First day of retirement!
by Irwin Lengel
Your first day of retirement starts out at, let us say, 6:00 a.m. and hopefully, even though you would like to keep them closed and get a few more zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz’s, your eyes are wide open. Why, you ask yourself? You didn’t even set the alarm last night. Why should I get up, I am retired, you say to yourself! But, if you are anything like me, old habits die hard. Let’s face it, today is the first day of your retirement and you are wondering how that is going to be different. You don’t feel any different. You don’t even feel old. But, the difference is, you won’t be going to the office today or for those of you that worked in other types of arenas, you won’t be going to the traditional job site. Today is yours to do with what you want. Spend a couple of minutes more having that cup of coffee or you could even be bold and pour yourself two cups. What’s the rush? But, as you are doing this, your mind begins to wander, what am I going to do now?
The first day of anything can be a scary thing. Remember your first day on the job? Only difference between then and now, today you are your own boss and you get to choose what you do next. Were you the type that has been planning your retirement and what you were going to do when that day finally came? If so, time to get the plans out and dust them off. Whether it is time to expand the workshop, redo the kitchen cabinets, install a new floor in the bathroom or whatever, now is the time to take the hold off those projects and begin making them a reality. Or, for those of you interested in gardening, now may be a good time to become the landscaper you always wanted to be so that your lawn and garden become the one being named as the home of the month on your street. For those that are sports minded, now might be the time to really get out there and practice your golf swing by hitting a bucket of balls on a daily basis. Then there are always those individuals that love to be around other people. Why not find out where you can volunteer and make yourself useful in that manner. There are all types of opportunities to utilize one’s time in one way or another.
In our particular case, we downsized and much of the time spent prior to moving was to fix up the “retirement home – actually condo” we purchased. (I would have to stop and think how many different places we have lived in since our first day of retirement). But one can only fix something up so long. Sooner or later you have to be done with the fixing up or move on to another place. Eventually we became involved in line dancing (there is a whole other story involved as to how that began, but I will save that for another time). In addition to line dancing for fun and exercise, we began to use our new found talent to entertain others not as fortunate as us. Our group performs for Nursing Homes, retirement homes, assisted living facilities, church groups, and the VA hospital near where we live. In addition we have also performed at times for the Florida State Fair, Plant City Florida Strawberry Festival, Cypress Gardens (before it became Legoland), and Kathleen Heritage Days.
Now for those of you looking to make good use of your time in retirement, line dancing can be very beneficial. Not only does it provide one with social contacts, remembering the line dance steps assists with keeping the brain active and the physical benefits are excellent as well. Our doctor is always amazed at the physical condition we are in when we see him for our annual physicals. As soon as we mention that we are line dancers, he just says: “Well, there is the reason”.
There are numerous retirement activities one can get involved in once a person retires. The crux of the matter is not necessarily which one you choose, but to choose one and make the commitment to become active. Hopefully you will choose something that is not only challenging but satisfying as well. We have more fun, I believe, visiting with the residents of the facilities we dance at after our performance than we do dancing. At this stage of our lives, we all find ourselves asking the eternal question: What is my purpose in life. By picking an activity you are willing to commit yourself to because of it being both challenging and satisfying, you will find your days full and the rewards great. Once you have chosen an activity, start out slowly, taking the time to develop it into an accomplishment you can be proud of. You have been waiting for this day for a long time – sort of like a child waiting for his or her birthday to come around again so that they can enjoy that special time. Remember, you have the rest of your life to make it perfect.
Now that retirement time is here, do not forget to sit down with other members of your family to discuss how you hope to make the most of the extra free time you suddenly have available to you. They may be able to provide some insight as to how they hope your retirement time will be spent. Hopefully, you will have many more years ahead of you (I know we hope to continue dancing for years to come). Do not look upon retirement as the beginning of the end, but as the starting place for you to experience other opportunities you never had time for when you were working. Someone once said that retirement is merely but an extension of living. Now is the time for you to change things if you are not happy with what you see. After all, you have the rest of your life to do it!