Tag Archives: Retirement

June 8 – Seeds of Retirement

by Ariela Zucker

For years the thoughts of growing old were as far from my mind as the terminology that goes along with the ‘golden years.’ Yes, people around me became old, got sick even died. I was sad, contemplated the cycle of life, nodded my head in all the right places, but never until the last few years did I see myself as part of this inevitable process.  Perhaps it is universal, the false notion that we can avoid somehow what happens to everyone around us.

At age fifty, I opted to take early retirement, and the transition went without any significant obstacles.  I managed to avoid the need to stop working, my health was excellent, and the plans many. By the time I reached Social Security age, a few years later, I was self-employed as I still am, without plans to stop working anytime soon.

Over the years, my husband and I stopped now and then to discuss our retirement years. We agreed that as responsible adults, we should plant some seeds for those years when retirement will become unavoidable.

These discussions were always a bit somber, somewhat depressing, and we were happy to pretend that all issues were discussed and resume our daily life.

With each passing year, though, the ‘what ifs’ become harder and harder to push down. I began to realize a new thought pattern when three years ago, we reclaimed our private home a few hours to the south and turned it into our winter residence.

“Closer to the kids, ” was the official reason, but the truth was that the winters in our motel became harder and harder.

“We like town living with all the amenities,” was another sentence we used frequently. Less snow shoveling and the closeness of several area hospitals was what we said to ourselves when we got ‘real.’

We rehabbed the house to meet our future needs. That meant relocating the bedroom to the first floor (next to the bathroom) to create a one-floor living. The next move will be to move the washer and dryer from the basement to the main floor to complete this arrangement.

We planned the second floor now used only for guests, so it will become an independent unit with private entrance because “who knows, one day we might need a living aid.”

In the middle of the night, sleep often evades me. Instead of counting sheep, I run in my head all the extra resources we put aside for the days that we will need to live entirely on social security. These thoughts are far from calming.

The other day I said to my husband, “We should do it now, as long as we still can,” and at that moment, I knew, this is it, the seeds of retirement have germinated, and they are in full bloom.

Ariela Zucker was born in Israel. She and her husband left sixteen years ago and now reside in Ellsworth Maine where they run a Mom and Pop motel. Ariela blogs regularly and this post first appeared at Paper Dragon.

August 7 – GLOW

by Carol Ziel

The Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling – GLOW – showing now on NETFLIX

I want to be a Gorgeous Lady of Wrestling, to show up for work in a spangly sequined leotard, full of feathers, glitter, and bangles. I want to have a name like Spanish Red, Mathilda the Hun, Thunderbolt, Beastie, or Lightning. I want to be part of the drama between good and evil played out each night in the ring. I want to belong to a group of women who use the full strength of their bodies to enact that struggle—- to know the complete abandon of leaping and tumbling, flipping, bouncing, and to feel the trust each woman has in the other.

I grew up Catholic. Female wrestling was not an option. Getting married or becoming a nun was. I joined the convent. But what if the bishop, instead of requesting vocations had said: “Be strong, be wild and adventurous for the spirit. Test your physical and creative muscles to the limit because that is your true vocation.”

Of course, now that I’m 70, it’s a little late to change professions. I’m seriously overweight, have had 3 knee surgeries, and am getting ready to retire. I became a social worker instead of a wrestler, frequently fighting for justice and healing from a cubicle. For many years I was wired to a headset. My uniform was frequently navy blue, instead of feathers and glitter. The evil I most frequently battled was the bureaucracy that hired me, but then created obstacles to actually doing the job. Still, I think I did some good.

How I would have loved to tussle with a corporate figurehead in the ring: suit and tie against myself in that sequined, spangled unitard. I’d start with a Leg Drop, followed with a Knee Shot to the Ring Post. I’d use the Arm Wringer, Gorilla Press, and Glam Slam. Then the Keister Bounce, Spike Pile Driver, and Monkey Flip. I’d flip him from rope to rope and toss him like a pizza until he begged for mercy. But he’d get no mercy until I’d get his pledge, a pledge to give us the time, space and staff to be truly compassionate and effective. The grace to be more focused on the soul of our work, and not the financial gain, the imperative to put the client first, the clarity that corporate rules were to serve the well-being of the client, and not primarily the company.

That can only happen in my dreams, and now it’s time to retire. I am grateful for the trust that clients had in me when they revealed their pain, confusion, and loss. It was a privilege to be part of their lives, and I frequently believe that they have gifted me more than I have gifted them.

I will never know how I would have made it as a gorgeous lady of wrestling, but I do know that I had a splendid career as a social worker!

