jump to navigation

The Other Side of Retirement August 19, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Gratitude, Happiness, Life Balance.

Pooh-With-MailbagI’m reading letters written by my dad’s dad in the 1950’s after he retired from his rural mail route in Vermont after 30 years of service.

While writing the first of the letters, he was only 7 years older than I am now.

He kept busy with a variety of seasonal interests:  gathering sap to make maple syrup in the spring; planting and harvesting potatoes, beans, corn, peas, and strawberries in the spring and summer; cutting hemlocks for sale to the mill as time permitted; hunting in the fall; and heading south to Florida during the harsh winter months (except when the Vermont legislature sat in session in Montpelier and he claimed seat #87 as Town Representative for Hartland).

His second wife also pursued seasonal interests: dressmaking classes in the spring; canning fruits, vegetables, and meat and tending her flowers during the spring and summer; babysitting for my cousins on an as-needed basis; and traveling to Montpelier and Florida during the winter months, with pit stops in New Jersey to visit my parents as they began married life together, bought their first house, and welcomed my older brother into the world.

Reading about how my grandparents “spent their retirement” caused me to reflect on my own choices and pursuits.

IMGP1800bFor the last 10 years of my working life, I worked for non-profits to “give back to the community.”

Now, my time is my own to spend as I see fit . . . and I love it!

My days are populated with a variety of interesting activities.  I am never bored and there is always more to do than time to do it.

If I get bored or run out of things to do, I’ll volunteer or get a part time job, but for now I’m happy with the status quo.

That was not always the case.

When I first stopped practicing law, I searched high and low for “meaning” and “purpose” ~ convinced that I needed to do something “significant” with my life.

Now, not so much.

Much of the desire “to leave a lasting mark” stems from Ego and its incessant demand for applause, accolades, and approval.  Ego wants recognition for its accomplishments while on life’s stage and yearns for immortality in death.

Mickey-OKUsing an internal barometer and compass to direct and govern my actions has allowed me to embrace peace and happiness in relative anonymity.

I no longer feel any urgency to be more than I am.

Realizing that I have nothing to prove provides meaning enough for me.

Aah . . . that’s better!

After enlightenment, the laundry. ~ Zen Proverb

Related post:  “Just Be” and “I Am” . . . Rocking My World (In The Stillness of Willow Hill)


1. Val Boyko - August 19, 2014

Love this Nancy! We can’t get bored when are connected to our inner spirit and being. It becomes our compass and guide to how we are in the world and with others.
Everything becomes a practice in mindfulness and connection.
Be fully who you are … no accolades required!
…. I’m getting there 😉
Val x

nrhatch - August 19, 2014

When we’re driven to achieve by Ego, we get bored easily, especially when no one is watching. We race from activity to activity, never gaining any real traction, while shouting out . . . LOOK AT ME!

Using an inner compass changes everything. We no longer have to look over our shoulder to gauge our progress against the efforts and achievements of others.

We enjoy the journey at our own pace. Tuned in to our compassionate core, we smile, laugh, and lend a helping hand or a listening ear because it makes us feel better to brighten the lives of others . . . even if no one is watching.

2. suzicate - August 19, 2014

They were busy during retirement. I guess the thing is when you do the things you love it doesn’t seem like work. As a child who detested working in the garden, I never thought I’d dream of gardening in my retirement…of course, i need to retire first, lol!

nrhatch - August 19, 2014

Changing focus from Ego driven mania to “going with the flow” of life has made such a difference. Among other things, I no longer see a clear delineation between Work and Play.

For some, retirement might mean working harder than ever . . . at something they’ve always wanted to do.

I enjoyed gardening far more as an adult growing sustainable food for the table than I did as a kid pulling weeds. 😎

3. Silver in the Barn - August 19, 2014

Could not agree more with this philosophy of letting go of the need to “do” just for its own sake. And what a treasure, Nancy, to have those letters. Such a wonderful connection with your grandfather and your heritage.

nrhatch - August 19, 2014

Thanks, Barbara. People miss the moment by moment joy of “being” because they are out to impress others with their efforts instead of just doing what they’re doing. Switching to an internal barometer makes life a joyful journey. No applause necessary.

