Saturday, November 22, 2014

Steps to Retirement, Little Steps,

Strawberry tree (arbutus uneda) with its magic trick of  offering fruit and flower simultaneously!
 I've been disappointed with my posts lately, wishing I could find time for some of the reflective writing I really enjoy and that often seems to elicit a more sustained conversation with you wonderful readers. Life intervenes, however, and I rarely seem to find time to Think about what I'd like to write, never mind actually Write It!

Beautyberry bush (callicarpa) doing what it does, beautiful berries!  last leaves of the Burning Bush (Euonymus) ; first fragrant flowers of Viburnum bodnatense 'Pink Dawn'
 Something occurred to me recently, though, probably on a run -- that seems to be my best version of multi-tasking lately, thinking while running (although I am only just emerging from a three-week slump in my fitness schedule, dialing down the running mileage and dialing out, completely, the yoga classes -- first class back yesterday and oh my, I'm feeling it today!).
Island walk, first frost. . . 

 Hardly a major epiphany, but what occurred to me was that I might occasionally blog toward a list of hopes and plans I have for my retirement. I have advised HR of my intention to leave by the end of next year, and meanwhile, I'm trying to organize a productive, positive, and restorative transition into the next phase of my life.

So over the next several weeks, I plan a series of occasional posts listing a few of the activities I mean to make time for.

And the first that occurred to me, particularly as I have this backlog of photos from last week's garden and island walkabout, is that I really Must! refine my camera skills. I've been yearning for another lens or two for my Nikon DSLR (D40X), but really, first I should learn how to make this camera do more of what it can do. For every one of the photos here, I relied on the camera to think for me. Yet years (okay, decades) ago, I took a 6-session community-ed class in which I learned how to use my SLR Pentax (the Spotmatic).  I'm fairly confident that I could revive that technical knowledge and transfer it to the digital realm with several hours of instruction followed by countless hours of practice. So much cheaper to do that now than when there was film to be bought and developed!

Berries -- rose hips, hawthorn, arbutus, holly, snowberry -- and Seedheads (sedum Autumn Joy)
It's pretty clear that I live in a place of great beauty and that capturing that however fleetingly satisfies me enormously. So there you go: Retirement Plan #1,  Improve Photography Skills, probably through classes.
And if I take enough decent pictures, perhaps those will reconcile me, eventually, to another Retirement Plan, leaving the island home . . . .

One step at a time though, right?

So where are you on the retirement-planning spectrum? Are you far enough into yours to have realized some of your plans, jettisoned others, and modified a few to better meet reality? Or is it still far enough away that you idealize it, imagining a wide swathe of time for a myriad of long-delayed activities? (My hair-stylist, for example, maintains she'd "give up her right boob" to retire. I remind her that too many clients would protest too loudly. Luckily for me, she's not even 45 yet!)
 Or perhaps, as for me, your retirement is on the near-horizon and you're gradually becoming accustomed to the notion, some days with happy anticipation, others with more than a tinge of anxiety.  . . .


25 comments:

  1. I love the thought of you honing your photography skills. We can only benefit:) and it feels right, as an observer, of where you might go in retirement.

    That is a huge deal that you told HR of your plans. That makes them real. I really look forward to your posts on retirement - I think it's a rich topic for many of us, whether we're there yet or still looking forward to it.

    Let's all keep our boobs, though, mmkay?:)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It does feel like a huge deal -- sending off that email commitment required some very deep breaths. The countdown begins. . .
      (and yes, I'm hanging on to mine. . . )

      Delete
  2. It is important to have goals and retirement is the perfect time to explore new horizons. I am busier now than I have been since my children were young but doing things that I want to do...never having time off is wonderful! Everyday is a weekend!
    My hairdresser is 59 and my doctor about the same and when they retire I will be very challenged to find suitable replacements as they are fabulous at what they do and superior human beings.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm lucky that my hairdresser, doctor, and dentist are all 10-15 years younger than I am, but given that there's a definite move in my future, I'm not feeling smug about that. Replacement will be tough, as you say!

