If you have read some of my previous posts on the theme of retirement, you probably know that writing has already been carved in stone for my second career. Let’s face it, with fifty years of journaling behind me as well as enough ideas on pieces of scrap paper to wallpaper the CN Tower, I don’t think I will be running out of writing projects until the next millennium.
Watching the clock count down toward retirement is a mixed blessing. On one hand, I love my job and am concerned at how quickly the countdown is going. Will I have enough time to complete the work projects that are important to me, before I decide to hand in my security pass? On the other hand, the to-do list of personal projects I want to pursue is already starting to form in my mind and seems to grow longer with every passing month.
But just the same, there is that transition period between the two, where I plan on just taking it easy and leaving behind the old routine and making way for the new one.
I have worked very hard and I deserve the break. If high schoolers can have a “gap year”, why can’t retirees?
Here they are, my top 10 plans for my retirement gap year:
10 – Actually getting spring cleaning done during spring
In rushing around from week to week, between chores, gluten-free meal preparation and getting the regular housework done, I often find that my “spring cleaning” actually takes four seasons to get everything done, even with a good system of lists to keep me on track. I am hoping that by having more time to myself, the spring cleaning will eventually get contained to one season.
9 – Clear out my Netflix list
When I watch a program on Netflix and have the satisfaction of deleting it from “My List”, I am frequently tempted to check out the “Recently Added” section… and when I do, I usually end up adding three to five new items to “My List”. With almost 100 titles set aside for a rainy day, I am very much looking forward to a binge watching month.
8 – Catch up on all the movies I missed over the last decade
In addition to the programming offered on Netflix, I assume that there will be another list of movies I just didn’t have enough time to get around to seeing. My popcorn popper may have a hard time keeping up that year!
7 – Re-watch some of my favourite classic TV series
As if the programming in #8 and #9 aren’t enough, there will be favourite series on DVD or Blu-Ray that I will be overdue for watching again, as I tend to do from time to time. I may need to see all 14 seasons of Dallas again… just sayin’
6- Work on restoring old family photos
As I suggested in my blog post, “Breathing New Life in Family Photos”, one of my projects in the works is to finish digitizing old family photos and then with the help of some clever tools, to edit out some of the signs of deterioration and restore them to their original glory. To do this while I am still working seems like tedious project, but in retirement, as a rainy-day or snowy-day project, I can’t think of a project more worthwhile.
5 – Try new recipes
One of the things I regret in my week-to-week rushing around is that if I prepare a batch of gluten-free foods, the results need to be a sure thing. I don’t really have time to make a recipe that serves 6 or 8 and then to toss it out if it’s not pleasing to the palate, and then make another. For that reason, while I have a good repertoire of recipes on rotation, I admit that I wish I had more. I really enjoy cooking and baking, and the prospect of having more time on my hands to experiment with new recipes, new ingredients and new flavours is pure joy for me.
4 – Attend writers’ conferences
In that gap year, I know that one of my bucket list items will be to engage with my fellow writers more, in preparation for the second career. The two conferences in particular I really would enjoy attending are the Writers’ Digest Writing Conferences and the Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop. The idea of surrounding myself with like-minded people who are successful in the field, or just trying to break into writing like me, seems like the perfect activity in that transition year.
3 – Take courses on creative writing
As much as I pride myself on my writing skills and finding my voice, when it comes to writing short stories, novels and plays I know I have a lot to learn about the process and the business. I very much look forward to taking courses whether online webinars, continuing education courses or even taking a class or two at our local colleges or universities.
2 – Read (slow down the pace and savour every word)
Today, when I read, I know I tend to make use of some of the tips I picked up in the speed reading courses that were offered to me over the years. They certainly are great for trying to absorb large amounts of information in a short amount of time. This is the pace at which I usually read work documents, but unfortunately it has become second nature to the point of reading that way for fun too. I’d like to reprogram that thinking and go back to reading at a pace that lets me savour every word and enjoy the journey, rather than rushing through it and perhaps missing some of the brilliant subtleties a writer may have spent many sleepless nights getting just right.
1 – Sleep
I think the beauty of that “gap” year will be to go to sleep when I feel like it and to enjoy the luxury of not setting the alarm to wake me up at a set time, unless I absolutely have to.
The reality is that in that first year of retirement I reserve the right to do whatever I want, recognizing that this will be the first time in 50 years I won’t have to get up to go to school or work, I won’t have homework, and I won’t have to worry about being late for anything except for the occasional appointment.
For the first time in my life, my time will be… my time!
Freedom… what a mind-blowing prospect!
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Sincere thanks for reading!
Have a great day,