Why I don’t think I want to retire and why I hate the word

September 11, 2016 Published by
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I’ve thought long and hard about the word retire and I am very conflicted. I can’t stand the meaning of the word. It is hard for me to endure saying the word. And yet I must force myself into reality.  My husband, Shelly, and I are in that phase of our lives.

Retire is a word that scares me because it means growing old. It forces me to face the fact that unpleasant things are going to happen—and I don’t want to go there, for 100 reasons that would take me hours to explain. I have confronted my conflict in the only way I know how: The word retire has no place in my life, and that means it has no place in Shelly’s life either.

I make certain that Shelly and I always have something exciting going on or something to look forward to experiencing. I am more often the instigator. My inner ultimate concierge, always aiming to please, says, “Let’s do it!”

I must point out that Shelly is no shrinking violet. In fact, he’s quite the opposite. Just a few days ago he told me that he’s thinking of traveling to Quito, Ecuador for a United Nations meeting. He’s an NGO member. I immediately asked “When are we leaving?” He said “October.” I say, “I can’t wait.”

I already feel my blood rushing as I imagine the interesting people we may meet. I feel uplifted. My consciousness is free—for the moment—of the negative pangs I feel when I think of the word retire, which in my mind means to stop.

So for now, nothing is dull in the Good home. That is because we are continually finding ways to enrich our lives with vitality and zest.

This week we are looking forward to a brand new experience. I say this while beaming… it really does top the cake as unique. In my wildest dreams, I never imagined that Shelly would officiate at a commitment marriage, a ceremony that marks the union of two people without a license or laws to bind their union. Our beloved daughter-in-law Jami, a widow, and her love Dale, have asked Shelly to officiate a their commitment ceremony. Shelly performing the role of a Rabbi!

OMG I ask myself, smiling and thinking “what next?” And I know in my heart, thanks to our commitment to do everything but retire, “a lot more things.”  

We are off at the crack of dawn, to catch our flight to Garden City, Idaho, a tiny community up in the mountains outside of Boise. Shelly, having never performed a marriage ceremony, asked me to help him prepare his thoughts. We sit down as a team and craft his remarks for the ceremony. He’s excited and we’re joyfully looking forward to sharing the commitment ceremony experience with family and friends—and soaking in the hot springs close to their home, another first for us.

An adventure closer to home

We jumped at another unexpected adventure… more frosting on our cake. I received an email from Carol Graveline, a high school classmate. She expressed how much she enjoyed the story I wrote about my mother on HoneyGood.com and casually mentioned that the girls in our graduating class met for lunch once a month in Kankakee-by-the-Sea.

I emailed back asking, “When is the next luncheon?”

“Next Monday,” she replied.

I shot back “I’d love to join you. Would you mind if I brought my husband to lunch with the girls, because I don’t want to drive back to Chicago alone.”

She wrote back, “Please bring your ultimate concierge. We can’t wait to meet him.”

When I asked Shelly if he’d take me to lunch in Kankakee-by-the-Sea, without missing a beat he said, “Of course I’ll go. It’ll be fun.” I looked at this charming husband of mine with a huge smile and said, “thank you so much.” No way are we going to retire from life.

We lunched with 16 high school friends I hadn’t seen in 50 years. They were all leading relevant and visible lives, not retiring from life in the least. We went around the table discussing our past and current activities. They were farming, tending huge flower gardens, heavily involved in charity work, traveling and were very active and vocal about the upcoming election. The afternoon was stimulating and interesting as we shared our life stories. It was like a dream…reliving yesterday. They were all a source of inspiration and when we said our goodbyes, they were truly happy that Shelly and I drove to see them in Kankakee-by-the-Sea. And so were we.

As I write my Good Morning Story at our huge partner’s desk, I have one eye and ear on my husband. He’s sitting across from me bantering back and forth with a realtor about a real estate project he may consult on in Rome. I feel a sense of relief that he’s motivated to keep his mind active in his later years. And if he were off to Rome, he’d never think to leave me behind. No way. We are joined at the hip in everything we do. After all, how many husbands would lunch with 16 girls and be happy?

“Giving after-50 style new meaning”

Thank God, I think to myself. We’re using these years in a positive way, giving after-50 style new meaning. Ask yourselves, are you?

Personally, I think the word retire highlights a great big positive challenge: I’m determined to fill the chapters in our book with enrichment and I don’t mean money. Our chapters are titled productivity, engagement, family, fun and purpose.

I am reminded of my Torah Study Class. Several years ago Rabbi Posner asked the group:

“Do you think the word retire is a positive or negative word?”

More than half the class raised their hand for positive. The Rabbi held up his hand with those of us that said retire was a negative word.

And he explained the word retire in these terms: Imagine a herd of cattle grazing day in and day out in the field. What he’s really saying is don’t lose your competitive edge on life. Don’t rest on your laurels. It’s not good for your physical or mental health.

My husband suddenly says to me from across the desk, “I have a luncheon tomorrow to work on a plan for the Hundred Club.”

I breathe a sigh of relief. He’s still in the game.

