The Psychology of (my) Retirement

In less than six months I will be retired. I was so excited about the possibilities when I made my decision to embark on this new phase of my life. My family and friends supported me. It was all good!

Somehow the closer I get, the harder this has been getting. Retirement has not been looking that promising. Finally, in total frustration, I sat down and wrote a blog about my current struggles. I put it all out there. (Well most of it). I hit publish and went to bed. When I woke up the next morning, I suddenly realized what I was really struggling with.

For the past five decades, I have been in the enviable position of being a ‘caregiver’. I have had the physical, mental, emotional and financial ability to help and support others – husbands, children, grandchildren, parents, siblings, employers, co-workers, friends and the occasional stranger. Now, I am suddenly planning for a life where my main focus is caring for me. It never occurred to me that such a change in focus would be a problem for me, much less others – especially those who I have done the most for over the years.

There are probably a lot of people who come up against these mental struggles when they are planning or kicking off their retirement. I wonder why nobody talks about them. ๐Ÿ™„

Jen & Danny with friend Dave. (Almost family๐Ÿ˜‚)
My Mother and I
Grandbaby Cason
Co-worker Kori
My Husband with Maddy & Prim
Mark & Erin and Dom

Getting My Retirement Back On Track

The closer retirement gets, the more it looks like an unavoidable train wreck.

In July 2019, I decided that I would retire on my 65th birthday (July 2020). This was not a rash decision. I gave it a lot of thought and took a number of factors into account.

1. I wanted the opportunity to spend more time with my husband. With his 24/7 shift work and my 9 to 5 Monday to Friday, our together time was limited.

2. I wanted the opportunity to spend more time with my sons and daughter and my grandchildren.

3. Although I have always seemed more youthful than I actually am, and felt I could easily work for a few more years, I decided I wanted to retire when I was still felt young enough and strong enough that I would have the energy to pursue new interests.

4. There were situations within the construction industry and the construction company that I worked for that made my job stressful and frustrating. I did not want retirement to be about getting away from what I was doing but I was ready to leave it behind.

5. And, last but not least, I wanted the opportunity to start enjoying the retirement life that my older siblings were already living. ๐Ÿง˜๐Ÿงš๐Ÿ„๐Ÿ‘ฉโ€๐Ÿ‘งโ€๐Ÿ‘ฆ๐Ÿ’ƒ

I discussed my decision with my husband, my children, my boss and my siblings. Everyone was on board and encouraged me to do what I felt was right. I threw myself into preparing for retirement๐Ÿฅณ

That was then, this is my now:

1) In recent weeks my husband seems to be less enthusiastic about my impending retirement. He has to work for another four years to get his full pension and he seems to resent that I will not be slogging it out with him. I get it. I really do. But I know this will be better for both of us. We will have more time to spend together. I will be able to carry more of the household workload. We will both be able to live around his schedule. I want to do this, but I do not want to go into this feeling guilty and resented.

2) I will no doubt have the opportunity to spend more time with my sons and their families. That will be nice. In August, my daughter kicked me to the curb and banned me from seeing her children. To say that I am devastated from the loss is a total understatement.

3) I am definitely not feeling youthful. I have been sick since October and I am exhausted. I look old and I feel old. ๐Ÿ‘ต Retirement, as I see it now, is the opportunity to nap – a lot.

4) Even though I was definitely ready to leave my job, I wanted to go out feeling really good about the job I did and the contribution I had made to the company I worked for.  Things get worse every day.  I do not care how I get out. I just want to get out.   That is not how I wanted to begin my retirement.  I did not want it to be about getting away from where I am.  I wanted to be excited about where I am going. 

5) Finally, my siblings and the retirements they were enjoying.  I have a sister two years older than me.  We practically grew up as twins.  We have been best friends before bff’s were even a thing.  She had a kidney transplant last March.  She still, and will always, takes a handful of pills every day.  The side effects are brutal.  She was always the bright one, the quick one, the happy one. Now her life is so hard. My oldest sister has always been large and in charge. Not do much large physically, but definitely in charge. She has always been a hoot. She has been dealing with recurring cancer for years. She has been keeping it at bay and living a good life. She has been sick since before Christmas. She has been exhausted and losing weight, confused and weak. Last week she was diagnosed with aggressive, advanced Alzheimer’s. We are all heart-broken for her, for her family and for us.

I am less than six months from retirement. I should be more excited and relieved and happy everyday that it gets closer. I should be, I want to be, but to be honest I am struggling. I definitely do not want to stay in the workforce but these days I do not know if retirement is going to be any better. ๐Ÿš‚

Sleep Deprivation

Kat Napping

Everyone sleeps. For some people (or dogs), sleep is like food. A little here, a little there, and they are functional. I am not one of those people. I need my sleep. A solid eight hours a night – at least.

