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!