And….exhale.

#lifeafter full-time work

I met a former schoolfriend for coffee last week – one of the things I have time to do after a 30 year full-time career in teaching.  She’s at a similar point in her life.  She said, “Do you know how I think of this period in my life?  I think of it as ‘Exhale….’ ”

I remembered, when I was a head, how I tried to fit in 30 minutes’ exercise a day – in the school’s fitness suite usually before I went home. Some days I just couldn’t manage it – I might even have changed into my kit and be on my way there when something pulled me off course (though people still passed me and said “Great example!” and I realised I didn’t actually HAVE to go to the gym to be that – I could just wear the gear…) On those days I couldn’t get there, I remember thinking, “How ridiculous to have a job which means I can’t find 30 minutes a day to exercise.”

When I finished after ten years of headship in 2010, I determined to make 30 minutes’ exercise a day a priority.  I’m typing this in a hotel room – I led a Preparing for Headship course here yesterday and today I’m working with mentors for Middle Leaders.  I got up early this morning and went to the hotel gym before breakfast.  It makes me feel so much better – psychologically as well as physically – if I start the day with exercise.

When I’m at home I go on Wii Fit for 30 minutes each morning when I get up.  I use wrist, hand and leg weights to make it a little more taxing.  I do a step aerobics warm up, about 20 minutes’ cardio, and a few minutes’ yoga cool down.  I must admit I find exercise quite boring, really, but can manage this half an hour while I’m still waking up, before my day properly starts.  It’s a routine, a habit, and, although I lapsed this summer (holidays, etc) I got back into it when the autumn term started.  (Yes, the patterns of my life are still dominated by school term dates).

My last yoga exercise involves me lying flat on the floor and relaxing. When the nice Wii Fit man asks me to do this I always think: this is particularly enjoyable, because it follows a 30 minute workout, and I deserve it.

The parallel isn’t lost on me.  I especially enjoy this period of my life because I worked hard for the 30 years leading up to it.  This is time for me (though I still do interesting and fulfilling consultancy work, and I’m studying, too, so it isn’t all pampering and self-indulgence) – to see my mum, friends and family, including my husband who patiently shared me with a demanding job for 30 years, to travel, to read, to sing, to exercise, to be.

How do you envisage #lifeafter?

Postscript: My mum, sadly, died in February 2018. But I am so pleased that since finishing full-time work in 2010 I was able to spend so much more time with her in the last few years of her life, and, especially, in her final few weeks.  It was a pleasure and a privilege, not a duty, and I have written about it here.

Photo credit: John Berry

This post was originally published on @staffrm in 2015

2 thoughts on “And….exhale.

  1. Hi Jill, I’m not at this stage yet, but if it is filled with learning, family and friends (as yours is) then it won’t be a half bad time of life to exhale. Thanks for sharing and hope you are okay. Thanks Sue

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