The Retirement Bucket List

Knitting with Boojie's help--knitting was on my bucket list!

It may seem retired people do only what they want–nap, watch TV, sleep late, go shopping, travel.  An acquaintance of mine has been retired  for several months.  I know, through other sources, that she has been struggling with retirement ever since.  She may have envisioned her retirement  days as one long weekend that never ends;  in fact, she told me that retirement seems like Saturday every day–it is hard to keep track of the days of the week sometimes.  However,  I feel confident that will change for her over time.    It certainly has for me.

Five years before I actually retired from my teaching job, I chose to work half-time for half-pay.  This was not the best financial decision for me, but it was necessary for my mental health.  My father had passed away the previous year after suffering through several years of dementia.  The whole experience of dealing with his illness, as well as the loss of him, wiped out my coping abilities.   I had also endured several other upheavals and changes in my life and career during those years before he died.  I wanted to just pack it in, but I did not have the required equation (age plus years invested), or the savings,  to just quit working.    However, the thought  of  spending another five years in the classroom caused panic attacks.  I simply had to make a change in my life.   After negotiating with my principal and the school board, I was designated a half-time teacher of the gifted and talented  at the elementary school where I was already employed.

I’m not going to describe the ups and downs of having a special assignment in a school like the one from which I retired.  That is the subject for another blog entry.  Personal relationships with the other teachers changed dramatically, and I unwisely used much of my time at home working on lessons.  A teacher’s work is never done, especially in her own mind.!   On the plus side, with more time to take care of myself, my health did improve, as did my state of mind.  The negatives included the aforementioned issues, as well as guilt about not working enough.

From my experience, as well as that of my husband and some relatives who have retired, I can say that retirement requires planning.  Over time we discovered the need for hobbies and avocations–some kind of routine and work.   Depression can set in if a formerly busy and employed person has no direction.

You may have goals and hobbies that you always wanted to pursue if you only had the time.  Those might work out or not, so it is important to look beyond them.  I always wanted to write a novel, but discovered that fiction writing was not for me.  I wrote poetry and enjoyed that for awhile.  Ultimately I ended up writing a family memoir and I’m now working on a family history.  These turned out to be more to my liking and an outgrowth of my interests.  Blogging for the everyday person evolved since my retirement, which has also fed my desire to write.

My husband retired involuntarily after the financial crash in 2008.  He was an architect who loved what he did, and hoped to do it forever.  The recent  turn down in home building wiped out his prospects, so he had to do a lot of exploring, experimenting and reflecting before settling into a satisfying routine of writing a murder mystery and accomplishing household design and building and around the house.  We had hoped to travel a lot, but that has been curtailed by reduced finances.  Readjusting, reevaluating and revamping have all become part of our daily discussions.  We have helped each other reflect on what a

Bucket List

change in lifestyle means for us–our bucket lists, so to speak.

Yesterday and today I have been reworking my goals–what don’t I need to do after all?  What is most important to me?  What is my legacy for my children and grandchildren?   All of these are further thoughts for future blogs…

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11 thoughts on “The Retirement Bucket List

  1. Well, we have similar experiences. I actually retired in 1999 and started a very successful consulting business … I thought it would go on forever, but the financial collapse collapsed my business. I consider myself retired although we still bid a job occasionally. My wife retired from teaching through a misunderstanding with an unreasonable principal. It took about a year and a half for us to adapt. We are also curtailing out travel to conserve money. I’ve been trying to decide if I need to set new goals (a new bucket list) or just have activities I love like blogging. Are there any bloggers that haven’t dreamed of writing a novel? I’ll be interested to see what you come up with.

  2. I retired from education two and a half years ago. I totally understand what you mean about panic attacks! I retired, though, because my husband and I wanted to move closer to our children. We only managed to get as close to Michigan and Boston as Virginia, but that is a whole lot closer than San Antonio! My husband still works; we couldn’t make it if he didn’t because of health care costs. I keep myself busy, but I always feel nervous about the money issue because I made a good salary as a middle school dean, and that was a huge hit when I retired. But we get to see the children and grandchildren so much more often, so it’s been worth it.

    • I know our grandchildren are the saving grace of retirement for us. I retired in 2002, we took a 3.5 week trip to England (a road trip once we got there). I took care of my older daughter’s newborn for several weeks in 2003 until she found daycare. In 2004 I took care of my younger daughter’s 1 year old several days a week until her husband and she were settled here in Denver (they moved back here from Portland, OR). Finally, I took care of my older daughter’s newborn until he was 18 months old. It was wonderful to help out and become a part of our grandchildren’s lives. My husband, who never had children, discovered a side of himself that he never knew he had. He may be a step-grandfather, but not in the eyes of my children or grandchildren! Thanks for your post.

  3. Great food for thought. My daughter will leave home in three years-and that’s what I need to prepare for-more writing, sewing, keeping myself busy so I don’t mope around the house all day:) Your post is very inspiring Mary!

    • It was very hard for me when my daughters left home. I missed them so much! One daughter went to college only an hour away from Denver, but she hardly ever came home. My younger daughter went back east for college in New York state for two years. I was so happy when she came back to Denver! She missed the mountains and the more relaxed attitude in the west. You do have to make adjustments and create a life for yourself. I still have twinges–missing my girls and children. One compensation is grandchildren, later on down the road. Thanks for responding, Valerie!

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