Excuse Me. Where Are The Naps?

On the first day of not having to work anymore, I slept in–sort of. It was a heady feeling, the night before, NOT to set the alarm. I can sleep as late as I want! I thought. Used to bolting out of bed to the IPhone alarm’s cheery burble at 5 AM, this prospect sounded like heaven.

So I slept in, and when Mark’s alarm jangled, and he went into the bathroom to shower, I rolled over, threw an arm over my head, and smiled.

I don’t have to get up, I thought smugly.

But my bladder hadn’t gotten the memo. An organ of habit, it made its needs and wants clearly known, and I squirmed and thrashed uncomfortably until Mark emerged, damp and clean and smiling, thirty minutes later.

So I was up, and I threw on what we might, in another era, have called ‘play clothes,’ applied some minimal make-up, and went downstairs to face the day. I plugged in the coffee and pulled out my notebook to do my morning pages. And the dog needed to go out, and then she needed to be fed, and Mark was interested in the plan for the day. The paper arrived, and the headline was about a controversy with which Mark is very familiar, so we dissected that. His eggs looked so good, and my stomach was growling: I ate my Nutty Nuggets, and by then, of course, the dog was ready for her morning walk. I never did get to morning pages on Monday.

And that night, I set my alarm for 5:30, and now I get to sleep in half an hour later than I did on working days, and I still have an hour of quiet house.

I like getting up in a quiet house. I crossed “Sleep late” off the “Things to Do in Retirement” list.

*************

But I made another list, that first morning, of “Things to Do on Monday”. It included completing a lesson in the online course I’m taking, writing two essays, formatting and editing a post for our community reading initiative’s blog, cleaning up cluttered email, putting the second coat of white paint on the car port’s interior, and making several phone calls. I needed, too, to sit down with Jim and set up the monthly calendars, and then compare each of our calendars for the week. I had a pile of ironing to catch up on and a knitted monkey to stitch together and stuff. I was looking forward to writing some long overdue letters.

It was a fat list, and the day stretched out before me, full of time that I could wrestle into submission. Ahhh…I thought. This will be good.

And then…imagine what I can accomplish TOMORROW!

I had forgotten, though, about Mark’s car needing to go to the body shop, so we convoyed and conveyed, and by the time I got home, Jim was up. It was 9:00 before I hit the email and 10:00 before I opened my lesson, and by lunchtime, I had not gotten to the essays or the ironing or the letters. But, the weather being fine, I thought I would just slap some paint on the car port walls and finish that up by 5:00 when Mark needed to be picked up.

Mark texted to come get him at 4:30 instead, and, disabused of my ‘I am Wonder Woman’ notions, I finished only half of the car port that afternoon. Ah, well.

It is now the end of the week, and four of my ‘Things to Do on Monday’ list items are not yet done.

Recalibrate, recalibrate, recalibrate.

****************

I have, in this first week of retirement, had time to share lunch with two friends I haven’t seen in too long. I have taken long stretching morning walks by myself, and long chatty evening walks with Mark. I have made appointments, ironed shirts, roasted pork, and simmered a pot of fragrant red sauce. I have, in my knitting basket, a half-stitched monkey.

I have talked my reluctant haircutter, a skilled colorist, into cutting my hair short and then letting it grow out naturally. Perhaps there really is a long gray braid and a pair of Birkenstocks in my future.

I have borrowed a new book by Gail Godwin–an author I discovered during undergrad days 40 years ago–from the library. I have sat, fresh from an evening walk, on  the patio, with a cold glass of ice water, and read that book.

It has been an exploration week, and the urgency of list items still pushes at me, with the learned sense that I need to hurry up and get them done, because soon, darn it, these halcyon days will be done and I will have to go back to work, still hovers. But I’ll get over that, and I will wrestle with the time demons, and I will learn to get things done in a gray-headed, thoughtful, kind of way. I hope.

Retirement.

There is paperwork, and there is time management; there are physical constraints and obligations that didn’t go away with the job’s demands. My friend Susan says every retired educator she knows says this: How did I ever have time to work?? (This is probably true of many other occupations, too, but educators are what we know.)

