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Year 2 retirement blues
Old 02-28-2017, 10:18 AM   #1
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Year 2 retirement blues

Just passed the one-year retired mark. We worked hard for 6 years to be able to get to this point but I'm slowly going stir crazy!

First year retired was horrendous. Lost my dad the day I retired, then my mom in September, and between the two parents we lost both dogs. So year one wasn't a good litmus test. Constant travel to be with my parents, then the funerals, etc.

Thought we'd be RVing, but we're in the process of selling the RV. The lifestyle wasn't a good fit for us as a couple. So I'm at loose ends.

The things that were on the "things to do when retired" list have been tried, checked off, and been just meh. I know I'm sounding like huge sour grapes when most people would kill to be in my position but I'm really struggling to find my place in the world.

I've never been one to do nothing well but I don't want a job (heaven forbid!) And I don't want to do serious volunteer work because then someone has control of my time.

I guess I don't know what I do want to do. DH can sit all day and play on his iPad, but I'm not wired that way. On the positive side, my house is well on it's way to being spotless!

If you've been through something similar what advice would you pass on?
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Old 02-28-2017, 10:33 AM   #2
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My only suggestion is simplistically obvious. Seek out and try even more new activities and interests. I think a good place to start would be some combination of nearby lectures and auditing a college course.
I wouldn't rule out any particular topic. First, notwithstanding any preconceptions, you might find the lecture topic interesting, and can then check out books or movie documentaries on the subject. Or, even if the main topic didn't thrill you, a small side comment made at the lecture may open the door to another subject area that does interest you.
In my area, local libraries are constantly offering such free lectures. Senior centers also offer them. A hospital in my area also sponsors free lectures on a slew of topics, many of them not at all related to health; for example, I recently attended lectures on Babe Ruth and Pearl Harbor.
(another suggestion, with my bias towards physical activity: if you don't already do so, take up walking, running, bicycling, or whatever exercise is within your abilities and interests. Anything to get out of the house!)
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Old 02-28-2017, 10:38 AM   #3
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mystang's advice is good.

I wasn't sure how I'd transition to retired and what I'd do with all the free time... Taking a course that challenged me, at the community college, turned out to be a great transition... I am terrible at languages but decided I wanted to learn Italian. 3 semesters (and 3 A's) later I am passable in Italian - but I had a great time and it was fun hanging out with younger folks (and some non-traditional students like myself). I think the little bit of structure that a class offers (2-3 times a week, a few hours, plus study time) was the right amount.
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Old 02-28-2017, 10:38 AM   #4
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Thought we'd be RVing, but we're in the process of selling the RV. The lifestyle wasn't a good fit for us as a couple. So I'm at loose ends.
RVing isn't for most of us, I think. Doesn't mean you can't travel. Do some research in advance and you can visit interesting places at very reasonable cost.
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Old 02-28-2017, 10:48 AM   #5
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I am terrible at languages but decided I wanted to learn Italian. 3 semesters (and 3 A's) later I am passable in Italian - but I had a great time and it was fun hanging out with younger folks (and some non-traditional students like myself). I think the little bit of structure that a class offers (2-3 times a week, a few hours, plus study time) was the right amount.
This is excellent advice. Learning a language checks off so many boxes that can help with things like boredom, lack of purpose, lack of fulfillment, lack of interesting social interactions, isolation, etc. Getting out into the "real" world on a semi-regular basis and interacting with different people while working on a project (especially something like mastering a language, which can be a lifelong project) could give you pretty much everything you seem to be missing. And if you don't like the classroom setting and want something a bit less structured, try finding a meetup in your area for people who want to just hang out and speak, read, and/or practice the language with like-minded folks.
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Old 02-28-2017, 11:09 AM   #6
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Give yourself a break, you have been through the wringer in the last 12 months. You are still dealing with loss and the stress that goes with it.

I suspect that the lack of interest in the "things you want to do when retired" is due to your general stress level over losing both parents.

It's okay to not know what you want to do, take it easy on yourself for awhile. It might be that if you try again with the list, the "meh" feeling might be gone.

Let yourself feel what you need to feel and then maybe try again, your place in the world is different now that your parents are gone and that's something you can come to grips with in time, you have the time you need, be good to yourself.You are not doing nothing...you are adjusting to your new reality.
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Old 02-28-2017, 11:10 AM   #7
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Lisa, thanks for posting your issue. Took a bit of courage as the dominant culture here, not surprisingly, "worships" retirement. Hard to give advice other than hang in there and keep trying. A very personal thing, good luck.
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Old 02-28-2017, 11:20 AM   #8
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I guess I don't know what I do want to do. DH can sit all day and play on his iPad, but I'm not wired that way. On the positive side, my house is well on it's way to being spotless!

