Often, I look at myself in the mirror and see this eleven-year old boy in the black and white picture looking back at me, and I wonder what I was dreaming those many years ago. Hands in my pockets and a questioning look on my face. I know the thought of retirement never crossed my mind 60-years ago. There was a lot to learn during those intervening years. Now, there is a new lesson … learning how to be retired.

As a young boy, I got a glimpse of retirement through my grandfathers. One was an avid outdoorsman.He loved hunting and fishing and lived his retirement years to the max. The other lived his retirement years at a slower pace, but I think he enjoyed his senior years, especially teaching this grandson how to drive and plant a tree.

Now, this boy in the sixth-grade picture is retired and is trying to figure out what retirement is going to be like for him. There is notextbook or roadmap to point the way. This is a new phase of life. Life is about learning. Learning how to crawl, walk, speak and the list goes on and on to the end. 

During my working years, like most of us, I would think about the time when I would not have to go to work, and what would I do? All my life I have been a project guy. Always keeping an eye open for something I wanted to do in the yard or around the house. There just never seemed to be enough time to get things done. I thought, “When I retire … I’ll have all the time I need to complete these projects”, but as sportscaster Lee Corso would say, “Not so fast my friend.”

What has happened to all that time I thought I would have? Most days, it is afternoon before I know it and time to watch Andy and Barney on The Andy Griffith Show. So, what am I doing with my time? With Angela still working, I’ve tried to pick up household chores:  making the bed, doing laundry, loading and unloading the dishwasher and ironing. I have become a domesticated man especially during the past winter months. Actually, I don’t mind doing these household chores thanks in part to my mother. As a teen, she made sure I knew how to iron my clothes. “One day”, she would say, “You’ll thank me for this”. Thanks Mom!

I love to paint. Not as an artist, but walls, trim and anything around the house. So, I know Angela is trying to work out colors for me to get on with some painting. Now, with the arrival of spring, my favorite projects will be outside working in the yard. This is another lesson of love I learned from my mother. Mom could put a stick in the ground and have it blooming in no time. I don’t have that gift, but I do love working outside. 

So far, here’s what I’ve learned in retirement. There are plenty of things to do to fill my time. Every retiree I’ve talked with says the same thing. “I don’t know how I got anything done when I was working fulltime!” That is so true. The good news, for the most part, is there is no deadline. Only the deadline I create for myself.

A big retirement lesson I’m learning is to stay active both mentally and physically. It can be easy to just kick back and watch television and scroll social media. So, in addition to being active around the house, I’ve become a mall walker. And, with the weather becoming warmer, there will be some great Williamson County trails to explore. And, I have several grandkids to keep me busy. Also, there will be some good volunteer opportunities. I think I’m going to enjoy these retirement years. So, there will not be a lot of slowing down.

Taking another glance at the boy in the picture, I hope his dreams have been fulfilled. I hope the puzzled look on his face is now a smile, and his hands are out of his pockets reaching out ready to embrace his retirement years.

Harry Chapman and his wife Angela have called Williamson County home for more than 40 years. He is a recognized face and voice in the entertainment industry in Middle Tennessee. He was formerly co-host of NewsChannel5’s Talk of the Town.

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Retired people have the privilege to find new hobbies or do things that usually have postponed because they didn't have time for them. They can buy a new car or go hunting, play golf or start jogging. It is their choice, but make sure to be well informed about the new activity. For example, not everyone takes their heated hunting boots while they are in the wilderness, which will make them feel unprepared for such an experience.

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