Friday, March 20, 2015

Five Things (I Want To Do When I Retire) Friday

Somehow yesterday morning, I had a teary meltdown, all before 8:15 (and I had to catch the 9 ferry, so little time for mascara re-do) and despite the curative effect of ten hours' sleep the night before (I was asleep by 8 to make that happen!). Triggers? Sheer fatigue from burning the candle at the Family end and at the Work end, I suppose. Missing my centering and stress-releasing weekly yoga classes for two weeks now, and only managing about a quarter of my usual running. The time of term when I'm dealing with students suddenly realizing they may fail the course -- I've had two of them in tears this week, young men both, and I'm not sure if it was tougher for them or for me. Perhaps the approach of my mother's birthday, and then, next week the anniversary of her death two years ago -- the body's got a funny way of knowing these calendars and responding emotionally . . .

At any rate. . . (en tout cas, as my husband says so often when he's speaking French, in any case. . . ) I know that I've made the right decision, the big Retirement decision, although this is the evaluative part of term when I often begin thinking of what I might try differently next time 'round, and it makes me a bit sad that there won't be a next time. . . There are just limits to what one person can do if she wants to do the important things well, and I do . . .

So, with only four more weeks of classes left (although then there will be marking and exams and some committee work and cleaning out my office, all of which will take me through the end of June), I'm allowing myself to think ahead increasingly and I've made a little list (does anyone else hear Gilbert and Sullivan when they say that phrase? There's a small chorus in my head right now!):

1. Make kimchi. I've wanted to do this for over a year now, long enough that I can't remember where I stored the recipe, but it will be easy enough to find another. First, though, I need to find a decent container for the long fermentation. I suppose if I wanted to be authentic I could make #2 be "dig a big hole in the back yard to bury the fermenting mixture in its container, but the contemporary recipes seem not to require such commitment. I've stalled on the kimchi all this time because I haven't been able to spare the time to hunt out the fermenting crock. Soon!

2. Meet a Victoria friend for lunch or coffee or whatever next time I'm down there visiting my son's family. All visits to that lovely city over the past few years have been pretty single-purposed, and I'd love to add an extra day to catch up with neglected friends, shop some of the lovely stores, go for a good long run along Dallas Road, maybe even stop in Sidney for more shopping and coffee (ooh, those used bookstores!). . .

3. Organize my photo files and Get. Some. Prints. Made. And. Framed. Imagine heavy underlining here! Our daughters gave us gorgeous prints of themselves and their daughters for Christmas and three months later, those are still not framed.

4. Book a set of sessions with a French tutor (shared with Pater, bien sûr). I read a French novel last summer and I listen to French radio in the car on the way to work, but otherwise haven't worked on my language skills since our lessons in Bordeaux last June. Given that this is one of my life goals, I need to spend more time at it on a more regular basis.

5. Finally begin working the needlepoint kits I picked up in the wonderful Paris shop, Bucherie , not last trip, but the one before! Two years I've had these, and although I did try a few stitches, following the online tutorial, I put the canvas back in the bag, resolving to pop into our local needlework shop for some in-person help (they charge a small fee, well worth it). Made that resolution many long months ago and haven't got there yet. But now it's on my little list of Things I Want To Do When I Retire, so we'll see. . . .

As for today, what I will do is head to yoga class with Pater, then follow that with breakfast together at our favourite local French/Paris-themed cafe where we'll be making another list: Travel Plans for the coming year. . . .
There will also be some marking, some work-related reading, and perhaps a very long nap (I'm writing this at 4 in the morning, giving in to insomnia, and that deficiency will probably become very evident at some point!)

What about you? What's up this Friday? Can you relate to any of the items on my list? Do you have your own for your eventual retirement? Or have you ticked off items as you've moved into retirement? I do wonder if retirement will shift priorities so that some listed items simply drop off, eventually. But not the kimchi, surely! Have you made a batch? How did that go?


32 comments:

  1. Your list sounds impressive....it will be interesting to see if you follow through once you are retired. French lessons and classes have been more enjoyable than I could ever have imagined and they are challenging but I have met such lovely people in the group. Spending more time with the grandchildren has been the best bonus of retirement for me....look forward to more as your lifestyle changes....hope you have a restful weekend. Fatigue might be responsible for your tears.