A good traveler has no fixed plans, and is not intent on arriving. ~ Lao Tzu

I may share excerpts from my grandfather’s letters (like I did with dad’s letters from Korea) after I delve into them more deeply.

Silver in the Barn - August 19, 2014

I sincerely hope you do, Nancy. We can all benefit from hearing the voices of the past even if it is daily routine being described. Do you ever think that people of your grandfather’s generation were happier on a primal level because their time was spent busily doing the activities of daily life and not ruminating about their happiness or purpose in life? Maybe I am oversimplifying on that one but it does seem the less energy we expend thinking about ourselves, the happier we are.

nrhatch - August 19, 2014

I believe that previous generations were more in touch with the Here and Now of life ~ where happiness resides.

They had challenges and obstacles to overcome, and hardships to endure, but with a more single minded focus (and fewer distractions), they took it a step at a time and moved from where they were to where they wanted to be.

Instead of being “connected” through hand held virtual reality devices, they connected with each other one on one.

Smiles are contagious, spreading like the light from a candle. A digital “LOL” probably lacks that quality. :mrgreen:

4. nancytex2013 - August 19, 2014

Hmm, interesting food for thought. Especially your reply to Val’s comment. I’m now wondering, is it ego that drives my desire to take on new challenges and see what my body is capable of – or is it a need to have bragging rights? I suspect it may be a bit of both. Well, no, I suspect/hope that it’s primarily about pushing myself, testing my limits, but certainly acknowledge that being able to share the tale with friends (and getting the high fives and congrats) is a really nice side effect!

nrhatch - August 19, 2014

Letting go of Ego’s hold allows us to find joy in peeling a carrot or folding the laundry or singing a song or riding a bike. Even if no one is watching or listening. No longer being driven by the desire for external approval from others gives us the freedom to do what we want to do because we want to do it. Which makes us happy.

That doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t share our experiences with others ~> perhaps we’ll inspire them with our efforts. But if the primary goal is getting applause and accolades from others, we tend to lose our motivation when the high fives are no longer forthcoming.

NancyTex - August 20, 2014

That’s a good distinction, and makes it clearer for me to find my answer. I do what I’m doing because I enjoy it and feel good about the positive impact it has had on my life, physically, mentally. Being in a healthier state of mind now allows me to enjoy a million little things that I previously wouldn’t have given a second thought to.

nrhatch - August 20, 2014

Sounds like you’re using an INTERNAL locus of control and INNER motivation to fuel your smooth moves.

Exercise is GREAT for us ~> especially when we enjoy it and feel good and benefit from the positive impact it has on our physical and mental well-being.

And, as you note, that sense of well-being overflows in other areas of life, expanding our enjoyment of doing “a million other little things.” And it’s all good.

5. Jill Weatherholt - August 19, 2014

I hope you’ll share some of your grandfather’s letters, Nancy. I really enjoyed your father’s letters.
Isn’t it a great feeling when we realize we have nothing to prove to the world? I have so much more energy. 🙂

nrhatch - August 19, 2014

Yes!!! It’s wonderful to realize that our life is our own. We don’t need to hold it open for a vote or get others to sign a permission slip for us to be who we’ve always wanted to be. We enjoy every step of the way . . . as the path unfolds before us.

Thanks for your vote. I expect to find some nuggets in his letters that will make for interesting anecdotes ~ a window into the past.

6. ericjbaker - August 19, 2014

In terms of big-picture life accomplishments, I have stuff I want to do, but nothing I feel like I have to do.

nrhatch - August 19, 2014

I have tons of things I want to do . . . because I want to do them for the joy of doing and being. Right now, I plan to ride my bike to Water Aerobics where I shall bounce around and exercise in the sun for the sheer joy of movement.

