The Rhythm of Life

There is a rhythm that runs through your days. Your personal rhythm is almost second nature in how you manage your daily life. After 30+ years of working, it can be a bit choppy and chaotic, but there is still a daily rhythm.  You don’t need to think about waking, eating, working, commuting, and maybe, like me, working some more.  You know how to handle the regular chaos of working, the blips of commuting, and the managing of not enough sleep. When life dramatically changes in retirement, everything is different – you need to create a new daily rhythm.

Life is lived one day at a time. And most days are ordinary life days. It was creating the ordinary, from scratch, that was one of the most challenging things in my retirement transition.  An ordinary that had to replace more than 55 hours each week.

Luckily I had the financial security element well in-hand for retirement… although external economic factors tend to create worry about that on a regular basis.  The challenge was in dealing with the psychological factors (identity, competence, structure, stability, social connectivity, purpose) that goes into a having a daily life rhythm.

For 50+ years others had dictated my life. Parents, school, bosses, and societal expectations controlled me and established my daily rhythm. I was expected to learn, achieve, and advance.  And since I was the good girl, I met those expectations.

In retirement, I needed to move beyond societal expectations. Societal expectations at this point include being a doting grandma, happy to be doing volunteer work, traveling as your heart desires, and maybe working part-time or actively engaged in your passion area. I’m not a grandma (or a ma), am struggling with volunteering being meaningful, have had to acknowledge hubby is a homebody, and have yet to define a passion area.   I want to, I need to, establish my own expectations.

Retirement is an opportunity to unapologetically try new things, expand my horizons, or even just bask in the glow of what I have accomplished.   It’s the time to reinvent myself, find the true me, and possibly try things I felt I’ve missed out on. So even though my transition has had a couple of major derailments (a solidly made plan dissolving at the last minute; breast cancer diagnosis), I have focused on creating a new daily, almost ordinary, life pattern, one that allows me to live the me I want to be.

How am I doing this?  I spent time:

  • Clarifying my values separate from societal expectations; understand when things are really just “shoulds” from others and not really my own desires, and then deciding to not do them.  This has required me to come to terms with working – To work or not to work? What is right for me? And volunteering – Is it just a societal should or true personal value?
  • Broadening my range of interests to find passion areas. Trying-on some things, some of which are sticking (yoga! Zumba! blogging!) and some have just been fun to try (pottery, cooking classes, spirit guides).   And learning to be OK with “downtime”…days of relaxing and reading.
  • Investing in relationships with intentional action steps to become a better friend.
  • Building healthy living habits.
    • Being physically active every day (or most days).
    • Creating healthier eating habits.
    • Practicing positivity via journaling, emotional awareness, and use of affirmations.
  • Appreciating what I have. Living with an attitude of gratitude.

Life is not a highlight reel. Life is everyday living – the mundane, the errands, the moments of joy, the moments of quiet.  Retirement transition is finding a new ordinary, daily rhythm that becomes second nature.  Mine is not fully there yet; some days it feels second nature and some days I wonder if it ever will.

Have you found a new daily rhythm in retirement?

Picture Credit: Elephant Stroll – Tim Doyle, Africa Safari, 2017

 

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32 thoughts on “The Rhythm of Life

    1. I’ve found many women on the same journey here in the blog-o-sphere … recent retirees, some early retirees, some more traditional. All have been helpful in my thinking, providing advice and inspiration on my own transition. Many of us comment on each other… if you haven’t checked out Lynn or Donna or Kathy or Karen…. and the list goes on… I encourage you to. And find some other folks who “speak to you”. I believe it will help reduce that anxiety about making the step!

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  1. I so identified with your paragraph on societal expectations. I retired last year at 57 with no real plans or rhythm (also with no children/grandchildren to dote on). I simply wanted to live life on a “schedule” of my own devising. After 35 years of corporate “life” I was more than ready to settle into a different rhythm. It took some time, but at one year I am more comfortable with the ebb and flow of my days (which go by even faster now!). I allow myself to enjoy reading, watching the news, etc. every morning without guilt for a couple of hours. After that, I have a goal of doing at least one “thing” besides exercise each day – that can be something as simple as a trip to Costco (in the middle of the day!), a lunch with a friend, cleaning or organizing something, an appointment, etc. I usually wrap up the day with a long walk while I listen to podcasts. As someone else commented, I still enjoy the luxury of not having to get up at a certain time – I smile when I get out of bed now. I think I may want to do something more in a year or so, but I have no idea what that will be. For now, I’m just enjoying every day. Don’t be hard on yourself! Life is good.