      Delete
  3. My hairdresser is not allowed to retire...just sayin'. When I retired, I decided that I would take a few months and NOT take on anything "organized" that required me to make a commitment to be at a certain place at a certain time. This was reinforced by the experience of a friend who signed up for everything and then had even less time for herself than when she was working. After 29 years of having to be somewhere specific every minute of the day...you know period 2 began at 10:20 etc etc.... I wanted to wean myself off clock-watching. Now I have signed up for a couple of commitments...one is my weekly skating on Thursday morning..loving that. And I have just agreed to do the "publicity and website" for the small community art gallery that is connected to my old school. I go one day a month and do all the actual working at home. I still have lots of time to work on my blog and do things with Hubby and meet friends for lunch or dinner. Oh..and sit down with my book when I want.
    I think the photography thing will be great fun. Creative, engrossing and a change from your working life...i.e. marking papers.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You make a really good point. I have spent a lifetime setting one goal after another, and the last several big goals (grad school, teaching at a uni) have required pushing too many other bits of life right off the stove. I really want to figure out my body rhythm, learn what I truly enjoy, never mind nap to my heart's content. Yet I can see that leaving space for that might require its own commitment. Thanks for the important reminder. I like the sound of the schedule you're evolving for yourself.

      Delete
  4. I became eligible to retire this year when I turned 55 but currently plan to work until early 2017. I find the personal interactions of the workplace more demanding as time goes by and would like to spend that energy on those who mean most to me. I have been taking courses online (criteria: something I want to learn about and NOT business!) and hope to continue with that. And whatever else strikes my fancy...within the budget of course!
    A few words of encouragement: my hairdresser of ten years moved away...and I found someone I am very happy with...the worrying was the worst part of the transition. I have curly hair which we know needs a special touch with the scissors!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What a good way to put it! This is very much what I find, that while I still like much of what I'm doing, I'm aware that I'd like to spend my energy more judiciously, on who and what matters most to me.
      Another curly-head -- we are legion, apparently! ;-)

      Delete
  5. Right now, I'm working on having something to retire from so I'm a few steps back from most of the comments so far. Part of my plan also involves educating my partner so I suspect I have a long struggle ahead of me ...
    I'll ditto the don't sign up for everything advice.
    And please, continue to take more photos - photography seems like an excellent choice for you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You've already made one huge career transition, or at least, let one career go, with your move here, as I understand it. And dealt with the loss (temporary, but still) in your earning power. I admire the way you've shifted, building skills along the way, and I hope I do something of that in this big transition.

      Delete
    2. With my move I benefited from the pause to reflect and work out how I could change direction, if I look for the silver lining. And yes it has been a genuine silver lining. I think it's the skills acquisitions I'm most proud of so maybe that's what matters - pulling something like that to focus on. Thanks.

      Delete
  6. How interesting. I have just this week informed the Head of my school that I am leaving by the end of the year - finally had enough. I want to leave before I am too unhappy to stay in teaching and before I am too tired to think straight. As my husband has a new job this means I am not forced to stay in a job to pay the mortgage. And just knowing that I will leave in July has cheered me up. I still have to work - but as what? Exciting thought! So much easier when the decision is made and spoken, not just running round inside my head. I'd say three cheers and huzzah to you, Mater.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Congratulations! It is so much easier when the decision has been made, isn't it? Like you, I didn't want to stay on past the point when I felt I was only there for the money, surely transmitting that unhappiness to my students. . . Now we'll see what's next!

      Delete
  7. I turn 65 next March, so the retirement decision is very much on my mind. I used to think that I'd want to keep my job past that age, but lately I'm not so enthused. I'm feeling bored and tired of my job. I applied for a promotion just for the change but didn't get the position. So now I think why am I hanging on?

    One of my worries is money as I'm on my own and haven't been in a pension plan as long as I would have liked. I have a real fear of retiring and never letting myself spend any money "Oh I can't take pottery class it costs x dollars". Rationally I don't think this will be the case, but a penny pinching attitude is in my genes!

    Another big decision is where will I live? Will I move, and if so how will all that work out? I made a visit to Victoria this fall with this choice in mind. It would be lovely to retire there but my 90 some odd year old mother is in Ontario. Part of me resents that she would hold me back, part of me does want to be able be close by to help her if necessary.

    Many choices ahead, I hope I don't get stuck in the status quo from fear of making them! Reading your thoughts and the comments help, thank you for sharing your journey to retirement.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I had fully intended to stay on at least until 65, probably past, and I try to think how and when that shifted. 60+ has just felt different in a few big ways.
      My pension is small as well, started this too late, but my husband's is decent. Still, I worry a bit about whether I'll have to cut back in areas I really mind -- at the same time, I suspect that returning to some simpler ways will bring its own satisfaction. We'll see. And deciding where to live while considering your mother, these are tough choice, but also point to the possibilities we still have ahead for shaking it up . . . And it's good to have this conversation about it all along the way, isn't it? Thanks for commenting.

      Delete
  8. Oh dear, I lost a comment!. Such a definite step, reporting to HR. Scary and good I suspect.