Later, dude!

ericjbaker - August 19, 2014

Have fun storming the castle!

nrhatch - August 19, 2014

Dare ye jest with my joust?
Then I shall joust with your jest!

7. lindsaycummingswrites - August 19, 2014

What a great post! I think, as long as you have purpose you will be happy. No matter what that purpose means. There is definitely something to be said for not having to prove yourself, because you are happy with who you are. I love it.

Can I retire yet?

nrhatch - August 19, 2014

Yes. Once upon a time, I convinced myself that “purpose” had to be something grand and significant to provide meaning. Now I’m persuaded that “just being” provides meaning and that “purpose” changes from moment to moment depending upon who or what wanders into view.

Retirement is tiring. Enjoy yourself while you can. 😛

lindsaycummingswrites - August 19, 2014

I agree with your definition of purpose! I will enjoy it 🙂

8. JOriginal Muse - August 19, 2014

Well, you may not want it, Nancy… Regardless, you will get accolades here from us, your readers. Not only are you doing something you love, but you post meaningful, thought-provoking, and humorous blogs. I hope you always enjoy writing, because it’s contagious 😉

nrhatch - August 19, 2014

Thanks, Joanne. I write to clarify things for me, to share things with others (amusing, thought-provoking, inspiring), and to enjoy the process of putting words into print.

As I see it, there are two types of writers in the world. Those, like me, who enjoy playing with words. And those who portray writing as terrible toil, saying things like: “Writing is easy. Just open a vein and let it bleed onto the paper.”

At first, I thought writers like that made writing sound HARD to keep competition at bay. Now I suspect it really IS that hard for them . . . because they are slogging through muck and mire to reach a pre-conceived destination on the distant horizon.

So intent are they at that task, they fail to realize that horizons are ever shifting because the world is not flat. 😎

9. JOriginal Muse - August 19, 2014

Btw, maybe it has something to do with our coming of THIS Age, because I can identify with everything you wrote here 🙂

nrhatch - August 19, 2014

You and I are more often on the same wave length than not ~> sending out a “Joyful” Vibe to the world. Cheers!

10. Kate @ Did That Just Happen? - August 19, 2014

Love it! I love the realization that you don’t have to be more than you are! And that who you are is plenty good 🙂

nrhatch - August 19, 2014

Thanks, Kate. Allowing ourselves a bit more latitude to just be who we want to be pays HUGE dividends. Instead of being a prisoner to decisions we’ve made in the past, we are free to embrace ourselves as we are Here and Now!

And that is, as you say, plenty good!

11. Kathy @ SMART Living 365.com - August 19, 2014

Hi NR! We too live in a retirement area and are able to witness all sorts of ways to “live a life beyond work.” Hardly any of the people we know in that position are bored. Most are as busy or more busy than they were when they worked. It really depends upon what’s important to you.

Another thing that is very apparent to those who are attempting to “retire” is that they either seem to strive to contribute something significant to the world or they are focused solely on their own pleasures. And while I completely agree with your assessment of not needing to prove anything to anyone (yourself included) I do tend to believe that the middle road is preferable. I think one reason why aging has become less than desirable for so many in our culture is because many become a “drain” rather than a contribution to society. We have so much to offer the world as we age and that’s why my husband and I plan to semi-retire rather than go one way or another.

Of course with that said, one of my favorite Buddha quotes goes something like, “Act as if the balance of the world depended upon your actions while all the time laughing at yourself for thinking you could even make a difference.” ~Kathy

nrhatch - August 19, 2014

OMG . . . or should I say, OMB! Great quote ~ sometimes the search for meaning and purpose feeds into our egocentric tendencies.

I believe we’re here to be happy. That said, most of us are happier when we help those around us be happy ~> the means to that end are many. I may add to happiness by sharing a good meal, a good book, or a listening ear. Someone else may add to happiness by sitting with the infirm or delivering meals to the housebound. It doesn’t have to be BIG and significant.

