Re-Imagining Retirement: ‘Incipient’ opportunity? Creating a different future

Incipient is my newest, favorite word. It means emerging, developing, budding, embryonic. I used it at my 70th birthday event to talk about no longer wanting to be invisible. As a middle child, being invisible seemed to come with the territory. Don’t rock the boat, don’t make waves, get good grades and stay out of trouble. But I started announcing this past year that being invisible was no longer acceptable. I recalled how being on stage over the years, actually had some good results for me. Moments I enjoyed recalling. Let’s have more of those moments — on purpose going forward!

As Baby Boomers are in the throes of re-inventing retirement, I’m challenging my generation to raise up a new standard and pay it forward to the generation ahead of us, to be discontent that anyone lives isolated. In retirement, it’s too easy to become isolated!! This is something that could be incipient with us. Yes, seniors who socialize are happier, so let us be the ones to extend a hand first, a smile or a cup of coffee and an hour to hear their stories, learned lessons and bragging on themselves or their grandkids.

So, this past year, I’ve also started conducting workshops on “What Do I Want to Do in Retirement?” Connecting with purpose in retirement and became willing to be a collector of a variety of resources to share as a workshop handout.

The logical place to start offering these workshops was at senior centers, church classes or club meetings. Talking to senior centers taught me that they are combating isolation and depression. (Oh yeah, dad dealt with that too, then declining health!) This especially happens when the spouse has died. The habits, chores, helpfulness, caring, normal daily routines all change so drastically then. It requires so much adjusting, learning new stuff, fixing your own meals and even/especially self-care.

My thesaurus includes with isolation: separation, remoteness, loneliness, seclusion, inaccessibility. Boy! That conjures up lots of other life situations that makes isolation even bigger. I think of rural homes, orphaned adults, single never-married adults (like myself) and seniors who seem deserted, abandoned, or forsaken.

Mom taught me that doing a good deed for someone else, also makes us feel good. A Chinese proverb says: A bit of fragrance clings to the hand that gives flowers. The Danish say: The road to a friend’s house is never long. An Assyrian proverb: Tell me your friends, and I’ll tell you who you are. Especially true is Arnold Bennett’s quote: You will make more friends in a week by getting yourself interested in other people than you can in a year by trying to get people interested in you. And finally, from C D Prentice: A single real friend is a treasure worth more than gold or precious stones.

Baby Boomers can make a difference and set a higher standard in America for how we treat our elders. We can start an incipient process that makes life better for us all down the road. And, life becomes richer for it.

Yes, senior centers are a marvelous place to continue to learn, eat, party and laugh. They help us live longer, provide community and a healthy perspective on life. Everyone is welcome.

I’m an introvert, and investing time in friends hasn’t been a priority as yet. I need to change this. I think I’m getting there — six months ago, I started a MeetUp group locally. We talk about re-inventing retirement and finding purpose and meaning now that we no longer have a job title. However, the community aspect of our weekly meetings seems just as important, to the group, as the discussion. Our self-care and life balance could both be better for it. Life requires a substantial adjustment when there’s no longer a task, team or structure to our days. Let’s move forward by making some healthy choices together.

The next scheduled workshop What Do I Want to Do in Retirement? Connecting with purpose in retirement is for Boomers still working. It starts at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 27 at the Edmonds Library at 650 Main St., Edmonds. After financial planning for retirement, don’t forget your time freedom planning, too. You’ll be glad you did.

— By Sharon Rolph

Sharon Rolph is a 25-plus-year resident of Lynnwood and Edmonds and earned her masters degree in applied behavioral science and bachelor’s degree in administration from City University. Her career includes many years at GTE and Boeing in Everett and Tukwila. She presents What Do I Want to Do in Retirement? Connecting with Purpose in Retirement workshops at senior center. The next one is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. March 6 at the Lynnwood Senior Center, 19000 44th Ave. W., in Lynnwood. She is also available to speak to groups or businesses.

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