When my youngest son was a toddler, he loved Fred Penner….I mean he absolutely IDOLIZED him! That was mostly good, except that twenty-seven years later, many of those songs have a way of creeping back into my head.
When settling in to write this piece on health and aging, Fred’s words once again sprang to the forefront of my mind.
“You can do it if you try, you can do it if you try, you can do do doodly do it if you try.”
Many of us know the basic research on longevity and aging well (as much of it is based on common sense). We just need reminders to try…and sometimes to creatively modify! When browsing the research on positive aging, you will typically find….[read more here}
I would love it if you could stop by…and if you could comment, and let me know some of your own modifications, that would be very cool!
When Donna asked me if I’d like to contribute a guest post for her Retirement Reflection Sunday Series, I was pleased, but I had to check with her whether I’d be the right fit because I don’t qualify as “retired.” I’m 55 and still working – retirement is like an alluring siren beckoning to me from afar – probably ten years away at my latest count. I must say that I’ve considered retirement on and off over the last few years, especially when I was stuck in a job I hated and could see no future with.
The term I use to describe where I’m at now is “Transitioning to Retirement.” I reached this stage by pulling myself up by the bootstraps a few years ago and asking myself the hard questions about what I wanted to do and what the future held for us. There’s just my husband and me nowadays. Both our children are grown and flown and self-sufficient. We aren’t supporting them anymore – but we still like to eat regularly!
TO RETIRE OR NOT TO RETIRE? THAT IS THE QUESTION
A few years ago, I was sitting in a job where I was feeling under-appreciated and underpaid. I knew I needed to do something, but the question was “what?” I’d been there for eight years. I was 52, and I was scared to leave because I saw myself as too old to be considered by any new potential employers. I slogged away four days a week feeling miserable and I could feel the unhappiness pervading the rest of my life. I wasn’t fun to be around and it was made worse because my husband had returned to full-time study and I was our breadwinner.
To escape from that job, I had the magic “retirement” word floating around in my head. The temptation was there just to pull the plug and leave the 9 -5 daily grind behind. I could head into a lovely sunset of late morning sleep-ins and a lifelong twilight of endless leisure…… sheer bliss! Then reality raised its not too pretty head and I realized that we would actually need to be able to fund the next 30-40 years of no longer being gainfully employed and that would be a major issue with no income from work.
THE WORKING CLASS POOR
The trouble for Midlifers like me is that most of us aren’t independently wealthy and we don’t have the financial reserves to quit work in our 50’s and start living a life of unending ease. (I know there are some lucky souls who can do that and I envy them beyond words!) But for us, when I looked at our savings and started calculating how long they’d last for, the answer wasn’t very inspiring. We’re debt-free, but we still needed to eat and pay those pesky bills that rolled in with relentless regularity. What happens when the savings are gone and there are a couple of decades still left to live?
The idea of spending my twilight years living under a bridge in a sleeping bag and eating cat food was not hugely appealing. So, for this Midlifer, retirement wasn’t an immediate option. It lies in the future tantalizingly beckoning me, but unfortunately, it really wasn’t an option available to me at 52 with a mature-aged student husband.
WHAT IS THE SOLUTION?
For us, the secret is to transition into that glorious time of retirement. For me to stay on the work treadmill meant being brave enough to leave that miserable job and putting myself out there to look for something more suitable. I needed to find a job I liked and one that fitted in with the lifestyle I wanted to achieve. It meant finding a job that was part-time, so I could enjoy some of those retirement delights without losing my income in its entirety.
The amazing thing I found was that I am still very employable. I didn’t get the first job I applied for – it only took a month or so of serious job seeking to find one where I’m so much happier. Where I work now, I feel appreciated. I feel like I’m making a difference. I’m actually paid what I’m worth, and I know I give them value for the pay cheque I earn each fortnight.
THREE YEARS LATER
Almost three years have passed since I put in my resignation and moved on. My husband finished his studies and we both now work part-time in jobs we enjoy. We have the flexibility to fit in some hobbies. I have a little volunteer position. I blog three times a week. My husband works from home, and we fill our week without any trouble at all. It’s not a rush and it’s not living from vacation to vacation. We won’t be retiring with millions in the bank, but that’s not what’s important to us.
We want to be living life now – transitioning and preparing for retirement. We want to be ready for the time when we won’t be going to work anymore. I can already think of dozens of extra things I could fill my spare time with if I had more available. That pipedream of retirement is still there – we’re just sliding towards it with a smile on our faces rather than a weary acceptance of our lot in life.
Hi, I’m Leanne. My blog is Cresting The Hill. This is where I write about how great midlife is. I’m a huge fan of the empty nest, and I love where I am in life at this moment in time. I share the lessons I’ve learned and my journey towards this point – because I want everyone to find the happiness that I’m experiencing. I’d love you to visit and leave a comment – let’s get to know each other because connection is what it’s all about!
