What it means to have ‘time off’ – permanently


For the past forty years it seems my life has been one hectic event after another – marriage and travel and children and work and community involvement and celebrations.

I had holidays, of course, but they were always squeezed in between one hectic period and another. There was always the ‘working through into the night’ to get things done in the days before in order to be able to get away or have time off, then more of the same catching up on my return. Business things, house things, community things, family things. In many ways it was never ever a true break as there were always thoughts in my head about things waiting for me on my return.

Now … that isn’t the case.
Such is the joy of my ‘permanent time off’ (I hesitate to call it retirement) days.

I have mixed feelings.

In some ways I feel a bit lost with no sense of purpose. For so long I absolutely craved this time with nothing to do. Now that it is here, I feel a bit aimless, a little lifeless, with thoughts each morning of ‘what will I do today?’ Some days the answer comes back as ‘not much’ and that feels scary. On other days, however, the answer comes in ‘whatever you like’ and a warm fuzzy feeling of sheer bliss washes over me.

Another significant thing that I have mixed feelings about is that I am now more truly alone. While I was working, there were always the people at work who knew where I was (or at least where I was supposed to be) and when. Now there is no-one. There is no-one to report my subtle little daily activities to. I can go out, or not go out. I can have a really busy day or I can do nothing. And no-one knows. If I go out and do not get home, there is no-one to know that I haven’t. I could disappear and no-one would know for hours. The advantage to that is that I only have to answer to myself. If I have a ‘restful’ day, I no longer feel lazy. (Thanks to my blogging friend Julie for this insight). If I write a few letters or make a sandwich – I can count that as satisfactory achievements for the day and there is no-one to say otherwise. I can feel good about everything I do.

A third significant thing is the drop in emails and mail that I am getting. A lot. While at first it was strange to check and find that there was nothing there, after a few months of this, I now find that sometimes I even forget to check. While initially it made me feel ‘unloved’, I now think this is fantastic! It is probably the most significant change in my life. I am no longer glued to my phone or computer, on edge as to to how many emails need answering and the work that each one means to me.

Lastly, there is my now (almost) non-existent ‘to-do’ list. There is no downside to that, just the joy in the disappearance of the constant feeling of ‘how on earth am I going to find time to deal with all this’. The to-do list is gone. The feeling of dread is gone.

So what do I do?

I open the blinds in the morning to let the sun shine in.

Then I take my day as it comes.

And sometimes I go outside and smell the roses.

Oh what luxury! 🙂




24 thoughts on “What it means to have ‘time off’ – permanently

    • For so long I swung from eternal optimism to absolute doubt that I would ever get here. Now that I AM here, it is great to be able to stop for a while and just drink it all in. Thanks so much for your support.

  1. I relate to a lot of what you said Elizabeth. I think a lot of us who are no longer fully employed in the workforce go through this. After five years there are weeks where I have so much on that I do wonder how am I going to get everything done but there are still days where I miss being part of something bigger (the paid workforce). Enjoy your day 🙂 and thank for sharing your experience.

    • Hi Julie, you inspired me with your post and it triggered that thought in me. Sorry, I rushed this post off this morning and did not attribute that to you. I have gone back and done that now. Thanks for the brain-wave! 🙂

  2. Elizabeth, I missed your recent posts. I was excited to read about your relaxing days. I have a good friend who is a retired teacher. She reads a lot of books, rents movies or borrows films from the library. Her 2nd year, she chose to start volunteering to read at her old school. I would probably choose a different place to go than where I used to teach. Although it has been since 2008 when I taught. (The warehouse is not my favorite place to be.)
    I like the profound thoughts you shared. Like you may choose whatever and wherever you wish to go. You can also plan visits with friends or meet for coffee someone you have postponed or always wanted to. It is strange to not have someone who may keep track of you but at least one of my 3 kids call or text. They invite me to dinner or I drop something off after work.
    Opening the curtains and greeting the sun is a great beginning. Also, stopping to smell the roses. . . I bought a small autumn bouquet for myself. It was all I could do NOT to give it away, Elizabeth! Doing things for yourself ♡ will be a nice change. 🙂

  3. I agree with the comment, “it’s a gift to be with what is,” Elizabeth, and I also like that you open the curtains each morning and greet the day. Retirement eventually will become a new life–not calmer or busier, but “new”–and with it new interests, hopes, experiences and possibilities. I wish you wonderful moments of pure grace.

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