If you've been through something similar what advice would you pass on?
I did, indeed, when I was a kid. Sometimes I would get bored. It's awful to go through that and you have my sympathies, truly. Anyway, I'd go to my (late) mother and whine about it. Her very cheerful response was to assign me some seriously backbreakingly hard work in the house or garden. Soon, by the age of 7-8, I learned to entertain myself happily and not get bored.

Maybe you could pretend you had my mother there looming over you.

Seriously, you don't have to be bored in retirement with the entire internet (a.k.a. the biggest encyclopedia in the universe) right there at your fingertips. None of us know what would appeal to you personally. But after browsing the internet for a while you can get some ideas of what you want to do without having to have it assigned to you by a supervisor.
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Old 02-28-2017, 11:30 AM   #9
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Hi Lisa,

I pretty much "retired" last week at 63.5, DW will in June at 59, I still will accept freelance day jobs every now and then, keeps my mind sharp and the SSA allows me to draw $17K a year in salary, so might as well accept gigs. But I wanted to ask you about RVing. We looked into it, took out a lot of books, attended many shows, was planning to rent one this summer but...

When we do our road trips I often will drive through the RV section of campgrounds to check them out, both government and private, and some of them look nowadays look like Hoovervilles. Perhaps it's the economy? The market is great but the general economy, between the coasts, sucks. Seems like tradesmen use them instead of a motel. Messy. And then I figured if it were raining, sooner or later we'd feel cooped up, unless we towed a small car so we could escape. One RV pro told me the hum of the AC unit on the roof drove her crazy. We're kind of private people and I understand the whole point of the RV campgrounds is hanging out in front of your RV and snoozing with strangers walking by? We also have two dogs. It could be a very expensive mistake if not done right. We were more interested in touring national parks and the scheduling of permits can be complex. So, what turned you off to RVing? I am curious to know from someone who attempted it.

As to staying busy, check out www.meetup.com I joined a chess club and facilitated drum circle and a couple of others. DW is a master level weaver and knitter so I am on my own. I have several volunteering opportunities that don't dictate to me, and I drop in and do them when I want, such as dog walking at the shelter, helping at the food pantry. I'm on the list to be a scuba diver at Shedd Aquarium in Chicago. Otherwise, waking up with no plans, I will go nuts. I have many hobbies but they can be expensive, so I have to pace them out through the month.

We have $800 in our monthly budget for vacations which we will drop to $300 when we are in our later 70s.So why don't you do shorter road trips?
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Old 02-28-2017, 11:33 AM   #10
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We have always found something to entertain ourselves. Good thing we both love to travel, whether by RV'ing or fly-and-drive. Domestic or abroad. East or west coast, or interior, I enjoy it all just seeing how other people live.

At home, my wife is into gardening, and gets me to help. We both like to try to make different dishes. She reads fiction, while I read non-fiction. I often tackle some home improvement or repair projects.

And the Internet is a great source of recreation material. Speaking of being blue, Freebird5825 posted this song for me when I was feeling lousy.

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Old 02-28-2017, 11:41 AM   #11
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I have been through a similar experience though we are not retired yet. My husband and I lost all of our parents in a two year span of time along with our dog. I hate to tell you this but I felt "meh" for a very long period of time - at least 5 years. They were a very important part of our lives and we still miss them terribly. It was hard to find my joy. Time and my daughter's wedding has helped, but the biggest help for me was becoming more active in my church, volunteering more, and getting a puppy!
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Old 02-28-2017, 11:42 AM   #12
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Speaking of RV'ing, we do not hang out with other campers, mainly because we are private people. When we stayed at commercial RV parks, it is usually for a night or two, so that we can use our towed car to visit nearby landmarks or cities. We stay longer at national park campgrounds, which can be difficult to get so we often travel off-season. Or we seek out state, or county campgrounds, or COE (Corp of Engineer) campgrounds. These do not allow full-timing, so people there are travelers, and not residents.

Again, campgrounds even at National Parks are not destinations for us, although we do stay at nicer spots for a few days to rest if I am tired of driving.
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Old 02-28-2017, 12:04 PM   #13
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Thank you for posting this. I retired at the beginning of last year and DM had a stroke the same month. She lives across the country and I made 4 extended trips back last year and one so far this year. Cleaned, fixed up and sold her house and moved her into senior living. She's been hospitalized 3 more times since then and suffers from dementia. We're seriously considering moving her here, but she's resisted as have other family members (who all still work and can provide the care).

