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Retirement is a full time vacation

Published April 17. 2010 09:00AM

Remember those days when you were in school and needed an excuse as to why you didn't do your homework?

I feel a little bit like that now as I contemplate calling Editor Bob Urban. I want to tell him I won't have a column this week because I'll be on vacation. We're going on a weeklong cruise and I'll be far away from thoughts of sitting at my computer to write a column.

But every time I reach for the phone to call the editor, I stop before I dial his number.

How in the world can I say I'm taking a vacation when the so-called semi-retirement I'm enjoying means that mostly, I'm on a permanent vacation?

It's especially hard to say that to a hard-working editor who seldom takes any time off.

Once upon a time, I used to be one, too. Back then, when someone who only worked a day a week told me she couldn't meet a deadline, it sounded like a lame excuse. With better planning, I thought, she should be able to do something that only requires working one day a week.

For instance, how about working in advance? If you know you're going to be gone for a week, you can always do your work ahead of time to avoid missing a deadline.

I know that. That's another reason why I couldn't make the call. Dyed-in-the wool newspaper editors think there is no excuse for missing a deadline.

We used to joke and say the only excuse for missing a deadline is death. Your own.

I still think that way. Right before my wedding when I was hyperventilating from too much to do, I went to see my Florida editor to ask him if he would be okay not to turn a column in during my wedding week. Actually, the column was supposed to come out on my wedding day.

My editor laughed when I asked the question. "Of course you can take the week off," he said. "Relax, enjoy your wedding and don't worry about work."

So I had his blessing to skip a week. But I did the column anyway. Too many years of working as an editor who didn't like excuses forced me to work ahead and get the column done.

Retirement is a full-time vacation.

Those of us who are retired should have no excuses for "no time to get something done."

But here's what I found: I could get a lot more accomplished when I worked full time than I can now that I am retired.

I hear many retirees with the same lament. "I don't know how I ever found time to work," said one friend, "because I don't seem to have time for anything now that I'm retired."

My husband thinks that as we get older, it takes us longer to accomplish something. Maybe. But I refuse to give in to that thought.

I do admit, though, once you retire, it's like someone takes your clock and chops off hours in the day.

Why else does one go from someone good at multi-tasking to a retiree who feels like there is no time to get anything done?

It's incongruous that busy, working folks can do more than retirees who don't have to work long hours at the office. But, it seems to be true. Perhaps someone can tell me why.

Often, when I call a friend to schedule an activity, he or she will say something like, "Well, I can't get together on Monday because I have a doctor's appointment, and Tuesday I'm going to my grandson's play."

Well, okay. That takes a few hours. What about the rest of the time? That's what I often want to say, but I don't.

I just think it's ironic that retirees are the ones complaining about "no time." Put me in that category, because I do it, too.

If anyone has any thoughts on this, I would like to hear it because it's a perplexing problem for many of us.

Meanwhile, dear editor, here's my column. Now, I don't have to call you with an excuse.

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