The leisurely, laid back days of retirement

Many people think that being newly retired means someone goes from working a very busy 40 hour a week job to doing nothing but as someone who has made the transition from being a work-a-bee to a retiree, this isn’t the case at all. Sure, retirees don’t have the demands of a daily work schedule and there is an overall loosening of responsibilities, but when people ask me if I sit around all day relaxing and watching soap operas on TV I laugh and tell them no, that’s not a typical day for me.

I’ve got a busy schedule because my time is filled with volunteer activities, some days I hike for exercise and working part-time is good after working full-time for 41 years. The days seem to fly by and at dinnertime, as we gather around the table, I catch a breath and ask my relatives where the time went. 

In my retirement years I’ve taken up tennis again, which is a sport I always enjoyed playing until I got too busy with work and other hobbies. This time I don’t have to wear “tennis whites” – it seems the rules for tennis attire have relaxed and now I can wear any color clothes.

My friend, Renee, introduced me to pickleball – something I’d heard about but had never played on Long Island. People think that it is a relatively new sport but according to published reports, pickleball has been around since 1965 when someone combined badminton, tennis and Ping-Pong. The racket or pickleball paddle itself is smaller than a tennis racquet but larger than a ping-pong paddle. The paddles are lightweight and they have an oblong shape so if you scan a court from several yards away, you can usually distinguish a tennis game from a pickleball game. The plastic ball that is bobbed all around has holes in it making it similar to a wiffleball.  

You play on a court that looks like a miniature-sized tennis court. Many retirees take umbrage to the fact that all over the country there are “Pickleball Senior Games” because while most pickleball players are older people, the sport has caught on with younger players. I’m glad to see that there is no age limit on pickleball players. I’ve played it in the warmer months with my nieces and nephews and they have enjoyed it as much as the over 55 set. 

We had a recent family get together and in the back of my mind I was planning to tell my relatives about cornhole. Before I knew it several of my nieces and nephews had set up the cornhole equipment and were going around asking if anyone wanted to join in. I rose to the occasion because along with several other retiree friends of mine, I’ve had plenty of time to practice tossing those cornhole bags or beanbags into the holes of the cornhole platforms. It’s a great way to get some sunshine, get some exercise and have some laughs – or camaraderie – with the other players.  

In my opinion, playing cornhole is better than playing horseshoes or croquet. It’s much more interesting and while a game of ring toss is fine when the little kids are around, for adults cornhole is just right. No rackets are involved and whether two people or eight people are playing, it all works out. Naturally some people are more adept than others at tossing the cornhole bag into the six-inch in diameter hole of the platform and sometimes it is just a matter of luck. My nephew, Tyler, likes to keep score when teams of players are playing cornhole and of course it is uppermost in his mind to be on the winning side. He’s got a competitive streak going. 

My six-year-old niece, Keira, closed her eyes and concentrated really hard before tossing her cornhole bag and she danced all around when it got in. Tyler applauded politely as he kept score and it was apparent that he wanted to win because while he was being a good sport, he wasn’t Keira’s teammate, he was on the opposing team. 

My niece, Shannon, who’s all grown up now, heard Keira and Tyler bantering back and forth and got in on the act. She said, “That’s great, Keira, but we have to win this game!” 

Keira was talking about the best way to toss a cornhole bag and she was telling Tyler that his way wasn’t the best way. He didn’t want to hear that at all so he was about to make a joke but stopped himself. Overall their bantering back and forth was good natured bantering so we got back to playing the game. 

We were playing cornhole in my back yard on a glorious day when the sun was shining, the sky was a vivid blue and in just a short while we would have a barbecue that had been planned the day before. There were 16 of us who had gathered together for a party, some games and dinner. While some people still live locally, others have gone out of town to college and for full-time jobs. It’s not that often that 16 have the chance to get together because of the out of towners, so we enjoyed our time together. 

After a couple of rounds of cornhole we were all happy with the game and ready to sit down for dinner and chat with other relatives. When members of the younger generation asked how I was enjoying retired life I told them how I spend my time and explained when a few of us retirees want to go out socializing, we often take in dinner and a show or dinner and a movie. 

Breaking up the routine helps keep things fresh and what really makes it enjoyable, I feel, is having fun while playing games because camaraderie is most important to me. Whether I’m playing cornhole or pickleball or dining with friends and relatives, it’s all about having fun.

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