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Being My Own Boss Comes with a Price

June 17, 2019

My 60th birthday donut party …. A “couple” years ago.

Another Way for week of June 14, 2019

Being My Own Boss Comes with a Price

I woke up Saturday, June 1, with a marvelously liberating thought on my mind: My whole summer is gloriously free like it was in elementary school and junior high. Remember that fly-through-the-air feeling, and crazy chant: “School’s out! School’s out, teacher left the monkeys out!”?

If you follow my recent columns you already know I worked part or full time most summers from about the time I was a freshman in high school, earning money for clothes, entertainment, and future college attendance. Then when I began a “real” job from age 23 to 67, usually I had only a week or two here and there in the summer off from work (except for three maternity leaves, and no one calls those a vacation).

But now as a new retiree, the years of endless summer stretch before me like a no-end-in-sight horizon. I can sleep in, work in the garden, go to the gym/pool wellness center, polish the granite countertops, wash windows, make a blackberry pie, deep clean the car, take care of a great nephew a few hours, play bingo once a week with a friend in a nursing home, or go babysit the youngest grandson so the older boys can go to a major league baseball game with mommy and daddy.

Except you know what: it’s not just summer! The open schedule includes fall, winter, and spring! These seasons will eventually take shape day by day and week by week.

Nothing is truly free, however, for everywhere I turn as a new retiree, I’m reminded that the final third of life comes with a cost. Conversations at the pool (with mostly exercisers who are 10, 15, 20 years older than me) center on failing bodies and minds. Get togethers with friends or family frequently have those even older who can barely hear, who need walkers, or maybe don’t recognize who you are. Or those for whom chemo is not working. Sad and depressing.

So how do I get back to that exuberant “fresh out of school for the summer” feeling? Gratitude. Gratefulness that I woke up, that my husband makes my coffee, that we have food and enough money to pay the fee at the wellness center, that I made it to retirement and he did too, and just in time to save his ankles and feet from developing even worse mobility problems after 30 years on his feet in a warehouse. (These issues are the main reason we budget for the wellness center.)

How do you cultivate gratitude? The old hymn and favorite morning song of many offers one clue: “I owe the Lord a morning song; of gratitude and praise; for the kind mercies he has shown, in lengthening out my days.” The other verses of this hymn by Amos F. Herr gives additional ideas for counting your blessings.

A friend on Facebook shared how going for a walk and focusing on the lovely things she saw on a recent morning helped lift her out of a funk related to stress, a family member’s surgery, the state of the world, and too much to do. Which leads us to the role of self-care in helping us feel more thankfulness and appreciation. Self-care is not selfish if your goal is taking care of the life God gave you when he planned your future even—before you were born. Scripture reminds us in Jeremiah 29:11 “’For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’”

And that’s the thing: retirement would be no fun without plans and a future—of whatever length. None of us know—even as eighteen-year-olds—how many days we’ve been given. Start each day with a prayer or a hymn of praise in your heart and you will cultivate gratitude, graciousness, and God’s love in your heart for those you encounter this day.

What are the gifts that come with aging? Advice or stories?

Comment here or write to me at: or Another Way Media, P.O. Box 363, Singers Glen, VA 22834.

Jennifer Grant is a lovely writer who connects with these thoughts and feelings

in a humorous yet serious way. Check out her book!

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 a week after newspaper publication.  

One Comment
  1. You are discovering, as I did, that retirement brings so many, many choices, which can cause mind clutter. Every single morning I write in my gratitude book. Yesterday I felt “down,” and I should have read some earlier gratitude-book entries, sure to cheer me up.

    A favorite line here: “Self-care is not selfish if your goal is taking care of the life God gave you when he planned your future even—before you were born.”

    By the way, deep-cleaning the car will never be on my to-do list! 🙂

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