Cereal Toys
This Week in Elder News: 14 March 2009

The Excitement of Retirement

category_bug_journal2.gif There was a time in my life when I jetted off to exotic places, worked with kings and queens and movie stars and heads of state, hobnobbed at press parties with big-time rock and classical music stars and even visited the White House a couple of times including the Oval Office and the hallways, although not the private rooms, of the residence. That was when I was producing television shows.

Later, at the dawn of the internet era, I became the managing editor at cbsnews.com when it was new. Nobody knew then how to build web pages that worked, there were hardly any retail sites let alone Google, Wikipedia, YouTube and all the other services we take for granted now. The New York Times wasn't online yet and CNN.com, which launched about the same time as cbsnews.com, was our only news competitor for a few months.

We helped invent how the internet – or, the editorial end of it – works during those first couple of years and it was as exciting as my years in television had been – like what television must have been when it was in its infancy and many of the production techniques had not been developed yet.

In both careers, there were always hard deadlines and the hours were long, sometimes weeks (in one case, three months) without a day off. I used to think the reason I never married a second time was due to all the dates I canceled when emergencies and last-minute glitches arose.

I wouldn't trade a minute of it. I traveled the world on someone else's dime, got a peek at the lives of the rich, famous and powerful, worked with really smart people and best of all, it was a better education than any college or university could have given me.

In 2005, I was forced to accept the idea that I had retired. After a year of looking for work following a layoff from my last place of employment, I had become too old – at least in the eyes of the 20-something interviewers I met.

It took awhile to become accustomed not only to my new circumstance, but the to the word “retirement” itself. I didn't like it. It sounded tired, worn out, useless, boring. I got over my negative feelings about it, but when I step back and look at my days now, I can see why many young people dismiss us. Here is what I did yesterday, more or less in the order of occurrence:

  • Read the papers online with my morning coffee

  • Answered overnight email

  • Read some blogs

  • Played with the cat for 15 minutes until he decided a nap was in order

  • Paid some bills

  • Did two loads of laundry

  • Watched the first television reports of the Madoff guilty plea

  • Made a big batch of beef stew

  • Cut short a walk when I got too cold, having been fooled by the bright sun into thinking it was warmer than it was

  • Ran a couple of errands in the car

  • Read a couple of chapters of a book

  • Played with the cat again

  • Folded all the laundry (god, I dislike folding laundry)

  • Wrote this blog post

  • Answered more email

  • Had dinner while clicking through various TV news programs

  • More cat play time

  • Read a couple more chapters of the book

  • Watched The Daily Show from the day before

Have you fallen asleep? With minor variations, especially for seasons of the year, that's what happens every day, occasionally interspersed with lunch or dinner with friends.

And I LOVE IT. I love it as much as I loved all that running around the world meeting people and doing new things. A big part of it is that every day I can work at my own schedule rather than an employers'. If there's something more interesting than dirty laundry, the wash will wait for me. When I sometimes feel snoozy in the afternoon, I can have a nap. And when the warm weather arrives, with my little Eee PC now, I can walk down to the ocean even when I have a blog post to write.

There is the kind of time I never had before to work for a political candidate, have long phone conversations with faraway friends and leisurely walk through a museum or take a drive to a town I haven't seen in my new home state. I no longer need to cram all the household chores into a weekend and my personal interests into an hour here or there as I did for decades.

I would never have guessed it 15 or 20 years ago, but retirement suits me and I don't care how boring it appears to others. It feels right for this season of my life and that list is all the excitement I need.

[At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Cowtown Pattie presents us with the tale of the life of Auntie McGasser.]

Comments

Ronni I have taken that trip in the past with you. A little different that for the past 30 years being solo I had time to fulfill my passion of building homes and creating gardens. Two years ago thought it was my last as I moved to the city to be near children and grandchildren.
Not so, 6 weeks ago I began a small home in my hometown. I want to return to the country setting. So I have stepped out with confidence that this city dwelling will sell when the time is right and I can spend some of my last years in a place that has my heart. All of this and I am now past 70. I am more at peace then ever in my life and guess I am the happiest when creating. This has to be the last!!!

Sounds good to me. I could stop working any time and always find things to do and things to not do. I hope it can happen someday.

Amen! Retirement is so lovely (I retired in 2005 also) and find I love it too. Being in command of your days, weeks etc. is so wonderful. I had a long laundry list of things I planned to when I retired (learn Chinese script, volunteer somewhere and much more) but find I just want to play and smell the roses.

Before retiring I stayed quite busy, both on and off the job and as I approached retirement many of my friends felt I might struggle with all the idle time looming in my future. This October I will have been retired for 7 years and I can guarantee any who may have wondered if it would fit....it fits like a glove. I love it!!

I worked hard and gave all I had to give while doing it. And now I pursue retirement with the same vigor…..which of course in the case of retirement actually means with no vigor at all. My day on average Ronni quite remarkably resembles yours and it is my opinion that I wouldn’t have it any other way.

In fact, it would seem these days that even having to schedule a dentist appointment or maintenance on my home’s air conditioner presents the greatest of impositions to an otherwise meaningless and insignificant existence, which I shall continue to “endeavor to persevere” for the remianing days yet to come!

You captured it well. I retired in 2004 and almost (but not quite) fell in love with the retired life right away. Now I can't imagine why I waited so long. (Probably some financial reasons) Work was another life and I have a new one now.

Retired ten years ago at age 65. Refused to take a box boy job at the local supermarket even when my partner threatened to throw me out unless I "did something"
The only regret I have is that I didn't do it sooner. I have been bored once or twice in the last ten years but it didn't last long.
For the first time in my life -
I'm free!

