An eclectic website about Women, Christianity,
History, Culture and the Arts--
and anything else that comes to mind.
A gold watch represents the temporal disorientation of retirement.
Some people dream of retirement, but I had always had dream
jobs, so retirement hit me pretty hard.
When I began to look up pictures to illustrate this website, I
realized that most people's concept of planning for retirement has
to do with money. People who know me well know that money is
one of the last things I think about.
When I was working, I worked for two colleges, a publishing
company, a church and two nonprofits--not the most lucrative
jobs around. My mother used to wonder when I'd get a "regular
job." Sorry, Mother, but I never did.
Fortunately, my husband Frank's the practical member of the
family. Every family has to have at least one. I'm the dreamer,
and my dreams have always involved writing and helping people.
I retired last year, the year of my 70th birthday, from working for
a nonprofit on an urban high school campus. Frank had retired
two years earlier from a "regular job." We have Social Security;
he gets a monthly retirement check; and I got a small lump sum.
It's plenty for us to make house payments and live.
My sister called recently from Texas. She was both looking
forward to and dreading retirement, and I knew what she meant.
I'd been forced to retire to begin a series of medical tests to see
what was making it increasingly difficult for me to do my work,
and I suspected that I might not be able to return.
Work has been important to me since I started working for my
father on his small-town newspaper when I was ten. Now, six
decades later, it was hard to imagine life without a job. Here are a
few of the things I've found important to consider about retirement:
1) The main sensation I've experienced is a temporal
disorientation. You can lose track of day, date and time when
you're not getting up and going to work, taking a lunch break and
going home in the evening. At my most recent job, time was even
more narrowly controlled--by the bells marking the periods of the
Now days and times are undistinguished. When the holidays came
around, I missed the thrill of the four-day Thanksgiving weekend
and the three weeks of Christmas break. Life has become a
perpetual holiday, and it's up to me to give it structure.
So every morning before I get out of bed, I glance at the clock
and think about the day and the date and just what I plan to
2) One thing I'd been looking forward to was spending more time
with my husband Frank. Sometimes that is like a romantic dream.
We've spent more time holding hands, hugging and kissing than we
have since our early married life. That's been fantastic!
Frank is my best friend, and we enjoy talking and watching movies
together. But after 50 years together--mornings, evenings and
weekends--fulltime togetherness can be an adjustment. At first,
we found ourselves bumping into each other!
Fortunately, again he has come to the rescue. No one could be
kinder. Maybe it helped that I started my retirement with a series
of health problems that left us all wondering if I was going to have
one, but Frank has been incredible. He's kind and loving, and
again, he covers the practical part, like keeping my computer
working and warning me if I'm in somebody's way in the market.
But I need to remember that being kind to him does not
necessarily involve doing the same sorts of things. His needs and
desires are different from mine, and I need to be aware of and
respect those differences.
3) I guess the worst part of retirement is the sense that I'm no
longer useful. Even here, I've been fortunate. My work is of the
sort that I'm still asked to write the occasional journal article or
edit someone else's writing. I'm also working on the website I've
written each month for the past eight years.
My doctors have now given me a clean bill of health and
eliminated most of the nightmares of growing old. My health
problems are reduced to retaining strength, figuring out how to age
somewhat gracefully and making a life without a job.
It was just a few days ago that I suddenly realized that we could
go to the Huntington, one of my favorite places in Los Angeles.
I'm not limited to home, church, grocery store and doctor's
We enjoy visiting with our children, babysitting our granddaughter,
reading, and watching movies. I also enjoy writing and organizing
my memories and our photos for other family members to enjoy.
A book I found useful in researching this website, and in planning
my own retirement, is Ernie J. Zelinski's How to Retire Happy,
Wild, and Free: Retirement wisdom that you won't get from
your financial advisor. It's a book to work by answering
questions and doing activities, especially the Get-a-Life Tree in
chapter 3, with the list of activities that follows.
I also looked over Helen Young's and my Time Management for
Christian Women, particularly the second chapter on "My
Mission and My Goals," chapter 12 on "The Seasons of My Life,"
and chapter 13, "Eternity in My Heart."
Planning for a dream retirement involves balancing activities to
maintain physical, mental and emotional health. These are the
topics of the other articles in this website.
Are you retired? How did you prepare for it, and what are you
doing with the rest of your life? I hope you'll write me at
firstname.lastname@example.org with your experiences and reactions to the
subject of life without a job.
Frank and I have spent a lot of time
holding hands, talking and just
enjoying being together.
I spend time writing and editing on
the computer and planning and
laying out my monthly website.
I spend time reading and writing my
memories for our children and