Sunday, August 17, 2008

Retirement Reconsidered

It's been just over a year since I retired, and I thought I'd do a little stocktaking. Where have I come in this year?

Well, one thing I've done is to successfully build a new web site, on new software, for LifeRing Press, the online bookstore for LifeRing Secular Recovery. It went live a week ago and seems to be doing fine, although I had one or two minor tweaks to do. I'm really proud of this. It took me most of 8 months, much of which was spent figuring out what I was doing, and trying to understand whether the things that weren't working were actual problems with the software or just my ignorance. I now know a lot more about PHP than I did when I started, also a lot more about CSS - I'm about confident enough with CSS to start playing with it on my own web site. I've also been polishing up the Oakland Symphony Chorus' web site.

Is that all? Have I just been sitting around geeking away? Well, no. I'm on 2 volunteer boards, and I attend those meetings, and do stuff for that. I still blog - I may actually have a little more time for that, now that the LifeRing site is up.

I spent some time last spring volunteering with Girls, Inc. - I turned up once a week at a local elementary school and acted as an aide to the Girls, Inc. staffer who ran the meetings. This is to encourage girls to be interested in science and math, and to realize that they can do it and enjoy it. It was interesting but kind of truncated - I was only there 6 weeks, and by the time I left I had just about learned most of the girls' names. I'm still deciding whether I want to do it again in the fall and go for a whole year. I'd like to have some regular human contact, but I'm not sure whether 10 year old girls are the humans I had in mind.

Am I sorry I retired? Well, no and yes. No, because I love not having to get up in the morning, and I love not having to be in the same place at the same time every day. I certainly don't miss the endless conference calls! I've gotten to the point that I don't even want to take a Pilates class because it requires me to go at the same time every week; I like my loose schedule. Yes, because I miss the camaraderie of a large office (see note above about human contact); yes also because I miss the income. We planned this all carefully, and I bought into the plans; but the economy over the last year or so has been a scary time to be depending on investments (though my husband is still working). I keep telling myself that what goes down eventually comes back up.

What I really like is that I'm not locked into anything (unless I agree to take on a project). I can choose to go visit my sister. I can choose to spend the afternoon loafing, or blogging; or organizing the 17 rolls of film I shot in Yellowstone and Glacier in June. I can choose to go to San Francisco and tour a museum show with an old friend (now also retired). So on the whole, I'd say retirement is going pretty well for me. We'll see where I am next year.

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