Tag Archives: Retirement

Punching Out

One month of retirement in the can! Wow. This is good stuff, folks. Who knew?

Recently, I drove to Bandon, Oregon, for our annual family reunion. It was lovely to be so relaxed! No rushing back for work. Could this be heaven? Traveling along Hwy 42 W, between Dillard and Coquille, I knew the scenery was heavenly. As my little Mazda zoom-zoomed over hill and dale, I saw something that tickled my inner amusement aficionado.

Anyone remember seeing Burma Shave signs dotted across most of America years ago? (You’d have to be of retirement age, I expect.) Plentiful from 1925 forward, they disappeared in 1963 when the company sold to Philip Morris. The Burma Shave advertising series (usually) consisted of six signs placed along the roadside, sequentially, with the punch-line at the end.  As a child, I remember seeing them along pastures in Central Oregon as we drove to see family in Prineville. We anticipated each one until the end. And that last sign often made us laugh out loud.

Here are a few of my favorites from Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burma-Shave):

  • Every shaver / Now can snore / Six more minutes / Than before / By using / Burma-Shave
  • Does your husband / Misbehave / Grunt and grumble / Rant and rave / Shoot the brute some / Burma-Shave
  • Within this vale / Of toil / And sin / Your head grows bald / But not your chin – use / Burma-Shave

On my drive to Bandon, I didn’t see any Burma Shave signs, of course. Rather, some sequential signs posted in a field, reminiscent of the old ads. Only with a very important message.

  • Keys?/Wallet?/Phone?

And then the punch-line:

  • Eternal life?

Important things to have near when one travels on a journey. Especially critical was the last sign, for life’s journey. And I had them all. How blessed is that? When I read it, I didn’t laugh. But I smiled.


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Retirement at sixty-five is ridiculous. When I was sixty-five, I still had pimples. George Burns

Okay, I’m not sixty-five, but this is the last month on-the-job before I retire from my beloved Shasta College Library. The end of that journey has rushed into view so quickly, yet I know it’s right on time. Soon, a whole new season starts. Much like a good Boy Scout, I want to be prepared.

So, I’ve done some research on the Internet and gleaned some good info. Great retirement quotes like the George Burns quip above. (Can’t you just see him? Squinting as he grins? Then taking a puff off his cigar?) I’ve been watching people who have sailed off on that vessel titled Retirement, cruising into the unknown. There is purpose in their days and they are surrounded with an aura of adventure. How did they get there?

I asked them for advice and they were generous:

  • Schedule yourself to volunteer on a regular basis;
  • Do something kind/helpful for someone every day.

I was glad these came to me first. I’ve worried that I might just fall too deeply into the habit of going to lunch or crafting or…dare I say it? Shopping!  Consider this quote by Patty Doyle: My retirement plan is to find a shopping cart with good snow tires.

I’m not sure if she is referring to becoming a bag lady or shopping in all seasons. I’m thinking shopping. It’s funny, but doesn’t work for me any more. I long to live a life that is worthy of this gift of time. Just what it will look like, I don’t know yet. But my heart is open to suggestions.

When a man retires and time is no longer a matter of urgent importance, his colleagues generally present him with a watch. R.C. Sherriff

That’s so true. But I’m not expecting anyone to give me a watch. Blessed is the woman who is contented with the watch she already has. That’s not a direct quote, btw.

What about these goodies from the rapturous retirees?

  • Don’t commit yourself to any regularly scheduled activity for at least six months;
  • Plan now what you’re going to do in retirement. Otherwise, day tends to follow day without much of anything happening. It’s fine to plan two weeks of travel, visiting, or catching up around the house right after retirement. But have a plan that on a certain day after that you’re going to put yourself on a schedule and make it stick.
  • Decompress that first year. Take the time you need. Don’t make big changes right away. Allow God to guide you.

Do these ideas seem in opposition to you? When I first considered them, they did. But more and more, I see the value of them taken together. Relax, don’t make any big changes or commitments right away, but do turn your heart toward service and develop a schedule so all that precious time won’t just slip away. That seems wise to me.

My personality reacts to free time like this: “There’s an open hour. I’ll book it with this or that.” Soon I’m so busy, I can barely live my life. But that isn’t working as well as it once did. Maybe I’m just getting too old. (Though I repeat, I’m not sixty-five. Not even close.)

Retirement…is when you stop living at work and begin working at living. Unknown Wise Person

And finally:

  • Make friends with your post-work identity – this is a struggle for new retirees.

Oh-oh. Bad news. The struggle is already here and I haven’t retired yet. For months, I’ve been picturing someone coming up to me post-Library job and asking, “What do you do?”

And I hang my head in valueless defeat and reply, “Nothing….”

But that’s not true. I’m an author and excited about having time to write. There will be more time to spend with my granddaughter and my dear Mama will receive more of my attention. I’ll still play violin with my sweet orchestra and lead music at church. Maybe I can dust off my fiddle or learn to play my new penny whistle. I always wanted to play the mandolin, too. (I’m really rolling now!) And there are quilting & cooking classes and critiquing sessions with my writer friends, Bible study and so much more. I may not be maintaining a big Web site or have a fancy title, but I won’t be doing “nothing!”

