Now that I have finally finished the newsletter for Hampton Roads Writers, I’m sitting in the quiet in my favorite bedroom, the one of I call the Sea Room because of all its lighthouse and sea pictures and other sea paraphernalia, and reflecting on “life.” Every three months I have to get one of those newsletters out, and it’s like pulling teeth for me. I fret over whether or not I will have enough copy, many times having to write articles myself when people don’t send me things, and then I worry it will go out with mistakes I don’t catch. After all, this is the newsletter of an organization for writers. It better not have writing mistakes.
But this time was different. I usually do a four-page newsletter, and this time I made it eight with the help of three interviews I had with three local authors about their new books. I think my questions were pretty good, and they sent me interesting answers with enough material for a whole page for each of them. As I was writing it over the past four days, I was actually feeling pumped. I felt like I did when I was still working and had to come up with some big report my principal wanted me to prepare for Central Office. It was nerve-wracking and I was anxious, but I was also exhilarated as things came together and I was proud of the end result. I was proud of a lot of things I did while I was working.
And now I’m retired. Aside from that newsletter I do every three months, no one depends on me for anything more than a clean house and dinner on the table. My sweet husband comes home full of stories from the office: who did what, who said this, who said that, what projects he’s working on, etc. “I did the laundry today,” I say. “I found your missing sock.”
No, I don’t want to go back to work. I worked hard as dean, and I will never have a job like that again. Besides, the reason I retired and we left Texas is so that we would have more opportunities to see our children. If I were working, it would defeat the whole purpose. Still, I’m trying to figure out what to do with the rest of my life. I want to feel as mentally stimulated as I did when I was working. How do you get that back? I worry that I’m losing what little mental acuity I have left.
So. I’m trying to figure out this new life. You would think I would have done this by now, after four years, but I haven’t. Well, enough boo-hooing. Time to go and beat that bodhran. Nothing like drumming to lift your spirits.
Sorry, I got behind on your blog again. As for the mental acuity. Let me help. What’s the capital of Zimbabwe?
I believe that would be Harare, Al. Everyone knows that.
I’ve been pondering similar things, trying to decide if I’d like to go back to work part-time or volunteer for something. I feel as though I don’t contribute much to conversations lately. How I got that stain off the floor is not exactly thought-provoking or lively conversation.
Robin, you put my thoughts into words. Why should a job be what makes us interesting? I need to pull myself out of this funk.
I have similar feelings every now and then, Susan. I guess it’s all the external cues in our world that make it easy to forget that the true measure of our worth is in the love we share with others…….I think banging the drum is a great way to beat that point home 🙂
Not working gives us much more time to share with those we love, doesn’t it, Stacia? I need to keep reminding myself that.
I know just how you feel Susan. There is a kind of empty place that needs filling when the job is done. The trick is to fill it with meaningful activity. I think you have done just that with your volunteering and the writer’s newsletter and your music – and of course, your blog is wonderful.
Thanks, Dor. I think the loss of that paycheck is also part of it. Yes, I get my retirement check, but it is so much less than my salary, and sometimes I feel like I’m not contributing enough because my husband is still working. He doesn’t feel that way at all, though. He loves that he has a relaxed wife to come home to who puts a nice meal on the table and keeps the house fairly clean and neat. Some extra money sure would be nice, though…
I think you could fill quite a bit of your retirement plan by playing all your instruments one by one, recording the tracks, and then putting it all together as an album of your one woman band!
Wouldn’t that be something, HG! I have no idea how to do that, though.
It seems like there are only two choice in our lives, one is having freedom/time but not enough challenge, or enough mental challenge, but not enough time and freedom for ourselves. I know a lot of retired people don’t do half of what you do, and a lot of them don’t know how to play music instruments.
You have to make the mental challenges when you retire, Amy. I need to do more, but I think I just waste too much time.
It’s funny, I haven’t gone to a full-time “regular job” in about 25 years (have been a freelance work at home writer and mom), but I still know what you mean about no one depending on me . . . it’s been a tough adjustment for me, but at least I’ve gotten a few novels out of it. Although I’m not looking for the mental stimulation, per se, I’m still figuring out what to do for the (with the) rest of my life!
Julia, you are in a good place. If I had the discipline, I could have been in your place, too. Oh, wait a minute. There’s the talent part. It takes both discipline and talent. I have none of the first and little of the second, whereas you have an abundance of both.
I think you are doing it, Julia! The empty nest prompts us to do things, doesn’t it? Well, it should. For me, it makes me pine without the productivity. I need you to come here and give me a kick in the pants.
Are you still mentoring, etc., that you were doing? I know your “short” friend keeps you on your toes! Get your laundry done, I’m going to have to come spring you out of there soon.
You know, Patty, I think you are just what I need!
🙂 You betcha! You have to show me your new drum!
Can’t wait to do that, Patti. You may want one yourself.
I would say you are doing the right stuff! Creating a newsletter and learning a new instrument! Both stimulate the mind. The creative part of working was the only thing I missed. So I am continuing a writing course that I started 10 years ago. (ten years egads!) I dropped out because I was too busy working. I am also volunteering one day a week at a community outreach center, where I meet new people all the time. I need that. But I also love those days when I have Nothing to do…..
I admit I love those days, too, Life. And I miss that paycheck!
I hear you about finding something of purpose once you are home more than usual. I am not retired–long legal story–but am having some of your same feellings. I think you have the right idea with staying with the newsletter–although one other editorial staff person to help proofread might be nice–and tackling new projects like drumming. I’m exploring a part time job or some volunteer work. My family is not close enough–in all sorts of ways–to pln much with them. Good luck. Keep doing–and keep writing your blog.
Thanks, Patti Ross. I volunteer one morning a week and I tutor one morning, so that helps. As for the newsletter, you don’t have to worry. Three people on the board proofread it. And the drumming does wonders. Just trying to learn the different drum patterns for jigs, hornpipes, reels, slip jigs, etc., and keeping them straight has got to help with mental acuity. Still, it doesn’t give me much to talk about at the end of the day.
You make me smile. I am certain your newsletter was wonderful. I can understand your dilemna, I know I will most likely head back to work, but I don’t want it to interefere with the possibility of seeing my grandson. Hit that drum a few times for me, maybe I will get some things sorted out also! Happy 3 days before St Patrick’s Day!
You know how I feel, DAF. Just want to spend time with the kids and grandkids. It’s the between times that get me down a little.