Notes on a Satisfying Retirement

Taking a break from my retirement itinerary.

I was recently asked to share my retirement wisdom with a group of teachers who are in the process of being put out or putting themselves out to pasture. I was able to retire extremely early (at 51) and predictably I’ve done a horrible job of acting like a retiree, but I was able to muster a Top 10.

  1. Learn how to sit still. (It’s not bad–after seven years I can almost do it. See above photo with retirement aids. Only two of those glasses are mine.)
  2. Learn to say “no.” (Passed along from the great John Kelly.)
  3. Learn something new every so often. (I’ve been teaching myself the history of women in abstract expressionism.)
  4. Learn not to procrastinate in doing what you always wanted to do but never had time to when you were teaching. (Franz Kafka: “The meaning of life is that it ends.” Also: PROJECTS.)
  5. Learn how to keep a toe in the educational pond. (You know you love it; you WILL miss it; this is an education town. I’ve been tutoring and teaching at Stephens College, mentoring at Battle High School, and supervising teacher interns for Mizzou–let me know if you’re interested in the latter of those, because they are looking for social studies and science supervisors.)
  6. Learn to let go of your bitternesses. (Admit it: we all have them in this profession. Savor the bounty and vanquish the memory of soul-thefts.)
  7. Learn that you may have dodged some bullets. (George Frissell told me several times over his crispy bacon and fried eggs: “We got out at the right time.” He may well have been right; it’s up to the kids now.)
  8. Learn, however, that you can help this business be better. (How? By staying informed, voting intelligently, and JOINING MRTA (the Missouri Retired Teachers Association)–you know there are kleptocrats who want our retirement fund.)
  9. Learn that you will miss the water cooler (though I sincerely doubt you will miss PLTs or whatever the hell they’re acronymed now). (You simply need confidential informants. No, I’m not telling!)
  10. Learn. Just keep learning.

P. S. Invest in a pill organizer.

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