After I retired, I had some preconceived notions about the shifts that would be taking place in my life. After more than three decades of raising children and working, I looked forward to a fresh way of living life, a new path that opened up a whole realm of unending time. The prospect of long, beautiful days filled with writing, painting, playing piano and no end of other potential artistic pursuits filled my spirit with anticipation and joy.
Somehow, those days did not materialize in the way I had envisioned.
I’m in my fourth year of retirement, and I cannot deny that there have been sporadic allotments of writing afternoons, oil painting classes, and choir practices. However, even though the days of showing up for a job are over, those supposedly now-free hours seem to get sucked up in some weird vacuum. You know how retired people often say they can’t comprehend how they ever had time to work? It’s true. One hundred per cent.
First of all, I wasn’t counting on being tired. Being retired means being older. I simply do not have the energy that I had when I was younger. The creative time I have planned in the afternoons following morning chores and errands often ends up filled instead with a “quick nap.”
Another explanation for lost time is the luxury of not having an alarm drag me flailing from my bed at the crack of dawn (or before). I sleep longer, especially when visited by bouts of insomnia at night (which are growing in frequency). And when I wake up, I often lounge around in bed, reading stuff on my phone or toying with the idea of going back to sleep…I think I fantasized about morning lounging pre-retirement more than anything else. And after more than three years, the novelty hasn’t worn off.
Although time doesn’t slow down, the pace sure does. When I was working, I was making tea in my thermos and finding stolen moments at work to take a few sips out of it. Now, I can sit on the couch and nurse my mug for as long as I want to. Before I know it, I’ve been awake for two hours and I don’t have much to show for it.
Another sad reality—getting older didn’t simply readjust my pace. It also readjusted my metabolism. I wish it had left me just a little bit of it rather than taking it away altogether. Because of that, and in the absence of running around after kids at school, it has become imperative that I fit exercise into my daily routine.
I guess this sounds like a whole lot of excuses for why I seem to be losing (or wasting) so much time. But where I saw myself as a full-time artist post-retirement, what I have actually become is a full-time housewife and committed lounger. And it’s absolutely ridiculous!
Although it is quite pleasant to be free of the restrictions of schedules, time tables and to-do lists, I think it is time to concede that productivity in retirement absolutely requires some type of time management. And yet, I don’t want to be overly regimented either, because wasting time here and there is not only delightful, but strangely necessary at this stage of life.
I am also starting to realize that a writer/wannabe artist also needs some designated studio space to make a mess in—and to leave in a mess, if she wants.
Some things to consider for the New Year.
If you would like to read more by me, I hope you will check out my book Corners now available to order in print and as an eBook!