Tag Archives: intellectual endeavors

Retirement Aspirations


When nearing retirement age most people begin to consider what life will look like post-retirement.  For some, sadly, retirement only means escape from a job that requires more energy and mental stamina than they can muster.  They do not think of what comes next, of what they may enjoy doing.  For many, retirement means an opportunity to try new things or to travel.  There are those who think about things they have been wanting to do for years but couldn’t fit into their working schedule.  Some people begin to think about their “bucket list”*.  Several months before I retired I found a little metal sign in one of the dollar bins at a craft store.  The message “Follow your dreams and explore your new reality” became my retirement motto and was even written on the sheet cake at my retirement party.  Long before I retired I had many ideas about what I might want to try in retirement.  I will share a few of the more ambitious thoughts.

For years before I had a retirement date in mind I began to consider retirement possibilities. One of the things I considered was opening a teashop.  When I was in my twenties I developed a taste for tea and began searching out stores where I could be buy assorted loose teas.  I recently subscribed to a tea magazine.  I felt I could almost open a tea store with the variety of teas that filled two shelves of my cabinet, with overflow of my daily favorites on my counter top. I began to research tea organizations, suppliers, and conventions.  Several years ago I even considered going to the World Tea Expo in Las Vegas to learn more about tea.  When I finally retired several of my friends asked me if I was going to open that tea shop I had talked about it so frequently.  It seems I had customers lined up and waiting!  By then, however, I realized that having my own retail business involved more hours and weekends then I was prepared to invest.  I knew I wanted more freedom in retirement.

When I was teaching, I took a “writing workshop for teachers” class offered by my school district.  As a result of that class I have several partial or completed drafts of children’s books that I considered editing and trying to get published someday.  I felt particularly interested in writing chapter books for children who are early readers or a children’s story about selected events of my childhood. (My author mentors are Donald Crews and Cynthia Rylant for those of you who know about such things or such people.)  After taking part in a three- year history grant which included traveling with peers to the Smithsonian Institute and following the Civil Rights trail through Memphis, Birmingham, and Atlanta, I also thought it might be interesting to write biographies for children.

When I first retired I dabbled in writing. I began a collection of some short anecdotes of teaching experiences that I felt might make interesting reading for adults.  I started this blog because writing a blog for adults was something I wanted to try. I purchased a text and DVD from the “Great Courses” series and did some writing for that.  I found this challenging as the course assigned writing tasks for no audience but myself and I craved some feedback on the pieces I wrote. Writing is still on my list of things to pursue.  I need to decide  which genre I really want to pursue first.

For each of the last eight years of my teaching career, I hosted a student teacher in my classroom.  I enjoyed mentoring these young people and learned from them as well.  It seemed like a natural move for me to work with students in the university setting. About three years before I actually retired, with no certain retirement year in mind, I began networking with people at the universities attended by my student teachers.  I updated my resume and sent it to my Alma Mater after talking with the Dean of the School of Education.  The universities prefer hiring experienced teachers who are newly retired as adjuncts in their education departments and people who secure these positions keep them for years. There were no openings available before or after I retired but I had so many projects and activities to keep me occupied the first year that I set the idea aside to think about at a later time.  Spoiler alert…I received an unexpected call late last summer regarding an adjunct position. I taught last fall and will again this fall.

At, this point, two years into my retirement, I still embrace some of the same large and small goals that I set for myself.  Now that the wedding is behind me and the basement on the path to recovery I am feeling motivated to once again tackle writing.  Hence, I am once again posting to the blog.  I also began a short course on writing memoirs at the local community college.  We will see how that progresses.


*In case you’ve wondered, according to the Wallstreet Journal (http://www.wsj.com/articles/the-origins-of-bucket-list-1432909572) the term “bucket list” was coined by screenwriter Justin Zackham  in 1999.  He composed a list of things that he wanted to do before he “kicked the bucket.” Looking for a shorter title he called it “Justin’s Bucket List” which eventually led him to write the screenplay that starred Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson.  The term has become a part of our language and now represents any list of things that someone wants to do, without the thought of dying even considered.




Books on Retirement

Everyone who knows me knows that I am an avid reader and a lifelong learner.  At school if anyone recommended a book or provided the grade level team with some reading material which we were encouraged to peruse, my team liked to say, “Give it to Debbie.  She’ll actually read it and tell us about it.” They kindly stopped short of calling me the team nerd.  Years ago, when our school participated in a study of the book Now, Discover Your Strengths, and each of us took the accompanying online quiz, no one was surprised to discover that my top strength was Learner.  In the 5 weeks since I have retired I have read for fun (nothing worth recommending) and for book clubs.  In the effort to declutter my mind I have intentionally stayed clear of anything that required much thinking. That intellectual piece of myself that I want to continue to develop during retirement has not been developing, but recovering. But, as is typical of my normal summer vacations, about four weeks after school is out I begin to feel restless and ready for something. It is time for mental stimulation. If I were returning to school in the fall I would be pulling out my books on Professional Learning Communities, formative assessments, using student data, and the myriad of other topics that are the focus of educators today.  Instead, I am hunting for books on retirement.

When people find out you are ready to retire, they often have advice.  Some of that advice comes from people who have already taken the plunge, some from people who are trying to sell you something, and some from people who are just well meaning friends.  Included in the advice given me were two book titles (The New Retirement and Don’t Retire, REWIRE!) When I was suddenly zapped with the desire to read a book on retirement, I logged into my Overdrive account at the library to search for a book to download to my Nook from the comfort of my air conditioned house. My search turned up one of those messages that inform the customer that while the item you want cannot be found here are some other options that might be appealing. That is how I happen to be reading What Color is Your Parachute? for Retirement, Second Edition: Planning a Prosperous, Healthy, and Happy Future.  It’s a very readable book, yet has caused me to do some good thinking.  I even filled out the worksheet to help me determine my core values, of which there are only nine, then encouraged me to think of my own value words within the values this author defined.  The idea is to be sure to incorporate my top three values into my retirement.  The core values are quite general, which stands to reason since there are so few.  There is a lot of ground left uncovered, in my opinion.  I am not sure if I agree with my top three core values unless I reframe them in my own words.  There weren’t any values there that strongly seemed to reflect my thinking but there were several that I know I could not claim.  What three values were assigned to me after I performed all of the convoluted adding, subtracting, averaging, and dividing that were part of the worksheet formula? My core values according to the worksheet were Universalism, Security, and Achievement.  Hmm.  I’m still thinking about whether that reflects my values.

Meanwhile, I acquired a shiny copy of Don’t Retire, REWIRE! Once I finish the parachute book I will read this book in order to identify my drivers or motivators to help me figure out what to do with my life. Maybe these will all help me figure out who I am and what I want to be when I grow up!