“So…,” that seems to be the way people begin their response to a question in conversation these days. I hear it on the radio, in television interviews and even among friends. I’m not sure of its origin, but I have a suspicion that it is a place-holder, a pause to give the thinking process a chance to kick in.
I could attribute that to the aging population, since much of what happens these days is explained in this way, but I’ve heard people of all ages say it.
It could serve as a metaphor for what many retirees are experiencing, especially those who have left the world of work rather abruptly, which was the case for so many during the Great Recession.
So… what now?
When I moved to Florida for a job opportunity, I found that the beautiful neighborhood we had chosen was populated overwhelmingly by retirees. That should not have been a surprise. It is a golf course community and it is in Florida. Still, I was surprised by the reaction I got from my new neighbors.
“You work?” they would say in a surprised tone of voice. When I responded in the affirmative, they would follow with, “You work full-time?"
Within a few years my answer had changed. I became one of the vast majority, a retired person, soon realizing that meant a whole new way of life, not without its advantages. No more living by the alarm clock, no more commuting through traffic-clogged streets (especially in the snowbird season) to and from work. No more personnel issues and calls from angry customers.
Then there was the flexibility to come and go as I pleased. My retirement coincided with the addition of a granddaughter to our family and spending time with her in those early months was a special kind of joy.
But there was a learning curve to becoming a retiree, at least to doing it well, and I can’t say as how I’ve quite mastered the art. I don’t play golf or tennis and though I’ve tried yoga a few times, it has not become a passion. I like to read, and I have a long list of books that I’m drawn to, but stopping in the middle of the day to engage in such a pastime seems unproductive, if not frivolous.
So that’s the source of the problem. Not the books, but rather my obsession with accomplishing things. I’d like to think it’s because I spent my working life in the newspaper business where I had a product, something I could hold, criticize and take pride in at the end of every day. Like much of life, when one chapter concludes it is easy to forget the bad parts and remember just the good.
Still, the question remains how to fill the void once the job has ended. So… I have found it helps to get involved in something that stirs the soul. Serving others is often a good way to find fulfillment and the Friendship Centers is a good place to start.
About Kathy Silverberg
Board Chair of Senior Friendship Centers' Board of Governors, Kathy is currently a newspaper columnist/ freelance writer, and previously was Southern Region Publisher for the Sarasota Herald Tribune and Editor/General Manager of four New York Times regional newspapers. She serves as liaison between United Way of Charlotte County and the Senior Friendship Centers. She is past chair of the Board of the Punta Gorda Chamber of Commerce, is a board member and past president for United Way of Charlotte County; and, is chair of Charlotte County’s Senior Leadership Council.