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    1. So far, we've enjoyed doing French lessons with a private tutor, although I could see how the classes could have a welcome social aspect. It's been fascinating, though, getting to know my husband in another language, particularly if the tutor introduces really engaging topics.

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  2. How serendipitous! I brought my bûcherie stitchery with me to Oaxaca and I have not done a stitch. I could sit on the patio and stitch for a bit each afternoon. I will have been retired 4 years in June. During the first two years, my dad's illness and death and my mother's adjustment took up a lot of time and emotion. Now, sometimes I think about my own aging and I feel sad. Once you retire, some of the weariness will evaporate and then some goals will be realized and some will not. I still have Rubbermaid containers full of French classics that I studied in the 70's. I was going to reread them. Maybe I will, maybe I won't…This is definitely a time to lighten the self-imposed burdens. But, I have never made kimchi. Have a peaceful weekend.

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    1. I sometimes think I have underestimated the length of time it's taking me to adjust to the (much earlier) death of my father and then (two years ago) my mom. I expect that some of this may work its way to the surface when I have some time for that to happen in retirement. Ah, those containers of classic texts -- yes, I'm trying to decide what to bring home from my office, what to purge. . . . If you do get your needle out and start working on that canvas, you'll have to show a photo on your blog . . . ;-)

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  3. No, cannot say that kimchi is on my bucket list either. Take some rest and then some deep breaths. Having come to the end of a long and mostly happy association with one institution on December - which I found hard to get used to - as the weeks have gone by and my involvement there decreased other challenges and opportunities have presented themselves. And it's ok. It really is. And it will be for you too. It's like stranding on a diving board just before you jump...

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    1. Oh dear, bad metaphor to use for me -- I only managed the high diving board twice, one day when I was 12 or 13, with much fear on my part and much impatience on those keeners waiting at the bottom of the ladder for their turn! Actually, the metaphor I feel more keenly right now is that I'm in the last 10 kilometres of the marathon I ran last May, and I'm very ready to stop! ;-) But I do have some apprehension about my self-image in the aftermath. We'll see, won't we? And at least I'll have kimchi! ;-)

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    2. Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear - not at all a helpful metaphor there.

      Completely understand and empathise with your apprehension re your self image in the aftermath. The fears of the waters closing over the head - another bad metaphor alas given your high diving board experiences (but you did it twice... that was gutsy). Wishing you well and looking forward to vicariously following your journey

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    3. As I think of it, Ceri, the diving board metaphor might be a really good one -- I'm a pretty good swimmer; it's my fear of heights that was the problem on the board. Once I get through that transition between land, then board, then air, I'll have a big splash and then have all sorts of fun moving through the water! Thank you! ;-)

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  4. Keep making the list so that when you do take that step, it's there to remind you when you feel overwhelmed by the space around you. Sounds like a fun list tho I'm a ditto on the kimchi doubt.
    FWIW your list sounds a lot like my current life balancing efforts - friends, exercise and not getting overwhelmed. Still trying!

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    1. I've wanted to make kimchi for ages and ages, and it's symbolic of the many, many things I've pushed to the side over the past 15 or 20 years, first to manage juggling work, family, and undergrad courses, then for grad school, then for the job. I suspect there will still be pushing-aside, and time will tell what stays on the plate and what gets scraped into the trash. . . .Balance for the win? Does it ever happen? ;-)

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  5. Máybe cut down the lists? I am hyperventilating here! Kimchi good though.

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    1. Finally a vote for the kimchi!
      The lists isn't meant to be things I have to do. I'm listing things I've wanted to do for so long and hope finally to get to . . . again, we'll see. You made me smile though.

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  6. Hooray on the kimchi! And I think what everyone's telling you is that the list is more a bannister for you on this stairway before you retire, than what you might do after you retire. I am learning, for example, to get more pleasure from the doing and less from the accomplishing. And I've been retired now for 18 months...And, I realize now I'd still go back to work, if the right opportunity found me, and that the right opportunity probably doesn't exist, and that that's maybe why I'm retired young. It's a complex opportunity for learning, as well as a great deal of fun with a leavening of internal peace. xox.

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    1. And another for the kimchi (I could have guessed you'd vote that way!)

