I have to admit that when I first fantasized about what retirement could be, I had visions of truly kicking back and relaxing.
I saw myself camped out in front of the TV, indulging in back-to-back game shows, soaps and talk shows, and occasionally drifting off for an afternoon nap despite the crunch of low-sodium potato chip crumbs that may have fallen here or there.
Idyllic, isn’t it? It wasn’t exactly a big dream, but in some ways, that was what I saw as my little piece of heaven.
Sadly, “Guiding Light” and “As the World Turns” are no longer with us. The full schedule of game shows that used to keep me company when I was home with a bad cold has been reduced to only a few classics. The talk shows are there, but regrettably, I don’t find a strong attachment to any of them.
When I came into the knowledge that writing was my life’s purpose and reading was something I enjoyed as passionately as TV, my retirement dreams changed significantly.
Just the same, in the grand scheme of things, no matter what I enjoyed, it was to be a more quiet existence than I experienced in my fast-paced career which demanded a lot of extrovert energy.
I wish I could say that after my first year of retirement, I feel recharged from my leisure and hobby time. Thanks to Covid-19, it’s been anything but. It’s been like squeezing years’ worth of activity through a funnel.
What I didn’t envision was having a backlog of backlogs to deal with first:
First, when non-essential businesses started opening up, a backlog of shopping awaited. Despite our ability to order almost anything online during the pandemic, there was a list of items for which in-person shopping was necessary, like a new pillow, some clothing items and certain garden tools. Sometimes in-person comparison shopping was needed. Either way, this revolving list is taking time to complete.
Next, I needed to tackle a backlog of routine medical and dental appointments that had accumulated over the period when our health care system was handling urgent cases only. Let’s just say that it takes a village to keep a body over age 50 running smoothly, so there was a number of appointments lined up.
Meanwhile, a backlog of yard work awaited. Many plants and shrubs needed a haircut (as many of us did during the pandemic), weeds were multiplying and fallen tree branches and sticks were accumulating.
In addition, the pandemic left us with a list of pending home maintenance appointments, some of which were further delayed due to supply chain issues when ordering parts needed for repairs.
Dare I admit that I still haven’t finished unpacking my moving boxes?… Seriously, with the backlog above, when have I had time?
When you factor in the usual cooking and cleaning, grocery shopping, and Ivy the Wonder Cat’s health walks, is it any wonder that I ever got any writing done? Fortunately, I did.
My first year of retirement was about as far from my dreams of leisurely days of game shows and potato chip crumbs as one could imagine.
To my great surprise, my time management and prioritization skills acquired at the office were called upon to an extent I never could have envisioned in my wildest dreams… in retirement!
This was necessary because I found that if I simply let things happen in the moment, I found myself spending too much time on some things, to the detriment of others.
It was too easy to fall down the rabbit hole of yard maintenance, and then feel like I had neglected my writing.
Similarly, I could enjoy several consecutive days of writing, only to find that the house had been invaded by an army of dust bunnies.
And on a day when I’d be driving to the city for an appointment, I’d come home with little energy left in my metaphorical tank for… well… anything else.
To try to gain the upper hand, in April, I tried to schedule several appointments, just to get them out of the way. Philosophically, I was trying to tackle the medical appointment backlog by ripping it off like a Band-Aid.
But the more I looked at my ambitious schedule, the more I stressed about it given how spring had yet to arrive and how the unpredictable winter weather dragged on. I ended up postponing several appointments into May and June to mitigate the anxiety I was causing myself.
In my never ending quest for balance, I developed a routine that incorporated daily time slots for my most important priorities and a flexible component for appointments or recurring tasks. It allows just enough structure that I feel I am getting things accomplished in the areas that matter most, while still allowing flexibility to deal with the unexpected.
During that block of flex time, I am not shy about allocating time for rest and recuperation from a lifetime of school and work. Whether that means a nap, some hammock time, a good book, or watching a show from the “backlog of binge watching” list, it’s all beneficial.
I expect that this routine will evolve over time. When the backlogs will be cleared up, when the house and property will be fully in order, and when my batteries will be more fully recharged, I will probably feel less in need of a schedule or a routine to make ends meet time-wise.
Perhaps then I will be able to truly relax in a haze of game show marathons on YouTube, and dozing off in my trail of low-sodium potato chip crumbs.
Isn’t that what retirement is all about?
Let’s face it, this is not the “happily ever after” that I dreamed of for my first year of retirement, but I accept that this is the situation that we are all in. We are all living through considerable challenge and inconvenience.
That being the case, I try to keep things in perspective, I try to adapt to this reality and to maintain my sanity, finding the humour in situations helps a lot.
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Have a great day,
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