You and I each have a special gift.
When we haven’t fully developed, and shared our gift with others, we’re not aligned with our purpose, and therefore we’re not living with integrity.
When we share our gift, we live our purpose, and are a beacon of light inspiring others to live theirs.
When we share our gift, we make a difference on the planet.
When we share our gift…anything is possible.
In my early twenties, strangers saved me from drowning. That experience shaped my approach to life as an adult. Realizing the fragility of life, I learned not to take life for granted and to make intentional choices about how I wanted to live.
By age thirty-three, I had gotten married, moved to Boston, received my doctorate, and started a private practice. After deep reflection, I also realized that my marriage was not working, and I needed to end it before starting a family. The next several years were focused on my professional development and career. And then, in a new relationship, my focus again began to shift to wanting a family. In my early forties, with my new husband in his mid fifties, we decided to do some individual soul-searching about how we wanted to live the next part of our life. During this time, I went on a trek with other women to Nepal.
On the trek, I spent time reflecting on my life and realized how important it still was for me to be a mother. At home, David did his own soul-searching. When we were again together, we discovered we were in agreement: we wanted to revisit the issue of trying to have children, despite our age.
It took almost ten years. At age fifty, with my husband in his early sixties and when many of our friends were becoming grandparents, we became new parents for the first time. Now, in my mid-sixties, I have a teenage son, Louie. With a child still at home, my life is an example that there is no “one size fits all” retirement transition.
There are some specific advantages of being older parents. We are in a more comfortable financial situation than earlier in our careers, and this enables us to have more flexibility with the experiences we can create together. Since we are healthy now, we go on active vacations together as often as possible. Louie has grown up sharing our love of hiking, biking, sailing, and skiing. He has told us that he loves his life and the adventures we share.
There are also disadvantages that pose challenges. We will be older than most parents who experience an “empty nest.” After Louie is in college, David and I want to continue part-time work as well as traveling and spending time with family and friends. My hope is that we will sustain our health and energy and enjoy the coming years, but we know there will be bumps along the way and, like everyone; we will have to deal with whatever happens.
We are out of sync as a family in our retirement transition. Louie is still at home, and we enjoy watching him grow and develop. In some respects I am in the “prime” of my work life, while David, in contrast, is in a “winding down” mode, having given up his administrative responsibilities, and is now working part time. We both want to keep working as long as we’re capable, so no “total retirement” is in sight. In the future, I envision keeping my actual therapy and coaching client group small, while increasing my writing, teaching, speaking, group and workshop facilitation and consulting. I also want to explore other aspects of my creativity that have been put on the back burner.
As I reflect on my life, these recent years have been my happiest and best. I am proud of my professional accomplishments, and I love my husband, son, and community of friends, family and colleagues. Through some health scares and challenges, I have learned the importance of resilience and a positive attitude. David has opened my eyes to healthy and vital aging. Although older than me, he is “young-old.” I also feel grateful that I have a supportive network of family and friends. I am particularly blessed with some special women friends who live near and far. We’re there to listen to and support each other. Having my own private practice over the years has enabled me to control the hours and amount of my work.
My transition into coaching has allowed even more flexibility. I have welcomed connection with other professionals interested in positive aging through my Boomers and Beyond Special Interest Group and the Life Planning Network, which have given me opportunities to connect with other people on a similar life journey. My work enables me to use my professional life planning expertise combined with my life experiences to work with people as they are transitioning into their second half of life.
With Louie’s increasing independence, I began wanting more creative opportunities for myself, and writing was one of them. I welcomed the opportunity to collaborate with Roberta Taylor on our book, Couples Retirement Puzzle: 10 Must-Have Conversations for Transitioning to the Second Half of Life. Writing it has seemed a natural outgrowth of my speaking and my personal and professional interest in the transitions people experience in the second half of life. I’ve continued to learn about myself, my relationship with David and the varieties of the retirement transition as Roberta and I wrote this book together. Trying to find the balance in life is a continual challenge for me.
My retirement transition is definitely a process, one that has involved self-reflection, conversations with David, Louie, and other friends and family. Retirement, for me, is indeed a journey and not a destination. I hope you’ll find help and inspiration to craft your own journey while you visit this web site.
- To build a vibrant, exuberant community for those who are 45 and older and who are pioneering new ways of living and contributing in the third age.
- To be a passionate advocate for retiring the concept or retirement.
- To promote & exemplify the principles of positive aging.
- To honor every boomer’s right to express him/herself fully in the world, to be respected for his/her wisdom and gifts, and to make his/her own unique contribution.
- To inspire aliveness, authenticity, contribution, positivity, and fun in all that we do.
- To live in the world of possibility.
In the Press
Donna Gunter, Online Business Manager