It is that time of year when I instinctively look forward. Yesterday we celebrated the winter solstice in our usual way by watching the sun rise over the river Irwell on the shortest day of the year, happy to know that the days will now start to get just a little bit longer and spring and summer are on their way. After the sunrise we treat ourselves to a leisurely breakfast before going on to work. So it feels fitting in this forward-looking time that the day I have been dreaming about since I was 16-years old and started my first working day as an optician’s receptionist has arrived. That 16-year old wanted retirement immediately with all the impatience of youth and truly [and mistakenly] thought it was wasted on the elderly! Now, at the age of 57, I am equipped both financially and mentally, for taking life easier and I am looking forward to my new life as a retiree.
It has sometimes felt like a long slog through over 20 different jobs but it feels appropriate that on my last working day I will be busy producing another beautiful spreadsheet for the organisation; I will never stop getting a thrill and joy from what Excel can do and how clever it is. As I beaver away I will be mulling over my working life; how for over 40-years I have had to get up when work dictates, rather than when my body is ready; I have had to follow orders and regulations, no matter how stupid they might seem and I have sometimes felt that it is my employer that gets the best of me, rather than my family. I have experienced the drudgery of working for the ‘man’ and the independence and uncertainty of self-employment and in between I have been grateful to find sympathetic employers that gave me the right balance of freedom to be creative and a strong framework of support that allows me to give my best.
Of course, I am celebrating today as my ‘retirement’ marks the end of daily nine-to-five office work. But my future won’t be completely idle as I will continue to be a travel writer. This certainly isn’t as glamorous as it sounds but is a passion of mine that I can work on when I wish and is by no means a full-time job. There is also a liberation in knowing that if I write something fit for publication I receive payment, if I don’t, well it’s not the end of the world because we have those savings. I feel very lucky to be moving in to this new and exciting stage of my life.