Friday, May 04, 2007

Retirement: Day 1

Today was like a smorgasbord of all the things I want to do for the rest of my life. But the biggest change actually was the absence of the anger that I have been carrying around for months now.

I woke up on my own around 7:00. I could see light in the window and it just felt like the right time to get up. I didn’t even bother to put on my watch. The excuse of needing to get to work was no longer there, so I went down to exercise.

Afterwards I did something that I have been intending to do for a long time. I meditated in a dark room with only the light of a candle for probably about 15 minutes.

By this time I had earned that cup of coffee I had with my Cheerios out on the deck. I digested the Washington Post along with breakfast. The birds provided the background music.

Then it was time to do some cooking for tomorrow night’s party. But this was one of those experiences that was different for me today. Instead of the frantic chopping with a deadline that often results in a horrible backache, today’s cooking was a totally new experience. I had decided to work to the degree that I could sitting at the counter instead of standing up on the stone floor – infinitely better for my back. While the chicken wings baked in their garlicky sauce of honey, soy sauce, catsup, and olive oil, I shaped miniature empanadas, crimping the edges of soft dough around a filling of seasoned beef fillet. It took quite a while, but it didn’t matter because there was no deadline.

Next was vanilla flan, basically a custard poured over brown sugar that caramelizes as it cooks. While the flan was in the oven, I mindfully chopped the many ingredients that go into ratatouille. It is such a lovely medley of vegetables – onions, garlic, eggplant, green squash, yellow squash, peppers, and tomatoes. The trick is to know when to stop cooking it so that it doesn’t get mushy.

There is nothing better than cooking when there are no deadlines. It gave me time to discard a bad batch of pastry dough and make another without feeling pressured. It gave me time to leave the flan in the oven more time than called for because I had doubled the recipe. It gave me time to sip my breakfast coffee for hours.

The rest of the day included a walk with my husband, a nap, playing the piano for a while, a surprise baguette from our friend Kris, and then dinner with my friend Reya. When I got home, I realized that today was just a sampler of the people and activities I love most. I had a lot of extra energy that was freed up by releasing my anger. If this day was typical, retirement is everything it had been advertized to be.


Anonymous David said...

this was the 1st day of the rest of your life. very good post. i see why you were anxious to post it.

12:03 AM  
Blogger Reya Mellicker said...

I love the concept of a "surprise baguette." That's so cool!

And your day sounds sublime. Dinner was definitely the high point of my day! Thank you for joining me.

I love cooking with no deadline, taking my time, enjoying the process. i believe the results are always better than when I'm frantically chopping, etc.


8:46 AM  
Blogger Pauline said...

It sounds lovely! I can't wait to retire now lol.

Off topic. Here are the five questions you requested in a comment to a post of mine a few weeks ago. Have fun!

Pauline’s questions for Barbara

1. How do you work through feelings about events that disturb you?

2. If you could choose just one charity worldwide to donate money to, which one would you choose and why?

3. What one place in the world would you most like to live and why?

4. How does the faith you were brought up in still instruct your daily life?

5. If you were a book, what genre would you be (mystery, drama, non-fiction, etc.) and why do you think so?

Bonus question: What is your favorite way to relax?

6:23 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Pauline -- These are hard questions. I will think about them today and write something tomorrow. Thanks for engaging my brain!

11:31 AM  
Blogger Mother of Invention said...

Okay, now I know what was for dessert! I wish I could pull off entertaining as easily as you do. I'd be anything but relaxed!

6:23 PM  
Blogger Richard said...

Glad to hear that your first day was a positive harbinger.

9:20 PM  

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