“Anything I want”
Haha. That’s the smartass answer, but what do you really do in retirement?
For someone like me who worked steadily out of the home 40 hours per week, all this time at home is a significant change. Back when I had a busy family and house to run, I felt like I was never home. In retirement, you spend more time around the house. This is only my first year, so I am not an expert on anything. This is just what I’ve done so far.
It has been a peculiar time for everyone. We had the pandemic that never left. That caused many activities to cut back, especially international travel, which I have enjoyed over the past few years, and I hope to continue soon. I managed a few getaways this past year, but like most people, I haven’t left the country.
I moved. That was a full-time job. Going through all that stuff. Selling big items. Giving things away. I thought I really purged until I moved to Florida. Now, unpacking and settling into a new home is a full-time job. We both brought too much stuff, and we need to set up our home with new furniture. It takes a little while, and it is coming together nicely. Not sure when the dining table will arrive, but we saved a folding table and chairs for now.
With time on my hands in a new town, I have been actively seeking ways to keep busy.
I must admit, I enjoy sleeping in these days. Pete and I got up early for work for years, so the luxury of getting up when you feel like it has been nice. After my second cup of coffee and breakfast, I take Harry for his morning walk around the pond behind our house. We pass a dog park, so we will stop for a quick visit if someone is there. Harry smells his new friend, then basically ignores the other dog. I am starting to see repeat dog owners and I try to remember the names.
I have looked at different part-time jobs but haven’t applied for anything yet. It amazes me that I would make more money as a bakery wrapper in Costco than a teacher in Florida. I thought about substitute teaching, but COVID rates are super high here and masks are not mandated. I keep looking, out of curiosity. Maybe work at the aquarium in the gift shop? Or possibly a volunteer with children or animals. I’ll find something eventually, or not.
Our community has amenities like exercise classes, happy hours, and other events. We have visited the pool area during happy hour and met a few friendly neighbors. I registered to paint a Fall porch leaner, so I met some women while learning to paint pumpkins on wood. I had flashbacks of me teaching how to paint pumpkins to my kindergarten students.
Excited to improve my health and get into shape, I signed up for a few exercise classes. I have regularly taken yoga classes over the past 15 years, so I started with the gentle yoga class. It has been lovely, and I’ve gone back to the same instructor several times. I also did a Latin fusion dance class. You think you are dancing like the instructor until you look in the mirror and see what you are actually doing. Maybe I’ll go back to that class someday.
The best class was a H.I.I.T. water aerobics class. In high school, I was a lifeguard and got a job at Lucille Roberts teaching the aqua exercise classes in the pool. With no training, I had the ladies jumping around and doing arm spins underwater so I figured this class would be a breeze.
Well, the instructor was a trained, retired fitness pro and led the HIIT class like a drill sergeant. Her class involved a lot of swimming laps. Swimming the breaststroke was frowned upon. She insisted on doing the crawl stroke and swimming fast. We hopped. We lifted ourselves out of the pool, quickly. We did squats. We swam. My heartbeat was up which she explained this is what HIIT means. It was challenging, and I felt good after the class, but I couldn’t hear for three days from all the water in my ears. Not sure when I am going back to that class.
The yoga classes inspired me. I have registered for a yoga training class that will concentrate on instruction for people over 50. Options are also available for chair yoga and aerial yoga certification. The classes are offered at a lovely nearby retreat once a week for a few months and I am looking forward to learning something new.
In retirement, experts recommend learning new things is a great way to keep your brain active, stay socially connected, and to make sure you live your best life. People enjoy learning a new language, which is helpful for communicating if you travel to foreign countries. My kids suggested using free online classes to learn new topics. I engaged in a class about Egyptian pyramids. I have always wanted to see them. The class provided me with lectures and videos. If it is ever safe again, I would love to visit Egypt.
I attempted to teach myself how to knit last winter. It humbled me as I realized how hard it is to learn new things. Successfully, I knit a few rows each night but it never turned into anything. I have a basket full of yarn, and the Youtube videos are helpful, so I may pick it up again this winter.
After discovering my ethnicity through DNA, I added it to my Ancestry.com account and spent some time researching my family tree. I uploaded personal ancestor photos to the site and discovered relatives back 11 generations. The website is fascinating and easy to use. You can easily spend hours locating people and learning about the past. In fact, due to a DNA match, I found a first cousin that I didn’t know about. We messaged each other and became Facebook friends. It turns out she lives in Florida, so I hope to meet her one of these days.
I took an online class on writing, and it inspired me to write a book.
I spent the summer writing a memoir of the past 6 years. From the night Mike was killed, through the legal battle, my challenges and travels, the settlement from his wrongful death, meeting a new love, retirement, selling my house, and moving are included in my story. It brought about closure for me to see the big picture of what has happened these past few years. My book also ties in the corruption from the Suffolk County chief of police, James Burke, and his District Attorney, Tom Spota, who have both been convicted of shocking criminal conduct and sentenced to 46 months and 60 months in jail, respectively, since Mike’s death was ruled a homicide in 2015.
We always felt special favors may have been given to the two men responsible for Mike’s death. We could never prove their relationship with the police department, other than they had the same lawyer as the ex-chief of police James Burke and bragged to the kids at the party that they knew people. I may have settled the lawsuit, but it is still a story that should be told.
So that is why I have not written as many blogs this past summer. I hope to engage in some new adventures now that the summer heat is not as intense here in Florida. We have used our bikes to ride on the flat roads, taken walks around our neighborhood, and played a little golf. Living so close to my sister is great. We have spent some time together, including a day at the beach this past weekend. Pete and I are adjusting well to retired life and getting used to the new pace of life. Next, to become consistent on making positive, healthy habits and planning my next trip. Any suggestions?