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Looking Towards Retirement

January 3, 2019

Some surprise bookends a daughter bought for me a couple years ago, which I love.

Another Way for week of December 28, 2018

Looking Towards Retirement

It feels weird to be sitting here thinking back on my career, rapidly coming to a close. It is almost as scary of transition as getting out of college and sending out résumés looking for my first real job, which is what I began doing some 43 years ago on my Christmas vacation from college.

If I’m lucky, my life will be bookended with something like the 20-24 years I spent preparing to enter the work world, with (I hope) another two decades tacked on after leaving the old nine to five. But that very thought—that that’s all I might have left: 20 years, is bewildering, scary, undoing. Knowing how fast 20 years can pass is part of it.

Preparing for retirement has been a little overwhelming in terms of the paperwork, the legalese, the understanding how things work or don’t work, the jumping through the Medicare hoops, understanding donut holes and supplements, figuring out when it is best to start drawing Social Security, will I lose too much money if I don’t wait until I’m 71 (which you hear a lot of “experts” recommending these days).

First let’s clarify two things:

  1. I’m planning to officially retire from full time work the end of March 2019.
  2. I’m planning to keep writing this column for the foreseeable future, as long as papers keep using it. It was a very small side gig for me these last two years. So, no retiring from that at this point: with a sincere and grateful thank you to papers and readers!

I’m writing about retirement because so many of us baby boomers and beyond are here (are we the only ones reading print newspapers anymore?) and the struggles and aging issues are real.

My husband and I started going to retirement seminars and consultations about handling retirement money a few years ago and I felt like I was in first grade. What are they talking about? What language is this? How will I ever learn all this? Forget seminars: I need to go back to school! Will we do the right thing or get ourselves in trouble?

Two years back when my husband hung up his work shoes we faced a worrisome money decision with some of his retirement money. It was one of the most stressful couple of days we went through in recent years. I knew then and there I wasn’t cut out to play the stock market.

Now that I’ve announced my pending retirement, I’ve had all the feels: do coworkers think I’m treading water? Dare I even write about this? Am I losing my creativity, word skills, ability to think on my feet? Am I keeping up with the thirty and forty-year-olds? Are my slacks too wide-legged and over the hill?

It will be nice not worrying about these things and having more freedom to spend time with grandchildren, travel, visit my mother and siblings. But will I dry up?

And now I sound and feel like the mythical J. Alfred Prufrock (what a great name) fretting and stewing about minutia in some favorite lines of my pet poet, T.S. Eliot:

“I have measured out my life with coffee spoons …

I grow old … I grow old … I shall wear my trousers rolled. Shall I part my hair behind? Do I dare to eat a peach?” (From “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” by T.S. Eliot.)

And oh yeah: now I remember another thing I want to do as I enter a different era; I hope to resume reading poetry in the English literature textbooks I saved and have mostly never cracked.

I will also not soon forget the words of one of my four bosses after he took early retirement: “Don’t wait to retire. Retirement is wonderful, just great! You can do what you want to do.”

I’m looking forward to it but not without lots of questions, wonderings and worries. I know one thing for now, I will continue writing, because that helps me think things out. I will continue a life of faith, with God who has been faithful through so many other bewildering and happy transitions.

***

If you’re retired, how do you like your life? I’d love to hear advice and encouragement.

If you’re just starting out in a career or life, what do you hope to be or do in 40 years?

This is the last week to request the bookmark “Top 35 Books for Children” compiled by friends and readers. Or send your comments or retirement advice and stories to anotherwaymedia@yahoo.com or Another Way Media, P.O. Box 363, Singers Glen, VA 22834.

Another Way is a column by Melodie Davis, in syndication since 1987. She is the author of nine books. Another Way columns are posted at FindingHarmonyBlog.com a week after newspaper publication.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

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7 Comments
  1. Bad news for me who likes working with you as the Editor at Purpose. Good news for you as your hours will open up and you’ll be able to spend more time with your family and loved ones. I’ve a few years behind you, but not too far. With retirement for me, I’m looking forward to it so I have more time to write. Like you, that part won’t stop. Only the PT day job is finding itself close to an end in another few years.

    • I am definitely looking forward to more freedom to see the grandchildren–even with four weeks vacation in a year, it soon gets gobbled up with long weekends here and there. Did I read somewhere ((maybe in your article) that you stock greeting cards on shelves in stores part time? That must be challenging at times, straightening and putting back cards in the right places as people (me included) don’t do a very good job of putting cards back where they belong.

      Another blogger/writer friend Nancy Myers gave recently on her blog a line that works for me, regarding writing: “What I discovered while I was not writing was that writing makes me happy. Without it I get glum and tired.” Read more here: https://thepracticalmystic.org/2019/01/01/inspiration-please/

      Thanks for checking in!

      • Yes, Melodie. I have a PT job with Hallmark, stocking cards at several different stores. When the car died a few years ago, I needed something a little more. So this pays the bills as I keep writing. I like the flexibility that allows me to set up lunch dates and activities in the middle of the day. Yesterday I was able to take a 4 hour break and go meet my ‘adopted’ granddaughter for a late Christmas lunch and gingerbread house making party. She’d gotten sick when we were scheduled the week before Christmas.

        Thanks for the link with Nancy Myer’s great statement about writing. I’ll go check it out!

  2. The bookend metaphor is choice. I see three in the picture, just enough.

    You have been swimming in the office pool for a long, long time, so give yourself permission to develop “land” legs. At least a year.

    In my opinion, a writing career is the best transition into retirement. After 40+ years in academia, I had to cast about for what would replace a job I absolutely LOVED in my third phase. Now I love my life, finding a new groove.

    Our best move before I retired: Finding a good financial advisor (You may not have to wait until your seventies for Social Security)

    I love my life now, and you’ll love retirement: Leaving the punch in/punch out dailiness of a formal job, you can loll around in a robe until late morning . . . or afternoon. Travel, visit family, or do nothing at all. Remember Pooh’s wisdom: “How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.” You are a lucky one!

    • Thank you for this beautiful reminder, by way of Pooh: love it. Yes, we’ve found a good financial advisor, recommended highly by a close friend. Altogether we had appointments with 3 different persons and this was the best fit. I also appreciate your quip of “swimming in the office pool for a long long time.” Goodness, you’re right: as long as the children of Israel in the wilderness! Time to get out of the water. 🙂

  3. Ann Brandt permalink

    I know how you must feel . It’s a little scary to retire but nice too. I retired at 65 because my husband wanted to travel more and looking back I am so glad because we are old and he has Parkinsons.

    • Thanks for the affirmation and I’m sorry to hear that your husband developed Parkinsons. I know we don’t know what lies ahead (thank God!) but we also thank God for faith that can carry us through. My father had diabetic neuropathy (’86) and was in a wheelchair for awhile but got to where he could walk with a cane again; and then later had dementia; but we still enjoyed many years with him until he died in 2006. The best to you both.

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