Sunday, March 23, 2014

Work, Family, Life at 60+

Not only am I generally an early riser, but I'm an early riser whose home office has been expropriated by a visiting granddaughter who needed her own bed. And an early riser struggling to keep up with work in a week of Trying to Do Too Much While Hosting Young Visitors.

So I've been up since 6, snuggled in my big leather armchair, pencil in hand, reading my way through Thomas King's The Inconvenient Truth which I need to reread before discussing it with my students on Tuesday. Trying to ignore the research proposals stacked nearby, reminding myself that I plan to mark those this afternoon. Reassuring myself that I did, after all, work my way through a stack of 1st-year assignments in little pockets of time between Thursday and Saturday afternoon (they did such a good job on their Annotated Bibliographies -- I honestly found them a pleasure to mark!). Somewhere between anxious and panicked about two 90-minute classes I need to plan for tomorrow afternoon, at least one of which will required reading a few articles.

And it's been a gnarly week! Besides the young visitors, the ramping up of my Marathon training is demanding that I sleep 8 hours nightly or crash unexpectedly at inopportune times. These last three weeks of term bring the end in sight, but they also mean a speeding up of the treadmill as I prepare to teach one last major text for each of three courses. And while I was really pleased to get/accept a dinner invitation from a good friend we somehow hadn't seen in a year (!), as Friday approached, part of me just wanted a free evening at home instead. . . . (Nola was thrilled to accompany us -- these friends have goats, a horse, a real barn -- and the best little outdoor playhouse she could imagine! and my friend makes a mean Ricotta Cheesecake)

So what? Why air my particular tedium of to-dos when you all have your own? Because, I think, it's something of a surprise to me that this question of a work-life balance persists at 60, almost 61. And that seems worth pausing at. An article in the regional news recently presented a Senior whose Wifi signal had been hijacked to the ka-ching of $800, and the Service Provider was being accused of heartlessness in billing this supposedly Poor Old Woman who couldn't possibly know enough about technology to protect herself. Readers, she was 65! Ouch! I think we need a few competing images of Women Beyond 60! So I'm offering up my own version of that age as a Working Woman, juggling, dropping the occasional ball, not as differently from when I was 45 or 50 than what I might have imagined 10, 20, or 30 years ago.

I know that many of you will want to say that I could solve the question by retiring. I could, yes. My personal pension is always going to be limited as I only started earning it this millenium. But even though my income will be reduced with my husband's eventual death (which, of course, may not even happen in my lifetime), I would certainly have enough to manage in reasonable comfort. Still, it means something to my sense of independence to build up my own pension by working as long as suits me. My mother-in-law retired too early at my father-in-law's insistence and she has, so far, had 30 years to remark on the fact. Neither Pater nor I want to live three decades with that kind of regret.

And so far, I still enjoy so much of my work. I don't like its rhythms, some of the year, and I wish fervently that it were possible to take a week or two of vacation at some point during the late winter. I weary often of teaching required courses to students with no interest and little aptitude. But I still love the contact with (mostly) young people able and often willing to be transformed by new ideas -- and, in turn, offering me transformed ideas. I tire of the performance demands, 13 weeks in a row of putting together eight 90-minute classes, keeping 30 students engaged, from the dreaded 8:30a.m. time slot right through the deadly 4-5:30 period (the last few years, I've been Just Saying No to teaching 3-hour evening classes). But part of me still thrives of on the opportunity to perform, the continually renewing puzzle of how to present material to capture and maintain interest, and I especially love facilitating discussion, ensuring that even the shyest students have a safe but stimulating environment for getting their thoughts articulated and into the discourse cauldron.

I can feel myself moving incrementally closer, year by year, to the day when I will know it's time to let go, to move to all the other activities I want to devote more time to. But I'm so glad I didn't give into last year's exhaustion, when dealing with my mom's illness and death brought me close to quitting work. While fatigue made that option seem credible, desirable, at the time, I suspect I'd be regretting it by now. Instead, current plans are for me to work next year full-time, and then take a term off (an Unassisted Leave, for which I will pay my own benefits, keeping up my pension and health plan contributions). I look forward to that term both because it will give me a taste of how I'll do with the unscheduled shape of four whole months and because I suspect it will energize me to go back and do at least one more year full-time.

