Retirement 101 and Beyond
(Johannesburg, South Africa)
I retired at the end of April 2017 at the age of 66. Although I was asked to stay on, the culture of the organisation had changed and I saw that the new regime would end in tears, so I took the gap.
Knowing what I was going to do, I made up my mind I was not going to find myself regretting the move to retirement, so I put myself through a self-designed course "Retirement 101."
I read quite widely, (and that is where I found this website) and two books were particularly helpful - "Retirement, the Psychology of re-invention" by Prof Kenneth S Schultz (a DK publication)and Julia Cameron's "It's Never too Late to Begin Again."
My husband's sudden onset (and recovery from) septicaemia, a trip to Scotland to honour the memory of my late mother, and other illnesses served to remind me that Death is inevitable at some stage.
We may not have THEN, we only have NOW, and I was more determined to live a worthwhile life while I still can.
I decided that for day-to-day living, I would get up and be ready to start the day by 09h00. No slouching around in pyjamas after that.
I also took the opportunity to do whatever part-time work came my way, and have been given to opportunity to invigilate exams at those times of the year. Boring work, and not well paid, but it's great to be with young people. The pennies I earn give me a little bit of spoil-space.
Overall, I took on three aims - to grow in mind, body and spirit.
For MIND, I have resurrected my old recorder, found a teacher and will be doing an exam later this year - and boy, is my memory capacity rusty! The Universe pointed me in the direction of a hobby recorder ensemble, and we meet once a fortnight and play lovely pieces in different parts. Fun!
BODY - I have arthritis in both my knees, but I found a wonderful biokineticist who is giving me exercises, and I go (fairly) regularly to the gym in an effort to stave off knee-replacements for as long as possible. I managed to go all the way to top of two Scottish castles as a result, although I'm sure the tour-guides were very nervous.
SPIRIT - social - I felt I needed to give back to society, and after the experience of my job, I wanted to avoid people just for a while. I discovered three women who have opened a wildlife Veterinary practice. They work either for nothing or for a pittance, but any sick snake or injured hedgehog or wild bird can be taken to them any time over 24 hours, they will heal it, rehabilitate it, and release it back to the wild. They have monthly expenses which I am able to do a bit for (and I am dragging my friends into it too), and I am going to try my hand at find-raising to get them a new X-ray machine.
SPIRIT - creative- I have re-joined an embroidery group and dug out the old stuff kept in the back of forgotten cupboards, and enjoy a wonderful group of women who create beautiful things, and being who they are, there is also opportunity to knit clothes and blankets for the many homeless we have in our city.
So far, so good. There ARE times of blue moods, when I realise how easily I have been forgotten. Reading this website has taught me that children and grandchildren are too busy to bother much with us other than obligatory birthdays and Christmas and school concerts.
My contemporaries have health issues, some have died, and "over the hill" is no longer a joke.
Money is limited and must be watched But I do have NOW, and I'm making the most of it. Please God I am independent for a long time, and can continue enjoying my lovely life.
And when I reach the next stage, I hope "Retirement 202" will help me to deal with that graciously and with good humour.