FREE AT LAST – Marilyn Armstrong

Retirement is better than childhood.

You don’t work as a child, but they make you go to school — which can be as bad and sometimes, worse than work. Moreover, childhood is prepping for the work of your future and as such, is a worrying environment.

Other people set your schedule and tell you what to eat, drink, and wear.

Now, in retirement? No school, unless you feel like it. No one sets your schedule or tells you what to wear. You can hang around in your PJs or underwear. And some of us do exactly that.

In your working years, you grow increasingly tired until one day, you look in a mirror.

“Self,” you say. “I can’t do this anymore.”

“I could retire,” you point out to yourself. “I could pack it in, take the money.” As you think this, a little bell goes ding-a-ling deep in your brain, It’s a bell labeled “What money?” Have you sat with HR to find out what kind of money you have in your retirement fund?

Do you have a retirement fund? How about a 401 K?

“And anyway,” you continue, “There is Social Security, right? I’ve worked hard my entire life. Surely there’s enough there to sustain life?”

So begins the intricate dance by which you detach yourself from the working world and figure out from where all future paychecks will come. It isn’t easy, but you work something out because there always comes a point when you really don’t have a choice. You are finished with work … and work is finished with you, too.

You slide into a place where many long-deferred pleasures await you. Hobbies are now your primary activity. You have free time that is truly free. Pity about the lack of a paycheck, but most of us feel that the freedom of retirement is a pretty good trade-off, though there are good days and not-so-good ones.

Marilyn with Cows – Photo: Garry Armstrong

You get up when you like. Go to bed when you want. You sleep late as often as possible. You can read until the sun come up and watch old movies until sleep pulls you into darkness.

You can blog, read, and write your memoirs. Travel, if money and your physical condition allow. Most of us, after some initial confusion, settle down and discover retirement is good. Even considering all the restrictions, physical issues, and losses … it’s very good. For many of us, this is the first real freedom we’ve ever known.

Ducks on a golden day in November

Barring ill-health — and don’t we all wish we could bar ill-health — is far better than working no matter what your income. Finally, you don’t have a boss telling you what to do. You are no longer a slave to the whims of your spoiled darlings who hopefully, have flown the coop and nest elsewhere, but remember to call and visit. With luck, they won’t fly back, bringing a birdie spouse and the fledglings.

Would I work anyway if I had the option?

Return to an office?

Face deadlines?

Doing what I’m told or face the consequences?

Schedules every day of every week for year after year, on the job and off? Endless commutes? Taking ten minutes to get a sandwich, then wolfing it down while seated at the computer to the accompaniment of acid reflux?

No. I think not.

Author: Marilyn Armstrong

Writer, photography, blogger. Previously, technical writer. I am retired and delighted to be so. May I live long and write frequently.

23 thoughts on “FREE AT LAST – Marilyn Armstrong”

  1. Agree, back to work having to do things instead of today’s free choice, no thankyou. I can only say I under estimated the health side of things. Traveling and going places is not so easy when your body no longer wants to. Going to Bern, our capital city, used to be fun: some shopping and relaxing with a drink at a street cafe, forget it. It is only 40 kilometers on the motorway, but we haven’t been there for a few years, no energy for it. I should have listened better to what the older people were saying when I was younger


    1. I find doing things — anything — very difficult. For all that, it’s not like I’d be in better condition if I was working. I’d be just as tired and old and my back would be as difficult, but I’d be working too. At least I don’t have to work.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. DITTO – what you’ve said. Despite whines and grumbles about aches and very lean incomes, I like retirement. No more 3 o’clock in the morning calls to cover murders, perverts and perpetual acts of madness from Mother Nature. No more “hands on” conversations with corrupt pols and lazy, overpaid athletes. No more “breaking news” headlines eased with Excedrin and single malt. No more double shift, 7 day work weeks in heavy traffic and screaming touristas.

        Retirement is good. Am I serious? Yes. And, don’t call me Shirley.


  2. Back when I started working at Mecca two decades ago, about a tenth of my store’s workforce was retirees who decided to pick up a part time job because they found retirement to be boring. I even remember a few people in their 70’s on my overnight crew working full time… I guess they were really bored. They sure didn’t need the money since they all had pretty good union pensions from their previous work…

    Given that I can’t even take a couple extra days off from work anymore without my body breaking down from the lack of activity, I almost dread the day I no longer work… regardless of the circumstance that puts me there. It would be a huge adjustment for me…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Garry exercises every day, even when he shouldn’t. He does it like clockwork and he feels weird when he doesn’t. All I can suggest is that you develop an exercise habit. it has certainly kept him fit and pretty healthy and strong … and he has been retired for nearly 18 years.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m enjoying “retirement” if you can call it that. I have little people to get up at 7 am and teens to wait up for until midnight. In between i cook and clean, make meals and do my own stuff. It keeps me as active as possible so I enjoy it. NOt that I wouldn’t mind sleeping in and going to bed when I wish, but that’s not going to happen any time soon. I’m better off for it.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I don’t think women ever fully retire. There’s always another meal to make, another bathroom to clean etc. I have noticed that there are a lot of seniors who are working to make ends meet. Waite until inflation hits us.


    1. I’m still cooking every night and I need to get back to the kitchen. I’m trying my hand at homemade clam chowder, so I’m peeling potatoes. That’s why I’m so late getting to this. There was also grocery shopping first.

      Liked by 1 person

        1. Pity you aren’t here. I have a huge pot of it in the fridge. Tomorrow night’s dinner again, I think. But I have the recipe going up, maybe tomorrow 😀 You might as well make a lot. It’s not difficult, but there is a lot of chopping.

          Liked by 1 person

  5. For me, there was pressure from peers to retire — I was doing well, and they wanted my sales territory! On a day that didn’t go so well, I was driving home after a long day in traffic that would cause me a 3-hour commute — I had plenty of time to realize that income dependent on incremental volume would not continue (because the increment was no longer available). I suddenly realized that the long commutes were no longer worth it. Three months later, I retired, and I’ve not regretted it at all!


  6. To your last line: Me either! Although my ‘retirement’ was early and forced…a sick spouse tends to drain one of the will and energy to do a proper job, IF an employer who still cares about family ties exists can be found and will hire the care giver. My own health took a severe slide from ‘middling’ to ‘poor’ while I was giving the care, and disability payments have been my saving grace. According to someone I spoke with recent who knows about retirement age and that sort of thing, I still have NINE years before I’ll be eligible for social security without ‘disability’ being attached to it. And I’m fairly certain there isn’t an employer anywhere to be found who wants an ‘older’ woman who is in ill health and has mental health issues to work for them. Not in this state, and from what I read, not in most states…the ageism still presents a problem for anyone over the ‘golden’ age of 50. So I enjoy my retirement as much as possible, and I don’t dwell on the future.


    1. Some days, I am just a bundle of joy that I don’t have to work. Anyway, I really couldn’t. At least this way, I don’t HAVE to do it anyway! So many people push until they die on the train on their way to work. My first father-in-law died on the Long Island railroad of his second heart attack. He was just 55.It was a lesson I got.


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