How Transition to Retirement Helped my Stay-at-home Covid-19 Time

Today marked Day 37 in our stay-at-home adventure during the Covid-19 pandemic. Our state started shutting things down earlier than many others, and we embraced the shelter-in-place (SIP) guidelines fully. In many ways, the things I learned in my retirement transition have helped make this time more bearable.

I had learned how to live with an empty calendar on some days. It was still disheartening as everything – dinner dates, classes, theater shows, and doctor/dentist appointments – dropped off the calendar. Unfortunately, a completely empty calendar meant that my movement and connection started to suffer as I didn’t have my accountability tools any longer – paid classes to attend (yoga, OTF) or things booked (dates, classes, shows) to meet up with others.   I knew that I needed to fill both of these voids and figure out new accountability.

I understand the need to practice positivity. I’ve found it helpful to continue to do my daily gratitude list, to journal every morning, and to do emotional assessments. Even as I spiraled into anxiety with COVID-19 reports and projections, these tools brought me back to a sense of hope.

By re-focusing on my retirement lifestyle vision and knowing myself, I realized my calendar empty of “out & about plans” needed to be filled with new habit creation for movement accountability, new ways to connect with others, and ideas for doing things at home.  I acknowledged which habits/routines needed to be continued (morning journaling, daily crossword, weekly blogging) and which needed to be supplemented (cooking).

I found an on-line yoga I enjoy (Yoga with Adriene on YouTube) and started doing it multiple mornings after my journaling, creating a new in-home morning routine. A friend started offering a live on-line fitness dance class that I put on my weekly calendar. I made a list of friends to call/text and put them on my weekly calendar.   I learned how to Zoom and then did it – book club, a bloggers meet-up, a family discussion, and dinner with friends! I did a review of the pantry & freezer, pulled a bunch of new recipes together, and created a weekly dinner plan. I finally finished 2 projects I’ve had on the list for years – a complete photo review and digitization (sent in) and a half-done cross-stitch. And even more: I‘m doing an on-line course, completed a Chopra 21-day meditation series, set up a jigsaw puzzle table (up to my third puzzle), and (finally) figured out how to use Kindle (I am reading a lot). As the weather continues to warm up in April, I’ve got spring-cleaning on the to-do list.

Our stay-at-home adventure has at least 2 more weeks to go, and possibly longer as we understand how long the new physical distancing recommendations will draw out. I wonder how many of these new-ways of doing things will remain with me; I’m unsure if many of my group activities will re-starting any time soon. But I’m confident the tools I used for my retirement transition will help me to deal with this new life transition, whatever the future holds.

What new things have you tried during this Covid-19 SIP time?  Have you created new habits?  

37 thoughts on “How Transition to Retirement Helped my Stay-at-home Covid-19 Time

  1. Hi Pat, I recently found your blog — you’re me! I too left a long-held corporate career and one that took up 95% all of my life. About 2 years ago work hit its expiration date, and I realized time was passing quickly as I turned 60, and I jumped off the cliff into retirement — because I wanted to do something else, but had no idea what. It’s been interesting these past 2 years of discovery. It wasn’t easy at the start. I agree with your note about skills developed. I too see now that I’ve been developing skills that I needed for a more fulfilling and balanced life. They also have helped me through this time of isolation. Developing the skills needed to replace the “needs” from work — time management and structure (I love your calendaring things — it really helps), identity beyond work, how to enjoy leisure time, and figuring out and moving toward my purpose/drivers. Thank you for your blog — it’s terrific.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Judi, Welcome! Thanks for joining in the conversation. Yes, retirement transition is a huge self-discovery time. I’m still learning on many things (identity and purpose are still areas of growth for me) but have come to really enjoy not working… I cannot imagine having to go back to it.

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    1. You’re not the first person to tell me that this time is making them re-think working! I cannot say that I’ve “loved” the isolation myself. I am glad I learned about how to manage this type of day/week.

