This retirement business is a lot of work. When I bowed out of the rat race, all my retired friends warned me, “You’ll be so busy you won’t know how you ever used to get everything done AND work full time.”
Well, that was just silliness. I’d have an additional 40+ hours a week at my disposal. I would do Incredible Things. Right?
To date, very few Incredible Things have been done. The more things I do, the more things I find that need doing. Some days I just stop looking for them. If they haven't been done by now, it's not going to hurt anything to wait a few more years. I meant days.
The biggest reality check of retirement is that I can’t use the “I don’t have time” excuse to account for a cluttered house or weedy flowerbeds. Well, I can, but no one’s buying it, especially friends who are still working. Now there’s no one to blame but myself. Remember that 40+ hours of “free time” I have every week now? Boy, does that come with a lot of annoying expectation. It was much more convenient when I could blame employment for interfering with my life.
I’ve spent the first month of being retired trying to figure out what day it is. My lack of cluelessness in this area is not necessarily linked to no longer having a Monday through Sunday job. If I’m ever in an accident and the emergency responders try to determine the extent of head injuries by asking me what day it is, I figure I’ve got a one out of seven chance of getting it right. Then I’ll be bundled off to the trauma center to find out what is wrong with me.
When I worked a job that was essentially one huge, never-ending deadline, the days were easier to keep track of. Each day of the work week had specific tasks to be done on a specific timeline and Friday sparkled like a diamond at the end of it all. Oddly, Friday is still a day to look forward too and weekends still feel like time to be treasured like a dragon guarding its hoard of gold.
Amidst the decadence of drinking my morning coffee without the day’s deadlines looming over me, I still feel the need to Do Things and Be Productive versus drifting through another day in some imaginary bon-bon eating retirement nirvana.
When you live with dogs and a Farmer, days of bon-bon eating nirvana are rather like unicorns. I’ve been told they exist. I have yet to see one. I still live with my planning calendar open on my desk in my home office. Call me a troglodyte—I like writing things with ink on paper. I don’t keep appointments in my phone. I’m a bit like Siegfried Farnon and James Herriott, looking at their handwritten call sheets over breakfast at Skeldale House to determine the direction of their day. (What wonderful books those were. Now I want to go back and re-read each of them.)
I’m happy to say the days of color-coded planner entries are gone. For years, I lived according to a highlighter rainbow: yellow for work appointments, orange for personal appointments, pink for dog events, green for new work deadlines (for the last year, these changed seemingly at random, as if they were another test of my mental acuity) and blue for Really Important Things That Can Not Be Forgotten.
I’m admittedly bad at doing nothing so my calendar is still scribbled full of stuff. Only now it’s stuff that (for the most part) I want to do. I’ve been an OCD list-maker since I was old enough to write and that hasn’t changed any. Each day includes a list of things I want to achieve. The best about these lists is if I don’t get everything checked off, who cares! Now I have something to put on tomorrow’s list.
With my mom’s house cleaned out, the estate sale behind me and the property on the market, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about all the projects I’m going to do now that I have time to do projects. To date, I have actually done zero projects. However, I have bought supplies for much project-ing so it’s just a matter of time, right? And even though I haven’t managed to finish anything on my original list, I’ve created additional projects.
Retired people (of which I am now one) tell me this is normal. Wow. For the first time in my life, I’m normal.