Lise at Frugal in the Fruitlands tagged me with a meme. This one was hard: a six-word memoir. I really liked hers: "I've come through the storm and." I like it because it's incomplete, you know where she's been (the storm), but know there's more to come; the unknown future. It strikes me as optimistic.
I have spent years working up to my retirement, fantasizing about what it would be like, what I would spend my time doing, and who I would get to be. I had all sorts of ideas of exactly what I would be spending my time doing. I read retirement books and followed the exercises to visualize and plan my retired life.
But what I've learned is, you don't really know what you will be doing in retirement until you start living it. At first, I felt like I wasn't doing it "right" because I wasn't getting to all the things on my list (the list which resulted from the homework in the retirement books.) I felt a bit like a failure because I wasn't achieving all the goals I set out for myself. (Never mind that it's only been 3 months. Yes, I've still got decades in front of me.)
Where is my life right now? Six words: Discovering who I am without work.
I know now that it's nearly impossible to know who you are (or who you think you will be in your retirement) while you are working. There are too many distractions; too many priorities, most of which are not your own. The idea that I could plan my future retired life, from the perspective of a working person now seems so naive to me. How could I know who I would be without work until I stopped working? I am still discovering who that is, Sydney without a job. And it turns out, that is the fun part of retirement, the journey discovering what else lies beneath!
Tag, you're it: But What Now? (payback time!)
Communication Exchange (you too!)
What I have come to realize since my retirement, is that I got to reconnect with my original self. You know the one. The girl who had all those hopes and dreams before she got married, had children and worked for decades and decades and decades. You know the girl: the one who gave up her life for her family.
This is 'me' time now. Time to get back to who "I" was. The girl who used to write and paint and laugh and dream and travel and dance. This is the time to find my true authentic self.
Enjoy each and every moment of it. Don't rush it all away.
Posted by: Cinzea | June 12, 2008 at 04:40 PM
I work for SMITH, the magazine where the six-word memoir challenge originated. I've been scouring the internet looking for good ones, and I wanted to let you know that I really like yours. You can see so much with so few words - what you may have lost while you were working, where you're at right now, and slow path to finding yourself (and happiness) in the future. I think that's beautiful! Feel free to submit it to our website; we may even use it in our next book.
Posted by: Elizabeth | June 12, 2008 at 05:31 PM
Cinzea--I do know that girl and I'm really happy to meet her again!
Elizabeth: Thanks for your encouraging words--I certainly will submit it!
Posted by: Retired Syd | June 13, 2008 at 12:03 AM
Ah yes, it is about the quest to discover who we are without our work to define us. And then there's the question of what do you put on a calling card that will communicate who you are? The challenge is not to use the prefix ex- as in ex-teacher, ex-consultant. It isn't who I was that I need to tell people about; it's who I am today.
Posted by: Sylvia - Women Retiring with Gusto! | July 22, 2008 at 05:30 AM
I just discovere your blog yesterday and I must say I love it. The way you openly describe your feeling about things, specially on the the non-money subjects feel to close to me. Keep up the good work.. I'm also looking forward to an early retirement, and as much as it is about money, it about lifestyle, and how we see everyday life.
Posted by: Denise | July 22, 2009 at 12:57 PM
@Denise: I just discovered your comment in my in-box and I must say I love you! Thanks for your nice comments and for reading.
Posted by: Retired Syd | July 23, 2009 at 10:49 PM
I like the part about " You don ' t know what you want to do in retirement until you are living in retirement ". I just retired two weeks ago and discovered your website. This is a good platform for retirees where there seems to be a common thread on what to do now that I have finally retired and work is not a central issue. Keep up the good work.
Posted by: Leon C | June 17, 2010 at 09:13 PM
Thanks Leon. I hope you will share some retirement wisdom along the way as you discover it too!
Posted by: Retired Syd | June 17, 2010 at 09:25 PM
I realize that I may be digressing and thought I'd still share my thoughts. I figure you can always delete it:
Aren't we (the society for the most part) used to identify a person through his/her work/title, etc.? This leads to the rat race of achieving the "success" in other people's eyes, i.e., again, the title, the money, etc. No where in there is recognition for "who" that person is, and what great qualities/integrity that person holds. Then, we (are surprised to) see people in "important positions" being caught doing things of low moral value. As I always say, you get what you reward.
Kudos to the ones that listen to their heart and insist on doing the "right things" regardless of the "rewards".
Posted by: Travelphotoperspectives.blogspot.com | July 01, 2010 at 05:23 PM
@Traveler: I agree. We need a new question at cocktail parties that gets at that. The "What do you do?" one doesn't cut it. But I think "Who are you?" might be a little off putting. Another commenter here had suggested "What do you like to do?" I thought that might work but keep forgetting to try it?
Posted by: Retired Syd | July 01, 2010 at 05:33 PM
I am sitting here shaking my head . . . I am exactly where you were three years ago. I am in my late 40's and seriously contemplating retirement. Well, actually more than contemplating. I plan to give notice on March 4, the day after my year end bonus will be deposited into my bank account. I've passionately pursued my career for over 20 years, but something changed about three years back and it became increasingly less joy filled. The spending patterns, the loss of joy, the quest to find a more meaningful life . . . you've hit on so many of the points I'm working through it gives me great courage to continue down this new path. I am little scared because of the unknown, but I am also deeply, deeply thrilled and excited at the new person I will discover. Thank you, and I will definitely be back!
Posted by: Tamara R | February 04, 2011 at 06:45 AM
@Tamara: Thanks for your comment. I remember that exactly. I'm so thankful to not be feeling that way anymore. I hope you will share your thoughts as you transition into retirement. And I hope you get your joy back quickly!
Posted by: Retired Syd | February 04, 2011 at 08:12 AM
Hello. I am a 69 year old male who is seriously contemplating retirement from my professorship at a small college. I wonder if anyone knows of a blog, online article or book written by someone similar to me re age, gender and occupation. While I can enjoy and understand the blog of a younger and female retiree, I would also like to read the thoughts and experiences of someone closer to my situation. Thank you.
Posted by: Michael | May 24, 2013 at 05:04 PM
Michael: There are quite a few books geared at retirement at the traditional age. A few that I like, written by men--although I don't know their ages or recall what their occupations were before retirement, are: Ernie Zelinski's "How to Retire Happy, Wild, and Free," Richard Bolles' "What Color is your Parachute for Retirement" and Alan Spector's "Your Retirement Quest."
A great general retirement book is Glenn Ruffenach's "Wall Street Journal Complete Retirement Guidebook." He's not retired, he's the retirement coverage editor at the Wall Street Journal.
Bob Lowry's retirement blog (A Satisfying Retirement: http://satisfyingretirement.blogspot.com) might be a good one for you for a male perspective, although he retired in his 50's if I recall correctly (he's been retired for at least 10 years now).
But I can't think of any written by 69 year old retired professors. Perhaps a calling for your retirement!
Posted by: Retired Syd | May 24, 2013 at 06:21 PM