Reflections of First Year in Retirement

How do you answer “So, how is retirement?” or “What do you do (all day)?”? It is hard to answer in a short summary. I have stated that I want to “Experience life”. But that is vague. Then I qualified it by saying that I want 937 experiences.

In my first year I completed 37 experiences. 900 to go. At that rate it will take me 25 years. It will take some creativity and dedication to achieve that goal. I hope they are varied and interesting.

What I don’t hear much is “Now that you have retired, how do you feel?” Maybe people don’t want to hear: “Great!” Or maybe they doubt that it is great. After all, a guy is often judged by what he does. His profession. His job. His career.  What happens when you no longer have a job?  Maybe I need to have business cards printed with “Kirk Rydland”  “Retired with time and a pick up truck”.

Some experiences were part of the travel that retires are expected to do. While we traveled every year while I worked, we did more traveling this year. We traveled to the Finger Lakes of New York to taste wines. We toured Iceland in hopes of seeing the Northern Lights. We took a road trip to Maine to check out the lobsters. And we occasionally made beach trips.

Some experiences that I have found to be satisfying are not exciting enough to write up. So here is a list of some experiences that I may do often. While satisfying, they are not worthy of expanding in blog entries as “experiences” (Unless I need more to get to 937).

  1. Doing daily things during the daytime on weekdays. These may simply be chores but are better done whenever I want to do them. I am not constrained by doing them on weekends or evenings. I also can do these things when there are less crowds. For instance, I can go shopping when there are no crowds. I can hike during the best part of the day when there are very few hikers. I can also workout during the day. I can go to the gym in the morning for a couple of hours and still have the rest of the day. No more squeezing a few short gym workouts in the evening.
  2. Spending more daylight hours outside. I have always loved being outside. So what career do I choose? Computers. Indoor work all day, usually glued to a computer monitor. Now I have reclaimed those 40 daylight hours from Monday through Friday for myself.
  3. Relaxing. Not being rushed. Not being stressed. For instance, I can hang out in the yard all afternoon and enjoy a fire in our fire pit and read a book sipping on a cold one.
  4. Be active. Walk, hike, run, bike.
  5. Read books. Over this first year, I read 33 books. Not bad for a guy that has avoided reading for so many years.
  6. Do major projects, quicker. During the summer, we had a storm that damaged our back deck rails. While repairing, we noticed all the rails had rotted. It took us a full two weeks to remove and replace all the rails. If I had been working in an office, it would have taken more than a month. Now we are working on the barn.
  7. Enjoy beers. I am still on my quest to try 100 beers. Over half way towards that experience.

But the main thing is that I have more time. Freedom and time. Time for myself. Time to spend with my wife. Time to spend with my kids and grandkids.

So those are the best things.

There are a few downsides, too. I kind of miss the Air Traffic Control engineering work. Creating solutions is for the FAA was rewarding. Interacting with my coworkers and customers was fun. However, the schedules, deadlines, stress, performance plans, compliance training are no fun. Also, tasks that take days to complete hung over my head every evening. So, I miss it, but not that much. Then there is the wintertime. Since I like to spend a lot of time outside during the day, not only are the days shorter, but it is just too darn cold outside to really enjoy it.

But all in all, it has been a great year.

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