I officially retired on March 31 of this year. So my first day as a jobless person was April 1. The irony of this has not been lost on me or my husband, Michael.
Because I wrote a book about it, you would think I have it all figured out. Well, I don’t. And some of what I experienced in that first 100 days came as a complete surprise. Let me share three of the surprises, all good:
- Sleeping - I mean a lot of sleeping, epic sleeping. I had no idea how tired I was after an almost 40 year career. I suddenly started sleeping much longer at night and staying in bed later in the morning. Plus I seem to be dreaming more. I have to say this sleeping thing is awesome. I feel great. My concentration has improved and I am way more patient about stuff (well, kinda). I have to give sleeping a big thumbs up as a retirement aftermath. Woo Hoo!
- Brain space - I had no idea how much mental territory was occupied by my work life. Once it was truly behind me I suddenly found myself thinking about things I had not thought about in years. Memories of my childhood began cropping up. Most of them as non-sequiturs. Appropos of nothing, they just pop into my brain for no apparent reason. It has been like my brain is just unpacking itself. Now, what will I do with all this brain space? A thumbs up for this retirement aftermath too!
- Relationships - My husband and I had been talking for months about what it would be like when I - the resident family workaholic - retired. We had been delicately negotiating boundaries, talking about giving me “space”. Well all that went out the window the day I retired. We were both scared as hell, and it showed. Wait, didn’t we have this figured out? Not by a long shot! Quite by accident, we did the most brilliant thing possible. Almost immediately we left for three weeks in Hawaii. Mon dieu! Neutral Territory! I mean it was like Switzerland! Only with Mai Tais! I am not saying that we sorted it all out in three weeks, but we got the worst of my angst behind us. A great way to start. So thumbs down for our unreasonable expectation that we would have no issues, but a big thumbs up for for the serendipity of leaving town. Sometimes it is better to be lucky than smart.
There have been more surprises along the way but these three have been the most profound. All of them (in some form or fashion) fly in the face of my high need for control. Fancy that. What have they taught me? Sleep is good, memories are precious, and, when in doubt, go to Hawaii. Aloha.