The other night as I lay in bed my head was spinning (as it regularly did at 3 AM when I was working). The difference, thankfully, was that I didn’t have that old panicky, pit-in-the-stomach, cold-sweat, something-awful-is-going-to-happen-tomorrow type of anxiety. But, I did realize I am dang busy! How did that happen?!
Even though I made a promise to myself, that I have largely kept, not to make any major commitments to anyone or anything this first year of retirement, I have still found it surprisingly easy to fill up my calendar. First, there are the extra lunches, golf outings, exercise classes, cooking attempts, manicures, Bible studies, retreats, and various other adventures I am now enjoying with my husband and friends. And then there are my personal projects – all of them voluntarily and enthusiastically taken on, but time-consuming nonetheless.
Since I had so many loose ends floating around in my mind, I decided it was time for a comprehensive, detailed, official To Do list. I’m usually pretty good about keeping my calendar and To Dos mostly in my head, but when I start “brain swirling,” I have found it much more manageable to get everything down on paper. Then I don’t have to keep it all brain-filed, and my life usually doesn’t look quite as intimidating as I feared at 3 AM.
This time, I surprised even myself with my To Do list. No wonder my thoughts are whirling! I have an extended out-of-town family reunion I am organizing, a cross-country road trip I am plotting, a nonprofit organization I am helping to launch, a trip to Ireland I am planning, photo books from our Paris trip I am finishing, a son’s upcoming college graduation to manage, and some financial planning and estate planning issues to work through. On top of that, I am taking community college classes and exploring potential second career ideas. And those are just the major headings without all the underlying details!
The delightful part is that I’m loving all of it. I do need to continuously monitor my busyness level so I don’t end up back on the hamster wheel, but I am incredibly grateful to have a To Do List that looks like mine. I am increasingly mindful that our trips and activities do take time and effort to plan and execute, and I am Chief Planner in our family. (All this fun takes work!) I don’t know how I could do more than one major international trip a year. I spent probably 4-6 almost full-time weeks planning our trip to Paris, another month away on the trip and another couple of months recovering and creating slide shows and photo books. And all those projects I never had time for when I was working? Well, some of them I still don’t seem to have time for!
I had to laugh when, as often happens nowadays, I was being heavily recruited to take on a major job with a social club we joined a couple years ago. The President began by saying “You’re retired now – you should have plenty of free time!” Well, yes, and no. I should’ve showed her my To Do list. But then, that wouldn’t gain me any sympathy.