Retirement Surprises

Hello again.

In this entry I am trying to articulate a few unexpected issues that came up as a result of my retirement. The first issue is a surprise financial issue, and the second one is more of a medical issue.

First of all, I didn’t experience any serious financial setbacks after my retirement. (At least none so far.) Actually my financial status is fine. The limited planning and projections that I had done turned out to be very reasonable.  We even did some traveling that was very enjoyable, especially to the Grand Canyon.

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The surprise came when I assessed my own reaction to retirement. I discovered I liked earning money. It was a scorecard. The act of earning felt good. I was so conditioned to earn money throughout my life that it felt uncomfortable stopping. As a result, I took on one consulting job with what could best be called an edu-tech startup. The work was tedious and the royalty was small and irregular. I have a feeling the startup will not succeed. I can’t say I enjoyed the work, but the feeling that I could still earn money drove me to participate. I also contracted for one small teaching engagement. Again, earning the money felt good, even though the amount of work needed to gear myself up to teach a class was huge. It was the scorekeeping that drove me. I liked earning money. Also, it gave me some confidence that I could still do some work if my economic circumstances changed. I was very surprised how important that was to me.

My second surprise concerned medical issues. As you age, you will be confronted with medical issues. I made a decision not to discuss specific medical issues in this blog, but they are hard to get around. Also, at this age you are confronted with deaths of your contemporaries. It happens. You have to face it. When you aren’t employed, you have more time to dwell on those issues. When you have to work, you have less time to think about the more unpleasant aspects of growing older. If you aren’t working you have more time to let your mind visit dark places. I have been to some of them. As a result, I have been asking myself a question, “Is the stress of full-time work damaging to your health,” or alternatively, “Does not working cause stress and damage your health?” If anyone has an answer to that, please let me know. In any case, the amount of stress over medical issues, both serious and not serious, has surprised me. I always thought my parents often looked for things to worry about. I understand them a lot more now.

Well, those are my two big retirement surprises. I have no doubt that other retirees have far more serious stressors in their lives. I have a lot to be thankful for, and I have to learn to dwell on those things and deal with the stressors that inevitably enter your life.

Now back to the novel. With a lot of luck and hard work, it may provide me with the financial scorekeeping thrills I discovered I need. In any case, keeping my mind busy will prevent me from visiting those dark places that obsessing with medical issues both real and imagined can lead.

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Welcome

Hello all.

This blog is to document my recent journey after retirement. First, I’ll tell you a little bit about myself and where I believe I am headed. I know full well that life leads you into many directions that you never anticipated in either your daydreaming or your attempts at long-term life planning. It will be a useful exercise to put some broad goals onto paper and then look back at them in a few years. Some laughs will undoubtedly be provided several years down the road.

I am a retired faculty member of St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia, having taught and done academic research in accounting and marketing there for a very long time. During that career, I amassed a list of fantastic students, as well as a number of generous and demanding colleagues and mentors. I had the opportunity to teach in China numerous times. That teaching has continued into my retirement. Prior to my time at St. Joseph’s, I was an auditor at a public accounting firm and a multinational pharmaceutical company. Along the way, many friends were made that lasted a lifetime.

Concurrent with my time in education, I spent a full career in the US Navy Reserve as a Supply Corps officer. This provided me with a parallel world of characters and experiences that I would not have encountered as a university faculty member. My life is richer for this experience.

My teaching career took a sudden sharp turn, when a fairly generous and time-sensitive retirement “opportunity” hit me between the eyes, I had a short time to decide whether to “take the money and run” or stay on teaching.  Some unusual family circumstances provided a really good use for the windfall cash. On the other hand, I was prepared to continue a career that I thoroughly enjoyed. This was a tough and painful decision.

Men always worry about the financial aspects of retirement. I believe, barring any catastrophic circumstances, that I will be fine in that respect. My parents grew up in the Depression, and my spending and savings habits were shaped by their experiences. I don’t have the need to live high, and can be quite happy with very little.

Women always ask “What will you do?” Both questions need to be asked, and the second one may be tougher. I have to confess I am still working on that second question.

I did a lot of thinking, much more that I ever did in previous years about how I would spend my time. I firmly believe that if you don’t answer that question before you retire, someone else will. I decided I wanted to be a writer. Maybe I’ll talk about that decision in future blog entries but that is where I think I am going now. With a little luck and endurance I might even become a published writer. With even more luck and endurance, someone might actually read what I have written. You never know.

I decided to write a novel. My favorite author was John le Carré, and I can still remember the day I finished reading “The Spy Who Came in from the Cold.” This to me was a masterpiece. I wanted to have written it. The pressures of maintaining steady employment and supporting a growing family always led me to follow the advice “Don’t quit your day job.” In addition I actually liked my day job.   Now I have the opportunity to scratch that itch I had for so many years. The “day job” was now history.

So here I am, I plan to write a novel. Let me say it clearly, “My goal is to write a novel.” This blog will be about that. I know it will be hard. Writers work hard. I have written and published a good deal of academic material, but never a novel. I have to learn to be that kind of writer, so I am writing this blog to learn as I go. The blog will be about learning to be a writer, but it will also be about my personal observations on various yet unknown topics. I have a lot of experience in higher education, so I will write about that. I like travel, so I will write about that. I like espionage novels and thrillers, so I will write about that. I have absolutely no clue about how to write a blog, so I will write about trying to do that.

If any readers out there who stumbled onto this blog find those topics of interest, that is what you will see here if things go as planned. If you can suggest good resources to do what I want to do, that will be helpful. Kind words of encouragement will be appreciated. Advice is welcome. We all know, however, that things never quite  go as planned, so stay tuned. As they say in the Navy, “Welcome Aboard.”