The best thing about being retired is the fact that you get to choose what to do with your time. Releasing yourself from the shackles of work is such a liberating experience for most people. I say most people because there are some who absolutely dread the thought of not going to work, for not having a reason to get out of bed in the morning, and having no structure to their lives. So embedded is the work ethic that they cannot see a life after retirement age.
I often thought I would never retire because I loved my work. I could see me going on forever, as long as I could physically climb into a lorry cab, then I would be happy. But towards the end I was becoming disenchanted with it, I no longer enjoyed it, my passion was diminishing at a rate of knots. The 4am starts were becoming a chore, the endless hours of mind numbing motorway miles were pickling my brain, and the petty rules and regulations which were flooding in from all directions were beginning to make me feel like a robot. I was losing my identity, I was no longer a person with a heartbeat and a mind of my own. Something had to give.
And then I discovered retirement, hooray for getting to the magical age of 60. I will be eternally grateful to my mother and father for having nookies in 1949, well 1948 actually as I was born in the month of May.
I read on a forum about people who are wary about retirement, worried about what they will do with themselves all day when they no longer need to report in to work. There are those who have no idea how they are going to fill the long hours. I would say, best to start thinking about what you like to do before you retire, then you have a back up plan. Someone who does nothing else except go to work each day will find it quite a culture shock when they realise that there is no one to organise the rest of their life for them.
I have always had hobbies, even when working long hours, I always found a little time for myself. I used to take my hobbies with me, sitting in my cab miles from home, addressing all the envelopes to send out the Lady Truckers Club newsletters, all hand written before computers. I used to take some crochet or sewing. I used to write articles for magazines. Give me a pen and paper and I will find something to do with it. I took my bike with me so I could go off on a bike ride once I had parked up for the night. Or just walk around in a new area.
When I was at home I tried to do a bit of voluntary work, but found this hard to fit in with spending most of my time on the road. The Lady Truckers Club was my voluntary work, writing the newsletter, organising the parties and truck show meet ups, and getting the merchandise printed. I also did a stint for the Samaritans, when time allowed, although that was difficult to fit in due to their structured rota. I found it difficult to commit to certain days and times. I used to volunteer my help to my sister, looking after her children when she was juggling three jobs. I like to think my little bit made a difference.
Now That I am fully retired I am able to offer a bit more of my time to volunteering. Striking a balance between enjoying myself and being useful is important to me. Having no structure at all to my daily routine would be time wasted, I could easily become so laid back that I would be horizontal most of the time. This is not an option for me. But by volunteering I need to get organised, I need to manage my time efficiently. I loved my work for the Scrapstore, going around factories and warehouses to collect scrap materials. It's a shame they had to close it. Never mind, always something else to do.
Sometimes it's just a case of looking around and making your own volunteer work. I don't want to have to fit in with others on a rota, I would rather do my own thing. Some people might like to be part of a charity shop team, I have never been any good at teamwork. What I do now suits me fine. I can do the litter picking when I feel like it, usually once or twice a week. I can help with the cat rescue, my role is taking phone calls, fund raising, and help with transport when needed. I can check the local footpaths and tidy up by cutting back the brambles. I have friends in my village who know they can call on me for help with watering up when they go on holiday, or last minute help with dogs.
I am finding loads to do in retirement. Organising my time to include volunteering puts a bit of structure into my life, and the rest of the time I can enjoy myself. I'm off to finish that fence painting I started yesterday, then the weekend is mine. Is anyone else volunteering, and what do you do?