I retired from my beloved elementary school teaching career three years ago. No sooner had I completed the transitional paperwork than I was back in the superintendent’s office offering myself as a substitute or, as I prefer to call myself, a “freelance teacher.” One thing led to another over the next year or so, and I am presently engaged in a steady gig as a part-time middle school math tutor.
This is a perfect position for me at this time: It gets me out of the house, gives daily life some basic structure and purpose, and presents me with abundant opportunities to interact with students and staff who are dear to me and I am doing something I love.
As of Jan. 1, 2018, my husband retired. Unlike me, he really retired. He left his last position and never looked back.
For the past year, he has been quite happily engaged working off a long-held “someday I’ll get to this” list, including various household projects, a bit of traveling, lots of reading, taking a class, doing daily exercises. You get the picture.
Everyone experiences their retirement transition differently. Some, like me, wish to continue with the parts of their work that they most enjoy, while easing into a routine that includes other life experiences. Others, like my husband, need to make a clean break and move quickly into a different phase, where the daily structure of work and outside engagement is no longer present at all.
As we begin the new year, and family and friends talk of resolutions, I realize that watching my husband over the last year, I am coming to terms with the fact that, despite being semi-retired, I don’t seem to be getting to any of my own “someday I’ll get to this” list. It’s not because I am working part time. My present situation should allow me to balance meaningful work and the pleasures of leisure time. But, while I am expert at putting energy into the meaningful work part of this equation, and my teaching certainly qualifies here, committing an equal amount of energy to the pleasure of leisure activities is the much more challenging part for me.
So, when my daughter asked if I had any New Year’s resolutions, and I combed my intellect, rejecting all the standards (losing weight, decluttering closets, learning a new language), I came to the conclusion that, going into 2019, I would resolve to simply do more of what I love. I am already putting as much time and energy as possible into the teaching side of my equation, so the “more” for me suggests time and energy devoted to pleasure and leisure. What better inspiration from which to draw than my “someday I’ll get to this list”?
Beginning now, I shall read more, swim more, cook and eat more good food, be outside more, travel more, connect with friends and family more, do more of my part to make the world a better place, and, yes, write more. This essay is my beginning. Happy New Year!
Jessica Gower of Winterport is a semi-retired elementary school teacher.