How do you spend you leisure time after retirement? I’m delighted to welcome my next guest in the Over 50 & Thriving Series, Terri Webster Schrandt from Second Wind Leisure, who shares with us her thoughts on thriving when we have more leisure time in our lives. Terri has been a guest before on my blog and you might like to read her last contribution, Gratitude for every mood which she wrote for my ‘Gratitude Series’.
I met Terri early in my blogging career and she has always been so supportive and encouraging of my writing. Although we have never met face to face, as Terri lives on the other side of the world, we have many things in common, especially keeping fit and healthy as we age. Terri is also a wonderful photographer and posts many beautiful photographs on her website Second Wind Leisure. In fact, she also wrote a book about photography ‘Better Blogging with Photography’.
Three Ways to Thrive When Your Leisure Time Expands
I am so happy to guest post on Sue’s lovely blog for her Thriving After 50 series.
For starters, let’s talk a moment about what leisure is. Among its uncountable definitions, leisure is defined as being free from any sense of obligation, like work or school; having discretionary time; and simply as recreational activity. For more information, feel free to visit Leisure as a State of Mind.
For many of us who are thriving after 50, retirement from a long career affords more free time than expected. Many Baby Boomers experience something called, “serious leisure,” a time where a hobby becomes an all-consuming vocation or passion, like volunteering, or blogging (yes, blogging!). The point is all about the choices we make to spend our leisure time wisely.
Most of us retire from work because of age, circumstances, downsizing, dissatisfaction or drudgery. When I retired at 55, it was at a time when my organization struggled with poor management and poor communication largely due to the recession (of which, California was one of the hardest hit in the US). I didn’t hate my job, but I grew weary of the way too many folks in management had their own agendas or jockeyed for positions of power. It was just time for me to go.
Those who know me from my blog and Instagram know that although I retired from this busy day job as the Aquatic Director for a large municipal leisure service organization (aka parks and rec), I kept my part-time job as adjunct faculty at a university and continue to teach in this capacity.
My last day of work was the day after Christmas, 2014, and by mid-January I realized I needed a lot more structure (read: something else to do).
Due to the nature of my retired annuitant status, I had to take one semester off from teaching as well and abruptly went from working two jobs to nothing for 8 months!
I restarted this blog in September 2014 knowing that retirement was imminent. Finding this wonderful source of creativity opened a whole new world for me. I gave myself a goal to write a blog post every day for three months, and managed to do so, using prompts for writing, photography challenges and other ideas.
Once I shed the 35-plus career and began teaching part-time, my leisure time expanded exponentially with blogging, photography and a variety of active leisure pastimes.
I would find myself reporting daily to my still-working husband about everything I did all day, to quantify my time. I still have a slight tendency to do this; I guess working for a public organization will ingrain that into one’s psyche.
To find satisfaction as you continue to thrive after 50, I suggest three ways in which to do so.
1. Dealing with Isolation as a Writer/Blogger
I know most of Sue’s readers are retired and maintain healthy leisure lifestyles. I also know that many of you are writers and/or bloggers, whether you are working on your memoirs, writing the draft of your next e-book, publishing daily blog posts or taking your own set of classes online. Or perhaps reading for pleasure or research.
Your partner may be enjoying retirement alongside you. For some, having our partner around can also be a distraction. Setting boundaries with separate offices, projects and other daily activities can give you both the space you need to focus on all the leisure time you are experiencing.
If you are like me, however, your partner may still be employed full or part-time. My husband works 6am-3pm Monday through Friday. I know I have that time to concentrate on achieving my daily tasks undisturbed. In summertime, my husband works a lot of overtime, which included some weekends.
As a somewhat introverted personality type myself, I find alone time to work and focus is productive. But without some face-to-face communication, the feeling of isolation can have adverse effects, including feelings of loneliness, lack of motivation, and symptoms of depression.
Last summer was the first time I truly felt alone and isolated while blogging and writing my book.
