Can I really work until I’m 70?

So my life as a full-time student is almost over, and I’ve been reflecting recently about the whole experience.

Shortly after I returned to study the government proposed to increase the pension age to 70, and I jokingly referred to this period of my life as the retirement I will never have. Sure I had to go to uni, but there were consecutive weeks where I wasn’t studying or wasn’t on placement and I couldn’t cope. Don’t tell Joe Hockey, and please remind me of this statement when I’m older and want to retire, but working until I’m 70 (or at least working part-time) now sounds like a wonderful thing to me.

I didn’t know how to cope with free-time. I can completely understand why people find the transition to retirement difficult.

In my old life I was busy all the time. I got up when it was dark – I got home late and could often be found getting around to eating dinner at 9/10 o’clock. I wasn’t used to unstructured free-time and I didn’t like it.

Sure, I had more time to play golf, which I loved, but overall I found that I just frittered my time away. My house should have been spotless, I should have got through my big long “to-do” list. I should have done my tax return, and I should have been super-fit, because in theory I had so much time for exercise.

Unfortunately none of those things happened. I developed sloth like tendencies. I slept in. I became addicted to Midsomer Murders which was on tv every afternoon (is that better or worse than being addicted to Ellen?), and I was the most unproductive I’ve ever been.

I realised that the only time I felt normal and re-energised again was when I was on placement.

Sadly I realised that I missed working. What I really missed was the structure and routine working gives you. I probably also missed people contact. I also became boring – even more boring than normal. This was confirmed to me by my sister; she reminded me every weekend when we caught-up for breakfast that my stories were far more interesting when I was working. And to a certain extent work defines who we are.

It’s all very well to say that we need to stop more and smell the roses, but I was like a statue – motionless in a park, watching the world go by.

So I now sympathise with people making the transition to retirement. Not working is hard!

I’m not sure that I can work until I’m 70, but for now I’m coming out of retirement and will hopefully start working again or at least volunteering in order to find a happier balance that includes work.

Life of uni student – Surviving day 1

Thoughts from day 1:

4.50am – Why is the radio on? Oh yeah, I want to try and get to the gym before uni this morning. Okay time to get up. Wish I had packed my bag the night before. What do I need to take for the gym again? Must remember clothes for after gym.

6am – It’s still dark!

7.15am – Okay this gym thing before uni might work. Still can’t believe I have to get up earlier to get to uni than what I did for work.

8.15am – Seriously ladies – how long does it take you to do your hair. Get out of my way – I need some mirror space.

8.20am – Am thinking I should take a “selfie” on my first day. After all, my friends all take photos of their kids on their first day of school.

8.30am – Do I have time to get to the library to borrow that microbiology textbook that was mentioned in the lecture notes?

8.31am – Ahh bugger, I was supposed to check where 9am lecture was.

8.40am – I think that boy on my tram is in my course – that’s good – I can follow him.

8.45am – Looks like I don’t have time for the library. Oh well, now I can follow tram boy to the lecture. And besides who else is going to be as dorky as me to go and borrow the book from the library – I’ll get it at lunch time.

Shortly after – what happened to tram boy?

8.50am – Nice girl from orientation recognises me on the street and says hello. We head off to where we think the lecture is.

Shortly after – we charge on into the lecture theatre – these people don’t look familiar – oh dear it’s not our class.

Shortly after – I approach a man on the street to ask him where Pelham St is. We head off with his instructions only to find he gave us the wrong info.

Shortly after – Google maps

Shortly after – no it’s not that building, no it’s not that building

9.05am – Walking, walking, finally we’ve found it, 5 minutes late – that’s not too bad. I grab the first available seat – it’s up the front. Great – looks like I’m matching the mature age stereotype

9.07am – oh no I can’t work the lecture theatre tables – someone helps me.

10am – my neck hurts from looking up at the screen from the front row

11am – Just spotted tram boy, but it’s not tram boy. It’s who I thought was on my tram, but he’s wearing different clothes. So obviously tram boy wasn’t studying nursing. Good thing I didn’t follow him.

Lecture 1 goes for 4 hours. But the time passes by okay, as there is a different speaker every hour. Associate Professor Jane Freemantle was a stand-out for her engaging presentation. There is a big focus on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health. I wonder how our terrible history and even the current failings with Aboriginal health is seen by the international students completing the course.

12.20pm – The girl beside me is eating a box of Barbeque shapes. She’s really ploughing through them. I think she could have chosen something a bit quieter.

1pm – Lunch time

1.15pm – Library – On no I’ve spotted another nursing student at the reference desk – I bet she is after the same book as me. I’m sure with my expertise in libraries I’ll grab it first.

Shortly after – Bugger – should have written down the call number. Oh hello – there is the student from my course with a librarian showing her where the book is.

Shortly after – Duh – the book that was available this morning is now gone, plus the edition before that – I end up borrowing one that is almost 20 years old. I suppose nothing much has changed in the world of microbiology.

