AN ENTIRELY DIFFERENT LIFE STRATEGY

The strategy and rhythm of life is different between working and retirement.


Garry just reminded me that he’s busy. By this he means he’s reading two books — one audio, the other print. He’s trying to keep up with his email and stuff on Serendipity and occasionally write a few things, too.

I was explaining that I have this whole Audies reading thing coming up. I’ll get my list of books tomorrow and for the next few weeks, I’m going to be busy. So I was hoping Garry might be able to write a little more because I’ll be on an actual deadline.

He pointed out he’s already busy but he’ll try. Which made me think about busyness.

So I said to him, but also to myself: “How did we have enough time to work full-time and then some?”

Garry worked insanely long hours, often 14 to 16 hours. Just as he was finally about to get some sleep, the station would call him back in. This is why he so treasures sleep. For most of his life, he barely got any. And on top of this, he worked strange hours, so his body was always on same bizarre schedule.

He remembers better than I do about work, even though he has been retired longer than me. “It was the schedule we lived on. We got up, we went to work, we came home. Then we did it again.”

“I don’t think I could do it … for any amount of money,” I pointed out. “I went out on disability … and that was three major surgeries ago. I don’t think I’m healthier now than I was then.”

“That,” said my husband, “Is the other thing. It doesn’t matter how much money they offered me. I don’t think I could do it.”

That’s the definition of retirement — when not only do you no longer work, but you can’t do it, not for any amount of money. You’re finished.

It’s hard to remember exactly what working full-time was like. I know I did it. I got up, commuted — sometimes ridiculously long distances (and that’s how I got hooked on audiobooks). Worked. Came home. Cooked, cleaned. Even occasionally saw friends or family. Then, I got up and did it again. We both did. Together, we worked about 100 years.

These days, I write a piece or two, read other blogs and maybe fix some pictures and listen to a book. Then, I make dinner and collapse into the sofa, I feel I’ve worked a full day.

It’s 12:15 am and I’m writing this. It’s the second post I’ve written today. I also processed about a dozen pictures. I made shrimp for dinner and Garry cleaned up afterwards. A full day.

I am thoroughly and completely retired.

Author: Marilyn Armstrong

Writer, photography, blogger. Previously, technical writer. Retired! Yay!

43 thoughts on “AN ENTIRELY DIFFERENT LIFE STRATEGY”

  1. I had a stretch, newly into single motherhood, when I got up at 6 to get my son fed and off to school, went to work for the lunch rush at Seattle’s only 5 star restaurant (at the time), went to my university for a class or two, got home in time to greet my son from school, stayed with him through dinner and bedtime, went back to work at a closer restaurant as a cocktail waitress, came home a 2 AM. Oh and handled 4 roomers in our home and sold cosmetics and managed 15 Skin Care Consultants in my spare time.

    No energy enhancement drugs of any kind.

    The only explanation (excuse??) I can come up with is exactly the point you make…YOUTH!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. And, as Garry pointed out, a kind of regimen. That’s what we did. We didn’t THINK about it. We just did it. And then came the days when I had to force myself to do it, when I had to tell myself “You can do this, you CAN do this” until one day, I said “You can’t do this anymore. You’re done.”

      Liked by 3 people

      1. VERY good piece, Mrs. A. It’s like night and day — our working lives and our retirement lives. I was so bloody structured during my working years. My body was 5 seconds ahead of my brain or vice versa. It probably began with my Marine Corps regimen tightened into the life of a TV newshound. Go! go! go! Do it –and quickly move on. I never stopped to tally the dead bodies/murder victims we covered in a day/week/month. Eventually, it all caught up with me in the final years of my career. I’m sure I couldn’t revisit that life even with the lure of good money.

        As for retirement, I feel like Johnny Rocco in my yen for more free hours. I want MORE..and there’ll never be enough free time.

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  2. It’s so true, Marilyn. You just did it. You didn’t think about it, in some ways, energized by it. I threw myself in the work routine daily, without pause or thought. I enjoyed it very much. In some ways I miss it. Retirement offers differences, not always choice, and never routine, for me but there it is. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I didn’t retire. I went out on disability because I couldn’t do it. I was really sick at that point. I am probably less desperately sick now, but I’m far too exhausted to do that much and at 71, I don’t WANT to, either. There does come a point — for everyone — when you are burnt out and it’s time to stop. Younger people don’t really see it coming — until one day, it’s staring them in the eyes.

      Do I miss work? Not really. There are things about working I miss including the company of other people, but the work itself? Technical writing isn’t all that thrilling.

