creatingI find that retirement is the perfect situation from which to “start over.” In fact, I believe in starting over, in greater or lessor degree throughout life.

No doubt many are unable to do this. Circumstances don’t always allow a person to quit one sort of life and try on another.

There may be children, or a spouse, or finances that simply don’t give you that option.

But retirement is a tradition time of new beginnings. As we put away the work-a-day world, and seek how to use that new-found leisure, we are truly re-inventing ourselves. We decide whether to sell and move to another type of life, be it a new state or even a new country. We choose to live in a traditional neighborhood, a high-rise, condo, or small cottage by a lake or woodland.

We are constrained by children no more, but may want to stay close to loved ones. We may on the other hand, seek an entirely new weather zone, as tens of thousands of retirees head to the south.

But even if we don’t move physically, we still find ourselves with time to do things we have claimed to want, yet never had the time to do. Be it a hobby, or even a small business, we are excited by the prospect of all that “free time.”

But what I find, is that the time can be a millstone around your neck if you are not happy in your lifestyle. If you are not where you want to be, and with whom you want to be, then time is endless and unproductive and unfulfilled.

For a number of years, around four, I was not happy where I was. I had grown unhappy living in our meadow with all its restrictions. Living in the middle of a square mile, in the middle of a woodland sounds wonderful, and in many many ways it was for a long time. But eventually it grows wearisome to be so far from a decent city (20+ miles), and constrained by weather so often.

Snow comes across the fields and drifts in at the most unwanted places–the lane you wish to drive down. In the spring and fall, rains turn dirt lanes into quagmires of mud. You learn to go when you can, and make do the rest of the time.

To pass the time, I spent a lot of time online. I became a better cook. I watched a lot of TV. I got used to being homebound. My husband found it all easier to handle–he’s more of a recluse than I am.

Moving to Las Cruces has been wonderful. We love the weather, we love our home, our neighbors are all nice people, the kids and dogs are all sweet and fun. We are utterly happy. My husband has developed into quite a woodworker. I still work at expanding my recipe repertoire. I engage in numerous crafts and hobbies, and I exercise by walking and swimming. I shop when I feel like it, not when I can. I attend mass every Sunday.

My days are busy. Although I complain about that, I love it. I have tons more energy than ever before, and I relax in the evening, smiling at all the things I got done. I don’t enjoy every thing I do, (housework will never be my love), but I enjoy the process of living.

I find that without really trying, I invented myself once more. And as the months go by, I find that I keep tinkering with me and my life, and it’s all so fun. With daylight savings time, I found my walking at dawn turned to another hour of “night”. So I revised my schedule and do housework at six in the morning for an hour and then Diego gets his exercise.

I shop on Mondays instead of Wednesday. I moved swimming to Tuesday instead of three days starting on Wednesday.

I added volunteer work on Sunday.

I love schedules, but hate getting into a rut. I’m a constant tinkerer with my life. I like things to be orderly but flexible enough to give when the inevitable appointment for something or other steps right in the middle.

Nobody says you have to eat at 6 pm if you prefer 2 pm. Nobody says you have to shop at 9 am if your store opens at 7 and you want to get your errands done.

We are always about the business of testing out our lives, and trying to fine tune them. We should be about that. Anything else is stale and boring.

Kick start your life. Sit down and figure out what is not working, or not working as well as you would like. Scuttle all schedules and rethink the whole thing. If you have a significant other in your life, by all means sit down and get input and reaction.

If cleaning house at 3 am works, do it. Lunch can be at 9 am if you want it to be.

Retirement means not having to explain yourself or make excuses. Live with what works for you, and be ready and willing to tweak it often and as much as you like. It’s your life after all.

Live it!