Sometimes You Have No Choice

by Chip

I am now 64 years old, but I retired eight years ago (at 56). I retired not because I wanted to or even planned to, but because I had to.

I had a good job that paid well, enjoyed my family and friends and was generally living the "good life". Then everything changed... I had a stroke.

Fortunately, it didn't leave me paralyzed or relegate me to a nursing facility, but it did leave me with a long term disability that prevents me from ever working again.

I was financially prepared as much anyone could be for such a life altering event, so I will be able to live comfortably for the remainder of my life.

What I wasn't prepared for was the abrupt change in my daily routine, the assault on my self-esteem and the feeling of loss associated with my perceived inability to be a "contributing member of society". It took a while (about a year) for me to grapple with this sudden change in my working status and begin to manage these issues, but finally I was able put things into perspective. I prioritized the truly valuable things in my life and actually began enjoying my untimely retirement.

I now embrace my free time, appreciate a flexible schedule and spend more time with my family. I read more, travel whenever I want (not just for business) and have learned the elusive art of "slowing down". I can now relax without any of the accompanying guilt I used to feel before my stroke. I finally realized that I had worked hard for many years so I could enjoy a few more in retirement.

Like anything else in life, it takes time and patience to adjust to new things, but it’s definitely worth the effort. I try to spend more time appreciating what I have than grieving for what I’ve lost.

Comments for Sometimes You Have No Choice

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Moving Forward
by: Richard


Thanks for sharing your experience. You are an inspiration for us all!

May your days always be happy.
God bless you,


Chip's Got It Right
by: Mark in Maryland

Hello Chip and everyone.

My situation is not terribly dissimilar, as at 56 I experienced my first heart attack. Bad enough, but a mere two weeks after I finally retired at 60, I had my third!

I equate the take-up of going from a very active lifestyle to barely being able to ride a mile on my bike to the social upheaval of having a job one day and not having one the next. Many of you have been down this road already or you wouldn't be reading this.

The ability to truly relax and appreciate life's simple pleasures is an acquired skill, one that it would behoove corporate America to begin addressing in a realistic way.

That said, I couldn't really, deeply relax until I finally identified and fulfilled my true purpose; after that epiphany it was smooth sailing. It wasn't earth-shattering like finding a cure for cancer, but important to my life in its own way.

The day we brought our first-born home from the hospital I started a family journal, and nearly 600 pages and 37 years later I finally called it quits, and I have passed the hand-written and digital copies to the next generation.

Now each and every day is truly a bonus and I am at peace with my health issues, my family challenges (we are currently living with my 88-year old mother-in-law; my daughter and wife provide her complete elder-care) and my grown children's ongoing financial difficulties and career meltdowns. It really is all good!

so true
by: Rose Raintree Arlington Wa.

While I did not have a physical cause that saw me retiring earlier than I had planned but a leading to spend time with my granddaughter before she got any older and I lost the opportunity to build that bond.

But like you after being an RN for 35 years the first year was difficult in adjusting to how much my life changed. But like you now I am so happy and love my retirement.

I worked for over 45 years and raised 4 son's alone and was on the go all the time with little time for me.

Now I have that time and have grown in my love of me and my life. While life is not perfect for sure as no one's is I am blessed and enjoy my retirement so very much.. And I am so happy you too have come to this realization may you continue to have wonderful and blessed retirement days.

T o Chip
by: Alison...Ontario

Always very sad when an out of your control life altering event takes place. I hope you are getting better every day.

I too, retired at 56, a year and a half ago. The dark cloud hung over me for a very long time afterwards. I had nothing to do, no-one I knew was retired, nothing planned to look forward to. All of this happened when I was slowly becoming estranged from my family.

Very lonely and dark time...still is some days.....I recently went back to school and became a mortgage agent. I am only feeling now an excitement I haven't felt for a long time. It happens...for most, I hope...!!

Thanks for sharing
by: Donna Augusta, Mo

Thanks Chip this is very inspirational.
Your words show what a life of gratitude offers. Sounds like you have been very resilient.

As a RN I would always tell my patients we don't realize what we have until it is taken away or lessened in some way. I worked with several stroke survivors, quadriplegics and paraplegics. I feel so fortunate to have been a part of such strength and faith that I saw in so many people.

God bless Chip.

No Choice
by: Carol K

Chip, so many of your remarks remind me of the complex problems that aging can bring. Loss of mobility sometimes, our bodies won't behave the way we want them to. Then they do other things that we don't want them to do. It can be a real challenge to age 'gracefully' and with dignity.

Good Comments
by: Nancy

I like what you said about enjoying the things you have instead of grieving the past. I grieved a lot when I first retired 4 years ago.

I remember that first summer at the computer frantically putting together my references and applying for jobs trying to get my old life back.

I am like you, now, I enjoy the flexible schedule. And going on vacation without worrying about work. I used to spend part of every vacation day checking my work e-mails and answering them. There was always at least one e-mail from a demanding client which irritated me.

I was never at peace with my job. Now I sleep well at night.

So thanks for writing, it helped me a alot.

An important discovery
by: Elna NugentYour Name/Lenox, MA

Dear Chip:

You have discovered something that many people spend a lifetime never learning.

Gratitude is a life changing offering and response. If everyday , we give thankfulness and gratitude for something- even the little things- our life can take a revolutionary turn.

There is something magical about this. It seems so simple and ordinary to feel thankful about something. But it is huge. It even seems to do something for our nervous system and the heart.

Today it has become almost a fad for people to keep a gratitude journal where they write down each day something or several things for which they feel thankful.

Living in New England, I often thank the sun for just being there and expecting nothing from us even though it "grows the earth and endows us with Vitamin D".

Daily the universe offers us unconditional love and will give us what we ask for. Thankfulness is life giving.

Thank you for your important offering.

Glad your doing ok
by: Ron

Glad you have been able to adjust and enjoy your retirement life.... I was 53 when I retired, 57 now and I am really enjoying every day

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