Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Oy Vay! I'm Retiring

OK, I’ll admit it. I take life a little too seriously sometimes. So when I decided to stop teaching and tap into my retirement stash I accumulated for, well, let’s say, a number of years, the timing seemed right. The death of my mother at the age of ninety five, and the sudden death of my ex-husband twenty days later heightened my awareness that life was evaporating around me. I could be next. It was time to retire.
Although I was hit with a momentary surge of excitement, I soon took note of my internal dialogue and its sudden turn toward the dark side…

“Egad,” I thought. “I live alone. Who am I going to talk to…the cats? Ugh! My friends will be working and they’re the core of my social life. What am I doing? Maybe I should reconsider.” I even began to imagine buying a rocking chair.

Did my negative obsession stop there? No…it accelerated. . .

“I lived a highly structured life; up at 5:00 a.m. and off to teach my first grade students. In addition I typically attended meetings, engrossed myself in lesson plans and indulged in “happy hours”. In the absence of all these structured activities, what will I do with myself?”

Moments of near panic dissolved into attempts to reassure myself, “Hey! You’ve got interests. You’ve been independent for years. So what’s the problem?

Then more anxiety would seep in like a bad dream. People would congratulate me and inquire about my plans. Run was my first impulse, but I thought that might be alarming and a bit odd. So I stammered, cleared my throat and gave cursory responses or changed the subject. “Yeah, it’s going to be great. Did you watch Jimmy Fallon last night?”

As a take action person who enjoys problem solving, I began surfing the net to discover how others have managed their transition into retirement. I was especially interested in research featuring single women. Women alone…this had to be the population most adaptable to the changes. Or so I thought…

The reports basically concluded that single women suffer the worst adjustment in retirement. The main reason is the financial disadvantage of single women versus married. Now that problem, I aced. I planned for my financial future and money was not an issue.

After my internet surf, intermittent waves of more anxiety hit me while standing in line, sitting down, driving my car and even while lying down. I was literally mugged by my darkened internal dialogue. Fortunately my planning and organizational skills I developed as a teacher kicked in. I decided to improve the odds that my transition into retirement would be positive. I even took it a little further. I planned on defying research. I was going to be the one single woman that stepped into retirement prepared to have a blast.

Transforming my anxieties in an active plan became my new focus. Instead of conjuring up more fears, I began to envision the factors that would contribute toward a well rounded use of my time. I created a table on my computer and saved it on my desk top. The months prior to retirement I kept adding new ideas as they occurred. Since socializing with friends keeps me happy and grounded, the initial column heading was Social Emotional Needs. The first entry, tat up tap- tat up tap, was Happy Hours. I realized that I had over twenty five friends between the two schools I worked at during my career. I was the one leaving. They weren’t going anywhere. I could join them once or twice a week. Then it occurred to me that I have a wide range of interests and a circle of friends who may want to join me on excursions to art museums, gardens, movies, theatre and day hikes. I also love to kayak. So once again I sat at my computer and tapped out the next heading, Weekly Outings. I listed those who may wish to join me. I planned to call one person a week after planning an interesting activity. Then I typed the list of friends who might join me.


  1. WOW! This is amazing. I am interested and waiting to hear what comes next. You are on to something with this. Love the photos...so lucky to have such interesting people surrounding you that are inspiring you. But your Journey is the true inspiration.
    Love, Judy

  2. You can always take the train up to see us!!!!!!!!! In Paradise on the Central Coast.

  3. You've been teaching for how many years now? Drastic changes in life can make you exhausted, and these can make you realize that you need to take things slowly to appreciate life while you're still alive. Other people may be anxious about this. But everyone goes through this process and it's normal. Retirement will not take your active life. Rather, it will make you love your life even more. Hope you are enjoying your retirement!


Your thoughts are welcome. Click on "comment" at the end of the posting and type your response.