I am enjoying my retirement, but it is well said that after retirement you find yourself wondering when you had the time to do all you had to do, and now that you have the time people come your way asking for help. They are generally family, but not necessarily. But strangely, not all of us who are busy want to return to our old jobs. It is as though there is a part of you that has exhausted itself and cannot be taken up again. Anyway, the job market moves on and so do you.
Pretirement:one year on
Having been retired for a year it is time for me to reflect.
What Am I Doing.
At last the telephone has stopped ringing and the text messages have ceased. The final text message came from my employer. "We miss you!" it declared, like an old friend seeking renewal of a relationship. I did not miss them. Another agency had been ringing to ask did I want a job teaching Horticulture at colleges. It is nice to be headhunted, but even they have now ceased to ring. The reason is simple, the days when I worked in colleges have ceased and I have entered a new stage of life. Thanks for the offers, folks, but no thanks.
I am still working part time as a senior examiner for the General Certificate of Secondary Education, and this provides me with a small but steady flow of work during the year, for I mark the papers in June and November and do the appeals during the following months.It is a bit of extra money that I can earn while staying at home. The only meetings are three a year and they involve my traveling to Cambridge,but I stay in a pleasant hotel paid for by the examination board.
My voluntary life is thriving. I am chairman of Urmston Allotment and Garden Society, a federation of eight allotments, my role in which is to chair meetings and keep an eye on the money. A bigger part of my role is negotiations with the council over the lease for the land, and that is promising to be hard work. I still, of course, have my own allotment to till.But the voluntary side of my life involves working with my political party, The Liberal Democrats, for whom I have begun to put my diploma in journalism to work to produce copy for the local party publication, Focus. This has meant my having to start developing skills with a desktop publishing package, and I am still in the learning process at the moment. I do the kind of jobs that the retired do: seeing an elderly relative several times a week and using my car to take rubbish to the tip or family members who don't have a car.
I am keeping up with reading, and my latest project is to read over academic books in my personal library so that I can refresh my ideas;and of course I write, mainly on Wizzley.
Getting the Balance Right
Any kind of retirement involves being realistic about oneself. I was at my granddaughter's first birthday party a few days ago, and she is at the stage when she is crawling around and up to all sorts. That evening I was exhausted, for dealing with a baby is not easy. Babies never stop until they are exhausted or want to eat. Being a grandfather is great, but I am glad that my son and his wife take up the energetic bits of caring, mind you Sophie makes demands of our energy whenever and wherever she can . And there is yet another grandchild on the way in Anglesey in thirteen weeks, courtesy of my daughter, but we really are unsure what we can do to help her, as she is a hundred and ten miles away from us. But we will do our best.
I have learned that being active in retirement involves being careful with your energy, and certainly overdoing nothing. For this reason I refrain from going back to a full time job, as the demands would be heavy. I do part time and voluntary work that I can control. As chair of the allotment society I can work whenever in the day that I want,and work for as long as I want. It is a responsible and challenging job, but not physically arduous. I do not do massive sessions on the allotment, just two or three hours at a time.
Retirement involves being wise and humble enough to accept help and be grateful for it. My eldest son has started to take a larger role in the allotment, and when we go together he takes over the heavy physical work. Andrew is quite blunt and honest in his speech, and he told me that I am going to need more help as the years move on. He is right. At least I am not going to be like the elderly man whom I helped at a railway station. A huge man, he fell while alighting from a train, so several of us rushed to help him up. No thanks gave he, but he simply told the helpers, "If you had not been crowding the door I would not have fallen." Seeing the embarrassed and crestfallen look on his wife's face said everything. I thought, "Here is a woman who has had much to put up with." I said no more to him. Thus when I stumbled on the path ascending Mount Snowdon and was helped to my feet by kindly fellow walkers I accepted help, even though I did not need it, and was thankful.
But you should never let work dominate retirement. There is a great need to relax and enjoy your life. I watch more television than I once did, and I get up later. My working life often involved rising at six a.m. nowadays I never arise before seven fifteen, and that's the earliest.I like a walk in the morning, not a long one, but it keeps me fit.
The way to a full and happy retirement is through the brain, and it is the path of positive thoughts. There can be money problems in retirement, but there are different forms of wealth. I am comfortable with my pension, and there are as you know my extra earnings. I also do surveys for which I am paid in vouchers, and the allotment provides food. If you can be self-reliant, you obviate the need to bring in tradesmen, and this too is a form of wealth.
Having positive interests helps the mind to stay healthy. I am working on my Irish at the moment and taking up Portuguese again, after a slow start. The reason for this is that my daughter-in-law is Portuguese and her family are happier with that tongue than they are with English. Irish I do for the love of it. Taking an interest in what is going on in the world matters, so I like to maintain my interest in politics.
If people ask me what is the best age to be I say that it is the age that I am now, for the moment that you begin to say, I wish I was whatever age again, you begin the process of mental decline. True, I would like to be as fast, supple and as slim as I was at twenty three, when I could run up mountainsides, but at twenty three my mind was less mature than it is now, and I am happier than I was at that age.
The most important element in a positive outlook is to keep on growing. Your mind must never cease to develop. You should be keen to learn new skills and ideas, and you should always be open minded. Open-mindedness is not always a characteristic of youth,for there are some narrow-minded youngsters, and I have often found that those who must ardently claim to be open minded often are quite the opposite. You also need to grow spiritually, for your spiritual and moral character is always in need of improvement, right up to the end of life.