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  2. Hi Pat, my life hasn’t really changed too much during isolation as I do most things online. I am missing seeing my family, especially my grandsons for hugs . I understand that there are many who have more face-to-face social connections to fill their day and this time would be difficult for them. I agree that keeping positive through gratitude and really appreciating the little things in our life rather than just giving them lip service is so important. Thank you for sharing your thoughts at #MLSTL and I’m also a fan of Yoga with Adriene! Take care and stay well. xx

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    1. Thanks Sue. I do find i’m up and down – allowing the anxiety to get to me and then rethinking all that I’m grateful for. I am definitely missing my “out & about” times though… and wondering if some of them are gone for a long, long time (if not forever!)

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  3. I can imagine how disheartening things have been, Pat. I’m finding it hard to do anything other than a bit of blogging, some training online and household chores. Luckily we are allowed to walk about in our housing complex. Also, knowing the plight of so many poor people in my country, makes it hard for me to give in to anything negative. I like how you’ve looked at new ways of doing and learning. Stay well and safe!

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    1. Corinne, I know it’s hard to stay positive even when we are blessed with a lot of goodness. The uncertainty can creep up on everyone. I’ve read that it’s OK to be as non-productive as you need to be right now to deal with the anxiety, even when you know many others have it much, much worse.

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  4. That was an interesting read Pat, to see what you in the USofA are up to. Unfortunately all we tend to see here in Australia is the media highlights (lowlights) of the extremes from US, Trump and COVID19.

    I think my learning to deal with retirement and then cancer has helped me a bit with this new challenge. Mind you I disliked having to give up my going out for a coffee each day. it is actually sad to see how many people who had food and beverage based businesses shut down or try to adapt to take away.

    Take care
    Denyse #mlstl

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    1. Denyse, Our media here is also full of the extremes and Trump…. I’m trying to avoid a lot of it. Most folks I know are following the stay-at-home guidelines… many have shifted to food delivery or curb-side pick-up even, so not even venturing into a grocery.

      I was thinking recently that for my cancer and reconstruction surgery, I prepared myself for the stay-at-home time….editing my book during cancer treatments (yeah, I know… but I couldn’t even move much so typing was a good thing) and then reading a ton of books during reconstruction (pre-purchased a whole series and another no movement allowed time). This time, I wasn’t as prepared for a long stay-at-home… and not being physically laid up either I think is actually more challenging – I feel guilty if I’m not moving everyday!

      Like you. I am missing my going out times. And yes, I am very, very concerned about small businesses and restaurants…. I try not to worry if the things I enjoy will even be there when this is all over!

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  5. I have not had the courage to try zoom yet. I am glad that pre covid I joined a walking group so that I have walking boots and am fit enough to walk for three or four miles. Certainly I miss having things in my diary and being able to meet friends for coffee.

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    1. Anne – I was amazed at how easy Zoom was. I’m just doing it for fun really – dinner with friends, a happy hour. Nothing to worry about the “issues” people have talked about. And anyone can access it – versus Facetime (apple) or Messenger (facebook) – yes, I have people who are on neither! I know there are others as well… but I like I’ve been able to “meet friends” for things. And yes… I am very much missing things this week…. I noticed I had 3 major event cancellations this week. 😦

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  6. Having the nuances of retirement down for quite a few years now, it is just a matter of adjusting our routine. The time I used to spend on the tennis court is now redirected to jogging/walking/biking/weight training/etc. My time is more productive, and I feel better about my level of fitness, but I miss the interaction with my friends. I will attempt a better balance in the future. I don’t miss the busyness of my calendar and will think twice about the things I take on in the future.

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    1. Interesting, but I’m missing a bit of the “busyness” . I’ve never really gotten to a busy calendar… it was more like 3-4 days of the week, I had something social outside of the house planned. I miss the sharing of experiences. I also do need to step up my movement…but that’s always the case, pandemic or not!

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  7. Hi Pat – great post and it took the wind right out of my blogging sails! I have a draft post started on “How early retirement prepared me for lockdown” and you’ve basically just covered most of it! I’ll have to have a re-think now, and I definitely agree that retirement set me up very nicely to coping with staying home and not having many outside commitments.
    Thanks for linking up with us at MLSTL and I’ve shared on my SM 😊

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    1. Leanne, A number of folks are writing on the topic… you’ll have your own insights, so please do continue!!

