A Tale of Two Retirements

I retired nine years ago from my corporate job to become a writer. My husband retired from his law firm a little more than a year ago. So how is our retirement working out?

As I intended, writing has been my primary activity for the past nine years. In the first six months after I retired, I drafted a novel. It was a very rough first draft, because I didn’t know what I was doing. I also read books on writing, and after I completed the first draft, I launched into revisions.

LMH front cover Facebook optimum 600After about a year writing on my own, I discovered a local writing group. Their encouragement and advice made all the difference. (Well, more experience and several more drafts helped, too.) I’ve now published two novels and drafted a third.

By now, I feel I’ve fully engaged as a writer. I’ve had short fiction and essays accepted by Chicken Soup for the Soul and other publications. I’ve won a few regional writing contests and placed in several others. I was an occasional newspaper columnist for one year. I’m a member of two great critique groups, a larger writing community, and also an epublishing and marketing discussion group. Although my pace isn’t always what I want, I have learned a tremendous amount in the past nine years and found friends and colleagues with similar interests.

I had also hoped to build a part-time mediation practice, but that has not come to pass. I mediate occasionally, but not as much as I had planned. Still, I’ve made a conscious decision that writing is more important to me. When there is a conflict between these two parts of my world, I usually choose writing. I know I would rather be writing than mediating, even if my legal and dispute resolution skills are a part of me also.

During my retirement, I’ve also served on boards I enjoyed and boards I have not enjoyed. I’ve tried to arrange my time to include only activities that I care about. Sometimes it has worked and sometimes it has not. Reshaping my daily agenda is a work in progress.

And I’ve assisted family members on both happy and sad occasions. I’ve traveled to weddings, reunions, and holiday celebrations. I’ve helped family members cope with accidents, surgery, dementia, and death.

IMG_2152Meanwhile, during his first year of retirement, my husband became more active in several organizations he’s been a part of for years, from an area rowing club to the Coast Guard Auxiliary to a large metropolitan nonprofit. He began chairing a local foundation board. He bought a boat, which he has used for both personal and Coast Guard Auxiliary activities.

He also hung around the house and complained to me about our slow desktop computer. (By default, I am our primary technical support.) We ate lunch together some days, though evening activities have kept our dinners together from becoming more frequent.

Then this past October, a year after my husband retired, his law firm asked him to come back to work. The attorney who had picked up most of his practice was on maternity leave, and several matters were pending when she left. So for the past three months, he has gone to his office most weekdays, which gave him the advantage of much better technical support and a free copy machine.

Langley for Xmas ltr 2015His temporary assignment started just before Langley, our daughter’s dog, arrived. When I agreed to take the dog, I had anticipated that my husband would be around to help, but I ended up being the primary dog sitter. (Though he did some 5:00am wake-up calls, and even early morning walks.)

“How much longer will you be working?” I asked my husband recently.

He shrugged. “Till sometime in February, maybe.” He didn’t seem to be too concerned. Of course, the winter isn’t a good time for boating anyway. And there is that free technical support.

So, how is our retirement working out?

It’s a work in progress. As are most things in life. It will probably be different in another year than it has been thus far. Maybe better, maybe not. We can never shape our lives to be exactly what we want.

When has one of your life transitions not worked out the way you expected?

Posted in Family, Philosophy, Writing and tagged , , , , , .


  1. Thank you for this post! I’m coming up on the first anniversary (end of February) of my retirement and I need to do a re-set. I similarly am doing some nonprofit work, some of which I enjoy and some of which I do grudgingly – I need to gracefully move away from the latter. I really need to figure out how to get past what I have self-diagnosed as writer’s block, too.

    At the same time, there are unexpected pleasures — having lunch or meeting up for coffee with friends from various parts of my life, going to mid-day concerts and events, things I was not able to do (without keeping watch on the clock to get back for meetings and such) while I had a full time job. Being able to help a neighbor and my kids on occasion is nice. More time for reading, too.

    In the meantime, you are an inspiration to me. I’ll keep reading your posts and trying to give myself a kick in the behind to focus on what gives me joy and makes better use of what talent I can contribute, and less on what seems obligatory that really isn’t and I need to give up.

    • Linda,
      I think life is a continual re-set. Retirement is a pretty good lifestyle, but nothing is perfect. I loved your reminder that we should focus on what gives us joy. We can’t always be happy, but we should aim in that direction.
      Thanks for commenting,

  2. I enjoy this post, Theresa. Although I’m sure you’re an excellent mediator, I’m glad you’re focused on your writing. Retirement is the time to do what we want to do, right? One day, I hope to get there, but with our crazy stock market, I don’t know. I loved seeing Langley.

    • Jill,
      Thank goodness I retired BEFORE the 2008 stock market debacle, or I might still be working.
      I tell people I’m retired so I get to do what I want to, but it isn’t always true.
      Best wishes,

Leave a Reply