Cape Gazette
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Retirement 101

Just enjoy the experience!

By Lisa Graff | Nov 12, 2012

I received interesting comments from several people, and we seem to fit into two camps: Some of us have had no problems adjusting to retirement while others have struggled quite a bit. The first camp includes Bob in Rehoboth who writes “I really delight in the freedom retirement gives me to pursue whatever strikes my fancy.”  Bob has found happiness in a part-time summer job leading kayak eco-tours and teaching kayaking and sailing. He says that people often ask him what he does in retirement and he answers “whatever I want” or “I don’t know, but it takes me all day to do it.”

Another reader gave me this advice: “Leave June and Ward behind. Just enjoy the experience of adventuring and expanding new horizons.”  It is easy to tell someone who is struggling with change to “just enjoy the experience.” I truly would like to be more like this person. Writing this column is a step toward embracing the excitement of new beginnings, and thank you for writing, but there is no need to feel sorry for me.

My mother used to say that misery loves company, so I felt better after reading Gayle’s story.  Like me, she lived in one town her entire life and worked at Johns Hopkins University for 34 years. “I walked out the door, got in the car and drove to Seaford, where we had just built our new home. Everything stopped. I feel like I slammed on the brakes and crashed,” wrote Gayle. “So I smiled when I read your article and thought there’s someone else out there in critical condition also.”

Gayle, I walked out the door even before school officially ended because the buyers wanted to settle on my house.  My husband had taken off work for the prior four months and had done a lot of the packing, and he was ready to go. I wanted to take some lilies and forsythia cuttings from the yard that I had lovingly nurtured for so many years so that I could transplant them in my new yard. But last week I planted 50 daffodil bulbs and 15 hyacinth in my new yard so I can look forward to their arrival next spring. I am wondering if we would have handled retirement better if we hadn’t moved to a new state as well. Probably not.

Another reader Paul wrote, “I understand completely what you were talking about. I struggled with my own identity because, for whatever reason, I felt as if my work defined me. I needed a reason to get out of bed in the morning, and vacuuming the house was not cutting it.”  Bingo!  I was the team leader and I loved it when anyone asked for my advice.

Paul also struggled with some health issues. “Losing my hearing was the knockout blow. I was discarded as damaged goods by the people with whom I worked very hard for the last five years. It was at that point that I realized I could sink into this abyss or I could do my own thing…so I started my own company.”  When my mother was forced into a wheelchair after a leg amputation, she encountered a great deal of prejudice that I witnessed as well. She was waiting for an elevator and a woman walked up and said to her, “You need to push the button sweetie.”  My mother said I can’t walk, but I am not stupid, honey.

Love to hear from more readers about your own retirement experiences. I promise to use first names only! Right now I need to move the sprinkler so my grass seed will germinate. Like that sign, “Grow where you are planted,” the grass seed and I are both determined folk, poking up our heads to feel the sun or the rain!

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