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  • Writer's pictureJane Leder

Women Redefining Themselves

"When Sleeping Women Wake, Mountains Move" - Chinese Proverb

As a writer, I don't see my life as before retirement and after. I have held only one full-time, 9 to 5 job in the past three plus decades. Aside from that one blip in my professional career, I've freelanced and worked from home.

So, no big transition for me.

But listening to a friend who is on the verge of retiring after forty years as an internationally-recognized expert on circadian rhythms, I realized that for some (many?) women, the challenges of refining themselves post retirement are weighty. How will they see themselves once they are no longer holding down a "real" job? Will the loss of a title throw them into a spin of self-doubt and fear about starting over?

The Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies attempts to answer those questions and more. The most recent report as of 2017 outlined findings about women and retirement. Here are some of them:

Only 10% of women (versus 19% of men) are "very certain" in their ability to fully retire with a comfortable lifestyle.

53 % of women plan to retire after age 65 (the current average is 66)

Their dreams are to travel, spend more time with family and friends, and pursue hobbies. Almost half dream of doing volunteer work.

Half of women plan to work after they retire, including 11% who plan to work full time

So, what about my circadian rhythm expert friend? She worries that women she'd like to befriend won't be interested in her. "They are creative types, and I'm not."

My friend joined Facebook for the first time earlier this week. (Talk about a late bloomer.) "I don't know how to write my profile. Should I be the old me or the new me?"

I suggested that she can't ignore her life's work and that she should be proud of all that she has done and accomplished. She didn't have to go all scientific in her Facebook profile and she might talk about her dreams for the future.

I have watched my friend go from "I don't know what I'm going to do after I retire" to "I thought I was done but now I have one more major presentation." She is busy decorating a new vacation home in Mexico and loves the planning, the list making, and, of course, the shopping. I have no doubt that even when the house is "done," she will awake from her "old" life and embrace the "new."

Older women have the gift of change when many younger folks may think the gig is up. No way. If we are lucky enough to enjoy financial security, a bucket list, and a willingness to explore--maybe even fail--life is full of new adventures, surprises, and opportunities to pick up a dream we left behind or to forge ahead with new ones.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average worker currently holds ten different jobs before age forty, and this number is projected to grow. Yikes! Who knew?

(If I count working for my dad during the summer and add the number of freelance jobs that have lasted at least a year, I come in around twelve.) You?

I have another friend who has talked about getting back to her art for years now. But she was busy as the owner of a clothing booth at a local galleria and, even as the years passed and she didn't spend as much time there, she never mustered her energy to begin where she'd left off decades before.

A few months ago, she sold her display cases and cleaned out the unsold dresses, blouses, purses, hats, and jewelry. (I think she donated many of the items left unsold.) And just the other week, she started to check out metal working classes at one of two area art centers. At age 74, she was excited about working on ideas that she'd collected in her thoughts for years. Retirement for her means a new beginning--a chance to reinvent herself once again.

I'd love to hear your story. Please write a comment on this post or contact me by email:


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