Empty Nest….Full Life
The opening day of school for the 2016-17 year was the first opening day that I have missed since my first day of kindergarten. After high school I began college, and after college began my career as a public school speech pathologist. All of those years add up to a whopping fifty one opening days of school! This August, however, found me in my first year of retirement. For the first time in forever I listened to the school buses buzzing past the house in the comfort of my bathrobe.
Several friends and family have asked me how it “feels” to be retired. Some have also asked, “What next?” To be quite honest I haven’t really pondered those questions until recently. Summer felt just as summer always does – fun, relaxing and (mostly) free of stress. When school was starting I was actually recovering from knee replacement surgery, so my days were filled with appointments and therapy. Now that I am feeling better I find myself reflecting on those questions and attempting to figure out exactly what I want to do with the years that are ahead of me.
Recently I was reminded of people who have meant a great deal to me that I didn’t even really know until their years of retirement. My grandparents were retired during the years that I remember them best and they had an incredible impact on my life. There have been men and women in the churches that I have attended over the years who have been wonderful examples in their senior years. Hopefully I will find ways to have a positive impact on those around me in the coming years as well.
Not long ago I overheard a conversation in which a woman commented, “I don’t think I will ever retire. I can’t imagine just sitting around all day.” My first thought was that I have no intention of sitting around all day. I want to pour myself into helping my family and friends. Whether it is helping my mother transition into a new living situation or helping my children out with the grandkids, I want to make myself available whenever possible.
For now I find myself doing what I’ve always done, but in a different way. I continue to set goals each day, but I don’t have to type them into the computer and set a percentage of accuracy. I have already begun the process to start tutoring students at a nearby learning center. Practice begins next week for the youth choir that my friend and I work with. Friday we will be babysitting our precious grandbabies and next week Mom and I will spend another day together. As needs arise with my friends and family I am hoping to be more available to help out, and as always I want to support and help my husband with any needs that he has. And I am certainly hoping to travel and be able to do things spontaneously whenever possible.
In answer to those typical questions, right now it “feels” pretty awesome to be retired. It is nice to wake up on my own rather than to an alarm clock. It is wonderful to sip coffee on the deck and enjoy the sunshine while reading my morning devotional. As for “what’s next?” I can’t wait to find out! I am so excited for the next chapter of my life and will have to keep you posted!
P.S. I hear a collective “ugh!” from those of you who don’t have the opportunity to retire just yet. My advice to you is to appreciate your opportunity to work and try to make the most of it. Enjoy the comradery and the friendships with your colleagues. Realize that all this hard work will one day afford you the opportunity to retire and ask yourself, “What next?”