    Well, at the moment I am learning that what I am doing in my retirement is not what I thought I would be doing in my retirement, but it is all good. I haven't given up on those earlier dreams, just realized that other new opportunities have presented themselves and it is all good.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I hate losing comments!
      Scary and good, indeed! Yours is another comment that suggests flexibility is good in retirement. I'll be curious to hear more about what you've been up to when you feel more ready to write about it. So far, it looks as if change is good. . . ?

      Delete
  9. Well it doesn't look like I can retire for at least 9 years, when I will be 67. But my husband is in a phased retirement right now and that is an adjustment for us both! I think it's great that you are listing things you want to do - that way you're looking happily forward instead of wistfully backward.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My husband is in his fifth year of retirement now, although he continues to have one or two contracts on the go at a time, generally working one or two days a week. Free enough, importantly, that he does almost all the cooking, grocery-shopping, housework in general. Otherwise, I don't think I'd have lasted as long working! As well, especially after we worked/lived in different cities during the week, over the last 8 years of his career, it's been good having some years for him to settle in to retirement first while I still had my own schedule, some time apart. Enough's enough, though, and now, as you say, here I am making lists -- happily looking forward instead of wistfully backward is exactly the idea.

      Delete
  10. That is a definite step - I guess it will take a year or so to find a replacement for you? I am about to turn 65, and I am hoping never to retire. I may be forced to, because my job is dependent on government grants, and they are very hard to get these days. There are many changes coming up for me. I had a surprise pregnancy very late, and had a baby when I was almost 49. He just turned 16, and he'll be off to college in 2 years. He's a really easy and delightful kid, and it will be hard to get used to being without him.

    One thing I am tired of is having a house. I'd like to retire from being a homeowner.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, I imagine I could/will be replaced much more quickly than that. There are so few decent positions these days in the universities, especially in the Humanities -- so many working in precarious positions.
      Wonderful -- a surprise pregnancy at 49! Even more wonderful that he's been such great company. I also think that it would be wonderful, in so many ways, never to think of yourself as retiring, depending on the rhythm of the jobs you get and how much you enjoy them when you get them., The anxiety over waiting for them, not so great, obviously. Sounds as if there are many shifts ahead for you, but it also sounds as if you're used to a fairly dynamic life and have some coping skills and good attitude well in hand. As for the home-owning, I get that, although I'm still enjoying our space, our garden. . .

      Delete
  11. Retirement is looking better every day, but this is after a day of marking not-so-great graduate papers. I'd love to travel when I want to and not have a set schedule, but on the other hand, I will so miss the class discussions and office hours full of questions. If I had a grandchild or two.....
    Lynn

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Interesting, I sometimes wonder if I'd be happier in an institution that had grad students, but I suspect I might be idealizing the quality of their work, their interactions. Still, you'd have to do term after term after term of 1st-year composition courses to feel some serious demoralization ;-) (at the same time, I do love their dear young, mostly non-reading selves!)
      So much of it is the schedule, isn't it?! We don't get a credible break between mid-August and late April (and any break taken May or June has to be bargained for). A week at Christmas, after the crush of marking and before the frantic prep for next term just doesn't count, especially as it's impossible to travel in. That flexibility in scheduling is probably my single biggest reason for leaving. . . .I'm definitely going to miss the class discussions, so much . . . .what a privilege these are, really!

      Delete
  12. I had a whole year after I stopped work when I planned nothing and I look back on that as a golden time! I walked a long distance path for a couple of weeks. I cooked, visited friends and family, gardened and read and wrote. This last couple of years, especially the last twelve months since my mother died and my father's deterioration has accelerated, have been very taken with the care of others in a way I had never envisaged. I am glad to be able to do it but it is not what I expected or planned for. But as only my dad remains of the three parents we had between us when I left work it is his turn now for much of my time. And still I go to yoga and walk and spend time with my children and grandchildren. For the time being some of the other more creative endeavours have been put aside but they will have their day. I loved seeing your photographs. What a beautiful place you live in and what a good eye for composition you have!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I wonder what the next few years will be like. Our parents will all be gone, but Iwe'll have five little ones to help out with occasionally. I can see, increasingly, though, that I want to try to preserve that first year, if at all possible, for as much freedom from obligation as I can manage -- who knows when that will ever be available again in the time I have left. . . .Mind you, you seem to have found and created much richness for yourself even in the midst of all those obligations. I wonder if the reserve you banked in that first year was a big help.

      Delete

I'd love to hear your response to my post. Agree, disagree, even go off on a tangent, I love to know you're out there, readers. Let's chat, shall we? I apologize, though, for the temporary necessity of the Word Verification -- spam comments have been tiresomely numerous lately, and I'm hoping to break that pattern.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...