A sense of the unknown often looms over retirement. But plenty of people have already shifted into this new stage of life and are willing to share the wisdom that helped them navigate this major life transition. Here, baby boomers share the retirement sayings and sentiments that help them to make the most of their retirement years .
Nancy D. Butler, a former entrepreneur living in Waterford, Connecticut, took a well-known phrase and fine-tuned it. “I believe the old saying, ‘Do unto others as you want others to do unto you,’ is wrong,” Butler says. “Instead, I believe it should be, ‘Do unto others as they want to be done to.’” Butler follows this retirement sentiment when interacting with family members. Her daughter and granddaughter love to travel , and Butler has trekked with them in the United States and internationally . Her grandson prefers closer-to-home activities like going out for dinner or watching TV, which Butler happily does with him. “They have all been amazing experiences together because I am doing what they love doing,” Butler says. “Knowing and doing what is meaningful to them makes a more meaningful experience for me as well.”
Throughout her life, the following words from a Mahalia Jackson song have been special for Carol B. Amos, 62, of Hockessin, Delaware: “If I can help somebody, as I travel along; If I can help somebody, with a word or song; If I can help somebody, from doing wrong; My living shall not be in vain.” Before retiring, Amos was employed at the DuPont company for 35 years. “As a retiree, these lyrics have more meaning because I now have more control over my life and because I have less days ahead of me than behind me,” Amos says. The realization has led her to look for ways to assist others , even when it means branching out into new areas.
Her mother passed away in 2014 from Alzheimer’s disease. When Amos retired in 2016, she had a manuscript ready, which was based on her experience with her mother’s illness. “My mother was a private person, so I debated if I should publish her story,” Amos says. "But reflecting on my mother and her life, I believed she would want me to help other caregivers.”
Amos published the manuscript, titled “H.O.P.E. for the Alzheimer’s Journey.” She received certification as a CARES Dementia Specialist and is a volunteer for the Alzheimer’s Association. “I have been able to help caregivers in person, on social media and through radio, newspapers and television,” Amos says. “I also help others through ministries at my church and by establishing and supporting scholarships at my high school, a university and my church.”
After retiring from working as a nonprofit CEO, Janice Holly Booth, 59, of Charlotte, North Carolina, pursued an interest in writing. Her motto during this phase has been “Honor your value.” The philosophy helped her move into the journalist position she wanted. “One thing I struggled with post-retirement as a freelance writer was the tendency of editors and businesses to want to get quality work for little pay,” Booth says. “The struggle stopped when I realized that I bring an elevated skill set to every job I take, and a broad range of experiences, having done everything from working in criminal court to running a Girl Scout council.” Booth began turning down jobs that didn’t pay as much as she felt she was worth. After that, “The work I wanted flooded in,” Booth says.
The phrase “Listen to your calling” has helped Steve Sonntag, 74, a retired high school teacher in Stockton, California, continue to give during retirement. After retiring from a 32-year teaching career in 2002, Sonntag took time to travel and relax. “I enjoyed these things,” Sonntag says. “Then, one day, a former student asked me if I would like to have dinner with her and her family. She mentioned that her oldest son wanted to learn Spanish.” Sonntag agreed to help and soon began tutoring others. He has also given workshops for families, teachers and the community. He has enjoyed helping others while being appreciated for his expertise . “I would suggest to retirees to rest and to enjoy their time off,” Sonntag says. “If their desire to continue giving professionally should surface, they should listen.”
After an unexpected retirement , Jacqueline Eberle turned to a quote from Jeremiah 29:11 in the Bible: “’For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’” In 2018, Eberle faced numerous health problems, including a sciatica diagnosis and two blood clots. Even though she wanted to work, it became impossible to maintain a job with her medical issues, which involved four weeks of physical therapy appointments. “I am now 15 months into retirement,” Eberle says. “I believe there is a reason for everything, even retiring sooner than planned.” In this new phase, she reflects on how she has been able to help individuals in the past, especially during difficult times. She has offered support to surviving loved ones of hospice patients and decided to pursue this opportunity further. In March 2019, she began working on a blog called “Living Through Grief Over 60.” She felt compelled to follow this path and offer others comfort. "God does have a plan for our lives,” Eberle says. “He uses each of us for his purpose at any age.”
When planning out days, Mike Smith, 68, a former vice president for an office equipment company who retired in 2013 and lives in Windermere, Florida, remembers the saying, “Every day is Saturday.” He found the phrase while preparing for retirement. “I checked with many folks who were already there,” Smith says. “I always wondered how they stayed busy.” The best response he received was, “Do you ever worry about how to spend your next Saturday? Well, now every day is Saturday!” Smith enjoys passing along the phrase to other new retirees. “They get it immediately.”
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