I retired on Friday, 11 September 2015, that is, almost a year ago. I’d been with the same further education college, part-time but mostly full-time, for twenty years, teaching IT to 16-19 year olds who thought they knew everything about computers. And most of their parents believed they did too. This time last year, I was looking forward to a short holiday in Bruges… and then nothingness. My beloved aunt in Canada asked me what I was retiring to and I sort of busked it, saying I’d be all right. It’s been a funny old year, and now is time to take stock.
This is what I’ve done over the year, roughly in date order:
Looked after beloved grandson for just three weeks, plus a few odd days. ‘Being there’ for him, as I anticipated, was just not very practical, seeing as he and my daughter live in Sussex. Also, I’m not very good at playing with toddlers. I run out of ideas very quickly.
I’ve become more active in the ACW (Association of Christian Writers). Tick. I’m competitions manager.
I’ve cleared out just one room in our house. I seriously believed we were going to sort out the whole house, and the attic and the garage… Well, my husband could do the garage… and the attic. Reader, he didn’t. And I didn’t, except that one room, although it included the filing cabinet containing all our papers.
I did Nano. I wrote my 50,000 words in November, but, of course, that’s not long enough for a proper novel. You’ve finished but not finished. I eventually finished the first draft at the end of February, but editing still needs doing.
I visited India.
I found some part-time work. Tick. An enormous tick. And what am I doing? Teaching IT, but to adults, not to youngsters, which is different, and still time-consuming.
I’ve done more at church. I’m secretary of the PCC and have, so far, led two services. I’m also studying the Course in Christian Studies (which is an Essex thing, a basic course in Christianity and the church).
I’ve joined a real face-to-face writing group.
I’ve learned to live on a lower income. When I retired, my head knew that I would have less money, but my heart didn’t. If you’re earning a reasonable salary (I never earned mega bucks) and extremely time poor, you spend, just to survive. In the first six months after retiring, I had to buy two computers (one for my son, who has much less than I – in fact, I don’t know he survives) and one for myself. These purchases almost broke me. This has been the biggest thing for me. Now I budget like Silas Marner, to the penny. If, over the last twelve months, I haven’t bought your book, I’m sorry, but that’s the reason.
I’ve started to learn programming. They laughed at me at my old college when I said I wanted to do this. It’s been an ambition since about 2000. My dear friend, Felicity, will tell you how I attempted Visual Basic in her classes in 2003, but, although I passed City and Guilds Level 2 under her guidance, she found me ‘not a natural’. Now I’m making slow progress through Python.
I’ve been on lots of walks. This is husband-driven and ongoing.
Things I haven’t done:
I haven’t submitted lots of short stories and have them published, only a few.
I’ve haven’t sorted out the garden. Reader, there is some good stuff in there at the moment, like my dahlias, my roses and my tomatoes, but a lot of weeds and nettles too.
I’ve never had a story accepted by a woman’s magazine. Although I’ve written several and I’ve, just this last week, finished a nostalgia piece, I’ve not tackled this properly.
I haven’t redone the church website. It’s still on the list of things to do.
I haven’t cleared out the kitchen cupboards. (They really need it.)
I’m not doing any regular exercise, eg swimming or keep-fit. (Ooh, I should’ve added put on weight in the things I’ve done.)
So, do I recommend retirement? Yes, on balance, even though I’m still working part-time. I do believe that part-time is what people in their sixties need. They’ve still got a lot to give, but they’re not so career-driven and want to do other things than work.