I don't believe that many people wake up one morning and decide to retire. I think it is more often an evolving, iterative process of observing the days, assessing one's needs, becoming more keenly aware of the passage of time in ways that are a bit different from the previous times and arriving at a clear vision of what life has to offer and how best to continue to achieve one's goals and perhaps, if we are very lucky, one's dreams.
It happened to me that way.
After working for the majority of my life, I took the plunge, made the leap, crossed the bridge... whatever metaphor suits you.. and have successfully navigated almost a month of being gloriously retired. As others have told me, this month sometimes feels as though I am on vacation and will soon be returning to work, but I know that is not the case. As others also told me, there is still paperwork to be completed and deadlines to be met, but most of the deadlines are self-imposed, so there is definitely more wiggle room. And since I have never been naïve about twists and turns that always accompany any life change, I expect retirement to be none the less twisty, and I welcome those bends and curves in the road. Any driver worth her salt knows that driving a straight and level road is no fun at all. A few hairpin turns make it worth getting behind the wheel.
It has been wonderful to reconnect with friends and family, to explore what's been happening in my town and neighborhood and to simply stop living by the clock all the time. My last month or so at work was hectic and busy - perhaps more busy - than ever before, and it was also one of the most heartwarming times of my life. My team and my colleagues touched my heart: they made me laugh and they made me cry with their good wishes, lunches and dinners, and unbelievably thoughtful parting gifts.
They had heard me mention how much difficulty I was having finding a 'true' blue lilac plant and they found one for me, they know I enjoy discovering interesting wines and they opened up an avenue for me to do that, they fostered my love of the earth and gardening by giving me a gift to visit one of my favorite nurseries, and they reminded me to be more relaxed about telling time with the gift of a beautifully crafted sundial to place in my garden. Their gestures of friendship and notes of gratitude will always remain with me, and I am so grateful for having them in my life.
As I move forward at (I hope) a more relaxed pace to explore all that my retirement will encompass, I plan to alter the focus of my blog to share some observations of this new and unknown territory and perhaps provoke thoughts and plans among my site visitors. No deadlines, no commitments... just a vague intention... and lots of musing. Oh dear, now I have to change the title of my blog - oh, well, I'll put that on my 'to do' list but with no time deadline.