Meanwhile, I'm juggling, just as I have done for almost 40 years, juggling the pleasures and obligations of family and work. Thanks to this juggling, my course preparation was interrupted half an hour ago by the sound of my office door opening, and my little granddaughter tiptoed out of "her" room. As I began to put my book down, ready for our morning cuddle, she tiptoed straight to the next room, quietly opening the door, shutting it equally quietly behind her and, presumably, snuggling into bed with her mother, who joined the party last night. They've been apart for almost a week, Mom doing her own version of juggling work and family -- we were overjoyed to have her make the ferry trip over to spend a day with us before taking Nola home. But between them, they've stolen more of my working hours than I care to count this weekend and over the last week. I'm so lucky!

Because I'm playing catch-up with a very long list, I'll stop this meditation on Work-Life Balance at 60 here. I think it's necessary, though, to clarify that I have deliberately curtailed my career in ways that would take up at least another post. I definitely don't "have it all" in terms of career and family, and it's always been obvious to me that no one does.

Yes, I'm aware that despite my claims of having so much (paid) work to catch up on, I'm taking time to write this post. All I can say is that I do this for me, and I'm worth it. Our conversations energize me, from both sides of the screen. So tell me, does any of my thinking here resonate with you? Do you, for instance, get impatient when you see 65 or other such numbers offered by the media as an explanation for some silly behaviour or other? Are you surprised by how busy you continue to be at an age your younger self assumed would be devoted to crocheting doilies? And I'm happy to hear from those of you who have made that leap into Retirement -- feel free to reassure me about what riches I will find there, even if I'm not yet ready to open that gate. . . .






46 comments:

  1. Your work life balance is something we all have struggled with, well those of us who worked outside the home. There is a lot of responsibility that goes along with working in the educational field. You are a leader and a mentor to many. There is a lot of pressure too with marking those papers....I will be interested to see what you think after your four months is up. I thought retirement would be very quiet and I am busier than ever bit those things that keep me busy are things of my own choosing so I highly recommend it and the money goes farther as I do not need many new clothes, pay no professional dues and instead of buying books I am using the public library.
    Saving for Paris is my top priority now and on a pension this may be a bit more challenging than when I was working full time.
    I can see why you want to work longer but after your four months you may be surprised....and whatever you choose it will be the right decision.
    Take care,
    Leslie

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    1. You seem to be enjoying your retirement very much, Leslie, and managing well on the changed budget. I'll get there one of these years. . . ;-)

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  2. Even those who work inside the home (that is, who do paid work in a home office) face such struggles with work/life balance, although it is admittedly easier when a commute is not a factor. All told, I am in favor of working as long as it is better than it is worse, as long as the satisfaction outweighs the tedium and frustration. Having decided to take my social security as early as possible, I thought I'd have less to do (perhaps I'd choose not to take certain jobs? Hah!), but old habits of never declining a paid gig die very hard. Yet my perspective is different, and I now prioritize differently. I am perhaps working just as much, but I set aside time to do what I want (mostly read - and by the way, thanks for the recommendation for The Bones of Paris, my current indulgence), with very few thoughts of "I really should be doing something that will bring in a buck, instead of enjoying this." And I do believe that keeping my hand in promotes participation (reluctant at times) in the modern world with all its new-fangled, frustrating, annoying, clever technology, which is a bonus.

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    1. Yes, I gave music lessons (preparing students for piano performance and written theory exams) for many years, and juggled that with family responsibilities while raising my children, and that balance was a struggle as well. I agree with so much of what you say -- in fact, part of my reluctance to retire right now is that it would be very unlikely I'd find a "paid gig" in the same field, part-time. And I think I'd still like work that I get paid for, at least occasionally. That's been part of my identity since I was 14, even younger if you count a paper route. . . .Glad you're enjoying The Bones of Paris. Mr. Stuyvesant is an appealing detective, n'est-ce pas?

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    2. Oui - je suis finis maintenant, et j'espere a lire autres livres de cette auteur. Merci!

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  3. It has been a while since I've worked at a paying job, but even so I see the questions of balance are always here, and always a struggle. I think people should work as long as they want to work and find it rewarding, if they have the choice…..but then so much of everything that we do in life is a choice, a choice made now, a choice made a while ago, choices yet to be made.

    You know, I never really believed anyone could have it all, that seems to be just another fairy tale and I'm not sure we'd be really happy if we did have it (all that is), so perhaps it is best to just reflect and enjoy our choices and do what seems best. I always seem to think you seem to manage to balance the important things well.

