Tuesday, July 22, 2008

This retirement thing~

This retirement thing . . . it seems like it should be so easy, so effortless, so thrilling, to stop the daily grind. It is thrilling; at least I think it will be come September when I'm not following the school buses to work.

But it's not easy.

I had a plan book on my desk for 35 years, one I filled in weekly, scheduling new lessons at 45-minute intervals, meetings, parent conferences, and field trips. I knew what needed to be done and when.

I got up at the same time everyday (5:45 a.m.), ate lunch at the same time (12:06 p.m.) and watched the kids pack their bags for home everyday at 2:15 p.m.

I'm not sorry to give up that regimentation.

But three weeks into the summer, I find myself making lists of things I need to do, and there is so much to do that I can't imagine how I managed while I was working eight hours on top of it all.

There are the household chores, gardening, exercise (aren't retirees supposed to get fitter?), freelance writing, book reviewing, reading the book to review, editing, interviewing and writing for the paper, admin work on a writing site, photography, time with friends, time with family (my aging mother needs a visit), I need an eye exam and the gyn appointment needs to be scheduled-- I'd put it off until I retired-- and I'm supposed to get a bone density test. . . Oh, and this blog. And I know I'm forgetting a lot.

I'm thinking maybe I need a plan book.

After putting in a couple of hours this morning on odds and ends, I forced myself to take a break. I went for a bike ride-- killing two birds with one stone: getting exercise, and taking pictures.

I locked the bike to a tree and walked the perimeter of a pond at Massasoit State Park until the noise of the swimmers and my "to do" list faded. I relaxed-- by myself, but not alone.

I kept silent company with dragonflies, little helicopters that hovered in front of me before darting off; bees intently nosing for nectar; butterflies, ragged wings open in the sun; three curious sunfish side-by-side in the shallows looking up at me through the watery lens. All so busy, but not rushing, just doing what they needed to, one thing at a time, while pausing to bask in the sun.

That's what I need to put in my plan book: Take time to bask.

I'm thinking maybe I'll buy a hammock. I'll pencil that in for tomorrow. First thing.
Don't underestimate the value of Doing Nothing, of just going along, listening to all the things you can't hear, and not bothering. ~Pooh's Little Instruction Book, inspired by A.A. Milne


Janice Thomson said...

Love the new look of the blog Ruth.
Lovely photos as always too.

Basking in the sun - yes you do have the time for that now - you may be busy, or even busier, but nothing has a time limit on it now. You can do it if and when you want and get a little basking on a daily basis in there too :)
Love the idea of a hammock - I've always wanted one but could only find a swing at the time which does the same sort of thing because I lie down on it too.

Best of all you get to sleep in in September....

Alice Folkart said...

'Bask' is the perfect word, Ruth.

I had a hammock in mind too, but can't find one - can you believe it? In Hawaii? Our condo rules forbid attaching one, so it has to be on a frame, and, here, in the land of perpetual summer, I am told by every store, "Oh, that's a summer item. Summer's over..."

Oh well, I should go to the gym instead.

Isn't there some management theory that a task will expand the fit the time available?


Happy sleeping late, though. And, yes, Sept. should be really nifty.


PS - photos gorgeous, our little brilliant friends.

sc morgan said...

(OH! You've changed the wall paper. How nice. See, you do get things done...)

Ah, Ruth. I have the same troubles, and I've been at it for a bit longer than you. iCal is my friend. I even have it alarm the day before to remind me of things that need doing--bills, appointments, reading periods for literary journals, etc. But it can't schedule free time.

I live in the tropics where general ennui can take over. In an interview with BBC, Ingrid Betancourt was asked how she stayed sane and kept track of time while being held prisoner in the jungles of Columbia the past seven years. She said it was hard and required that she mark time and pay attention to the days as they past because everyday was the same as the next. It was work, but I cannot imagine going back to 12-hour shifts in the ER with innumerable patients lined up needing to be seen. Makes me shudder…

Lovely photos of the drangonfly. You'd have a great time here in Costa Rica. Ever thought of visiting us here?

Tere said...

I vote hammock. I see you have done some redecorating. As always, your photographs are beautiful.

Ross Eldridge said...

Hi Ruth,

I think it is time to 'fess up that your beautiful photographs are the main reason why I decided to get a camera last Christmas with some money my sister sent me.

It's a digital camera, not very fancy, but it is a start. I needed to learn how to hold my hands steady ... Then I had to figure out how not to feel too silly lying in a field waiting for a heron or a bunny to step out of the grass. I also needed to learn that, even at three in the morning, there might be an odd light, reflection, shadow or shape, that would be interesting to "borrow" for my collection.

I delete 98% of my snapshots still. I'm a clicking fool! But, is that a bad thing?

This week I have been taking pictures of bricks and stones, usually close-up. Dusty, in the rain, old, new, day- and night-lit. Back in the flat, on the computer screen, I get to study the complexities that my dodgy eyesight didn't pick up out "in the field". Curious, but "scars" and "scabs" make things most interesting. And I'm not totally aware of them until I look later, yet, I think, subconsciously, they cause an attraction that I cannot, and do not, resist.

