Exactly What Is Retired?

I’m long overdue for a post.  I have lots of things to write about, just short on time to write them.  My retirement life has changed – again.  That brings me to my current subject, exactly what is retired?

A few weeks ago we held a dinner party at our house to thank the people who helped us erect a gazebo behind the art studio we built last year.  One of the guests listened as another guest talked about his career, ending his work life story with, “Now I’m retired.”  The listener retorted, “You’re not retired!”

One of the men, an engineer during his formal career, is now engaged in producing stained glass art; the other, an international consultant, returned to his childhood roots of farming.  One considered himself retired; the other did not, nor did he see his new friend as retired.  They are both engaged in pursuits of their choice.

I’ve previously written about starting over when we retire and recently received a comment from thirty-something Amber (https://thefablifeproject.wordpress.com) about starting over.  As Amber said, “…I see now, that starting over is just adding another brick to create a more fascinating foundation.”  I would add that reinventing ourselves creates a rich, interesting life filled with adventure and challenges.

Art Studio II

Art Studio – The Center For Creativity

We start over many times during our lifetime.  Post-career life is no different.  I’ve started over during my post-career life, taking on, by necessity, the role of caregiver.  Even after leaving the career that enables us to enter a time commonly known as retirement, we will create a new identity many times over.  Sometimes by choice; other times by what life sends our way.

In fact, our world in general is changing so rapidly, reinvention, starting over in the future will most likely become a necessity for survival.  We are already seeing it.  Technology kicked open a door that cannot possibly be closed.  There is no going back.  Technology fueled changes that for me, as a child, I never could have imagined.  Some of these changes I could not have conjured just ten or twenty years ago.

An internet, the information highway, the upheaval in the way manufacturing occurs with robotics, artificial intelligence, hundreds of channels, streaming movies and tv shows, downloading books, cars with GPS coming from a satellite, backup cameras and push button ignition, ordering groceries online for them to be delivered or picked up at the store, smart homes.  The list goes on and on and on.

What will jobs be in the future?  We live in a global economy.  Right here in Upstate South Carolina, where I live, BMW has its largest manufacturing plant in the entire world.  A tour of the plant reveals robotics, computers and a facility so clean, you could eat off the floor.  A skilled, educated, adaptable workforce is a basic requirement.  Those requirements may change, who knows, in the coming decades.

What will retirement be like in the future, if there is retirement?  Or is retirement already an idea of the past, supplanted by a reinvention of self and activities?  To my one dinner guest retirement is when you pack it in, going to live in a 55 and over community or assisted living, where someone else prepares your meals, does your laundry, cleans your living quarters and your activities are directed, planned and provided by a community staff. 

Hummingbird Painting

The Art – Hummingbird in Flight by Martin

Adaptability to change is a key component at anytime of our life’s journey.  In the last year, Martin and I have made some dramatic changes.  Gone is the motorcycle Martin loved riding so much, we are down to one car, I do the driving.  Since he can no longer read or write, I handle everything paper or online.  I’ve become an expert again at organizing our lives.  The decluttering seems to never-end.  I am amazed at what we accumulated, yet no longer need.  I took a carload to a hospice house thrift store on Thursday.

Our house is now filled with the art mainly produced by Martin.  We built the art studio last year.  It has provided so much joy as well as clearing our house of art supplies, I wish we had built it sooner.  Then the community raising of the gazebo and fire pit behind it this spring while I created a new garden around them.  

Am I retired?  No.  I’m too busy living life, doing, being, feeling, seeing, adapting, changing, adding another brick to the foundation of my life’s journey.  Retirement will have to wait.


17 comments on “Exactly What Is Retired?

