Now that I am in my sixties and retired, people ask me questions like, “What in the world do you do with your time, now?” My answer is that I finally have time to do all the things I never had time for.
When we were younger, many of us juggled careers along with raising children, dealing with partners, friends and extended family members, in addition to fulfilling social obligations. Looking back, we often wonder how we managed to accomplish as much as we did. Interests and hobbies often had to be put on back burners. Dreams, goals or new pursuits were things we would do ‘someday’.
To me, that is the best part about growing older. Now I have time to do all those ‘someday’ things. Family and job obligations are often less demanding as we enter our retirement years. Sometimes financial burdens are not as great, either. So time, and more money to spend on leisure, can give us the freedom to explore new opportunities.
I am amazed at how many people I meet who are over sixty and are pursuing new interests, or activities. One friend always wanted to learn how to quilt, so now she is taking a quilting class. Other friends are traveling, while someone prefer to do their exploring closer to home by visiting local attractions or taking day trips to places they have always wanted to see.
A neighbour of mine is having a great time learning to crochet at our local library, which offers many free classes and various events, including book clubs, embroidery lessons and genealogy workshops.
Most communities have senior centres that are open to anyone over fifty-five and they often offer a plethora of activities. The senior centre in my town has everything from oil painting and exercise groups, to safe driving courses and sing-alongs. Most everything is free, or just includes a nominal fee for supplies.
On Friday nights, there is also a dance at our senior centre. Many of the people who attend never learned how to dance, so they are trying something new that challenges the brain. One gentleman who comes to the Friday night dances is ninety-five, and didn’t dance a step until he was seventy-five. Now, he is one of the most popular dancers at our centre.
Everyone gets into the spirit of the “theme” dances and events. We often hit the dollar stores to buy leis for the Hawaiian night or masks for the Mardi Gras dances. We enjoy having more time to be creative and prepare for upcoming special events.
I recently began taking line dancing lessons. A woman who stands next to me was kind enough to help me my first day, as I stumbled through the routines. I was surprised to learn that she took up line dancing at sixty. Now she is so good that she assists the instructor, who never danced at all until she was in her middle fifties.
Many of us over sixty have started second or new careers. I have a degree in journalism and have always loved to write. But writing as much as I wanted to for myself was always another ‘someday’ project.
Now my stories are included in several books, like some of the Chicken Soup publications. I have written three books on my own and I’m a regular contributor to various websites. I also enjoy speaking to many different groups and schools.
It is wonderful to have time to pursue my dream of writing. When I see successful authors continuing to write in their seventies and eighties, I feel like it is never too late to pursue something creative. I probably won’t end up as a best-selling author, but I am enjoying myself, and that is what is important.
Volunteering is another thing many seniors enjoy. It is a wonderful way to ‘give back’ our experience and knowledge. Giving our time can make us feel useful and productive, as well.
As a volunteer at our local library, I find that I am greatly appreciated. That helps me feel like I am still capable of contributing, even if it is just for a few hours each week. And, unlike a regular job, I can miss any time I need to.
Participating in one activity can often also lead to another. My husband and I are part of a volunteer dance group that puts on little shows at nursing homes and retirement centres. We dress in costumes appropriate for the dances we are performing. I have taken up a long forgotten hobby of sewing to create some of our outfits. Audience members love it when I come out in my poodle skirt for a rousing rock and roll number, and I have a ball putting costumes like that together.
Whether it is trying new interests, pursuing a long cherished dream or finally having time to give back to your community, all of us over sixty are afforded many opportunities to do the things we never had time for.
‘Someday’ is here, so take advantage of it! Explore what interests you and is available in your community. It’s never too late to pick up an old hobby or start a new one, learn a new skill or offer your time as a volunteer. Remaining involved with life keeps us active, youthful and happy.