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    1. I find it so useful to remind myself that I've made choices and that I can continue to make them. It always tends to remove my temptation to whine. . . ;-) And like you, I doubt having it all would yield sure happiness (there'd be the constant anxiety about the possibility of losing it!)

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  4. I think that you will know when you are ready to retire. For me, my work changed due to cutbacks in education funding and I was not willing to wear 5 or 6 different hats in order to stay fully employed. Nobody can have it all and we do make choices.I really hate to hear 60+ women being referred to as "poor old dears". My husband and I (both retired librarians) are going to be facilitating a book discussion group in our apartment complex when I go home and are hoping to start onsite yoga to augment the bingo and canasta of the older group of residents. The "new retirees" will have a very different lifestyle from their predecessors.

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    1. The constant budget cuts wear on one, it's true. I don't want to stay on past the point when the complaints outweigh the satisfactions. So far, so good, but I hope I'll notice the signals when it's time to move on. I like your idea of bringing what you value into your complex -- both yoga and book groups will surely enliven the mix.

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  5. I've been struggling a lot lately trying to balance life's demands, and beginning to dream of retirement. I'm trying to hang in there for another 5 years, just about the period of time it will take to complete our next Very Big Project. I'm finding I have to let a lot of the social media go. Doesn't it seem like there's some new platform weekly that we're being told we "must" be on in order to keep up? Family, work and blogging are my three top priorities right now...the rest of it I can only dabble in. I do wish I had more time to engage in a more intensive fitness program though.

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    1. Oh, I hear you! My Twitter life is becoming very sporadic, and I find I'm only browsing Pinterest infrequently. Meanwhile, I feel as if I should be revamping the blog's set-up, but composing and posting posts is about all I can do for now, and that barely . . . If Paul weren't picking up so much on the domestic front, housework would have to be my fitness program! It's so much busier than I'd somehow imagined this stage would be.

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  6. Think you are sorting through your love of teaching versus the "unknowns" of retirement but just keep in mind that everything changes and change is good. Every year in retirement for me has been such an adventure and yet different in many ways depending on my interests for that particular year.....there are no rules and retirement has been so fun!....You'll know when it's time!.......Janie

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    1. Luckily, I have no doubt that I'll be able to fill my retirement with activities I have so far not been able to get enough time for. Good to hear that you've found yours to be a good adventure so far!

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  7. Since we're still in the big-city-mortgage-two-kids-in-private-school stage of our lives, retirement sounds like fantasy land. Realistically, Spouse and I will both be working into our 70s, so long as we can get the work. I can't really imagine not working, as I didn't have time off per se with my kids, but as a freelancer I've had more flexibility than most to manage the work/family juggle. And now they are both in high school, and very independent, I seem to have more time, so as well as working and managing the household (I have failed to domesticate Spouse in 19 years), I have resumed running and doing some other things that are just for me. I'm also not quite sure who I would be without work :)

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    1. I liked the flexibility I had when I had my music studio during the child-rearing years and sometimes feel a bit nostalgic for that, but like you, it meant I wasn't contributing to a pension. Also like you, I have to say that much of my identity is tied up with working -- and not necessarily with scholarship or with teaching, but just with the notion of paid employment. Part of me knows that it's time to let that go, to dare the waters without the life jacket, but the other part is hanging on, for the moment. . . .

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    2. I think also that you are in some ways doing things in a slightly different order to most - you have your academic career now, later in life, which probably makes it harder to relinquish ... I'm with the other commenters who say that if you listen to yourself closely enough, you'll know the right time. You are lucky to have P on the domestic front!

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    3. thanks, Tiffany! And you're right. . . I'm v. lucky.

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  8. I find myself irritated by those, including the media, who use age as an excuse for ignorance or incompetence. The recent announcement by Canada Post about curtailing home delivery is one example. The elderly are being used by those who disagree with the policy. My parents (late 70s, my father will be 80 next month) are equally irritated at being portrayed as unable to walk or drive to a community mailbox (which they've done for the past 20 years.) Those who truly cannot get out to a mailbox surely have other supports in place for groceries, etc, which can be expanded to include mail retrieval. But I digress.

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    1. Oh, I'm with you. No one worried about seniors or about younger folks with disabilities for the last 30 years I've been trekking to a community mailbox, but as soon as urbanites are threatened, suddenly the placards are out. . . Although I nurse some nostalgia for the posties of old and the communities that they used to know and serve. . . .