Carol has been an SCN member for six years and is grateful to be nurtured by such wonderful women writers. She is also a gardener, grandmother, social worker, Quaker and Goddess-centered woman who primarily writes poetry but is branching out into more essay types of writing. More to be revealed.

May 31 – Morning Moments

by Linda Hoye


One of the great gifts of retirement is the opportunity to wake naturally in the morning when my body is ready. After so many years being jarred awake by the clamour of an alarm–too often after a mostly sleepless night and with my mind in go mode before my feet even hit the floor–to wake according to the rhythm of my body is a precious luxury.

These days I wake gently, often with the dawn in these late spring months. With the windows open, morning air fresh in the room, and the sound of birdsong filling the room, I surface slowly to a wakeful state. I stretch, perhaps holding lightly to the remnants of a dream, and listen to the calm cadence of my Yorkie Maya’s snoring and the peaceful resonance of Gerry’s breathing. The day stretches in front of me rich with possibility.

I take time to pray for those who are on my heart. I think about the day ahead–not in the hurried stomach-churning way I once did—instead making plans with gratitude and anticipation. There is work to be done: gardening, things around the house, and errands to run; there are also creative pursuits like photography prompts, writing projects, and even some quilting projects I’ve been thinking of getting back to.

There is satisfaction in knowing I have the gift of time and I can choose which activities to focus my attention on that day. I find deep satisfaction in living, not according to unrealistic deadlines and unrelenting demands all too common in the corporate world, but instead moving to the ebb and flow of this simple life we have chosen.

The June garden calls to me like a siren and, on those days when I can tell from the early morning air that it’s going to be a hot one, I make plans to head out early to work. On other days I consider the harvest that is already beginning: the canning, freezing, and dehydrating projects that are ahead of me; and I plan how I’ll fill the pantry this year. There is always something to think about; something to work on. I am busy according to my own schedule and pursuing passions that fulfill.

There are still challenges in this life: concerns about situations that cause angst; circumstances I can’t control; burdens that, at times, feel too heavy; but in these early morning hours when I linger in bed listening to the sweet melody of the finches waiting for the first rays of sun to come through the window, I am at peace and filled with gratitude.

These still morning moments strengthen me. I am blessed.

meLinda Hoye is a writer, editor, adoptee, and somewhat-fanatical grandma who recently retired from a twenty-five-year corporate career. She lives in British Columbia, Canada with her husband and their doted-upon Yorkshire Terrier and finds contentment in her kitchen, at her writing desk, behind her camera, and in her garden.

She is the author of Two Hearts: An Adoptee’s Journey Through Grief to Gratitude and blogs at A Slice of Life.

December 5 – Retirement Village Mailroom

by Patricia Roop Hollinger


Shuffle….Shuffle… was the sound of footsteps slowly, but deliberately, making their way to the row of mailboxes near the entryway of the retirement village where I reside.

A resident retrieved her mail from the previous day commenting, with a note of relief in her voice, “Ah! no catalogs today.”

 Shuffle….Shuffle…. as another resident trekked her way on the same mission.

“The mailman is not here yet?” she exclaimed. “Why it is 4:00 p.m. and he’s usually here at 3:00 p.m.”

I chose not to inform her that the mailMAN was actually in a female body.

“How was your Thanksgiving?” she asked the woman who was still pleased there were no catalogs in her box.

“Fantastic. Nineteen of us were able to sit at the same table. You know my grandson has a BIG house, but would you believe he is building an even bigger one with a movie theater and indoor gym. He is doing quite well you know.”

The conversation ended there. I mean, how was the woman asking the question going to top that Thanksgiving story? They departed.

Shuffle….Shuffle…. as a disheveled and hunchbacked gentleman approached the mailboxes with great anticipation. I just sensed that this was to be a highlight of his day.

“What…the mailman’s not here yet?” as though utterly dismayed at such a possibility. Again, I chose not to dispel his belief that a woman, not a man, was delivering his mail. However, I did verbally make note that the holiday season was fast approaching; thus the likely delay.

“Humph!” was the reply as he went back to his apartment.


I made a mental note to NEVER allow the mail delivery schedule become the highlight of my day as my birthdays continue to accumulate.

Patricia Roop Hollinger is a newlywed of 3 years to a high school heart-throb after they both experienced the deaths of their respective spouses. She continues employment one day a week as an LCPC/Pastoral Counselor to keep her gray matter from deteriorating. A lover of cats, books and words.

February 20 – A Big Red Bird is all that Remains of My Past

by Pat Bean

“It’s surprising how much memory is built around things unnoticed at the time.” — Barbara Kingsolver


Today, I hung all memories from the past on my wall.