I smile and go back to writing this story, knowing that I’m a relevant and visible woman…enjoying the game, too. I will definitely try my hardest not to let the word retire damper my zest for living.

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32 Comments

  • Marie Christopher says:

    You are such an inspiration. Thank you for your "Good" and inspiring articles. (I am 72 years YOUNG).

  • Linda says:

    Sounds like a wonderful life…fell victim of divorce….I can only read about going wonderful laces…enjoy your wonderful life!

    • Honey Good says:

      Keep dreaming. Never give up on a dream. When you least expect your dreams to come true… sometimes they just do.
      Warmly and as always, Honey

  • Nancy/Nel says:

    In the Cali area of Santa Barbara retirement means not needing to work so there is time to do exciting, fun, spiritual endeavors or whatever you want. I know many 40 something retirees. They meet people and use ‘retired’ as a status symbol. Just the west coast take in the word.
    Happily retired,
    Nel

    • Honey Good says:

      Everyone has there own mantra for retired. Different strokes for different folks. Thank you for taking your time to share your thoughts with me.. Warmly, Honey

  • Wearssunscreen says:

    Particularly love this one. Thanks Honey!!

  • Beth says:

    What a inspirational story I am also no longer in the workforce, but my 7 grandkids keep my life active, full, and very much alive and working everyday. And the best part my paycheck is nothing put pure LOVE

  • Victoria Breen says:

    Best post ever, Honey!!!!! Your husband needs to be cloned…….over and over, and over again!!!!!!!!! You are one lucky woman, but I know there was more than luck in catching this guy! You are a great inspiration to us all…..keep it up, Please!!!!!

    • Honey Good says:

      I just read this to my husband, He told me to tell you he ‘chased me till he caught me.!" I have to tell you I am so glad he did. Thank you for writing to me. Warmly, Honey

  • Kris M says:

    I think we just need a new non threatening word to replace ‘retire’. Maybe ‘repurpose’, We are repurposing our life???? Due to lives ups and downs I need to continue working till I am 70…7 more years. At that point I plan to stop working full time, but I am too Type A to stop. I envision part time work, consulting or volunteering as ways to repurpose my life.

    • Honey Good says:

      I love your word. Repurpose creates: Purpose. I think it is great you will continue to work. and then repurpose. It is healthy and keeps you in the loop of life. Warmly,Honey

  • Elizabeth Clay says:

    You and your husband are inspirational. Loved this article!

  • regina doar says:

    I do not like the word retire either,I rather think to rewire……..

  • Jeanne Olsen says:

    I love your personal stories and plan to share this one with my mother…I know she will appreciate it!

    • Honey Good says:

      I am going to share this with my mom, too. I read her all my stories. Thank you for emailing me. I am very appreciative. Warmly, Honey

  • Julie Isaacson says:

    I chose the word Rewired instead of Retired. I changed from teaching at Braeside School to a private tutoring practice at home. I’m volunteering in the community and for ORT, and I wrote my Angry Chef books in addition to enjoying writing classes. I read Honey! Life is good!
    Julie Isaacson

    • Honey Good says:

      Where are you taking a writing class, if I may ask? In the burbs? I applaud you Julie. You are one visible woman. Warmly, Honey

  • Elaine says:

    Thank you for the inspiring article. When I hear the word "retirement," I think of an endless pursuit of pleasure – golf, shopping, bridge games, eating out, travel, or just sitting on a couch watching hours of TV. Thankfully, I’m in good health. I want to be productive and help others as I continue my career as a speech-language pathologist, but on a part-time basis. A colleague recently asked why I want to keep working when I’m over 65. I told her, "I finally have time for a balanced life – Bible study, exercise, watching the grand-kids, seeing friends, and working part-time in a career that I love, all without undue stress – for me, it’s the dream retirement."

  • Arlyne says:

    Instead of the word of retire I say "reinvent yourself" do something worthwhile after
    You say goodbye to working for others and time schedules. Most of us that are aging are elders of our tribe (family) teach the next generation leave them with life stories that can enrich their journey here. My favorite saying that bares repeating is "We are not human beings having a spiritual journey. We are spiritual beings having a human experience". Experience life in the moment and age is just a number. Peace & Love,
    Arlyne

  • Janat says:

    That’s why I say I am semi-retired. I may not be working full-time anymore but I am busy. I volunteer, get to spend more time with the grands, work on projects, and travel.

  • Mark says:

    What? Retirment is a good thing. I’ve been retired for just over a year, and it’s made me realize that work just got in the way of doing everything else. Retirement doesn’t have to mean not working. It’s just not running the daily rat race. You’re getting older, whether you’re working or not, so if you can retire do it and start looking forward to early Monday mornings.

  • Anita says:

    My husband and I left the work force just over a year ago. We both taught in the community college system for many years, and I refer to our leaving as our "graduation"! We truly have been busier in this past year than at any other time in our lives. We have traveled, worked on homes for both of our daughters, welcomed our first grandchild into this world a year ago today, …well, this list could go on for quite some time! It has been an amazing year, and we are loving it!,

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