Finding My Rhythm in Retirement

“Nothing is impossible, the word itself says I’m possible!”    Audrey Hepburn

It’s not that I never thought about retirement, or talked about it, or wondered what it would be like.  How would you answer the question, “When I retire, I’m going to …?” 

I’ve answered that question aloud and in my head hundreds of times over the years with answers such as:  play with my grandkids; design and make my own clothes; design counted cross-stitch; play with my grandkids; nap whenever I want; do all the things I’ve never had time to do; finish all the projects that are waiting for more time in my schedule; play with my grandkids; travel; raise chickens; raise goats; raise sheep; own a dairy cow; and, oh yeah, play with my grandkids!  😉    

Even though I thought about it, discussed it, and joked about it with family and friends, it was always a distant, faint and fuzzy something that would exist somewhere down the road.  Then, after a couple of sudden and unexpected major health crises in this, the craziest of all years, it was on my doorstep.  SURPRISE!  You’re retired!  Initially all I could think was, you know, this IS NOT in my plans; I’m not ready!

After a health crisis, you need to spend a bit of time getting things back on track:  seeing your PCP; seeing specialists; getting recommended diagnostic and follow-up testing; and working to recover your health. These things, and more, become a huge part of every single day.  It fills up your mind, your conversations, and your schedule; it becomes your life.  Eventually, however, appointments become less frequent and you begin to feel as though you’re getting a handle on how to maintain your health going forward. 

I am now eight months out from a small right-sided occipitoparietal infarct that caused a vision loss sufficient to eliminate my ability to drive, and a cardiac arrest.  Both of these were caused by having a hemoglobin of 6 and almost no iron.  I was losing blood and, had I been paying attention instead of adopting my usual hatred of the medical profession and an it’ll be a pig’s foot by morning attitude, I would have noticed that I was bleeding internally.  NEVER ignore your symptoms.  Long story short, I was taking far too much aspirin due to severe end-stage osteoarthritis of both knees, that caused seven bleeding ulcers. 

When I was finally discharged from hospital, I was advised that I also had diabetes.  Life has, indeed, been unbelievably exciting this year, and I’m delighted the year is almost over.  I’m thankful for many, many things:  a loving, supportive husband of 42 years, incredible family (immediate, extended, loved-in, and church) and, last but not least, having the ability to work hard to get back on my feet by getting off oxygen, ambulating without a walker, and cooking and eating a healthy diet that has worked to bring both my daily blood glucose measurements and A1c down to normal and reduce the inflammation in my knees to the point where I no longer require anything for pain.  I’m finally at a point where I can truly focus on being retired.  😊 

Still Standing

While I’m not yet fully in the groove, there is a recognizable though perhaps still a bit faltering rhythm now, the most important component of which, for me, is starting and ending each day with my Bible, prayer and contemplation.  I spend time each day looking for ways to be a blessing to others.  I have, indeed, started designing counted cross-stitch pieces, I’m learning to tat, relearning how to do handmade buttonholes (I’ve been using a machine so long that my 7th grade sewing class instructions have faded away) reading, cooking, baking, and spending time with my sweet hubby over wonderful meals and watching as many laugh-out-loud movies as we can find.  He’s trying to decide if it’s now time for his second retirement.  He’s been working part-time since we moved to Maine, having retired from his government job of 28 years right before the move.  The pandemic has made his part-time position more difficult and would increase his chances of exposure.  We’re working together to figure out what our non-working, fixed income budget would look like, and I’m working really hard to lure him into full retirement with me. 

We have a date night every week:  a candlelit dinner for two, followed by a board game, a movie, or just slow dancing together to music on the stereo.  I’m delighted that I’m finding the rhythm to this interesting and very different stage of life. Remember: anger, resentment, happiness, joy, and other emotions are choices. Choose joy, always.

Wishing you a healthy and joy-filled 2021!

Be blessed “And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.”   Ephesians 4:32

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