Do not overlook any good actions, thinking they are of no benefit; even tiny drops of water in the end will fill a huge vessel. ~ The Buddha

12. valleygrail - August 19, 2014

Isn’t it wonderful when we get to that place of acceptance? Thank you for your peaceful post.

nrhatch - August 19, 2014

Thanks, VG. I agree. We seldom enjoy peace with Ego at the helm ~ as soon as we satisfy one itch, Ego thinks up another.

13. elizabeth2560 - August 19, 2014

That is a wonderful place to be.

nrhatch - August 19, 2014

Allowing ourselves to “just be” provides a wonderful vantage point. We see that self-created suffering is rooted in the frantic desire to attain something other than what we already have . . .

But nothing lasts.
So what’s the rush? 😎

14. Pix Under the Oaks - August 19, 2014

Nancy I have been sitting here for an hour or more trying to comment. I can’t put together what I want to say. It’s crazy. I should just click “like” and let it go. I think I must be a low achiever. I have never wanted to be a mover and shaker at a job/career. I never had a clear thought or desire what I wanted to do with my life when it came to work. I wanted to ride horses really well. I wanted to ride dressage and compete. I wanted to work in the horse industry. My parents didn’t think much of that. Also tough to do when you are following your husband around while he works on a military career and you stay in place only 12 to 18 months. I finally did work and I worked retail. It was a stretch for me because I was incredibly shy. An introvert. Retail changed my whole personality and I became a social person. I really enjoyed my retail jobs and my desire was to be good at what I did. But it was other things that made me happy. I think I missed the bus for what I wanted to do in life but I am not unhappy because of that. And I am enjoying our retirement. And so to finish this up, your conversation in comments with Silver in the Barn works for me. Nancy! I can’t believe how this post has made me think about what I have done or not done with my life!!!! We NEED to talk about this in February.. 😀

nrhatch - August 19, 2014

Your comment highlights that it’s not always the “big stuff” that gives meaning and purpose to our lives. It’s the day to day pursuit of happiness ~ via horses, work, doing good, being good at what we do, watching the birds, cooking a delicious meal, and getting together over chocolate chip cookies for a chat in February.

That said, you might enjoy Val’s post today:

Instead of looking at activities we “need” for happiness, she addresses the values we seek to feed in areas of Well Being, Self-Expression, and Connection. Interesting post.

And tell CH that his “rubbish” looked well organized, neat, tidy, and interesting to me. 😎

15. livelytwist - August 19, 2014

Lovely photo to go with your post. No, not winnie the pooh/postman, you 🙂 I could caption it, “No pressure.” 😀

nrhatch - August 19, 2014

Thanks, Timi! That totem pole is my absolute favorite of all time. It’s hanging around outside the Visitor’s Center on Sanibel Island and never fails to make me S~M~I~L~E!

16. In the Stillness of Willow Hill - August 19, 2014

Isn’t it great how we can let go of the need to be noticed as a star in our professional world? My next step is to completely let go of the working world. Right now, I’m still processing feelings that trap me in guilt for wanting to retire before 60 years old. I know these feelings come from…..and I am applying compassion and seeking my Truth for the ultimate deadline to my career. I loved reading how you are enjoying days of free choice.

nrhatch - August 19, 2014

My philosophy in a nutshell:

“It is not selfish to do what you want to do. It is selfish of others to expect us to do what they want us to do.”

Good luck moving from the working world to days filled with flow.

17. ashokbhatia - August 19, 2014

Great post. I believe if we have passed on good values to the next generation, we have done something significant in our lives!

nrhatch - August 20, 2014

Well . . . we better keep paddling then. I think they got distracted by an incoming text and missed the lesson on values. 😎

18. Grannymar - August 20, 2014

I retired before sixty, but not by choice. Health issues and my doctors made the choice for me. The dessert of acceptance was slow to arrive, but now I realise that life is a game: Some days we win, others we lose. Maybe the best are days when it is a close draw!

nrhatch - August 20, 2014

We can only live happily-ever-after on a moment by moment basis. Happiness is never in things, it is in us.

