GP. From there it was Xrays, MRI scan and a triple spinal fusion. Lockdown was immaterial as I was bed-ridden for quite some time. Progress has been very slow and the things we had thought about doing bit the dust anyway. No travelling to visit family in various parts of the world, can’t bend enough to garden much, can’t flex enough to paint or clean, can’t ride the bike and can’t sit for too long in the car to go very far. So I have developed good sitting, reading and nappjng techniques! A recliner chair has been a godsend as I can sit and watch tv, knit, read or nap in it. If my mind is active my mental state is ok but I admit that my physical state needs a lot of work! I guess the reality is that for me the year of lockdowns and retirement couldn’t have come at a better time as I don’t feel I have missed anything much.
Here’s to a better, brighter future for all of us.
It’s wonderful that you can be so positive about what must have been a difficult year. I read an article written by a woman with chronic illness who said this is the first time in years that she has felt “normal” because no one else is going anywhere either.
I agree wholeheartedly that a regular exercise routine has really helped during the pandemic. I’ve been a Barre student for nearly six years, and done well over 100 classes in my living room the past year. It punctuates my week to do classes MWF, and then get some walking in the other days. I had previously used the studio’s app during vacations or very snowy weather, and it sure helped that I already knew how it worked. Looking forward to returning to the studio very soon. Oh, and I also had perfected the art of sitting around since retirement! Don’t feel a bit guilty about it, though I want to start some type of volunteering when vaccination rates get higher.
I agree, Deanne. Exercise is so important at any time, but especially this past year.
So happy that you’ve decided to write a blog ,as your anti-sitting-around decision! As an antipod to baggy pants and slippers! And thank God for naps,as well
I so agree with Lauren’s father! I’ve had a busy schedule in my retirement (even did some studying, italian and some economic subjects at real university) till Covid and 2020
After some time adjusting,and questioning who am I,if I’m not working as a doctor any more,I was very happy (till Covid and all the other things)
I started to nap when I’ve got my dog,a week before my anatomy exam. He was 2 months old (so sweet,you can tell),I had to learn so much and he was sleeping at my feets….a couple of days later…it must have been contagious 🙂
During the last year,luckily,I’ve read a lot,started nordic walking (after some ten years) again….A lot of meditation has helped as well. Naps were not very often during the last year,post-earthquakes situation,I guess….
After some 7-8 months of trousers,leggings and yoga pants,I ‘ve wear silk dress (with trainers) today-everybody I’ve met was very surprised…, but it was a good feeling!
You have a dog now? How lovely. I see you in that silk dress with sneakers… very on trend, my dear. 🙂
No, no, unfortunately not. It was my first year of university, 44 years ago :). I have a long history of napping….
Uh oh. My mistake. The anatomy exam should have alerted me. Ha.
After “practicing “ for the pandemic for 5 years of retirement from teaching I revived my passion for needlepoint. I now design, paint and finish my projects as I listen to audible books.
Wow. That sounds like a dream retirement/pandemic activity, Debbie.
Thanks, Diane. I can’t believe that people are so fool-hardy, and willing to believe al manner of ill-informed sources.
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