Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Five Mind Games to Annihilate Boredom in Retirement

Most of the time I write from the Mountaintop of Satisfaction rather than the Valley of Disgruntlement!  Today I am taking a different approach as it occurred to me that no one lives on the mountain top every day!  Many can coast down pretty quickly and I thought, maybe, while I was down here visiting the doldrums I might figure out some witty, unique ideas to dig my way out - at least to the surface of Ho Hum.

Due to some recent health issues in our little family of two, I re-jigged my retirement from self-centred to temporary caregiver.  This was a willing and loving choice and I would certainly make it over and over again if necessary.  I found myself suddenly in charge of all decisions - shopping, cooking, cleaning, deciding, communicating, and supporting, encouraging and coaching.  I realize there are many out there who do this on a regular basis and I salute you - truly.  I have been reminded that I am so blessed to have a man in my life who loves to cook and clean and anything else I leave undone.  We have fallen into a rhythm of sorts "putzing" in our areas of expertise, seeking out our creative endeavors separately and spending evenings hanging out with each other or family or friends.  That all changed last week.

I discovered that I actually enjoyed cooking again (in small bouts) and shopping was slower when I did it but oh so much more interesting.  I had great chats with the Superstore staff as they rushed to assist me in the bulk foods aisle or point me to the coconut milk in the Asian food aisle. I loved searching through recipes and planning the day`s meal based on my recent purchases.  I even liked my solitude as my significant other napped.  I felt in charge!  Drunk with it, actually!

This week, he is feeling better, my control-freak, manager role has been re-engineered to official cleaner-upper and bed maker again and, sorry to say,  I got grumpy, people.  I slid down off that mountain top of control and I didn`t know how to put the brakes on! As per usual, I slid past the Plateau of the Usual and landed somewhere in the basement!  So I have come up with five activities (or mind games!  You decide!) anyone could use to confront boredom when you dive bomb into something less than Ho Hum:

1.  Embrace your strengths.
Take a look around you and figure out which tasks/skills you are great at and which you would willingly give away.  This obviously would have to be a negotiated state of existence if you have a significant other who is great at the same tasks.  Of course, if you are in a long term partnership with established roles and responsibilities that have evolved over many years, you may be in for a much longer discussion than someone like me with only five years under my (our) belt(s).  I am actually good at organizing, finessing, fussing, perfecting - really.  So I will finesse well this week!  Just saying!

2. Enhance your performance.
When I arrived in my new, retirement abode last year, my partner had been here for one month alone.  Everything was arranged to his liking.  The pantry, the kitchen shelves, the storage areas, and, of course, the garage - all were done.  In My view - temporary; in His view - permanent!  We eventually sorted out the yours/mine/ours of homemaking.  Now, with the break in our ten-month old routine last week, I felt like I had to find my place again.

I delved into my former role of cleaner and polisher with abandonment.  I reveled in the shiny surfaces, the super clean kitchen counters, the perfectly made bed.  It fulfilled my OCD leanings fully.  This week I added a new floral arrangement so I could doubly enjoy it.

3. Feed your creative genius.
I have been missing my twice weekly water colour painting classes!  I found that those two days a week of focused learning and experimenting multiplied into hours of painting and reading about painting.  It took over from my writing fever a little and filled me with child-like excitement - adding a sense of adventure to my week.  With that gone - now what? The emptiness I had filled with shopping and cooking last week felt emptier now.  The silence shouted at me.

I reminded myself about my writing, my blogs, my slightly wonky interest in some decorating DIY's and I felt my spirit rejuvenate.  There is truly something to be said about feeding your creative self.  So, fellow retirees, go out there and create: paintings, pottery, beautiful gardens, artisan breads.  You will feel RENEWED!  I will be out there with you this week!

4.  Play
I have only recently found my inner child and sometimes I still shove her back into the dark corner of my soul instead of inviting her to come out and play.  My partner truly showed me the joy of liberating this rather unruly little girl only five years ago.  It has been so fun to be that child again, play tricks, do silly things, verbalize the funny words that gurgle up inside of me at the oddest moments.  It is also the first thing I shut down when I hit the basement.  Make sure your inner child, the fun one - not the tantrum throwing one - gets to come out and play every day!  Mine surfaced finally last night as we danced a waltz in our kitchen to my personal rendition of "At Last."

5. Talk
So, words are my medium - right?  I love words.  I love how words can paint pictures so vibrant that they live inside my mind even when my eyes are closed.  Words paint emotions for me like colours write stories for others.  It is so important to use my words to share my thoughts, my day, my little corner of the world.  I could write someone a much better letter than share a conversation on the phone.  Words live on paper; they disappear over a wire.  However, it would be difficult to carry out all conversations that way - although I have seen many a teenager attempt that!  So, this week, I will focus even if it takes effort, I will smile, I will speak and share my day, my hopes, my dreams.  I will spin stories and future plans and, yes, even have difficult conversations about who will cook next week.

And that, my friends are the five steps I decided on that would carry me back up to the Plateau of Usual.  Why, I think I might even make it up a few more levels if I can just find the pictures to insert into this post so I can get it published!

See you on the mountaintop!

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