Three weeks into retirement and I’ve settled into it nicely thank you very much! My days have naturally evolved a schedule of their own which I’m feeling pretty pleased with. I was beginning to panic a little before the big R date what with all the plans and projects I had in the pipeline. Some time during the last 3 weeks I gave the pipe a bit of a flush and have been a whole lot more relaxed since then ( no metaphors intented there!)
So how do I fill my days? I get up when I please which is usually fairly early – but how nice it is to occaissonaly sleep in without any pangs of guilt at all that wasted time. I shower, breakfast and do a spot of spiritual contemplation to start the day. Next comes a quick check on Etsy and followup on any commission queries. Now The Writer gets some time and we usually head off for a morning walk along the beachside walking track at Blackman’s Bay. The water views are changeable but always beautiful . There’s a bit of an incline both ends of the walk – after 3 weeks l can already climb the cliff path faster.
Home for a morning paint, or a sewing session and then lunch by the pool at noon. I do some more work in the studio till 2’ish and then it’s a swim and a read in the deck chair. This is when I catch up on my art books- just choosing one at random and dipping into it can trigger off some new ideas.
Abstract gift tags
At 3pm I head inside and back to the studio for another session. The Writer and I share the cooking so if he’s on chef duty I’ll work through till dinner. The evening is family time , playing a board game, reading, watching a movie or catching up on computer based stuff.
The most wonderful thing about this evolved routine is it’s not really a schedule! If my niece needs a hand I can head off to help her, if I want to visit my Mum there’s no reason not to , if my sister drops by we can swim and chat for an hour without me thinking of all the things I should be doing and if I want to spend an hour leafing through a cook book that’s just what I do. There’s time for some gardening, a visit to my local art shop or a trip to the recycle centre. Of course somewhere in between all this good stuff I do a bit of housework and the odd spot of grocery shopping but that’s just a great counterpoint to emphasise the absolute joy of my daily pleasures.
The best part is that I’ve reclaimed art as a leisurely pursuit instead of something to be squeezed and squashed in between my working life and my family time!
It’s been a busy week! I’ve kicked off retirement with a few projects which has The Writer a bit worried- he thinks it’s just going to be one project after another and maybe he’d better go out and find a job again to keep out of my way! I had planned to start gently but I’m so used to squeezing the maximum productivity from my spare hours that I’ve just gone a bit beserk.
Monday started nice and gently with a trip to drop off my pension claim forms ( I’m now a pensioner!) and then down to Blackman’s Bay for a spot of snorkeling. It was a sparkling day and it was only enhanced by the thought of all those other mugs in their stuffy offices whilst I breathed the salty ozone and soaked up the sun on the hot rocks after swimming in the seaweed beds amongst the fishes. Just how retirement should be!
Abstract ink cards
Abstract gift tags
I followed that with some card making using a sheet of ink abstract doodlings and felt pretty pleased with my day.
Tuesday I did a BIG grocery shop to stock up the pantry after two years of living on whatever The Writer thought we might need that week. When I got home I couldn’t stop myself from rearranging the pantry which inevitably led to an all out assault on the kitchen cupboards . The IT Geek caught me at it and wanted to know how long it was going to take since he wanted to make lunch – I gaily replied – “about half an hour”. He laughed derisivly and grabbed an apple to sustain himself. It was a sound move as I finally wiped down the last shelf three hours later. All this necessitated a guided tour of the kitchen for the rest of the household as I managed to reshelf and redraw every single item by the time I was done! The IT Geek could sense I was in an organising mood so cashed in by getting me to help him put together a flatpack wardrobe and then get rid of his old one.
Wednesday I looked at the old wardrobe still sitting in the middle of the lounge room and decided it was too heavy to move over the paddock to the storage shed . What to do with it? I pondered on the fate of the wardrobe while spending the morning helping my niece clean her house (she’s in the middle of house moving ). Got home around 2’ish grabbed a sandwich in one hand and the circular saw in the other and headed outside to repurpose the wardrobe as a customised entertainment unit for the IT Geek who has every game machine from his first Nintendo up to the latest PS4 and has run out of space in his bedroom. Around 8 pm I dusted off the sawdust, packed away the tools and crawled to the shower! Dinner at 9pm.
