I believe life truly begins in retirement 0



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There was a recent article about planning for retirement. It said to make sure you had enough money, and to ease yourself in by working part time and get new interests prior to retirement. The headline was “Retirement is a blissful ideal, but a stressful reality”.

This is my story. Two work departments amalgamated and from then I loathed the job I once enjoyed. I am not adverse to change, but each morning would drag myself out of bed dreading the day ahead. I ended up job sharing for a couple of years prior to leaving. Therefore I did the working part time by job sharing advice of the article. I quit and that night asked my husband if he thought it was a good idea for me to leave work. He said it was up to me and to go ahead if I thought it was within our means (not knowing I’d already done so). I was 58.

That was seven years ago, and boy have I come a long way since then. I never looked back, apart from to apologise to a few friends for whinging so much when I worked.

My lifelong dream was to go to Art School. 3 years later I graduated with my advanced diploma of fine arts. I just loved it and made so many friends. I learnt that no matter what your age, if you have common interests, in this case art, you get along. I still use my art and belong to an art society where I am treasurer and sometimes publicity officer and sometimes newsletter secretary. We have a couple of exhibitions a year as well as outdoor painting and a day of drawing or painting each month. I also go to life drawing and printmaking groups. I now teach drawing and painting at my local U3A on a voluntary basis.

Most would be happy just doing this, but not me. My motto is “if I’m going to live my life to its fullest I must cram everything into each day”. So I started to volunteer at three different places. This really crammed everything into my week as I was volunteering 4 days. This year I’ve given these last ones up so I can concentrate more on my art. Well that was the intention anyway.

For the past couple of years creative writing at U3A has occupied some of my time; also short courses on soap making, homemade skin care products, cheese making and an online course in nutrition and will start one on interior design soon. I found these online courses on the internet at very reduced costs. I’m also now going to a fortnightly spinners and weavers group (and am now assistant secretary there because I can’t sit on my hands and not volunteer my time) and a balance and bones class.

The incredible friends I have made outshine my thirst for learning. As we age friends seem to become more important to our wellbeing.

So those of you who loathe going to work and are approaching retirement age, just do it. My shocking headaches stopped the day I left work, so do it for your health if anything. If you work only to make ends meet do it for as long as you have to, no longer. I can understand that some love their jobs and this is not for you. However, remember people can be replaced at work but after work you may only have a short time of health and that is the time to enjoy your life. I have gone from being bitter and unhappy at work to a happy active senior.

The next phase is when the man retires. I can’t see him taking on retirement with the same gusto as I did, but will see.


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Jeanette Southam

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