We sold the house 6 weeks after we put it on the market, and we were on our way to a new life together in one house and one city. It was an exciting time, and a big step after living apart for the first four years of our marriage.
And my second year of retirement was very different from the first. I spent time working on “our” house, and if you ever merged two households into one, you know that means lots of sorting, purging, donating and organizing. I painted and tried to put my own touch on what was my husband’s self-described “college dorm room” house.
My husband and I put a priority on spending time with the important people in our lives. We’ve had some fantastic times this past year visiting friends and family at sporting events, holiday celebrations, summer festivals and auto racing events. And now I’m quick to drop my plans if someone calls and wants to get together.
I have been exploring my artistic side, and the hours race by when I spend time in my little studio on the second floor of the house. I am writing my own retirement blog, and my camera is never far away as I chronicle our life in photos. I am learning how to make jewelry, and I’ve dusted off my sewing machine to make original purses out of re-purposed denim and designer fabric samples.
And I continue to think about what I want to do next. A job? Volunteer work? Bottom line is I’m still enjoying this freedom of time and schedule, and I’m hesitant to fill my time with activities. I am not anxious about what comes next. I see retirement as a journey, and I plan to be ready when opportunity knocks.
Some people ask what has surprised me about retirement. A few things come to mind…
- I do not miss work at all. I miss my co-workers, but I don’t miss the endless meetings and responding to email messages and people lining up outside my door with issues and problems. I didn’t expect this after being such a workaholic.
- Dealing with lots of change was more difficult than I expected. Generally I like change, but the combination of leaving work, selling my house, leaving my city and friends and learning to live with my sweetie 24×7 was a lot to deal with.
- I expected to have lots of time in retirement. Instead we are always busy, and we never get everything accomplished that we planned. But I’m not sure that’s all bad because it usually means that we were off having fun and tooling around town instead of focusing on chores.
- I realize how stressed and frazzled I was until I left work. I have been sleeping better now than I have in my entire adult life. I generally feel calm and peaceful and able to tackle whatever comes my way.
- I don’t really need to spend much money on things, like I did while working. In the past shopping and buying was stress relief, and I don’t need that now.
- The label “retiree” is not an easy one for me. In the past I was defined by my job, and now I’m defined by a demographic. The reality is that I’m re-creating myself in retirement, and I can’t think of a single word that defines me.
- I don’t need a getaway vacation like I did while working. I’m pretty content in my own home and am thoroughly enjoying exploring my new city. Of course I still like travel, but now I don’t need to get away from something.
- Living together 24×7 is more challenging than I expected. We were accustomed to living apart and doing things our own way. But we are learning about style differences and learning to let go of the small stuff.
- I laugh a lot more now. And it feels really good!
I know that all the paths led me here. I may not have a specific retirement plan or know the next stop on the road, but I am certain it will continue to be an exciting adventure. And I’m not really looking back…just forward.