Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Retirement Fantasy, or Retirement AS Fantasy?!

"Hey girl, how about dinner?"
"Oh gosh, got a French/fitness/yoga class tonight. Another time?"

Everyone knows someone who was busier after retirement than before. I'm on a fast track to membership in that club.

Three weeks after walking out of the National Science Foundation, I flew to Vancouver, British Columbia, and boarded a sailboat headed for the Pacific Ocean. Two months after that, Pope and I moved aboard a different sailboat headed down the Atlantic seaboard to the Bahamas.

Six months passed slowly while I sailed, swam, and recounted my adventures and shattered fantasies about bliss on a tropical island on this blog.

Two weeks ago, we returned to our house and neighborhood--and I picked up the pace. In that short time, I have enrolled in a fitness class and a French class, resumed studying guitar and participating in jam sessions, tackled Windows 8 on a new laptop, and brought home a stack of library books. I got together with friends, went to a writing workshop, and dutifully attended two Board of Directors meetings. I bought tickets to concerts and theatre.

Busy, yes. But no surprises there. Long before leaving my job I had looked forward to having time for these activities. The surprise lies instead in what I am NOT doing.

As I met with counselors and financial advisors to plan for my pensioned years, an important part of the plan was to launch a freelance writing business. In preparation, I purchased a laptop and business cards. I sent query letters to magazines and newspapers, proposing to write articles about my upcoming sailing trips.

On both boats, I lugged along camera, computer, paper and pens, and samples of magazines, intending to record my impressions and transform them into clever, humorous travel pieces that readers would gobble up like hotcakes.

As you know, I religiously tended my blog--and loved it. However, I have been less than enthusiastic about writing anything serious. Was that just another fantasy?

You see, when I walked away from my private office with the courtyard view and ergonomic chair, I experienced a profound sense of relief. I was free of deadlines. Free of other people's standards. Tired of taxing my brain to write words that sell.

There will always be problems to solve. But for now, they are my problems, and my solutions, not somebody else's.

Will I return to writing for pay? Writing to please an editor, to get my name in print, and to keep my skills sharp? Stay tuned.

Maybe I am learning from Pope how to be laid back instead of uptight. And that, my friends, may be a good thing.


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