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  9. Goodness - how did you crawl into my head? I am sitting here on a Monday morning, 6.30am, chilly and frosty start to the week in Yorkshire and these thoughts constantly cycle through my head. I too enjoy my job - but am increasingly pressured by demands on time and output. I too would love to have more time to myself and thereby more freedom - but money not available yet with one child still at university. 57 this year and unable to believe that I am mere years away from being classed as elderly when my whole life and my mind speak of a much younger outlook. But let us consider the alternatives: no work, no money, no power. Consigned to the dump by societies that believe us worthless except in the domestic sphere. Tied completely to our husband's fortunes. How fortunate we are to have the opportunity to consider options. Still, doesn't always seem that way when I am falling asleep at 9pm with a pile of work still to do. But it's a no-brainer, really. Five years and I am having a re-think. And I really loved your comment about your mother having 30 years to remark upon her lot...Jane Austen could not have written better!
    And: how lovely to have a grandchild pottering quietly about. I look forward to that even though it truly confirms I am no longer a gal. Or a gel, as Jane would have said.
    Enjoy the week, enjoy the training, love the marathon.

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    1. You're so right! We're lucky to have these choices, even if they occasionally feel overwhelming. Like you, I've set out a plan for the next few years, and then will do a rethink.
      Very flattered by the JA comparison -- thank you!

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  10. Such an interesting you've started here. I retired a couple of years ago then age 58. Was ready, had lost interest and motivation. Felt that work was preventing me from developing other interests. (Guess I don't have the energy of some of you who seem to do so much along with work!) But at the same time was terrified of losing my identity. I'd enjoyed some success in a male-dominated field and now I was going to walk away into the unknown. So afraid of becoming some kind of old hippie. Hard to find growing old role-models. Too afraid of other's perceptions perhaps. I'm working on it and I do love my new life. Actually it took me only about a week to adjust, find new goals, and to start develop other sides of my life.
    It is annoying, how media writes about being old. Like it's a bad thing. But they always have, always will. Remember how you thought in your 20s and 30s, the age I'm guessing of most of these "journalists" . But let's face it, if we are over 60, we are old. Young-old to be sure, but still old. Let's embrace it and not worry about how we are viewed by young people. Why let them set the standard? Just keep setting a good example.

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    1. So now you've become one of those growing old role-models you were looking for -- great! I suppose we will be legion before the next decade is out, we Boomers preaching a gospel of fulfilment in retirement.You've captured many of the reservations I have, although I might have more experience than you with dealing with other's perceptions of me -- working at/from home for decades, rather than in a workplace toughened that shell, although it also taught me how much I can enjoy a recognizable Title when I get one . . . . ;-)
      I think that "setting a good example" is probably the best response to media representations of the old -- although I don't agree that those have continued as they "always will." I see many examples in which the media offer much broader examinations of life for seniors (and yes, while I'm not sure I'll count myself as geriatric at 60, there's no arguing with the number) What annoyed me in this particular case was that a 65-year old woman who'd had a Wifi service for over 2 years was presenting herself as a victim because she hadn't password-protected her account. The media was simply reporting her claim of having her frail mental powers and adaptability exploited by a Big Bad Company. In your words, she was NOT "setting a good example." So you and I and all my readers hear had better get to it. Not a naive technology consumer in this bunch, ancient though we might be! ;-)

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  11. I'm back because I've been thinking about choices, and having a career late and all the different factors involved. Basically, I retired early because life demanded it at that point. But at nearly 56, I would consider embarking on another career if the opportunity for something that interested me enough came along. George started a second career at 65 and worked until he was 77, only in the last two years did he start thinking it was time to quit. His mother retired at 80. I'm not saying everybody should do the same, just that we all have options. I think we are lucky to have such choices and opportunities. The point is to know yourself and seize what seems important to you. You will know.

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    1. Thanks for coming back, Mardel. I absolutely agree. Reminding myself that I'm making a choice has been a mantra for me ever since I caught myself complaining about juggling child-rearing with teaching piano with taking a few undergrad courses several decades ago. I might have been making a bad choice (not enough time for sleep!), but I'd make it and I could remedy it fairly soon by making another. I'm not sure there's been a period when so many were available. And I suppose I'm a bit overwhelmed sometimes at having so many. But grateful. And grateful for your reassurance that I will know when it's time. Thank you.

