Before I Retired And Got A Life (BIRAGAL), I had numerous conversations with people who had already left the workplace and begun the third portion of their lives. The first portion is birth to marriage/career (or both) – someone else is taking care of you. The second portion is marriage/career to retirement – you are taking care of yourself and everyone else. The third portion is retirement to going home – to Heaven, I mean – you are finally able to use all the wisdom God has given you to enjoy your family, your friends, and ultimately – yourself. Whatever portion of those “thirds” you are in now, you are probably saying, “This one is the best!” That’s what I said too. My life until now has been a good one – no bed of roses in a few parts, but even the thorns teach us the lessons we need to learn.
Out of those conversations with retirees, the one prevailing comment was always, “I don’t know how in this world I accomplished anything and worked too! I stay so busy now I never sit down until dark – and sometimes not even then!”
At first I thought this was because as we get older, we also become S L O W E R.
Case in point – here’s a typical day at the lake:
8:00 a.m. – I roll over, look at the clock, and see that “8” in red. I think, “I can’t believe I slept this late.” I don’t know why I can’t believe it since I’ve been sleeping this late since the morning following my last day at work over two years ago.
8:15 a.m. – Up and in the kitchen. Feed the dogs (something Ted claims he cannot do, but seems to accomplish quite well if I’m not around to do it). Give Bear his medicine, so he won’t turn back into Balloon Bear. Pour my first cup of coffee and take up residence on the sun porch. Ted is always (well 99 times out of 100) there ahead of me, having gotten up earlier, turned up the heat, and brewed the coffee). In my mind, I run through all the things I want to accomplish that day and tell myself to “get started”. Instead, I go pour myself and Ted our second cup of coffee.
9:15 a.m. – What happened to that hour?
I like to “straighten” the house up first thing after coffee. I actually make the bed, pick up, start the wash, start the dishwasher, and vacuum every morning (the joys of owning a long-haired dog). Until all of that is done, I simply cannot officially start the rest of my day. It gives me a sense of accomplishing something to at least be able to have the house to a point that if the “You have Won a Million Dollars” van from Publisher’s Clearing House shows up, the cameras will show a clean house. Then people won’t say, “Well, they certainly don’t look like they deserved to win that money!”
11:13 a.m. – None of the above has been accomplished (well, I did clean up in Ted’s bathroom) because I had the idea to write a blog about how slow you are after you retire. I’ve been at the computer now for an hour – checking email, chatting on Facebook, and occasionally writing a few words of what you are reading.
11:15 a.m. – I’m sitting here thinking about how when I was a single mom I could clean the house, get breakfast for the boys, check homework, get dressed, and be out the door and at work on time every morning. After work, there would be grocery shopping, attending two games of whatever sport the boys were playing that season (usually on different sides of town because of their almost 5-year age difference), helping with homework, preparing dinner, doing dishes and the wash, and falling into bed already half asleep. It’s now 11:15, and I am still in my jammydukes. I do have one clean bathroom though.
11:28 a.m. – I am definitely going to make the bed now (Ted is working today, which gives me that much more time to be slow – that is my excuse, and I’m sticking to it).
12:32 p.m. – I made the bed and was about to vacuum when I remembered I hadn’t been on poop patrol for three days. When we are on the island, we carry around these doggie poop bags so we can clean up after Maddie and Bear if they happen to “go” somewhere that is public. Here at home (again, the joy of owning a BIG dog), I try and “patrol” the yard every 2-3 days with the poop bags, so we don’t look like we are living in a stock yard. I put on my snow boots (I had decided yesterday to try and wear them all day today so I could make sure they were comfy), changed into jeans, and went out poop scooping. That always leads to a game of fetch with Bear that would last for hours if I would stay out that long. I haven’t made it out of the bedroom with the “straightening up” yet (still have to vacuum in there). But first, I think I’ll eat lunch.
1:43 p.m. – Lunch eaten, bedroom and sun porch vacuumed. I also read another chapter in a book, talked to Ted via cell phone, folded one load of clothes and put another on to wash. It’s almost 2 p.m., and the house is still only half cleaned/picked up. Maybe I can get the den vacuumed before that nap I feel coming on.
2:35 p.m. – Didn’t nap. Didn’t vacuum. Got captured on the computer looking for books to order from my Doubleday Book Club. Nothing there, so I went to Amazon.com and researched best sellers, about to be published, and new authors. Finally ordered a book. Going to the mailbox now – then vacuuming the den. I’ve GOT to get the breakfast dishes done before Ted gets home.
3:04 p.m. – Still haven’t vacuumed. Lots of good mail though, including a hard copy of a column Paul, the husband of Helen, my best friend in the whole world, wrote about blogging in general and “Bree’s” two blogs in particular. The column appeared in the newspaper Paul writes for as a Senior Staff Writer. Helen taught me Junior English in high school, and Paul taught me World History. I later worked for Helen, then stepped into her position as Public Information Director for a 16,000+ student school system, when she retired. There are no two people in the world I would rather have compliment these writings than Paul or Helen. Everything I know about writing began in her class (Helen, I’m sure my punctuation is still horrible, and there are probably 2 or 3 double negatives in everything I write, but you taught me to write from my heart).
4:00 p.m. In the last 20 minutes, I have vacuumed the den and the dining room. I also swept the hall, both bathrooms, and the kitchen. I loaded the dishwasher, folded two more loads of clothes, started organizing my Mackinac Island clothes into “outfits”, and took out a load of garbage to the trash can.
Maybe what all this proves is that as we age we don’t really slow down, we are just more easily distracted. When we are in the workplace, a hundred things a day can flit through our minds that we need to do. But we don’t have time to do them. When we retire, as soon as a task enters our mind, we just stop what we are doing and go do that. Now if you’re not careful, what you will have at the end of the day is a hundred half-finished tasks. But, who cares. Tomorrow is another day. I’ll start over again, amazed that the clock reads eight o’clock when I awaken. I’ll pour that first cup of coffee and sit down with Ted to plan my day. After that . . .
“God has erected signposts along life’s road to help keep us out of trouble. They include reading His Word daily, praying ‘without ceasing’, and determining to seek His will for our lives. Such a path is sure to see us home safely.” . . . Billy Graham