Sunday, June 27, 2010

On Retirement

It has been a month since I left the world of the working masses and entered this new phase of my life.....Retirement. I have to say that it is proving to be an interesting time of my life. There are some things that I miss, but mostly there are things I am learning.

I have learned that I can stay up until two in the morning watching movies and it is OK. Probably not the most exciting thing in anyone's life, considering that my choices are movies like "Snow White," "Peter Pan," and "Cinderella." None of those movies where men chase each other around in cars, trucks or on motorcycles, shooting at one another. Or movies where things blow up a lot. Nope. Not for me. Watching "Snow White" reminds me of when I was a little girl and my Dad took me to a theater to see this Disney classic. I remember how scary it was, watching Snow White run through the creepy forest and how I laughed at the antics of the Seven Dwarfs. I think part of the memory is the fact that I got to spend time with my Dad. Mom wouldn't go. She held the belief that movies were sinful. I wasn't allowed to go to movies when I got a little older. Perhaps this is why I love these old movies. Teen-age rebellion run amok. I still can't watch "Bambi," tho. I cry when Bambi's mom gets killed.

I have learned that I don't need to feel guilty if I don't do the daily chores immediately upon getting out of bed in the morning. Previously, on the weekends especially, I felt the need to do things right away because I only had a certain number of hours before going back to work. This morning, for example, while enjoying my morning coffee, I spent a little over an hour going through some quilting blogs that I like to read. Which led to perusing a folder of quilt patterns that I have saved on my computer, looking for just the right pattern to use to make a quilt out of some delicious fabric I bought a short time ago, which led to drawing out the pattern on graph see how it goes. Now, the earth didn't stop rotating because I didn't wash the dishes first thing. Oh, they did get washed, the kitchen floor did get mopped and my bed is made, but I didn't feel guilty for leaving those chores go for a time. Letting go of that guilty feeling has taken practice. I am getting pretty good at it.

I have learned that I now have time to take absolute delight in the simple pleasures that life has to offer. Before retirement, there was never enough time. For anything. At least it seemed that way to me. I don't ever recall a time that I wasn't working, whether it was on the farm or at a job. But now, things have changed. When I go for a walk I have time to enjoy my surroundings. There is an old historical house about a block away with the prettiest lawn and flowers, along with benches for the public to rest on and take in the beauty around them. In the fourteen years that I have lived here, I had never had the time to stop there and enjoy on my walks with my dogs. Now it is a regular stop for us. Sometimes while doing something in my apartment, I will look down to find two pairs of eyes staring at me. You know the ones I am talking about. Those big, brown puppy eyes. Now, instead of finding something to keep them busy and out from under foot, I find that I can take the time to flop down on the living room floor and pet and play. There is real pleasure in having Jessie sit beside me, lean into me and smile that little demented chipmunk smile of hers when I give her the attention that she needs. The same goes for Lilly, who is too wound up to just sit, but who will bring her toys to me so I can toss them for her so she can go pick them up and hide them again. We are working on the "fetch and bring back" thing, but if hiding them makes her happy, so be it. I find that I can spend a day baking bread or sitting at my sewing machine, and truly enjoy the simple things that make me happy and content.

I find that I do miss seeing other people on a regular basis, but not so much. I have never needed to be around large groups of people, unless they were members of my family. I think I take after my Grandma Paul in that respect. I remember that she wasn't very comfortable in crowds and that she was happiest when the people surrounding her were her family. I don't feel the need to go out and spend time with acquaintances, but thoroughly enjoy the occasional days when I see my family. Like the times when one or the other of my children will call and ask if I would like to go to breakfast or lunch, or when one of them just drops by to see me for a little while. These times warm my heart and take care of any need I feel to get out and about and see people. I also love going to dance recitals or hockey games or any of the activities that my grandchildren are involved in. And the family get-togethers that we occasionally have are really high on my list of things I love to do. Even the phone calls I get where the grown-up child or grandchild on the other end says that they just wanted to see how I am or tell me about what they have been doing, make my day. I do miss seeing Starla, as we spent three years in each other's company and many hours talking about everything under the sun. But I stop in to see her once or twice a week and she calls me regularly to let me know what is going on in the shop, like yesterday when she called to tell me that she was doing a happy dance because one of the most difficult dogs we worked on (scratching, biting, growling, nasty dog) was now going to another groomer. We thought we should send that poor groomer a sympathy card, but refrained. So I guess, all in all, I see enough people and talk to enough people so that I don't really miss it all that much.

Old habits are hard to break. I still find myself usually up at the crack of dawn, sitting in my rocking chair, coffee cup in hand, watching the sunrise. But now I have the time to watch. I find myself sticking to some routines, such as immediately feeding the animals and giving them fresh water first thing in the morning. They get cranky if I don't. Especially the fat cats! I still do the hated and despised laundry early on Sunday mornings, as this is the best time to do it while everyone else in the building is still asleep and I have the laundry room to myself. I still fix myself a couple of eggs and toast for breakfast most mornings, as I did before going off to work. As my father before me did most of his adult life. Routine like this is good. Keeps me from getting lazy or into the habit of sleeping late, which I probably couldn't do anyway. A lifetime of getting up early in the morning has wrecked any hope of being one of those people who can sleep until the crack of noon. More power to them - sometimes wish I could.

Perhaps at a later date I will decide to do some different things. Maybe take a couple of classes at the quilt shop in my neighborhood, or take a road trip, just for the fun of it. But for now, I think that this retirement thing is probably one of the best decisions I have ever made. The stress level is non-existent and having time - real time and not just a couple of hours on a weekend - to do the things that I love, is priceless. I do believe that it is working out just fine.

And now I think the pooches and I will go for a little walk down by the river and see what we can see. Life is grand.

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