From Retirement Reflections:
Thank you to Leanne for providing such an open, honest and thought-provoking post. I love how she has so effectively modeled making a much desired job change, regardless of age. Stay tuned next Sunday for ‘Retire From Work But Not From Life — The Art of Positive Aging’ by Sue from Sizzling Toward Sixty. Once again, you won’t want to miss it!
When Donna asked me to guest post for her blog, I have to admit my first immediate thought was, “well, there goes her credibility!”
I am a devoted reader of Retirement Reflections, and Donna offers a mature and polished take on our collective post-career journey. So it does make you wonder why she wants to feature a blogger whose sole ambition is to sow literary imbecility. My personal guess is that Richard is slipping something in her evening cocktail in order for there to be less “writing time” and more “us time” in that household. You may have other ideas, though. I encourage you to share them in the comments area below. We really should get to the bottom of this.
Anyway, on with the show…
My own retirement journey began in August of 2014 when I took advantage of an early retirement offer from my employer of some 32 years. I was a law librarian and worked for the (U.S.) federal government in a few different agency settings and locations.
I grew up outside of Detroit, Michigan but lived and worked in Washington, DC for 20 years, 11 years in Fresno, California, and a very brief 10 months in Portland, Oregon where in fact I ended my career. It hadn’t been my plan to live as a pseudo-gypsy in so many places, but certainly in hindsight the journey has been enriching and formative. Which is a polite and face-saving way of answering the inevitable question, “do you have problems making decisions?” Answer: “Well, yes and no.”
My wife “Gorgeous” and I made the decision to move to Florida and have it be our permanent retirement home. Going back to at least the 1950’s, the Sunshine State has been a popular “golden years” destination for Americans and Canadians, many of whom it should be pointed out arrive with a questionable sense of fashion. This works out for me personally because it’s long been a dream of mine to experience the subtle joys of wearing patterned shorts with the classic knee high hosiery. A tip for fellow dreamers out there: think small.
In my own modest way I’m doing my part to make America great again.
Sartorial choices aside, the early retirement journey has so far been most gratifying. After giving myself about 18 months to get my bearings (i.e. watching more Perry Mason episodes than I even thought was humanly possible), I eventually succumbed to something resembling a routine. Last year I returned to my profession and found a part-time job at a local county law library. This has not only provided additional income and a sense of purpose, but it has also given me a window through which I can ascertain how other retirees manage financial issues such as taxes and income caps. Gorgeous continues to work full time, which adds a few layers of complexity to our economic situation. These are issues I fully admit to not giving much thought during my working years.
Harry Truman once said that he wished he could cut off the arms of all of his economists because he got so tired of hearing them start sentences with, “On the one hand… .” But in retirement, and especially early retirement, nearly every single economic decision has some kind of consequence which needs to be considered from all sides.
When is the best time to access a tax-sheltered account? At what percentage should I start to take distributions from it?
What age should I begin Social Security? Canadian citizens have a similar dilemma with their Canada or Quebec Pension Plans.
How will proposed legislative changes to Medicare affect my current plan, or perhaps later when I’m eligible to join?
How is it possibly fair that a third scoop of ice cream has suddenly become a gastroenterological issue?
These are the kinds of things we occasionally tackle on my blog. Along the way we also cover the complexities of ex-spouses, alimony, familial relationships, insurance, politics, and the reason why just because you can pour vodka into a martini glass, it doesn’t qualify to still be called a martini.
Sometimes we succeed in answering the great questions of the day, but mostly I just muddy the waters for you. All in the name of public service!
So I do hope that once you’ve read one of Donna’s fine posts, you’ll occasionally make your way over to my blog too. I won’t change the way you look at the world, but I guarantee you will think, “This is proof that pretty much anyone can call himself a blogger now.”
Thank you to Marty for brilliantly kicking off this Sunday Guest Post Series.
Marty will be on a blogging break this summer. You can check out his fresh posts again in September. For those of you who are new to his blog, why not visit his site to catch a few ‘reruns?’ You won’t be disappointed!!
If you are a retirement or lifestyle blogger and would like to contribute a post to this series, please leave a comment below or send a private email. If you’ve already signed up, but haven’t yet sent in your post, please do so at your earliest convenience. Stay tuned next Sunday for Cresting the Hill’s ‘Transition to Retirement — Smiling All the Way’! This post contains great advice that you won’t want to miss regardless of your work/retirement status.
Happy Father’s Day to all Dads out there…and those who are forever in our hearts!
