There’s a furore about retirement at present. Not least the pension rights of public sector workers. But I planned my retirement years ago. When I married, aged 19, back in the 70s, I told everyone that I would retire at the same time as John, who is 5 years older than me. I knew this meant retiring in my late 50s. I began to strategically design the best exit plan, ably helped by John who, totally unobtrusively managed the pensions and savings.
Leave the classroom, get into management, become a headteacher and move out, before burnout occurs. I had planned to be a headteacher for only one year but I loved it so much, I stayed on. Just as well John says or we would never have been able to succeed with the escape plan!
I had not planned that it coincide with a public outcry on public pensions. I had not planned for me to have loved my work as a primary school headteacher quite so much. I actually had no plans for being retired. The plan went no further than retiring!
My colleague headteachers gave me a little, soft leather bound book with gold letters on the front: “Travel Notes”. The pages were a delicate blue, gold edged and enticing. It had been years since I wrote much by hand, but as soon as I set off on my epic travels, I began. A few friends laughed and said, with my passion for IT! I should be writing a blog! Honestly, I had no idea what a blog was, even when people said ‘weblog’ by way of explanation, I was mystified. However, retirement has given me the time to learn this new skill and here we are… A transcription of my adventures and thoughts so far.
This is the story of the immediate aftermath of such momentous decision.
Thoughts on the end of my “Travel Notes” book.
It’s true! That first beautiful blue leather book which my headteacher colleagues presented me when I retired, is full.
Every day since October 2011 I have written in this book and then edited a bit before copying it into this blog. I’m amazed I’ve gained 40 followers, all unknown people who dropped in and found it interesting enough to read regularly. I also have a few friends who drop in to see where we are and what we are doing. I’m amazed at how much we have done, and I’ll certainly carry on – well, I have already bought the second book!
All this traveling is certainly helping me gain a whole new perspective on retirement and on me!
When I was young I genuinely thought that retired people sat in armchairs a lot!
I thought they found it hard to fill their time.
I thought it must be very nice not to have to work, but a bit boring.
So you might wonder why I was so keen as to plan this retirement from the tender age of 19! Well, going to work was also thought as very nice (because you got paid) but a bit boring! And when I was 19, I was not at all sure I wanted to be a teacher. It was only much later, when the girls were about 10 that I found I loved it and from then on I built my life around it.
Is that the problem?
Do we build our lives around our work? To the exclusion of other things? I did, I think. My social role as teacher, and then headteacher was very important to me. I was good at it! It was truly interesting. There was always something to do. I loved watching children learn, and then young teachers learn to teach.
But somewhere along the way I lost ‘me’.
If I was not working, I was being a mother. I loved that too. I have tremendous pride in my daughters and I adore their company.
It’s really fun! Both John and I have relaxed. If it takes time to organize, so be it! If we would like to do it, we will! It’s almost selfish, and I’m not used to that aspect.
I’m beginning to try new things. Things I would never think of doing. My elder daughter gave me a book called, “How to Retire Happy, Wild, and Free: Retirement Wisdom That You Won’t Get from Your Financial Advisor” by Ernie J Zelinski
The author described how to make a mindmap reminding yourself of all the things you used to like to do, you currently like to do and what you have often though, of even rarely allowed yourself to think, you would like to do…and then do them!
My regret is for younger people. We baby boomers have had it cushy! Restriction in economy and the raising of retirement ages; not to mention the changes to pension plans, will take their toll. It may be that retiring people of the future are too old to find themselves, not healthy enough, too poor to travel as we do!
My younger daughter bought us a book by Marie de Hennezel. At first, I was surprised by the title, “The Warmth of the Heart Prevents Your Body from Rusting: Ageing without growing old”.
In essence, I took from Marie the message to feel comfortable about our lives, to know yourself and to have no regrets. She talks some sense about how we treat old people too, some of which I found utterly depressing!
But how can we find this peace, which she feels will help us die well if we have no time because we have filled our lives with work?
So bring it on…the next book of travels and I’ll see if I am any closer to understanding this thing called retirement!