RETIRED: “Withdrawn from business or public life.”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,