Posted by: bree1972 | February 27, 2011

Take a Rest 2/28/2011

Ted left to play golf this morning, assuring me of 4-5 hours of solitude.  When he’s away for any length of time, I usually turn the TV to the music stations and click through until something appeals to me.  Some days it’s soft rock; on others it may be old country tunes; and occasionally I’ll settle on a classical station.  But today the sound of the clothes tumbling in the dryer and the birds’ songs heard through the open windows of the sunporch were music enough. 

It’s funny.  When I retired  several years ago, all I could think about was the release from the stress of an 8 -5 workday sandwiched between two 45-minute commutes.  After six years as Public Information Director of a 16,000+ student school system where I dealt with publication deadlines, TV cameras, and the myriad of problems that go along with education today – while projecting nothing but a positive image – retirement to me meant putting that all down and walking away blissfully into my retirement years.  I envisioned long, lazy afternoons curled up with books, time spent experimenting with different flowers under the shade of our crabapple tree in the backyard, collecting recipes and cooking up surprises for Ted, long walks with the dogs, and peaceful evenings sipping a glass of wine out on the deck, as I watched the sun go down and the moon come up.

The image I envisioned was mine for a short time, and then the reality of life after retirement happened.  Days of reading left me feeling intellectually fulfilled, but physically lacking.  Every flower planted under that old tree proved to be a delicacy for the neighborhood armadillos.  I put all my time-honored recipes into a 3-ring binder, but Ted still insisted on doing most of the cooking.  Walking the dogs became a chore, and those evenings on the deck just reminded me how much I dislike wine, unless it’s magically turned into a spritzer with half a can of Sprite Zero.

I’d been retired six months when we bought our condo on Mackinac Island.  It couldn’t have come at a better time because I’d had about as much “retirement” as I could stand.  Suddenly there was plenty to do – pack up for the summer, arrange for the lake house to be taken care of, move to Michigan for five months and furnish a home there, get outside on the endless island summer days and walk and bike and hike and try my hand at photography.  And as if that wasn’t enough to keep me busy, I decided to blog!

When we returned to Georgia for our winters, the blogging and photography continued, and then the decision to become Pet Partners with Bear and do therapy work with him became a big part of our lives.  A few health issues popped up – nothing serious, just the annoying little things that come with age and fill some days with trips into Albany for doctors’ appointments and pharmacy visits.  The peaceful vision of retirement had turned into jam-packed days filled with blog deadlines and volunteer jobs – sandwiched between trying to keep in shape by walking, biking, and occasional weightlifting. 

It’s been coming for a few weeks now, as it has a few other times since 2008 – the feeling of having too much to do again, the feeling that every day is filled – awaking each morning and instantly thinking “What do I have to do today?”  Upon checking the calendar that hangs inside the cabinet where we store the cereal, there seems to always be something penciled in.  And along with that “too busy” feeling comes the thought that when you’re spread so thin, how can you possibly be benefiting anyone?

And then this morning I rose, brushed my teeth, and walked into the kitchen.  Glancing at the calendar, I slowly lowered the cereal box to the countertop, not quite believing what I was seeing.  February 28- March 6.  Not a single notation.  Every day screamingly blank.  A whole week of “nothingness”.  I admit to a grin so big that Ted questioned if I had found a big prize in the box of Fiber One.

Ovid, the Roman poet, wrote, “Take a rest; a field that has rested gives a bountiful crop.” So for the next few days, I plan to capture once again the first vision of my retirement.  I’ll start a new book, cook a surprise meal for Ted, walk the dogs just because I want to, ride in the golf cart with Ted for a round of golf, and take my spritzer out to the deck every night to enjoy the beautiful, spring-like weather we are having.  And, knowing me, a week will be enough.

For what I have discovered about myself in my retirement years is that “rest” is not something I seek very often.  The thought of years spent sitting on the porch, book in hand, sounded like a wonderful thing at one time.  Now, an occasional hour of that is enough.  Retirement, for me, has come to mean time to do the things I’ve put off all my life – writing, volunteering, working with dogs, photography, enjoying our homes, spending time with our friends, visiting our children and grandchildren – and sometimes, like this week, going on vacation. 

Yep – every once in a while we all need a vacation – even when we’re retired.