Retirement? I wonder if the scars and scabs of that will most appeal, rather than the slick slide and polish. The irritating bee threatening you in your hammock. You, Ruth, would hop from the hammock, I bet, and take a snapshot of the bee. And make our lives a bit more beautiful in the process.

Made in the shade!


Lisa said...

Yes, you need that hammock. :-)
These pictures are so so beautiful, Ruth. I adore dragonflies and bees. I am so needing some nature right about now.

I'm sure everything you need to do will get done in it's proper time. Right now you should just enjoy summer. :-)

P.S. I wish you were there with me, too (I just saw your comment). When are we gonna get together?

Wanda said...

Oh Ruth, Ilove your idea of retirement. Yes, I'm enjoying mine, and now I need to get out and see some things I've been talking about, but not doing....like riding my bike, finding some Botanical gardens! I've been sitting in my gazebo, and reading.... and that's been so nice.
Wish I could find a good place for my studio cause I really need to paint more.

Love your new look and I really like your profile picture too.

Hope you'll post a picture of you in that hammock!!

Pauline said...

I started to write a comment and ended up writing a post!

Lovely photos. Enjoy every moment whether you "accomplish" something or not :)

sh said...

Nothing wrong with the urge to do. Who says you stop being productive upon retirement? Hammocks are nice, but I'd rather be shooting photos of dragonflies.

sh said...

Or maybe you just need to junk the plan book...

Ruth D~ said...

Janice~ Thanks. I'd like a swing as well as a hammock. I find the lazy back and forth motion to be lulling.

Alice~ Kind of an interesting thought that Hawaii adheres to a summer season. To me it would all seem like summer. Kind of crazy you ned to wait to get a hammock.

Sarah~ I "use" iCal too . . . when I look at it. I guess maybe I should use the alarm feature. Have I thought of coming to visit you? Yeah, ever since I saw the photo of your beautiful porch.

Tere~ I will have one soon.

Ross~ I'm so glad to "picture" you taking photos. The camera is not nearly as important as the eye behind it, and it sounds like you see things the way I do. Sometimes I let the light point the way. I'm hoping to see some of yours. Deleting most is par for the course. And I'll ponder on the scars of retirement . . . I think you are on to something with your unique wisdom.

Lisa~ Nature is here anytime you want me to meet the train. I was in Boston yesterday, BTW. Thought of you . . . naturally!

Wanda~ Reading in the gazebo . . . sounds like a good title for a blog post. Your new home seems filled with light. Hope there is a place for your studio . . . or build an addition.

Pauline~ I'm going to repeat your last sentence like a mantra.

SH~ Photography will always be high on the list . . . if in fact, I even stick to keeping a list.

Barbara Martin said...

Hammocks are the perfect item to relax in while having deep thoughts for plotting one's next writing project.

Beautiful photos.

Barbara said...

The hardest thing is coming up with a plan that gives a rhythm to your day. It's also difficult to understand that no one cares at the end of the day whether you accomplished anything or not. You will grow to love it!

Ruth D~ said...

Barb M~ There you go. I'll lay in that hammock and work. Zzzzzzzz.

Barb D~ That's it exactly. I haven't found a rhythm, and I'd like to. I don't have to follow it, but at least have one that I can follow or not.

Jo said...

Ruth, these photos are wonderful. I think if I were to retire, I would definitely put "buy a hammock" at the top of my to-do list. The second thing on my list would be "lie in hammock; enjoy". The third thing would be, "go for bike ride". The fourth thing would be, "lie in hammock again; enjoy".

I have a new blog *sigh*. You can link to me through here. I hope to see you.

Enjoy your retirement! By the way, you don't seem old enough to retire. Perhaps a second career???

Jo said...

Oh, in case you were wondering, it's me - Josie!

leslie said...

I know exactly what you mean, Ruth, about not enough time even though we're now retired. When I first stopped working, I thought "how did I ever get everything done before?" Well, I didn't and I still don't. But like others, I sure like the idea of a hammock! I'd be out there every day reading until I fell asleep! Just enjoy each day as it comes and to heck with the "chores." LOL

Ruth D~ said...

Josie~ Of course I knew it was you. The picture was a big hint. :>) As for "old enough" . . . early retirement bought me seven years. I'm so lucky.

Leslie~ I just read something in the Globe about time and how we spend it. Writing this, reading that, and all these comments make me rethink the whole "use of time" thing. But here's the question: Why don't you have a hammock?

Lynda B. said...

As a long time list maker and sometimes work-a-holic I've been trying to be more mindful of time for quiet reflection, for seeking peace. I've heard it said "if you don't have anything on your schedule, how do you know when you are done?" Still, there's much to be said for pockets of wide open unstructured time to discover as the moments unfold rather than conquer. I for one am looking forward to reading more about this journey of yours as you discover and define this season of your life. Keep them posts comin'!

Annie said...

Hi Ruth and thanks for your visit yesterday and your comments. I'm at two years and counting for retirement. Marking time in semesters, that makes four more to go and a summer in between. I've been list making and planning much like you and I am so anticipating NOT going to work anymore. The pleasure of having my time strictly my own cannot happen soon enough. I'm off to do more reading and admiring of your fine photography. Blessings, Annie