Thursday, July 24, 2014

A day in the life of a retiree

I thought I understood busy when I was working 50-plus hour weeks as a Program Manager  in an international  insurance company.  Long hours at work, chores in the evenings and hundreds of miles of weekend driving to see my husband who lived in another state. Now that was busy.

But much to my surprise, life seems equally busy in retirement. And my retired friends all say the same thing.  They still don't have enough time to do everything they want. 

Like most, I wasn't sure what to expect in retirement.  How would I spend my days when I didn't awaken at 5:45 a.m. each day, spend countless hours in project meetings, eat lunch at my desk and leave work around 6:00 p.m.?   Surely I would much more time available once I left the work rat race.

I dreamed of a retirement where I would relax, read books, take leisurely walks and bike rides with my sweetie, spend time with friends and family, travel and write a book. In my dreams retirement would be an idyllic, calm environment where I could stretch my creative wings.  Sounds wonderful, doesn't it?

But here's the reality.  My retirement is crazy busy!   And as I talk to retired friends about how busy they are, I decided this might be a good blog topic.

At the risk of boring you to death, here's a summer day in the life of this retiree.  Not glamorous but certainly action packed...

  • Get up around 7:30 a.m. without an alarm
  • Enjoy a leisurely breakfast in Mike's sunny study, drinking tea and catching up with news, emails and blogs on my iPad.
  • Clean the kitchen, and as much as I hate to admit it, this sometimes includes washing dishes leftover from the previous night's meal.
  • Shower and get dressed in my usual attire of shorts and a t-shirt.  I absolutely love this carefree style of dressing compared to that of the financial services industry. 
  • Do laundry. Repeat. 
  • Work on the day's projects.  Fortunately we don't need a lot of meetings, but similar to work  there are always more projects than time or money.
  • Here is a quick list of our summer projects: 

    • Clean and paint antique cast iron chairs I bought at a garage sale

      Removing chipped paint with wire brush

      Painted with rust-converting primer
    • Help Mike re-build the screen porch 
      Buying red cedar posts at an amazingly large lumber yard

      Mike cutting an existing beam (don't worry, the porch is held up by floor jacks)

    • Create a new flower bed
    • You just can't have too many flower beds
    • Remove ornamental grasses from the yard, till the soil, add peat and plant grass seed 
      Mike tilling "away the moments that make up a dull day" (to quote a Pink Floyd song...)
    • Paint the music room
      No longer a boring white color
    • Dig weeds taller than me and remove a tree stump the side yard
    • And when I really need a chance to relax I escape to my study for some creative projects like jewelry making, sewing purses or denim tablecloths.

Oops, perhaps I got carried away with projects.  Here's the rest of the day...

  • Head out to lunch with Mike at one of our favorite restaurants where we leisurely enjoy lunch with iPads and lots of iced tea.  
  • Run errands on our way home including necessary project stops at Menard's, Lowe's, Target, Joanne's, Michael's, and yes of course, Goodwill.  
  • Spend the next 4-5 hours working on projects.
  • Exercise if we have time.  I know. I know.  Excuses still exist when you retire.
  • Start fixing dinner around 7:00 p.m.
  • Eat dinner on the screened porch around at 8:00 p.m.
  • Finish the evening on the porch with a glass of wine or Mike's recent drink concoction of a "light" raspberry/pomegranate martini.
  • Watch the evening news.
  • Call it a day and crash for some of the best sleep I've had my entire life.
And I want to mention the great times with family and friends staying overnight at our home, which we've lovingly named The Red Bird Inn bed and breakfast.  This summer has been especially busy with guests starting with Kevin and Kathy and Gretchen and Craig during the Indy 500 weekend and continuing with:

  • My mom's visit in late June

Eagle Creek pontoon boat ride with mom

Lunch with mom in Broadripple

  • Gretchen and Craig stopping by on their return from a wedding in New York

Great visit with Gretchen and Craig

  • A visit this week with my friend Ruth from Des Moines

Lunch with Ruth after biking the Cultural Trail in downtown Indy

And we continue to enjoy time with our friends in the Indy area.  We spent a cool July evening with our friends Atanas and Elena and their sons.
A lovely evening with Elena and Atanas
Martin and Alex enjoying musical instruments 

  • For the July 4th weekend, we traveled to south eastern Indiana with friends for a George Thorogood concert followed by a day of wine-tasting.
George Thorogood Concert

Lunch with Chris and Garth, Terri and Darwin and Terri and Scott at Huber Winery
Ok, I admit it.  I'm tired just thinking about all of this activity.  But really this is a path of our own choosing.  We love this life, even though it's busy.  We recognize that we have a lot of interests and projects and are fortunate to have great people in our lives.  And maybe it's just our personalities, or the busy 21st century, but we still have too many things to do in not enough hours.  Just like when we were working, but a key difference now is that we have the luxury of choice.  We can decide how to spend our waking hours.

Just like working days, I still collapse into bed each night.  But now I fall asleep smiling about a fun visit with friends or accomplishing a task I'm excited about instead of agonizing over a work-related problem.  Not dull, this retirement life, but definitely a new definition of busy...


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