THE BIG YELLOW BRICK ROAD TO OZ…AKA RETIREMENT

THE BIG YELLOW BRICK ROAD TO OZ…AKA RETIREMENT, Retirement Whatever That Is

Let’s just start with the statement that the path from the decision to retire to actually doing it is a really squiggly path and hardly a straight line.  Why?  I’m not sure.  That’s just the way the Retirement Gods plan these things…or at least how they did it for me.  

When I signed away my old life six months before Retirement Day, I was so flummoxed that I actually signed the papers with the wrong year!!!  Hmmmm…quite a Freudian slip for someone who prides herself on attention to detail.   And further proof of my sadly erratic behavior was this visual:  I literally threw the papers across someone’s desk in a rather rude manner…and I’m a pretty polite person.  (I mean I’m from Rhode Island…..and New Englanders tend not to be like pushy New Yorkers.)   

Going forward from there, my behavior continued to be pretty erratic, I’d say if I were watching from the outside.  The best way to describe it?  Classic denial.  Sort of like when you see that bunion on your foot and it absolutely kills you when you put on those spikey heels and you adamantly claim that there’s no bunion and it doesn’t hurt and you come home and have to soak your feet for two hours—and they still hurt!  So, I just went about my merry way at work, didn’t tell anyone or talk about my decision and just did what I always do:  I continued in my goody-two-shoes behavior and was my normal good corporate-citizen self.  I mean, if I behaved like I would be working forever, then perhaps I hadn’t actually made that decision, right?  If I didn’t talk about it, then maybe the decision was lodged in some alternative universe (in the same galaxy as alternative facts) and not in my world?  And if I behaved normally, then maybe the Gods would intervene to change things…or maybe lightening would destroy the docs and it would all be a bad dream?  

PLEASE CLICK HERE TO READ THE REST OF THIS POST

PROFILE: THE “FORMERLY FAMOUS” DESIGNER—WHO GIVES HERSELF AN A—AND CAN SLOW DOWN

I’m not sure about all the men reading this…but most of the career women will know—all too well—that dreaded illness: The Imposter Syndrome!!!  And trust me, if you don’t know it, you are very very lucky indeed.

I never asked Carol whether she suffered from it, but I am 99.9% certain, she wouldn’t even know the term.  And I say that with a tremendous amount of R-E-S-P-E-C-T.  Acting as an amateur shrink here (with absolutely no credentials at all…), I would say that this single fact is one of the key reasons that she’s been able to move from that uber-high-powered A-List Designer job to a very comfortable and happy sort-of-retired person.  Admittedly, you do have to add in the fact that she hasn’t totally “retired.”  She’s still able to take on a few projects and have a toe…or a foot…or, if she wanted it…a leg in the door.  “Design will always be part of my life” she says forcefully.

She summarized her current state of mind so beautifully: “There comes a time in your life when you can actually say to yourself that–“I am f-ing good at what I do. With all the holes that I climbed out of in my life, I really accomplished IT.  I feel like Mary Tyler Moore throwing her hat up in the air and saying…’I made it after all.’”  “That self respect,” she summarizes, “allowed me to accept retirement.”  And as I listened, I sat back and applauded that she could actually give herself that often elusive “A”.  As she talked on, I thought of something she said during our conversation about why she was so frequently featured in all the decorating magazines– “I gave good quote.”   

Carol didn’t start out life wanting to be a designer.   I mean…if you were a woman graduating college in the late 60s, many people substituted the word BA …with an M-R-S.  There was a belief that College was a way to get a husband. She didn’t just do that.  She had a child as well.  Stifled in that role, she found her calling at design school.

PLEASE CLICK HERE TO READ THE REST OF THIS POST

THERE ARE “8 MILLION STORIES IN THE NAKED CITY”

OK boomers…you all remember that quote from that iconic TV show The Naked City, right?  Well, according to the 2014 Census, there are 76.4 million baby boomers.  And each of them has a story, right?    And each of them at some point will be thinking about… has thought about …or has actually “done” retirement. The stories and the actions are as diverse as their backgrounds, I imagine.