The year was 1978 when I found myself single with two of my five children still left to support. It wasn’t an easy time, especially that first month when I had to borrow money to pay rent. Although there have been many difficult times since that day, as there are for all who occupy this planet, my life from this point forward only got better and better.

I spent the next 26 years finishing up a 37-year career in journalism, following it–and twice where my heart led me to go.

My career took me to the Star-Telegram in Fort Worth, Texas, for three years, then to Ogden, Utah, as features editor for the Standard-Examiner. I stayed for three years here before love took me to Las Vegas for eight months that included a stint working for the Las Vegas Sun.

When love betrayed me, I took myself away from the neon lights to Twin Falls, Idaho, where I stayed for two years as regional editor for the Times-News. It was then back to Ogden, where my former newspaper offered me a job as assistant city editor.

In 1987, I answered my heart once again and moved to Erda, Utah, and undertook a daily 56-mile commute to my job in Ogden. But in 1989, I moved back to Ogden alone, and happily stayed there until 2004, at which time I sold my home and bought my RV, Gypsy Lee.

With few exceptions, everything I owned was either packed into my 22-foot home on the road, sold or given away. The exceptions, mostly books, were eventually stored at my youngest daughter’s home here in Tucson, where I recently moved into a small apartment after almost nine years spent living on the road exploring America from sea to shining sea.

Sunday, my daughter brought me a few of those bins. And this morning, I hung the only remaining possession that remained from 1978 on the wall of my apartment.

As I stood back and looked at this simple sketch of a cardinal, which belonged to my grandmother, whom I adored and whom died when I was only ten years old, tears came into my eyes

The colored-pencil drawing, which even for a while accompanied me in my RV travels, held a lifetime of memories. It is the only thing I own that connects me to my past. As a person who prefers to look forward not backward, I have no regrets that there is nothing else.

But my heart tells me that this red bird may be the most precious thing I own today.

Pat Bean, who thinks of herself as a wondering-wanderer, is a former journalist who lived in an RV for almost nine years and recently moved into a third-floor apartment in Tucson. Her passions are writing, reading, hiking, birds, art, family and her canine companion, Pepper.

November 3 – A Day in the Life of a Retired (?) Writer

By Judy Alter

Before I retired as director of a small academic press, I worried a lot about waking up in the morning, retired, and thinking, “What am I going to do all day?” As everyone told me, it has proven to be absolutely no problem. Some days I meet myself coming and going.

November 3 was an ordinary day after an extraordinary weekend with all sixteen of my family members and a lovely banquet one night. I slept until about eight, an indulgence I now allow myself. And mostly in the morning, I piddled–something as a compulsive, work-driven person I’d never learned to do or enjoy. I read the newspaper over a leisurely cup of coffee and a low-fat yogurt, then read e-mails. Because I belong to Story Circle Network and several branches of Sisters in Crime, I get a lot of e-mails–some I can read and delete, some are amusing, many informative, and I’ve learned a lot about the world of writing and publishing mysteries, a far different world from academic publishing I’ve done for most of my career. Household chores and yoga, and it was time for lunch with a friend. We talked politics after yesterday’s election (a big disappointment to both of us) and grandchildren and then we talked about her book recently published by TCU Press. We laughed over a “Congratulations” cookie she’d brought me, and I saw some good friends to stop and give a hug to.

Afternoon is my time to work–write, read, whatever needs to be done. In fact, I’m writing this in the afternoon. I often don’t write my blog until evening but today I knew what I wanted to write about–making and using pesto–so I did that. And had a nap–another retirement indulgence.

This evening: sushi with a friend. We go to dinner once a week, only occasionally talk in between, but we have the best time and more laughs at our dinners. And we choose upscale, down-home, whatever we feel like that evening. Tonight it will be our favorite sushi place, and I already think I’ll have a double order of salmon sashimi and a house salad–slightly sweet, which I usually don’t like, but I do like this one. Then I’ll come home and get a start on dinner for a friend who comes every Thursday for supper before the memoir class I teach; she’s a class member. The class will bring snacks and wine.

The remainder of the evening is wind-down time–check emails, read Facebook, read whatever I’m currently working on. Sometimes if I have a whole evening clear I write.
My days are full as I teach two memoir classes, until yesterday volunteered at a political campaign office, usually have lunch and sometimes dinner plans, and try to write the great American mystery in between, in addition to blogging and trying to establish my internet platform. Retirement is anything but boring.

Judy Alter is an award-winning author and retired publisher. She lives in Fort Worth, Texas, and is currently working on a cozy mystery. She is also the single parent of four and grandmother of seven.

