Nearly 5 months in, I'm just starting to get my head around what it means to be retired. It's harder than it looked before I took the plunge - mostly because the days aren't anywhere near long enough to do all I want to do, but also because things haven't unfolded exactly as I expected.
To begin with, I spend much more time doing household chores than I imagined - which is only fair, given that Husband did the bulk of them during my last few years of work. Still, I didn't anticipate how much time chores and puppy care would consume each week.
Then there were the all the long-postponed projects to contend with - clearing out the attic, disposing of unwanted items, planning renovations, organizing photos and memorabilia, researching my grandmother's life, etc. Each of them has taken far more time that I thought it would. I've made a good amount of progress on most things but I'm still a long way from finished.
Then there were the psychological and emotional challenges of my new status - glad to be retired but anxious to make positive contributions to family, friends and community and struggling to nurture good mental health in the face of seemingly insurmountable environmental, political and economic injustices.
And finally there were a number of physical issues to contend with. I'd presumed the aches and pains that had plagued me for years would disappear immediately once work was behind me, but of course that hasn't happened. In fact, some issues became more troublesome when I returned to regular exercise. As a result, I'm nowhere near as fit as I hoped to be at this stage - though I managed to run a 5 mile race in a respectable time this morning - and the arthritis in my hands, feet and knees is making everything more difficult.
Don't get me wrong. I wholeheartedly recommend retirement, and am deeply grateful I'm able to do this. It's just that I don't feel completely comfortable with it yet. Retirement feels a bit like early adulthood, in as much as the possibilities feel endless, but that there's a greater sense of urgency too - urgency that stems from realizing I have only a few years left and wanting to be selective about what I do with them.
Whatever the future holds, I hope I continue to appreciate the beauty, love and kindness that remains in this world. After all, it's the stuff that makes life worth living.