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    1. I love that you’ve incorporated exercise into your daily rhythm. That is something I still have not done… this morning I told myself that tomorrow I would out on yoga clothes and do an hour of morning yoga! Today looks to be another cold, snowy day and the idea of going out in it for a walk feels terrible… but I find I can always get an excuse for not exercising! Like you, I feel a sense of accomplishment with one “thing” each day… even if that is cleaning the bathroom and doing laundry (today… I did mention cold, snowy day,right!). Thanks for your comment. I enjoy reading about other people’s rhythm for inspiration!

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  2. Pat, this is again, a wonderful, thought provoking post, with fabulous comments from our retirement community. As always, you are so thoughtful and studious in reflecting about how retirement should be. I don’t think your posts ever come off as whiny. I do, sometimes, think you might be a bit hard on yourself – You seem to think that there are aspects of you that you MUST change – healthy living, procrastination, being social enough, setting some rhythm…I think you are lovely just the way you are, and perhaps you need to take a deep breath, give yourself a hug, and just BE! It’s perfectly OK to just veg out if you feel like it. Or take time to relax. Or eat a great big unhealthy fudge brownie! Or go out with friends till 1:00 AM. Or see a movie in the middle of an afternoon! Perhaps one of your next big transitional steps in retirement is self-acceptance. Tell all of those “societal expectations to SUCK EGGS! Just a thought! ~ Lynn

    (BTW, I’m sitting here in my jammies, reading blog posts, and it’s 11:00 in the morning! How’s that for bucking the natural rhythm of the day!)

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    1. Lynn – I’ve been having issues with connectivity (no wifi at beach house – life is rough!) … so this might be repeat of reply.

      Thank you so much for the “I think you are lovely just the way you are”… I so need (people like) you in my life! Yes, you are right … I’ve always been very hard on myself. I guess self-acceptance is something (else) I need to work on. LOL. I do think however, that spending the day in jammies (and not being sick) is something I need to add to my spring “bucket list”! Thanks for the pep talk…. as they say… I needed that.

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      1. I’m here to tell you – Being in jammies till noon – while staying on the beach – sipping on a delicious coffee…well that there is the trifecta of relaxation! Good for you!!! ~ Lynn

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  3. For whatever reason when I retired I fell into the rhythm with ease. My real issue came when husband retired but after a year and a half with him home on a daily basis, we again have found our rhythm. My husband also knows more people in the neighborhood than I. It isn’t that I don’t try but the only folks I find anything in common with are the ones who go to the pool. lol

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    1. It’s great you found a rhythm (twice) so easily. Many do. Some, like me, have a harder time with it. I have a friend who finds lots of folks to talk with at the pool in the summer. I tried it a couple of times and found it more challenging. Everyone is different… and that makes it a wonderful world!

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  4. As I read your post I thought I could have written exactly this! I’m still finding my rhythm and I love that we have to get used to enjoying downtime and not feeling guilty about reading a book for hours on end. I really enjoyed your post Pat, it resonated with me. #mlstl

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    1. Hey Debbie, I love when my posts resonate with others – thanks for telling me that! I’m trying very hard not to feel guilty last 2 weeks for doing a lot of reading…. I think I’ve gone through at least 6 books! I read romance/mystery so they are almost mindless reads. I am enjoying the downtime. It’s almost like a cocoon before spring awakens.

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  5. I love this post Pat and when I first retired after a few months I felt adrift because I didn’t have a plan. It has taken some time but I am accepting that we need some ‘normal’ times in our life as well as discovering new things to try and new people to meet. I’ve met some wonderful women through blogging and it is encouraging when I read their thoughts which are similar to mine. thanks so much for linking up at #MLSTL and I think there is something comforting in having Rhythm in Life x

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    1. Sue, As I mentioned to Leanne, it is through blogging that I’m meeting many who are traveling similar path to me and it makes me feel less alone, more connected.