Thank you to all readers who have checked out my recent guest posts at Sizzling Toward Sixty and Jill Weatherholt’s Blog. It has been a great experience to introduce you to sites that I love, meet new readers/bloggers and to see the intricate connections and intersections among blogs that I follow.
Shout out to Sue Loncaric for hosting me once again at her site. This time I wrote about a huge passion area…walking! You can check out that post below. Once again, your comments are hugely appreciated!
Last month, Donna Connolly from Retirement Reflections wrote a guest post for me Happiness Revisited. Donna’s post was so well received that I asked her to write for my Health & Wellness Month and write about her passion for walking. Donna writes….
I wrote previously about creating a Summer Series: Favorite Retirement/Lifestyle Bloggers. For quite a while, I’d been trying to find a personal and effective way of highlighting favorite bloggers in my niche. A ‘Summer Series’ seemed to be the perfect solution. It would help share blogs that I love. It would also bring fresh content to my site for some of the time that I am away this summer…without access to the internet.
Thank you to all who have responded so positively to this series. Due to your overwhelming replies, I am delighted to be able to initiate this feature a bit earlier than originally planned.
Starting next week, I’ll begin sharing some amazing bloggers. Hopefully you will find several ‘old favorites’ here…and a few ‘new favorites’ as well!
First up, is Marty from Snakes in the Grass with ‘Torrid Romance and Sensual Escapes: A Retirement Primer.’ Try not laughing at his witty writing. Go ahead; I dare you!
The following week we’ll be visited by Leanne, from Cresting the Hill. Not yet retired, Leanne’s catch phrase is “actively transitioning.” In her post, ‘The Transition to Retirement — Smiling All of the Way’, Leanne offers many insightful thoughts on preparing for this change process. I wish that I had known about her blog before I had retired!
After Leanne is Sue from Sizzling Toward Sixty and Beyond. Through her post, ‘Retire From Work But Not From Life,’ Sue shares her insights on the art of positive aging. Some of you have visited a guest post that I wrote for Sue’s blog. She has made June her ‘Month of Health and Wellness.’ I’m sure that you will find Sue’s tips and reminders to be very valuable.
On Sunday, July 9 we’ll hear from Kate from Views and Mews. Kate shares with us ‘A Backward Glance At Retirement.’ Once again, humor is the secret weapon…and Kate knows just how to use it!
In a post inspired by Sue (above), Pat Doyle from Retirement Transition will share with us “17 New Things in 2017”. I’ve mentioned before that building relationships, sharing ideas, connecting, and motivating each other are just a few of the amazing benefits of blogging. Pat’s post is a perfect example of this!
On the remaining Sundays, I will highlight the following blogs (not necessarily in this order):
Don’t see the site of a retirement/lifestyle blogger whom you adore? Let me know, and I will gladly stalk them! Don’t see your own site in this niche and would like to join in the fun? Please let me know that too… you cannot hide for long!
As there are so many remarkable retirement/lifestyle bloggers out there, I would love to keep this chain going for as long as possible. When reading many of these bloggers, my recurring question often is “Where were you all when I was contemplating my retirement?” Hopefully, this series will help others to connect with a little inspiration.
If you have agreed to write a guest post and can get it to me by the end of June, that would be most helpful. I will then ensure that I have all articles ready to go before I set off for the Camino Trail.
I’m excited! (Yes, both about this series…and about the trail!) Don’t forget to tune in next Sunday!
Thank you to author/blogger, Jill Weatherholt, for hosting me at her site. You can check out my guest post here.
Jill writes warm stories about friendship, love and forgiveness. She began her blog as a way to share her journey toward publication. Through her site, she has also created a community for other writers and artists. I encourage you to peruse Jill’s thought-provoking posts and heart-warming stories, as well as those by her guest authors.
“If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.” Mother Theresa.
Many years ago, during a deep meaning of life discussion, a friend stated simply, “The purpose of our existence is the relationships that we build with each other.”
During this past week, when Richard and I tried to make sense of the last month, we were overcome by the remarkable thoughtfulness of others. My friend’s straightforward words, from years before, came right back to me. We all build relationships everywhere…and are often unaware of their sheer magnitude.
I wrote last week’s post in an attempt to explain to all family and friends at once, the events of the previous few weeks. I wanted to ensure that people heard this from me…or could at least check my point of view easily.
What I hadn’t anticipated, was the generous outpouring of love and support from near and far, and from friends old and new. Along with this kindness, individuals shared their personal stories of illness and loss with their own family members.
I adore words, and if you know me well…I seldom run out of things to say! But this personal sharing has left me speechless. Your thoughtfulness has touched Richard and me deeply. We are enriched by your love and support. My friend was right. Relationships are the key. Thank you for being there and taking the time to show your kindness. It means the world to me.