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…
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!