Monday, April 27, 2020

Creativity and Retirement

COVID-19 has impacted all of our lives in ways we never imagined. At first it seemed like this might be a short interruption. My mindset was just hang in there a few weeks and we’ll get through this. But one week turned into another week and another, and still the end is not in sight. Living in New York, at the epicenter of the virus, Governor Cuomo is practicing extra caution about opening up our state.

As retirees, we may be better prepared to handle more time at home. Then again, many of us spend our retirement on the road. I’ve cancelled a trip to Denver. This week I was supposed to be in Chattanooga. The following week my husband and I had reservations on a Danube riverboat cruise from Passua, Germany to Budapest, Hungary. All cancelled. Travel is a favorite pastime for many retirees, but right now it’s not an option. Actually, this might be a good thing. Travel keeps us from having to figure out what “home” is.

On the positive side, the stay-at-home orders are inspiring us to be more creative about what we do at home. As you might have heard, people are baking bread more than ever before. Yeast sales are up 2,000 percent! King Arthur Flour is posting baking videos online called the Isolation Baking ShowLast week the CBS Morning Show aired a story on what people are doing at home. Click here to view episode.

This artistic mindset is especially good for retirees, because unlike many others, we won’t be returning to the office. We are home. And many of us need to discover and create more ways to enjoy this next stage of life.

My new creative activity is piano lessons. My sister is an excellent piano teacher, but she lives three hours from me. I’ve often said if we lived closer, I’d like to take lessons. Well, with her students having to stay home, Laurie needed a way to continue their lessons, and so she learned how to use video conferencing through Zoom. That’s when I decided this was my opportunity to ask if she’d take me on as a student. I understand I’m committing to a challenging goal. I haven’t had piano lessons in about 45 years! But I’m also excited about developing my skill set and receiving more enjoyment from sitting down at the piano.

I’m practicing yoga more than before the pandemic. My favorite yoga instructor is posting classes online, which means I can take a class when it works in my schedule and motivation.  

I dusted and oiled my sewing machine to get it in good condition for sewing facial masks. I also sewed fresh pillow covers for the deck cushions. It’s fun to reconnect with a something I used to do every day.

I’ve also used this extra time at home to write long letters to college friends. Normally they receive mail from me only at Christmas, and it’s the standard annual letter and picture. This time I savored the experience of connection as I reminisced about college days and shared the impact they have had on my life. In return, I’ve received long letters from them.

Instead of just trying to get through this pandemic, let’s look for ways that we can use this time to learn, grow, and create new meaning and purpose in our lives. When the stay-at-home lockdowns are lifted, hopefully we’ll emerge from this experience with new interests, hobbies, and connections that will further contribute to our quality of life in retirement.

Copyright 2020. Patrice Jenkins. All Rights Reserved.

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