The hardest thing about retirement is to learn how to be retired.

We’re so used to being wound up and ready to go, off to the workaday world that it’s hard to realize that we can now slow down, unwind and enjoy being the master of our days. It takes a while to realize that we are no longer under the regime of someone else’s schedule.

I’ve even had to work at walking slower, to remember I don’t have to be in a hurry anymore — no time clock, figuratively speaking, to punch. Indeed, walking slower in winter is also walking safer. And, especially from spring through fall, it gives you time to take in the sights and sounds and smells of our lush state with air so clean you can all but taste it. And, without being limited to 30-minute “lunch breaks,” you have time to chew your food and actually taste it. I studiously make it a habit to eat slower, enjoy it more, without one eye on the clock. Better for the gut, too.

Some people have so identified themselves with their jobs or occupations that they are at a loss with the sudden onset of free, unstructured time, dependent only on themselves in filling the hours of their days.

In Europe, if you ask someone: “What do you do?” they will likely say something like: “I’m a mountain climber,” or “I study medieval history“ or some such, even though they make their living as a banker or a butcher or a candlestick maker. They identify themselves not with what they do to support their lives, but what they do to enjoy their lives pursuing their hobbies and talents.

In this country, too many people identify themselves by their job or professions. That presents a problem when they retire. Who are they now? They find it difficult to adjust to life without that misplaced identity. They find it a challenge to fill the hours of their days without a schedule already laid out for them.

The fortunate ones have honed some talent, some interest that is separate from the way they made their living. They chomp at the bit for the day they can turn more time over to what they love to do. But still, it can be difficult to unwind and relax into self-determined days.

Me? I jumped into retirement with both feet. I stopped wearing a watch years ago. I go on “Indian Time.” For example: I eat when I’m hungry instead of a set ‘meal time” schedule. It was the American Indian way. Indeed, the Indians were amused at the colonists who seemed to need a clock to tell them when they were hungry.

I seldom make plans very far in advance. If someone calls and says “Let’s meet for lunch next week,” I’ll say, “Call me next week.”

For things I want to do or errands that need doing, I’ll more often go by the weather than the calendar. If I’d planned on going out on a certain day and the weather turns up nasty, I may chose to throw another log on the fire, put my feet up and grab a book or my paint brushes, maybe my knitting needles. I’ve also developed the art of doing nothing — and I do it very well. It is not, however, a waste of time. Doing nothing can be very productive. It’s when the best ideas and thoughts pop into your head.

Do-nothing breaks are like your own mini Think Tank.

After over a dozen years into this retirement stage of my life, I’m getting downright good at it. I’ve got relaxing and meandering down to a science… might even qualify for a doctorate in it.

A young Indian friend of mine recently posted, on her Facebook page, a photo of an “Indian Clock.” Printed on the face were the words “Indian Time.” It had the regular hour and minute hands and the numbers — except the numbers were helter-skelter in no order at all.

Even after having been retired — at least mostly — well over a dozen years, instead of being bored and having ‘nothing to do” I wonder: “When did I find the time to work a job? There’s so many things to do.”

In the meantime, I gotta get me one of those Indian clocks.