About a year ago I retired from nearly twenty five years of teaching. I loved the job and the kids but I believe every good teacher knows when it’s time to leave. I was lucky enough to be able to retire financially, but mentally I was still a teacher, longing for my kids and the joy that I felt from teaching.
I am spontaneous and a fly by the seat of my pants kind of person, but that was not working for me as a retired woman. My husband had an eighteen month head start on his retirement. He had a routine, a schedule, a cool hobby and his day planned out. At first I felt like I was floundering. Lack of planning was not really working for me. Where did my day go? At the end of each day I felt like I accomplished nothing, nada.
I needed to expand my world. I started by substitute teaching for some other teachers. I enjoyed it, but I always needed to remember that I was the visitor. This was NOT my classroom. I enjoyed spending time with the kids but it was not enough.
Slowly, things have changed. My days no longer feel wasted and unproductive. I have come to a place of contentment and satisfaction. Retirement, to me feels like a great pair of jeans you have picked out long ago, saved for and finally just went out and bought. Initially, they were uncomfortable and foreign, maybe a bit too tight and restrictive, they did not feel “comfortable.” After “wearing” my retirement for a while (nearly a year) I now feel more at home with it. It’s a much better fit than it was initially, and I like the way I feel at the end of my day. I have settled into my retirement.
When I first retired we traveled so much I really didn’t get a chance to manage my time at home. I value every day and I realize that we may never know when it is our last day on this earth, so I need to make all my days count.
Slowly, I began to build my week. At the recommendation of a friend, I started with an outdoor fitness class three times a week. I had always enjoyed working out and had recently left my long time workout group. I don’t like change, who does? But I was exhilarated with the new group. I was modifying my workouts and felt great afterwards. Unfortunately I hit a detour. My doctor said no more working out while my foot fracture was still healing. I was wearing the ortho boot but apparently my foot was not ready for the extra stress.
I was instantly deflated. I NEEDED to workout. Swimming came immediately to mind and I signed up for water aerobics at a local community center. I arrived early to the large facility, complete with a gym, rock climbing wall and multiple swimming pools. Very quickly I was greeted by “the ladies”. These nine ladies have been part of the morning water aerobics class for years. They ranged in age from sixties to eighties. I was the young one in the group. I was also the third Nancie, so they referred to me as “Nancie number 3.” I removed my boot and stepped intrepidly into the warm water. After sixty minutes I was beat! This was going to be fun!
In addition, I started a watercolor class. For several hours each week I would learn some new techniques and meet new people. Most of the people in my class were obviously very talented. I don’t consider myself talented necessary, but I am motivated and driven. I set up my casita with painting supplies and most days I will spend several hours painting and enjoying the solitude. I have not yet completed a painting that I’m going to frame, but I’m getting closer.
I make time to see my family and friends. My schedule is flexible so I love it when I can enjoy a leisurely lunch or activity with a good friend. My photography interest have expanded and I do try to find opportunities to take interesting photographs. I now control the hours in my days, and that is a very good feeling. I am now back at my outdoor fitness class and water aerobics, it feels great. I have also located a charity that I may volunteer at, my dance card is filling up.
We continue to plan more travel and I have been researching some of the places that we plan on visiting this year. They include: Chicago, Annapolis, Miami, Key West, the Caribbean, Barcelona, Gibraltar, Madeira , and San Juan, Puerto Rico. That will keep us kind of busy, and I really do enjoy having the freedom to be as busy as I want.
This blog began about a year ago. I love reading other blogs and hearing from people that take the time to read my blog. Thank you for reading my thoughts. I would love to hear from some readers about their retirement journeys.