Thursday, January 30, 2014

Retirement: Keeping the Cogs Turning

Have you noticed that I keep putting the word retirement in quotation marks? There are a couple of reasons for that:
  1. It wasn't a planned - or therefore celebrated - event. Frankly, it felt like I simply quit my job in desperation, with no plan for the future. Which is a pretty accurate description, actually.
  2. Because I haven't worked at one place for a significant chunk of time, I don't feel entitled to a retirement. In fact, Steve's retirement this summer will be more of a joint retirement. He's earned the celebration and, since I was along for the vast majority of the ride, I'll share in rejoicing.
So I've taken to calling this "pre-retirement."

The frustrating thing is that, aside from feeling like I missed a party, I'm feeling well enough to DO SOMETHING. But not just anything. Like, not mopping floors or cleaning toilets. Or changing diapers. (Though I really feel that diaper-changing has gotten a bad rap; it's actually a really wonderful bonding time with your baby. All those belly zerberts! The powder farts! The giggles! I think parents who don't do this miss out (hello, Donald Trump).)

Anyway, as I was saying, I need to do something.

But I don't want to work full time. And, so far, the consulting/freelancing option is pretty dry. Even friends who've been self-employed for years are finding it a dry year, given all the public service cut-backs.

With that in mind, I've got four things on the go:
  1. Blogging

    Fortunately, I've had the blog going for a few years, so I've been able to give it the steady attention I've always hoped to. I think there is potential for this blog to actually generate some income. But - and it's a big but - I need to really boost my audience for that to happen.

    In my busiest month ever (December 15, 2013 to January 15, 2014), I had 1,200 unique visitors. I'm usually happy if I get 400. Most blog syndicators look for 5,000 unique visitors per month.

    So I'm working at promoting the blog through various social media channels, which is why I'm having the current iTunes gift card giveaway. (Have you entered yet? Do it!)

  2. Learning

    Along with Bronwyn from I, MayB, I've signed up for a year-long weekly writing course put together by Alice Bradley, a blogger and published author. We're only four weeks into it and I'm already two weeks behind. But it's been a weird month.

    This was triggered by my attempt to write fiction every Friday on this blog. I would like to learn how to really craft a story. And, yes, like every writer on the planet, I sometimes fantasize about writing a book. One that gets published. And makes people say, "Wow! I didn't know you had it in you!"

  3. Training

    Kane is such a sweet puppy. But he's like a two-year-old: temperamental, bouncy, and needy. Because I want him to be a well trained member of our household, I'm really focusing on him right now. Our walks aren't strolls; they are practice. Even when we're at home, I'm working with him quite steadily. Fortunately he takes a morning and afternoon nap, and goes to bed at about 8:30, so I do have time to get other things done.

  4. Volunteering

    This one was a bit of a surprise. You may recall that I mentioned Steve and I took a parenting class, called Family Connections, from January to March 2013. I didn't write much about it at the time, but it really was one of the best things we've done as parents. Although the course was for family members of a loved one with Borderline Personality Disorder, the skills helped us with all the children.

    In fact, I was so impressed with it that I decided to volunteer for the Ottawa Network for Borderline Personality Disorder, the organization that runs the program. It is entirely volunteer-operated and, coincidentally, their webmaster died last fall, and they had been unable to update their website.

    Originally, I volunteered to be one of the course leaders, and I still hope to do that, with Steve, after we retire, but right now, I have skills that they can use. And here's what I've done so far.
You can visit their old site here, and the draft new site here.

The changes aren't just aesthetic, either. It's been fun to apply my communications skills to the ON-BPD website, and I hope to help them with other marketing and information challenges as well.

I really didn't expect this post to be as long as it has become. But there you are: all up to date on what I do with my days now that I'm kind of retired.


  1. A friend of mine retired almost 10 years ago and continued to work. We had coffee one summer afternoon and I asked, "So what's the deal? You retired but you're still working." He said, "You don't understand what retirement is. Retirement is doing what you want when you want but it doesn't mean that you have to stop working." It was a great thing for me to learn because I had always kinda feared retirement thinking that it meant giving up the career which at that time largely defined who I was.

    I think this is a great opportunity for you to show the world who you are and to explore your own talents without the constraints that an employer might put on them. Enjoy this adventure because I know that there are a lot of us who enjoy reading about your many adventures on your blog.

    1. Thank you, Chris.

      I think, in my father's generation, retirement did mean stopping everything. And if you were one of those men who had no hobbies or interests (like my dad), your remaining years were dry and short. My father died a year (to the week) of his retirement. I think he ran out of Louis L'Amour novels.

  2. I was sure I commented on this. It must be lost in the abyss. I'm glad you're blogging and writing. I think your "retirement" will be full of creativity.

    1. Blog commenting is always a risky venture! Thanks for the vote of confidence.


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