[This is an entry in my project to write something every day in the 100 days before my retirement, reflecting on my career and life]

88 Days

June 4, 2018

In the past, when I thought about retirement, my daydreams would always take me to an idyllic, deserted beach in tropical lands, where the sounds of the ocean waves lulled me to sleep. But now that reality is about to happen (in 88 days – YAY me!), I have been spending my time a little more productively thinking about how retirement will manifest itself.  There will be days at university, long weeks on tropical beaches, writing, days of sitting and doing nothing but reading and napping, but those days and weeks don’t add up to 365 days or 52 weeks. 

Thoughts of what else? have been circling my brain lately and I have bounced around various ideas of things I can do to keep busy and active and engaged.  Volunteering fits the bill, I think.  Let’s face it, I’ve been very blessed in this life and now I have a chance to start really giving back.  

Our neighbour is the Pastor at The Biker’s Church in Vanier and his wife recently reached out looking for donations to a soup kitchen the Church puts on every Tuesday at lunch. I put my hand up and said I would do some baking. So I spent a few hours this weekend making some sweet treats and will probably continue to do this for the next while. Baking is something I love to do and feeding people is in my DNA.

Our family has a history of volunteering and giving back.  I’m proud to say I learned the lessons of giving back and paying it forward from my parents who demonstrated these values every day. Who in the family doesn’t remember my dad going to the local church and asking the Priest to identify a family who needed financial help, and then dad anonymously paying that family’s phone and hydro bills. Or my mom (recently widowed), every week taking my recently widowed mother-in-law (who didn’t have a driver’s license) out for lunch and to run errands.  I could write a book on our family’s acts of kindness, and several chapters in that book might be taken up with how these values have remained in our family with our parents’ grandchildren now demonstrating these same values.

I’m thinking baking for the church is one way to volunteer, right?  I can help out at the local schools, sing to sick babies at the Children’s Hospital, help international students at Carleton. These are all things I can undertake during retirement.  

In my typical, overly analytical fashion, I spent last night wondering if volunteerism is (i) an act of altruism, or (ii) a way to keep busy?  Or, does finding a way to keep busy lead to acts of altruism? Let’s be totally honest here, volunteering should be selfless. So, that will be my goal —  putting my time and effort into something that needs my time and effort.  

(Friends aficionados amongst us will remember Phoebe’s idea of a selfless act was allowing a bee to sting her LOL).