But there are also personal choices and time to reconnect and the opportunity to experiment and explore. There are the quiet mornings and the evening walks and the sense, at the end of the day, that a few things, long neglected, have been tended to. I have the opportunity to rediscover, renew, re-create.

Retirement: I like it.

****************

But, oh: I did think there’d be more naps.

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22 thoughts on “Excuse Me. Where Are The Naps?

  1. Love it!
    I was talking to a teacher friend last week who just retired and for the first time in a zillion years isn’t heading back to the classroom. She told me when people ask her how it feels to be retired she says, “I’m not retired, I’m re-purposed.”

  2. Elinor Dunnewold

    Pam,
    One day of retirement is an investment in the ” look, see” at possibilities that stack up nicely and tease and coax you into creative ventures you’ve never allowed before. Go, Be: the artist you dreamed of, the traveler in your wandering soul, the curious nature venturer, the clogger in your feet, or the fudge maker extraordinaire. A fabulous world stretches ahead. Enjoy. And congratulations!

    Elinor

  3. Becky

    Some people say not retired, just tired, but that wouldn’t be you! Your first day of retirement, however, made me feel a bit tired!

    Your wonderful blog reminds me of the two retired brothers who owned the farm across the road from the manse we lived in near Connoquenessing, PA. They were in their 70s and they would be out on the tractor and doing farm work and had always had the farm even with their day jobs. I was in awe of them and asked once what their prior work life was like if this was retirement! The healthiest people I have known kept re-purposing their life. I am already in awe of what you were involved in while working full time.

    You have so much to offer, it will be exciting to see what develops in this new chapter of your life. So funny about the gray braid. I was going for the gray braid and appreciated the “homesteading” woman in our last Family class who I thought really rocked her braid. Decided I am sticking with short hair, though.

    1. Yeah, Becky, my hair is now REALLY short…and why did I not do this years ago???? The braid may be fading…

      I am excited by the possibilities retirement offers and want to run out and grab each one…but will learn done focus pretty quickly, I think!

  4. Pam, I’m about a year into my “retirement.” I’m as busy as ever—doing things I’ve always wanted to do, doing more of what I didn’t have enough time for before, and especially catching up with friendships and books (loved Gail Godwin’s latest). My only quibble about retirement is the word itself. It holds too many old connotations of rocking chairs and idleness. I think we need a new word to describe this new phase of our lives. I’m refired, not retired … I’m redirected and reenergized and open to new possibilities. And I’m still trying to learn how to nap! Congratulations on your new adventure!

    1. Donna, you are doing ‘retirement’ just the way I want to do it. Let’s think about a new term….many of us feel anything but retired! Maybe we can find a one-word description that really conveys this wonderful time…

      I loved the new Gail Godwin, too! I am going to find her nonfiction now…

  5. Patty Roker

    You are making it look better and better. Maybe I’d better stop working so hard at making myself indispensible … Tantalizing thoughts…

  6. You might try Saturday afternoon or Sunday afternoon for a nap, Pam. Those of us who cannot sleep in during the week vouch for the sweet, quiet hour of rest we get at such times.

  7. When I quit my job to go freelance, It took me awhile to get a handle my schedule too. I didn’t have enough work to keep me truly busy, so I had all sorts of time to do what I (thought) I wanted to do. After a few false starts of finishing a day feeling like I hadn’t accomplished anything, I had to put myself on a schedule. Like you, I get up early and do my yoga, meditate, and take my walk. After that, with the help of alarms on my phone, I had allotted times for correspondence, writing, household chores, etc. It may sound regimented, but as a control freak, it’s what worked for me. After awhile, it became easier to manage my time and I was able to drop the strict schedule. I still have those less-productive days, but I don’t beat myself up over them anymore.
    Your friend hit the nail on the head – I don’t know how I managed to fit my 9 to 5 into my busy schedule!

    1. This doesn’t sound regimented at all…it sounds just right to me! (I might have a little bit of control freak in me, too…) I love hearing that you got into a rhythm; I am starting to see that is possible! Thanks for sharing your success!

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