1. The ability to put chores off. For most of my adult life, Saturdays and Sundays were the chore days - laundry, grocery shopping, errands, cleaning, bookkeeping for the business, etc. I have the Timehop app on my iPad and I have been noticing how many weekend entries were focused on all those chores plus the grading and lesson planning my teaching job required. I'd go back to work Monday morning feeling stressed and tired because I never seemed to have time to do nothing on the weekends. And never mind trying to do many of the chores of daily living during the week. It's a real luxury to have the ability to postpone doing things like laundry or vacuuming because I can do it tomorrow if I don't get to it today.
2. The gift of not having to be out of the house by a certain time every weekday morning. I don't sleep much later than I did when I was working, but it's such a joy to be able to enjoy a second cup of coffee most mornings (when I don't head out to a 7 am water class!) and take my time with the morning routine. I'm usually showered and dressed by 7:30 which feels like the middle of the day, compared to the "out the door at 6:30 am" of the past, but if I want to lolligag around the house I can.
3. That moment of joy when I realize again, (almost daily) that I am retired. I am still amazed on Sunday afternoons, when I start thinking about the work week ahead, and all the things I didn't get done, and then have that "Glory, Hallelujah" moment when I remember, it doesn't matter. Vacation isn't ending!
4. The joy of being able to watch shows that are on at 10 pm IF I choose to watch. Or to stay up late reading. What a gift!
5. The gift of alone time. I never realized how little alone time I had. My husband is not retired (yet) so he is at work a good part of the day. I also go to exercise class two or 3 times a week, and I attend a weekly Bible study. I've also started to volunteer as a Meals on Wheels substitute driver. But in between, I have some blocks of uninterrupted alone time. I don't necessarily do anything exceptional then --- I read, I might watch General Hospital (I can't believe I got myself hooked on that again. The last time I was addicted was before I went back to work fulltime. I used to nurse my kids and watch it! Luke and Laura!!), I color, I sit and knit on the deck in nice weather and bird watch. But it is so refreshing.
The surprising thing to me about my retirement is that I truly do not miss my former life as a teacher. While I taught, I loved it. I did it well, and gave my heart and soul to it. But it was time to say goodbye to that life, and I have no regrets. And I am continually surprised by that.