My abject apologies for having left you without a laugh or a groan for yesterday! As my Cousin told me, I should have pulled over in the Drop-Off lane at the airport and whipped out a blog for you as Mom went on her merry way to Florida. Sorry! My muse and inspiration is now gone, happily settled in Florida, and I am left bereft. But, beware, the Blogs will continue—along a slightly different, less emotional, perhaps more terrifying, and hopefully more humorous course.
As a Baby Boomer (that’s the B.B. above), I find myself (as perhaps
you do, too) stumbling into unfamiliar territory—social media, Facebook and Twitter, web pages, Siri and Cortana, GPS devices, the latest cell phones and constantly updated computers. I think I know how Mom feels. Awash in a world in which only the Gen X’ers and Millenials—and as Hubby Flatbottom suggests, all twelve-year-olds—are fully comfortable. So there is a vast amount of material on which a desperate Baby Boomer may focus her Blogs.
And, surely, I qualify as a Country Mouse. We live in the forests of East Texas, have a small ranch with a bit of acreage, a trailer in the back yard, a satellite dish, and an old truck in the drive-way. We live outside of Crabbs Prairie, which is outside of Huntsville, which is far outside of Conroe and even farther outside of Houston. It’s country.
And when I do go into “the big city,” I feel very much like a small mouse scurrying among the stomping feet of giants.
And as a retiree, I’ve stepped off the ledge many of us were standing on, into the deep waters (or maybe, the abyss?) of retirement. Some have golden parachutes with hefty retirement accounts, others got hit by 2008 and have more modest incomes, others are left scrambling for survival on Social Security. But we’re all in it, for better or for worse. And if you aren’t there yet, you’re headed there. Like death and taxes, retirement is coming. You may as well know what the water’s like!
So what are we to do with our retirement? Some fear going off the ledge into a world of nothingness. Some leap off in joyous anticipation of finally having free time. Others suddenly find themselves drowning in so many activities it is impossible to keep up. “Oh, you’re retired—AND you
have a truck? Great! You can help move the flats for the Journey to Bethlehem! You can help with the Alumni Gala! You can come hang the piñata for the Posada! Come join us for swimming, pilates, yoga, QiGong, bridge, bunko, country dancing, reading class, writing class. Take this three-day cruise, this seven-day cruise, this seventeen-day cruise, this back-to-back-to-back cruise. Join this Board, that Board, the other Board.”
Wait! Wait! WAIT A MINUTE! If I go on the cruise, I can’t make the meetings. If I’m on the Board I can’t make Bunko. Can’t I just say NO? Yeah, well, that opportunity went out the window when you retired, bubba. You just thought you weren’t going to have anything to do.
I’ve considered having “NO” tattooed on my forehead, but it wouldn’t do any good. No one would believe it, or pay any attention to it, or think it meant them! There is always one more good cause, one more good deed, one more “we just need you for a few minutes.”
So, off we go. Into retirement.
I don’t want to sound harsh but YOU – and only YOU – have a choice of what you do every day. If you choose to feel victimized by all the requests on your time – than that is YOUR choice. You can say “yes” and you can say “no”. As an alternative you can say “sorry, not today”, “thank you but I have something else on my schedule”, or my personal favorite – “that would be a no”. My husband has learned that when he hears “that would be a no”, that we have reached the end of the discussion and there is no point in pushing any more.
You don’t need to tattoo “NO” on your forehead – you just need to practice having it come out of your mouth. Yes, there is always one more good cause and one more good deed to be done, and there always will be. But until you decide that YOU – Caroline Crimm – and the work of YOU – Caroline Crimm- is an equally good cause as the Nativity scene, the jelly, the bridge game – whatever, then you are going to be frustrated and complaining. So being frustrated becomes the choice you make.
And I just made the choice to be perfectly blunt with you. I hope it doesn’t tick you off too much but is helpful.
Retirement is something our parent’s generation, and theirs before them, did (excluding our own parents; Martha Lou, Martha & Mario). In it’s full sense of the word, “retirement,” is NOT something we BB-ers do. It means to stop working; stop going to work every day, stop making money…to be in a position where you no longer need to make money because you are content your retirement pay will be enough for the rest of your life. It’s BS. You don’t do that (flatbottom maybe does), I don’t do it, neither does Mike nor do the vast majority of BBs I know. I hate the line or block that says “retired” on any application or medical intake form and always cross it out. Retired? My ass! It does not exist anymore. I have lots of work and stuff to do and have little problem saying “no.” It’s a matter of boundaries…where “no” is an absolutely delicious word freeing me to do nothing, if I choose, or go swimming or write a book. Either way, I’m certainly not retired.