When I first retired, many questions surfaced. Who am I now – without a job title, an identity in the community, without responsibility and status, without a paycheck each week? What do I mean? Am I important anymore? To whom? How can I feel vital and needed?

My British friend Sally changed my thinking. When I shared with her all my doubts and insecurities, my feelings and preoccupations, she would have none of it, as they say.

She said in her theatrical voice, “Well, my dear, I view this as the time of gifts. Well-earned gifts.”

 
 

These words stopped me cold. My heart flickered. She was saying a truth, but if only I could believe it. Here are a few gifts that retirement living brings.

The First Gift of Retirement Living: The Gift of Unearned Income

She continued, “I view my pension as ‘unearned income’ in that I’m not working and I’m being paid.” She let that sink in and then said it again, slowly:

“I’m being paid for not working. How brilliant is that? I earned it, of course, with all the years I did work. But look at it this way: living without working is how the wealthy live. I am living like a wealthy person.”

The Gift of Time

When we are retired, we are rewarded. Yes, I use that word, reward, with the gift of time. Time is precious and priceless. You can’t buy time, and we all have a limited time on this earth.

Didn’t we spend decades working? At times we felt overworked, exhausted, overcommitted, pulled in so many directions, pining for another half hour of sleep or a few minutes to ourselves.

We dreamed of our vacation days and being able to read a book. We plotted our days off, the three day weekends, and fantasized with the words, “When I retire…”

To be gifted with the most precious commodity there is – time – is beautiful. This is 100% our time to do with as we like. I’m not torn between obligations. It’s all ‘me’ time. Wow! That makes me feel rich!

Another gift of time is that of living on your own time. You’re the boss. You can sleep when you want, get up when you want, nap when you want. You can read for hours, quilt or knit whenever you feel like it, get lost in your painting studio, go for walks whenever. This is yet another reason to feel gifted.

The Gift of Simplicity

For me, simplicity is luxury. When I retired, I pared my life down to its most luxurious simplicities. For example, I didn’t need two wardrobes anymore. I garage-saled my work attire and now wear exactly what I want. I had lots of fun exploring my style and creating a new wardrobe in which I feel sexy and fabulous.

Simplicity also shows up in downsizing my possessions, getting rid of things not in use anymore. It made me feel so free and pure. Unwasteful. Simple luxury is the perfect vase I use all the time, not 5 vases collecting dust.

It is deciding which of my three coffee makers I like the best and getting rid of the other two. The fewer things I have, the more precious they become. I appreciate and enjoy them to the max.

Simple pleasures deliver big luxury, like being able to linger over my morning tea! To have the time to really read the newspaper! There is no such thing as being “late” anymore.

The Gift of Travel

One of the most luxurious gifts of retirement is being able to travel off season. This results in financial savings because I’m not paying high season rates. Because I can be spontaneous, I can take advantage of excellent last minute deals.

The other gift of off season travel is not dealing with holiday crowds. I love to stay home for a peaceful Christmas and then travel when the hols are over. I enjoy Europe in the winter and can have Venice to myself. (Well, not to myself, but you know what I mean!)

Another favorite time of the year to travel is in September, when children around the world have gone back to school. Last year, I went to the Grand Tetons, Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks, and it was a quiet bliss.

The Gift of Passion

Let’s get back to my friend Sally. She feels not an ounce of guilt for using her days to indulge in everything that brings her pleasure. She showed me that pleasure is her job, her goal now. She is an avid cook and loves to research recipes, plan her menus, write her shopping lists.

She makes going to the market an event – talking to the vendors, picking out the best of everything. She enjoys her vegetable garden and two herb gardens. She trims climbing roses and clips grapes from her vines when the time is right.

She is an avid reader and follows her favorite Brit shows on the telly. A professional opera singer, she gives voice lessons to students who find her.

Sally experiences life passionately. For me, she’s a dramatic heroine, the way she slips downstairs sleepily before dawn in her white cotton nightgown (it’s a Jane Austen type of romantic nightgown of yore).

Then she goes back up with a steaming cup of tea to enjoy in bed whilst she has a morning read and maybe a doze. After a while she descends to the kitchen draped in the most marvelous bathrobe and makes breakfast.

And there you have it: we are all the heroines of our stories, and we must make use of our gifts – because that’s what heroines do! Sharing these thoughts and writing this article for you has been a pleasure and a gift, for me. Until next time!

Did you feel guilty when you first retired? Or were you happy as a clam? What was your transition like? Scary? Confused? What do you think is the greatest gift of retirement living? Share all, below!

Liza DunkelElizabeth Dunkel is a writer and novelist who has lived in Merida, Yucatan, Mexico for 25 years. She is the Creative Director of Camp Liza www.campliza.com, a personal blog about stylish and creative living. “A thoughtful life is a luxe life.” Elizabeth is the proud founder of the Merida English Library. She discovered a second career as a CELTA certified teacher of ESL and is Merida’s first, only and best college coach www.superenglishmerida.com.

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