Weekly Word Prompt: Time Off

Periodically, we go to retirement parties. Well, not so much now because most of our similar-age friends are already retired. For a long time, it was all retirement parties all the time. Except for the funerals, usually held for people who didn’t make it to retirement.

At some point during the party, someone — usually the wife of or the actual retiree — would say: “Now I (or we) will have plenty of time to visit and hang out.”

This causes the rest of us who are already retired, to laugh hysterically. I’m not sure how or why it works this way, but it always works this way. One day, you are working 40 or 50 hours a week. The next week, you are retired and vaguely worried about what you are going to do.

A month later, you are wondering how you found time to work because you barely have time to get anything done. The more retired you are, the busier you become. Bloggers blame blogging. Artists blame their art. Grandparents blame babysitting. People with money complain they seem to always be packing or unpacking, though I find it difficult to sympathize with those who simply can’t stop vacationing.

Please don’t complain how hard it is to manage your summer-house in the mountains and your extra house in New Mexico. Or at least only do it with friends who also have spare houses.

If you aren’t blogging or on a permanent vacation, you are probably writing, painting, teaching, volunteering, or discovering half the children you thought had moved out are now moving  back– with or without the rest of their family.

Dogs and cats multiply. Houses need repair pretty much all the time and as soon as you finish one task, another — like magic — appears.

Time off?

What’s that?

What happened to all the time you were going to have to visit friends and just hang out? The only thing which changes is you can finally get enough sleep. Among my husband and his sleep-deprived colleagues, sleep is the number one activity on their life chart. They are serious sleepers. This is apparently what happens when you’ve been sleep-deprived for 50 or 60 years. You can’t seem to catch up.

Many of us discover while we used to be casual about cleaning, we now seem to feel a more persistent need to keep the house clean. And doing that is harder than it was. I used to be able to do a pretty good clean-up of a 9-room house in about four hours, as long as Credence Clearwater Revival was playing in the background. Now, I can’t even reach half the things that need cleaning. I’ve grown much shorter during the past 10 years.

The one thing you can count on is that you will not have lots of leftover time. It’s like the magic closet which, no matter how much you remove from it, remains full.

Photo: Garry Armstrong

Life is permanently full unless you are uninterested in anything. Most of us have always had hobbies and other activities we have wanted to spend more time doing but we were busy earning a living or raising kids. Now, as retirees, we slide into our “hobbies” with the same gusto we had professionally. Except we don’t get paid.

Oh well. You can’t have everything, right?

Categories: Daily Prompt, dogs, Gallery, Marilyn Armstrong, Retirement

Tags: , , , , ,

32 replies

  1. I’m pissed!…, I want more time to do the things I want to do like travel and visit, but I also don’t want to lose contact with the work I love to do.., and I don’t know how to say NO. I think I’m Fucked!?


  2. So true, and I’ve never been happier. Hope that goes for you, too Marilyn!


    • What’s really funny is that I barely remember working. I mean, I know I did and I have copies of stuff I wrote and memories of places I worked and who I worked with … but it’s a bit misty and strangely distant. Even though I remember stuff that happened years earlier much more sharply. I think I went through my working life in some kind of haze. When I had a good job, I looked forward to getting to work. On other jobs, I started dreading work on Friday night — which was usually my cue to go find a new job. Quickly.


  3. So well written and so true…But I read a lot and knew what was going to happen to me and my time and my plans. What I still don’t get, is how I managed to work all those years and still found time to do other things. I too have returned to my old hobbies, but to my disappointment found I had lost the spirit for some of them. True about the cleaning as well…much more cleaning now – hate the moss and twigs and mud the dogs bring in. Now I am home and have to walk in it! So, much more cleaning…Loved this post, Marilyn.


  4. To me, the beauty of retirement is that there are only a few things that I MUST do, which means that much of my time can be spent doing the things that I WANT to do. Of course, there are often more things that I want to do than there is time available for me to do those things!


    • My problem is that I want to write a piece. But to write it, I need to do a bit of research. And I need pictures, but I don’t have any. So I have to take pictures, then process a few for posting. Then back to writing. And editing. And adding the graphics. But which time my 10-minute piece has taken 3 hours. I keep telling myself it doesn’t matter if the editing isn’t perfect (it won’t be anyway!) or the pictures aren’t great. They have to at least meet my minimum standards … And all of this takes time with frequent interruptions for cooking or dog feeding or unpacking or mail (snail type) checking. I’m not even a perfectionist and a strong believer in “good enough,” but I think I have a pretty high level of “good enough.”

      Liked by 1 person

      • I prefer perfection, but since it’s impossible to achieve all of the time, good enough has got to be good enough.


        • You can’t run a blog if perfection is required. First, I’m a terrible proofreader, so I’m going to make typos. And unless you are going to write one piece a month, you need to move along or there’s nothing to read. Despite rumors to the contrary, writing more does make a difference. People want to see new material and even though some of my new material is reworked older material, it’s new to most of the people currently reading. interesting how our audience changes too, as the world turns.

