My Wife is Ready to Retire

I retired a few years back. A big part of my decision was based upon the ever changing job environment. What I described as “diverse experience across multiple years and technologies” unfortunately translated into “too old”. At the time I was 53 and had enjoyed for the most part where my career had taken me. But the powers that be did not feel I had a place in their future. And so began my retirement journey.

I have learned a lot over these last three years – most significantly that I have a lot to learn. It took me awhile to start figuring things out. Although somewhat at a loss in the beginning not always sure how my days would play out I feel I have evolved into a relatively happy, engaged, rarely bored retiree. Best of all I look forward to what tomorrow brings.

Now the time has come for my wife to join the ranks of we retired. I am excited about her becoming more a part of my daily life. And I look forward to sharing our respective second acts side by side.

After a successful career across multiple start ups Beatrice has had her fill of office politics. Dealing with inefficiencies that could easily be addressed if someone just took responsibility is no longer intriguing. It is time for something new. Although she will miss some friends from the job she has always been willing to make the effort to keep in touch with those she wants. And although the safe comfort of a place to go each day will be no more, she looks forward to the many new things she will be able to do with her free time.

She is excited – for the most part. What she is not 100 percent clear about is what she will do to stay busy and engaged once she leaves the job behind. Having worked steadily over the past decades she has only had to fill her weekends with worthwhile activities. Monday through Friday was spoken for by the demands of her career. Now suddenly her weekends will extend to seven days – that is a lot of additional free time. I can relate as this was the biggest single fear I faced when I first retired.

Her plan for now is to take it easy for a few months, enjoying a little downtime to recharge and contemplate the future. But not too far down the line she plans to look for work of some kind. The ideal would be a part time job without much of a commute doing something she enjoys that makes a difference. She is happy in the same line of work or willing to try something new. I support her completely. I have come to learn from readers and fellow retirees there is no reason work cannot be a part of the retirement mix especially if you like what you do.

My wife is very social with a wide range of friends scattered around the globe. She likes to get out and engage with people in the community. In our new digs she plans to reach out to neighbors and locals to learn the lay of the land as well as discover common interests. I see many a dinner party and afternoon get together in our future and look forward to it. She has always been interested in volunteering for worthwhile causes. Now she will have plenty of time to do just that.

One of my wife’s and my great loves is hiking. We are fortunate in that we live within a few miles of a wonderful national park with trails and vistas to fit every want. I imagine us exploring early morning strolls along winding dirt roads as the sunlight filters through majestic redwoods and ancient eucalyptus groves. I see us navigating the many paths to find the most challenging, most scenic, and most hiker-friendly for later down the road when we may no longer possess the fortitude to climb the highest heights. Should we need an alternative to the mountains, 12 miles down the road is some of the most beautiful coast line in the world. It is easy to picture a nice five-mile walk listening to the breakers booming along the shore, breathing in the fresh air, watching seals and gulls go about their merry way,  and ending up at a quaint café where a frothy cappuccino waits. Not too bad if you ask me.

I hope my experience evolving into a happy retiree might in some way help her hit the road running. Although we are different in many ways she will likely have to deal with a lot of what I went through coming up to speed. Why not learn from my mistakes? I will let her know that she does not have to stay busy every minute of the day. Sometimes it is okay to do nothing and if you enjoy what you are doing who is to say it is a waste of time. I will highlight the joy of an empty calendar as well as one filled with only those things you choose to do. I will encourage her to try new things she has never done before. I will recommend she revisit hobbies and passions she may have been forced to push to the wayside while busily employed full time. Now she has time. I will share with her my daily routine that sets aside time for exercise and creativity and exploration and relaxation. If difficulties arise I will remind her we are in this together for support, love and enjoyment. Together we are stronger. And I will invite her to join me in this retired world where the future looks promising and we have the enviable luxury to do what we want when we want.

Welcome to retirement my dear. So glad you are joining me. :)

No Time For Boredom in Retirement

One of my biggest fears prior to entering retirement was I would not find sufficient ‘things’ to do to keep me busy. I had a handful of hobbies and interests but nothing I could imagine holding my attention for the next 20-30 years. While I was spending the last three decades on the job this was never a problem. The challenge was rather could I get everything done in the allotted hours each day. But now that I am retired it is up to me how I choose to spend my time – I am the decider. I have to fill in the empty squares on my calendar. Don’t get me wrong – I love the freedom. But I admit I was somewhat afraid I might not be up to the task.

My wife and I spent last weekend in San Francisco walking the City from Fort Mason to Noe Valley to the Ferry Building, enjoying a crisp sunny day while burning some calories to pay in advance for the dinner we planned to consume. The day was spectacular, the views equally impressive and the diverse mix of humanity encountered along the way entertaining as always. It is amazing but although we have lived in the Bay Area for decades this is the first time the two of us really just wandered SF with no particular destination in mind, just going with the flow. My wife had suggested we do this many times and undertaken similar treks with her friends and family but never quite convinced me to give it a try. And now we are moving! I am sorry my dear for my reluctance but I promise we can do it again upon our return visits.

That evening as we enjoyed a glass of wine before heading out to dine we shared a warming fire with a young couple from Spain. Their enviable business was traveling the world taking pictures and videos for use in movies and blogs and advertising. They shared exciting stories of exotic places from Asia to Spain to Costa Rica and now to San Francisco. As someone who always held an interest in photography I was quickly drawn into their scenario and could readily imagine myself in their shoes. Well perhaps a slightly tuned down version with a little less high adventure but still a lot of beautiful venues. Being retired I am theoretically free to travel and film wherever and whatever may capture my fancy. I believe this a more than worthy cause upon which to focus some of my sparse retirement availability. :)

As a veteran retiree going on three years I am beginning to realize my initial apprehension may have been exaggerated. My daily routine helps assure I will not become bored as I progress through my exercises, blogging, hikes, reading, online courses, gardening, ‘me time’, and initial explorations into cooking. Having specific activities helps the organized me guide my way through the day as well as giving me a certain feeling of accomplishment come cocktail hour.

With our pending relocation I anticipate adding to my list of interests. I plan to get to know the neighbors to learn where to find the best restaurants, freshest baguettes, richest coffee, tastiest h’ordeuvres, most satisfying breakfast repast, and most special off the beaten path hidden beach spots. My wife and I want to explore the various volunteering options in our area. There is always the chance of writing another book somewhere down the road.

And there is a real possibility we will become grandparents within the next few years which should open up a whole new chapter. We already find ourselves increasingly noticing little ones in strollers or proud first-steppers precariously taking their determined stiff-legged toddles. It is easy to imagine bringing the grandkids to the zoo where they will be amazed by the assortment of strange critters. Hand in hand carefully walking toward whatever awaits these grandparents will be more than happy to share time with those grandkids.

So it appears for at least the foreseeable future I need not fear becoming bored in retirement. When will I have the time to be bored? I plan to focus on managing my days to get the most out of an increasingly limited resource – my free time. I have always preferred to be busy – not frantic can’t-catch-your-breath busy but more like living moments filled with interesting engaging enjoyable activities. Being retired allows me to pick and choose what I will do based upon what I want to do, a luxury I am learning to make the best of.