June 7 – Sprung

by Andrea Savee

Like many people, I spent much of my childhood playing outdoors and my adulthood working indoors. As a kid, I lived close to the ground–on sidewalks, dirt lots, and green lawns–skipping, cart-wheeling, and hop-scotching my way through the seasons toward summer.

Once there, I wanted to stay forever: climbing trees and hanging across their broad branches until the sun-heated sidewalk looked like the place to sprawl or the cool green lawn the spot to stretch out on our bellies in search of lady bugs and buttercups; bare foot on balmy nights; licking crèamsicles, playing softball, riding bikes; visiting Aunt Ramona Mae and Uncle Delbert’s Iowa hog farm.

The delicate and lively watercolor wash of spring didn’t stand a chance against the thick oily spread of summer in capturing and holding my attention. I took the full but subtle splendor of that sophisticated season for granted in the innocent way children can.

I continued to do so as an adult. In fact, for twenty some-odd years, I watched all the changing seasons through the windows of my coffee houses and celebrated them only commercially: Spring/ Easter; Summer/Independence Day; Fall/ Thanksgiving; Winter/Christmas. These were the years for production and acquisition; I didn’t mind what I was missing.

Career building behind us, my husband and I are now less doers than observers. No longer tethered to time schedules, we’re rediscovering the childhood freedom of unfettered days. We’re settling down and sinking into our patio chairs, regarding the world around us instead of being distracted from it. As such, this spring, my 51st, has been a months-long meditation on that heretofore under-appreciated season.

We’re in the robust years of retirement–we still have our original hips–and could be RV-ing. Instead, we’re journeying to our back patio for morning coffee and our front porch for evening cocktails. We spend much of a typical spring day in two green plastic chairs that we shimmy around the lawn in search of shade when we’re too warm and sun when we’re too cool. From these mobile virtual desks, we sort mail, chat on the phone, and visit with neighbors.

In between, I take Mary Oliver’s counsel and “keep my mind on what matters…which is mostly standing still and learning to be astonished:” by the wind through the Golden Rain trees thick with shimmering leaves, kids laughing, and kitchen dishes clinking; the aroma of onions frying, burgers barbecuing, and freshly mown grass; Red Trumpet Vine and budding agapanthus standing ready to announce summer’s arrival; stately Chrysler Imperial roses and erupting Birds of Paradise; purple Sweet Peas, pink Mophead hydrangeas, and yellow irises; lavender and amaryllis; grasshoppers and mud wasps; and a second brood of Phoebes nesting in the eaves.

I cross the half century mark enriched by the company of my old new friend–spring–and reminded of the paraphrased wisdom of George Santayana: to be interested in the changing seasons is a happier state of mind than to be hopelessly in love with summer.

Andrea Savee lives in Lakewood, California with her husband, Mike, and their cat, Chico. Retired from a career in business, Andrea enjoys traveling and writing. Her work has appeared in SCN journals and anthologies.

February 6 – Blogging, Tagging & Drawing

by Betty Auchard

Twelve years ago as a new 68 year old widow, I started a to-do list: find out how to start the lawn mower, how to put gas in the car, and how to use the computer. I learned all that, and even won an award for writing it down in my first book, Dancing in my Nightgown.

Today after writing my second book, I’m still learning new things, such as how to act cool on a social network. Strange new terminology is sneaking into my vocabulary these days. Words like Facebook, blogging, bookmarking, and tags have replaced TV, pleasure reading, goofing off, and baking cookies. I have no time for these things because my days are filled with learning the language of cyberspace. I must say that surfing the net is the most convenient trip I’ve ever made—I don’t even have to get dressed or leave the house to reach my destination.

Although we hear that online marketing is the way to go when promoting a book these days, my heart just wasn’t in it at first. I was posting articles on my blog like a robot doing homework when it dawned on me that I had to find a way to blog cheerfully. The next thing I heard was a little voice saying “Illustrate your blog posts”. As a retired art teacher, I must say this felt invigorating to me.

The first drawing that came through was a Thanksgiving memory, and the image was so fun to render that I couldn’t wait to draw for my next post. Since then I’ve illustrated five of my blog posts. My new mission is to find the most popular tags and keywords and let them be prompts for new stories. I think I can do that. Can you?

At 75, Betty Auchard wrote the IPPY Award winning memoir, Dancing in my Nightgown: The Rhythms of Widowhood, endorsed by celebrity widows Jayne Meadows and Rosemarie Stack. Last November, she released her childhood memoir, The Home for the Friendless, endorsed by Josh Braff. Betty’s stories and essays have been published in the San Jose Mercury News, Today’s Senior, The Senior Voice, and Chocolate for a Woman’s Soul series. Blog with the author at www.bettyauchard.com and join her fans on Facebook.