What Counts as “Retired?”

Today I stumbled upon a lovely blog over at Low Country. Felicity. Life,  where Sandra described her retirement circumstances as “life lived in sabbatical.”  I absolutely love that expression – I think I’ll steal it.  Sandra won’t mind.  What Sandra means is that there is so much more to experience and share in this post-career stage, and that she “refuses to be branded” as “retired.”

When I started the Encore Voyage, it was because, during the summer break, my school district decided to cut Special Education support even more, making my job essentially impossible.  And if you’ve read any of our back story, you know that hubs and I made a decision for me to end my teaching career early – Give it up.  Pack it In.  Call it a Day!

Now here’s where it gets dicey.  When I told my closest of teaching friends that I had decided to retire, what some said was,

“You didn’t retire…You QUIT!”

OUCH!!!  I had dedicated nearly 30 years of my life to teaching other people’s children, with crappy pay and very little acknowledgment or respect.  And when it was over, I didn’t get so much as a “Hate to see ya go – Bye!”   or a “What’s your hurry…Here’s your hat!”

Nope…No retirement party for me.  No celebration. No obligatory teachers sitting in chairs in a circle in the school library, eating Costco cake when they’d really rather be grading papers in their rooms. (If you’re a teacher, you’ll get the reference…)

This was all well and good, until some of my older teacher friends found out that they, too, could start collecting their teacher’s pension (at a reduced rate) without exactly waiting until full retirement age – and as teaching conditions worsened, suddenly everybody started “retiring!”

So it got me to thinking…

What Counts as Retired-

I’m fairly certain now that it has absolutely nothing to do with reaching the full retirement age according to the Social Security Administration.  It’s not about being able to collect an employer’s pension plan.  It’s not about being of age to draw from your IRA.  Our many blogging friends have shown us lots of different paths to “early retirement.”

Merriam-Webster describes retirement as “the act of ending your working or professional career.”  But I’m not sure that does it for me either.  In discussing it with the hubs, we both continue to do some outside “work,” which is much different than when we were actually on a payroll.  He claims that architects never stop working.  Frank Lloyd Wright didn’t hit his stride until he was 70!  And I know I will keep “working” and learning and doing new things until I draw my last breath!  Hubs describes retirement as

“Being in a financial position that I can do what I want to do, when I want to do it, where I want to do it and with whom I want to do it!”

And within certain financial realities, I think he’s pretty close.  No, we can’t rent a jet and fly off to Paris any time soon.  We need to be cognizant of our spending habits so we don’t do something stupid.  But the world is ours to work, learn, and experience for pay, for personal gain, or for just plain fun.

For all of you out there, retired by your company’s definition, or like I did, by just plain QUITTING, I raise my glass to you.  Let’s have a Retirement Party!  And for those of you yet to retire – You just decide when that is…I’ll buy!

Lynn

 

32 thoughts on “What Counts as “Retired?”

  1. dkmcl2

    Great post Lynn. After 33 1/3 yrs. working in a production facility, (factory) the company closed the plant that I called my second home for that many years. I did have the option of transferring to another plant in that company but decided against it. A younger person could use the opportunity for employment. I got a great incentive package and called it “quits’! Seven years this June and I have worked a little bit part time. Wife still works and as you said in another post that I loved “I’m the CEO, chief everything officer!” Although my housework leaves a lot to be desired and K is still the boss! Haha…Dave. 🙂

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      1. dkmcl2

        Haha, yes, I’m always up for a cocktail. Although I prefer Merlot for wine and Pilsner or Lager for beer.Not at the same time, however! I think I’d still be working if that plant was still there. Maybe not 6 & 7 days a week though. C’est la vie! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Kate Crimmins

    Retirement is a sabbatical of sorts. You can do a job here or there or not. Whatever works. Ideally I would have enjoyed working part time for the last few years of my career. There came a time when I wanted to enjoy life with my husband and working full time (at my particular job) didn’t allow that so I retired. Never regretted it though.

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  3. snakesinthegrass2014

    Very interesting post. I was offered early retirement (I was 16 months early), and I thankfully did in fact receive (“nearly”) everything I would have had I retired at full retirement eligibility status. Last December I finally reached that magic milestone while in retirement, and I am still awaiting a retroactive payment for a supplemental I am due (the “nearly” part I refer to above). I’m told I’ll finally receive it in April.

    Some of my family members are dumb-struck by my decision (I believe this is rooted in jealousy), and so is my ex-wife, who, for some reason, seems to think that she’d be getting more money from me had I stayed employed (she wouldn’t have). What I’ve come to learn is that you really have to block out others’ view of your decision. The only other person you needed buy-in from was your husband, and you got that!

    BTW, I too was disappointed with my lack of an actual goodbye party or celebration. And don’t even get me started on the “gift” I received! 🙂

    Great post, thanks for writing it.

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  4. patwdoyle11

    I actually have recently gotten the US Government’s definition of retired. It is 2 things. 1) working less than full time (that’s 40 hours/week) AND 2) receiving a portion of your income from a pension or pension-like source. So according to this definition, I am not retired. And my husband is. Even though I did get the retirement party (yes, with cake – it was local cupcakes and they were awesome) and the gift …. and my husband QUIT! Yep, he said no more, I’ve had it, bye. He’s receiving a pension, but I’m too young for any pension-like stuff. So I guess I am happily unemployed? Not check retired on any of those “forms”? Ah well… it’s the government, so what can you say!

    While the dictionary defines retirement as an ending, that is the “old definition”. Today retirement is very, very often a beginning… into the next phase of life. I love your Hubs definition…. maybe he should submit it to Merriam-Webster!

