Recently I read a great article titled “The Calendar Free Retirement Life” written by Barbara Rady Kazdan. It was about the joy of being retired and not having to keep a calendar anymore. Heaven knows, before retirement I could not go to bed at night without checking my calendar for the next day nor could I leave the house in the morning before checking it yet again to be sure I knew what I was doing. Vacations were constantly interrupted by scheduled calls or meetings that had to be taken even when I was skiing in the Colorado Rockies. I would never have thought of turning off my phone after dinner for fear I would miss that important late night phone call or email from work. The thought of being disconnected on vacation actually ruined many a trip because I was so worried about not only what I was missing but also what I would be coming back to after the calls and meeting notices accumulated in my absence.
Before I retired I used to have my retired friends ask to me constantly during a conversation “What day is this?” or “You mean today is Tuesday and not Wednesday? I can’t keep track.” I always wondered if I would come to be that unconcerned about time where I would let the days just happen rather than track them. I used to absolutely hate getting those “reminder” calls from doctors, restaurants, my hair solon, etc. I always felt that unless I call you and cancel, I intend to be there. The appointment was, after all, on my calendar. But now – well, I welcome those calls. Please call and remind me!!!! I have become one of those people – if it is not written down, it is not going to happen.
But throwing out the calendar?
Really? Being the Type A personality that I have been my entire life, I cannot release myself from keeping a calendar and I am sure there are others out there who are just like me. So for those of us who continue to calendar events in retirement – we are not obsessed or compulsive – we are just conscientious. The joy now is that we get to decide what to calendar and when to stick to it or change it. I have scheduled on my calendar the days when I will go to the gym (which I usually try to do at least 3-4 times a week). Is that rigid and fixed? No, but it does provide the extra incentive for days when I may easily choose to blow it off and makes me get up and do it. I also have two nonprofit organizations for which I volunteer and board meetings to attend. These things are important to me and I want to have those dates noted so that I can be sure to meet my commitments and not to schedule anything that may be a conflict. I schedule reminders for birthdays and other important dates.
The challenge is that we can over schedule ourselves without realizing it. It is called retirement after all. In the beginning I had everything scheduled but I soon learned to relax and tell myself it was just fine to have open spaces in my calendar so I could just site back and enjoy my new relaxed but not unproductive lifestyle and do things like read a good book, try a new recipe, sit on the deck, lunch with friends, enjoy the sunset or sunrise, and even – gasp – sleep in past 6:00 in the morning (after all, the gym will be there all day long).
As we continue our journey, we each figure out how to find balance in our lives and leave space to give back to others while we also find time to take care of ourselves along the way.