Retirement:Five Years After

There are no directional signs in retirement.

My life has changed a lot since I retired 5 years ago this June. At 59 years of age, I was younger
looking, I had both parents, I felt fulfilled and appreciated in my work. But, there was so much that
I wanted to do.

I started working as a strawberry picker when I was 10 years old. I graduated to baby-sitting my 4 cousins (all under 6 years old ) when I was 13. My subsequent jobs included flyer deliverer, waitress, telephone solicitor, file clerk, child minder, tutor, library assistant and teacher-librarian. As a single parent, sometimes I had 3 jobs and I studied for my teacher-librarian diploma. For almost 50 years, I worked.

Wherever I go, I can walk.
When I retired, accomplishment was still a priority. I attended the Sorbonne (my girlhood dream) and
I worked very hard at my courses. I was paying for this and I wanted to excel! When I returned home, I planned new adventures, tried to write my blog at least 3 times a week, wrote a children's book (still unpublished) and joined my local church. I attended Sunday School as a child but I have never been
a church-goer in my adult life.

Accomplishment, achievement, aspiration....I didn't attend church but I did accept the old Protestant work ethic! I wonder why it's called that because I know several people who were raised as Catholics who subscribe to the same set of beliefs. When is it time to set aside the quest for the "A's" and to live life without striving?

For me, it is really difficult to let go. If I get  in the right number of walks, create the perfect grey/navy travel wardrobe,  maintain a fresh and clean apartment, write a certain number of pages during the week, eat the correct number of calories, work a magic number of volunteer hours....I am still looking for the perfect score...a quantitative measure of the success of my life. I still want to be on the "Honour Roll"

Is there an "Honour Roll" for retirees? Do we measure our success by "busyness", by the number of grandchildren,  by our domestic accomplishments? I really don't know. For each of us, some of the aspects of our lives work better than others.  This month, I have embarked on volunteer opportunities, been offered a census job (said "no"), and registered for some courses at the Alliance Française and
Continuing Education at our local university. I get a a happy, fulfilled feeling from the student/teacher
part of my life.

the Oaxaca Learning Centre garden

The first five years of retirement have passed quickly. I am midway into my 65th year. I plan to visit
Ireland and Shetland in September. Monsieur and I have rented an apartment in Mexico where we will spend Christmas with some members of his family (a rare occurrence). I aspire (there's one of the "a" words) to get more exercise, drink less wine and write more blogs in the next few months.  I am interested in how other "strivers" have found fulfillment after retirement. Is "letting go" an issue for you?


  1. Thank you for sharing this. I feel the same way - even though I'm not scheduled to retire until next year. I'll be 65 next month (June 2016).

    1. The best part of retirement is the freedom to try new things but that can also be a scary thing. Good luck with your retirement.

  2. I'm looking forward to retirement (or at least semi-retirement) within the next couple of years - and while I don't intend to sit around watching daytime tv - I also intend to give myself some well deserved time off! I've also always been an achiever, organized and busy and I've been working on learning to relax and enjoy the "now".
    While I would like to take more classes, volunteer and travel more when I retire, I also look forward to spending a few days in my kitchen perfecting my pastry making, or a day listening to classical music whenever I choose and other days reading my way through all those books I've been saving up. Small pleasures that I'll have the time to savour instead of rushing through are what I most look forward to.

    1. It is wonderful to have the time to savour those pleasures. I love to pass time reading or working on household projects.

  3. I will be 66 in a few months, and have been retired nearly 10 years. I understand exactly what you are talking about, and I don't know if it ever leaves us - that desire to excel or for perfection. What has changed for me, however, are the areas in which I wish to excel - more and wider reading, improving my cooking skills, maintaining my garden and house, creating the "perfect" wardrobe, and of course, improving health and fitness. I also schedule in regular "days off," when I give myself permission not to do anything productive, and just read trashy novels still wearing my nightgown, if that is what I feel like doing. "Days off" from retirement - yes, indeed.

  4. Sherrie, the "days off" is probably a good idea because retirees don't have a week-end. I feel uncomfortable doing nothing at home but when I am away and solitary, I can read and watch Netflix for a whole day. In the coming weeks, I will try to schedule regular days off.

  5. I recently felt in need of a day off and took a weekend to recouperate. I have been retired several years and am finding that my days are too busy...I am a tough boss and have set my standards far too high.
    Your post echoes one of my more recent ones...just when we think we have retirement figured out we realize that we have a way to go!

    1. I think that many women are hard taskmasters to themselves. Probably, retirement changes with the years. For me, I haven't traveled as much lately, so I have tried to keep busy. Unfortunately, things snowball and then there is too much to do. Your recent plumbing problems must have been exhausting. All we can do is take that time to pause and to nurture ourselves.

  6. Like Sherrie, I am honing my domestic skills and working on my health and fitness. Deepening my faith and relationships, also, is a priority. I am not so much working on Achievement as I am making myself Available. Time with loved ones, including multiple generations from my parent to my grandchild has priority. I do schedule "days for me", too.
    I am trying to keep things simple...not expecting world-wide travels each year. Preparing meals from my vegetable garden, new friendships at an exercise class, serving at church, etc.
    After six years away from the high school teacher's life, I still experience a deep, quiet contentment with my first sip of an unhurried cup of morning coffee. Very thankful, indeed.

  7. That unhurried morning time is wonderful! I am grateful to have time to spend with my mother. I, too, have found a really kind and thoughtful group of people at our local church. Being Available is definitely a bonus of retirement.

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