      On another note, I’ve had a few still-working (younger) friends talk about how this Work-from-home combined with home-schooling is making them wish for retirement. I cannot image taking on the stress they are feeling – it’s almost two jobs running simultaneously. I am however glad I’ve gotten to the point of liking the slower pace. This morning I took my time journaling… the sun was shining into my window seat, even if it was just barely over the freezing point outside. (Spring is slow in warming up here.) But as I journaled, I wrote “It’s nice not have to rush anywhere these days”.

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  8. I am so happy that we had this whole retirement thing down (for several years) before the shelter-in-place happened. We had already gotten used to being with each other A LOT more (a big adjustment) so not much has changed in that sense. I do miss the socialization but Zoom meet-ups and calls/texts have helped. I do want to look into online classes (although I would like to get away from the screen more).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Janice, I’m struggling with so much screen time myself. But it seems to be the “new normal”. I’ve even gotten onto YouTube more regularly – for everything from late-night talk hosts monologues to yoga to watching free things like last weekend’s Phantom of the Opera. But, I do miss the live interaction.

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  9. I love your posts Patricia! I can relate to them!!! Stay safe and see you soon in Florida hopefully. Hugs. Diane

    Le dim. 19 avr. 2020 à 22:06, retirementtransition a écrit :

    > patwdoyle11 posted: “Today marked Day 37 in our stay-at-home adventure > during the Covid-19 pandemic. Our state started shutting things down > earlier than many others, and we embraced the shelter-in-place (SIP) > guidelines fully. In many ways, the things I learned in my retireme” >

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Diane. I am very much missing beach yoga. On-line just is not the same. Hoping to be down in Florida in May, but we will see how things progress. (Ohio has a much lower infection rate. )

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  10. I got married 8 weeks ago and we’ve been home the last 6 weeks. This time has been a crash course in being married! Also, I’ve gone back to walking every day, started taking on line writing courses and doing toning exercise using the free FitOn App.

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      1. I’ve taken a couple through Thurber House (http://www.thurberhouse.org/adult-workshops) and really enjoyed them. They still have a few more available this spring and I’ll sign up for at least one more. They are via Zoom, which has been a great format. I’ve also taken some writing prompt work-shops through Big Vision on their Instagram Live page. The workshops were helpful and they are free, if you can tolerate the medium. The on line workshops are new for me. I’ll be looking around for more. Good luck finding something you like.

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      2. Bernie, I’m taking one from Coursera – The Science of Happiness. There’s so many courses out there – a friend is even taking a flower arranging course on line!

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    1. Congrats on getting married! I have another friend who got married last month and she’s so glad they are quarantined together. I do need to walk more… I keep hoping the weather will warm up a bit.

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  11. For me I used it as the kick in the pants I needed to get stronger and fitter. Recently diagnosed with the beginning of arthritis in my knee I knew that I had to strengthen the core and build muscles. I am biking (indoors daily as I live in 8 months of winter), stretching, walking and doing a weight program 3-4 times a week. I always felt I didn’t enough time for all this before when I worked but the sudden forced temporary retirement gave me the time. I think when work gears back up I will still make these things a priority. I can already tell it’s working. One lunge at the beginning was torture and now i can do reps of 20. Otherwise spending my time creatively which isn’t new.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Bernie, Now I’m feeling like a slacker because I did not do yoga this AM. Having spent the past 3 days all day in yoga clothes, I got dressed in real clothes this AM. I will do a dance fitness class tonight! LOL.
      I do know what you mean by improvement…. I am actually able to do a push up now – full one (not on my knees). It took a long time to get to that point. Maybe someday I’ll be able to do 5 or even 10! My need for strength training is to off-set osteoporosis… so I do find I come back to things even if I have a change in life style, like surgery recovery or pandemic stay-at-home. And getting the improvements (like you ability to do more lunges) is great positive feedback that makes me want to keep doing it.