Had plans (two years in the making) to hike 200 miles on the Appilacian trail last Spring with a friend who also bought all the gear - we moved it to the Fall and then this Spring - never happened (and won't this spring) due to uncertainty with DM's condition and my need to help.

I've had a bit of cabin fever this Winter due to all the snow and cold, so I'm looking forward to warmer, longer and sunnier days soon. DW still works from home (her choice - she loves what she does) so we didn't travel as much as hoped - 1 cruise and two other trips with me across country.

Life happens and sometimes throws a wrench in our plans. No regrets for me about retiring however - I was so stressed with w**k, it was affecting my health.

A lot about making retirement work is attitude and keeping busy (if that's your thing). So much to do, see, try, experience, etc. I have grand-kids close by and have spent a fair amount of time with them doing fun things - never would have happened if I was still employed.

Thanks again for your post, it's given me a bit of pause in realizing I'm not the only one out there with reality not quite meeting expectations.
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Old 02-28-2017, 12:25 PM   #14
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Hi, Lisa,
So you want to be out and about, rather than at home. Good idea, it's good for your mind and your attitude. I'm not sure if you've read Ernie Zielinski's, "How to Retire Wild, Happy, and Free." It's thought provoking, at the very least.

Others have mentioned several things, I'll repeat and augment (I retired in mid-2009 just for reference). Retirement is a process. You need to discover those things that intrigue you. Travelling with your husband is one, but it sounds like you need to be with people. So:

Meetup.com - in your local area, walking groups, movie clubs, travel groups, meet for coffee groups. Check it out.

Certainly local colleges and universities offer classes that you might be able to audit. Google Lifelong Learning, there are two that I know of Lifelong Learning Alliance, and Osher Lifelong Learning. They offer classes for seniors, often less than a full quarter, no books, no papers, no tests. Come curious and participate. I've been studying Geology since 2009, but often intersperse it with current affairs, literature, and history classes.

If there is a gym nearby, join it, and go frequently - you'll meet many people. If you have a Medicare Supplement or Medicare Advantage plan, many insurers offer gym memberships as a part of your premium. You'll feel better too (or at least I do).

Volunteer - this is the part where your passion comes in. Google the local United Way, their member charities can post openings for volunteers. I often help out at pledge drives at the local NPR station, do a little work for my faith-based organization (when it moves me), but my passion is the local humane society. I take pictures and write descriptions of the dogs that are ready for adoption. Then I talk with the other volunteers about the ones we worry for the most, and cheer when they get a new home.

You'll find what interests you, approach it slowly, and soon you could be spending a lot of time doing things outside your home, and making time for the things you and your husband like to do. The difference between work and this: you don't have to do any of it if you don't FEEL like it.

Rita
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Old 02-28-2017, 12:46 PM   #15
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I'm going to second the recommendation to give volunteering a second chance.

As was said, there are web sites which list local volunteering opportunities. Not all are going to require a scheduled commitment. Many are much more flexible than that.

Long ago I joined the Coast Guard Auxiliary to spend more meaningful time on boats. No commitment at all was required. You picked what you wanted to do, trained at your own pace, and went out only when you were available.

That said, once you get "into" something it's easy to start making commitments, to the point of over-committing yourself. Especially if it's something you find rewarding.
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Old 02-28-2017, 12:50 PM   #16
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Old 02-28-2017, 12:55 PM   #17
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Lisa , losing one parent is hard so losing two is even harder . Give yourself time to adjust to this . Retirement will evolve into something great just give it time . Join a gym and take a few classes , join some clubs ,find new friends or a find a fun hobby . It will all come to you in time .
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Old 02-28-2017, 01:01 PM   #18
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Get another dog.
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Old 02-28-2017, 01:08 PM   #19
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Get another dog.
A Border Collie...it'll keep you too busy to do much else.
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Old 02-28-2017, 02:35 PM   #20
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So sorry for your losses. I appreciate your post.

It might be hard to think of anything (for now) that would bring the same joie de vivre in light of the recent losses you've experienced. You've also lost the "dream" or at least the "expectation" of what your first year or two of retirement would be like. That could require it's own grieving process. Down the road you might feel differently about things that seem "meh" now.

A general suggestion might be to pick up a couple of books that would help you to become a sort of "detective" to discover the kinds of things that you loved or would have loved to do as a child and now as an adult. A couple of oldies but goodies that come to mind are "The Artist's Way" and "Finding Your Own North Star." I will say you can't just read them - you have to do the writing exercises and such for them to work.

Even then, the best near-term strategy may be to consider attending a grief support group (often hosted at the local hospital).
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