I retired on April 1, 2016. I loved my work but it was the right time to leave for many reasons. Since I worked full tilt until the day I left, and since my identity was all wrapped up in a very meaningful job, I’d not done much (OK, any) planning about how I’d live in this next phase. I had no vision of how I’d structure my days or even what my purpose would be.
The first few weeks felt like a holiday. I tried to relax. But soon I was restless. I missed the strong sense of purpose I’d had in my work. And I missed my great colleagues.
So I became very busy. I threw myself into cleaning and reorganizing closets and drawers. I made rapid decisions about what I would never use, wear or want to see again and donated a truckload of ‘stuff’ to the Salvation Army. These purgings or editings opened up lots of empty space – suddenly there is room for new ideas and things.
The Spring weather was delightful so I dug into my garden with a vengance. The weeds never had a chance (and it was great exercise). I eradicated moss on walkways and steps. (I live in Seattle where moss will eat your house if you don’t keep it in check!) The gardening was gratifying but hard on my back and joints. I clearly needed to gain strength and improve my flexibility. I now had time to sample exercise options in my neighborhood with an eye toward establishing a routine to improve my health and fitness. I was astonished at how many programs, gyms and studios were actually within walking distance or a short drive from my home. I’d been blind to them while I was working 60+ hours a week.
Soon, I developed a long list of projects to upgrade various aspects of our home. After all, now that I’m here every day, I saw many needed changes that I had blissfully ignored when I worked. However, it quickly became apparent that my desire to move quickly on the projects was driving my adored husband, who retired before I did, slightly crazy. We were still getting used to both of us being in the same place 24/7 and my house project list was adding unnecessary strain to this period of adjustment. I clearly needed to find a new balance and focus about how I want to live, and who I want to be, going forward, before I ruined our relationship.
Fortunately, in October 2016, I found a book by Julia Cameron, author of The Artist’s Way. Her twelve-week program for “retirees and other creative souls” helped me recall and reconnect with creative pursuits I’d put aside many years ago. At the end of the program, I’d gained a new perspective on becoming a more artful person, striving to live a more creative life. And I realize that creativity needs to be fed, nurtured, fueled. Hence the title of my blog.
I hope to share experiences and ideas that are helping me live more artfully. If you’re experiencing a sense of dislocation as you transition to retirement, too, I’d be grateful for your ideas about feeding your creativity in retirement.