Friday, May 2, 2014

A Different Pace

SlowDownSign 

Last Friday marked the end of my employment in the corporate world (Linda retires at the end of May). It doesn't necessarily mean we will never work again, in fact, we are planning on it to help support our life on the road. That’s a subject for another blog post because today I wanted to share some thoughts about what I've learned about retirement in the few days I’ve experienced it.

Keyword: Pace.

When the economy was good and we were all laughing around the banquet table throwing gold coins at the jesters, life was full to the brim. For me, I was busy with a full time job as a graphic designer with some photography gigs on the side and an occasional video project. Add to that, the logistics and demands of three teenage kids and I realized there wasn't much time left for myself. I'm one of those people who absolutely has to have "me" time. If I don't, I get grumpy and when I get grumpy, nobody wants to talk to me. That's pretty sad but it's a fact. No matter what was going on in my life, I somehow made time for me. It was usually in the form of some creative endeavor like going out to take photographs or more low key things like browsing the Web or catching up on my reading, etc.

The problem is that when our kids got older and supposedly more independent, it didn't free up any of my time at all. No, there were actually more demands to drive them here and drive them there... I love them to death but I was pulling my hair out.

As we humans do best, I adapted. I did things faster. I crammed more things into an hour and somehow found that fleeting moment to recharge. It kind of reminds me of the promise of an easier life when a new faster computer comes along. You'll get things done twice as fast, you'll be more organized, you’ll free up time to do the things you really want to do. At least that’s what the commercials would say. What they didn't mention was that expectations would also rise. So now our bosses expected us to get twice as much work done in half the time. We did it anyway and soon the notion of being overworked became the norm. Did we ever reach our limit? Hell no, as soon as an even faster processor came along, we were producing more and more in less and less time. What's that burning smell? It's my fingers on the keyboard. BRB!

120307054822-women-old-fashioned-computer-story-top    An early 1980 model of a portable computer
Early laptop prototype. Because of space restrictions,         This is my current setup. Anyone know why it
this was not an option for fulltimers back then.                     won’t run Windows 8?

Why am I sharing all of this? By the second or third day of my retirement, the voices of my former life were becoming less and less apparent. Although I'm not working anymore, I still have a lot to do to prepare for our life on the road (including selling our house). But this time I didn't feel any sense of urgency. 

There's a retired couple who lives across the street from us. I don't know them very well but we wave to each other once in a while. I was always a little envious of their slow pace. They are both healthy and (I'm guessing) well able to run but they choose to walk. The other day, while clearing my garage, I felt that same sense of calm. I was moving slower, I was being more efficient, I was thinking straight and, when the mail arrived, I slowly walked down the street to retrieve it. Hey, I was choosing this slower pace. Good for me!

It's my view that part of the success of a life on the road is to decelerate. Life must be savored like good wine. You must first let it breathe and then enjoy it slowly.

 pen

One of the parting gifts I received from a coworker was a gold-plated Cross pen. I’m pretty sure it was a metaphor for my new lifestyle. So, for a while at least, I'll let the rest of the world enjoy their super duper Pentium processors while I rediscover the ancient art of writing with a pen.

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16 comments:

  1. yet another fine post from the Chouters..you have described the life of the working person to a 'T'..cannot wait until there will be time to slow down and let things breathe and have time to savour each and every moment. :)..how many more months?..geesh..better get busy..

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    1. Thanks Sue. It is almost upon us alright!!

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  2. Funny, I traded the fast paced working life for a fast paced traveling life. And although Fred had been retired quite a few years by that time (from his formerly fast paced career), he jumped right in beside me. I think Type A personalities never really slow down, they just eventually wear out. :) It will be interesting to see how it goes with you both once you get out on the road. I think there's no way to really predict it, even taking into account past experiences. But however it goes, I know you guys will have a blast.

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    1. Well everything is relative of course, Jo. A fast-paced fulltiming life is so much less stressful than the one I'm coming from. For the first few years, at least, I see us traveling a lot but I know that will slow down eventually.

