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October 28, 2013


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Excellent article, Syd. You go, woman!

I'm at the same point in my retirement: I volunteer on a local board in my town that aids our senior citizens. Feels way good!

Retired Syd

Thanks Cindi!


Great article, Sydney! I compare you to the likes of Anne Lamott, Elizabeth Gilbert and Martha Beck in your writing. It's very brave of you to open your heart and allow us all in. Thank you for sharing your thoughts, the pretty and the not-so-pretty... So that we can all recognize and accept the same in ourselves.

Retired Syd

Angela: Well you sure know the way to a writer's heart! Thanks for the lovely and encouraging comment.


Great stuff and nice recognition. Enjoy!

Diane N.

Excellent article. I agree with your sentiments on how people respond when you say you are retired. It's very strange that you can lose an identity by not working. I have been retired about 2 years now, and I'm still discovering myself in a world that is not defined by a job and a schedule.
Diane. anewchapter-diane.blogspot.com

Chuck Wiggins

Learning and playing jazz piano is a "task" worthy of several lifetimes...not a lot more is needed IMHO. I'm retiring at the end of the year to dedicate more time to music in several forms - it's been my dream for sometime now. So, bravo!

Retired Syd

Chuck: That's my fear, that it's going to take me several lifetimes to get better. But I'm keeping the faith that if I just stay at it I'll eventually master this thing. Congratulations on your upcoming retirement. And bravo to you for heading toward your dream!

Retired Syd

Diane: Congratulations on your retirement and good for you for chronicling your own journey on your blog!

Beverly Firme


Great essay in the WSJ yesterday! You really captured the changing feelings as you retire - it really is like adolescence where it takes a while to figure yourself out!

Beverly Firme

Chuck Wiggins

I find that the learning/discovery aspect of jazz music can be an end in itself, regardless of mastery. There are patterns and "right ways", but it's really all about discovering new musical ideas and breaking down musical preconceptions.


Great article - great advice. I retired end of June and am slowly adding things I want to do - volunteer work, art, writing. But I can do it at my pace and intensity.


Enjoyed that article Syd. One of your solutions to finding your place the second time around is what I did: volunteer work. I even tried it out when I was still working. My goal was to eliminate what I call the "guilt factor" of no longer being a productive citizen by retiring young (age 45 in my case).

It works: I find much more fulfillment in my volunteer work than I did in my career. And some of those volunteer jobs have led to new friendships and social groups, which was important because I moved to a new area as soon as I retired and am a loner by nature.


That's great. It is easy to feel important when you have a job. It's much harder to find your own way when you're not working anymore.
I'm super busy with the kid right now, but I'm sure I'll find something else to do when he goes to school.

Retired Syd

Beverly: Absolutely. I guess we think we're all grown up by the time we retire, but you're right--we still have some growing left.

Chuck: Great way to look at it. And it's the practice that's my favorite part, so I should remember not to focus too much on the product. Just get lost in the process.

Bev: I think that's the best approach anyway, slowly build your retirement. Over-commit right from the beginning and it's just like your job all over again.

dgp: It's so great that you figured out what's "good for you" right from the get go even though that might not have been what felt natural for you, being more of a loner by nature. The volunteer world has added so much to your life, it would have been a shame if you just accepted that "loner" label without getting out there and trying it. Good lesson for all of us.

Retired Syd

RB40: You'll have to go through the whole retirement thing all over again when he gets to school for sure!


Interestingly I find exactly the opposite from what you say in your article. Recently I began volunteering at the local Performing Arts Center and the first question out of everyone's mouth is "Are you retired?" I am still working but branching out with a couple of years to go, developing "other interests" as they say, for when I am retired. Once everyone finds I am not yet retired (everyone else I have met so far is) I am the one on the outside of the conversation. I guess the lesson is if you hang out with people who life is still dominated by their jobs then, yes, the conversation is going to revolve around work.

Retired Syd

David: That's so funny, maybe I just need new friends!


Syd - Great post! I too find myself less drawn today to "interesting" classes and more drawn to either actually learning something brand new or else finding opportunities of making a difference in the world and people around me. Being financially independent and choosing to retire early is great and is quite a journey! Thanks for leading the way with such clarity and humor. Mike


Syd, as you know, I worked part-time for the last 7 years of my working career, reducing my weekly work hours a second time 17 months before I left the place in 2008. By then, I had already considered myself dispensible because I was hardly around the office any more. I did get out on a high note, though, by completing a difficult project that only I could really do, which was somewhat gratifying.

As for identity, I never cared about that at the office. I already had my volunteer work and hobbies I had begun after I first switched to working part-time in 2001. Those continue today as I am now one day short of hitting the 5-year anniversary of my retirement! :)

Retired Syd

Mike: Well I know Tamara, so I know you don't have one moment to wonder what to do with yourself! You guys are just one adventure after another.

deegee: Happy retire-aversary!

fred doe

Syney: You big cry baby ( I mean this with all do respect). At a party how many people can say they had a piece in "THE WALL STREET JOURNAL" and your retired. And your last post about the new health care, I could even understand it and it dose not affect me at all. If I were Jerry Brown I'd say get me Syd so she can set this up so everyone can understand the new health care:)

Retired Syd

fred: For the record, that's TWO pieces now in the Wall Street Journal and believe me, I don't shut up about that at parties, or elsewhere for that matter! I don't think I'll ever get less excited about that.

Well Jerry Brown hasn't called me yet, but I have joined a volunteer group that heads out to health fairs, farmer's markets, street fairs, that type of thing, to help people get signed up for insurance on California's marketplace. I spent last Sunday at a booth in the coldest part of San Francisco passing out literature and talking to people. I much prefer writing about it in the warmth of my own living room. But I hope every little bit helps. Next time I'll bring gloves and a scarf.

Sue Blaney

wonderful article....rediscovering i really was an artists made this much smoother....and making myself a "non-business card :)

thank you - i look forward to your posts...gues what, you're a writer...for "the journal"! bring THAT up at your next social gathering!

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