Category Archives: work

Retirement 101: Who ARE you?

retirement flip flops

What is your immediate response when someone asks, “Tell me about you”?

Go ahead. Answer that question. Quick! I’ll wait.

I bet the first piece of information you share–and probably the first one you even though of–was your job. You are a teacher, or an attorney, or a DJ, or a retail clerk.

But what happens when that magical, golden moment called “retirement” arrives at the end of your driveway….the one you no longer have to leave at the crack of dawn? Even partially, when you have the ability to leave your primary profession and cut back a bit? Maybe work just enough to keep fun money in your pocket for travel, bird watching, or dance lessons?

Who are you then?

I am about to find out. Join me as I enter this new world, the one where I will find out if I have an identity apart from my work.

See you tomorrow! After all, I don’t have anywhere to go.

Retirement is wonderful. It’s doing nothing without worrying

about getting caught at it. ~Gene Perret

 

 

Advertisements

18 days……

I think our capacity for life increases right along with our waist line as we age. That’s got to be it, right?

If you had told me six months ago that I would be getting up at 4:50 every morning to get to a full-time job 25 miles away from my nice warm bed, I would have had some choice words for you. It had been over 10 years since I had been in a regimented schedule, one that took me away from my morning sanctuary on my outside patio, complete with pot-bellied stove, visiting birds, coffee, and my newspaper.

But life plays tricks on us. That doesn’t seem to stop, either, as we age. I wish I could tell my young friends otherwise; but let’s look at the rainbow side of this equation.

I am finding new reserves of adaptability and calmness in the midst of this new challenge, and I can’t help but think that my acquired wisdom—the knowledge gathered and stored like a squirrel’s stash of nuts for the winter—is supporting me now.

I have always had issues with depression in the morning. Every day. EVERY. DAY. It is a miracle that I ever kept a job of any kind, if it required rising before dawn, moving with purpose, and getting somewhere on time. I think that’s the definition of most jobs, right? Throw in doing all of that as a single parent from the time my daughter was about 4, and then showing up to face a roomful of teenagers who didn’t want to be there, either, and it’s a miracle to me now that I didn’t allow the depression to win.

But, we do what we have to. That was the mantra in our house, one that my now-adult daughter lives by, too. You just do it. You get up and you move. The depression always lifted after an hour or so, something I came to understand and accept. No thinking allowed, simply face it head on, step into it and then come out the other side. Where the sun is shining again and life doesn’t look so dreary and hopeless. (And stay away from the telephone to call in sick; I would never have gone to work at all if I had succumbed to that quotidian instinct!)

A few months ago I found myself in need of temporary work to escort me through the transition to semi-retirement, something I never believed I would be able to do. But, life also surprises us in other ways, too, especially if we trust ourselves and the organization of the universe. When I was offered a financially sound opportunity to move me through that transition, I embraced it, even though it requires that I witness the sunrise each morning from my car. On the Interstate, in bumper-to-bumper traffic. With no time to read the paper before I go.

It is a struggle. But I am pulling from all those years of “just doing it.” In this case, I know there is a specific end in sight—18 days, give or take—which will make the not doing it any more that much more delectable.

We tend to cherish even more that which is taken from us….and then returned.

“Happiness is not the absence of problems,

it’s the ability to deal with them.”

― Steve Maraboli

Climbing off the ladder……

I have managed. I have supervised. I have hired, trained, and nurtured employees. I traveled and stayed in hotels, attended company meetings and got lost in a rental car or on a subway. I did it all in the pursuit of my career, whatever that was at the time.

When we are in the fray of our careers, our days are filled with tests of our competence from one end of the clock to the other. The pressure is intense, and our personal lives and families very often suffer. We suffer. But, unless we consciously jump off the treadmill of western civilization, it happens to all of us.

Which is why I’m enjoying my last stint at a full-time job as I approach semi-retirement in about 6 weeks. As it is, I haven’t worked in an office setting, complete with a cubicle and an eye on the clock from 8-5 for….well, decades. But, life is endlessly entertaining, so here I am in front of a computer with a name badge around my neck and a wristwatch on my arm. I agreed to do this only because it is a temporary job, covering for a young woman out on maternity leave. And the paycheck, of course. I knew there would be an end and I wouldn’t have to flip too many pages on my wall calendar to reach that end. At this point, I am a little over half way through.

We seek out responsibility in the early years of a career. It proves to those above us on the ladder that we are worthy to join them up there in the corporate clouds. Today, I avoid ladders like a superstitious plague. I don’t want to be noticed and I don’t want anyone to know how much I’ve done in the past, from clerical work to teaching to becoming the VP of a company to becoming a professional mediator to writing books and owning my own company. I just want to tap on this keyboard until the new mama returns to continue her career and her own search for significance, however she defines that for herself.

This job is pressure-free because it means nothing to me, other than the source of a paycheck to fund the next stage of my life. The fun one where I will work part-time at something I love. And the rest of the time I will expand the horizons of my life into areas that interest me, like writing, reading, volunteering, checking out as many cruise ships as I can and, of course, ballroom dancing.

So, for the next six weeks I will show up, do what I’m asked to do to the best of my ability, and then leave it all behind for the next phase of my life. And not a ladder in sight.