Sometimes I knead bread whilst wearing my pyjamas!
Sometimes I work in the garden a long time, and don't get around to showering and being clean again until lunchtime!
Sometimes I sit on the couch and read books for hours!
How much of my retirement life should I share?
Sometimes I think of this as I converse with people I know: won't there be a problem with people who are not yet able to retire, thinking that I am just skiting about my wonderful life? On the other hand, they probably think I am being a bit slack, with slipping standards and a complete lack of intellectual rigor and discipline!
My heart has led me here -over ten years ago I was sick and sore and worn out with the stresses of full time work for both DH and I in difficult jobs and with a young adult family and a home and church and everything. My job was fabulous and exactly what I wanted to do, but involved a lot of looking AT the pain and suffering in the world, and feeling that there was not a lot I could do to change it. Where others looked away, I looked at -and was active and disappointed often that the compassion I thought we could offer was not being offered to vulnerable people.
My heart said "simplify" and I started to do that. I sought calm in my surroundings, I stopped shopping as a leisure pursuit, I started to meditate. I said NO to some things I had been involved in. I stepped back. This helped me keep going.
I listened to my heart when it said "Notice: every holiday you put on your apron and go to the kitchen and cook from scratch, and you are happy there." I used to shock my friends by saying I turned into a 1950s housewife when I knocked off work...but I didn't think it was a betrayal of my professional life, but a new thing I could enjoy.
My heart said later when I was contemplating leaving work "Listen to me now: is there a place where you feel joy more than here in this garden?" That made the decision easy.
My life now is full of challenges: can I make a new loaf of bread as good as the last one? Can I grow these vegetables from seeds I saved? Can I defeat fruit fly this year? Can I live my life with more awareness of each passing moment? Can I get that book from the library that everyone is talking about, but which I don't need to own any more? Can I improve my quilting skills? Can I give more away of my life and my time?
The rewards are great: getting to know the local magpies (see picture above) took us years in this house, but being here to see this one fly on the back of my chair near the window to say "Food Please, Human!" each day during spring, is a pretty wonderful thing and not one I could enjoy whilst sitting in an office in the city somewhere.
We ate freshly made homemade strawberry jam (thanks DH) and sourdough, this week. We used to make bread and jam before I retired, but perhaps there is more time for this sort of thing these days? I think there is.
These days we tend to give each other tickets to things instead of presents, and this occasion was for Father's Day. It is lovely to be able to share the fun, and excitement of an event like this. We have heard these talented people several times now, and enjoy it very much. Their CDs have been playing in the house all week since.
I have two hours most days to work in the garden, and that these Spring mornings it is a real joy to do so. The rewards for this work are seeing the plants thrive, or being able to go out to the garden to pick as much parsley, mint, thyme, dill, fennel, curry leaves, kaffir lime leaves as I want? We have so many lemons I can casually cut them in half to squeeze in a glass of water, and not worry how much they cost or if I will need one for cooking later in the week.
I still read a lot, and not just cook books and novels either! I volunteer, and also still learn French, and still enjoy a good conversation. I don't need to prove anything anymore, so I don't push myself if the book is boring, or the volunteer space is not respectful, or if the people are difficult.
This is my blog and I am glad I have it -now when I look back to the beginning when I started writing, I can see just how far we have come. If you have found your way here, and are on this journey too, I would love to hear from you sometime.