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Mary Ann

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INTENTIONAL VOLUNTEERING

Volunteering is a wonderful thing.

I can’t imagine where this country would be without all the folks who give so generously of their time each and every day.

Today, I want to share a few thoughts about volunteering in your retirement years.  It can be unintentional, without forethought, or an intentional choice made with discernment. Time is a treasure, especially as we age.  Once you retire, give yourself time to adjust to your new lifestyle, maybe 3-6 months, before you take on commitments that will consume that precious commodity.

My Mom, Aggie, was an RN.

She retired in her early 60’s and hit the ground running. If anyone asked, she had time to help.  Quickly, her pastimes became her focus.  A monthly calendar was always displayed on her kitchen bulletin board with a minimum of three entries most days.  She called these her “Activities”, and she loved her Activities.  Most were volunteer commitments for everything from the Food Pantry to the V.A. Hospital.  All were so worthwhile and easily warranted.

My Mom saved my first grade art project and I saved a page from her calendar; August 1999.  She was 81 years old at that time and still living in her own home; “aging in place” as we say today.   Mom’s calendar page sits on my desk before me.  Her handwriting crowds numerous volunteer activities into the small squares designated for each day.  She included other amusements like her Putt-Putt Golf and Bowling Leagues. However, there’s absolutely no room for quiet time or space to place a spontaneous entry.  She embraced her volunteer commitments early in her retirement and they framed her life from that time forward.   Her life was focused on, what she was doing next, not the present moment.  She seemed content as long as she was on the go.

She was a beacon of inspiration and always encouraged others to stay active as you age.  She was respected in her Senior community.  She was my beloved Mom and I’m trying to find balance in my retirement and still live up to her example.

Carefully evaluate every aspect of each Volunteer opportunity you consider.

Does this activity have deep significance for you?

Are you able to give enough time to make it work?

Are they being completely honest with you about the time commitment?

Will it take time away from the retirement activities you’ve longed for?

Time, time, time……..that’s what it’s all about.

As someone once said, “If life is a journey, you might as well enjoy the trip”.   Transitioning from a career that left little time to savor life’s precious moments to a blank calendar accusing you of idleness presents a challenge.  You automatically want to fill that calendar with commitments prior to assessing your new identity.  Slow down, breathe, allow yourself time to put down the stress and recover those long neglected dreams.

Attending a Franklin-Covey training seminar over 20 years ago, they required us to write a mission statement for our lives.  Mine was simple and included, “……I want to impact others in a positive way and continue to grow and learn every day of my life”.  Since that time, I’ve used this mission statement as my foundation for decisions.  If you haven’t had time to identify your core beliefs, do it now and find your way to Intentional Volunteering.  The commitments on your calendar will enrich your life and the lives of others.

Stop by Next Friday for thoughts on Adjusting to the “Senior” Identity……….………Mary Ann

 

 

 

Meet My Boomer Sisters

 

As an only child, who moved every 2 ½ years until the 7th grade, I cherish my closest friends. They are my coveted “Sister Friends”.

Each of these Sister Friendships is unique in that we have a trusting supportive relationship deepened by shared experiences, wisdom and time.  I have personally asked these women to be my Boomer Sisters for this website.  I seek their input on various topics and many of their responses will be shared with you right here.  Recently, I posed the following questions and received interesting replies:

  1. Are you still working or retired?
  2. What do/did you look forward to in retirement?
  3. What will you NOT miss about working?

 

Wish I had room to include all; here are a few Boomer Sister responses:

Cheryl  – Dublin, Ohio       

  1. “Retired”
  2. “Spending time with my husband while we still recognize one another”
  3. “Driving to work in winter weather”

Lana – Camden, Arkansas

“I was very blessed and never had to work!  My degree is in Domestic Engineering”

Diane – Green Bay, Wisconsin

      “At this point, I am not looking forward to retirement; afraid I will get bored and when I get bored I eat, and when I eat……………..I bet you know what happens! ”

Judy – Lancaster, Ohio

  1. “Still working”
  2. “Not working”
  3. “Stress that goes with the working: deadlines, benchmarks, meetings, staff evaluations, loosing staff, hiring staff (sitting through interviews), training staff

 

This fabulous group is currently comprised of a dozen remarkable women who have blessed my life.  Several have known me since high school and earlier, others have graced my life for 20 years or more and several are recent sisters – every single one is a treasure.   What a gift,  to have them participate in my next chapter.

