Everyone who had retired before me said it would take a year to get settled. I now know what they meant
I left my job 10 months ago. I wasn’t old enough to retire. It took some planning. Several years of planning in fact. But I finally quit my job.
When I left my job I had a mile long list of chores and things that I wanted to do. I thought that with all that extra time I’d have them done in no time. But that wasn’t the case. I’ve completed very few of the things on my list that I wanted, and still want, to accomplish. I’ve had the time. But what I didn’t realize was that when you have more time on your hands your list just gets longer and more things come along to distract you. My list says to “paint the basement” but I discovered that the blueberries were ripe and I spent 3 hours picking berries and baking pies. My list says to “Reorganize the bedroom closet” but I found a great new pattern and spent the afternoon working on a craft project. My mother called. We talked for a half hour. A new magazine arrived in the mail and I browsed through it while sitting at the dining room table. I saw a spill on the kitchen floor and spent twenty minutes mopping which led to cleaning the oven which led to reorganizing the spice rack. Before I knew it, days were over and I’d not checked off a single task on my to-do list. I felt guilty. I felt disorganized. Even though I’d accomplished a lot I didn’t feel like I was accomplishing the right things.
With so much time to spare, new projects and ideas flew at me fast and furiously. I stayed up later and later each evening. 2 AM would come. And then 3 AM. I’d force myself to shut my eyes only to wake up two or three hours later wanting to tackle another new project. I didn’t realize it was possible to live on so little sleep. When I was working I desperately needed 8 hours and when I woke in the middle of the night, as I often did, I worried that I’d be exhausted the next day. Now that I was excited about the things I was doing sleep seemed less important. I knew I needed more sleep for health reasons if nothing else but I had to force myself into a set bedtime. I now climb into bed every night between 9 and 10 PM. Why so early? Because another thing I discovered along the way is how much I love being awake at 4 AM. Those early morning hours are peaceful and productive. The phone doesn’t ring at 4 AM. There are no meals to prepare – nothing that really has to be done. In the pre-dawn hours I don’t ever feel like I should be doing some other chore or anything other than what I want to be doing. It’s free time or rather “guilt-free” time. So it’s early to bed and early to rise for me and, if need be, I have a nap in the afternoon.
After leaving my job, days continued to feel as they always had. You know what I mean. When you get up to go to work on a Monday morning the day has that “Monday feeling.” It’s a different feeling when you get up on Wednesday and different still on Friday. Saturday and Sunday, for me, always had their own special carefree vibe. I thought that when I quit working the days would all feel the same but they didn’t. I stille flet the sluggishness of Monday and I continued to shop on Saturday because I always had shopped on Saturday. It didn’t “feel” right to shop on Tuesday or Thursday even though there was no reason not to. It took 10 months to get over that “designated day” obsession. It struck me the other day that I had no idea what day it even was. I had to think about it before coming to the conclusion that it was a Wednesday. And that made me smile because I realized that it “felt” to me like a Saturday. Suddenly, ten months in, all of my days, all seven of them, were feeling like Saturday. How cool is that?
And so, feeling like every day is Saturday, I’m also now finally beginning to say “So what?” So what if I accomplish this instead of that? So what if I sleep in the afternoon instead of the dark early morning hours? I still feel a need to be more organized and scheduled. I need a sense of routine for nothing, perhaps, but my own sanity. And I still have that list of chores that I want to tackle and fun things that I want to do. along with a bundle of new project ideas. But that’s all slowly starting to take shape too. And I’ve got lots of time all to myself to figure it out.