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Looking Back

I started this blog a year ago (November 29, 2013), almost one year after beginning my retirement on January 1, 2013. In that first post, right after Thanksgiving 2013, I said that I felt fortunate that I could choose to retire, and I am still thankful for that.

In my first post to this blog, I said that I did not like the word “retirement” because it seemed negative and “an absence of something…rather than something positive or affirmative.” I described myself as being “in transition” as I tried to figure out what retirement would mean for me.

A year has gone by, and I still have the sensation of “transition” and of not quite knowing where I am. I do not miss the daily grind of a paying job. I have kept myself busy. I am contributing more volunteer time than was possible before my retirement began. I think I have made a positive difference in many small ways in the world around me. Retirement still carries the connotation of an ebbing tide, yet my own retirement has begun to reveal affirmative qualities. One affirmative quality is the opportunity to do more giving of my time. When work claimed a larger share of my weekly allotment of hours, I had a limited supply of time available to give. Retirement has expanded the supply.

In my second post, I said that retirement felt like a never-ending weekend. Before I retired, my weekends were often filled with household chores. The need to attend to various household repairs and improvement projects continues into retirement—only the work does not have to be crammed into the weekends. Household chores and projects are not always a fun way to spend the weekend—nor a never-ending weekend—but getting projects done provides a small feeling of accomplishment. And small accomplishments add up to something positive to add to the retirement ledger.

In that second post, I commented that retirement means freeing oneself from the curse of Monday Morning Dread, that nagging apprehension that comes on a Sunday when you have to be at work on Monday morning. Even after retiring, I had pangs of phantom MMD. These days, I no longer suffer from phantom MMD, which may mean that I am finally becoming adjusted to retirement.

These days, I am more likely to lose track of what day it is. I used to think that if an older person did not know what day it was, he must be losing it mentally. But now I am more inclined to think that losing track of what day of the week it happens to be may be a sign of improved health and wisdom.

Retirement guilt was the subject of my third blog post. I mused about whether I should have continued my working career instead of retiring at a relatively young 63 years of age. Although I could have continued working, it would not have brought me any greater satisfaction. Looking back, I think that I accomplished the most that I could have accomplished in my job. The work environment had begun to change in ways that did not feel supportive. It is better to have left when I did, rather than to hang on for a few more years at the risk of becoming embittered. I have not felt any sense of retirement guilt lately.

I am learning to celebrate retirement, instead.

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