          Liked by 1 person

  5. I am not officially retired, I’m obligated to do 15 hours of volunteer work a week. Luckily I enjoy it but I will be happy when the day comes that it’s my choice whether I do that much. I won’t be bored, there are plenty of things I still don’t find time to do.
    Every month a group of us who used to volunteer at the local radio station along with some of the partners get together for lunch. At the end of each lunch and for the next couple of weeks via email, we wrestle with the problem of next time. The others are all retired and we range in age from early sixties (me) to late seventies. I would never have thought it would be so hard to get six or eight retired people in the same place at the same time. Everyone is busy with hobbies, meetings, volunteering, family matters and some travel for the self-funded retirees. Still, it makes those monthly lunches quite the talkfest.


  6. If you actually hear someone complain about their vacations or second homes without pushing them into a stagnant body of water, I applaud you. I don’t entirely understand how you possess that much self control, but I admire you for it.

    I am not yet retired, but if I ever do, gardening will no doubt fill up my spare time and money. It’s a shame you can’t grow money on trees but at least you can grow vegetables!


    • I actually think people with money forget that most of the people they meet who don’t live in their neighborhood DON’T have that kind of money. I try not to say anything, but I grind my teeth a lot. My teeth are actually pretty flat from all that grinding.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. You are so right about that.


  8. Credence is the best music for housechores! 😀


  9. Hi, I’m the one you’ve referenced (unwittingly I’m sure) who does have so much free time it’s overwhelming. I’ve had it suggested to me that I volunteer or ‘get out and do more’ and I outwardly agree, while inwardly snickering. My physical health is not conducive to lots and lots of activity. I walked the dogs yesterday to the end of my block and thought I’d have a heart attack before I got back home. And I’m preaching to the choir so to speak in bleating about MY ill health. You’ve got that market cornered m’am and so I’m not complaining about my own. But this past winter time weighed so heavily on my hands that I thought I’d go mad. Blogging was the life preserver at the end of my rope. My rope, you see, is missing that all important knot.


    • I don’t get out much either, but I write a lot. I take a lot of pictures and I process them. I clean more than I used to I suppose because I’m in the house more and I notice the dirt more than I did when I was out at work most of the day and home only a few hours and then it was time to get back to work. I also read a lot, mostly audiobooks. I’m interested in a lot of things and that helps enormously. I read the news until I’ve read more than I need to read. I respond to comments. We watch movies, too. I feel involved in the world, even if I can’t get out into it as much. But maybe things are going to be better for the next few weeks. The shots in my hips are definitely working and if they can get one into my spine, I might get to be a real PERSON for a while.

      I don’t know that volunteering is for everyone. Some people are good at it. I know a lot of people who are involved in caring for dogs in shelters and helping them find homes … and a lot of these people have plenty of physical problems and a fair number of them are in wheelchairs. But they like animals, so working with shelter dogs gives them both a lot of time with dogs AND gets them out of the house. You can also get involved with things online.

      You do need something to keep your mind occupied. The more you dwell on your own issues and problems, the more depressed you get. I’ve seen a lot of people fall into depression because they have nothing to do, nothing which interests them. I watched Garry’s father get more and more depressed until he couldn’t even talk. He just sat in a corner and waited to die. And we didn’t live near enough to be much help, either. It was terrible.

      You are bright. Find a subject that interests you. Study everything about it. Google is great for that.

      Right now, I’m learning all about birds, but eventually, I’ll move on to something else. Learning keeps me sane. Otherwise, I’d probably be ready to jump off the roof — which wouldn’t kill me, just break a lot of pieces and leave me in even worse shape than I am.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry when I read that. It is so true. Especially catching up on sleep. I insist on my midday sleep otherwise I am sure I couldn’t survive. Cleaning is now a hobby I thought.. I never had the time but now i seem to be cleaning permanently. And I am glad for every visit that i don’t get and do not have to do myself. I just blogged and was sure I could now relax and eat my Swiss apple pie. Then a pile of ironing called me. And now I have escaped the temptation to do more and am sitting outside, hiding.


    • I didn’t use to worry about cleaning either. if the place was all covered in dust, well, so be it. I had to work, I had a child (or grandchild) to raise, shopping to do, dinners to prepare. Now, lacking full-time work or childcare — and I suppose spending more time at home so I really notice the dirt — I clean a lot more. And I read more, write more, photograph more … and sleep more. I wanted to get up and have an early shower (beat Garry to the hot water, actually), but I stopped for coffee and comments and writing a piece and now it’s 3 in the afternoon and soon it will be dinner time. The day is gone and it hasn’t even started yet!

      Liked by 1 person

  11. My parents don’t have much time to hang out, Marilyn. They help me with my home and kids and they just have lots of things they do. What you say here is spot on.



  1. Good Morning | Chronicles of an Anglo Swiss
  2. IN THE SPIRIT OF DOING WHAT EVERYONE ELSE IS DOING … Marilyn Armstrong | Serendipity Seeking Intelligent Life on Earth

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