When I initially retired my head was full of optimistic visions and pleasant expectations along with perhaps a small dash of fear regarding how the rest of my life was going to play out. I looked forward to pursuing that list of things I always wanted but was not sure I had enough to fill 20 or 30 or more years. Now entering year eight of retired life I think I understand myself a bit better. With some effort and a little luck I have been able to define a retirement program that works best for me – at least to this point.

I have always been a lover of books and retirement provides me guilt free hours to peruse whatever subject interests me at the moment. I keep five or six books stacked in the corner of our two-seat rocker for easy access during the day. Since I never know what will pique my interest du jour I maintain a potpourri ranging from history to adventure to Stephen King to theology. The perfect reading experience finds me switching from one to the next as what entertains me is dynamic and shifts.

Reading at night is an important part of the regimen. I prefer holding a real book and turning pages so rarely use a Kindle. But it can be challenging to find proper illumination for my old peepers. I recently discovered the BenQ e-Reading Lamp a multi-adjustable dimmable lamp that does the trick. It lights up my pages and with the intensity adjustment is easy on my eyes. The only challenge it works so well my wife has confiscated it for her jigsaw puzzling. Apparently the natural light helps her see the true color of pieces which typically becomes difficult as it gets dark. You can check it out on Amazon if reading or puzzling is your thing.

A few years into retirement having workied through my to-do list and read to my heart’s content I realized I would need more to occupy my days. Golf is not my thing. I have yet to find the right volunteer opportunity although I have joined a few community efforts. A portion of my day goes to exercise, gardening, hiking, playing the piano, and futzing around the house. But it was not enough. I hoped to avoid the situation of a fellow retiree who left his job five years ago and is now like a caged tiger pacing endlessly while looking for something – anything – to do.

So I began to investigate possible part time opportunities in the area. Ideally I wanted nothing stressful, no more than three or four days a week for about five hours a shift. I was incredibly fortunate to find the perfect gig pouring wine at a small tasting room within walking distance of home. I love working with my boss, meeting new people and sharing great wine. Unfortunately after two and a half years the winery is closing down – now what? 

I need to do something. There are other tasting rooms – lots – in the area but what I found at Mercy was almost too good to hope for again. Still, I plan to do some research to see if I might find another. Where we live tourism and hospitality are the main industries. If the tasting room doesn’t work out I am not sure where else I might end up. Stay tuned for updates.

A few years back we inherited a dog from a friend of our son. My wife and I discussed possibly adding a hund down the road but when this particular opportunity knocked (or barked as it were) we answered. Frank the Boston Terrier has been a welcome addition to our family. Where we live dogs are as numerous as leaves on a tree. Everyone has one or more and local establishments are dog-friendly to a fault. Frank is a never ending source of energy as he chases the ball to the point of exhaustion (his as well as mine). And his unconditional welcome of love whenever we come home is something we look forward to. There is never a dull moment when Frank is on duty.

So a typical retirement day for Dave looks like this: up about 7:00 for breakfast and throwing the ball for Frank-the-dog during which time I sneak in some stretching; select a book from the stack for a bit of reading; head out for a walk on the beach or hike at the club or workout; back for a late morning feeding (me not Frank); walk to the tasting room where I pour for my five hour shift swapping tales with my boss and reading between tasters; home for a glass of wine before dinner (my kind of homework); dinner; catch up on the current choice of sitcom/series on TV (we dropped cable some months ago so are more selective with what we watch while paying $150 less per month); to bed for a little reading then sleep.

My wife retired a few years after me. She found it a bit challenging shifting from full-time-all-the-time to down time. It quickly became apparent that keeping engaged and socially active was essential to her sanity. So after six months doing “nothing” she temped part time at a local law firm. A little work mixed in with fun proved the right combination. Her typical day looks like this: up around 6:00; jigsaw puzzle for an hour (no less than 1000 pieces considered); cup of tea and newspaper which includes daily Sudoku puzzle; off to yoga/barre/pilates class; on to work until 5:30; home and dinner and recreational TV (she typically does something while watching the tube like knitting or catching up on internet news); to bed for reading of her latest book. The missus, not one to sit still for long, recently joined the Board of Directors for a local non-profit where she can deploy her super attention to detail and hang out with some neat people.

For us successful retirement requires we stay busy, keep moving, keep our brain challenged, keep the body as fit as possible (getting harder by the day), and make the most of our freedom. We have learned to appreciate quiet moments and down time, to recharge and go with the flow. We look for a balance between activity and rest, on and off, busy and not so busy. We try to pay attention – you never know what may be out there that is a perfect fit for your interests and skills. And just enjoy – after all that’s what retirement is all about, right?