Who Is That Person in the Mirror

The two things we do most in our adult life are sleep and work.  It should come as no surprise that when you retire a big part of your identity is suddenly in question.

Cartoon of Man Looking at Yourself in Mirror and Unsure About Yourself

Yesterday, you were a worker bee who folks depended on to turn up and make a contribution.    You had some kind of job title no matter what kind of job.   You were a cog in the wheel of some kind of grander scheme of the workforce.

When you retire suddenly you are just you again.  You look in the mirror and you don’t see the same person you saw before.   No one notices if you sleep in late.   No one misses you because you don’t show up.   You have no guidance from your employer on what you are expected to accomplish each day.   You make all the rules for your time, who you interact with, and even in some cases what you wear.

RangerSir is making the transition into retirement living.   He is a little lost and feeling his way around.   He is exploring who else is retired and has time to “play” with him.   He is remembering things he liked to do when he was younger and once again trying his hand at them.  He is checking out things that folks have been telling him about to see if he is interested.  He is dragging his feet on somethings and embracing others.

He watches me get up and buzz around with deliberate purpose each morning.  It is a bit mystifying to him.  Having retired before him I have already made my transition into managing my life for me.   I have a list of daily chores I need to do.   I did this because I never want to spend a single day of my retirement cleaning house, doing bills, laundry or any other mundane chore.   I have it set up so even on my worst day I never spend more than 40 minutes doing my chores.  Once my chores are done I am free for the day.   I can read.   I can spend it with my arty friends.   I can spend time in my studio sewing, painting or anything else that moves me.   I try to get 250 steps in 10 hours of every day.   If my Fitbit tells me that I am in danger of not getting it done.   I hop up and head to the treadmill or outside to get 5 minutes of activity to meet my goal.   He thinks that is plain crazy.   I do yoga in the early morning 4 days a week.   I don’t think he yet knows about that.    It is what I have discovered works for my household, my mental health, and my physical health for me in retirement.

Even though we have been married nearly 40 years and are philosophically and our moral compass is the same, we are different in many other ways.  I am a morning person and like a clean house, but hate to clean.   He, on the other hand, is a night owl and would rather spend a single day—all day–doing things I think of as chores and drudgery.  He likes TV, and I like to read.   I have several hobbies I enjoy but hate exercise.   He likes physical activity but does not have many hobbies.   We are very much opposites in many ways.    He has to figure out what works for him, and what he wants to do. No rush.  He needs to try things.  Explore.   As he finds his groove we will then have to figure out how to mesh our wishes and needs to make both of us happy.

We are already working this out.   I am doing some of my Fitbit time walking with him, a sort of exercise together.  I go meet with my “Art Ladies” when he goes to the gym.   We are making our way through this all.

It is a time of discovery for both of us.  It is a time of change for both us.   It is another season of life and all the changes that come with it.