It’s crazy how even those of us who know better still find so much worth in who we are out there among working ones. I Corinthians 12 talks about all the different parts that make up a body. Each part is important to the whole. This verse talks about parts we see and how interconnected they are. But there are other parts we don’t see or even know about. Without them, the body would fail.

Some dear friends shared how they struggled with this challenge of new identity in retirement. After many years holding jobs with much authority, they felt suddenly insignificant. But they worked through with lots of prayer. These days, they watch their grandchildren several days a week. It doesn’t sound that impressive when folks ask what they do, but they are committed to the task, knowing it may be even more important than their years of work before retirement. Perhaps no one sees what they do, but according to my friend, the unseen parts of the body do vital, valuable work. Just like the parts that are easily seen.

I want to be content to do the unseen thing. That’s the goal. In this world, we are used to measuring ourselves by what we do. Once that title or role is set aside, one can no longer use it to measure worth. But are we not just as important as before? Certainly, we are to God. And whose opinion counts most?

As our church founder and esteemed pastor, Ed Petersen, used to say, “There’s plenty of room at the bottom.”

Amen to that!

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover. Mark Twain


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Time Wise

The announcement came over the campus emergency intercom from the Administration office, informing us that building 800 had been closed. And nothing more. It was a bit of a mystery until a student dropped by and filled in the details.

Apparently, the morning’s robust winds had acted as grim-tree-reaper to a majestic old oak on campus. Breaking mid-trunk, it fell right onto the Language Arts & Social Sciences building. No one was hurt – which was a blessing – but it knocked a hefty hole in the roof. According to this student’s enthusiastic account, the crash had occurred during her American Government class, the tree ripping right through the classroom’s ceiling. The good news? Their exam was cancelled. I was amused by her response to the unfortunate event as she easily identified the silver lining in that dark cloud.

Soon, the Administration had more information for us and we began passing on the news – good or bad – depending on how it was viewed by the recipient. No one was happy about the fallen tree or the damage to the building. However, most students responded positively to the proclamation that classes in 800 were cancelled.

“Sweet,” one student said, flipping open his iPhone (or whatever) as he turned to leave. Maybe he had a date with a gaming application or would use the extra time to bond with his play station.

“All right!” another student said. “Later.” He turned toward the exit and walked through the door with a light step. And a purpose.

For them, it was a great gift and I enjoyed giving it.

But one woman was deeply disappointed. “Oh, no! I was taking a make-up test tonight and I’m SO ready!”

I sympathized with her. When is one ever really prepared for a test? Besides, she’d driven quite a ways to the hinterlands of Shasta College, only to find her class cancelled.

Then a student came in and asked, “What do I do if my class was in 800?”

“You get to go home early,” I said, trying not to be jealous. “Classes in that building are cancelled until further notice.”

She clapped her hands. “Goodie! Now I can go to the casino and gamble. My husband won’t suspect a thing!”

Oh, dear. How does one respond to that?

Nothing came to mind. Understandable, since she and her hapless hubby were strangers to me. I wondered what life must look like in that household. Ouch.

The gal bounced out of the Library like she’d just won the lotto. Which she probably plays often, come to think of it. Somehow, I felt a little compliant, like I was aiding and abetting her bad habits, cluing her in about this unexpected free time. She seemed to possess a natural leaning toward the world of high rollers.

Why couldn’t she be a holy roller instead?

I shook off the notion. It was none of my business. And not my problem. I had my own time issues to figure out. Retirement was just around the corner. Would I spent it wisely?

As they say, time will tell.


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For several years I’ve been contemplating retirement. Though I have lots of time on the books, I just haven’t felt ready to go. I still enjoy the academic library environment and treasure my wonderful colleagues. My work continues to challenge. It’s been easy to put off the decision to retire. Maybe next year. Or the year after that.

But I didn’t want to stay too long either. I’d hoped to leave before everyone was eager for me to go – checking their watches anxiously – hinting as the guest  stays too long after dinner.

How would I know the right time?

Because of fiscal concerns this year, my workplace offered an early retirement incentive to those of us who met the criteria. An offer not to be repeated for at least three more years. And – I qualified. But, as usual, I didn’t feel ready to go yet. So I asked two of my wisest counselors for their advice.

First I asked my younger brother, Dan. “What do you think I should do? Should I retire now, even though I wasn’t planning on it?”

He didn’t even hesitate, noting all my outside interests like writing, music, quilting, travel, and of course, spending precious time with my granddaughter, Sidney Anne. If I retired, I could commit as much time as I wanted to these pursuits. Dan also mentioned that he often met retirees on the streets of his town and they all looked relaxed and happy. “None of them have ever said they wished they’d waited two more years to retire.”

Good point. That was my experience, too.

I called my older brother, Mike. “What do you think I should do? I just don’t want to retire too soon and regret my decision.”

After urging me to file the retirement papers as soon as I could, he said something else that brought everything into better focus. “What if God arranged this retirement incentive just so that you would be led to retire right now? Everyone else benefits, but it’s all for you! Do you really want to miss out on His gift? Sis, I think that would be your only regret.”

What a sweet rationale. God is just like that, too. He loves each of us as if we were the only ones on Earth to love. How can I turn my back on such kindness?

I can’t.

My decision is made. And I’m so excited!


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