Our online engagement on blogs and social media is fun and serves a purpose, but I believe we all need to meet face-to-face with people at least 2-3 times a week (aside from family, spouses, etc).
Attending blogging or writing events, going to lunch with a friend, taking a long walk with your exercise buddy are some ways to engage with others during your daily or weekly routine.
Of course, travel and vacations will provide face-to-face contact with others (whether you like that or not), but these are out-of-the-ordinary occurrences and provide their own type of leisure satisfaction.
Working alone or from home takes getting used to. If you are new to the retired lifestyle, ease into this transition carefully.
2. Feathering an Empty Nest
Now that you are thriving after 50, you may also be in the process of preparing for living in an empty nest. By now your children are grown and either off to college or living away from home (Can I get an amen?). If you’ve never had children, you may be in the process of downsizing or right-sizing your home or lifestyle (as Kathy Gottberg writes). This time in our lives can be lonely as well with no other people around the house.
Whatever your situation, feathering your empty nest can be a source of stress, good or bad. In my case, even though my kids were gone at the time, we needed more room in our small house. Three years ago, we endured the stress of adding a master suite complete with another badly needed bathroom, a walk-in closet and office space for me.
Best decision ever and it is nice having two extra bedrooms where guests and family can stay.
Of course, now the decorating bug bit me. Slightly addicted to the TV show “Fixer Upper,” I have made several large and small improvements over the last year. I should say, “my husband” has made the improvements, I just directed them. He loves it though.
We also bought a new 27-foot travel trailer to use not only at our windsurf campground during summer, but also for travelling on long weekends. Needless to say, it has been fun feathering that nest.
My latest achievement was painting our red brick, living room fireplace white and creating a fresher feel to the room. I did this on my own (with hubby helping me on the third day with some finishing touches).
Very recently, we were tempted to help a friend who asked if he could move in with us temporarily. Due to his circumstances, our first instinct was to help him out. However, the more I thought about it, the more anxious I became. He is a smoker…where would he smoke? As my planning, detailed mind began analyzing this potential situation, I told my husband 30 minutes before our friend came over to talk over the details, that I changed my mind.
It was the right decision. He’s a grown man and needs to rent an apartment for crying out loud. Who wants to be a roommate at age 58?
This is MY empty nest and I want to keep it that way.
3. Nursing Injuries after 50 (who am I kidding, after 40!)
Thriving over 50 can mean trying activities you have never experienced before. As a person who has been active my entire life, I have had my share of sports injuries.
Thirty-five years of jogging/running for exercise took its toll on my knees and feet. At age 49, I was introduced to the sport of windsurfing. In my rookie year, I badly twisted my right knee which set me up for a variety of ongoing knee issues over the last 9 years.
I’ve re-injured my right knee countless times.
Before I joined Weight Watchers and lost 30 pounds (mostly kept it off for two years as of this publication), I had severe plantar fasciitis in both feet. Walking around in unsupportive slippers right after I retired exacerbated the situation. I now have a non-painful bunion on my left foot making it difficult to wear some of my favorite shoes. Taking the weight off was like taking 100 pounds of pressure off my knees and feet!
Just taking my dogs for a morning walk last summer caused me to take a bad fall and break my right hand.
I blame my bifocal sunglasses!
Ever since I painted that fireplace, though, I keep feeling a twinge in my left thumb joint…the beginnings of arthritis? Oh the horror…but likely inevitable.
This is the plight of active Baby Boomers. I’ve often told my college students to go into orthopedics or physical therapy where they can have lifetime job security healing Boomers’ constant injuries.
While the weight loss has been the best thing I could do for my legs and feet, just staying active and setting SMART daily goals helps me maintain that drive for physical activity.
Am I going to shy away from trying new experiences? No, but I’m going to be more mindful and careful of what my body will allow me to do.
The bottom line for navigating your expanding leisure time is to be adventurous while being mindful of your limitations. If you are thriving over 50 like me, I hope you found some useful nuggets to help you continue!