Retired or Unemployed?

imagesWhen I turned 62 people occasionally asked me if, or when, I would be retiring.  The idea seemed ludicrous to me and I didn’t give it much thought.  After being out of the country and working and living in South Korea for the past 4½ years, I returned home with every intention of being fully employed.  All summer my only income stream was Airbnb and my social security check.  When people saw me they would assume I was retired, hanging out with my grandchildren.  It seemed like an easy way to transition back while I figured out my next move. I would smile and not dispute their assumptions about my retirement.  The truth is I was unemployed, but when you get to a certain age there is a fine line, and a bit of confusion between retirement and unemployment.

I have no intention of retiring and think of myself as a person with lots of energy, creative ideas and the desire to continue to do interesting work.  So what does a 68-year-old woman do when the job market is not overly age-receptive?  Well, she starts a business, of course!  I have been an entrepreneur through most of my career, having run several businesses, loving my work and my life along the way. Things haven’t changed for me.  I hear all the rhetoric about how we, baby boomers, have lots to contribute to the work force and then I realize that most of the articles are about people in their 50s seeking a new career.  Well, I’m nearing 70 and I don’t want a new career; I like the one I have.  Since I have never taken no for an answer, and I see myself as a pretty recalcitrant citizen, I am determined to move from retired or unemployed, to fully employed.  I don’t know how long it will last or, if after a few years, I’ll call myself retired. But right now, I intend to make my way in the world of work.

After leaving Korea, my husband, Steve, and I, traveled for almost 5 months.  We travelled through Southeast Asia and then on to Europe.  We made our way to the southwestern part of France and began our amazing Camino walk.  The Camino de Santiago is a 500-mile pilgrimage across northern Spain.  We started on April 25th on the French side of the Pyrenees and ended in Santiago on June 1.  The trip was transformative and I took the lessons we learned on the Camino and started my new business:  Buen Camino Finding Your Way.  It’s a journey of discovery, reflection and action. The “journey” is an 8-week group for women that meets once a week for 2 hours to explore visions, goals, and values, as well as identifying and addressing what might be in the way of total success.  I’m having a great time and our second group will start soon.

I may look more like a retired person than an unemployed one, but I will defy all stereotypes and make those choices when I’m good and ready.  Right now, I’m moving towards full employment and there will be no confusion about my role in the world.

The fact is, that getting older is a privilege, no one gets out of this life alive, and I intend to make the most of my time in ways that bring me joy.  Truth be told, if I hit the lottery tomorrow, I would quit working, become a philanthropist, and travel to the places in the world that are still on my “living list” (formally known as my bucket list). But since that’s not happening today, I am loving my new business and having fun doing it. Now that I have reached a certain age, and realize the finite amount of time left, I try to only engage in things that bring joy and happiness.  A lofty goal I know, but until I chose to retire and take  that path, this one suits me fine.

Buen Camino

7 thoughts on “Retired or Unemployed?

  1. Marsha, very well said! We boomers are pioneers in the marketplace and we’ll make our way with determined and talented people like you to take the lead! Barb

  2. Marsha, great post. We clearly have the privilege of doing what we love and are “called to do.” Whether it’s actually walking the Camino de Santiago, or figuring out what our next” journey” is, I know your Buen Camino group and coaching, both provide a great path for discovery.

  3. Reading this I felt like I was falling into step with you along the Camino. So much of what you write rings true for me too. All the best for your venture. Buen Camino dear fried.

  4. A late reflection after my first full year officially “retired”, or was that unemployed. I liked that title as I am a little in “no man’s (person’s) land” caught in the crossfire of wanting to write and reflect, but also act and do as much as before. Often, my mind tells me that I can run a mile in under four minutes but my body says otherwise (a telling 1950s analogy). I must say though, it is interesting to note and stop to reflect positively on life and the reality of how many years are left. All those things which are on the long finger (bucket/life list) are finally able to be confronted and some are even done. I am happy to leave some undone, but I would be most disappointed if I did not at least attempt to get the main ones started and finished. They are things which noone will pay me for. The longer I have lived, the more I feel part of and close to the very things and friends I will have to say goodbye to. Strangely, that very fact makes life more precious and celebratory. I find it a great time to take a step back and wonder at it all! Retired, unemployed, but never giving up!

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