Today I celebrate one year of retirement! I can’t say I’ve missed work. But how have I done in this first year?
I’ve done a lot of things I’d never done before, and gone deeper into some of the things that gave my life meaning before I retired. Despite some difficult times, I feel positive about the year and hopeful about the future.
On Thursday I met friends at Wisley – echoing a visit almost a year ago at the start of my retirement which was the subject of my first blog post [take time to smell the roses].
The blog grew out of a 30 day challenge I signed up to when I retired, with a view to giving myself thinking space and focus [my 30 day challenge]. It did that and then some! The first challenge was facing up to the technical side of setting up a blog. Bigger than that was overcoming a lifelong fear of “putting myself out there”.
Conquering fears is such a good feeling. I was terrified to hit the publish button on that first post and a year later it feels fine. I now understand that nothing is irremediable – you can always tweak and change things retrospectively.
In other words, you don’t need to be perfect, or feel ready, before you take that first step in any venture.
And nobody is really looking to pick holes in what you’re doing either. Other people are more generous and accepting than we give them credit for – or wrapped up in their own lives just like us.
I got more involved at Battersea Dogs & Cats Home where I’ve volunteered for the past 5 years or so as a cat socialiser. I can wholeheartedly endorse the advice to retirees to get involved in a cause you’re passionate about. You get back even more than you put in – self-esteem, fulfilment, a feeling of belonging. And pure joy.
I’m also hoping to put my newly acquired dog grooming skills to use at Battersea some day. Or maybe I’ll take up cat grooming to make the most of my cat whispering expertise!
Continuing to challenge ourselves is so important in retirement. I believe learning new things keeps us young and that the day we stop learning we start dying.
One of my learning ventures has been developing my coaching skills and applying them to the context of retirement. Challenges like this help give meaning and purpose to life beyond my career.
Passions and enthusiasms are important too. Photography is still a big part of my life. I see beautiful, funny and interesting things all around me and I just have to capture them. And I love the slow time in the darkroom, patiently testing focus and exposure, then the anticipation as the image emerges in the developer.
On a more mundane level, my home is clean(er) and tidy(er) too. It makes me feel calmer and less guilty! I’ll never win housewife (sorry, person) of the year though – life’s too short to stuff a mushroom! I’d rather spend more of my new-found free time outside in nature.
Looking back, I realise I’ve accomplished and experienced more in one year of retirement than I ever dreamed I would. Now I’m looking forward to the next year!
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