Many don’t find happiness in daily doings b/c they’ve convinced themselves that Happiness is “out there” somewhere. Guarded by a dragon in a crystal cave. So they set out to slay the dragon and claim Happiness. They travel far (without enjoying the journey) from Here to There. And are disappointed to find Happiness isn’t There at all.

Grannymar - August 20, 2014

Exactly, Nancy. Happiness is deep within us and can only surface IF we encourage it.

nrhatch - August 20, 2014

Yes! Our buckets of joy fill drop by drop . . . and only after we remember to turn on the tap. 😎

19. Rainee - August 20, 2014

An excellent post Nancy and one that I will take notice of. Every now and again I feel that I have to be important – whatever that means! I am finding my direction – slowly but surely 🙂

nrhatch - August 20, 2014

Social conditioning plays a major role in the roles we play, including the desire to “be important.” It’s easy to see that we receive “status” from our professional stature.

Instead of defining “success” for ourselves, we internalize the yardstick used by others. Until, one day, we don’t. We ask ourselves, “what do I want to do with the time remaining to me?”

20. jannatwrites - August 21, 2014

Retirement… I dream of that someday! I don’t think I’ll get bored in retirement, either 🙂 Good for you for doing what you WANT to do… not what others EXPECT you to do!

nrhatch - August 21, 2014

I can see the elders now, sitting in their rockers, chawing on tabacci. Let’s listen:

“Retirement? There’ll be time enuf for that down the road. Why, back in the day, when we was your age, we was too busy doing things to think about retirement. Or anything else for that matter. We just got up, walked uphill all day long and climbed into bed too tuckered to sleep.”

21. Three Well Beings - August 21, 2014

It sound so wonderful to me, Nancy. Just getting up in the morning to do what you feel like doing. 🙂 I only have about two years left and when I picture myself I don’t think I’m going to struggle with it at all. I agree that one can always change course along the way if too much freedom somehow leads to boredom–but quite frankly, I feel like I’ve earned the time to sit on my deck and read a book all day if I want to! I really am getting excited just thinking about retirement. LOL!

nrhatch - August 21, 2014

I’ve met a few folks in real life (and cyber space) who can’t relax into the freedom ~> they “retire” and then open a business that requires their attention 24/7. Embracing freedom has not been a problem for me and I’m not even officially retired.

I’m on sabbatical. An extended sabbatical of unknown duration. 😛

22. How NOT To Cook A Turkey | Spirit Lights The Way - October 5, 2014

[…] letters written by my grandfather to dad in the 50’s, 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s, my grandfather mentioned getting up early to dress the turkey for Thanksgiving and Christmas […]

23. Wry Observations on Dry Politics | Spirit Lights The Way - October 19, 2014

[…] my grandfather retired, he ran for the State Legislature in Vermont and served a few terms as Town Representative for […]

24. Flying Squirrels & Other Silly Bits | Spirit Lights The Way - October 26, 2014

[…] politics, gardening, and newsy tidbits, my grandfather’s letters are sprinkled with flying squirrels, dueling mosquitoes, and other silly […]

25. Quaint Colloquialisms | Spirit Lights The Way - November 2, 2014

[…] I read through my grandfather’s letters, his occasional turn of phrase made me […]

26. DIY Projects, Work Bees, & No Cavities! | Spirit Lights The Way - November 9, 2014

[…] In letters written during his retirement, my grandfather shared tales of “work bees” (think Quilting Bees, not Spelling Bees) as well as many DIY projects. […]

27. Until The Worm Turns | Spirit Lights The Way - November 16, 2014

[…] Weather and its aberrations, permutations, and precipitations formed part and parcel of many of my grandfather’s missives: […]

28. Sun Temples and Druids | Spirit Lights The Way - June 17, 2015

[…] posts re dad’s dad:  The Other Side of Retirement * How NOT To Cook A Turkey * Pragmatic Thoughts on Life & Death * Wry Observations on Dry […]

What Say YOU?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: