By Bruce Stambaugh
After all these years of work, I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised. It takes extra effort to learn to retire.
I officially retired at the turn of the New Year. I intentionally timed that major life event to coincide with the calendar and our annual winter trip to northeastern Florida. It just seemed logical.
After having worked my entire life, I decided to phase out of employment gradually. I wasn’t really sure what to expect, or what retirement would look and feel like. My hope was that this snowbird time would help me reorient my routines and priorities.
My wife and I are still relatively new at this snowbird business. We are downright raw rookies at retirement. Parking yourself on the ocean’s doorstep has served as an excellent approach to finding our way through this new, uncharted territory.
I knew this particular geographic location well enough from our previous visits. Neva and I have wintered on Amelia Island, Florida’s northeastern most barrier island, for the last few years.
Cutting the ties to my part-time jobs would be the challenge. On our prior trips, I especially kept a close eye on events at home out of necessity. I daily maintained the social network page of the coop-marketing group I facilitated.
I had township trustee issues and responsibilities to hash out from time to time. If snow was in the Northeast Ohio forecast, I couldn’t sleep well even though I was 800 miles away from home. I kept wondering how the road crew was doing.
Occasionally, residents would contact me to report a problem. Despite sketchy cell phone service, I’d have to try to communicate with the other trustees or our workers. Sometimes multiple calls were needed just to complete a single conversation.
Now that I was retired, all that was history. Those responsibilities disappeared. I will admit, though, that I have done a lot of the same old wondering this first month off the job. Old habits die hard.
I still checked the weather, both for home and for Florida. I did so more for comparison than anything else. I wanted to see what friends and family back home were enduring.
For our part, I focused my attention on the tide charts and when the sun rose and set. That way I could time my morning and evening photo shoots and plan our strolls on the beach. Of course, when you’ve camped yourself where the ocean is your front yard, alluring tactile distractions abound.
It’s much more enjoyable to walk at low tide than high. Shorebirds linger by the tidal pools and sandbars probing and fishing for food. The moist, flatter, firmer sand made for easier walking, too.
I also watched the weather forecasts to plan day trips to nearby state parks for events like outdoor lectures, photography walks, and plain old exercise. Saturday mornings were reserved for attending the fabulous farmers market where we purchased locally grown produce, homemade goodies, and fresh, locally caught shrimp.
I know. It sounds like a tough life.
I hope I don’t come across as rubbing it in. I just wanted to assure you that life on this side of retirement seems to be working out, excuse the pun, perfectly.
Neva and I will enjoy this life of bliss while we can. Once we return home, this version of retirement will come to an abrupt end.
So far it’s been hard work learning to retire. But I think we’ll survive.
© Bruce Stambaugh 2017