Saturday, March 14, 2015

A Retirement Story

Modway Rocker Molded Plastic Lounge Chair, White
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I've retired but I'm not ready for a rocking chair! Here's my story about retirement for your perusal. Some people plan and count down the days until retirement. Not me, my retirement was sudden and of my own choosing. A supervisor more than half my age was telling me that I had to work ten hours a day through the winter holidays. I went to Human Resources and just quit. In retrospect, I was planning subliminally. I knew what my insurance premium under the Affordable Health Care Act would be and I knew that I could pay my bills with the Social Security and a pension that I was already receiving. I also know that I'm lucky that I could walk out. 

I'm not going to pontificate about financial planning for retirement or what you should do to prepare for your own retirement. This is just my own story.The first few weeks felt like long weekend. Then I got my act together, took action on some of the ideas below. Now, I'm busier than I've ever been. How did I have time to work?

Set Up a Routine

It's best for me to keep a regular routine, even now. I've found that if I sleep and eat at about the same time, I feel much better. I have started losing track of the day of the week, so I'm doing chores like laundry or grocery shopping on specific days. The same goes for exercise or yard work. After breakfast, I walk the dog at a variety of parks and work in the yard. After lunch, I'm at the computer writing or sometimes take a nap.

My family always ate supper at 5:00 PM because my dad insisted that supper be on the table when he got home from work. Even after 40 years of working, my stomach expected an early dinner. This was a real problem when working until 7:00 or 8:00 PM. I'm so happy I can go back the supper schedule that I had as a kid.

Of course I have stayed up until 4 AM and slept in until 11 AM on a few occasions. Why not? I'm retired!

Develop New Interests

All of a sudden I had all the time I wanted for whatever I wanted to do. What the heck did I want to do all day? After a little thought, I decided that I wanted to try some new things. I discovered Blogger while researching social media. Now I write and love it! I didn't know how much I would like writing since my last experience was college term papers. I have lists and lists of ideas so I know that I'll keep writing. I'm planning to continue and expand vegetable gardening for canning, now that I have time to do it right. I've grown my own tomatoes for canning and plan to grow raspberries this year. 

Other skills I want to learn are how to play piano and write HTML. I've considered doing volunteer work, I just don't know what I want to do yet. If I volunteered at an animal shelter, I would take all the animals home, except for reptiles. I already knit hats for the homeless. I'm not good with kids so schools wouldn't work for me. I've worked in hospitals so that's not a possibility. As a co worker once said "Hospitals are full of sick people." As I get mailers from the park district or local junior colleges, I want to take some classes like yoga or the aforementioned piano. Now's the time to train for a 5K run, teach a class or climb all the Fourteeners in Colorado. It's not my cup of tea, but it may be yours.

Expand an Existing Interest

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Like most people, I never had enough time to get really involved in my main interests. I've been able to expand the social media outreach for my my blog. I've been cooking up a storm, taking photographs, and posting the recipes here on Donna's Blog. I love to knit and have finally started to do Fair Isle knitting now that I've had the time to figure it out! I'm so proud of that hat in the picture.

I don't have the urge to travel just so I'm going to do "staycation" things here in Denver and the Rocky Mountains. There's so much terrific hiking that I could become a mountain goat. I've never really explored Denver itself so I'm finally able to get to Natural History and Art Museum as well as the Aquarium. Being the cheapskate that I am, I intend to take advantage of matinee tickets at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts. Next year, I hope to be able to go skiing during the week to avoid crowds and traffic.

Here are a few other ideas that you might enjoy. Now's the time to work on your golf handicap, bowling average or tennis game. Put some miles on that motorcycle, maybe even go to Sturgis. Go to a daytime baseball game or to a weeknight sports event without having to worry about getting up the next morning for work. I don't like the term "bucket list" but knock things off the "when I retire I'm going to" list. Sky dive, go to Paris or Peking. Get off the sofa and get going!

Regular Exercise

Buffy-my fur-kid
I'm glad to have reached the age where I have to move it or lose it. No more excuses about not having enough time. I'm actually making some progress now that the weather is getting better. I have an exercise app on my smart phone that's very motivational for walking. The app calculates mileage and calories burned so I can track my (slow) progress. Every little bit helps.I live within a mile of both a regular city sponsored fitness center and a senior center. I finally plan to take advantage of them next winter. I probably will swim laps and take some yoga classes. More fun than exercise videos at home!

The best choice I've made to get more exercise is to adopt a dog. I had cats while I was working since they are so low maintenance. I always said that I would get a dog when I retired, so I did! Adopting Buffy is one of my best retirement decisions. She helps me keep a regular routine and exercise every day. There's no living with her unless we walk at least a mile or preferably two. I've dropped about 10 pounds in three months from the walking.


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Who's had the time for a social life? I plan to see friends and family more regularly. If you don’t have any friends, get out and make some! I'm going to take the time to talk to the neighbors or meet the ones on my block that I don't know. I've retired from dating so that won't take up any of my time.

Many people spend more time with their pets, like taking the dog(s) to the park more often. Cats will be confused and and probably disappear under the bed. Why not get the band back together? The Stones still tour after all. Finally, make a to do list and then throw it out! There are no more deadlines and if something really needs to be done, you'll get around to it.

A Little Extra Cash

Stretching Social Security for a full month took some getting used to after getting a bi-weekly paycheck. If I need a little extra cash, I do some surveys and transcribing on Amazon MTurk as needed. You can't make a living there but it does help to make ends meet. 

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