 

Sure there were, and still are, periods of time when our busy lives (raising a family, relocating, managing a career or facing a crisis) consume us.  Somehow the ebb and flow allow opportunities to re-connect.  Forgiveness for lack of contact is automatic in our reunion hugs. We pick up where we left off; as if we were together the day before.  Hold tight to such people in your life.   Just look at the Boomer Sisters now; empty nesters, up to our eyeballs in retirement issues and able to find total joy in resuming these friendships at this time in our lives.

 

Why not get yourself a nice cup of your favorite beverage, relax and call a friend you haven’t talked with in awhile?  Sure you could just email, but your voice on the other end of the phone today may be just what that person needs.  You could begin with, “I was just reading this blog and wanted to share it with you……..”

 

Stop by next Friday for my blog on Volunteering……………Mary Ann

 

EXITING THE WORKPLACE

Eventually, you come to the realization that you honestly want to exit the Merry-Go-Round of Work and go home. What dreams do you harbor for your retirement years?  Do you have a bucket list or maybe a longing for stress free contentment?

I am often inspired by speakers sharing their genuine success stories.  Visions of conquering those seemingly impossible challenges have always awakened my inner strength. Last year, as I enjoyed a particularly powerful speaker, the reality of my age hit me.  I was forced to acknowledge my energy limitations, and even consider that I might only have enough remaining for a few more significant lifetime challenges.

Writing has been a passion for me and this website/blog was needed to establish my next chapter.   I took a vast leap of faith into retirement last October to make it happen.  Yes, it was worth it!  I’m having such fun building a writing platform, sharing my journey, and hoping to impact you in a positive way.   And now, I find my inner strength revived and feeling frisky again.  Releasing my creativity has generated new energy for me.  I encourage you to find your own bliss while your tank is still ¾ full.

Now, it’s time to discuss the elephant in the room.

The one thing I’ll say about the financial side of retirement is, “For most of us, it’s scary”.  Just remember, you may have more options than you realize.

Spend some serious time putting pen to paper regarding your expenses and options.  If you’re married, your spouse should be involved in every step.  Since I’m divorced, I found it helpful to share my plans with my daughters.  10,000 people are turning 65 every day in our America and the internet is loaded with tools to help you.   Maybe you already have a Financial Planner.  If not, consider using a professional to review your situation.  Make time to totally focus and give yourself the opportunity to “try it on for size” as you visualize a realistic retired future:  downsized housing, location near family and friends, accessible medical services, budget considerations, reduced needs, etc., etc…  The thought of cleaning out your basement can stop you in your tracks.

Please take this advice to heart; you need to take care of these things while you are still physically able.  My dear Mother’s basement and her entire house became my responsibility when she was in her 80’s.  At the time, I was dealing with a demanding job and family issues.  I vowed never to leave my children with such responsibility and I now live in a condo without a basement.

If total financial retirement is not within your reach, maybe you can warm to the concept of a less stressful part-time job combined with any retirement benefits and Social Security.

Self-employed individuals have unique options. If you plan to sell your business, buyers often prefer to retain you as an employee for at least a year or two.  This turn-key agreement can be a wonderful way for you to approach retirement.  On the other hand, if your business will close when you retire, you may prefer to gradually downsize by reducing your marketing efforts.  With fewer clients to serve, you may be able to shorten your workdays or even work part-time.

Whatever the situation, you’re making a life changing move here.  Once you leave a career, you may never have that level of opportunity again due to your advancing age. (OK, I warned you this is scary)  Somehow you have to find confidence that you can still do whatever it takes to keep a roof over your head.

Once you have all the details worked out,

you’ll know exactly when to make your move. Each work situation has different Retirement Notice procedures.  Provide your written resignation to Management in the time frame appropriate to your job requirements.  They will need time to post the opportunity and hire your replacement.