I’ll bet you know where I’m going with this.  Where I’m going can be summarized in the true tag line from the Naked City: “There are 8 million stories in the Naked City: This has been one of them.”  So, my retirement saga that I’ve been telling on this blog is just “one of them.”  Granted, mine is an interesting tale, (especially to me), but there are many many many stories out there and many more exciting, deep and noteworthy than mine. 

PLEASE CLICK HERE TO READ THE REST OF THIS POST

TO RETIRE OR NOT TO RETIRE—THAT IS THE QUESTION

PART TWO:  THE RETIREMENT NEGATIVES—REASONS TO STAY AT WORK

Let’s be totally honest:  who am I if I don’t have that business card and that work identity?  I can’t remember a time when I was ever “just plain me”—without some title or responsibility attached to my name.  Candidly, it was always a point of honor for me to differentiate myself with my work persona.  And those trappings make me feel proud, accomplished and capable.   The thought of being that sort of random person walking the streets at 10 am NOT wearing a business suit is pretty terrifying.  That business suit says something…and something very positive about a person. Without it, who in heavens name am I?  Uh-oh…I’ve never been a “no one” and I am not sure that I should start now.  Work is sort of like a hard-shelled cocoon which gives you this wonderful protection of invincibility and identity and ego satisfaction.  Can I survive without that shield?????  

Related to that is the fact that when you work, you always have the chance to rack up another A.  Let’s face it…I have lived a life looking for the next A, the next good housekeeping seal of approval, the next affirmation that I’m good at what I do.  What will I do without that?  Is my own self esteem at this stage of my life big enough to withstand no more pats on the back for doing a good job?  I mean…I’m a heat seeking missile for approval…and what happens without it?  Honestly, I just don’t know and I cross my fingers that I won’t feel worthless and undeserving.  The fear of that could make one re-consider this decision, that’s for sure.  

For all its negatives, one of work’s biggest positives is that you’re being challenged all the time—in new ways. If you’ve spent your whole life seeking to conquer new territory in some shape or form, what happens when life is flat…without a mountain to climb?  I don’t know.  And conversely, if I wanted to, could I identify a new mountain?  Or not?  I mean, Thomas Friedman may think that “the world is flat” is a positive.  For my life…I’m not so sure.   

PLEASE CLICK HERE TO READ THE REST OF THIS POST

TO RETIRE OR NOT TO RETIRE: THAT IS THE QUESTION

PART ONE:  THE RETIREMENT PLUSSES—LEAVE NOW!

Family First— I am a lucky lucky lady with two wonderful daughters and spouses and FOUR grandkids, who are young enough to still believe that I walk on water.  Now that is pretty awesome stuff.  And while working, when I go to see them all in Washington DC, I arrive on Friday at 6 PM and then wake up at the crack of dawn on Monday morning so that I can take the 6 AM ACELA and can get to work in NYC by a little after 9.  Pretty insane.  Instead, what about being there during the week and picking them up at school or taking them out to some fun activity on school days off?  Am I an imbecile for not being there as much as possible during this incredibly wonderful time of their lives?  And furthermore, I do know that this blissful period doesn’t last forever—blink and you miss all the good stuff….and I’m sorry but doing that would be a cardinal sin.   Let’s get real!
PLEASE CLICK HERE TO READ THE REST OF THIS POST

My Experience At The Women’s March 2017 In Washington DC

When the Women’s March was first announced in December of last year, there was no doubt in my mind that I had to be there. I even scheduled a meeting/lunch with an ex-client in Bethesda, MD for the day after to put a place holder in my calendar. My activist leanings from the Viet Nam era were in full blown “Be There” mode, and I booked my tickets. Of course, the fact that both of my daughters live in DC made it an absolute no brainer.