You folks are giving me retirement lust again. Soon -- I hope.

Bingo! You have got it so right. I retired in 2006, and I don't regret a day I have spent not working on someone else's priorities. I love retirement.

I have a nice volunteer job doing something I believe in, and am lucky enough to still have the guy I married 39 years ago around to remind me of what I value.


Ronni, you caught the wonder of the mundane very well. I don't mind doing laundry, but I resent shopping for groceries and putting the stuff away. Weird, but true. But the very unstructured nature of our retirement day is a gift after the years of working for someone else. It is a gift I never take for granted.

Janinsanfran- retirement lust...great term for a sentiment I share!

I, too, crave being the "master of my ship". Places to go, people to meet, stories to tell.

Can't see myself staying home much when and if, make that a big IF, we finally kick the work habit, but finances might impose a different set of rules.

Health is the other unknown, but HUGE factor.

Thank you, Ronni, for publishing Auntie McGasser today - it was fun to write!

So true!
But I'm REALLY impressed with your "cat time." I clap myself on the back if I manage 5 minutes with the largest cat. (The vets advice.) And then there's our lovely dog.
I always remember my mother saying, "I'm getting nowhere fast." And that was when we three kids were young!
The imposition that Alan G writes about is also too true.

I really didn't want to retire but my job had become unbearable boring and my usefulness was less and less. Therefore, I knew I needed a year off as I considered my time very valuable. Now with the home done and my schedule much like yours I will be looking for some volunteer activities to try.

Just got off the phone with a friend of mine who retired about 1 year ago. She's still having adjustment difficulties. Even though many of our tasks are not high powered there is a good balance from the mundane to the meaningful. She hasn't found that balanced. Did you find it so easy from Day 1 or did it take a while? I'd really appreciate it if you could address this matter and then I'd pass on the link to her.

Right now she is considering going back to school. She's already doing volunteering, but she still feels quite lost.

Unlike you, Ronni, my travel began after retirement (although mine was on my own nickel)and I loved being able to do the things I had only dreamed of. I can no longer make those exciting trips and my travel is within the U. S. staying with family or friends. Yet, I still love having the option to do what I want when I want. Retirement is still wonderful.

Ronni, you are so right. Your list could be mine. No cat but have a husband who works still. I just scratch his back instead of his ears.

I retired from my "real" job in 1999. My large house in the big city had just sold, my small house in a little town had closed. My Dad was ill so my sons moved my stuff to my new home near one son and I went to my Dad's where my sisters and I helped get him back up on his feet.

I wasn't ready for retirement so I took a a couple jobs until I retired for real in 2004. And got married. I think that was my transition period. I do love it now. I take care of my 2 year old granddaughter two days a week, am making art with my son on weekends, and read, read, read.

I agree with you, even though I still work part-time, and enjoy it. If I was solvent, I'd give it up totally and keep your schedule for the rest of my life.

I have a friend who is also retired, but she runs around like the energizer bunny on steroids. She's constantly asking, "Why don't you get out more?" Because I don't want to and I don't have to. I don't ask her what she's running from with all that frantic activity. We all retire in our own ways.

Ronni, I am currently forcibly retired/unemployed. Too young really to not work and too old to get hired in the current economy.
My days are very similar to yours with the addition of job applications, market trading and a daily bike ride.

The corny and much abused term "In the moment" comes to mind. Or the likewise overused "being present." There does seem to me to be more of that in my life now.

I'm guessing you are feeling the same. Perhaps that is the real benefit of retirement "Ronni Style."

Whatever you're doing; you are doing it well. Please keep it up.

Rich

I love this freedom. Nobody owns me.
Can Madoff say that? Nay Nay Nay..

Life's grand. As long as we have our health we live the life of Riley:)

I have been waiting for retirement and sometimes think I should keep on working. But, as a nurse in a Neonatal ICU, it is really demanding of me physically and mentally. You have shown me a side to retirement that seems very inviting....
Thanks.

Great post, Ronni. I just accepted that I'm retired a few months ago. It's still hard for me to say it. We have a few more years until Beth can retire too. I'm looking forward to that!

I'm nearly there, Ronni, still hang on to some of my clients for tax season and use the proceeds to finance trips (this year, Paris, yeah). I loved your post, a lot of my days are like that with the addition of writing a couple of chapters or taking some photos or just being.
The days feel like an old sweater.
I am never ever bored.
Xo
WWW

I'm another member of the "I LOVE retirement" chorus. I am a little more active than you, in that I have a couple of volunteer activities that I love that get me out of the house and working with people a few hours a week. But the schedule is very light, and I have plenty of time to sit and smell the flowers. I always resented missing things when I was working and now I can take the time to do what I want to. It's a precious gift, and I savor it every day.

Oh, Ronni what an exciting life you led.I so envy you that because I never figured out what to be when I grow up and now its too late. Life just sort of happened by with children and stuff. That is so great that you are enjoying the retirement side now. I love it too and so does Syd. If only we had a ton of money to do some cruising and stuff. But being home and able to play the piano, watch movies, write to you and do all sorts of things with no one bossing me around or putting me down....it really is wonderful. Ronni I love what you write - you seem to hit the nail on the head.

Ronni, Your blog helped me to follow vicariously the career path to which I had aspired! Did you ever meet Sally Jesse Raphael? I used to love listening to her on WMCA in the 1970's. I still can't understand why you are spending your retirement years in Portland, Maine. However, many people say the same about my retirement life in Vero Beach, Florida! Thanks for your lively blogs. Ruth Marchese

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