As I begin my second year of retirement—following the anticipated blur of the past 12 months—I recall the wisdom of two friends.
“You’ll get more done now because you’ll know you have only so much time,” a neighbor shared when my youngest child went to kindergarten and I went back to work. I spent the next three-and-a-half decades doing my best superwoman impersonation, efficient to a fault.
“It will take you a half a day just to sign a greeting card,” quipped a retired girlfriend when I quit working last year. I chuckle thinking of her comment as I walk around in circles in my house, wondering how it possibly could be noon already.
She was right. They both were.
By now, I envisioned having all my retirement projects finished with new ones well under way. Ha!
Incredibly, “There’s always tomorrow” sneaked into my vocabulary, totally defying my former reputation as the Energizer Bunny, a workaholic or “too busy for me,” depending on who was tossing the labels around.
Now, there’s no guilt if I linger in my living room to listen to Hoda and Kathie Lee’s banter on TV. Matt, Savannah, Al and Natalie have become new friends, sort of. Still too disciplined to actually sit down and watch their shows, I’ll tune in and give in … if I want to.
Doing what I want to. Nice. For sure the past year, I smiled a lot. If I could draw retirement, it would look like this:
But wait. That doesn’t mean I’ve transformed into a slug. It’s just that retirement appears to come with a license to procrastinate, which is as frustrating as it is refreshing.
To my credit, since retiring I went on an organizing/decluttering frenzy, don’t sleep late, revved up my freelance writing, lengthened visits with family and started this blog. So why do I beat myself up about those projects, plans, books and whatever that I just can’t seem to get to? Retirement clichés, like “You’ll wonder how you had time to work,” are true.
Honestly, I can’t imagine being bored. Ever. This morning a retired acquaintance told me she is so bored she cleaned her neighbor’s oven. Really?
I’m sure I could fill the next several months just doing photo projects. That one bugs me the most. At least six years behind in family scrapbooking, I hoped to be caught up six months ago. Recently I came across boxes of prints I stashed behind a long tablecloth in preparation for that retirement activity. Jump drives I purchased last year to copy thousands of pictures from my computer remain unopened. A large bin containing my mother’s photographs and other mementoes has been sitting here, beside my computer, for months. I’m nearly ready—not quite!—to admit to a deficiency in time-management, which had long been one of my strong suits.
In 2003, at age 4, my granddaughter looks at her “Ally Book” with her then-2-year-old brother. He has a book, too. But photos for their 4-year-old cousin’s book sit in “retirement project” boxes.
When I worked, I cleaned my house every Saturday. Now that every day is Saturday, I’m lucky if I swipe a Swifter at the dust twice a month.
“Do you have a routine yet? You need a routine, you know,” says a friend who retired a year before I did and whose jammed recreational, educational and household schedule is planned to the minute.
Uh, sure … go to Jazzercise or walk with my neighbor, read the news on line, check emails, check Facebook, write, run errands, meet friends for lunch, do housework, talk on the phone, write some more, check Facebook again … hey, where did the day go, and does Happy Hour Club meet tonight?
All right, I vow to be more productive in Year 2. Surely the first “me year” of doing what I want was justified after more than 40 years in the workforce. When the weather gets chilly I’ll pull those boxes of photos out from under that table and get started.
But this is certain: The next year will fly by even faster than the last one.
An injury last month was a wake-up call to appreciate what is truly important. No matter what projects pile up, my priorities will be family, friends and health.
And especially love.