Saturday, August 2, 2008

What does RETIREMENT mean??

Our last days at Newland St. - The Contractor and the Retiree

Bill and I considered a lot of things about our retirement. They included:-
When will we retire?
How much money will we need to live on comfortably – and how will we get it?
Where will we live?
What will we do when we do retire etc?

The first question was the hardest – the ‘when ‘question. T hen we fudged the second question because we knew we were never going to have enough money if we wanted to retire in our lifetime!! Where to retire happened by fortunate mishap - or God’s blessing - and we both feel so fortunate to be here at Ballina. However we are still planning ‘what’ to do when we retire.

Family visiting at Ballina

At the moment, having been the first to retire I am avoiding doing too much at all. The roses smell beautiful up here. I certainly didn’t want to retire and be ‘too busy’ for the things I wanted to do, and I didn’t want to take on a lot of things that I would regret later. I had to think about what I did want to do but I wanted to wait for Bill to join me here so we could plan that part together. So I have a plan - to enjoy quietly what I have here, not to get too involved in anything and to be ready to travel where Bill or the kids suggest I am needed at the time. With the recent death of Bill’s mother I am more conscious that my own mother is very frail and I would like to spend more time with her. That is happening slowly.

Sunday lunch in Byron Bay with family.

I want to share my experience of the early days of retirement – still not sure what that word means?? For me retirement meant the time to not have to attend a workplace, to be responsible to someone else and/or to keep to a timetable. It also means not earning money!
My first experience didn’t last long but it was so enjoyable. I think I celebrated the fact that I had finally arrived at the time when we were financially secure enough that I could even consider the idea of retirement!!

Family fishing on the North Wall at Ballina.

It bought the joy of waking in the morning and not having to rush to work; coffee on the verandah just enjoying the view, time to smell the roses and rub the lavender as I hung out the washing; re-learning the art of slow-cooking using herbs I was nurturing in my garden and with rich aromas in my kitchen; there was time to read and listen to music; time to visit my family and friends; time to be with my children - and their children; time to be at the birth of my latest grandsons; time to be more attentive in the evening when Bill and I discussed his work; and time to consider the meaning of life. I loved it.

What did I miss? To begin with I didn’t want to do anything…I quickly fell into withdrawing from most of my social outings, just wanting to be with close family and be home…even home alone. I read a lot of books, had afternoon naps and walked up the mountain to keep fit. Many days I went into town to meet Bill for lunch and every night I went to bed early and slept so well. I would never have described myself as bored but sometimes I wondered if I was depressed??? I based that on the fact that I didn’t want to go out to meet others, didn’t want to join groups etc. and stopped entertaining at home as I used to do. I was so happy just being on my own and waiting for Bill to come home.

Visiting Canberra.

Soon I began to miss my friends at work. I always enjoyed the cut and thrust of office conversation. Mostly my work teams were very intelligent, interesting people and the broad range of ages meant lots of interesting conversations - from the politics of the day to the health policy issues we were currently dealing with or the varied relationships they were experiencing! It was all drama and excitement and I missed that! Obviously we missed the cash flow as well. I found my little super pension was nothing like my generous salary but I think it was an easy adjustment to make – especially with Bill still working and paying all the bills!

Then as I read the paper or ran into someone from work I began to miss the opportunity to deal with issues that I was reading/hearing about. I wanted to discuss solutions for things we should be addressing in some policy situation at work or I wanted to clarify something with someone at work! I think what I really missed was not having the authority/power to just make it happen..anymore!

I had taken the time out to smell the roses and they did smell beautiful. Soon I was offered an opportunity to do some part time contract work with two good friends who I had worked with previously. They were setting up a new organization and I was offered a role that was hard for me to refuse.

I quickly got back into gear and loved the busy-ness, creativity and the challenge of the job, especially as the work environment was so interesting and supportive and I felt my skills were being well utilized. I felt valued. My three month contract there extended month by month until I had to leave after seven months to attend to my new grandsons and an overseas trip!!

After our holidays and tripping around we suddenly made the decision to buy the unit here at Ballina and I was quickly thrust into the packing and moving mode. It was a very busy, exciting if stressful time. Sorting out all my treasures; downsizing from a big home to a unit; planning for a new environment, and farewelling friends and family. I had come to love Canberra and we had made a wonderful group of friends and Ally and Joe had had their first son and we had lots of family time together. That is what I missed most when I first arrived in Ballina, and still do.

Shopping in Ballina - enjoying my Grandma days!

Bill wasn’t ready to retire just yet, and had been offered an exciting contract position with a team he liked which he accepted. He decided to help me settle into Ballina and then he would move in with Ally and Joe and live with them and we would commute between Ballina and Canberra. And that happened.
So suddenly I found myself alone in a wonderful home that I was able to furnish and fit out with all our precious belongings. Bill visits regularly and I make the occasional trip to Canberra. I am establishing a new social group here and have picked up a few commitments in the community. Most of the children have been to visit and I have travelled to Brisbane, Canberra and Perth and a wonderful trip to Darwin where we met our latest grandson Lincoln Jed and our two daughters and their families there. I am feeling very fulfilled and relaxed, happy and loved - but - I don’t feel retired yet??

Canberra is still a special place for us!

There will be more…..if you can persevere as the story unfolds.


Trish said...

Gemma Ann - did you sneak a peek at my draft on the same topic? I sat down a few weeks ago and put my thoughts of retirement on a page ready for my book...the thoughts are still formulating in my head, and I guess we are still in transition until we finally settle somewhere, so I haven't reached the point where you are. But so many of my thoughts are the along the same lines for sure - only I didn't miss the power thing at all - nice not to have people saluting me! Murray wants to check the footy scores, so I had better go now...Love Sha xxx

Allycat said...

I am so glad that Dante has been such a big part of your retirement - just look at all the photos he has gatecrashed!

Clairie said...

Woo hoo Billy made a photo...even if he is behind Dante heh heh. I think that photo is hilarious Mum! I can vividly recall pushing them in the bill n ted (where was Ted) pram and thinking how funny it looked at the time...even better in snapshots!

I am happy for our whole family that you have retired. You SOUND better, have more time when we are together (not having to go to bed early or be too tired from work) and believe it or not you actually have MORE to say...I think you are doing so much with your family and life now that you can and want to share with us that you talk more about it. With the workplace stuff we tend to only share that with our partner or nearest family that get to know the whos who and whats what of the workplace. So I am loving having you retired and hearing more about your colourful life and the wonderful members of our wide family circle that make it all up (the family that is - not the stories heh heh)

Lincoln Jed said...

and you came to Darwin!