Tony Leighton is a Canadian writer happily retired and attempting to help others feel the same.

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The subject of working or not working in retirement is a never-ending source of debate. My posts “We all fall into this trap.” and “We all fall into this trap. (Part Two)” inspired these notes from readers.

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My husband often says that he won’t retire, he’ll do “something else.” I don’t think he likes the word. Retired, for many people, equals old.

As far as feedback from other people on the subject, I think it’s safe to say that most people react from their own point of view. I told a friend that after she had an unpleasant encounter with someone who scoffed at her recent retirement. He was just speaking from his own perspective, just as people listen to conversation in order to respond, not to actually listen. He was expressing his own reaction to that maligned word “retirement.”

As far as Christopher Plummer goes, well he is an actor. I think he loves what he does and it gives his life meaning. I’ve seen him perform live at both Stratford and in his one-man play in Toronto over the last couple of decades, and it would have been a shame if he had stopped working.

I often think of my father and his retirement job, working as a golf pro, a master-fitter. It’s work, but for him it’s FUN. It’s the kind of job he couldn’t have had as his real career because it just doesn’t pay very well. He needed and wanted the big bucks. Now, at 72, he finds fulfillment and meaning from his job. It got him going after a recent stroke and I’m certain he wouldn’t have had the recovery he’s had without knowing it was there waiting for him.

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I was worried about what I would do with myself and now I’m so happy that I’m retired.

I’m also glad I can financially support my lifestyle.

I often wonder, “How did I consistently do all that work?”

But I did because I had to, until I didn’t!

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I don’t mean to be harsh but I feel compelled to mention that taken as a pair, the last two blogs were all over the map.

My takeaway is that everyone is confused about what retirement is, or what it could be, so why read this? Commiseration?

The Eleanor Roosevelt quote did resonate with me, and that’s maybe enough said.

As for my plans, they are not so much plans as realistic expectations but not filled with dread (although if you were in my shoes I am pretty sure you would panic). I am already working part time because that’s how it’s working out. The change I need to make is to realize that’s how it’s going to be and to better compartmentalize my time and not to fret about it. I still enjoy the work but am increasingly irritated by the mundane side of business, stop-start projects, bureaucracy, book keeping.

I fully realize that how my wife decides to retire has many more implications than mine. She is a bit ‘sinusoidal’ on this topic so I just need to ride out these waves.

There’s a big post: syncing up with your spouse.

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Good one. Good question list. “Do you know yourself?” Being averse to retirement might signal that your life goals are well met by the mix of experiences your work provides. (“Why would I retire to seek fulfillment? I am attaining fulfillment through my work!”). But it might also signal fear or rigidity or some other limiting flaw. It is important to take a hard look at this. And it is important to seek loved ones’ opinions, since they often see the flaws we can’t. Have an eye for the final curtain.

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It’s okay to think endlessly about how to enrich our own lives in retirement but also that we need to really be open to the idea of being the wise elder. A large part of that, in my opinion, is to make ourselves available as conduits to a place of common ground — bringing people together, making other people’s lives better by diminishing the differences between them. How do we accomplish this without arrogance? I guess it means trying to actually be the opposite of curmudgeonly.

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Another good one. But I can’t resist. The last line, “We don’t have to fit into any box””— except a casket.

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“Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.”

(Editor’s note: This quote is often attributed to Mark Twain, but he didn’t actually say it. According to this useful site, “based on current evidence the quip was first voiced by an anonymous government researcher by 1968.” Not Twain, but still not bad.)

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A retired doctor friend sent this highly entertaining and motivating video — Wendy Suzuki: The brain-changing benefits of exercise | TED Talk — in response to my post yesterday, “A Picture of the Future You.” It adds great credence to the benefits of exercise from a woman who changed her brain by just getting active, and measured those changes. If you want some added motivation to stave off cerebral decline, spend 13 minutes with Wendy Suzuki.

 

Vocabuteria: shibboleth

A Picture of the Future You