For the most part, I have always slept well. Even when my children were infants, I slept well. I would go to bed as early as possible, wake up for night feedings, and be able to fall back asleep no problem. Fortunately, my children were good sleepers as well. ๐Ÿ‘ถ

When I was building a new home with my first husband, I worked a year of nights in a donut shop to pay off the downpayment. In the day, I was a full-time homemaker with three children in elementary school. Evenings and weekends, we put a lot of sweat equity into the house. I found I could function on very little sleep if I had to. I also found that lack of sleep made me giddy – really giddy! By the time the year was up, I was able to go to part-time administrative day work and resume my regular sleep routine. ๐Ÿ˜Š

When I became a single mother of three teenagers, I once again had to cut back on my sleep. Monday through Friday, I was up at 6 a.m. and getting ready to drive teenagers to school before getting to work. My day was done at 2 or 3 a.m. the next morning. Saturday and Sunday, I could usually squeak in six hours of sleep a night. It was not nearly enough. After three and a half years, I was giddy to the point of hysterics most days. I could find hilarity in most situations, and generally did. Fortunately, we didn’t have a lot of family funerals or equally somber affairs in those years. I am pretty sure that would not have gone well. ๐Ÿ™„

Anyway, for the past twenty years, I have been able to get in some pretty solid sleep. Unfortunately, nothing lasts forever. This past fall I had a case of shingles – from the top of my head, through my left eye and across my face. I do not know why, but somehow this has affected my ability to sleep. I will go to bed a 10 pm and at 3 am I am staring at the ceiling thinking about anything that is guaranteed to keep me awake. I finally get a couple of hours of sleep, but it is not nearly enough. I am not giddy when I wake up. I am just exhausted. Sliding off my chair at work by 10 a.m. exhausted. ๐Ÿ˜ด

Laying awake in the middle of the night sucks. Being exhausted all day just sucks. Anybody have any fail proof ways to get to sleep? I am ready to try (almost) anything. ๐Ÿ˜Ÿ

This is awkward๐Ÿ˜‚

International Day of Hugs

Today is the International day of hugs.ย  I have to admit, I am not the most touchy feely person and I am rattled more than a little when someone spontaneously hugs me, especially if it is someone I have just met or someone I do not know very well. Occasionally, someone will ask if it would be ok to hug me. I generally agree although there have been times when I have just declined with a simple “No, I’m good”. Actually it was one time and he was a pre-plan funeral salesman. It was just wierd.

Despite my reluctance to hug willy-nilly, there have been a number of studies that have shown that hugging has potential benefits – physically and emotionally. Newborns, are known to thrive when the they are hugged, compared to those who are deprived of such physical interaction. The same theory must also be popular with seniors. I am pretty sure one of the prerequisites for working in a nursing home is the ability to pass around hugs like hard candies – which is another story of mine altogether.

I honestly do admire people who are capable of giving out spontaneous hugs to anyone in their immediate vicinity. I had a brother-in-law who gave the best bear hugs. He was an amazing man with a big heart and a total joie de vivre. Unfortunately, he died in a vehicle accident many years ago. The likes of Paul are few and far between. My kids are all good and natural huggers but they are all a little cautious about who they hug. My grandchildren hug anybody, their friends are huggers, it is somewhat of a ‘thing’ with the lot of them.

& kisses

Happy ‘International Day of Hugs’! It is only one day of the year, make the most of it.ย  Hug your mother, your friend, your sister, or your dog. Hug a stranger – but like not me. I’m good๐Ÿค—

Christmas 2.0

We had the sons over tonight for a belated Christmas. Unfortunately, Mark’s Erin couldn’t be here as she had to work and Danny’s daughter Gabby is with her mother for Christmas. Mark was here with Dominic and Danny was here with Amanda and their boys Lucas and Cason.

Lucas, Cason, Bacardi and Dominic

The boys kept busy with cars and Lego. There were a few pillow fights and a little mayhem. It’s a small house so a little mayhem goes a long way๐Ÿ˜‚

Dominic and Lucas, who are both four years old, did great having their first supper at the big kid table.
Cason loved the cardboard box๐Ÿคท
The adults were more into the chocolate

We had a good laid back visit. Spaghetti and hot wings might become our go to Christmas dinner. All in all an entertaining evening.

Dan is finally off work now for a few days so we get to relax with the dogs for a couple of hours. Nice๐Ÿ™‚

Baccardi and Cornelius

Christmas Tradition

Done๐Ÿ‘

Finished my Christmas jigsaw puzzle. Actually I got a box of eight smaller puzzles this year but with Danny and family coming tomorrow I may not get them all done before January 2nd.

Growing up, we were not wealthy by any means but all the stops came out at Christmas. There were chocolates and candy, nuts and oranges. There were endless buns and pies, cookies and squares. There was turkey and ham, cabbage rolls and tourtiere, salads and a dozen side dishes. My mother was a phenomenal and prolific cook and baker! There were stockings filled with small treats and toys, always including a new coloring book and crayons. There were dolls, and teddy bears and trucks under the tree. Last but not least, there was always a new jigsaw puzzle. After Christmas dinner, the card table was set up, the puzzle came out, and we all took turns visiting around the puzzle, doing a bit here and a bit there, until the family puzzle was complete. It is a tradition I am sure we all maintained with our children and they carry it on today. ๐ŸŽ„