      I see the list, truly, as a beckoning and a reassuring hand. I expect those activities to be done slowly (except for framing the Christmas-gift portraits -- that's a top priority) and with pleasure and at random -- no ticking off a bucket list. They're simply examples of some of the things I want to fill my days with -- pleasure from the doing, as you say, rather than from the accomplishing.
      I'd still go back to work for the right opportunity, part time, as well, although not for the next year or two. It seems unlikely, for me, given all the poor young hopeful academics working in precarity, but who knows what niche my skillset might find. Meanwhile, there will be lots to do, surely, and much to learn, and if I can find fun and internal peace as well, then retirement will be very worthwhile. xo

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  7. You have my empathy regarding the lack of sleep. They have been fracking my property (without my consent) for fifteen months. Much of the work is done at night. Over the course of 2014, I developed clinical insomnia. Since Colorado law allows the oil and gas company the right to frack, I had decided to try to put it out of my mind as much as possible but it has been increasingly difficult to do so. I have been promised on several occasion that the operation would be over but it has not happened. Last night I went to bed at 9:00p.m and woke up at 12:30 a.m. I was unable to go back to sleep so finally got up to study for an anthropology exam I had today. I felt well prepared as I stepped into the shower this morning but suddenly the lights went out. My only thought was, "Can I get my car out of the garage in time for class." I got dressed and after two frantic calls to my partner (Bless his heart) and much work I finally got the heavy door to go up. I guess what bothers me the most is that people say, "What do you care. After all you are only auditing the class." The fact is I do care. I am interested in the class and want the professor to know that I appreciate his work by doing my best." Retirement is fine but I really think it is easy for younger people to dismiss older people who want to learn and do new things just for the sheer pleasure of doing them. I am often asked, "What do you plan to do with it?" Silly me, I did not know that you had to "do something" with every new thing you learn.

    While you are looking towards France, I am looking towards Canada. My Partner and I plan to drive from the Denver area to Newfoundland by way of at least Quebec City. I just learned about St. Pierre and that too sounds like fun. I am so excited. My French is very limited so I too have been trying to brush up.

    Hope today was better for you.

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    1. Just want to say you will love Newfoundland. An very special place.

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    2. Oh my goodness, that's a terrible situation, Sarah. I have no idea what I'd do in the face of such an assault on quality of daily life.
      I got that question "What do you plan to do with it?" even in my early 40s, pursuing grad school in a field not exactly guaranteed to lead to paid work (Canadian Literature). And when I started, I had no intention of building a career, but wanted the intellectual challenge and the "sheer pleasure," as you say, of learning. I'm sure your professor appreciates your commitment and I suspect other students, including the younger ones, often appreciate your perspective as well.
      Newfoundland is the one province I haven't got to yet -- I'm envious of your trip. Quebec City is great, and I loved New Brunswick should you be driving through that province en route. I've long wanted to get to St. Pierre and Miquelon although I think they're a commitment to get to -- not as close as I once thought, but such a fascinating anomaly.

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  8. I feel that you are very much looking forward to retirement but with certain hesitation...Life changes can be scary, to say the least, but you seem to have such a wonderful relationship with your hubby and you so enjoy your kids and grandkids that I think you'll find it "vacation-like"! Don't put pressure on yourself to "accomplish"....just feel free to run, nap, visit, travel, read, cook and do everything you enjoy with "no rules"! You deserve it... Enjoy your husband and your time together....life is short...love is important.....I always enjoy your blog! Janie

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    1. Exactly. I am looking forward to it, but there's some grief about leaving behind that (late-won) identity as an academic and some trepidation about visibility/self-image, etc., moving forward. But I really want/need a big long stretch of time to let go -- for so many decades there's been too much to do and I think it's time for a slow-down. We'll see if I can manage that. Thanks so much for commenting -- so pleased you enjoy the blog.

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  9. Smiling as I read this; I too made a list. It was an artifact of my business-productivity brain, and also a form of reassurance that I wasn't about to turn into a carrot. I found the list recently (4 yrs into retirement). Have done a few of the things but- and this I did not anticipate- also found new interests and avenues, including volunteer work. As for your French, come see me in Montreal! On se parlerait!

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    1. I'll be interested to see what I do, from the list, and what I don't --- and what I do that I can't anticipate right now.
      As for a Montreal visit, that's on a list too! ;-)

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  10. Hang in there Mater. End of term is always fraught, isn't it? Students, especially in my experience seniors, are stressed and staff are working feverishly. Then there's all the extra end of year stuff! Add retirement emotions to that....and Phew!! I cried a lot my last week or so. And not because I was sad to be retiring, just because everything I was doing was at work was "the last time..." Hubby kept saying..."Can't you look at it as a beginning and not an ending?" "Not yet," I said. "I'll get there. Just not yet."

