So I've been retired now about six months - early, yes, but retired. I've often thought of the day when I can finally not have to do anything work related. Get up whenever I like, go where and when I please, take a nap anytime I want to, and so on. I didn't figure on retiring having or because of Parkinson's, but you have to take what life throws at you.
But what does it mean really to be retired? Well, I did find a few comic relief definitions:
#1: Most of my friends and relatives would agree that I am a child at heart (HA) so I like the opportunity to get back to being a child again - as if I wasn't already... but dang it, what happened to my child 'energy-all-the-time' body? This one is old, full of aches and pains, and the old brain has lost most of it's dopamine! But it's the attitude that counts... I guess :)
#2: And of course, being able to do what I choose (within limits of course, I'm sure my wife won't let me go out and do a lot of crazy things!) is definitely a definition of retirement.
#3: And begin working at living?? Oh YEAH!! Like relaxing on the deck with a cool tall glass of sweet tea.... Ahhhh.... :)
#4: And I threw this just for laughs! But I CAN relate - and I bet you can too!!
Seriously, though, I gave it a lot of thought, and I came up with some positives and negatives of being retired - what I call THE GOOD, THE BAD and THE UGLY of retirement! (Remember that movie?)
Well, trying to be an optimistic type of guy, I'm going to start with what I consider some of
the GOOD of being retired - so here goes:
No more getting up at 6am. Well kinda, cause I still have to get up at that time to take my 'wonderful' Levodopa. But it's nice to be able to go back to bed and sleep till whenever. Funny thing is, though, I still have a tendency to want to get up shortly after 6am - I don't know if that is because I did it for so many years and am just used to it, or because, after I had my DBS done, I simply feel so much better that I want to get up and get going!
No more driving into work. Those of you who I worked with and are reading this I'm sure can relate. I worked about 27 miles away, and had to take a rather congested I-94 into work each work day (luckily I was able to work from home some days of the week). The problem with this is that the freeway is the major road between Chicago and Detroit - so it has a TON of semi traffic and a lot of speed demons and, well... just plain old idiot drivers (who have no idea what they are doing!)
Plus, the freeway is only 4-lane between my house and work, which meant on most days there was some kind of accident in that stretch and traffic was backed up to who-knows-where. No, I do not miss the hassle of driving on the freeway - and I won't even talk about driving in winter!
Naps! Yes, it is nice to be able to take a nap whenever I like. This is especially true for us Parkies - because of the fatigue associated with PD, it is nice to be able to rest when I need to. It's a little hard to bring in a cot to work and just lay down whenever you feel like it - people tend to get upset at that! ;-)
Going shopping during the week. What you say? Why is that a benefit? Because it is a lot less crowded during the day - not having to go grocery shopping on the weekend is a definite plus!
Travel. Now my wife and I finally get the chance to do all that traveling we wanted to do. Although I've seen my share of places so far in my life, there are a lot of places I haven't seen and want to. Plus, being retired means we don't have to stay here all winter long - and I've already began mapping out relatives and friends in southern states that we might be able to 'mooch' from (as far as housing goes) in the winter!
More time to do things around the house. Not just chores - Lord no! I mean finally getting time to do those things I just never had time to do before. Like cleaning up my email! (I never realized how much email I get nor how much I save!) I've also been meaning for years to finally begin to put all the genealogy my dad and his wife had accumulated before they passed away into genealogy software - now I can begin doing that. Also, I never realized how much 'stuff' I had accumulated that I no longer use or need, so I've been able to start selling some of it on eBay! And finally, time for hobbies - I really want to start using that telescope I bought years ago before it falls apart or become obsolete!
Exercise. Now I can hear everyone going 'What?? Exercise? Why is that a Good thing?'
Well, for those of us with Parkinson's, only exercise has been shown to positively slow down the disease. Now that I am retired I have more time to exercise each and every day! That way I am hoping to save a few dopamine neurons from dying each time I exercise! For me that is a definite PLUS!!
Start working on my 'Bucket List'.
I hate the term Bucket List - to me it says 'here is what I want to do BEFORE I DIE' - and that's sounds... well, just too negative. (Plus it is my hope that it will be awhile before that happens!) Maybe it should be called Retirement To-Do List, or Wish List, or something like that... but everyone is familiar with the term Bucket List, so I guess I'll stick with that for the time being.
I began working on this list right after I got diagnosed with Parkinson's - I figured I had better start thinking about it; and besides, I am a planner type of person so I like to research and plan things out in advance. Anyway, for your enjoyment (or laughs), here are some of the items on my current bucket list:
Ride in a hot air balloon.
