Episode 193 What are You Doing?
“What are you doing with retirement?” a friend of mine asked. I never know how to respond. Easy to answer that question when one has a job: “I’m still teaching. I’m still doing law. I’m still farming.” It trips right off the tongue and the conversation can move on. Not so when it comes to explaining what one does in retirement. You can’t just say “I’m still retired”. That doesn’t answer the question: “What are you doing in retirement”?
This is Retirement Talk. I’m Del Lowery.
For people I know who are retired it is impossible to give a short answer and I don’t think people really want a long answer. Do they really want to know what you’re doing in retirement? It’s really hard to say.
We usual respond with “Not much”, or “I don’t know but the time just seems to slip away”, or the standard “Oh, this and that”. The conversation somehow turns with this non- answer and we move on.
Because of the nature of these podcasts I will assume the question is sincere and try to actually answer it. Of course, the answer won’t be short.
There seems to always be changes in daily activities but many of the days have a certain routine built into them.
Seven days this week all started out the same for me with 20 minutes of Tai Chi in the yard followed by 20 shots with the ol’ basketball. The Tai Chi is for my health; physical and mental. The basketball is for fun. This is followed by 15 to 30 minutes reading a work of fiction: always enjoyable and keeps my imagination expanding one way or another.
After breakfast a couple of hours are spent on the guitar with some computer/podcasts stuff stuck in there during breaks. The computer and guitar sit next to one another so this is a convenient arrangement. “Time to go biking” my wife says. It must be eleven o’clock. This is exercise time. Depending on the weather we either bike, row or walk. But we always drop whatever we are doing and exercise one way or another. Two days out of the week we do some weight lifting using machines. I guess it is called strength training today.
And what about my wife: she sleeps later than I and then spends a couple of hours painting or gardening depending on the season of the year and the weather. It is eleven o’clock before we have much interaction. Our mornings are pretty much private time.
After lunch Nap Time is always accompanied by a talk radio show of one sort or another. It just puts me right to sleep. I remember working on a farm as a youth and the farmer, farmer Brown to be exact, Carl Brown and his wife Ruth, would always take a rest after lunch while listening to WHO radio. I thought it a bit strange but I certainly understand it today; one of the true perks of retirement.
The after noon is spent on a variety of projects: lately it has been computers and podcasts. I have recently been trying to figure out a new laptop, a new recording program, my new website design and the recent birthday gift of an iPad. Brenda spends her time gardening, running errands, taking care of personal business type stuff like shopping for holiday or birthday gifts, wrapping packages, mailing packages, etc. These afternoon hours are time we spend on special projects like building furniture, remodeling our house, working on community projects or just taking care of all the little details in life that demand attention.
Luckily the afternoon also has a constant built into it that provides some stability. Four o’clock finds us in a local coffee shop. It is time for conversation with friends or sometimes strangers, reading the paper, doing the crossword or writing. It is as regular as the 11 o’clock exercise.
Brenda is a gourmet chef and dinner takes some time to prepare and enjoy. It is usually after 7 before the dishes are done and we have an hour or so for reading followed by one hour of video - maybe an hour and a half. This is followed by an hour of guitar for me and an hour of reading for her.
Dinner entertainment always takes precedent over any of the latter part of the day. We either have people over for dinner or we are at their place one or two nights each week. This is one of the great things about retirement. We can linger over food and conversation without work weighing on our minds or early morning alarm clocks shaking us out of bed.
Our routine is always varied by the three days each week we spend in Vancouver, British Columbia. Our daily pattern stays pretty similar but being in the city provides a great change of venue. The pace of city life is uplifting. I love walking down the street and meeting someone with green hair and zombie like blood red streaks painted on their face.
So, what do we do in retirement? A short answer isn't possible. I would think most retired people would have a similar response only tailor made to them. I suppose the guitar and painting might be replaced with fishing, golf, taking care of grand children or some other activity. Watching television probably plays a large role for some people. There are lots of choices. None of our choices are by accident. We have created our patterns of living with care. If we could think of a way to improve it we would.
This is Retirement Talk.