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  12. I read Annie Green's comment with dropped jaw. I am 65, and do not mind being classed as "elderly", any more than I did "teenaged". I have money (my own, not my husband's), and power, if power is defined as the capacity to direct one's life. I do not feel society considers me worthless, or if a segment does, those are people who value only the numbers on a paycheque or a job title- and they tend to feel that way about their own age cohort, too.

    When we view a person who has voluntarily resigned from the workforce is "worthless except in the domestic sphere", we take a very limiting role of worth, and judge the workplace to be the sole satisfying and ennobling arena of life. (If that is the case, the day the person retires is the last good day she will have.)

    And like Angela's, I love my new life and time to pursue my interests and talents.

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  13. Hmmm, did you happen to skim Annie's comment? She's comparing our situation now to what it was for elderly women in the past, as I read her, and saying that compared to "the alternatives," we're actually quite fortunate. I didn't find anything in her comment to drop my jaw, although the comparison of myself to Jane Austen was rather a stretch!
    I've followed your move into retirement with interest, finding much inspiration there, especially in the bold move to a new city, and your rapid adaptation to its many richnesses, including learning its language.

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    1. No, I read it three or four times, especially "But let us consider the alternatives: no work, no money, no power. Consigned to the dump by societies that believe us worthless except in the domestic sphere. Tied completely to our husband's fortunes."

      I asked myself if those attributions were true for me and for women I know; they are not. Her perceptions evidently differ.

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    2. Well, all I can say is that I read Annie's comment completely differently than you do. To me, she's saying Imagine If. . . .and Instead, we have. . . .
      And she puts those attributions into an "alternative" sphere which does not govern her or me, or,. as I read her, you or the women you know. From my reading, she and you agree. . . .
      Should she check back here later, perhaps she will confirm.

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    3. Her frame seems to present a dichotomy: either work, or, if not, ..."no work, no money, no power". I would not agree to that dichotomy.

      She does say "How fortunate we are to have other options", but paid work is the only one mentioned. I wholeheartedly agree that a woman needs to be able support herself.

      I wish people would not view women no longer in the workplace as powerless, dependent and without choices.

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  14. I have come to believe that for me, at the moment, the best job would be better than the best retirement. However, that's because I spent decades learning how to work, and what I needed in a job, and have spent very little time focusing on retirement. The other issue is that the best job is almost impossible to find, in my case, given that I wound up in a career for which I am very well-suited intellectually, but need to really work at to find a culture fit. Tech is not for the thin-skinned, usually, no matter how much they can contribute with skills and cognitive aptitude.

    So I'm thinking about how to get my retirement to resemble, as much as possible, all that I have loved about my work and my teams and my industry over the years.

    In your case, given that you chose a career later and wiser in life, my guess is that you will want to keep working for a while yet. I would.

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    1. You put this so well. For me, although I don't know that I'd say my job is "the best," is better than I can imagine a best retirement, at this moment. And if not "the best," it's better than I can imagine being able to find once I leave it. And if/when I do leave, I would like to get my retirement to resemble that which I have so much loved in my work. You're also absolutely right in guessing that I want to hang on longer because it took me more decades than most to get here (although I certainly worked hard throughout, both for pay and not).

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  15. I find the question of balance in my life just as perplexing now as when I was working full time. I think I am constitutionally challenged and "my reach will always exceed my grasp..." The internet may help by seeing our similarities with others in this area but may also add to my inner critic when I measure my accomplishments against others. Yes, I know that "to compare is to despair" but that is sometimes easier said than done. As for the media and aging, that's a whole other topic. I laughed out loud when I saw the Kevin Bacon clip on the Tonight Show celebrating the 30 years since "Footloose" but I cringed when I saw the young people's comments about the 55 year old who could still dance!! And yes, I may not be the smartest techie on the block but I can learn and that's what counts. Here's to a full, rich, meaningful life no matter how long it lasts.

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    1. Oh, this is it! I'm constitutionally challenged that way as well, and I think K, below, knows that she is as well. Even when we get to retirement, we'll be filling our plates and then feeling occasionally overwhelmed by all that we have to do and all that we want to do. Still, we'll raise our glasses to our full, rich, meaningful -- and awfully busy! -- lives.

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  16. Truthfully, the first thing I thought when I read this was: Lord, does the tight-rope walk never end!? I suspect I am more selfish than you, though what do I know? I mean, you have many children and they all need you equally, in their ways. You seem to have lots of energy and impulse to nurture. I have one child and I often feel overwhelmed by the act of being responsible for a house plant, let alone another human being.

