Last night I could’ve easily taken half a bottle of Maalox and still needed more. Even though I’ve weighed all the pros and cons – at least a bazillion times – they ran on a continual loop in my mind. Should I retire? Should I not retire? Would everything work out for me financially or would I be as destitute as it looked on paper? Would I find lots of new hobbies to keep me busy or find myself staring out the window every day? Could I find a part-time job if I needed one or would any of my writing aspirations pan out? Could I revamp my independent business so that it would make enough money to keep me comfortably afloat? Yes, this all led to lack of sleep.
This morning, I tweaked my resignation letter for the umpteenth time to get the tone just right, the language just right, the insinuations just right. And then I forwarded them to my work email, got dressed feeling like I was headed toward the guillotine and headed in to the office.
I pulled up an email, input four relevant individuals, said something inane and slightly lame, attached the resignation letter, paused – one, two, three – and then resolutely hit “Send.” I fully expected to lunge for the keyboard, trying to retrieve the email and replay that mental loop just one more time. Didn’t happen. I actually felt totally comfortable and, dare I say it, a bit elated and relieved. I knew I’d made the right decision a few minutes later when my first problem correspondence arrived in the in-box and it didn’t bother me like it usually does.
I eventually got nice replies from all four recipients. That’s not to say that once they’ve had to time to think about it, they may change their minds and decide to boot me right away. But the truth is – – I don’t care. I’m comfortable with that one, too. I suppose what I finally realized yesterday was that I was always going to be scared whether I retired today, 2 years from now or 10 years from now. I’m always going to have to scramble for extra money to supplement the Social Security. So if that’s the case, why not get out while I still have my health? That’s exactly what I’m doing and here’s how I felt today:
This picture actually reminds me of myself as a kid. I used to come home from the library with stacks of books and my mother would ask me why I checked out that many as there was no way I could finish them all before they were due back. But I always did. I loved to read. I still do. That said, my tastes have changed pretty dramatically.
I can remember a time when I rented a wonderful movie for my mother while I was home visiting – something very serious and dramatic with amazing performances, I’m sure – and she told me she preferred Hallmark movies. Say what? I commented that they weren’t real life. Her response was that she’d had decades of “real life” and only wanted to be entertained. At the time, I didn’t understand that at all but now I do.
I’ve always aspired to be an author. What stops me? Well, that’s an entirely different blog post so let’s stick with my affinity for words and the way they’re put together. I recall writing a story in grade school and purposefully leaving it in my desk for the teacher to find as a way of getting feedback without asking for it. She returned it to me the next day and noted in the margin how impressed she was with my story and especially with my use of the word “albeit.” Lord knows where I’d stumbled across that word but I was determined to use it and glad she noticed.
I spent years reading literary novels and taking note of impressive sentence structure or evocative descriptions. I aspired to be those authors and the things I wrote were deplorable and contrived. I’ve probably started several novels over the years and eventually tossed them all in the trash. Fortunately, there was no computer tracking in those days so there’s no record of them.
I stubbornly ordered book after book of literary writing and turned my nose up at things like romance novels. And then one day I found myself throwing out a book that I had labored to finish. It might have wonderful reviews and a plethora of awards, but I found I couldn’t finish it. I read at night when I get into bed and I’d pick it up each night and spend precious time trying to figure out what I’d read the night before. Clearly, it wasn’t holding my fancy.
It took me another few years to slowly, ever so slowly, start buying books that sounded like they might have a plot that would hold my interest so I’d at least remember what was going on at the point I left off the night before. Could it be that I’m older and have less of an attention span? Yes. Could it be that I’ve become my mother and after decades of “real life,” I just want entertainment? Absolutely.
Please note: I still have no interest in romance novels but that may be more a product of being too damn old for romance than a dislike of the genre. Nowadays, I love mysteries and fiction that takes place in different time periods and/or other countries.
It’s interesting to see how my tastes have changed over the years and to wonder how much good entertainment I missed when I was younger.
As much as I hate to admit it, work had become ingrained in me. It’s become the way I see myself – a person whose routine for decades has been to get up, put on makeup, get dressed in clothes I’d just as soon trade in for sweat pants and T-shirts and haul myself off to work for the better part of the day. It may not be as easy as I’d like to think to flip the switch to total leisure time.
It sounds great on the surface and I’ve spent several years talking about how I can’t wait to have all my time to myself – the do what I want when I want and sleep late to boot thing – but when I really think about the fact that those things will no longer be for a short week or two each year but every single day, I start to wonder if things will lose their luster. I’ve read all the studies about the seniors who couldn’t wait to retire and had big plans and then died within a few months of doing so. I sure as hell don’t want to be one of those but what makes me any different? Not all of those people retired and then became sedentary around the house. I figure it must have to do with the mentality. But what about the mentality?
It’s difficult for me to imagine a day when I might be bored or depressed. I just have too many interests. Here are some of the things on my to-do list (in no particular ranking). Of course, the problem with many of them is that they’ll require money, something I may have in very short supply once a retire, unless I find a part-time job but then doesn’t that defeat the whole purpose of retirement? Anyway, here’s my off-the-top-of-my-head list:
- Cooking classes so I find a way to focus on nutrition and yumminess instead of the chore of chopping and slicing (which, of course, feels like work)
- Visit Machu Picchu
- Take voice lessons
- Finish my play and get it published (that’s the one I really want)
- Finish my novel that ambitiously hopes to be the first in a series based on my years in show business in Las Vegas surrounded by the “old days” when the mob was here – the Tony Spilotros and Lefty Rosenthals and my subsequent years in casino marketing
- Learn to distill my own essential oils and hydrosols
- Plan, plant and maintain my dream garden – a sort of hideaway from the world in my own backyard (competes with my play for first place on the list)
- Put more time and energy into my essential oil company so it finally takes off
- Increase my menagerie to include my two cats and maybe a dog and a bird
- Discover a cave
- Travel around the U.S., stopping when I feel like it and taking in all the tucked away, hidden spots that are spectacular and only a few people know anything about them
- Read all the books and magazines piled all over the house
- Become fluent in a foreign language. Although I loved my semester in American Sign Language, it’s also the hardest one I’ve tried to learn but it’s beautiful
- Take a pottery class
The bottom line is that I can’t imagine a time when I’d be bored but even though I’m a pretty social person, I’ll need to make an effort to meet people. I won’t be surrounded by conversation all day long any more. I tend to think I’ll like that, but who knows? Maybe that’s the mentality thing I mentioned earlier that eventually gets to you. If you have the answer, please enlighten me. I don’t want to be part of those statistics.