That word retired, it just irks me. It sounds so, well, blah, so ‘there’s nothing left,’ to do. Sadly, so do people’s reaction to the word retirement.
While my friends were happy for me, some reactions from acquaintances to my own retirement weren’t exactly positive. It was as if I was an old car being junked! “Wow, retired, huh? Now you can just relax all day long with nothing to do,” said a server in my favorite restaurant. “I mean now you can just sit around all day, right? Wow, I wish I could retire!”
“Retired? That’s pretty boring if you ask me,” was the comment of a former student. “God, I’d be so bored.” I forestalled telling him that his making a career out of pumping gas would not only bore me to tears it would drive me crazy!
“You know what they say about retiring, don’t you?” asked a woman I barely knew but who had overheard a conversation I had with colleagues that I wasn’t returning to teaching this coming year. “It’s the slow walk to oblivion and then, poof, it’s all over. You know, like dead.” What?!?!
Unfortunately, most people still see a retired woman or man as a poor pitiful person who has long sad days with absolutely nothing to do and is waiting to die. That is not the case anymore. Actually it hasn’t been the case for quite some time. Retirement is simply a transition to doing something else, and most times that means a new career.
Sitting at home through a 20 or 30-year retirement is no longer an option for an increasing number of Baby Boomers, (50 and over). We’re embarking on entirely different “encore” careers after retirement.
I transitioned from a teaching career 3 years ago. I say transitioned because the word retired just seems so negative and because I really was transitioning from one career to another. After 32 years of teaching World Languages to high school and college students, a career that began right out of grad school, I was leaving to pursue what had always been my true passion and part-time career. I was going to write full-time and I was thrilled.
Earlier that year, I had been offered a contract for a three book deal and I began writing for Macmillan. I knew the time had come to say good-bye to the classroom and hello to my true passion in an airy author’s office.
Concerning a career after retiring that transitions from one line of work to another one, Nancy Collamer, author of Second Act Careers: 50+ Ways to Profit From Your Passions During Semi-Retirement, states it well. “The reality is people are living longer, healthier lives, and when they get to the point where they want or need to make a change they say ‘I still have another 10, 15, or 30 or years ahead of me and I want to do something.’ It’s a positive lifestyle change for most people who choose to follow a passion and make it work financially.”
I’ve always been a writer. Throughout my teaching career I still managed to write for magazines such as More, The Huffington Post, The San Francisco Examiner, and have short stories published in anthology books. I even covered the elections of 2008 and 2012 for Today Magazine as well as HuffPost. That made for exhausting days and nights, but I loved it.
In 2009 I had my first book published. When my series, A Cate Harlow Private Investigation was optioned and published in 2014 I began to seriously think about retiring. I was a little conflicted but my husband Alan said something to me that made absolute sense. “If you don’t take this opportunity to write full-time now, when will you do it?” Practical advice from a practical man and it made the decision a reality. The book contract clinched the deal and I sent in my retirement papers.
And there was another reason as well.
I am a traditionally published author who knows what it is like to navigate the scary waters of getting published. I wanted to do something for others and retirement would allow me the time to do it as well. To that end I wanted to open a boutique publishing house and publish good quality books by new authors. I was transitioning to a new chapter of my life and happy to be doing it.
My husband and I established SKYLIGHT-NYC Publishers® along with 2Hopper Press, two years ago. We now have several authors on our list with promising books waiting to go to print. I transitioned from teaching to writing and being CEO of a brand-new company. With this new position, while still writing my own books for a traditional publishing house, I am a little crazy but definitely never bored.
The word retired needs an update and a new meaning. We’re retiring from a job, not retiring from life. I personally like the word transition; it’s positive and the meaning is clear. I’m moving on to the next, fantastic phase of life and I’m doing it in style.
© copyright 2019 Kristen Houghton all rights reserved
Kristen Houghton is the author of nine novels, two non-fiction books, a collection of short stories, a book of essays, and a children’s novella. The first four books in her best-selling series, A Cate Harlow Private Investigation, is now available in a special boxset. She is also the author of the Horror Writers of America award-winning Quick-Read, Welcome to Hell.
She has covered politics, news, and lifestyle issues as a contributor to the Huffington Post. Her writing portfolio includes Criminal Element Magazine, a division of Macmillan Publishing, Hartford Woman, Today, senior fiction editor at Bella Magazine, interviews and reviews for HBO documentaries, OWN, The Oprah Winfrey Network, and The Style Channel.