I have been retired for quite some time, but not really. Within weeks of hanging up my teaching spurs I found myself feeling out of sorts and useless. I suppose that I am just not made to spend all of my days without direction. I missed the interaction with students that had been my lot for decades and found a way to fill that void by tutoring students in mathematics. Some of my charges were from a private high school. Others were my own grandchildren. I worked my leisurely schedule around time spent with young people attempting to master Algebra I, Geometry, Algebra II and Pre-Calculus. I found purpose and joy in studying ways to demystify concepts and build confidence in those who needed a little bit more support. It became my hobby of sorts.
One day I got a message from my niece whose neighbors were searching for someone to teach mathematics to their sons whose homeschooling in math had moved beyond their abilities. It was an opportunity that I had to seize and I haven’t looked back since. Over time those two young boys have grown and moved on to junior college, but I have continued my relationship with their families as their siblings grew to need my services as well. A few family friends also requested my services so this year I’m working with ten youngsters ranging from grade five to community college age. Because of them boredom has never been one of my companions.
My husband and I did a great deal of traveling before my father-in-law moved in with us. We’ve put most of that on hold until we find a way to feel comfortable leaving him for a long period of time. I’d probably be feeling a bit confined by our new responsibility were it not for those wonderful students that I teach each week. On Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays I travel to their homes to help them to progress in the knowledge and skills of mathematics. On Thursdays and Fridays I grade their work and plan their lessons. It keeps my mind feeling very much alive and fills time that I might otherwise struggle to make useful. It makes me a better person in every regard.
I have my guilty pleasures as well. I am a sucker for any kind of word game. In fact I begin each day attempting to discover the answer to Wordle. Sometimes in the afternoons I play Scrabble with the computer and in the evenings Wordscape is my go to game. It may sound funny, but these are my therapies whenever life pushes in on me a bit too much and I become anxious. Focusing my brain on solving word puzzles soothes the beast within me every single time.
In between doing laundry, cooking and keeping the house in order I like to read. In fact I often read when I am exercising on my bike or walking on the treadmill. I find exercising to be boring and tedious even though I always feel better after I have completed a session. Reading an article or a good book makes the time that I spend go so much faster. It feels less like a punishment when I use my mind while also keeping my body in good working condition.
My favorite pastime used to be following my friends on Facebook. I liked staying in touch with them electronically. I wanted to know how they were doing and when Covid came around it was an avenue for making sure that everyone was okay. Over those long weeks of isolation I learned how to use Twitter as well and now I am a great fan who follows experts in education, medicine, politics and economics. I’ve even had the joy of getting comments from famous souls whom I have admired for decades. I have learned a great deal of useful information from my forays into the noisy world of social media, but it is also often one of the most frivolous things that I do all day.
When I first retired I worried that I would soon be bored with my very slowed down life. For over forty years I had left for work before seven in the morning and returned just before dinner time. I spent every evening grading papers and planning lessons until I fell exhausted into bed. On weekends I had to clean my home, do laundry, and shop for groceries. Every minute of every day was filled and I became accustomed to never having time for frivolities. The thought of having a whole day before me without restrictions was horrifying when I finally came home to spend the rest of my life without the direction that work had always given me.
I’ve found my footing, a way of living with continued purpose at a greatly scaled down pace. I’ve finally had time to write every single day and to visit leisurely with friends. I am able to care for my father-in-law and laugh with my students. When the weather is not too hot or too cold I tend to my garden and pamper my plants. I tweet on Twitter and celebrate life on Facebook. I relax with words, words and words. One day I will hit to road again and travel to places far and near. For now I am quite content in perhaps the most enjoyable phase of my life. I get to decide each day what I want to do, and sometimes I actually allow myself to relax. My chosen frivolities have kept me happy.