Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Retirement in Perspective: The Fourth Anniversary

How could it be?

It's the fourth anniversary of my retirement. How could it be so long since I walked away from my desk at UCLA -- when the memories are still so vivid?

How could we be looking at our fifth blazing summer here in rural Arizona?

How could time be flying by so fast?

And yet....the time has brought a changing perspective of life in retirement.

It no longer feels like an open-ended vacation, but regular life.

Arizona no longer feels like an exotic vacation destination, but home.

I have fewer illusions, whether they be of recapturing lost youth or creating a circle of close friends here.

My weight is not going to melt off without more effort, more vegetables, more exercise, less wishing.

And knowing your neighbors -- as I longed to do in the anonymity of our former suburban Los Angeles neighborhood -- does not always make them friends.

And one can be as happy or as unhappy in a lovely new home as it was in the old one.

Life, with all its ups and downs, discoveries, disappointments, joys and sorrows, goes on at an alarmingly rapid pace.

And yet, my prevailing sentiment on this fourth anniversary is gratitude.

I'm grateful that, despite the impact of the financial crash on our savings and those of so many others, we had the resources to retire anyway.

I'm grateful that, four years after retiring, both Bob and I are still healthy and active, still intellectually curious, still delighting in the time to pursue our passions for learning, for his music, for my writing.

I'm grateful for the good friends I have made here and, especially, for the old friends whose love has endured through the physical distance between us.

I'm grateful to be doing work that I love, to have another book coming out from a major publisher next fall, to have another chance to pursue a career that has meant so much to me for five decades.

We have no guarantees. I have friends who have not yet been able to retire or whose health has failed just as they were poised to pursue long-deferred dreams of travel and volunteering. Sometimes life changed in a minute. And in a day or a minute, life could change irrevocably for any of us.

But today life is grand. And I'm so grateful for every minute!


  1. Glad to meet you! I am a retired teacher, as of 2008. My 56th year, with migraines--it was time. Also my daughter gave me two gr-daughters. I decided to invest my skills and time with these wonderful girls, rather than other 8 or 9 year old children.

    I enjoyed your post. See you soon.
    Susan Kane

  2. I think it is so important to reflect on how things are going from time to time. Congratulations on reaching this milestone. I have been retired for quite a bit longer than you, and it has been a great blessing. All you said about living in a new area is so true. Congratulations on your writing successes.

  3. Almost at the end of year 4. Delighted to have found a winter home with the accompanying awareness that we can stay put for a while longer in our rest-of-the-year home.

    Glad to have met my initial retirement goals and to have traveled to my heart's content.

    Glad we're still healthy in spite of it all.

  4. Amen Kathy. It has been 12 years for me and I still feel a little like I am on vacation but also sometimes feel like this is how I have lived all my life. I sure don't miss the work a day world.

  5. I retired around the same time as you. I, too, am grateful everyday to have been able to retire. We're not living the high life, but are comfortable. I'm grateful that we've had the ability to make choices in how we live. If my grandchildren lived closer, life would be pretty near perfect.

  6. Retired from professional gardening in 2009. Wasn't particularly savvy about finances, just worked in an economy far more humane than the one we have now. We tell our kids to keep their spirits up, make themselves indispensable, use their knowledge, training and experience to best advantage and be kind despite the unkindness that characterizes too much of today's work environment, and to pay off debts soonest. I believe that provides a solid foundation for their futures --their retirements. These are hard times for young people but I have measureless faith in their generation. I tell them so. I hope everybody does.

  7. I shall be dogging your footsteps as you and your husband are four years ahead of us. Just sold our house, preparing for the 'big' move and lifestyle change from the end of this year..... glad it's working out for you.

  8. Hello on a gorgeous, spring day in TENNESSEE. Wow---after the long and bitter winter we had this year, Spring is even more inviting and lovely.

    I enjoyed reading about your retirement... Yes--life changes... We ADAPT.... So far, I've been retired for about 10 years now ---and life just keeps getting better and better for me... Thanks be to God!

    We are now home 'again' --after our 5th trip since the end of February.... Seems as if we visited five different states --although the trips weren't planned for that reason... ha... BUT--as I always say, it's great to be home... I did publish a blog post today--so check it out when you have time. Have a wonderful weekend.


  9. How absolutely wonderful, Kathy! You've learned fine lessons, shared many and enlightened us all! I hope every day continues to be shiny and happy for you!

  10. "Life can change in a minute" ... is true for everyone at any age ...

    I'm glad things are working pretty well for you. It's a lot about attitude, too, and you and your husband have the right attitude.

  11. I'm glad retirement is proving so fulfilling for you both, Kathy. Long may it continue.

  12. So glad to hear you are both well and happy in SC. Please remember that you have an escape in the summer just four hours from the desert heat. You are thought of often.

  13. Dear Kathy, your post is exactly what I needed to read today as it puts my life into perspective just as writing it and doing the thinking before hand much have put your four years in perspective. I've been retired for nearly thirteen years. For the first four of those years I stayed really busy--writing. Then illness entered for the next few years. Moving five years ago really threw me for a loop and I seemed to lose my natural optimism. But now I find myself in the last few months coming to where you are: being grateful for my life, past, present, and future. And you have so aptly described all this. Thank you for putting my heart wishes into words. Peace.

  14. And long may it last!

    Still, as you would probably be the first to say, it’s the quality that counts, not the quantity.