      Last couple of days I’ve felt a rhythm (we are at our beach cottage) – and it’s been lovely! No new things or new people at all… just basics like blogging, yoga, dog walks and cooking. Sometimes that is all I need.

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  6. I’ve struggled with a lot of these areas before I’ve even reached being officially retired Pat. I reduced my work days down from 4 per week to 3 and now to 2. It’s been a learning curve figuring out how to use that time productively and in a balanced way. Also trying to figure out who I truly am without the different hats I’ve worn over the years. Now I’m just “Me” and I’m coming to like that woman a lot – I’m a long way from perfect, but I have a good heart and I’ve met some fantastic woment thru blogging and they inspire me every day! Thanks for linking up with us at #MLSTL and I’ve shared this on my SM xx

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    1. Leanne, its through blogging that I’ve encountered my tribe… those who are walking a similar path and ealing with similar issues. I love learning from all of you! Thanks for sharing on your SM. That’s one of my next learning curves!

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  7. Is there a new rhythm in retirement? Yes!! After 5 yrs, I’m still not over the luxury of waking on my own time, the ritual of making the morning coffee, then settling in to read, then listen to morning radio or tv programs. This morning rhythm takes up 2-3 hours, so different from waking to an alarm clock and a regimented schedule to get out of the house and to work and back home again. Household chores get done before noon as a rule, then it’s time to get outside and/or do any of the activities of my choosing. Evenings and weekends aren’t used for those chores anymore. Activities can be scheduled any day of the week, not just days’ off. I’m reminded of a time that a friend and I had to reschedule a quadding activity due to inclement weather. We were looking at free weekends when it hit us that we had Mon, Tues, Wed, Thurs & Fri at our disposal! That’s when I knew I was retired. Then there are the seasonal rhythms that greatly influence my activities.

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    1. Mona, I love your daily rhythm! I need to push myself to get outside and do activities still. Work was easier… it was just there. One thing I’m finding is I do get more weekdays filled up (crowd avoidance to do things) and then the weekend days are empty! How weird is that!!

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  8. I sometimes wonder if I still need to find my rhythm, or if I’ve found it and it’s just not what I initially expected. I’m not a ma or grandma either so I don’t have that almost automatic post-work focus. I also haven’t (yet?) found a good volunteer opportunity. My husband and I were just talking about how our retirement is working out so far and if we’d like to change anything. We both felt that we’d like to “do more” (whatever that is), but we also agreed that we are pretty darn happy – even if we aren’t doing much. We are homebodies who love to travel and social beings who like our alone time. I think that, so far, we’ve found a nice rhythm… we just need to change up the beat now and then.

    I think that you are probably doing great too. Societal expectations have their place, but they shouldn’t become the ruler you measure yourself with.

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    1. Janis, love the ” homebodies who love to travel and social beings who like our alone time” phrase. I do think it’s about balance. I’m learning my balance point and hubby’s are different on both. So it’s a more continual swaying balance…harder to find a rhythm. Thanks for the language to bring that awareness!

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  9. Rhythm to me implies some kind of regular pattern (even though there might be some syncopation here and there!) I could not characterize my post-retirement life, on the whole, as rhythmic. Mornings are probably the closest. Get up, make the bed, walk the lower life forms 🐶, drink Bulletproof coffee. After that, it’s a random number generator. Anything could be happening on any given day. I can certainly agree that the tempo of life has slowed down vs. when I was working, but the days are almost as varied in content. I definitely don’t wrestle internally as much as you do with expectations vs. reality, though perhaps I should……..

    On the question of when your transition is complete: I am using five years as kind of a round number, but I think it will taper off rather than abruptly end. At some point, I will feel “retired”, though I’m not there yet, maybe because my days are so varied.

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    1. Bob, You allays bring me a smile with your engineering (geeky) terms! A random number generator! LOL. I’m beginning to “feel retired” but still hoping to have more of my retirement lifestyle vision in place before I declare “complete”.