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  3. Oh definitely, almost no stress even if fast paced. And IMHO traveling a lot in beginning is really the way to do it. From what I've seen, the folks that start out fulltiming by staying in each place a long time end up quitting quite early because they just don't "get it".

    Glad you are enjoying your slower pace. You deserve it.

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  4. I so much enjoy deciding on what I will do for the day rather than having someone else make that decision for me.

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    1. Yes Al, that is a big draw for sure :)

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  5. We are Dick and Judy Mott and have added your blog to follow on our blog at "Travels with Dick and Judy" - http://dickandjudymott.blogspot.com/. We began full timing on 6/1/2011 and have not looked back! We travel some, volunteer for county, state and COE parks some and gate guard some. Dick loves photography, which he quit for some time after "burning out" from working in the industry a number of years ago. He has links to his photography at our site. I thoroughly reading your blog and look forward to following you travels and meeting one day.

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    1. Thanks Judy. I already replied to you on Facebook but I just want to reiterate our thanks to you for adding our blog to your follow list. We don't really have a list like that set up yet but we plan on expanding our blog substantially once we get the time. I'll check out Dick's photography Website. We hope to meet you on the road one of these fine days too!

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  6. Very well said.....I get it!.. I get it!... Did I say well said? yes, slowing down is a state of mind, not boredom...its like..... I am still trying to find the definition of that thought!

    Maura

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    1. Your comment made me laugh. I totally get it :)

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  7. I got up at 5 am, had a cup of tea and read the newspaper. At 7 am, we joined my sister and BIL for a walk around the lake. I stopped at the vegetable garden on the way home to check the temperature of my straw bales and try to figure out why some are not going as well as expected. Got home, made a smoothie, jumped in the car to visit the local farmers market. Home at 9:30 to wash lettuce and kale. Laundry going. Dishwasher going. In a couple of hours, we will leave to attend the "release party" of a nearby winery, where we'll pick up a few bottles. When we get home around 3 or 4, I'll collapse on the couch with my kindle and maybe a glass of one of the new wines. Fresh pasta from the farmers market for an easy dinner and maybe another walk.

    This is the pace of retirement! :) At least retirement in springtime, when gardening, hiking, and just being out in the lovely sunshine is heaven. As busy as it seems to me, it is my own pace, and a joy doing things I choose with people I choose. SO MUCH BETTER than working! And, yes, we walk, not run, as do your neighbors.

    I found it took awhile for me to unwind from the pace of working. As you know, we moved very frequently when we started fulltiming and didn't slow down much for several years. Even at the end, two weeks was a pretty long time for us to be in one place. We loved it all. I know you two will find the pace that suits you - and we look forward to following along. I can't believe the time is so near!

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    1. Laurie and Odel, I loved your description of your day in the life. Busy yet devoid of stress. We have never had a problem staying busy while out on the road. We are both very passionate about travel so this great country of ours will keep us occupied indefinitely! Retirement is all about simplifying. An uncluttered mind makes for a richer life experience. We are always happy to hear from you.

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  8. Congrats on cutting the corporate-cord! After 17 months of retirement I still love the calmer pace. Not always slower but certainly calmer. When you're the one driving the pace you can relax regardless of the speed (it's why Linda and I prefer to drive). I don't know how anyone gets bored in retirement when you now have control over how your time is spent...... You are going to love, love, love all your "me" time :-).

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    1. YAY! Another female driver! I do it because I'm a control freak, but yeah, I guess controlling the pace falls into that category. Jodee, are you a member of the Living the RV Dream on FB? Over 6000 members there, lots of good info and conversation. I sent you a friend request on FB, I knew we had a lot in common!

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    2. Hey Linda! I think I deleted the request in error - I tend to lump FB emails together - so I'll look for you and send you one. Also requested to join the Living the Dream site :-). Just a few weeks and you join the early retirees club - you're gonna love it!!

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