Is There Life After Retirement?

Archive for October 2020

From the day that I entered Stark Elementary School as an apprehensive first grader until my last day as a laid back UHMC Outreach Coordinator, my life was largely ruled by something I hadn’t considered until about two months ago. For sixty years, the STRUCTURE of my life almost exclusively came from the outside – school or work. Mine, or my son’s.

After retirement, I did a huge relocation and suddenly realized that I no longer had time constraints. I could stay in my nightgown all day, if I wanted! I could play Rescue Team Eight for hours, if I wanted! I could have my groceries delivered and not leave my house, if I wanted! What a great discovery! However, left to my own devices, two things soon became clear to me:

  1. I am not a naturally structured person
  2. We freaking NEED some structure in our lives.

So if there is no longer externals forcing me to be structured, does that mean I have to create the structure myself?? Hence, the “yikes” of the title.

Being the work-in-progress that I am, I’ve only come up with a couple things so far.  Number one – since I have a little master bedroom with its own bathroom thing (which I love, incidentally) – I do not leave my bedroom unless my bed is made.  Number two, I don’t get a second cup of coffee until I’m changed into “outside” clothes.

I’ve also managed to stick with the closest thing to internal structure prior to this phase, which is hitting the gym for thirty minutes, three times a week, EVERY SINGLE week. No, not four times, not for an hour. But did you see the “every single week” part? That is doable and it works for me.

My next challenge is – at least for the moment – to consider M-F as my “work week.” During my work week, I will follow WW (formerly Weight Watchers, but they’re all sensitive about being called WW these days) and I will (oh, this one hasn’t happened yet) write two hours a day – from 10AM until noon. There. I said it. I committed to it.

Structure.  I can learn this.

Does this count towards my two hours??!!

Yesterday, Android GPS Lady – my new bff – lost her mind.

All I wanted to do was find the nearest Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles so that I could FINALLY turn in my temporary W VA tags that expired over a month ago for actual, real license plates. Sandy took me there once so how hard could it be to find it again?

Well, there are complications involved.

Yes, I’ve been in Columbus for a few months but had only lived here for a couple of years FOUR DECADES AGO. Things change in forty years, y’know? Plus, during the first visit which I failed to produce the coveted Title Memorandum, Sandy drove. So I didn’t pay attention.

But if I may go off on a tangent here, please explain this to me: The dealership who sold me the car wouldn’t issue this elusive Title Memorandum document until I went somewhere to secure a Confirmation of VIN document. Wait. THEY sold me the car – shouldn’t THEY know the VIN? But I digress. On to probably the most relevant complication:

I have a lousy sense of direction.

Lousy is actually understating the situation.

Seriously. I remember my mother wondering if she’d dropped the infant Marti on her head, thereby damaging the part of the brain that grasped spatial relationships. Really. She wondered.

So the bottom line is – unless I am going someplace where I have to make NO turns (so far that would be Circle K) I GPS it.

So GPS Lady and I set out to find the BMV that I knew was only about ten minutes away, even though her initial estimate was 16 minutes.

To the ongoing rhythm of her rerouting beep, we toured parts of Columbus that I didn’t know existed. “Hmmm, what an odd smell,” I thought. Looking around and realizing “Oh, factories. Of course. I guess all cities have industrial districts.” And a few miles later, theorizing “Communities around industrial districts must deal in car refurbishing, based on the massive number of inoperable vehicles parked in what used to be front yards. It’s all good. Yeah. I’m good. Well, yeah, let’s lock the doors. But I’m fine.

To be fair, GPS Lady also showed me some divine examples of October-in-Ohio’s red, orange and brilliantly golden autumn trees. They are so bewitching that I am obsessed with them. Nevertheless, after about thirty minutes of this continually rerouted journey, I had to make a decision. Do I keep listening to my friend who is clearly having a mental breakdown, or do I try to figure out where in the hell I am?

Then it occurred to me:

Neither! I have announced to the world that my own intuition will be my compass for this phase of my life! So I turned off GPS Lady and followed my intuition, which led me to a stretch of natural charm called Three Creeks Metro Park. Primarily intended as a dog park, it offered trees, a variety of wildflowers in their final act, a pond and a heron – which I swear, was the same one that followed me around in Florida last month. So I took this as an opportunity to wander around with my phone camera and play with nature.

Feeling all cool about the intuition thing, I left the park and allowed my intuition to take me to the next stop – BIG LOTS! which happens to be one of my favorite off-price junk stores. I strolled through the aisles, tossing all sorts of items into my cart (“oh wow! my intuition says I should buy this suction cupped razor holder for the shower”) until I made my way to the check out counter and watched my total come out to … $111.32. Holy shit. Really? Damn.

Slowly returning to my temporary plated car, I mentally counted how many days until my pension check and hoped my grocery needs would be minimal until then. After offloading my $100+ worth of mostly junk, I decided to give GPS Lady another shot. Sure enough, she was her old dependable self and got us home.

So in addition to getting some fun snapshots and a great shawl thing from Big Lots, I learned two life lessons:

  1. Following my intuition is great, as long as I don’t confuse it with the much louder, “I want!” voice of my inner three year old.
  2. Even GPS Ladies need a break every now and then.

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feet to the fire

So there I sat …
three full months into retirement, and two months into a radical relocation. While marveling at the concept of a “gas fireplace” after thirty plus years of living in the tropics, I couldn’t help but wonder – how did I get here and what in the hell did I just do?!

And then I laughed.

Care to join me on my post-retirement adventures?