“Retirement” is a magic word for people who have been
working for decades to reach the promised land of their golden years. Unfortunately, the first experiences of retirement are often disappointing to many people.
They might even say, “Hmm, I’m not having fun yet,” or ask, “Is that all there is?”
The solution to these retirement blues was offered by “Don’t Retire, Refire!” at the Lake Oswego Adult Community Center on May 21, part of the center’s Living Well series. Providing the expertise for this occasion was Lynn Greenwood, who has filled her retirement years with lots of great things. One of them has been being a facilitator for the program “Discover, Design, Engage” for the past nine years. That was because in 2010 Greenwood had just retired after 30 years of being mega busy in a variety of careers and herself faced the big question, “What comes next?”
“I was in a place where I was really interested in rewiring myself,” Greenwood said. Her response was to take a class taught by Mary Ellen Hoeh at Portland Community College. The result was so successful that Greenwood not only obtained the information she needed to start her own rewiring, she was inspired to help people who are in the same boat.
“The exercises I learned helped me so much,” Greenwood said. “It made me want to support all of the people who were going through the same transition I was.”
Greenwood proceeded to team up with Hoeh for the training program “What’s Next? Life Planning for Retirement” in which they have assembled all of their knowledge and wisdom to help folks who are on the verge of retiring or whose retirement has not been too hot so far. True, the syllabus Greenwood handed out that night was so large it might have made her audience think they were back in high school and being whacked with hugely formidable test. But, this daunting effect does not last long, because the material is so painstakingly thorough with all kinds of material and exercises that can make a great difference in achieving a satisfying, happy retirement. A complete picture is crucial because a newly retired man or woman will be faced with a massive variety of changes as they break the tape of the retirement finish line
Some people are even having a storybook retirement. One lady gleefully informed the group that after a lifetime of being a workaholic, “Now I’m doing whatever I want!”
Another woman was happily surprised because a task she had been dreading – taking care of her ailing mother – turned out to be a labor of happiness and fulfillment.
From the other send of the spectrum was a woman who was a newcomer to Lake Oswego who had recently escaped fires in California. Her losses were huge. Not only was her home destroyed by fire, but her husband died five days later.
Greenwood sought to lay a lot of fears to rest.
“People think they have to be ready for retirement the day after they retire,” Greenwood said. “They don’t. They can take their time in preparing for retirement.”Some obstacles to happy retirement stand out above the others.“Some people are not willing to let go of preconceived notions they have about retirement,” she said. “They need to open themselves up to what they might do for the rest of their lives.”
Another obstacle is that people are simply afraid to retire for financial reasons. In those cases, Greenwood said, “We offer a financial analysis of how much money they will need to retire.”
As part of her program, Greenwood read a poem by Mary Oliver that presents both the dilemma and hope when it comes to retiring. One line in particular hit home: “What do you do with your one wild and precious life?”