It’s just past 3 months since I gave my epic retirement speech and stepped away from being a teacher. Teaching is a profession that requires dedication, hard work and an endless supply of patience. It’s a job that seeps into your ‘after-hours’ life in ways that are both rewarding and tedious. It’s probably not too much to say that teaching is more of a vocation than simply a way to earn a living. You either love it and stay, or you find an exit pretty quickly. It’s a job where you have to put in 100% whenever you’re in front of the kids. It’s exhausting by the end of term/the year.
But it’s so much fun as well. The kids make you laugh every day.
And I’m not missing it at all.
Three months out, here’s one of the main differences I’m noticing about my life:
There’s no stress. It’s the strangest thing. For as long as I can remember, even during the long 5 weeks of summer holidays, there was always a small imperative voice in my mind, nudging me to remember that I had to Get Things Done before work started again. There was always the feeling that time was limited and there was no one else to help me to run the house and do the tasks, so I was always conscious of time ticking by – even on my ‘lazy’ days.
After 3 months I’ve been able to quiet that little voice. It took some doing, I won’t lie.
For example, when I write a blog post, I usually take a couple of hours and bang it out all at once. Can’t waste time dilly-dallying around! But yesterday, I paused after writing the paragraph above this one. I wasn’t feeling the love and I’d just posted something on my personal blog, so the itch to write had already been scratched. I closed my laptop and went on with my life.
Today, we went down to the beach a little before 9 AM. The weather is going to be horrible for the next few days so I thought we’d better get a decent walk in while we could. As I stepped onto the sand and took the leads from around the dogs’ necks, I took a deep, appreciative breath. The sea was sparkling. The sky was a brilliant blue, with only a few grey clouds appearing.
The sand was nearly empty, which made Scout happy. She prefers it when there aren’t too many other dogs there. She ran straight down to the sea and plunged in as far as her belly. (She’s a miniature dachshund, so it isn’t as intrepid as it might sound!) The cavalier twins stayed close as we walked along the waterline.
The shades of blue were stunning. I glanced at my watch – 8:55 AM.
In my previous life, at 8:45AM on a Monday I’d have been walking up the stairs in A Block. This is where most of the year 7 classes are. There are 11 classrooms with 28 students in each. Plus 11 teachers. Thanks to my trusty calculator, (aka “the devil’s machine’ when I was teaching), I can confidently tell you that I would have to push through a crowd of 318 other people every time I taught up there.
Imagine over 300 12 and 13 year olds crowded together? Imagine the noise? The lack of social distancing? The heat all those bodies generate? As you climb the stairs to the first floor in that building, the heat hits you in the face.
As I glanced at my watch this morning, I smiled. The contrast was incredible.
All I could hear was the sound of the waves gently lapping, the cry of an occasional seagull flying over head and the cheery “Good morning”s as people passed by each other as we walked along the sand. The view was beautiful and so unpopulated!
I couldn’t help but appreciate the difference. As much as I loved my time in the classroom, this new life is making me far less tightly-wound. When Scout had had enough, we turned back and walked home. Her little legs get tired pushing through that sand.
As I’m typing this it’s 10:38 AM. Recess time.
The dogs are snoozing on the couch beside me. I’ve had a lime verbena tea from the herb garden and I’m quietly typing away. Blogless Sandy just messaged me, setting up a lunch date with ourselves and a woman we used to live in the same street with over 20 years ago. Thursday lunch? Sounds great!
The rest of the day is spread before me. I’ve looked on the radar and a huge band of rain is going to sweep over us. I probably have an hour or two before it hits and I’ll be stuck inside. I might duck up to Aldi with my shopping trolley and pick up a few things. I might get out into the veggie garden and do a bit more ‘chop and drop’ pruning to get the beds ready for winter. I might harvest the rest of the basil – except the plant I’m saving for seed – and make some more pesto to freeze for our pizzas.
After the rain hits, I’ll be starting a new sourdough loaf. That takes a day or two before it’s ready to bake. I have a quilt I’m working on, three new books from the library and an active Netflix and Stan account. I’ll be roasting some of the 20 pumpkins and zucchini we picked on Saturday. I’ll portion them out and freeze them for soups and pasta bakes later in the year. I also have a mountain of ironing, but somehow, that’s not as appealing to think about.
There’s a myriad of little things to do. All of them are my choice on my timeline.
It’s so lovely to be able to live this way. It’s true – I think I was born to be retired!