You’re Retired, Right?
At a Hanukkah party last December I bumped into an acquaintance I had not seen in years. Our conversation got off to a surprising start when she said, “So Batia, you must be retired by now.” The statement caught me off-guard and I thought about the assumptions some of us make about age and employment.
The Oxford dictionary defines “retirement” as follows: “the action or fact of leaving one’s job and ceasing to work”. To me though, the “tired” part of the word “retirement” resonates the most, along with images of withdrawal and pending death.
I am not opposed to the idea of retirement. In fact, I am delighted for people who choose to leave the workplace at age 65 to spend more time travelling, pursuing studies, gardening, enjoying grandchildren and engaging in volunteer activities. How delicious to linger over a second cup of coffee while listening to the morning radio traffic report about congestion on the Queensway, knowing that you don’t have to stand on a crowded bus or grip the steering wheel of your car during a winter storm to get to the office before 9am.
Canadian seniors are living longer and some are looking for new ways to continue to make a contribution. Many who are blessed with good health are choosing to work beyond age 65. And as I ponder my own future path, I take inspiration from the countless women and men who are forging new careers in their 70s and 80s.
Recently, I tuned into a CBC radio interview with Beverly McLachlin, the former Chief Justice of Canada, who retired from the bench in December 2017, nine months before the mandatory retirement age of 75. After writing hundreds of legal decisions, the publishing house Simon and Schuster Canada, will publish her first novel, a thriller, in 2018.
And who can forget Hazel McCallion, the colorful Canadian politician and businesswoman who served as mayor of Mississauga, Ontario, from 1978 until 2014? At age 96, she now serves as the first and current Chancellor of Sheridan College.
As a certified Integral master coach, I have worked with people who wrestle with the butterflies of anticipation and fear as their retirement date approaches and they ponder the question “what next?” Many struggle with feelings of pending loss —loss of work community, loss of routine and loss of feeling needed. Let’s face it. Work defines us. How many of us can relate to going to a dinner party and being asked, “What do you do for a living?” Perhaps you too are guilty of leading off a conversation with this question. Our labels define us —educator, public servant, artist, realtor and student. Imagine how rich and exploratory conversations could be if we opened with “how do you like to spend your time?”
In a keynote address to the Celebrating Age-Friendly Niagara conference in June 2017, McCallion said she did not retire from politics; rather she left her job. The key to a successful retirement she added was to plan for it well before and to do your homework. “Don’t fear your future; shape your future,” she said.
To Glebe Report readers who, like me, struggle with the word “retirement”, I would like to propose that we replace the “R’ word with a new phrase like “next act” which evokes spaciousness, hope, transitions and new possibilities in our journey through life.
And as a tribute to those of you contemplating your “next act” in 2018, let me leave you with a few tips:
• Keep a daily journal. Write about what is important to you and what your heart desires;
• Create a regular routine. Include at least one new element daily, whether it be to clean the spice racks, make a soup or visit a friend in hospital;
• Join a community group which focusses on your interests;
• Exercise, exercise, exercise; and
• Nurture friendships
Batia Winer is a meditation teacher and a certified Integral Master Coach™. 613-327-7522; firstname.lastname@example.org
Kate McGregor is a certified Integral Master Coach™. 613-884-1864; email@example.com; www.kmcoaching.ca