Calendars in sync: piano lesson or book festival?

August 5, 2018

Lots of people weighed in about my last column, Can retirement be boring? (July 20, 2018). Most of you don't mind the white spaces on your calendar and can easily fill them. You relish the empty days without further thought.

But there were a few who agreed with me that work gave structure and meaning to their lives, and they have sought employment.

Carol wrote, "I'm in the process of getting a part-time job. After 4 years of ... caring for ill family members, I found myself alone. Too much free time! I need to feel that I am making a contribution. And the money doesn't hurt either!"

Tony had this to say: "For those who are often genuinely bored and/or conflicted about what to do, I suggest they imagine their life is in serious danger. Then consider what is it that they never got accomplished in their life that they wish they would have? For me, the answer popped right up when I had a serious health scare: Begin to learn how to play the piano. At age 64, I found a very patient teacher and started beginner's lessons, never having played a note. After over two years, I am still at it and making forward, albeit modest, progress."

One reader, Maryanne, felt that white space on the calendar was leading her to early dementia. She wrote, "Without a daily structure, I am easily confused about what day it is and where I need to be. I have two calendars, a paper one ... and a smartphone. Neither is synced with the other."

I have the same problem, and so does my husband. We use our phones but then supplement with the big print calendar. Then we forget to add the events to our shared one.

Retirees Deb and Frank found a solution. Deb writes, "We found ourselves each committing to separate events such as the History Book Festival or Brews By the Bay, both on Sept. 29. So, we decided to use Apple's iCal to share our schedules with each other. Once we trained ourselves to keep it updated, it has worked well for us, eliminating those silly squabbles over which event to attend. We were so proud of how well our joint calendar works, we decided to create another shared calendar with our son ... before he reaches out for our long-distance chats. Now if we could just remember to keep our shared calendar updated!"

In our home, it doesn't seem to matter if we write anything down, because we forget everything anyway. I make a grocery list and my husband goes to the store without it. I text him the list while he shops, which works well if he doesn't leave the phone in the car. But – before he retired, he never had time to do the grocery shopping. Best to say thank you for his help.

Thanks so much for reading and sharing your lives with me. I'm grateful for white space when so many others must work or go for medical treatments. Keep practicing, Tony! Admire this.