The stronger your identity connection with your job, the more time you should allow yourself to process the change.  I speak from experience when I say,  it is emotionally painful to let go of the job and people you really care about. Handing off your responsibilities to someone else and realizing you’re no longer that person on your business card feels like a part of you is missing………….just for awhile.  As your job responsibilities diminish, the “personal you” blooms again.  Even before your final day in the office, you’ll notice the enjoyable pace in your workday and the appreciation you feel for the opportunity and the people who have crossed your path.  You’re letting go and it’s OK, because a window is opening. You’ll sense a new freedom and anticipation to embrace that next chapter in your life.

Stop by next Friday and meet my Boomer Sisters……………….Mary Ann

The Merry-Go-Round of Work

 

Maybe you’ve always called it a Carousel.  I prefer the joyous feeling and heightened anticipation that accompany the term Merry-Go-Round. This particular Merry-Go-Round is the prerequisite for Retirement and has a unique ticket cost……………….

picture of colorful carousel horses

image courtesy of Simon Howden at freedigitalphotos.net

You wait in line with your education and experience ticket, anticipating the ride of your life.  Disappointment clouds your face as you discover your ticket is not valid because your education and experience don’t match the opportunity.  Now, you’re required to stand in line all over again and maybe again and again, until your ticket matches the ride.  Once matched with your job, the attendant opens the gate.

 

A particular horse catches your eye and your foot is in the stirrup quickly.

That first job may be brief and paycheck reality often provides inspiration to beef up your resume or go back to school.  Time, opportunity, and necessity help develop your career path as you sit astride your horse expecting to enjoy the ride.

 

Occasionally, there’s a malfunction and you are at the mercy of the carnival repair guy.  You didn’t create the problem and you experience frustration because you can’t budge until his work is finished.  Safety rules force you to stay put until the motion begins again.  By that time, you will likely be so involved with the catch-up activity it will cause you to forget your earlier frustration; sort of like forgetting the pain of childbirth.  The cycle continues as the calendar pages fly off into thin air. Just riding along smoothly with occasional malfunctions until one day you receive an email congratulating you on your 5th anniversary with the company!

 

You’ve got this now, the corporate world thing. Maybe you’ve stayed in that original company and moved up in the organization.  Or perhaps you tired of that first ride and found another one that was more challenging and rewarding. Either way, you’ve learned so much throughout your career and honed your ability to “read” the other riders.  Some are typical co-workers in most organizations:

Mrs. Mom:

She’s properly seated on a carefully selected Tennessee Walker.  Her zippered tote contains a remedy for any mishap and a complete list of emergency contacts for everyone in her group.  She will take care of you.

 

Mr. Stuffy:

He’s not even on a horse; he opted for the bench seat with the swans on the side.  You can count on him to obey all the rules and file a report if you step over the line.  No ambition, just imbedded in his spot for the duration.

 

Ms. Wild Child:

She’s on a horse and can’t sit still.  She has all the moves of a circus bareback rider, with the ability to adjust to the motion of the ride. She’s always maneuvering to assure the spotlight illuminates her “best side”.  She’s highly unlikely to notice your struggles, even if you’re barely hanging onto your horse.

 

Mr. Leader:

He’s seated atop the one and only black stallion on the ride.  The horse’s mane appears to be flying in the breeze and the rider sits a bit taller to catch a glimpse of himself in one of the many mirrors festooned on the ride’s inner circle. Together, horse and rider exude assurance, power and control.   You can see their success and you are drawn to it.

 

 

The cycle of work and malfunctions continues.  Years fly by, as you deal with co-workers, managers, corporate policy and increasing responsibilities. You raise children, take care of your aging parents, maintain a reasonable lifestyle and convince yourself you’ll work forever because you can’t afford to retire.  As a senior staff member, you are respected and appreciated by your employer.  You may find yourself perceived as essential to the company’s success. You may be at the height of your career, challenged and loving it! So how can you possibly retire?

 

Then it happens; your friends start to retire and they tell you how wonderful it is and how you can do it because you “don’t need as much” when you’re retired.  And maybe you lose a dear friend to cancer; so young.

And you’re getting tired yourself.  It takes so much energy to get through the day and there’s not much left for evenings and weekends. Subtly the seeds are planted and your subconscious begins to evaluate your options. Eventually, you come to the realization that you really want to exit the ride and go home.

 

Stop by next Friday and I’ll tell you how……………….Mary Ann