Stay at least one night on Mackinac Island in the Grand Hotel (if anyone is familiar with Mackinac Island you know what I mean by this - if not, look it up.) It isn't cheap, but something I want to do just for the fun and nostalgia.
Ride in a one horse open sleigh (yeah, I added this last winter after singing Jingle Bells and realizing I had never done that before!)
Visit the following: Hawaii (something my wife and I have always wanted to do); Yellowstone, Yosemite, Glacier National Park, Washington DC (no, I won't be going there to yell at all of our government officials because of their lack of getting anything useful done - although I can't guarantee I won't at least mutter something... but rather to visit the historical sites - for me, especially Arlington National Cemetery), Vermont (hopefully in the fall), and Alaska (although NOT in wintertime!)
Drive old Route 66 from Chicago to California in our Camaro!
This is by far my most ambitious goal - but my parents always talked about driving on "America's Highway" and it's just something I want to do too. I know that a lot of the original old road is gone, but parts of it are still there to drive on, along with seeing all those old nostalgic sites! Of course, this is going to take at least 3 weeks to do, and I can't 'plan ahead' for this (which goes against my nature!) as we will never know in advance where we will be at the end of each day. And, because of Parkinson's, I don't want to wait too long where it becomes either impossible or just too burdensome for me to make this kind of trip. Therefore, we are planning this for fall (early September) of next year - God willing - and I am already getting excited about it! And don't forget that old song - maybe I'll have to get a copy of it to play as we drive on Route 66!
Visit the Charles Schultz Museum in Santa Rosa, CA.
Everyone who knows me knows that I am one of the biggest Peanuts fans ever! (Charlie Brown is my hero! Go Charlie!!) So for me, this is one of the 'high points' of my entire bucket list! Hopefully I'll get to do this while in California after driving Route 66. (And my wife had better be ready, cause I'll probably spend a chunk-of-change there at the Snoopy store!)
Almost everything has a few bad points and retirement is no exception. Luckily I am finding there are a lot fewer bad points as compared to good:
No more 'real' paychecks.
By 'real' I mean earned paychecks - obviously no workee means no payee!! Luckily we saved during our working years, so we do have income per se from our retirement accounts. But of course that has to last for quite a while, which brings up the second point:
Budgeting. Remember what I said before - I am the planner/organizer type of person. So before we retired I worked on a series of spreadsheets planning out our retirement income and expenditures for the next 10-20 years. Yeah right - trying to stay on that plan takes work, in terms of trying to keep to a reasonable budget. And of course there are always unforeseen expenses - like this year we decided we had to replace the deck on our house (the old one was... well OLD, creaky, and starting to be kinda dangerous - wait a minute, did I just describe myself?) and that took a bit of $$$'s to finish. So just coming up with a budget that works and then sticking to it - even when you have a lot of things you need to do on your 'bucket list' - is challenging.
Not knowing what day it is. Before I became retired, I always heard retired folks saying this, and I thought, "Wow, that's kinda dumb - you can't remember what day of the week it is?" Well, guess what? I've become 'kinda dumb' myself, because I have the same problem now! When one is not working, every day seems like Saturday - and I find I am always having to remind myself what day of the week it is. Hmmm, guess I'll have to get one of those big electronic clocks that not only shows the time but also the day and date!
Socializing with my coworkers. I really do miss this. Believe it or not, I truly enjoyed working where I did (except for the drive of course) and I miss working with and seeing my co-workers. I can alway go in and visit (which I do from time to time) but... well, it's not the same as daily face-to-face social time with folks I consider my friends.
Then of course, comes the UGLY - which I bet you can already guess:
Retirement with PD. Well, obviously. I never expected to retire when I did (I was actually looking to retire around age 62) but when Mr. PD came calling, it just became necessary for me to retire early. And of course, having Parkinson's does limit one in what they can do - even with DBS! I have to remember to rest daily; when traveling, I have to not only to rest but also remember to take my meds on time; and no matter what, PD is always there, reminding you of your limitations. I want to be positive and say we shouldn't think of having limitations - but the reality is that, because of Parkinson's, we do. I find I just have to manage my day around Mr. PD's symptoms and annoyances. But I guess that is true with anything. Regardless, it is the one ugly thing I did not foresee dealing with when I retired.
But still, I won't let Parkinson's rob me of life - I plan on enjoying my retirement to the fullest of my abilities for as long as I am able!
So what about you? Are you retired (or planning on it soon)? If so, feel free to leave a note below in the discussion area, and tell me what are some of your GOOD, BAD and UGLY thoughts on retirement!
Hmm... I think it's nap time now!