I Call It A Transition, Not A Retirement
- Thursday, 06 October 2011
So many people ask what I’m doing with myself now that I’m retired. They think with all the time I have on my hands, I can just lay on my couch all day and watch daytime television and eat bon-bons. Well, I don’t consider myself retired from work at all.
I’m seventy-one years old, officially retired from the job I worked on and off for twenty-eight years in the aerospace industry, and I’m now successfully working in the career I aspired to most of my life, that of a published journalist, author, and poet.
And though I work mostly full-time as a writer in a little office I created in the home my husband and I have lived in for thirty-nine years, we have time to travel at least once a year, attend opera and theater, go to the movies, and spend time with our married son and his wife. However, we haven’t yet found the need to look at retirement communities and homes or take special tours and programs for retired seniors. Not only do we live and work in the main stream – my husband still works as an engineering and management consultant – we know that what we do helps keep us healthy and vibrant both inside and out.
So I don’t choose to use the word retirement for my status in life. To me, that makes me seem too old. Instead, I call my retirement a transition. I’ve transitioned from one job to another. I’ve transitioned to the next phase of my life. And with this transition I’ve learned it’s never too late for second chances.
Just to set the record straight, I retired twice, and both times I made a successful transition to another career.
The first time was back in 1995. I was fifty-five, and almost immediately I knew I had made a mistake. I was far too young to think about not working anymore. Luckily I found lots of consulting work writing grants, managing capital campaigns for non-profits, editing technical documents, organizing and producing technical meetings, and even managing proposals at my former company. I also took creative writing classes and workshops – all in preparation for my next career. Writing during this period in my life also helped me through my son’s bipolar disorder and his suicide in 1999.
When people said I failed retirement when I returned to my former day job as a full-time employee in 2003 as a writer/editor and proposal manager, I didn’t care. I did it to help take my mind off my son’s death and assuage my grief. I needed to work out of my house, and I needed the socialization with former colleagues.
I had initially intended to stay two to three years. I stayed over seven. However, even though my work was stressful and almost more than a 24/7 commitment, I loved the work and the people I worked with. And I still was able to continue with my creative writing. I completed the first draft of my memoir, Leaving the Hall Light On during that time.
Thus, once I finally retired for the second time at the end of April 2010, I was ready to transition to my next career. A career that seemed to be waiting in the wings for me all of my life.
I had been querying agents and small presses for almost two years, and just two months after I left my day job I got a book contract and the direction for revising my draft memoir manuscript in readying it for release in May 2011. What wonderful timing. What synchronicity.
Had I still been working at my day job, I would never have had the time to do the book revision work. So this time I didn’t look back with regret about leaving my job. I was too busy as a writer. This time my transition stuck, and I love every minute of it.