As 2020 has drawn to a close and as we welcome 2021 it’s also a time to reflect.
The year 2020 will always be remembered world wide for the global pandemic of Covid-19 and here in Australia for the horrendous bushfires that started the year. But for us as a family we shared much joy. In May my mother turned 80, which in itself is not spectacular but after recovering from cancer twice in her life it is wonderful for us. We also welcomed our first grandchild and Mum became a great grandmother, something she did not think she would see.
There were family celebrations as we could share them, some smaller through the Covid restrictions and then larger again as restrictions were lifted here in Queensland. We had enjoyed small breaks at the beach at the start of the year but then really enjoyed our week at Agnes Water in October when we could finally take it.
Of course we are sad that our big trip overseas to Spain, Portugal and World Expo in Dubai is now off the agenda but we have our health and our family. There is plenty to see here in Australia over the next couple of years at least until we can travel further afield and we actually have five separate trips from weekends to seven weeks in duration planned for 2021.
For me the biggest celebration was retiring from the workforce and starting the next chapter of our lives.
The past couple of weeks have seen celebrations for birthdays, then xmas with both family groups and today we welcome family for our New Years Day lunch which has become a tradition. Quite simply we provide a sausage sizzle from the BBQ and everyone brings any xmas leftovers to share. Each person brings 5 trivia questions and we play other word games like Balderdash as well. Just a lot of laughs to start the year.
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Health is important and to be honest I need to lose at least 25kg and regain a reasonable fitness level. There are always lots of excuses and that glass of wine at the end of the day or piece of cake for morning tea will always be tempting. Add to that my journey to the podiatrist over the past couple of years searching for the correct treatment for Morton’s Neuromas in both feet (not fun).
My first call upon retiring was to find a new podiatrist who listened and understood my issue and how to treat it. Mission accomplished and a new set of orthotics within the first couple of weeks. G and I started taking walks at Sandgate and Redcliffe along the beaches, combining it with a coffee or perhaps fish and chips for dinner at the end of the day. No rushing home from work now to accomplish that. In November my pedometer app recorded 12km and that was when I remembered to turn it on. Heading in the right direction.
I need to do more BUT ….. I live at the top of a hill and the summer weather is now here. No incentive with either of those aspects. I did some internet searching and found a local Heart Foundation walking group at Stafford City shopping centre. I’m now a Stafford City Stepper and walk Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 7am to 8am in an air conditioned environment out of the weather. I may be amongst the youngest but they are a lovely group to walk and talk with and we also share coffee at least once a month. I’m averaging 4km each walking day and I’ll add some home exercise plans shortly. There is also no charge and it’s easy to pick up some fruit or a grocery item after walking if needed.
G is also back on his road bike six days out of seven, weather permitting and a longer ride with another retired friend once a week. We still try to do our walk together once a week as well.
The timing of my retirement coincided with the birth of our first grandchild so the first couple of weeks seemed to all run together. It was a joy to be able to not add work into the equation. Following that I did some catch up on both sleep and simply some down time.
The first task at home was to spread a large amount of mulch over the gardens for some protection from the summer sun that was fast approaching. I’ve finally sorted out a garden for the area outside our dining room window, set up flowering pot plants on the block wall outside my office and each week I cut a vase of roses to bring inside to enjoy.
Our major travel plans went out the window with Covid-19 and sadly it has proven difficult to have all of our funds returned to us. A number of the companies have provided credit vouchers and some will be able to be used here in Australia. Two are overseas and we will have to wait them out till the end of 2021. Emirates refunded our flight costs with no issue and some smaller ones were able to be claimed on our travel insurance once the Government extended the border closure to cover our dates. Our insurance will re-open our claim if needed and we would rather take a loss (if required) than head out of Australia with the way things are now.
The easing of restrictions for Covid-19 meant that we could finally enjoy our week away in the caravan at Agnes Waters in Central Queensland towards the end of October and that possibly felt like I was now able to relax.
A big part of settling in to retirement is coming to grips with new routines and we are enjoying the ability to do what we want on any day, not just weekends. It’s great to take a short drive to Sandgate or Redcliffe to take a walk and enjoy a coffee; go to the movies mid-week; visit my parents on a weekday; enjoy lunches or coffees with friends who might also be retired or working part-time; or simply enjoy some craft or reading time. I’ve finally found time to binge watch some Netflix shows and we’ve been gradually decluttering or repurposing items around the house.
It’s enjoying the simple things instead of working out how to fit yet another thing in to the week. It’s life at a different pace and I’m enjoying it very much!!!
Well 2020 has certainly been a year to remember and also perhaps one to make us think on what is important in life. For me, a milestone was reached when I made that step from work life to the new horizon of retirement.
It had been in the making for the past couple of years since G retired in 2017, but with the exception of seven months off for our Central and Western Australia trip I had continued working. My fulltime work finished at the end of November 2019 and after a six week break, I resumed, completing a project over the next eight months at the slower pace of three days each week.
Both G and I have retired at the age of 59, just under that magic 60 mark which for many means that we have retired early. Well earlier than the Government pension age of 67 here in Australia. We made a conscious decision to work towards this quite a few years ago and are both happy with our decision.
Friends ask ‘What do you do?’ or ‘Are you bored?’ so this is my way of letting you in to the joys, the everyday, and possibly some ups and downs along the way.