redefining retirement

Busy Retiring: Maxine’s First Year

“How are you enjoying your retirement?” “Are you bored yet?”

Are they talking to me? What’s retirement? How did I become
old enough to retire?

I decided, in June of 2000, that it was time to end my job
as a school social worker. I was 58 years old. My husband
wanted me to stop working so that I would have more energy
and a flexible schedule. Two of my daughters were having
babies at opposite ends of the continent. I wanted to be
able to spend time with them after the births and to be with
the grandchildren. My third daugher also lived away and was
embarking on a new career. All in all I wanted to be more
mobile and accessible to my family.

Fortunately, working for basic income was not necessary for me.
I loved my job but it took up such a large part of my time.
I gradually became aware that I had options, as well as the
luxury of deciding how I wanted to spend the rest of my life.

It is now a little over a year. What has transpired? I have
the pleasure of two precious grandchildren. I have spent a
lot of time in airports. I have stayed in my pajamas until
after 10:00 a.m. on a weekday morning. I have become more
actively involved in both urban renewal and heritage aspects
of my city. I sit on a hospital board, thus learning more
about the healthcare system. I helped an old friend get
elected to the Canadian federal government and have become
involved again in local politics. I have been to lunch with
friends four times and knitted 1 1/2 baby sweaters.

I still have not met my husband for lunch in the middle of
the week, cleaned out my drawers, put photos in albums,
exercised regularly, mastered the computer or the game of
bridge, read enough books, or browsed the many corners of the
city that I promised myself I would.

So, where am I now? Still very much in the process of
learning what retirement means to me. Was I ever lucky to
be able to stop working. So much to do, so little time!


Stepping Stones: Playing with Retirement

questions are examples of how not to take yourself too seriously.
This is a major life change and a positive attitude will enhance
your experience.

BE AWARE OF YOUR MOTIVATION. Reflection is important.
Try to discover what is driving you at this point and make
changes for reasons that are right for you.

MUCH ADO ABOUT ALL OR NOTHING. Perhaps leaving your job,
at this time, is not an option for emotional or financial reasons.
Look for ways to create balance by satisfying some of your unmet
needs while still working. This is also good preparation for
when that change does occur.

GO WITH THE FLOW. What follows may sound contradictory:
never say never, yet listen to your own vision; don’t say no to
anything, yet do what you want. Open your heart to all

SEESAW MAGIC. Finding balance can often be the key to
unlocking the “good life,” a very subjective notion. Giving
community service and giving yourself pleasure; having a
purpose and having fun; being productive and being playful.

MAKE A LIST AND DON’T CHECK IT TWICE. We all have a myriad
of wishes that have not come true because life sometimes has
a way of interfering. Now is your chance. But don’t beat
yourself up when life, once again, intervenes.


Recommended Resources:Books and Websites to Explore

“When I Am An Old Woman I Shall Wear Purple”
by Sandra Hal Martz

As the title suggests, this engaging book is sometimes
whimsical, other times provocative. It piques interest in
the subject of women and aging through poetry, prose and

Both of these websites take an honest approach to women’s
issues. Although different in style, they explore a wide
variety of interests and options open to mid-life women.
Both sites include articles relating to relationship and
health concerns, career changes and leisure activities.


IV. Our Invitation to You

Do you have your own transition story? We invite you to
share it with our readers for the benefit of women who
themselves may be dealing with similar changes. The skills you
used may be Stepping Stones for others. If you are interested,
please e-mail us.

(c) HerMentorCenter, 2001