Searching for new groove in retirement
I have just realized that what I need in my old age is a challenging hobby. It may not seem such a revelation to others but, to me, it was a ‘light bulb over the head’ kind of experience.
The past 20 or so years I lived an extremely active schedule-driven life. I was always trying to identify the best use of my skills, energy and time. The goal was to hand off all pastimes, be they productive or pleasurable, so that others could do better. I was consumed with pursuing the optimum use of my unique opportunities. I realized such would be available for a limited time.
That time when I served as the wife of a public official ended with the death of my husband, Frank.
Now, some years later, most of the job-related files, memorabilia and responsibilities of those public years are sorted or disposed of. I have more freedom of brain and time to pick and choose what I do.
My new husband, Don, has the role of ‘retiree’ down pat, having practiced it for more than 20 years. Me? I am still trying to find my groove in the world of ‘do what you want when you want.’
During the last year, I have taken the recommendation of others to ‘clear out my stuff and downsize’ about as far as I am stimulated to go. I can now wade through all my collections of stuff and don’t find I am stimulated by the urgency of making it more convenient for my decedents. While going through things, I have been reminded of hobbies I used to eagerly pursue.
In the pole barn are boxes of very fine sewing materials collected through the years when I made all my own clothes. It was fun to rediscover yards of elegant black silk fabric embroidered with big chrysanthemum’s blooms. I dreamed of creating a beautiful ball gown some day. But, when I really needed a fancy formal dress, I was too busy to sew and, instead, put together an ensemble from five ‘ yes, I said five ‘ old dresses from a thrift store. I found this method of dressing most efficient, and the black silk fabric still sits in a box waiting for its day of glory.
The pole barn is a depository of many of my past hobbies. I found baskets made out of the coiled fabric I took off our old sectional when I reupholstered the furniture. Always the antique collector, I have arranged drawers of laces, vintage purses and hats, baby clothes and pieced quilts. I even have the results of my own try at the quilting hobby. And, as I have always been a ‘make do mama,’ I have many pieces of antique furniture that are in various stages of my version of restoration. Even restoring the barn home we live in was a hobby. No salary or outsider’s goals entered my mind as I charged into restoration of these log buildings.
Revisiting the projects of my past, I recalled the fun and drive I had in pursuing them. A hobby is, by definition, something one does for relaxation or pleasure. That certainly was the case for me. Nothing I ever created was of much value and, indeed, never enviable by financial standards. I have to ask myself, what drove me so?
It was the discarded paintings and supplies of my earlier years that returned that original zing for throwing all current cares aside and revisiting old passions. I was terrible as an amateur artist, but that didn’t seem to daunt me when I was actively painting. I remember frequently taking a developing painting from room to room as I was doing my daily chores. I would dab a bit of pigment here and there between doing dishes or vacuuming rugs. When I had to drop that habit due to moving to the lieutenant governor’s job in Indianapolis, I recall the tops of all my furniture had colored marks from my propping up a wet painting while studying it. Now that is just plain dumb ‘go get-em joy’ that makes a person do a thing like that.
Thinking back over these fun flings I called hobbies, they were all challenging, creative and stimulating. That would be a good thing in my life today.
My oomph is lower than I want, my ears are way beyond working and my stomach often complains about what it’s fed. I would do best to seek a compelling activity that makes me feel more positive. Perhaps instead of simplifying my life, I need to redirect my ‘go’ button.
If these are to be my ‘golden years,’ I want to make it so I can’t wait to get up in the morning and charge into something. I am going to pull out my old easel, check to see if any of the paint is still usable, buy some new brushes and go at it. I think I shall began by trying my hand at the portrait of a goofy, explosive red-haired woman with her arms up to the heavens in praise for a day of play.
Now that is a happening worth retiring to.