Retire Toward Something

Final Book CoverThis blog is written by Lee Gale Gruen to help Baby Boomers, seniors, retirees, and those soon to retire find joy, excitement, and satisfaction in life after they retire. Her public lecture on this subject is titled: “Reinventing Yourself in Your Retirement.” Her memoir, Adventures with Dad: A Father and Daughter’s Journey Through a Senior Acting Class, is available by clicking here Click here for her website:

CHITCHAT:  I will be giving free public lectures titled: “Reinventing Yourself in Your Senior Years” on the following dates, times, and locations (RSVP REQUIRED):

July 19, 2018, 10:30am, Covenant Village of the Great Lakes Retirement Community, 2510 Lake Michigan Dr NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49504 (616) 259-0408,

October 16, 2018, 1:00pm, The Holmstad Retirement Community, 700 W. Fabyan Pkwy, Batavia, IL 60510, (630) 239-1133,

October 17, 2018, 10:30am, Windsor Park Retirement Community, 124 Windsor Park Dr, Carol Stream, IL 60188, (331) 218-3637,

October 19, 2018, 10:30am, Covenant Village of Northbrook, 2625 Techny Rd, Northbrook, IL 60062, (224) 412-8421,

Now, on to my blog:

Retirement SignToday, I have a guest blogger, C. Hope Clark, an award-winning writer of two mystery series (Carolina Slade and the Edisto Island mysteries). She speaks to conferences, libraries, and book clubs across the country, is a regular podcaster for Writer’s Digest, and is also the founder of, an award-winning site and newsletter service for writers.  To read the Featured Article I wrote and she published in her newsletter four years ago, click here: Promoting Your Book. I find Hope’s thoughts enlightening.  Here is her post:

Retire Toward Something

When I was administrative director of a federal agency in South Carolina, one of my departments was Human Resources. We employed between 200-300 people, and I could at any time tell you who was eligible for retirement. Each and every time one approached me to talk about putting in their papers, I asked, “Why are you retiring?”

“I’m tired of this job.”
“I just don’t find the get-up-and-go in me anymore.”
“So I can sleep as late as I want.”
“To fish.”

When the answers appeared vague, I would show my concern. “Don’t you have plans for all that spare time you’ll have on your hands?”

Most said they wanted no plans. Only a handful had orchestrated a new direction for their next life. The ones without direction usually aged the fastest.  It pained me to hear of someone’s demise within a year of leaving us. Every one of those I heard of, had no plan.

I called it retiring to rot.

It’s a pipe dream to think we want limitless free time without obligation. Human beings need missions. Those missions don’t have to be corporate-level strategies. They can be goals like:

“Traveling to 40 states in three years.”
“Writing a novel and getting it published in two years.”
“Going back to school for a degree in ____.”
“Opening a small business.”
“Building a house.”
“Volunteering for charity.”
“Running for office.”

I also call it retiring TO something instead of running FROM their work. The same goes for anyone who quits a job. They might not like the employer, but without someplace to land when they take the leap, they often crash. Freedom doesn’t mean just sitting around. Freedom means freedom to pursue other interests.

Of course, if you don’t like your choice, you can change direction. You are free to morph as you please. What’s important is that you not feel lost, only eager to try novel ventures.

I worked 25 years with the federal government, but because I was writing on the side, and thoroughly in love with it, I took an early retirement at age 46. I was also royally fed up with the bureaucracy and politics, but I refused to leave until I had my ducks in a row to leave FOR fresh purpose.

On that last day the technician on my staff, who also served as my secretary, walked me to the parking lot, helping me carry boxes. I was touched at the tears in her eyes.

“You let them get the best of you,” she said.
“Honey,” I said. “Don’t you see that I’m the winner here?”

She was so ingrained with the concept you worked until you were spent and in your sixties, that she thought I’d lost some sort of competition. Instead, there I was, walking on air, while she interpreted it as walking away. I recognized the open door of opportunity and ran through. I’ve been writing full-time for 15 years now and have never regretted one single day.

The freedom was exhilarating and dizzying, but I moved forward with a freelance career, writing for magazines and online, with goals. I started a newsletter for writers about paths for writing income and morphed into a website owner and editor.

I escorted a published author to a book signing at the request of a local bookstore, and the author asked what I wrote. I replied I did commercial freelance work and ran a website, and she prompted me to return to a novel I put on the shelf four years earlier. While dusting it off was painful and the rewrite intensely time consuming, I vowed to make it worth publication.

After 72 queries to literary agents, I landed one. Eighteen months later, I had a publishing contract. Today, I’ve published two nonfiction books and eight mysteries and won a handful of awards. Writer’s Digest hires me to do webinars for them. Conferences, libraries, and book clubs invite me to speak, teach, and sign books. I’ve had a close call for a cable television series, but my second agent isn’t giving up the effort to make that happen.

No, I didn’t have an English degree or journalism training. My degree was in agriculture. I just loved to write and decided that the second half of my life would be utilized pursuing what I enjoy. The key word there is pursuing, not waiting for life to drop opportunity in my lap. The waiting is what kills us early.

Reasons why we retire TO something rather than run AWAY from something are these:

  • The idea of a mission keeps us physically and mentally more active. Want to stave off Alzheimer’s? Stay busy.
  • Pursuing a dream you’ve delayed can rejuvenate you and lengthen your lifespan. Positivity and purpose matter when it comes to health.
  • Leave to enjoy achievement in a fresh direction. Show you have much to offer the world.
  • To set an example to your children, and their children. Regardless your age, family is watching. Those coming up behind you are taking notes on how they want to spend the rest of their lives.

Decide what would make you feel whole and happy and strike out toward it. Only then do you leave something else behind. With all that energy and enthusiasm of using freedom as you’d like, on your terms, you’ll find you’ve never felt more motivated in your life.

Hope Clark Photo

C. Hope Clark’s newest book is Newberry Sin Beneath an idyllic veneer of Southern country charm, the town of Newberry hides secrets that may have led to murder. gp/product/B07BYD5T4P/

When a local landowner’s body, with pants down, is found near Tarleton’s Tea Table Rock—a notorious rendezvous spot, federal investigator Carolina Slade senses a chance to get back into the field again. Just as she discovers what might be a nasty pattern of fraud and blackmail, her petty boss reassigns her fledgling case to her close friend and least qualified person in their office. Forced to coach an investigation from the sidelines, Slade struggles with the twin demons of professional jealousy and unplanned pregnancy. Something is rotten in Newberry. Her personal life is spiraling out of control. She can’t protect her co-worker. And Wayne Largo complicates everything when the feds step in after it becomes clear that Slade is right. One wrong move, and Slade may lose everything. Yet it’s practically out of her hands… unless she finds a way to take this case back without getting killed.


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Second Photo (modified by user) credit: ota_photos on Visual hunt / CC BY-SA


Filed under active seniors, Baby boomers, gerontology, health and wellness, healthy aging, longevity, reinvention, retirement, seniors, successful aging, wellness

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