Hermine Saunders: Review of retirement reveals tensions

After six months in my new lifestyle as a retiree, and questions from those around me, I have reflected on how I have adjusted or not adjusted to retirement. When one works full time, there is always the tension between work and home and "me-time." With that tension broken by retirement, other tensions have become part of my life.

I could not just retire to do nothing - true of most people, I think.


One of those tensions I face is the need to accomplish something meaningful each day contrasted with the need to learn to slow down and enjoy what I worked to achieve. Having always led a regimented life at a frenetic pace, I'm still on a mission - whether it's walking the dog, going to the store, working on a book. I even go to the gym on schedule or chastise myself when I get there after 9 a.m.

I even chastise myself when I think I haven't accomplished enough in any one day, such as not writing enough of the book, not doing a chore or not taking the dog to the park. This need to accomplish something is in my genes. It's an inherited trait from my mother who never stopped working just to make a life for us and to give me an excellent education.

I am learning to tell myself to stop and smell the roses, or the latest bouquet of flowers brought by my nephew.

At those times another tension - really part of the original tension - finds its way into my life, that of going overboard versus not doing enough. While I should be de-cluttering my home of clothes and household goods, I'm out buying things I don't need, like more clothes and shoes and a Nuwave cooking system. My dear friend, who was with me when I bought the Nuwave, will be surprised to know that I took it back. It is too much bother to learn a new system when I can still do whatever little cooking I do with the toaster oven and the microwave.

Or, do I really need that Christmas shirt I've been looking for? No, I decided, with a renewed commitment to de-clutter by giving more usable clothes to those in need. And then there are the many worthy charities to support throughout the year, even when my tendency is to be fearful in the face of future uncertainty, such as rising prices, rising taxes, low earnings, the ups and downs of the stock market, future health needs, and on and on.

I'm certainly not very frugal when it comes to decorating my house for Christmas. I spent little new money on decorations and kept telling myself that "less is more."

However, when all was decorated - but not before paying a visit to Carroll Hospital Center's ER after ramming an ice pick through my fingers - I looked around and every nook was filled with things I had rearranged and changed. Now comes the dismantling and the hope that I have enough room to store everything without using the dreadful attic. Perhaps I should also de-clutter those Christmas boxes as well.

The tensions of my makeup are still very evident in retirement. I guess I'm glad they are, or I may never get this column written.

And, I would be remiss if I did not pay respect to the dead in the latest atrocities in the war between good and evil that took place in Newtown, Conn. Hanukkah and Christmas took on new meaning this year with the singing of "sleep in heavenly peace." Since this column is appearing on Jan. 6, the Christian festival of Epiphany, perhaps we need to hope and pray for another epiphany to our world that will bring peace and joy.