…and she lived happily ever after.
That’s how I pictured life after work to be and thus far, I have not been disappointed. It has been over a year and a half since I walked out on my last day at my job, but even now, when Monday comes around and I wake up without the blaring of the alarm, I smile.
I can lie in bed all day if I want to and not because I’m sick. On some days, that’s exactly what I do. Still in my pajamas, I grab a book, curl back under the blankets and read from the beginning until the end (of the book or the day, whichever came first). When “bedtime” comes around (which is kind of ironic, because there is no bedtime in retirement), I still have my pajamas on and am already ready for and in bed. The many mandatory time management meetings I attended while working finally paid off!
When you are retired, clocks are insignificant. Unless you are dying to find out who the father is on the Maury show or if Dr. Phil will succeed in fixing another broken relationship, the time of day isn’t really all that important. My working friends are still all hung up on time. I’ll ask them to go to lunch with me and generously offer various hours and days that I am available. They always respond with “I need to check my work schedule and get back to you”. Yeah, well bleep you, you bleepity bleep bleeper.
I don’t have very many working friends anymore.
Since my retirement, I’ve joined a pickleball club (if you don’t know what that is, look it up. It’s a blast), book club, water volleyball club, social committee and been involved in various other activities in my 55 and older community. I have made tons of new friends. At times I have so many things going on, I have a hard time keeping track of everything I’m doing, but I don’t mind. Work was something I had to do. These activities are what I want to do.
I had planned on working until I had enough money put away to be financially stable through the years when I start physically falling apart. Unfortunately, that was not how it panned out. At 56 years of age, I had already begun to fall apart– emotionally.
You see, I had become invisible at work. I was only seen when someone needed something from me and I was only heard when I replied, “I would love to take on three times the amount of workload without a pay increase. Thank you sooooo much! “Is there anything else I can help you with today?”
It’s one of the worst feelings in the world, being invisible.
Every evening, after getting off of a 9 or 10 hour work day with no breaks, I would come home, collapse in a bath full of tears, then fall asleep. The next day I would drag myself out of bed to do it all over again–wash, rinse, spit, repeat, five days a week.
On May 18th, 2016, I walked away from a life that was once full of rewards to the current amazing stage of my life. Retirement.
My retirement didn’t come without compromise. I had to decide what I wanted more, money or my sanity. At times I have questioned my choice, but most of the time I prefer sanity. All I need is a roof over my head, food on the table and enough time and money to spoil my grandkids. I also need to travel.
Besides my grandkids, traveling is one of my greatest loves. It’s through travel that I gain a better understanding of different cultures and people. I have seen families living in “shacks”. Their homes are thrown together with pieces of wood and metal scraps– a simple one-room home with dirt floors. The interesting thing is, these families seem perfectly content. If they can find happiness with very little money, I certainly can as well.
It’s not like I haven’t survived off of a limited budget before. Years ago, while raising my four boys, I required government assistance. After I completed a year and a half LVN training program and started a job, I was able to provide the basic needs for my children. We didn’t have a lot, and the kids knew that if they wanted anything extra, they would have to work to earn the money to buy it.
A couple years after all the kids were out of the house, I was able to go back to school, get my RN license and start my “dream” job. My husband and I always had enough extra money to put a large chunk in savings, travel and give to others who were struggling.
When my “dream job” turned into a corporation that seemed to care more about money then the people, I was done. I get so angry at corporations that make job and pay cuts, so that the CEOs, COOs and SOBs can get their annual million dollar bonuses. They care little for those hard working, lower income persons who are just trying to get by, whose only hope for any kind of a retirement income is that Social Security will still be around when they to need it. The way things are going now, that isn’t likely to happen.
I know what you’re thinking. What right do they have to think they are “entitled” to free government handouts, money they have been paying into for many years? Why don’t they just put away money for their retirement like everyone else does? You can tell by the sound of the sarcasm in my words what I think of that thinking. After putting in thousands of hours, for many years at a job, everyone should get to be able to afford and enjoy a life after work.
Retirement is the best! Two months ago, my brother-in-law called and asked my husband and I if we wanted go with him and his wife on a 15 day cruise in December. The cost of the cruise was half off the normal rate. We didn’t have any time constraints and we didn’t need to request time off from work, so we booked it. Vacations when you’re retired are different than when you are working. You don’t have to dread going home, where in less than a hours’ time back at work, all the relaxation you felt on your trip is gone and you immediately begin to count the days until your next vacation.
It’s been really easy getting used to this stage of my life. I enjoy living again. I care less about what others think and have regained confidence in myself. For me, this is —