The Best Is Yet to Be
Experiencing Renewal in Retirement

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When you picture yourself in retirement, what do you see? Are you and your preschool grandson scouring the Florida wetlands for alligators? Are you sipping coffee with your husband and four grown sons as the fog lifts from the lake? Are you spending six weeks with your new granddaughter and looking forward to your other daughter’s wedding? Meet three local women who show us how it’s done.

Rural Rochester resident Kathy Clark retired from the legal field/justice system six years ago. Her husband retired 14 years before she did.

Historic Southwest Rochester resident Lucinda (a pseudonym—shyness—though there is enough detail that if you know her already, say “hi”) retired from her position in the medical field four years ago.

Gail Harris retired in November 2021. Gail worked for the Rochester Public Library for 20 years and was the Rochester Reading Champions coordinator. If you don’t already know, Rochester Reading Champions matches highly trained volunteers with underserved children and adults to help them become good readers and writers. Gail’s husband is still working.

It helps if you set yourself up for success.

All three recognize they are lucky. In addition to good fortune, Kathy and Lucinda lived below their means, saved the difference and met with their financial planners along the way. Gail took advantage of the resources available to her to plan her retirement—specifically, her human resources department. Health-wise, all enjoyed spending time outdoors, walking and eating well, among other things.

In addition to their busy work lives, Kathy, Lucinda and Gail nurtured numerous passions in their free time. Kathy’s hobbies included Harleys, horses, quilting, reading and visiting national parks. Lucinda traveled, read, created a perennial and native garden, became a yoga teacher and in the year prior to retiring, intentionally decluttered her house. Gail traveled regularly, enjoyed listening to British radio—especially a show set in the part of England in which she grew up—knitted, read and listened to audiobooks.

It takes some time to adjust. 

When Kathy retired, she was told that she would be inundated with invitations to fill her time so her response to all invitations in the first year should be, “That just doesn’t work for me.” She did that, even though for the first six months, she found herself still in “high work mode.”

Lucinda spent the first week of her retirement sleeping 19 hours a day and had nightmares that she’d have to go back to work. Over time, she came to trust the fact that she’d be OK.

Gail’s first month of retirement was a little unnerving. So used to ambitious goals and deadlines, she’d wake up wondering what she was going to do that day before she relaxed into “I can do it tomorrow.” While she is still in transition, she enjoys time with her new granddaughter and her daughter’s wedding planning.

“Breathe deeply and see what comes of it.”

This advice comes from Kathy, who, upon retiring, focused first on half-finished projects. She put together family histories and is having books printed for her family. Kathy recommends Road Scholar trips, and she has two new hobbies—target practice and competitions through women-only Lipstick and Lead at Coyote Creek and listening to podcasts.

After a trip to Florida with her son, daughter-in-law and grandson, Lucinda went to Dutch St. Maarten with a girlfriend, and she has several international trips booked during the next year. You may also find her at the farmers market and practicing cooking new things.

Gail is still breathing deeply, tutoring a few students and training tutors for the Reading Champions program and scheduling things for September after her daughter’s wedding guests have departed. She is also knitting custom mittens for her mother-in-law and, of course, baby items.

Take care—you are worth it. 

Kathy walks almost every day, creates healthy gourmet meals, plays in her garden and yard (weather permitting) and does yoga and strength training for half an hour a day. Lucinda journals every morning, spends 45 minutes doing yoga and hand weights, walks at least five times a week, putters in her gardens and takes care of her horse, Mocha. Gail enjoys walks with friends, eating produce she grows in her garden and fitness classes.

Living with purpose and healthy boundaries is critical to overall health. Kathy’s quilting group makes quilts for veterans and breast cancer patients. Lucinda cares for her grandson when child care is not available and when his parents have date nights. Gail continues to tutor for Rochester Reading Champions, knits for the library’s Warm Up program and volunteers one time a week for the Friends Bookstore. All enjoy their time being on their own, and giving back.

Getting your social needs met takes a little more planning. 

During our work lives, time around other people is often baked in. In retirement, having regularly scheduled events helps. Kathy vacations annually with her whole family, as well as taking an annual girls-and-kids family trip. She quilts with her group once a month and goes on quilt retreats four times a year. Meals with girlfriends are a must, as are book club, monthly lunches with former colleagues and poker night.

Lucinda spends many weekends with her son, daughter-in-law and grandson who live in the Twin Cities, as well as her other son and his wife in New York, who are restoring their late-1800s house. She also lunches, pops into local arts and crafts festivals and travels with family and friends.

Gail FaceTimes with her parents in India, sisters and daughter and family in England, another daughter and soon-to-be son-in-law in St. Paul and her in-laws. In addition to Quiz Night, she enjoys coffee and dining out with neighbors and friends, and she frequently walks and texts with friends from work.

You may find that the ordinary becomes extraordinary.

Kathy loves noticing how the woods and wildlife change. Lucinda spends winter evenings reading mysteries, history and science fiction in front of the fireplace in the company of her two Siberian cats and summer evenings with friends watching the flames in her chiminea in her painterly garden. Gail finds great satisfaction feeding her family all summer with vegetables she grew herself from seeds from the Seed Library. ::

Robert Browning had it right:“Grow old along with me! The best is yet to be.”

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