If you’re anything like me you’ve probably felt that some days, weeks, and months of your life passed by in the blink of an eye. In other seasons, perhaps difficult ones, time can seem to decelerate to the point that you find yourself stuck in moments you wish would pass.

Over the course of the past twenty-three years as I’ve worked at a corporate job my sense of time passing has changed. In the early years I managed to work, take care of my family, and stay in touch with the world around me. I delighted in the magical Christmas season, rejoiced in spring’s miracles, and appreciated cool and crisp fall mornings when they arrived.

But something changed along the way.

One day it would seem as if I was waking from a catatonic state where I had been functioning on auto-pilot and realize that months had passed by. I would see lilac blossoms dried and withered on the tree and realize I hadn’t stopped to inhale their sweet perfume. I’d see snow falling and remember I hadn’t bought apples and made pies, and that now it was too late.

In more recent years my sense of living out of step with time has gotten worse.

I’ve had a sense of living under a constant, and heavy, blanket of stress as deadlines loomed and piles of work and projects grew larger. I’ve been focused on the future, ever conscious of looming due dates. Today the calendar says it’s December 2012 on the calendar but my mind has been in 2013 for at least six months because a much of the work I do culminates next year.

Now I’m on this countdown to retirement and I find myself thinking about the number of months before we move Canada to be nearer to our family–how many links are left on our retirement countdown chain. (There are fourteen links left.)

I read an article recently on one of my new favorite blogs, Satisfying Retirement, that posed the question: Is retirement time the same as working time? that explored the question of whether time unfolds differently when one is retired. The author, who has been retired for eleven years, finds that time is different for him in retirement. Instead of waking up and finding weeks and months have passed he now appreciates time and makes deliberate choices about how to spend it.

I enjoyed this article, and cling to the promise that time will right itself when I retire. In the meantime I’m challenging myself to stay in the present. Today. This moment.

What about you? What’s your relationship with time? Has it changed over the years?

{ 10 comments }

Kathleen Flanagan December 7, 2012 at 6:19 am

I’ve been retired for two years and I wish I could tell you I’ve got the “time thing” figured out. It’s true, there’s less stress, fewer demands, and open-ended opportunities. It’s also true that I’ve felt like my life is shrinking. I’m not sure I like that. I fritter away far too much of the time stuff.

Finding a balance is a tightrope I’m walking these days. I definitely need to pick up a hobby or outlet; and I definitely need to stay out of the kitchen (she says, 12 pounds heavier than retirement day).

Blessings!
Kathleen

Linda Hoye December 7, 2012 at 4:27 pm

Ah…and I’ve been hoping that I can drop some pounds when I retire, Kathleen! I suspect the key, as you say, is finding that right balance of busy vs leisure time. I’m also wondering how different it is to be busy with things you really want to be doing vs those things you have to do when you’re still in the workforce. Time will tell I guess!

Hope you’re enjoying your vacation!

Dee Ready December 8, 2012 at 9:49 am

Dear Linda, I, too, like the blogger you follow, have been retired for eleven years. And for me, time is always a problem because while I want to do so much–both before retirement and since–and want to be able to feel a sense of accomplishment at the end of the day, I also long always for simple quiet in which I can read a book or stare out the window or smooth the fur on one of the cat’s bellies.

I’m in warfare much of the time between doing those things I long to do: write, pray, exercise, visit with friends, blog, read and those things my body seems willing to give itself over to like: resting, napping, musing, reading, simply being.

As my physical health has changed, I’m much more inclined to go with the simply being. And yet. And yet. I still retain a feeling of guilt for not getting more done. I need to let go but I keep holding tightly to old ways of considering my worth. Let my sorrowful saga be a lesson to you in your retirement. Be good to yourself. Cease being a workaholic. Peace.

Linda Hoye December 10, 2012 at 6:16 pm

Ah Dee…yours is not a “sorrowful saga” at all. We’re all different; we’re all prone to do things our own way. Isn’t that part of the joy of the life we are given–the freedom to experience it in the way that is right to us, and also the choice to try, test, adjust as needed. Hugs to you, my friend.

Denise December 9, 2012 at 7:56 am

Hi Linda! Retirement is a long way off for me…but time is something I’m making friends with now. It has been my enemy until recently.

Crawling out of my suffocating cocoon of recovery has enabled me to take the time to enjoy things I haven’t been able to for a very long time!

Linda Hoye December 10, 2012 at 6:13 pm

Our health is another thing that is apt to smack us upside the head and remind us to live in the moment, isn’t it? So glad you’re able to enjoy those things that bring you joy again!

Sherrey Meyer December 9, 2012 at 3:46 pm

Linda, I’ve been retired since 2006, and I wish I could say I’ve figured the “time thing” out but no, it remains a curious and illusive thing for me. I had put off doing so many things “until retirement,” and now I have so many things I want to do. However, having just spent the last 18 months alongside my husband as he watched his brother and best friend die, I’ve begun to realize that all those things I want to do can go unfinished, unlike work which had to be done by a certain time and date. Taking joy in the moment, realizing that now will be gone in a mere second, is what I’m hoping to begin doing in 2013. Our pastor spoke at our most recent MOPS meeting about taking the time to be aware of three things as we walk through Advent, and I’m hoping to make them a part of my life every day from now on: take time to be reverent, take time to focus, and take time to be fully awake. In doing so, we live more fully, she says — I’m willing to give it a shot and hopefully this will enhance my ability to take joy in each moment, no matter what I’m doing.

Linda Hoye December 10, 2012 at 6:12 pm

I’m so sorry for your loss, Sherrey. There is nothing like the loss of a loved one to bring things into perspective, is there? I really like what your pastor said about taking time to be reverent, to focus, and to be fully awake during this season–always really.

Grace Peterson December 10, 2012 at 11:41 am

Last year I returned to full time employment after being a full time mom for 25 + years. I feel as though time has ALWAYS skirted by way too quickly. Even when in the throes of emotional devastation, the time went fast and I felt stymied and robbed because I wasn’t able to enjoy those fleeting moments.

I’ll be curious to see how your retirement changes your feelings about time. I’m curious about what you do for work.

I’m so looking forward to reading about your upcoming retirement and move back to Canada to be with your family. I bet in a lot of ways you wish it would hurry up.

Linda Hoye December 10, 2012 at 6:10 pm

I do wish time would pass quickly until it’s time for us to retire but, as my wise husband reminded me the other day, we have to remember to enjoy every day we are living now and not focus exclusively on the future. Such a challenge sometimes.

What do I do for work? Well, I am an HR Systems Business Analyst focusing on employee benefits. At it’s very core, the role is acting as a liaison between the business and the systems folks.

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