Angela G. Gentile, MSW, RSW
My official last day of “work” was on Monday, June 7, 2021. I am reflecting on my last month as a new retiree and I wanted to share my thoughts with you. Most of my thoughts are good ones, so if you are into that sort of thing, you may enjoy what I have to say.
I had read in many places that it is good to retire with “a plan.” Instead of retiring FROM something, you should know what you are retiring TO. My plan for the three months following retirement was to rest, reflect and rejuvenate. One month into it, and I think I am accomplishing that. What I am going to do in the fall has not yet been determined.
Being newly retired after working in various social work positions feels like being on vacation. I felt the immediate sense of pressure, burnout, and overwhelm lift in the first couple of days of my retirement. I started feeling like “me” again. I was sleeping better (and longer), looking after myself, and enjoying the FREEDOM of not having any pressing plans or demands on my time and energy. Getting back to making myself a priority included serious and fun stuff, like:
- colouring my hair blue, then purple
- painting my finger nails and toe nails
- reading/listening to books
- started a “Diamond Art” project
- saying “No” to some opportunities and commitments to honour my time of reflection and rest
- shopping for new non-work clothes, shoes, and other fun things
- getting a three-month yoga membership and doing yoga three times weekly
- catching up with my friends and talking with them on the phone or FaceTime
- going for walks
- enjoying my backyard and my flower garden
The other things I have enjoyed is our camping trips with our travel trailer to two of our provincial parks. We went to Spruce Woods and Grand Beach. Although the temperature was around 30 degrees celsius, we made the beset of it!
Now that I have reconnected with myself and my husband (on our camping trips for sure!) my mind and heart are now starting to think about what I want to do with my time starting in the fall. As my energy and passion starts to return, I feel that the sky is the limit on what I can do. I am open to new opportunities, but I don’t want to overwhelm myself just yet.
I have taken my mom’s advice and have written a list of things I want to do each day. Getting a routine and building some structure to my day is helping. (And if I don’t get to it one day, I can carry it over to the next day!)
The biggest surprise so far is how fast the days fly by. I would have thought the days would drag on, but that is not the case for me! This is a reminder to make sure I am intentional with how I spend my time, for fear of “wasting” my life away. No other negatives have been experienced thus far.
I asked my doctor, “What advice would you give me, as a newly retired person?” She said, “Stay active.” I will definitely take her advice seriously.
I am still waiting on my retirement pension papers to arrive. It’s weird not having an income. Hopefully that will get sorted out soon.
No one has asked me (yet) “How’s retirement?” If someone asked me, I would say, “Great!” It still feels like a vacation to me – which is a good thing. How long will this feeling last? Only time will tell. I’ve never been retired before, so this is all new and exciting in it’s own way.