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    1. Yes, exactly. End of term is always a challenge anyway and this one has been complicated by a number of emotional events in my personal life. Wish I could have a few weeks to retire before my actual Retirement . . . #inanidealworld!

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  11. I don't think I had a list although I did have the big project of my long distance walk which I did about a month after I retired. I think planning for that and doing it used up some of my planning and "workhead" and probably helped the transition. For me it was a more general sense of finding time for people and of exploring creative things rather than using the intellectual, analytical part of myself which had been to the forefront in my working life. I didn't expect to have to spend so much time on my father in law and now my father and I didn't expect the total shock and loss of my mother's sudden death. So perhaps it hasn't been as I might have planned it but I do have time for people and for creativity and that is what matters to me.

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  12. I don't think I had a list although I did have the big project of my long distance walk which I did about a month after I retired. I think planning for that and doing it used up some of my planning and "workhead" and probably helped the transition. For me it was a more general sense of finding time for people and of exploring creative things rather than using the intellectual, analytical part of myself which had been to the forefront in my working life. I didn't expect to have to spend so much time on my father in law and now my father and I didn't expect the total shock and loss of my mother's sudden death. So perhaps it hasn't been as I might have planned it but I do have time for people and for creativity and that is what matters to me.

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    1. Which walk did you do?
      It was some of your writing on retirement, I think, perhaps a couple of years ago, that started allowing me to think it might be a sooner option for me than I had always thought. Making room for the creative is really important to me as well -- gardening, piano-playing, stitching, writing, even baking and cooking, my recent interest in learning to draw, those have all had to be pushed away or curtailed severely while I worked. And I really hope I can build a decent social life again after too many years of saying "no" because of work commitments.
      I have no idea, of course, what the future will bring, but I do think it's good to have some idea of what I want, and I think you sum it up well in "time for people and for creativity." Pretty good guidelines, I'd say.

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  13. Yay to kimchi. I make it ... and sauerkraut. And I'm currently obsessed with my homemade sourdough (including homemade starter). I'm at least 20 years off retirement but my work is flexible enough for me to find time for these things, and I do often spend the entire weekend in the kitchen :) I find lists very reassuring - it doesn't mean you must do any of these things, it just reminds you how many marvellous things there are out there to do. As Duchesse commented, you'll probably find even more!

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    1. Yay! I hoped one of my readers made kimchi, and I might have guessed if anyone did it would be you! Sauerkraut is also on my list, and I'd love to do wild-yeast bread. Thanks for understanding my enjoyment of the list-making. I do find them reassuring although I don't intend them as the proverbial "bucket list" -- I find it helpful to collect the many pleasurable possibilities there are for the years ahead.

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  14. I must admit I didn't/don't ever have Kimchi on my To Do list ! Not that I ever had one for retirement , really . I sort of drifted into it because I'd reached retirement age .
    Any vague ideas about trips or signing up for an online university course have been shelved , for the time being , but not abandoned entirely . There's still a chance I'll find time for Carribean Studies , No Creole Needed .

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    1. My list isn't meant so much as To Do as it is Now I get to Play, What Will I Do?
      I seem to have reluctantly backed up into retirement, then surprised myself by realizing how much I'm ready for it, and now barely able to wait for it to arrive.
      Have done a bit of reading in Caribbean studies and can see why you'd want to make time for it. . . Hold onto those vague ideas and they may yet materialize. . .

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  15. Ooooh can I relate! There are days when I overflow with the satisfaction and (even) joy my work brings me. Then there are days when I am glad to be working just to pay for flights to Edmonton. There are days that begin with that meltdown - so glad I'm not the only one. Today is an ordinary work day.
    I hope that you get lots of trips to Victoria so that I can be one of the lucky friends to walk on Dallas Road and go for lunch!
    Kimchi? You too!!!!!

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    1. Keep meaning to email and see how Edmonton is going.
      Ordinary work days are good, when they arrive, good ones even better, and all of them pay for the flights, so that's good too.
      Here's to Dallas Road walks together, lunch, and kimchi! ;-)

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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.

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