    I like to believe that when I hit the age of 62 (my official age of retirement) it's all going to be fun and games, travel and booze and crafting and living in a sexy loft. (I know, perhaps that's not entirely realistic.) I have no intention, though I do enjoy my work, of spending a moment extra in the job force, when I have much life to live as a sassy, engaged elder. But I hear how you enjoy many elements of your job still, even as you hover near 61, and it's not time for you to leave it behind.

    I don't know what I have to add. It's easier to look back, rather than forward, when it comes to having intelligent perspectives. And of course, my plan assumes that my salary pension and benefits won't be further eroded into the ground, which is kind of how my generation gets screwed over. (Since it might tank the plans I've spent my life dreaming about, I am rather bitter.)

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    1. Oh that's so funny, the part about you at 62! I am going on 66, and find that our children have needed more financial support than we did at their age, I can no longer hold much booze, and travel, yes, some, but I don't want to be one of those elders who only have their next cruise to look forward to. I do have a sexy loft, though ;)

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    2. OMG! Don't tell Kristen that -- she's completely enamoured of Montreal and will be wanting to hang out in your sexy loft whenever possible!-- sorry, K, couldn't resist!

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    3. I think I'm going to cry and then go read a fashion blog by some twenty-something. :-) And I really do want the sexy loft in Mtl. (Though after this winter, maybe I want the sexy loft in the south of Italy!)

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    4. Does it help to know that I'm still enjoying so many aspects of the tight-rope walk? And I do find ways to climb down and nap from time to time. . . But it's sometimes a factor in my thinking about retirement to notice that so many of my younger colleagues have no doubt they'd take advantage in a flash, given my opportunity. I'm not sure they'll still feel that way when they get to my position -- but in my field, it's rare to get started earning a pension much before 35 although the competition for grad school spots and research grants meant these colleagues worked very hard for little or no pay, generally for a decade, and now jobs outside of the precarious zone are held onto tightly. Your story is probably somewhat similar and once you're grabbed by a job with benefits, retirement can seem the only way out -- so it looks crazy of me not to take it. . . .Especially if we imagine it happening in the sexy south of Italy . . . . ;-) (That's just thrown in there so that you don't cry. . . nobody's going to deny you your travel and booze and crafting and loft. . . )

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    5. It seems that no one is denying me my booze and travel (sometimes) and crafting now - so I'll take this as a good sign. Start as you mean to go on, I say. And I do wonder if I'll feel differently as I near retirement, though I've been towing this party line since I joined the workforce, so somehow I doubt it. My friends and I have, for years, considered starting a collective, in our elder years, a kind of intentional community wherein we will ensure that we have adequate medical care and access to required amenities and strong, enduring friendship to last us in our later lives. We have combined skill sets that would facilitate our ability to do this. So we'll see how that goes. Mind you, that's either in addition to, or following, the sexy loft.

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    6. I love this idea and remember seeing a great article on it many years ago, featuring a seniors' community of friends living collectively although with separate quarters to suit privacy needs. . . the piece I saw featured a collective in California (duh! but of course. . . .).
      Question: do you like the work you do right now? Do you even love it, from time to time? I often feel that mine is a privilege though I just as often feel as though it's an endurance test and it often involves irritation and boredom and fatigue . . . .;-)

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  17. I do like the work I do right now. Occasionally, but rarely, I love it. And, I feel it definitely is a privilege. But so is retirement! And I will have been working for most of my life by the time it arrives...

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    1. Good to hear you do like what you do. Too many work for years hating or merely tolerating work they value only for its financial reward, a sad way to spend time, IMO. But I hear you on also being ready to go when it's time.

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  18. It infuriates me that I know I have commented and spent some time on it and it doesn't seem to be here! Never mind, you can probably guess what I said, my having been here before!

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    1. Oh, I'm disappointed that we lost that comment -- I do remember some of what you said before about how good the decision to retire was. And it's clear how rich your life is now -- and good that you're able to be available for your father's care. I want to be sure that when I leave I will be just as happy about the decision. . .

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I'd love to hear your response to my post. Agree, disagree, even go off on a tangent, I love to know you're out there, readers. Let's chat, shall we? I apologize, though, for the temporary necessity of the Word Verification -- spam comments have been tiresomely numerous lately, and I'm hoping to break that pattern.

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