Retired yes, and almost a Nomad

RETIRED:  “Withdrawn from business or public life.”  (from Websters II New College Dictionary)

NOMAD:  “One who roams about.”  (same source)

I withdrew from my “business” 2 days ago, on Friday July 30 at 7 p.m.  Emptied out my Inbox completely, for the very first time since the invention of e-mail.  Every last query answered, every last important (and not so important) opinion expressed.  There were 2 parties, one last week with my mental health team at the Bowl & Pitcher in Riverside State Park, and the other in the Medical Conference Room at the prison.  Fabulous food, fabulous people. 

I’ve been a Clinical Psychologist for 39 years, and legally I still am because I have an active license.  But I no longer have a job.

Ever since I was a little girl, “65” and “retirement” were synonymous.  Medicare’s starting at 65 was my ticket to freedom, along with Social Security and a depleted 401(k).  Ever since I lived in the Philippines back in 1980-82, I knew I could always retire to a third world country and live well on social security alone. 

Fortunately, I got my act together about 10 years ago and followed a plan of living somewhere with a low cost of living and a good psychologist wage.  The story of how I got to Spokane from Marin County, CA, will be told on a different day.  For today, I will simply state the plan worked.  Then, about 18 months ago, I discovered a miraculous bonus:  I was to get a PENSION.  I had thought that the annual statement about my retirement savings was just that, a savings statement.  Then I went to a retirement seminar put on by the WA State Department of Retirement Systems (DRS).  By that time I was asking co-workers for advice about retirement, and the consistent recommendation was to attend one of these DRS seminars.  They gave us pre-seminar homework: go to their website, follow a formula.  Turns out the formula was to figure out our pension.  I did.  I smiled.  My smile grew bigger. And bigger. And it got pasted on my face and I haven’t stopped smiling since.  There was never again a bad day at work.  It felt like I had won the lottery.  There is a fixed amount of money that will come to me once a month for the rest of my life and all I have to do to get it is sit on my duff and breathe.

So, the formula changed.  Now it was Medicare and Social Security PLUS Pension.  And since I am the oldest “boomer,” (born between V-E and V-J day) the system is unlikely to run out of money while I’m still breathing.

I turned 65 on July 12th, and I retired on the very first day the bookkeeping department told me I could.  I’d already done many preparations for the ‘Nomad” part of my life, soon to begin.  However, I hadn’t given much thought to the “Retired” part. 

Yes, I knew I’d have to find a replacement for me (check), participate in parties (check) and clean out my office (check), but I never gave thought to the experience.  

I’m only in my second day, but it’s hit me in the way being a mother hit me:  This is the best thing since sliced bread and nothing anyone ever told me about it in any way prepared me for how good it feels. 

Today I went for a bike ride.  I usually have to keep my Sunday rides to a max of 2 hours, too much to do before the weekend ends.  Today I rode for 3 1/2 hours, without any sense of tension or rush or the feeling that goes with “Oh no, so many things left undone this weekend.  Oh well, there’s always next weekend.” 

When I moved to Spokane I was stunned at how the lack of traffic affected me:  the tension I didn’t even know was created by traffic slowly started evaporating out of my body.  Beginning when I awoke  yesterday, it’s like that:  the tension of time pressure just isn’t there.  I have enough time!  For the first time that I can remember, I have enough time!!!!!!!

One result:  I’ve finally written something on this blog.  Photos to follow, but not tonight.

Thank you for reading this. 

Regards to all,

Meri

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