Do you need a vacation in retirement?

Taking time to get away from the daily grind while you are working is an important ingredient to maintain sanity and a healthy relationship with your partner. The stress and hectic pace of full time employment requires downtime to stay on top of you our game, recharge the old motor and reinvigorate what might otherwise become stagnant thinking. Who does not remember that wonderful feeling after a week or so away when you return to work ready for action? Well at least until you quickly find yourself overwhelmed as you are forced to return from that slower pace you so easily were able to adapt to. Vacation when you are working is important.

What about after you retire?

Supposedly retirement provides an escape from all those stresses and hassles typical to the working world. We are no longer working full time so problems associated with that state of life should be a distant memory. Do you really need to take a vacation from a retired life spent doing whatever you want? Does the old engine need to recharge when it has not been subject to those same demands that wear it down?

Having been retired for three years now I have my routine down. I keep busy pursuing activities and passions that I love. I try to avoid stressful situations and with the flexibility of running my own life am generally successful, at least to this point. But just because I don’t need to escape my day to day life does not mean I have given up vacationing.

My wife and I are in Maui at the moment. We have been here a few times including an idyllic wedding not so long ago. Maui is a special place for us. And yet I cannot help but feel that it might be better suited for a younger generation. All around us happy families with little ones are enjoying the sun and surf, splashing and playing in the numerous pools that decorate our surroundings. Squeals of joy pierce the air and we cannot help but get caught up in there young exuberance and love so obviously displayed. What fun for all! But what about those of us whose kids have grown up?

Young adults pursue a myriad of activities from parasailing to paddle boarding, from sunset cruises to snorkeling excursions. We did these same things when we were a similar age. And I am sure we could do them (most of them anyway) today if we so chose. And that is where I find myself challenged. I don’t really want to do those things. Am I taking full advantage of these wonderful islands if I am happy taking a walk here and there or sitting on our balcony reading a book? Shouldn’t I be out there doing all I can to not waste a moment of our limited time here?

If there is one thing I have learned in retirement it is I do not need to stay busy every moment to enjoy myself. Downtime is good time if that is how I choose to go. A balance of activity and relaxation is a what keeps this ship safely on course. I enjoy doing things at my own pace and choosing those things I most want to partake in. What I do is what is right for me at the moment. That is one of the joys of retired life.

Maui is truly beautiful with warm tropical breezes wafting through the palms, miles of white sandy beaches and an ocean a color of blue that takes your breath away. But it is just one place amongst a multitude. There are so many wonderful destinations we could visit, places we have never been to. And as retirees we finally have the time to get out there.

I think the trick in retirement is realizing you no longer vacation to get away from something. Instead you are blessed with the freedom to vacation just to get to something wonderful. Rather than escape you now vacation to add to your list of memorable experiences. Stay as long as you want. Do as much or as little as you choose. And if you like what you have found you can do it again. Could it get any better?

And who knows – I just might try my hand at a little paddle boarding tomorrow if I am so inclined. Aloha for now.

Get Social in Retirement

I have learned over the years that I am pretty good at entertaining myself. I have a wide variety of interests, hobbies and passions to pursue that bring meaning to my day. I have never had a problem being by myself. It is nice to have the freedom to do what I want spur of the moment. I can read a book or go for a walk, make my lunch even if it is not yet noon, catch a recording of last night’s favorite sitcom, do a quick workout or pretty much whatever else might strike my fancy.

Although I am happily independent I also like people. I enjoy sharing a meal and discussing current events. I am always ready to debate the merits of the current coaches and players on the San Jose Sharks team. I love a good joke although I am not very good at remembering them. I get a lot of satisfaction interacting with a variety of fellow life travelers.

When we retire it is not always easy to feed our need to socialize. Part of the program requires we leave our jobs behind. The good news is we leave behind the stress that typically comes with that job. The bad news is we also leave behind co-workers and friends who filled our day. We no longer have that chit chat and dialogue that kept us engaged and on our toes. Who will we share our stories and jokes with? With whom do we relive those bad calls made by refs over the weekend? Who do we debate the merits of current politicians and their cronies? One of the most difficult aspects of retirement can be the emptiness experienced when we leave behind those people who have become such an integral part of our lives. You hope the relationships will continue beyond work and sometimes they do. But more often with the separation of duties comes a separation of interests and loss of common ground.

Staying socially engaged can be challenging when we retire. Without co-workers our circle of friends diminishes. But staying socially involved is important to our health and happiness. Interacting with others can help keep our minds sharp. Debating, challenging, supporting and questioning require we use our brains. If we hope to prove a point we need to coherently argue our position. The more we talk the better we get at it.

It is amazing how quickly our ability to communicate can slow if we do not regularly engage with others. After being retired for six months I noticed I was not quite as quick as I had been while working every day. I had to think a bit harder to best express my thoughts and that was just six months into retirement. Imagine how things might be in ten years.

Fortunately for me my wife loves to socialize. She still stays in touch with friends from her childhood and meets new people all the time. With her paving the way I am a happy carry-on to various dinners and events I would never have been party to otherwise. Her social nature rubs off on me and I am better for it. If not for her gentle prodding I might find my hermit like tendencies overwhelming the social me.

We happily discovered a couple we know from a previous job lives just a mile down the road. They are a fun intelligent couple who we are spending more time with. My wife and I agree that if we could have picked one couple to be our neighbors it would have been these two. Since they have lived here for the past three years they have insight into various organizations and events we might consider to better get to know the neighbors. Based upon their input we have investigated a local tennis club and spa, scheduled our first attendance at the local gardening club, and met the wine maker at an excellent winery just down the road.

As newbies to the neighborhood we don’t want to rush ourselves. Rather than jump into too many things at once we prefer to take our time and investigate our options. We keep our eyes and ears open for possible activities to enjoy together. At the same time we look for areas that we might pursue individually whether a pilates class for her or a writing course for me or volunteering at the local park.

I am learning the importance of getting out there and socializing – even more so now that I am retired. If I can keep engaging and challenging my mind I hope to improve my chances of staying sharp into the coming decades. Interacting with others, sharing ideas, putting my memory to the test and defending my point of view helps me navigate my journey. And I never know what someone is going to come up with – there is a lovely unpredictable spontaneity about that. Socializing in retirement is good in so many ways. Best of all there are some darn interesting folks out there just as interested in meeting you as you are them. Enjoy!