By Joe Rector

Thanksgiving is finished, and we have run through what little bit of leftovers we had from the feast. Amy planned perfectly so that every meal doesn’t include something made with turkey. Lacey and her family are back in Nashville, and Dallas is back home just down the road. I love to see my children come home, but they and I do like returning to our daily lives.

I need routine in my life, and right now things are in a state of flux. It’s been a year since I stopped substituting and retired from permanent and part-time jobs. After working a lifetime since the age of 14, I’m finding adjusting to a new type of life difficult.

Teaching school and other jobs always gave me a time to rise each morning. I’d set my clock for 6:30 a.m. and know that each day began with the sounding of the alarm. Now, I get up whenever I choose. Sometimes that happens to be the same general time as I did when I was working. Usually, such an early time is the result of a doctor or dentist appointment or an early tee time at Knoxville Municipal Golf Course.

My waking on other days comes according to how late I stayed up the night before. Of late, I usually hit the sack about 1:00 a.m. If I sleep late, the entire day is ruined. I am out of rhythm with my normal routine. By the end of the day, I’m in a foul mood because I didn’t complete all the things I’d planned to tackle.

When I retired, I spent time working part-time with papers. The first few hours of the day were spent hitting the spots where folks in the community gathered for breakfast. I’d return home with a pile of information for stories and sit down to write them to meet deadlines.

Now, I have a topic or two for my weekly column, but sometimes I don’t like them and fret until one that is acceptable comes to mind. Too much time sitting at home leads to a lack of ideas because most of the things about which write come from interactions with others, either family or friends.

I used to have a schedule for completing chores around the house. I knew what days I would trim shrubs, rake leaves, or mow winter grass. Thursdays were reserved for house cleaning, and weekends were dedicated to washing cars.

These days none of that falls into place. I finished all the trimming a couple of weeks ago. Leaves are gathered and piled or mowed almost every day. I find myself sitting in front of the television and watching mind-numbing cable news programs.

I’m thankful that the weather has been good so far. It doesn’t keep me inside and away from my daily jobs. My list of things to complete is empty. I find more regular chores to do and even try my hand at some new things. Unfortunately, that means Amy has to look at the new things I’ve tried to build or the new ways I’ve organized cabinets, dressers, and even the garage. No matter how often I run out of things to do or how late I stay up or get up, I am thankful for retirement. I might have no routine to guide me anymore, but I am free to make the day my own. Yes, retirement always beats a job.