      And No… you should not worry about others expectations…you’re my inspiring role model for someone who doesn’t!

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  10. Hi, Pat – I agree with Marty about your last point. Appreciating what we have helps to put everything else in perspective. I also agree with his closing comment – Great post (and once again, very thought-provoking).

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    1. Donna – I often wonder when I get caught up in posts on things I’m not yet fully achieving if it comes across as whiny. As I approach 4 years in retirement (OMG, where did the time fly to), I wonder if calling my blog retirement transition is becoming old. Certainly I should have transitioned by now! But, I’m not there yet. I’m not living the retirement lifestyle I’ve envisioned. I still struggle with a new daily rhythm. I still have old habits I need to break – not enough healthy living habits, too much procrastination (I’ll do it someday), trying to live up to others expectations. Sometimes I think I just need to read and re-read my own posts…and yeah… appreciate what I have and what I have changed/transitioned! Pat

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      1. Hi, Pat – Your posts never come across as whiny. They come across as honest and realistic. They come across as daring to tell the truth of struggles in retirement and continued pursuits. Thank you for this honesty. That is why I follow you.

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  11. Ah yes, those external economic factors. They’re the ones that if you’re not careful can keep you up at night. But if there’s a balance to them it’s your last one: Appreciating what you have. That might be the most important one, Pat. Great post. – Marty

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    1. Marty – Thanks for the reminder to focus on that. I often get caught up in the negative… and yet I am blessed to not have the worries so many others do have. It’s always a good reminder to appreciate that!!

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  12. “Some days it feels like second nature and some days I wonder if it ever will.” That sums it up nicely, Pat. Needless to say we are once again in sync.

    I find that my RAW NEWS framework gives me a structure I’m really happy with because it is the result of a lot of work in clarifying my values and broadening my range of interests.When I’m home, I spend time in most if not all of my RAW NEWS categories.

    Relationships with friends matter a great deal, but when I spend time with friends I lose the daily rhythm that I love when I can be home all day. But if I’m out at all, for any length of time, and even when it’s for something pleasurable, I lose my daily rhythm and I feel both like I’m back to rushing through my days and a little bit resentful and ‘off’.

    I’m hoping this is just a stage and I’ll eventually (soon?) settle into a happy medium, somewhere between socialite and hermit. 🙂

    Thanks for yet another thought-provoking post, Pat.

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    1. Karen – you’ve got some great analogies! I actually find too many hermit days drive me into cabin fever. An odd thing for this introvert to acknowledge! I like being out & about. Not quite socialite status, but I feel the need to be out connecting with others IRL.

      I like your thought however of looking to see what my hermit days involve…. they often are filled with reading, crosswords, blogging (reading, commenting, writing), journaling. Perhaps I need to think through what other element (like your RAW NEWS) I need to build into those hermit days so I feel a positive rhythm. I’ve thought about exploring yoga on YouTube…. that’s now a must do!

      Thanks for the new language of Hermit Days!

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  13. Your post kind of reminds me of some of the struggles I had while working at Corporate Company. I struggled that I wasn’t “curing cancer” but gradually came to terms with the benefit of providing those “little joys” of daily life. Maybe a fun fragrance that made washing dishes just a little bit more pleasant. So no one is going to make a movie or write a book about my accomplishments in retirement but I’m ok with just being present to say “Hi” and a smile to the “little old ladies” at the Y (of which I’m now a little old lady) or waving at neighbors as I take a walk as my contribution to life. I can relate your hubby’s homebodyness (not a real word). My husband recently asked where I’d like to travel to and my answer was nowhere. I hate the stress of airplane travel. I’m comfortable dying without seeing the wonders of the world. I like my house and my routines. I hope you find peace in your daily routines. Sounds like you are making good progress.

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    1. My hubby can relate to the “waving at neighbors while waking”. He knows more folks in the neighborhood than me because he will stop and chat with everyone. I admire that about him and do try and be more like that… enjoying the daily routines and not hankering after the need to solve the worlds’s problems. I’m not totally sure where the struggle internally is – societal expectations or a lifetime of problem solving and traveling? I’m am learning that being present in daily life is an OK place to be. Practice makes perfect…or at least second nature.

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