A NEW STRATEGY FOR LIFE – Marilyn Armstrong

The strategy and rhythm of life are different between your working years and retirement.


Garry 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. 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. On top of this, he worked strange hours, so his body was always on its own odd 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.

These days, I watch — and photograph — birds.

I know I did it. I got up, commuted, sometimes ridiculously long distances which is how I got hooked on audiobooks. Worked. Came home. Cooked. Cleaned. I even occasionally saw friends or family. Then, I got up and did it again. We both did. Together, we worked for 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. I don’t know about you, but for me, that’s a full day.

I am thoroughly and completely retired.

14 thoughts on “A NEW STRATEGY FOR LIFE – Marilyn Armstrong

  1. Marilyn, you absolutely deserve to enjoy retirement, you have given so much during your working life, if you enjoy audio books now, and photographing birds, thats ok, enjoy it all, hugs ❤

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  2. The question: How could I work a full job and still do what I do now? is an eternal one and also one nobody was ever able to fully reply to. I seem to be more tired than ever, and yet I can’t seem to make the time to have a short slumber…. I still have lots of energy, only not in the same amount of time! 😉

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  3. I agree, Marilyn. Somehow we worked full time, raised kids, attended all the stuff that comes with having kids (school, meetings, events) took care of cooking shopping (they had chores so helped with the cleaning and cooking) and had time for friends and slept well a little anyway.

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  4. you’re clearly there! i’m a few years away (hopefully less), and i know i will not work after that point if at all possible, as the money will not be as valuable as my time. what you described for you and gary makes perfect sense to me.

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  5. I guess we don’t move as fast and we’re not as driven without the deadlines that having to work impose on us. It does make you wonder how we fitted everything in during our working years and I guess the answer is that we sacrificed first sleep and then leisure activities so we could do what we had to do. When I was working full time I got into the habit of sitting up late because I didn’t want my life to just work, chores and sleeping. I usually only slept 4-6 hours a night because I wanted a couple of hours more just for me. I was a shift worker for a lot of those years which messed up my sleep patterns anyway. The result is that even now I find myself sitting up late although I have a lot of free time. I find it hard to go to bed even when I’m tired.

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    • Yup. I think that’s when I forgot how to sleep. I didn’t have TIME to sleep. If I slept, I wouldn’t have time to do anything BUT work, sleep, shop and clean the house. And cook, of course. I’m not sure if that has changed all that much, either.

      Right now, I’m trying to figure out how we are going to survive in an economy that is crumbling. Maybe already crumbled. I imagined a lot of dystopian scenarios, but not this one. Or at least not as something REAL. Maybe that’s why I read “Earth Abides” a dozen times over the years. It was the plague that wiped out much of humanity but left just enough people to build a new world. George R. Stewart wrote the book if you haven’t read it. It’s 61 years old and it could have been written yesterday.

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