An Important Message from My Employed Self to My Future Retired Self


Hardly a day goes by that I don’t spend at least a moment thinking (dreaming) about June 30, 2012.  That day will mark the end of my first life and the beginning of my second; that day will mark the end of dress code enforcement, ballgame supervision, curriculum revisions, and No Child Left Behind nonsense.  The nameplate will be coming off the door, and I will be officially and forever retired.

Don’t get me wrong–I have loved my first life, and I can think of no grander way to have spent 30 years of my life than in the company of so many amazing young people.  But I’m just a little tired, and I’m therefore looking forward to that next stage when I can relax just a bit (and maybe have a bit of fun as well). 

In order to start adequately preparing for that momentous occasion, I’ve decided to periodically jot down a few pieces of advice for my future retired self (I’m writing down these “words of wisdom” because I don’t want to risk forgetting any of them when the time comes; I’ve heard “older” adults sometimes have problems with memory loss!).

So, pay attention, Future Self:

  • First and foremost, throw yourself a big retirement party–you have reason to celebrate!  Just be careful whom you invite (there are a lot of crazy people out there!), and be sure to bring a camera to document the event.
  • No matter how conservative retirement makes you, never (and I do mean never) resort to watching Glenn Beck’s cryfest on Fox News.  Jon Stewart‘s parodies of Glenn Beck, however, are perfectly acceptable.
  • Never utter the words, “These kids today …”  After 30 years in education, you know that “these kids” are no worse than their predecessors (although sometimes their circumstances are).
  • Do not go to the grocery store or anywhere else looking like you just crawled out of bed in the same clothes you had on yesterday. 
  • Have you booked your trips to Washington, D.C. and Key West yet?  If not, what are you waiting for?  The Smithsonian is calling your name, and Jimmy Buffett is singing your song.
  • And what about your book–have you written it yet?  If not, get off your butt and do it!
  • Get out of bed every morning when your husband is getting ready for work and tell him about everything you have planned for that day.  You can go back to bed as soon as he’s gone.  (Just remember to change out of your pajamas before he comes home.)
  • If you get to the point that you can’t drive at least five miles over the speed limit (in your lane), get off the road!
  • You are allowed to watch the Today Show every morning, but when Matt Lauer signs off, so do you (you can find more productive ways to spend your time than listening to the dribble coming out of Kathie Lee’s mouth).
  • Delight your senses!  Surround yourself with good music and play it LOUD (almost anything from the late ’70’s or early ’80’s will do).  Every day look at beautiful art, read thought-provoking literature, eat decadent foods, and breathe in enticing aromas.  Bubble baths are a necessity as well.
  • At least once a week email or call your non-retired friends and let them know how much fun you’re having while they’re working–even if you have to lie.  (Hey, Julie, what goes better with Lucky Charms–red wine or white?  Just kidding!  Maybe …  Hello, Joe?  I know you’re in the middle of state-mandated testing right now, but I just wanted you to know that I’m spending this perfect spring day on the golf course–and I just eagled on Hole 8 AND Hole 9!  Tell all the guys for me, okay?)  Your non-retired friends may pretend to be annoyed (they may even utter a few choice words to try to convince you of said annoyance), but don’t believe it–they’re really just filled with insane jealousy because your life is now so much more fun than theirs–or they’re suffering from overwhelming sadness because they are being deprived of the daily dose of sunshine your presence always brought!  Keep calling and emailing no matter how much they protest (they don’t really mean it). 
  • If you get bored (and I don’t think you will), you can always prank call the school office, pretending to be a disgruntled parent or pushy salesman (the possibilities are endless!).  The secretaries will appreciate the break in their monotony.
  • Don’t let yourself go–don’t you do it.  Now you can hire that personal trainer you’ve been dreaming (I mean thinking) about and drop a few extra pounds; you can also invest in a new wardrobe–something that doesn’t SCREAM “former English teacher turned junior high principal”!  You might even try a new hair color (no, NOT silver–maybe a bossy brown or sassy red–or maybe not).
  • Tackle a few of those chores you’ve been putting off for ages.  Clean the closets, clean out the junk drawer, clean your car.  After each accomplishment, you can reward yourself with a lengthy nap.
  • Visit your grown children often and for extended periods of time.  They will appreciate all the wisdom and advice you can impart during your stays.
  • Check your blood pressure every stress-free day (and they will all be stress-free days) just so you can experience the pleasure of watching it drop to previously unheard of levels.
  • Walk down to the lake as often as possible.  The exercise will be good for your body, and the serenity will be good for your soul.
  • Write every day.  Read every day.  Cultivate your mind–there’s so much cool stuff you still don’t know!  (And you can help to broaden the horizons of your working friends by frequently emailing them samples of your newly gained knowledge!)
  • Plant a huge garden for the simple pleasure of watching green things grow and the joy of sharing your herbs and veggies with all your working friends.  And buy at least one gauzy peasant shirt and skirt and a pair of Birkenstock sandals so you can look the part of Mother Earth on delivery days!