Next I ask the librarian for assistance with the other book. Also needed assistance with borrowing the books. #libraryfail

1.30pm – I’m starving. Ding, ding, ding – winner, winner, winner. How cheap are sandwiches here compared to work?

2pm – Okay I think the next lecture starts at 2.30 – I’m going to be early.

2.15pm – Okay I’m not early – lecture actually started at 2.15pm

2.45pm – Yikes science!

3pm – Okay – not even sure how to take notes about this stuff.

3.15pm – Maybe I’ll just list the stuff I don’t know anything about, and then that will prompt me to do some reading about that.

3.20pm – Um there’s too much I don’t know. Maybe I’ll just get a basic biology textbook to get me up to speed.

4pm – Thank God for the Haighs the Ashurst library team gave me a farewell present.

4.15 – Hello sunshine. Hello grass.

I take my selfie for Facebook.

4.30pm – I’ve discovered the City Library has Biology for Dummies on the shelf. Must go and see if I can borrow it.

Sister Adventure 2013 – Great Vic Bike Ride: Nelson to Portland

Ding, Ding, Ding!!! We won the lottery last night when we accidently camped near the volunteers. They are great because we didn’t hear them at all last night, and they get up early. At 5am, all these alarms went off around us. Leanne and I were keen to hit the road early this morning, so that worked perfectly for us.

We got up and packed-up the tent, and then headed for breakfast. Again the organisation was amazing. I was a bit worried about breakfast, as I don’t do cereals and milk, but there was so much fruit for me to eat, yogurts, muffins, bread, etc.

We were on the road shortly after 7am. I again had a giggling fit when I realised I couldn’t get my leg over the frame of the bike to get on. This was a good old fashioned Alison giggling fit. Yep completely out of control, no sound laughing and then huge gulps, tears rolling down my face laughing. Leanne just shook her head and explained to the bewildered man nearby, that I wasn’t haven’t an episode, that this type of thing (the laughing) happens all the time, He responding, by telling Leanne that he had got my whole giggling fit on his helmet video. Glad I could be of entertainment!

Once I got on the bike I found the ride today so much easier than yesterday. I managed to stay with Leanne and at times passed her. She has a lighter bike, cleats, and is lighter than me, so leaves me for dead on the uphill, with my extra weight and speed I go flying past her on the downhill. We played cat and mouse all the way to Portland. I loved riding through the farmland. It was so nice seeing paddocks, green grass and cows. We did the ride today really easily and managed to get into town before the camp even opened.

We were there that early that we were able to help with the unloading of the luggage from the trucks. I almost did my back with some of that luggage. Some people were not following the luggage weight limit.

As we were riding into Portland Leanne started talking about going for a swim in a heated pool, and finding a spa. I thought that was wishful thinking, but ironically our campsite was right beside the YMCA heated pool. Ding, Ding, Ding!!! Winner, Winner, Winner!!! After putting up the tent we headed straight to the pool and found the spa. We had the most lovely time in the spa meeting other riders.

We then went up the street in search of food. We found a place offering Devonshire teas. It was here that I met Barry, one of my lecturers from my library degree at RMIT over 15 years ago. Talk about a small world!

Sister Adventure 2013 – Great Vic Bike Ride: Mt Gambier to Nelson

I awoke on Day 2 of the Great Vic Bike Ride in a pool of water.  Nope I didn’t have an accident, but Leanne’s tent didn’t cope very well with the overnight rain.

I also woke up feeling the effects of the red wine from the night before.

I blame the red wine for our confusion when trying to work out the time.  We couldn’t work out whether our watches had stopped or our mobile phones had gone funny.  It took me a while to remember that we had crossed the border and we were in a different time-zone.  This explained why our watches were 30 mins different to our mobile phones that had automatically changed times.  Duh!!!

Unfortunately we had to pack the tent up while it was still wet which wasn’t ideal.  The weather wasn’t looking too crash hot, and I was regretting not having found a proper wet weather bike riding jacket.  Doesn’t the universe know I don’t ride in the rain?  Leanne wasn’t fairing much better either.  She had bought a jacket online, but it was a size too small.

After waking up wet we decided that we needed to buy a tarp to put under our tent, particularly if the weather continued to remain wet.  Seriously – where is Spring?  But our first stop was a bakery!!!  Leanne and I had joked about this being our bakery tour of Victoria.  I started the day with a jam donut (can’t remember if I had one or two of these) and a cream jelly cake!  Excellent fuel I believe for a bike ride.

After getting the tarps we commenced our ride.  I lost it and got the giggles as we tackled the little hill out of Mt Gambier.  I barely made it up the hill and thought my God if I can’t cope with that, how am I going to tackle Lavers Hill?

We stopped in at the Blue Lake and then headed out towards the country side.  I think I would have really enjoyed the ride if it wasn’t for the wind and rain.  Leanne kept riding off into the distance and having to stop and wait for me.  It seemed to take forever to get to the first rest stop.  After that the ride got a bit better and I found some energy after the lunch stop.  As I was riding along feeling sick and sorry for myself I promised myself I would not touch wine again on this trip.  Riding in that weather with a hangover was not fun.