  1. I don’t think you would change anything in your life, I think you enjoy every minute of it as crazy as it may be at times. I know that I am thankful that you blog or I would have never met YOU, the wonderful person that you are. I for one don’t want you to change anything….can I get a vote here? I know you all agree with me! Love ya Brenda 🙂

  2. I’m voting with you, Hilde! I’m hoping that my retirement, whenever that may be, will be exactly like yours, Bree. Time and energy to get around to all of those ‘someday’ projects and adventures. Enjoy your vacation!

  3. Hilde, I also vote with you. Although my retirement years have not been nearly as eventful as we had planned, they have been very nice, but I’ll admit that Brenda’s “retirement” sounds wonderful. In my opinion, the best part has been the blogging which has allowed so many to “meet” her and vicariously enjoy her “retirement.”

    So, Brenda, keep right on with your life. I, for one, am immensely enjoying it.

  4. Brenda — you scared me! I thought you were going to say that you were taking a break from blogging because it was getting to be too much. Whew.

  5. Brenda, when I retired in 2008 I could hardly wait to start reading books from the list I’d been making for years. Nearly 3 years later I have found I wanted to do more than read all day. I still want to do the reading but I’ve added many other things to the list. I’ve even gone back to school to volunteer at least a 1/2 day a week. What am I doing– the job I did for 22 years. I love sports, especially basketball. I’ve been the backup scorebook keeper for many years. This year I took the job for the girls basketball team. What fun I’ve had being with these young ladies–sharing the good times and bad. I hope you enjoy your retirement years just as much as I am enjoying mine. I enjoy your sharing your life in GA and on the Island with us. Thanks for letting us be part of your world.

  6. I just HAD TO lie down for a while this afternoon. I was exhausted. I rested and just looked at your blog. I too, was afraid you were going to say you had to quit blogging!!!!!!!!!!! I would have understood, but I certainly would have MISSED it very much!! I’m so glad you have a week to do whatever you want to do. Hopefully, nothing stressful will happen to get in your way. Relax, enjoy and fill us in when you can!! We do so enjoy your blog even if we don’t respond every day!! Hug Ted and the dogs for me.

  7. While I very much enjoy your life stories and the photos and information of the rock in Michigan I too love, the thing that kept me reading your blog was your outlook on life. Your enthusiam for all you undertake, your ability to see the rainbow in the clouds color the world in a most pleasant way. Ten people can look at the same things and you can get ten different observations. You have a unique ability to project your attitude into what observe. I like seeing those things through your eyes. You have a gift. It was meant to be shared.

    • Mary, your comments touched my heart in such a special way. As a writer, it’s hard not to go through times when you wonder “why am I doing this?” And as a writer, sometimes the answer is simply, “Because you must – it’s a need inside you so strong it has to be expressed.” To learn that your words touch others in some unique way is the highest flattery a writer can receive. Thank you so much.

  8. It looks like is shaping up to be a beautiful week at the rivah to take a mini-vacation. Enjoy!

  9. Even though I usually read the blog the same day that it is posted, I like to check back to read the comments. Mary G. said something that I’ve been trying to put my finger on since I started reading your blog. While I love your subject matter what I really love is your attitude. I love seeing the world through your eyes. Thank you, Mary, for making it so very clear to me. And thank you Bree for letting us observe your world in such a personal way. Your factual reporting is first rate but the subjective take is what really floats my boat!

    • Thanks, Cathie. You and Charlie “float my boat” just by “being”. Can’t wait to see you on the island this summer!

  10. A dear friend warned me to not tell a soul when I stopped working 5 yrs ago. She said “They will guilt you into more projects than you can stand!”. It was true until I learned The word NO. Now I pick and choose carefully.

  11. It’s true. You have a gift and it is meant to be shared and I, for one of many, am so grateful that you do. I,too, do the “calendar watch” thing and try for as many open spaces as possible. A scheduled fitness routine, a little family help, dr. appts, mostly for Tom, and writing time protected, seems to overfill my day. What I love is that I don’t have any value on hurrying anymore…whatever I am doing….it takes as much time to do as it does. Strange sentence but great experience.

    • I LOVE that sentence, and I’m going to use it! I’m so enjoying your blog. I don’t comment much, but I am reading.

      • Thanks Bree. It pleases me a lot you choose to read Napkinwriter. I am looking forward to your return to the island and your blog from there. It’s true — we love the things you tell about Mackinac Island, but we love even more the experience of it through your eyes, perception, language and PHOTOS!

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