MEET SHELLY P.
“Thought retirement would be easier – there’s a lot to do!” says Shelly P. Shelly retired after a long career in the legal field; working in law firms in various managerial positions for many years, she was finally able to switch to working from home which helped her with raising her two children. And now, at 68, Shelly wanted to enjoy life more, do some traveling, go through the house and clear out old and useless items, and care take her mom, who is a very impressive 92 years old and basically relax and live more stress free.
I asked her what she did the very next day after she retired and she laughed: “I made some coffee and relished in the fact that I didn’t have to get up, get dressed and go anywhere or do anything other than finish my coffee!”
She spent her days going through the house and purging – things to donate, things to throw away and things to sell. She made a good dent with things that just had to go! And then the fateful call came. About a year before, a friend called and asked her to come work for her. Shelly said she couldn’t leave the company where she was working because she needed about another year to be fully vested for her retirement. And that was that. With this new call though, that came about three weeks after she retirement, she reconsidered. The job would be part time and she could do it from home. She hesitated at first; but finally said yes. Her hesitation was because she would be leaving the business world and entering academia. “It has been a learning curve because the environment is very different” she told me. “At 15 hours a week, it is manageable and am enjoying the process and challenge of doing things differently” she added.
This new work responsibility has been an adjustment in another way too. With her prior work, she had a sense of urgency, with the many tasks to be done and the household to manage. “I was more focused simply because I had a lot to juggle in one day”, Shelly shared with me. “But now, I get the work done at an easier pace because I realized that I can do the work on my on scheduel – there was nothing – errands, chores, etc. that had to be squeezed in at the end of the day or worked into a busy weekend schedule”, she concluded.
Recently her daughter wanted to have the “talk” – you know, the one about “now that you are old – we need to decide how you are going to live”. Shelly groaned and grinned. “I am not old! I work, I drive, I travel, I go out to dinner, I go to events and parties, I volunteer, I care take your grand-mother, I know what new movies come out and what is on currently on television!” she told her and shook her head at her daughter’s preconceived naive concept of retirement, although one that came from love and concern for her mom.
Shelly has a new rhythm in her life – a balance of work and play. She was once told that it would take a year to be comfortable with retirement – to which she scoffed at because she was ready to let it all go! But now she sees the wisdom of this statement. Retirement explored brings you options. A little bit of this, a little bit of that – pick and choose what is right for you; change it up a bit as you grow a little older or your interests vary from one thing to another. The key is that Shelly got the message and is loving life!
Photograph of Shelly’s hand from The Personal Collection of Helene and Zaf
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