Retirement Challenge #1

Once I decided to leap into retirement, I think the first challenge was actually walking out the door of my school. Leaving my position as the principal of a K-4 Elementary School, was not an easy decision for me to make.  The kids didn’t make it any easier! My most treasured retirement gift was a book of letters from my students, including their adorable suggestions for a happy retirement.  Here are some highlights with updates on my progress-almost one year later:

Suggestions for what to do when I retire:

I hope you go to see a play in New York and climb Mt. Everest. (I have seen a few great plays in New York and many amazing productions here in Hartford, CT.  Not ready for Mt. Everest.)

Read a good book and jot down some notes. (I’ve read a ton of great books.  I really should jot down some notes.  Good reminder.)

I hope you go somewhere. (Yes, I’ve traveled to a few wonderful places this year.  China, The Bahamas, Key West, Ottawa, and New Britain, CT.  Oh yeah-Elmira, NY too.)

You should read a lot of good books and write a book. (Okay-I’ve read a zillion great books. I have written a few children’s books.  I’m also working on a novel. More about that later.)

Maybe you should get chickens and raise them from chicks. (Don’t think so.  I’ve eaten a lot of eggs though.)

My mom recommends these books: Out of my Mind, The One and Only Ivan, Wonder, and I recommend these two movies; Life of Pie, and Hachet (Loved Wonder. Great book!  Will get to the rest.)

Since you are leaving, here are some things you can do: You can be a lifeguard or even a doctor. (I haven’t trained as a lifeguard-but I’ve done a lot of swimming this year, in pools, lakes, oceans, and the very cold and gorgeous Farmington River.  As for being a doctor-I’ve told a few people that I’m considering med school-but that was just a sarcastic response to the question I keep getting asked-What do you do all day?)

When you retire, you can be a producer or a museum guide.  (Been to some great art museums this year, NBMAA and The Whitney. Maybe next year I can be a guide. Or maybe I’ll just continue to be a visitor.)

You can volunteer for anything. Do this because if you stay inside you might be afraid to go outside. (I’ve done some volunteer work which I enjoyed a great deal.  Looking forward to more. I do remember to get outside every day too. Great advice.)

And please be yourself.  (My husband keeps asking me: Who are you?  I guess retirement has made me just a bit more relaxed. Plus-I do the shopping, make dinner, and even make the bed. That’s my new self.)

When you retire you can be a Lego engineer.  (Really?  I don’t think so.)

You can be in the army, a detective, or a zookeeper. (Not gonna happen.)

You can be a basketball player and earn a lot of money. (Not in this lifetime.)


Almost one year later, and still learning to get the hang of retirement.  Having leaped into this state, without careful planning, I guess you could say, I’ve learned a lot.

Next post-I’ll try to explain another retirement challenge:

How to plan your son and daughter-in-law’s second wedding in just two weeks. 

 The Hill Stead


Hello world!

What’s a Retirement Leaper?

The first anniversary of my retirement is just weeks away.  I’m going to use this blog to look back at the highs, lows, and plateaus, week by week, month by month.  I’m going to find clues and maybe some wisdom along the way, something that just might help others who are looking forward to their retirement, or perhaps facing their imminent retirement with trepidation.   I may even find some insight to help myself enjoy the second year of retirement.  That’s what I’m hoping will happen.

Here is something I’ve learned about retirement:  People within the ages of 60-100, seem to fall into one of four categories:  A. The Workers.  Either because they need the money, love their jobs, or they are fearful of too much free time, these people continue to work.  B. The Planners. These individuals retire thoughtfully, with meticulous care. They pick a date far into the future, and develop their hobbies, procure their part time gigs, plan their travels, find meaningful volunteer work, and change their living arrangements to make the transition practically painless.  Then they pray like crazy that they will still have their health when the time comes.  This blog is not for them.  There are already plenty of online resources to support The Planners.  C. The Life’s a Beach and then you die-ers. These folks never really had to work.  There is no transition for these people because basically, their entire adult lives have been lived as retirees.  Their 24 hours a day are filled with activities that morph into a life well-lived. Kind of like the scientific principle of homeostasis. I have nothing against these people, other than it is difficult if not impossible to break into their club.  Once you’re ready to spend time with them, they are so set in their ways they want nothing to do with you. Especially if you can’t play Mahjong. D. The Leapers. This is my category-the retirees who are fortunate enough to stop working with enough financial resources to be comfortable-well, comfortable enough. But the individuals in this category haven’t planned a thing.  We take this huge leap of faith, figuring everything will work out. Many Leapers are like me; we don’t really have time to think about retirement when we’re working-because our work lives are too busy, too stressful, and we believe too important, and so we schedule think time for our post retirement lives.  Leapers like us, don’t look before we leap.  We think if we look-we’ll never leap, and then we’ll end up as Workers for the remainder of our days. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

First retirement challenge: Two weeks to plan my son’s second wedding.  Stay tuned for my next post.

July 2014