  1. I loved this – so well written. I just finished Orwell’s ‘The Road to Wigan Pier’, and it’s interesting how many similar points you touch upon here, particularly about mechanisation, what constitutes work and the future of jobs… I’ll read on with interest. Keep up the fantastic work.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Kathy. I have followed your blog for a few years as i began thinking about what comes next after retirement. It’s been a big help. I retired at the end of January this year. I enjoy so much your insights. Today’s especially . I have spent the last 7 months cleaning out closets, visiting my adult children, dog sitting my grand dogs, reading more, cooking more, walking a bit more, spending time with my mom (yes, she is 80 and still living on her own.). I am now tihnking about what comes next. While I have loved having the time to do these things I found myself starting to feel the itch for something I can’t quite define. Thanks for reminding me that I will always be answering that question, What comes next?…and that’s ok. I’ve been reading Gretchen Rubin’s book Better than Before which is about habit building. She said in her book, “For a happy life, it’s important to cultivate an atmosphere of growth-the sense that we’re learning new things, getting stronger, forging new relationships, making things better, helping other people.” I thought of her book while reading your post today.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This was an interesting post. My husband and I have a different opinion about who we consider retired or not. We have friends who have continued to work because they enjoy it, even though they could well afford to stop . We consider them retired because work for them in a choice not a necessity. Every day they get up and make a decision about what they want to do, just like us. We are also busy living life, doing, being, feeling, seeing, adapting, and changing… and we are happily retired.

    Beautiful hummingbird!


  4. Thank you for the provocative post, Kathy. Retirement can have many different definitions and comes in an endless amount of shapes and sizes. I don’t meet your friend’s definition of “retirement,” but I do consider myself happily retired. I’m not fussy what people call me — as long as they don’t call me back to work! 🙂


  5. I’ve been reading your blog for a while now…and am finally facing my last few days of my teaching career. We have so many plans short term; the one thing we are sure of is that plans change! But I define retirement, at this point, as a time for choices. If you are doing what you love it’s not work…
    Am even considering a blog of my own.
    Thanks for your insights!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. When I retired in 2014 we were supposed to move to a house with an art studio already built in Vermont and I was excited about finally leaving NYC. Then my husband announced that he could not endure another move since he was having difficulty walking. His difficulty got worse and I morphed into caregiver as we remained here. We no longer travel only doing day trips and he no longer drives. I am finally getting over my pity party and accepting life as it is and becoming grateful for the things I do have, mainly decent health. I have also revived my watercolor painting and created a space in our apartment for it. Love the hummingbird! God bless you, enjoy your writings, keep calm and carry on.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mary, I’m glad you have found a way to be creative and have some enjoyment! I, too, have had my pity party and now and again still have one. I think we all need to express the sorrow that comes with a loved one losing their health and our having to take over so much of the day to day responsibilities. Being a caregiver is the hardest thing I have ever done. I had more time for myself when I worked 50 hours a week at a paying job. As you said, we still carry on and try to keep calm. There is no other choice. Hugs, K

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Kathy, lovely to hear your voice. I do think “retirement” is shifting in what it looks like. To some, it still is the 55+ retirement community and if that is right for them, that is great. To some it’s a second career, or a passion project. To me (and many) it is simply being able to choose what I do, without worry about financial compensation. And right now, that is a combination of being (quiet time, self-reflection) and doing (fun with friends mainly). Having that freedom to choose, that to me is retirement.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Kathy, I retired from teaching 5 years ago at the ripe old age of 55. Since then I have reinvented myself several times: blogger, photographer, chef, but the one I dislike the most is patient. I still think I am about 35 but my body doesn’t want to co-operate. I’m going to fight and travel to the end with a camera in my hand. I will win this war. I will be the one sliding in, tattered and torn, saying, “Man, what a ride.”


  9. Hi Kathy, For me retirement has to do with the motivation for doing what I do. During my working life, I often loved my work (teaching), but there were also parts of it I didn’t love (e.g., grading, the “publish or perish” anxiety). I had to keep doing the parts I didn’t enjoy because I needed the job to support myself. In retirement, I still teach, but it’s not a job, which means that I can pick and choose the parts I like and not do the parts I don’t enjoy. For me, being retired is all about that freedom of choice.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Hi Kathy,
    I found your blog a couple months ago and really enjoy it. I’m retiring in a month and am excited and a little apprehensive. I’m excited about having the ability to choose what I’ll do each day. Apprehensive about what that will be. I’ve been told by friends to give it a good year to adjust. Mostly though I’m happy to have the freedom!

    Beautiful hummingbird!


    • Valerie, I’m glad you enjoy my blog. Thanks for stopping by. Today’s post on advice I received may be helpful as you start your retirement. I’d give myself two years to adjust. I know and have heard from people who went back to work after a year of retirement thinking they had failed, when they really needed more time and some new adventures. Best wishes to you! K

      Liked by 1 person

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