And the most important advice of all?  Remember that “retired” is not synonymous with “old” (at least not for the next 20 years anyway), and replace your current, stock response of “No, I can’t” with “Why the heck not?!”  You are going to have so much fun!

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About icedteawithlemon

I have recently retired from a 30-year career in education in one of the best school districts in the world. I hope to spend my second life reading, writing, photographing, traveling, biking, cheering on my favorite baseball team (the St. Louis Cardinals), and soaking up glorious sunshine. In my spare time I enjoy playing with my pet tarantulas, trying out new flavors of chewing gum, and knitting socks for prison inmates. I'm almost positive that in a past life I was one of the Seven Dwarfs (most likely "Grumpy"), and in my next life I'm going to be either a taste tester for Hershey's or a model for Victoria's Secret's new line, "Bloomers for Boomers." I want to travel country back roads, singing Vanilla Ice songs at every karaoke bar and rating bathroom cleanliness at every truckstop. And someday I plan to own a private beach where skinny girls aren't allowed. I want to be a writer when I grow up. "Our truest life is when we are in dreams awake."--Henry David Thoreau
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11 Responses to An Important Message from My Employed Self to My Future Retired Self

  1. Melanie says:

    Ok–yes, I’ll admit it. I will be a little jealous–well, maybe a lot jealous! But, pleeeeeease, don’t you dare call me and say (especially around junior high lunch line), “Guess where I’m eating? Ha! Ha! Ha! Cheddar’s.”

  2. Kathy says:

    Karen,
    What will you do without the entertaining antics from this end of the hallway? Perhaps Julie and I will have to make it a point to come entertain you. : ) Will others find our sense of humor as funny as you do? (I doubt it) We will show you the proper way to consume the mango. Gosh…we’ll sure miss you…just for kicks…would you climb inside a tv box and let us push you to Mrs. M’s room…not too far…just down the hall. What do ya say? It will be a kick in the pants….

    • I’m not sure about the TV box–although I could probably talk Sam into a repeat performance! I’m sure I will miss many of you, especially you and Julie, and I will appreciate any visits for entertainment or mango purposes!

  3. Julie says:

    As far as the Lucky Charms question……give me a couple weeks and I’ll get back with you. Now if you’d asked about Raisin Bran, THAT I would have known!

    Once you are no longer doing my evaluations, you may join me for the Jimmy Buffett Labor Day Experience. Be prepared. You WILL need to sing along and participate appropriately when Fins is played. I can’t have you embarassing me in front of the other Parrotheads. 🙂 Viva la mango!! And I will surely miss your daily presence when you retire.

  4. Miles Long says:

    Excellent list! My retirement is so far away…. 😦 I plan on simply travelling, photographing, and writing about said travels… that’s it. I lived in Key West for about two years and now I live outside of Washington D.C. in Fairfax County… I love going to the Smithsonian among others!!!

    Yes… Retired does NOT mean Old!!!!

  5. Sam says:

    The Lucky Charms question is an easy one. Think of it like pairing wine and meat. You’d go with a white. Coco Puffs and Count Chocula get red wine. A Pinot Noir does wonders to a spoonful of Coco Pebs. And I’m only allowing you to come visit me for extended periods of time on the assumption that you’ll be bringing oatmeal chocolate chip cookies with you.

  6. Hans says:

    Nice blog

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