Freedom

A flag watches over the grape vines

 

This week the United States celebrates another birthday. Since the 4th falls on a Tuesday, it is a long weekend for those workers lucky enough to also take Monday off. Last Thursday as I did my usual grocery shopping for the next month, I passed displays of beach towels and flipflops, towers of soda and beer, end caps filled with backpacks, American flags and fireworks. People frantically rushing to gather goodies for the holiday clogged the aisles. I was reminded of the days when I, in my suit and heels, also rushed through a store at lunch hour or after work to grab last minute Independence Day necessities.

After viewing this scene from my retired perch, I decided I’m also celebrating the personal freedom retirement brought me. For the first time in my life I am not bound to do what society expects of us. Even as a child I did not enjoy the freedom retirement affords me.

Today, there are no parents, managers or other authority figures dictating how I spend my time. The suits and heels are long gone. OK I have one suit and two pair of heels left in my closet for special occasions. But, my wardrobe of choice these days is jeans and t-shirts with loafers, sandals or sneakers. The suit hangs in a breathable bag; the heels are boxed high on a shelf.

Oh, I still have responsibilities. I have to pay the utilities on time, keep a watchful eye on my investments and adhere to a self-imposed budget lest I become a bag lady at ninety. I have to be a good citizen and mind the laws of my state and country, get my drivers license renewed and pay my taxes. But, how I spend my days is up to me. That is a huge responsibility in and of itself. Ingrained in the workaholic boomer generation is the idea that leisure time is wasted time. Freedom just may come with an emotional price.

However, that’s not for me either. I learned a long, long time ago when my workaholic ways caved in upon me, that every life needs balance. I accomplish a lot in my freedom filled life. I also give myself permission to just sit and be for a time each day. Piddling, as my dad called it, is good for the mind and the soul. Taking time to watch birds flutter around the feeders in the back yard while I enjoy my morning coffee is not wasted time.

Accomplishments in retirement are not the same as accomplishments in my past work life. In June I spent a morning trimming grape vines within an inch of their lives. This task is necessary so the vines put their energy into the clusters of grapes. I consider that an accomplishment. Not one that will get me a promotion or a raise, but one that gives me pleasure knowing I will pick clusters of deep purple grapes come fall.

After a day working in my gardens, I always, ALWAYS take a garden tour, strolling leisurely while I admire the beauty. I also consider that an accomplishment. We all need a moment to stop and smell the roses. Otherwise, what’s the point of having them?

This week while workers take a long weekend crowding beaches and camp grounds, turning out for spectacular fireworks displays and enjoying a cold beer around the barbecue, I’m celebrating my successful transition to retirement freedom. Now that is an accomplishment!

 

22 comments on “Freedom

  1. Having retired just days ago, I really connected with your words about retirement freedom. I am starting to realize my new ‘job’ is to listen to my own rhythms and follow my own path. Thanks Kathy💕

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    • Thanks Jan. Yes, we would all be better off, even when working paid work, if we learned to tune out of our harried lives for a moment each day. I recently read that because of technology, fewer and fewer Americans are even taking a real vacation! Happy 4th to you as well. K

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  2. The line you wrote about leisure time being wasted time was so impactful. I’m going to be retiring at the end of the year, so still in this life of week-ends and holidays being precious commodities where you catch up on laundry, gardening, grocery shopping etc. Right now just sitting on the deck with the dogs and watching the world go by seems criminal. So looking forward to the day when I can relax, at least a little, and not feel guilty doing it.

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    • I think one of the hardest parts about entering retirement is learning to relax without guilt. We live in such a workaholic society that just being and getting in touch with ourselves seems, as you put it, criminal. Give yourself time. It takes about two years to acclimate so it won’t happen overnight. K

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  3. We are on the verge of retiring or moving to the ‘Next Stage’ and I find your articles to be very informative and interesting. Each post gives us ideas on things to do in retirement (including smelling the roses) or the benefits of retirement, such as your post today about pre-holiday stress. Thank you for taking the time to post.

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    • Thank you Janice! I started the blog to help me with my retirement struggle and ended up helping a lot of other people, which is now the reason I post. I hope it will continue to help as you move into the ‘Next Stage’. K

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  4. I notice the holidays by the decor: bunting, ceramic turkeys, lighted evergreen trees. Because of retirement I like you am not rushing any longer to ready for my day off. Hooray!

    I’m off to play golf.

    Happy Fourth!

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  5. What a wonderful post. I long for the kind of freedom you expressed. I’m a long way from retirement but think about it every day. To me, work is drudgery and always has been. I love reading your blog; I get to live vicariously through it until my own retirement arrives.

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  6. So glad I follow your blog. The reality of retirement can be so different from what was anticipated. It has been almost 3 years for me and I am still finding my way. But, enjoying every day no matter how awkward they somtimes feel.

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  7. Oh, for the gift of time in retirement. There’s a line from the movie, “The Color Purple” – sometimes I sets and thinks and sometimes I just set. For me, there is no “nothing” for that very reason; sitting and doing nothing is resting and that’s not “nothing”. And from Brian Andreas (www.storypeople.com) – There are things you do because they feel right & they may make no sense & they may make no money & it may be the real reason we are here; to love each other & to eat each other’s cooking & say it was good.

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