My train from NYC to DC was more crowded than normal and filled with women of all ages (and many of my generation) with a definite air of expectation. People looked at each other with the recognition that we shared a mind set and a purpose. The young woman sitting next to me (in the Quiet Car…so we didn’t talk) was texting in Chinese…so there were double reasons not to speak with her. Amazingly enough, who scurried into my DC Metro subway car as the doors were about to close—but my seat mate! And then we did chat. Of course, she was NOT there for the Inauguration, she explained. She hadn’t been in this country long and here she was, heading for the March and meeting up with a friend who was flying in from SEATTLE FOR THE MARCH! It was at that point that I realized that this March was going to be “YUGE”.

PLEASE CLICK HERE TO READ THE REST OF THIS POST

One Baby Boomer’s Guide to Retirement

Starting at the beginning is always a good thing—especially when you’re starting a blog.  I mean, after all, I’m not quite of the “blogging generation” and social media is, I must admit, a bit of a mystery to me.  So… why in heavens name am I writing a blog?  That’s a pretty legitimate question. Trust me, I ask myself that every day as I sit down at my computer.

So, to start out, let me explain to you (and to me, I think as well) why I decided to write this blog.

I am the quintessential beginning of the Baby Boomer Generation and so as the calendar ticks by, the question of To Retire or Not Retire is supposed to be front and center in my (if I believe the scientists) aging brain.  It’s no mystery now that I did decide to retire at the end of 2016…and you know that because I am writing this blog.  Who would have had time to do this if I were still gainfully employed?

In mid-December, when I finally was facing the fact that I had only two more weeks of work, I have to admit to a bit of a panic attack.  What had I done?  Was I a total lunatic to have opted independently and without provocation to leave a lucrative and rewarding financial services career?  I started thinking that I had followed classically horrific decision making—I’d made a monster decision without the slightest idea whether I had made the right choice—or a disastrous one.  Clearly, I knew very well what work looked like and I had absolutely not the foggiest notion of what retirement would look like.

In a fit of self justification, I figured I’d Google Retirement to see what others said about making the decision and what worked and what didn’t.  BUT,  low and behold, that search yielded all sorts of information about health care after retirement, investing …blah blah blah.  Yeah of course, we all need to be concerned with all of those things. But what I was interested in (and obviously still am) is the emotional side of this path up to and after retirement.  It’s that soft fuzzy….sit on the couch…sort of stuff.

PLEASE CLICK HERE TO READ THE REST OF THIS POST

RETIREMENT—WHATEVER THAT IS?!

THE PLACE FOR DISCUSSIONS OF THE CONTINUING CHAPTERS IN YOUR WORKING AND NON-WORKING LIFE

There comes a time in everyone’s career where you take stock of where you’re going or when external events derail your career path.    Major life decisions, identity issues and emotional volatility are in store all along the way.    Everyone’s path is different and everyone’s decision process is different.  But maybe we can all learn from each other here.  And that’s the purpose of this blog:  To share real life stories about people’s journeys, emotional struggles, challenges and opportunities as they navigate this new road.  No one wants to go through this process alone!!!

  • IF YOU’RE A WORKING BABY BOOMER—You should read this blog.  Sometime in your future,  you’ll look ahead and wonder about your next chapter—should you move on? Should you stay?  And why?  Having a window into other lives and other decisions will help you along the way.
  • IF YOU’VE ALREADY RETIRED—You should read this blog.  We’re never to old to learn how to do things better.  And maybe you can learn from others about how they’re approaching this new chapter in their life.
  • IF YOUR PARENTS ARE RETIRED OR THINKING ABOUT IT—You should read this blog.   Your parents always tried to understand where you were in your life…so what about gaining some insights into what your parents are thinking?
  • IF YOU’RE JUST A PEOPLE PERSON—You should read this blog.  If understanding people and their motivations and decisions is fascinating to you, then you’ll be satisfied reading these stories.

PLEASE CLICK HERE TO READ THE REST OF THIS POST