I have to admit we didn’t really explore Nelson because of the weather.  It wasn’t the coldest or wettest weather I’ve ridden in, but some reason I found it hard.  It was a bit of a worry that it was the shortest distance of the whole trip (only 42km).  When we arrived I just wanted to put that tent up, climb in and warm up.

It was at Nelson that we first saw the awesome temporary village that is erected each night for the Great Vic Bike Riders.  The organisation of the event is amazing!!!  There are portaloos, portable showers, a massive tent for meals, food vans, ice-cream vans, a bike store with bike mechanics, a camping store (I bought some waterproof pants), bars, a large screen that shows movies at night, and then thousands and thousands of tents.  It is simply incredible!

I thought the showers would be cold, but Leanne returned raving about her shower.  I still set-out though with low expectations.  OMG – the shower was amazing.  It was so hot and I felt like a new person afterwards.

That night at dinner we met a couple from the UK!  Yep people come from everywhere to do this ride.  There is a group of indigenous students from Alice Springs.  Actually there are lots of school groups, there are people our age, retirees and quite a few young families.  This ride shows you that bike riding is a sport that everyone can do.

Sister Adventure 2013 – Great Vic Bike Ride: Mt Gambier

Welcome to the tales from the Sister Adventure 2013.  What’s the Sister Adventure you ask?  Well instead of buying Christmas presents, my sisters and I now celebrate Christmas with the “Basket of Chance”.  What’s the Basket of Chance you ask?  Well before just before Christmas Janice, Leanne and I get together (usually there is wine involved) and conduct the Basket of Chance.  We pop three pieces of paper in a basket (or bag or bowl).  One has adventure written on it, one has decadent dining written on it, and one has cultural event written on it.  We each draw out a piece a paper, and then we are in charge of choosing and organising whatever option we pull out of the basket.  It’s an awesome idea!  Christmas lasts the whole year, as the activities are usually spread across the whole year and we get to do really cool stuff together.

In 2013 Leanne was in charge of organising the adventure activity.  At Christmas in 2012 she had given Janice and I a little package.  It had a bicycle bell in it.  The adventure for 2013 was doing the Great Vic Bike Ride.  We had spoken about doing this for a while, and the 2013 route was along the Great Ocean Road which we really wanted to do.  It also went reasonably close to home, so we could stop in and see Mum and have a night in a comfy bed.

Leanne and I did the whole 9 days, but Janice couldn’t get off work, so she joined us for the last weekend.  Our friend Emma also joined us for the last 3 days.

Preparations for the ride didn’t go exactly to plan.  I had hoped to go on some training rides, but that didn’t really happen.  I did manage one ride along Melbourne’s bike paths, but was so exhausted I had to stop and have a sleep under a tree. The only thing that got me home was the cold bottle of bubbles waiting for me in the fridge.  Leanne only managed one training ride in Alice Springs as well.  That ended in a disaster with a flat tyre.  So we started the ride fully prepared – NOT!

I had also been unable to buy a bike rain jacket.  I trooped around Melbourne’s bike stores trying to find one, but the women’s one didn’t seem to fit me and the men’s ones looked terrible, so I just decided to take my big hiking rain coat instead.

The night before we left I dug out my old riding tops from when we last did Around the Bay in the Day.  I thought, ohh I better just try these on before I pop them in my bag. OMG – it was a disaster.  Riding tops are not flattering at the best of times, but these were SHOCKING!  I had 8 boobs!  Obviously I was a bit slimmer and toned when we tackled Around the Bay.

Day one involved getting ourselves, our bikes, and all our camping gear to Spencer Street station so we could catch a bus to Mt Gambier.  We got down to the station and the place was full of people and bikes.  We were relieved to see that we seemed to have bought about the right amount of luggage, and that there were people to help us get us our bikes ready for transport.  We loaded our bikes onto the truck for transport.  They were cattle trucks which greatly amused Leanne and me.  We then boarded the bus.

The trip to Mt Gambier was very LONG.  Leanne and I ended up amusing ourselves by playing “I spy”.  She tried to trick me with “windex”, but I win the prize for “number plate”.  I had to give so many clues before Leanne guessed this.

When we got to Mt Gambier we grabbed our luggage and quickly put up the tent.  I needed a few instructions, but you’ll be pleased to know my tent skills improved as the trip went on.  After registering, we then went in search of our bikes.  Finding our bikes proved to be quite difficult.  Message to self – next time remember to pop some tinsel or something on our bikes to make them stand out.  The bikes had been taken off the truck and laid on the ground.  We had to walk around the graveyard of bikes trying to find ours.  After we had the bikes back at our tents we headed for the nearest pub in search of a nice glass of red to warm us up.

Our night at the pub ended up being a hilarious night.  We met Bill, who seemed to love a drink more than us.  He also loved to call us Darl…

We would have woken all our tent neighbours up when we arrived back with our laughing.