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    1. Encore Voyage Post author

      Oh, Pat – I got my share of celebrating while my friends (you know, the ones who said I had just quit) went off to their jobs, while Hubs and I discovered what an amazing journey this is!!! I say any way we can do it counts! 😀

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  5. vanbytheriver

    I quit my job at 58, called myself “semi-retired”, but I knew in my heart, I might not go back to work, ever. And I did not. Came close a few times when I missed work, but I came around. Forward a few years and my husband’s career of 38 years with the same company came to a quiet slow-down, then lay off. At age 63, he was expecting to retire in a few years, but they made that decision for him. I was angry for him, and disappointed in the way it ended, but he was ready and now has no regrets.

    So I enjoyed this post. Neither one of us got that Costco cake, retirement party, or even a hearty hand shake. Sometimes, that’s just how things work out in today’s economy. Thanks, Lynn. ❤️

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    1. Encore Voyage Post author

      As I said on earlier…we got our celebration! I was angry too. Right up until I wasn’t…because I was in my jammies…doin’ things I love…while the rest of them slogged off to their jobs! Hee Hee!

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  6. Retirementallychallenged.com

    Both hubs and I left work before we were/are able to collect social security. He officially retired from the company after 35 years (pension, etc). I, on the other hand, “quit” since I didn’t have enough years in to retire. I still say that I’m retired. In fact, my husband thinks that anyone who can leave work financially but chooses to stay because they enjoy what they are doing IS retired. They just have chosen to work in their retirement. I think that closely aligns with your husband’s definition. Fortunately, we both had a lovely party given for us when we left.

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    1. Encore Voyage Post author

      I’m sure my friends WOULD HAVE had a party for me as well – had they been old enough to have figured out the situation as they now are! Like I said, I don’t want to sound like a baby about it – but now they’re catching on that leaving the work early IS in fact, retiring!

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  7. Maddy at Home

    No party for me! I wasn’t overjoyed to be made redundant 4 years before my pension age, so they couldn’t get me out of there fast enough! I’m still not sure whether I class myself as retired or not.

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    1. Encore Voyage Post author

      Oh, what the heck, Maddy – Come on and join the rest of us who call ourselves “retired” – even though we are far, far, too young and good looking!!! We’re having a ball on the Voyage, and I hope you are too!

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  8. Terri Webster Schrandt

    Lynn, this post resonates with me in so many ways. How tragic that your colleagues could not recognize your retirement! I retired early myself (read this when you get a chance–sorry if you already have 🙂 http://terriwebsterschrandt.com/2015/01/26/enough-is-enough-why-i-had-to-retire/ ). We had so much upheaval and many were retiring in droves. A lot had to happen before I could go–I am on CalPERS pension in which I paid into for 32 years. The magic age is 55 with at least 30 years and it WAS magic! I did get my party and it was bittersweet. Of course now I continue to teach at the university level as a part-time lecturer, as I still need that income. But it is something I love and does not feel like work.

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    1. Encore Voyage Post author

      Terri, I’d agree that we are in a PERFECT position. I’m collecting my PERSI (Idaho Pension), but I do a bit of “freelancing” on the side. I’m working now with the College Access Challenge Grant, helping young people find pathways to postsecondary education – It was a bit of a leap from kindergarten, but so good for my brain, and so much fun. Still in Education – my terms, my home office, my schedule! Bliss! I’ll just party for some other reason!

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  9. Michele

    I love this post! I left my job in education at 54- too young to retire but desperately in need of more time to myself and more self care and time to breathe! People keep calling me retired ( no cake or party for me either) but I wasn’t retired if I wasn’t collecting a pension! Now I have several part time income streams and time to care for myself and my aging father. It was the right decision. I still don’t know if I am retired. People in my world don’t seem to understand freelance or working part time from home and everyone just assumes I sit around and collect my pension.

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    1. Encore Voyage Post author

      Oh, Michele, welcome to the voyage! I was just 51 when we started this. Sounds like we have walked very, very similar paths! (We took care of my MIL until just after her 100th birthday!) The whole Encore Voyage started by trying to decide what we should call this thing we’re on…an encore career! But it’s so much more than that! I will take my part time, from home income stream over the stress of that workplace any day! Oh, to have known then what we know now! I hope you’ll go check out our back story…You are not alone in this! 😉

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  10. our next life

    In my first job out of college, I worked with a guy in his late 50s. It was a government agency, and I was a government employee. He, however, was a consultant. When I asked him why he wasn’t an employee, he said, “Well, they pay consultants more. Plus, I’m retired!” I remember thinking both that I needed to find a way to become a consultant (check!) and that I clearly didn’t know what retirement meant, if this guy who worked plenty long hours considered himself retired. What he really was was second acting. But he’d had a full career as a civil servant and was now doing his next thing. In our case, we hope that retirement really does mean having very little work we’re doing for money, but we still plan to do lots of work — it will just be more passion projects, and close to zero work that we *have* to do. 🙂

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    1. Encore Voyage Post author

      Right! The Encore Career! And that’s precisely where our gig started. At first, we were really freaked out. But we had saved enough over our lifetimes to allow us to just “go for it” and pursue our passions! Well…my passions are developing along the way, but still! My advice – do it sooner rather than later! What smacked us into action was when my younger sister asked, “How much do you really need, anyway?” And we were off and running!

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  11. mommermom

    Great post, Lynn. Those who watched you go must have had jealousy in their hearts. I lift a glass to your courage to go forth and live a life of your choosing! Hooray!!! After two years of retirement I have never once regretted my decision. Life is full and rewarding. I have learned to live within our means. Maybe no cruise to the Mediterranean in our future but there is still so much of life to see, enjoy, and appreciate. Time with family adds to the enjoyment (but this grandma is no full time babysitter)! I am actually proud to be considered retired. We are busier now than I would have ever imagined! Yea for retirement!!!

    Liked by 1 person

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