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  12. I have commented more than once that retirement prepared me for this pandemic response. The calendar is no longer grounded with personal and social engagements. Going to the grocery store every 7-12 days has taken on greater significance. I schedule a few teleconferences with Seniors’ Center Without Walls; one is a weekly gratitude session. There have been lengthy phone conversations with friends who preferred FB & texting. I save the weekend for entertainment and watch tv movies and/or concerts on utube. Early on I challenged myself with this question – What expectations of normal am I letting go of today? I came to realize that there was more normal than not, i.e. household chores, meal planning and prep, exercise, getting outside daily. And still there is a list of things left undone.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I have commented more than once that retirement prepared me for this pandemic response. The week is no longer grounded with appointments and activities. I do schedule some Seniors’ Center Without Walls teleconferences and exercise is part of the daily routine. Grocery shopping every 7-12 days takes on new importance. I save the weekend for entertainment and listen to favorite radio programs, watch movies on tv and/or concerts on utube. One of the questions that I challenged myself with early on – What expectations of normal am I letting go of today? – morphed into what is still normal? I realized that there was more normal in my daily routine than not. And still there is a list of things left undone.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Mona, It’s been interesting the “new things” I’ve tried which should have been part of my normal – like watching a whole program on YouTube. [I even taught my mom (via phone) how to use YouTube, but she’s not sure about Zoom.] I like your question about expectations about normal. And yes, I need to still be careful of not doing Compare & Despair with seeing others “new normal” in this stay-at-home time.

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  14. Hi Pat,

    I definitely have gotten into a new routine – one that I hope will continue post-quarantine. I’m also doing Yoga with Adriene, and also streaming Body Groove, a dance-y exercise class. Dancing lifts my spirits and this tense body needs yoga, so both good things to do each day! Other than that I am busy packing up my life for my upcoming move to the extreme western part of Canada. Zoom meetings, calls, and FaceTime keeps me in touch with family and friends. I find my days and weeks are flying by, strangely enough!

    Deb

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    1. Deb, I’ve been surprised how many folks I know are linking into Yoga with Adriene. I’ve only done Body Groove once, but I might check it out again. I’ve noticed that the increase in cooking has resulted in an increase somewhere else! I told myself to try and pack-up things in preparation for the move… but we really don’t have a date set and that makes it hard to start. This uncertain future (not even sure when we will head back to Florida right now) has made our move plan feel un-real. I know it’s temporary…and I’m focusing more on a day or week at a time right now! I think having the time now to be packing up would make the days fly by.

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  15. Changes in routine, yes. Changes in habits (especially positive ones), no. I plan to write about how I will remember this time but I won’t be talking about habit improvements!! I do agree that being retired has made the pandemic easier to adjust to. I almost hate to say it, but it hasn’t resulted in huge changes to my life, other than having my dad living with us until he moves into assisted living.

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    1. I think having your dad living with you is enough to be considered a new thing in this time. I’m hoping a few of my new habits – more frequent yoga, more frequent cooking – will “stick”. But I am certainly looking forward to sharing experiences with others again!

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  16. Yes, I am making the most of the slower pace of life and have also been practising Yoga with Adriene as well as a variety of other YouTube fitness videos. I am beginning to truly appreciate my beautiful home and its rural setting and, although I miss seeing my friends in person rather than via WhatsApp or Zoom and exercising in company, am determined to continue regular “Me Moments” with Pilates and Yoga in my lounge, overlooking the garden and countryside beyond. How I have lived here for 20 years without realising the potential, I do not know. Whilst, therefore, I don’t want to be thankful to this dreadful pandemic for anything, I am grateful that my retirement journey has allowed me to discover this and am seriously contemplating the benefit of enjoying the occasional week of home-isolation even after lockdown ends.

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    1. How wonderful that you are learning to appreciate your space! I’ve found I too am appreciating my home space, as I spend even more time in it. I am however, looking forward to returning to a yoga class, an in-person cooking class, and dinner with friends. I really miss the sense of a shared experience.

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