Thursday I painted the unit – which you will not see a photo of as it is not a thing of beauty despite it’s absolute versatility with 10 moveable shelves and a clever little gap I built in for all the cables to easily connect to the TV. Then off for a walk with The Writer . After that it was a good 2 hours as dusting and cable assistant to the IT Geek as he unloade the old shelves of all his gaming equipment and reloaded the new unit which looks pretty great. Then I had to find a home for his old glass shelving unit – you haven’t seen my house so just imagine a second hand shop that’s outgrown it’s accommodation. There’s not a spare inch now both sons are home again so it requires a lot of ingenuity to fit another bit of furniture in – but the thought of hauling the darned thing across to the Potter’s shed to join all the other rejected furniture was just too daunting and I started moving potplants and whatnots until I had a space in the lounge room. The Writer could be heard muttering in the background but I just ignored him! Mission accomplished I finally started in on a large painting I need to finish by Saturday morning. Just couldn’t settle on the subject so had been procrastinating all week hence the many projects. Anyway this is what it looks like so far – a lot more to do tomorrow!
I finally did it! I retired from my life as an MRI radiographer last Friday. It was sad to leave my work family who I’ve shared my professional life with for many years but more than that it was a joyous release from the stress and demands of a busy imaging department. I don’t go in for parties much so we settled for a happy, relaxed breakfast for 28 on the waterfront just a few blocks from the hospital where I’ve worked for the last 20 years. It was a lovely farewell and then I wandered round Salamanca Market and the waterfront with no sense of guilt for frittering away my precious time!
The most common questions I’ve been asked about retiring is ” what are you going to do now?” along with the absurd “will you be coming back part time?”
I’ve got a gazillion plans and projects – so many that I got myself a monthly planner for the art room! I’ve been a tad overwhelmed by how much I have got planned so I’ve given myself permission to just have a 2 week holiday before I jump into any big projects. Then there are all the small pleasures I didn’t seem to have time for when I worked, like an evening walk around the garden…….
….all those patterns and colours are sure to find their way into one of my future art projects!
Last week I took the plunge and told my boss I’m going to retire at the end of this year. I was planning to hang on a bit longer but something happened. I took my Mum to see the Soweto Gospel Choir perform and as the lights dimmed and these smiling, singing, dancing, joyous people began to perform I started to cry. Tears slowly rolled down my face in the dark as they sang their hearts out in time with the rythmic percussion, their very individual voices somehow blended into a wonderful, harmonious whole. They sang with gusto, their smiles lit up the stage and I kept crying. Somewhere around the end of the second song I asked myself why I was crying. As the third started I had the answer. I wanted to be truly happy like these singers. I wanted to leave behind the petty politics, the continual stress, the daily grind of the workplace and give myself over to a different life, a life that will give me less money to spend on things I don’t really need and more time to spend on people I love and creative projects that make me happy.
I would like to take every donwnhearted, sad and weight conscious girl in the universe to this concert so they could see an outstanding example of a very large, very happy woman who has the biggest smile I’ve ever seen, dancing up a storm, singing with passion and joy and obviously loving and being loved by the diverse men and women she shared the stage with. Every member of this choir has a unique voice, body shape, smile, and personality. They have BIG voices and really different singing styles yet they are able to happily and successfully bring those voices together to make joyful, uplifting and harmonious music. I left this concert wanting to dance, to sing , to paint, to read, to swim , to go for walks with my husband, to visit my sister, to help someone who needs my time now, to be cheerful, to count the minutes less, to eat better, to write more, to buy less, to live a new life!
So a big thank you to the Soweto Gospel Choir for a joyous musical feast that sparked a life changing decision.