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      1. I get you. I miss the comradery and interaction with others. I enjoyed working, I’ve had a number of jobs and there were fulfilling moments in each. I’m no less retired now when I think about it, with grands to take care of and support to give to others. I still get up at 7 or 8 (rarely can I sleep in) although I now indulge in a nap once in awhile. I went out on disability with the eye thing. I was too young to retire but too disabled to work. Now the physical difficulties would impede trying. Getting around daily is a challenge in and of itself. I enjoy being here, visiting with you, it makes my day. Something worthwhile getting up for 🙂 and a great pleasure to boot.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. People used to ask me how I “did it” when I was a single mom with four kids and (sometimes) three jobs, and my answer was pretty much the same as yours… I just did it. Things needed doing and they weren’t gonna do themselves. So yeah. Now, like you, I couldn’t even do one job if they paid me. This body don’t work that way anymore… and I haven’t even undergone any surgeries! I am just kaput.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We refer to it as “fried.” I had problems I didn’t even know about when I gave up. Garry had a pile of issues HE didn’t know about, either … and we were both fried. Burnt to a crisp. So with all the money issues, there’s no going back for us.

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  4. I have had retired friends tell me they stay so busy in retirement, they have no idea how they had time to work. I hope to test that theory soon enough. I have realized I will never ‘have enough money to retire.’ So just call it a day and retire, already!

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  5. Ah, if only. Despite what I’ve been telling prospective employers in recent job interviews, I really could have been happy in retirement. I wasn’t bored. I would have stayed retired if only I could have found a way to keep paying that damn mortgage and those darn utility bills, and the health insurance. Hopefully, once I catch up on the backlog of construction related payments, I will again be able retire – permanently. Something to look forward to and to keep me going for the next couple of years. Kudos to you and Garry for being able to make it work.

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  6. As I reached 60,, my colleagues began to ask me frequently “when are you going to retire?” They were anxious to split my successful outside-sales territory. It was a huge adjustment for me, but I’ve thoroughly enjoyed being able to sleep in, travel, and do whatever else I wanted.

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      1. Before I retired, I often wondered when the time would come. People would tell me then that I was not yet ready. But how to know when I was ready? The answer was always “You’ll know.” One evening on the way home from field work several hours away, I suddenly realized that the last few days might be a clue that I was ready (I don’t even remember now what had happened, but several events that were less than wonderful, followed by a 3-hour drive home). By the time I reached home, I had made a decision that I was ready — then it was just a matter of working out logistics.

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  7. I still think today in various situations how it would have been when I had been working. After the Christmas holidays driving to work again in the usual ice and snow. Trying to fit in the houswork with the work timetable. Many years afterwards I still have to think how did I do it? I suppose everything has its time in life. And now I take photos, write blogs, just like a full time job, but I am not getting paid for this one, it is all done for the love of doing it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It is hard for me to remember how I did all of that. It’s no wonder I never slept. Who had time to sleep? And I couldn’t do it, not for love or money or anything. I’m physically long past managing that kind of pressure. I am SO glad I don’t have to, either.

      Liked by 2 people

  8. I think my can’t do it days are looming around the corner. I will be forced into a surgery I have been avoiding as no minimally invasive solution has been found, and I have been looking. If I am forced into retirement sooner than planned, I know I will be busy anyway.

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  9. Heaven to have a day like yours. I laid around all day… but only gave myself permission to do so because I am so ill with dysentery. What does it take to allow oneself to retire??? I guess we’ve talked about this before and that illness is a big reason. Even as it is, I feel guilty.

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    1. Or being too tired to keep working. I was sick, but I was also exhausted. And Garry was completely burned out. He didn’t even want to do it — and he always loved his work. But there comes a time for many of us when you can’t do it anymore. I think maybe the arts — and writing — are different because they aren’t like other jobs. You aren’t commuting or putting in your hours to make a pension. I think most artists just sort of slow down.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. just FYI….

    I often find myself wondering just how in the heck you two manage to do so MUCH!

    I have the day pretty much to myself with few commitments but am finding it hard to keep up with my blogging lately especially paying as much attention to the numerous friends’ blogs i have found.

    You may officially be retired but it seems you’re working more than ever! 😉

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    1. I notice that now, watching shows we like is more locked in. Reading is an activity, not something I do on the side. Writing this blog is my “work,” but so is taking pictures. Now, my hobbies are a place in my life. They aren’t just something I do occasionally when I run out of paying work. I love it. Every day. Too bad it doesn’t pay better!

      Liked by 1 person

  11. I’m a newbie at this retirement life. I can relate to ‘being done’ I was a psychiatric nurse for almost 40 years and I was so burnt out I just couldn’t put one foot in front of the other. I’m liking this retirement life but I’m wondering where all the expected ‘free time’ is. Between reading, writing, quilting, knitting, photography, genealogy, the odd visit and appointment there’s just no time left over. I fully understand your amazement at how you managed to work full time and still do other stuff.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Every time we go to a retirement party, the subject looks at everyone and says “Now I’m going to have plenty of time to do EVERYTHING.” We laugh. They won’t. They don’t. You are just as busy as you used to be, but you enjoy it a lot more 😀

      Liked by 2 people

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