Saturday, November 9, 2013

What I have learned about retirement now that it is November

Almost a month has passed since my last post here!  And what exactly have I been doing?  So today I decided to write about ten things I have learned from being "retired"!  Last August I wrote seven things I had learned from teaching sixth and seventh graders so now what I have learned from being retired?

1. It's fun being a tourist in your own city.  I realized when a friend and I flew to the San Francisco area this summer and then did a road trip to Santa Barbara, that we made the most of our time.  I decided I really wanted to do that in my own city.  Sure there are the things you have to do and should do but you really need to be a tourist in your own city and see it with fresh eyes and this is something I have enjoyed doing this fall.  Now it helps if you live in a city with so much natural beauty and so many things to do like Vancouver but I can honestly say that for the last 33 years since I have lived here except for my first year here when I didn't initially teach, fall was a bit of a blur because I was so busy teaching...

2.  An iphone is  wonderful.  I resisted getting one and only ever had the simplest type of cell phone because I feared the addictive quality of always being "connected" but I love always having a camera with me and I think I have taken some great pictures with my iphone5 and it takes so little room, even less than my small digital camera.  I have a pedometer on it so I know how much I walk as well.  I always have a book to read on it.  And I can check on things when I want.  I send pictures galore.  It has helped me with my Spanish as I have two great aps Duolingo and Mindbits on both my phone and ipad.  I can use it instead of printing out tickets.  I really love it.

3.  I love taking pictures-I always have.  One thing I did when I first moved here was take photography lessons which I really enjoyed.  I did a slide show every year at school, and I have megatons of slides and photo albums and zillions of pictures on this computer to prove my love of clicking, but I think my skills as a photographer with my iphone have really improved as I have really taken so many pictures the last few months. I still love taking pictures-capturing beauty particularly, and getting to share these moments with others.  A friend invited me to an amazing facebook group of wonderful people who share their photos from all over the world and I really have realized it's actually possible to make  friends virtually.  The pictures are a door.

4. Having a bit of a schedule is good-but free time is nice as well.  At the beginning I set Tuesday mornings aside to work in my friend's first grade class.  Wednesday I spend the first half hour at another school, reading to her kindergarten students while she conferences with her first graders who are independently reading.  During basketball season I coached before school Tuesday and did games after school Thursday and usually an extra practice after school Friday but volleyball is on now so I am free until I coach basketball in January.  I have continued my regular fitness and yoga classes Tuesday and Wednesday and Thursday nights I do Spanish.  Monday and Friday are my totally free days where I can decide what I want to do.

5.  I love working with first graders.  My teaching career has been very varied which was great.  The last four years I taught sixth and seventh grade and Angela's class was our buddy class but I really wasn't working with first graders.  I loved working with them when I was a resource teacher, I love teaching kids to read, and I love how they are such their own people at this age.  Anyway it is great doing this each week-just going in and working with Angela and her class.  I love it!

6.  I don't miss all the responsibility.  I went on two field trips and it was work, especially with the k/1s but it was fun and I didn't have to plan it or worry about it.  I totally believe in field trips but they are a lot of work for teachers!  I loved just helping!  And from experience I know retired teachers are the best helpers on field trips because they totally "get what needs to be done"...

7.  I loved the drama but I don't miss the drama.  When you teach grade seven there is no lack of drama and it makes for lots of excitement.  Also sixth and seventh graders have a lot of energy and they gave me energy but it's really enough just to go visit.

8.  I don't miss all the work.  I actually like planning units and seeing the process and results and I liked assessing and figuring out what to do next.  I loved watching kids succeed.  I loved the kids as well and they made me often laugh.  But it was a lot of work!  Probably two hours of prep and two hours at least of marking a day... Also I took on ipads and maintaining a class blog and a moodle website and that was a great deal of extra work as well.  Then there were report cards and all the other extras I did at school.  It was non stop and each year there was more work it seemed.  There are apparently 9 to 3 teachers but it just isn't in my nature to be one.

9.  I really like to learn.  I went to Spain a year and a half ago and wished I knew some Spanish so I signed up for Spanish One last September with a friend.  I enjoyed it but wasn't sure I was ready for Spanish 2 and my friend had had enough of Spanish and moved onto French.  I also found it took quite a bit of time so I left it there.  This year I decided to try Spanish 2.  First class I almost left as I didn't understand much of anything and thought I should take Spanish 1 again but it got better.  From years of conjugating verbs in French, that comes more easily to me in Spanish.   I found great aps to fill in my Spanish One gaps and I did my homework.  I think I am doing really well each week until I get to class but by the end of class I am always laughing and I feel good about it.  I don't have any natural aptitude for languages but I sure know more than I did a year and a half ago, and I really do love to learn!

10.  Some things haven't changed too much but that is okay.  The attic is still not organized.  I did finally fix a lazy susan in my kitchen cupboard.  And it's Remembrance Day weekend and I still have bulbs to plant and I haven't had the heart to put the lawn furniture away but the good thing is I know that world isn't going to collapse if I don't get something done on the weekend because I have week days to do it.

11.  And I am even coping with short days and November.  The time changed Sunday and I missed the first early nightfall because I went to a movie.  But I wasn't impressed this week with the short days and then torrential rains but I got through them.  I just made sure that opened my blinds as soon as it was light.  A friend and I braved the rainy elements and had a delightful afternoon in the west end with a Japanese lunch at a new restaurant to me, and a visit to Roedde House, where I had never been.  I had incredibly beautiful walks in Queen Elizabeth Park and at Spanish Banks when it wasn't raining.  Last night coming out of the Pacific Rim Fairmont I even almost embraced the night as it was so beautiful looking at Canada Place.  And when the sun shone warmly as it did yesterday morning I really appreciated it.  Now if there is too much rain I may be soon looking for cheap getaways...

12.  Time-I love having time.  I actually get my library Fast Reads read on time.  I have time to spend
with friends.  I have time to find out about interesting things to do in the city.  I still don't have enough time to get boring jobs done of course.

Anyway these are a few things I have learned since I have been retired.  A few years ago I was "given" a financial planner by my bank and he asked what I wanted to do when I retired, all I could think of to say was travel.  I think he thought I was a bit strange.  That also may explain why I wasn't in a hurry to retire.  Strangely,  I haven't gone anywhere other than Victoria or Whistler this fall and haven't even made any real plans.  I actually nixed a couple of plans.  I have lots of places I want to see and I will, but somehow this fall I have been happy here and feeling very fortunate and appreciative.

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