The Difference Six Months Makes

Today it has been 6 months since I walked out the door of my old job on June 17th just after 1:00 P.M. and really started my retirement – see my Fare Thee Well-LJHS post.
Since that day a lot has happened and there have been a lot of changes in my attitudes, interests and perspectives, during this very short time.
It is what it is  – Yes I am retired.
Yes I am retired. It is not semi-retirement, sabbatical or all those other labels or things that I attempted to call it last summer. I don’t know why, but it took me a while to come to grips with idea that when I left LJHS last June, that I retired.
It probably has something to do with the negativity that term has for many in today’s society. Those who consider retirees a drain on society, especially those like me who decide to come ashore early. I have a lot that I could say to those people, but instead it is better to take the high road and enjoy the world around me and let them say what they want.
I earned my military retirement and yes I plan to enjoy it.
There I got that out-of-the-way.
What has been going on?
Quite a lot!
We got many of those projects around the house done that there never was enough time for in the past, my knee is just about healed (as much as it is going to) and the wife hasn’t kicked me out of the house yet – though I think she has thought about it a couple of times ;-).
Different Interests
My passion for education related topics was exhausted when I left education in June.
I am still listening on the fringes and still follow some of the people from that part of my life. However, I have purposely chosen to distance myself from the conversations going on there. Yes I still believe that education is vitally important, but I don’t need to be a part of the conversation – just another little voice in the wilderness that wasn’t being heard. Though every once in a while I will add my two cents to a conversation that interests me, but for the most part I am staying on the sidelines.
However, I did miss the feeling of community that I developed with my online activities in education and felt a need to part of a different online community that shared my interests and to give my blogging more focus than just being a daily journal of my boring life.
After several months of searching and trying out different online communities (emergency preparedness, minimalism, simple living, green, gardening, to name a few), to see what they were about and how I fit. I found that many I didn’t have as much in common with the folk there as I thought initially and while I still follow some from each of those other communities, I believe that I have finally found an online community that reflects my present interests fairly well:
The running online community.
Running is something that I have done for over 40 years (see my 40 Years of Running page) and although I might get away from the running for a while, due to injury or life getting in the way, I always seem to find my way back to running fairly quickly.
Once my surgery was over on May 17th, I began to run again on June 15th with varying degrees of success and periods of no running to let it heal a little more. In spite the earlier inconsistency, since late October I have run a lot and loving it.
To be honest I miss running when I can not run.
As part of my re-entry into running, I started going to different running related sites and subscribing to several running blogs. Soon I was following more and more runners on Twitter, Google+ and yes even Facebook. What I like best about this community is the positivity that most everyone has and how they support each other when someone is down or injured and ideas for improving each other’s running.
I have enjoyed and started to take part in the community so much, that I started this niche running blog – A Veteran Runnah. I am enjoying being back in an active online community that shares my interests, a passion for running and being healthy. I even was selected to be a #FitFluential Ambassador and will see where that takes me.
It is nice to be a part of an online community that you feel very comfortable in, is about something that I have done for a long time and can give back to it.
Living Simply
This covers a lot of ground, but mostly it means that I/we have downsized our life considerably, while at the same time, I believe that we have improved how we are living.
How can than be, we don’t have the income, the social opportunities or time away from the house that we did when we were working?
Pretty simple – it is all about time. The time that we used to give in return for our wages is now ours. We are flexible, do things when we want, are not stressed by too many artificial deadlines, except for the ones we put on ourselves and if we don’t get something done today, there will usually be time another day. That is the biggest difference to me about retirement and living simply is that:
My time is mine.
As far as having social opportunities, we weren’t really all that into the social scene in the first place. We were and are not social butterflies or party animals, we don’t go out carousing with the boys/girls and were pretty much home bodies even when we were working. We get out and see others when we choose to and use social media to keep up with others. No socially we haven’t really changed very much at all.
Health
Really this is the biggest difference, everything else has to take a back seat. If I were not healthy and active, my retirement would not have been nearly as much of a positive an experience.
I know that my health has improved dramatically in the six months since I have been retired. Having the knee surgery has given me back much of my ability to run and just do things around the house mostly pain-free.
The stress level has gone way down, except for an occasional honey-doo ;-).
I have lost almost 25 pounds and have run 20+ miles a week for the past month, hell I am even lifting weights 2-3 times a week and anyone who know me – knows how much I hate to lift weights.
I am eating healthier than I did before retirement, the school was too close to a fantastic bakery (Hillmans), other teachers brought in interesting foods to try and there was always the vending machine for those Pop Tart and Dr. Pepper days at work (seem my Frustration, Tired and Dr. Pepper post, which when I look back honestly, was when I really started thinking it was time to hit the beach and enjoy my life in retirement). Come to think of it I haven’t had one of “those” days since before June 17th.
I have actually developed a liking for veggies and salads, especially the ones that we are able to go to the garden and pick ourselves. I built a cold-frame and picked the last home-grown salad this week, which I thought was an accomplishment, eating greens from your own garden in December in Maine. We eat mostly organic/home cooked meals and I have even cut down on the portion sizes that go in the pie hole.
Now if I could just get a handle on that oversized sweet tooth (Whoopie Pies!!!!) that I have and my addiction to Wavy Lays Potato Chips – but even those vices are more controlled than in the past. Not nearly as much stress related eating of “comfort” foods.
Thinking about it, I would hate to think of where I would be now health-wise if we had not decided it was a good time for me to retire in June. I know that I was headed down a very bad slippery slope that included more and more medications, being overweight (I was at least 40 pound overweight when I left in June) and almost always completely stressed out due to work and lack of exercise.
All those things have contributed to me feeling healthier than I have in a long, long time.
Financially
We have been simplifying our lives and I have adjusted to the realities of a limited fixed income. That has been more of an adjustment for me, than TheWife, who always has been a lot more frugal than I am. I am proud to say that I am doing better and have gone through my consumerism withdrawals quite nicely. I don’t carry a lot of cash, go places where I would spend money and stay away from websites that have too many things that I want.
Sorry that I am no longer doing more than my part to kick-start the economy, but I believe that many others out there are carrying the torch for me quite well.
I can see a time where I might have to get a part-time job somewhere to supplement our income. To be able to do something special or buy a bigger ticket item – a new computer or something along those lines. I am not looking forward to that happening, but have a feeling that it will.
Who knows maybe this online stuff will result in enough income to not have to worry about a part-time job or we will win the Megabucks – I can dream can’t I :-).
The reality is that
the past six months have made a huge and positive difference in my life. I hope to continue living this lifestyle for a long time. There might be some minor disruptions or changes when/if finances get a little tight now and then, but what we are doing now is working for me.
Yes I am retired, but it sure as hell isn’t the sit in the easy chair, watch TV and drink beer retirement. My idea of retirement is a long and fruitful journey where I keep learning and to live as fully as I can!
Now let’s see what is next on the “honey-doo” list 😉