Sometimes retirement feels like a past time, a prerequisite for something more. I seem to need action but do not have the physical capacity for it. Change in interests is essential as my teeth itch to bite into something tasty. My best years were mid fifties, the menopause trailing behind and old age a gate to a new dimension. What a dilemma, do I get on with being old or do I bemoan the loss of my youth? Just accept and ‘be’ came the answer, following my own advice I took each day on merit; however before I knew it here I am pushing 68.
Needless to say the last 18 years have been eventful. I never expected to lose my first husband when he was 57 to Mesothelioma (Asbestos related cancer), it devastated me both emotionally and physically, but in line with the old cliché, it did pass. He had been a bit of a fitness fanatic ridding a mountain bike over dales and hills he was strong and healthy or so it seemed. Whilst I struggled with a few minor health problems, and opted for the sedentary life, writing, copious amounts of reading and of course my work. What does that say about life style advice where we the public are repeatedly chastised in the media for being fat, force fed the idea of slimness as being healthier. I don’t over indulge, well not that often, and I do some exercise albeit spasmodic. A bit of a creaking gate yet I keep going whilst someone like my first husband dies a horrible death. I can see the benefits of reducing alcohol and giving up smoking but all this propaganda about what foods to eat or not eat gets on my nerves and I believe serves little purpose except to confirm that we are indeed a nanny state.
Almost 11 years on and 5 years remarried with a gaggle of wonderful grandchildren, a whole new dimension to ‘being’ has emerged. Life is filled with a cross road of paths many and varied but predominantly unexpected. I still lift the daily dumbbell of weight whilst my health is unpredictable but I at least wear the badge of aging which provide some excuse. Retirement means life presents new challenges but I have to concede employment brought the financial security retirement does not.
Finding work again would mean the obligatory CV but alongside my qualifications would be some of my lesser qualities, for example, limited patience, easily bored plus the need for a modicum of stimulation to retain my interest. Although it must be said I have a quick mind when involved in attention-grabbing issues. However, sadly, I grow more irritable with age. However I would like to think of myself as a dream employee because I work well with people, ah ha! There’s little something more to add to my CV.
Fifty was my finest year, I felt accomplished and worked hard maybe to the detriment -of doing more leisurely activities, although I did dip my toes into a gym intermittently back then and perhaps had a sense of glamour. Even now in old age I generally make sure I look presentable, even when I feel like rubbish. Becoming a grandma has been the highlight of growing older and I miss my little granddaughters who sadly now live in Cornwall. As you will note from some aspects of my column, growing old is a bone of contention on occasion, although it does have its moments as I have more time to observe the world with irony thus striving not to take things too seriously.
To me not having a job seems erroneous yet I realise holding down something full time is beyond my capabilities, perhaps some part time would do but then I am swamped with excuses, our caravan trips might be kyboshed, on days I feel a hundred years old would I want to go to work? What kind of a job would I do today, I did fancy something part time in M&S they are known as a good company, but would I be happy stacking shelves after having worked as a psychotherapist for twenty years? Perhaps behind the till at Asda or Tesco but then could I cope with the screaming kids without advising the parent how to manage more effectively because of my eleven years as a health visitor? Maybe as an assistant in B&Q or Home Base would be interesting, but then would I have to put customers right if they are rude? It could be difficult to resist asking them for an occasional please or thank-you and even voicing that famous expression ‘calm down dear!’ Not sure how management would feel about that. I could still work as a therapist running a support group for any company, that having been one of my specialist subjects, maybe a group for those coming up to or newly retired?
I have had a bash at voluntary work but get frustrated by the way organisations discount volunteers many of whom are retired professionals like my-self with vast amounts of life and work experience. Don’t get me wrong I am sure that many are valued but they need to be cared about and recognised for their worth. One major thing I know about myself is how I hate being taken for granted. I suppose that’s the benefit of getting paid; it brings Just Remuneration and a sense respect.
Most of us will have find our identification through work because it’s easier to describe what we do rather than who we are. So when we retire identification is something we might need to question. For example if you have always worked as an engineer or a nurse then you might start with I’m a retired engineer, or a retired nurse etc. This makes a statement as what you did and carries forward to who you are.
I would love to hear how Retirement has impacted on your life. You could contact me at my blog address below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org