Many ways to keep passion and energy after retirement

April 21, 2013

Sharon from Lewes writes, “I envy people who can go on working until 75 or more. I loved my teaching job…but I was worn out, so I retired the spring before my 65th birthday. Then I suffered (and survived) a major stroke right after 9/11. I am glad my husband and I saved carefully for retirement…and have done some figuring about how to make our savings last and how much discretionary money we have. I wonder how best to support my family…how much to help the grandchildren with expenses beyond schooling, and how best to volunteer my time to support my family and community during retirement.”

The happiest retirees I know are the ones who have figured out how to balance leisure and the feeling of using their talents too. Their gift is giving something back without expecting to be paid for it.

Margaret from Rehoboth decided she would do nothing for at least six months when she stopping working. “I realized after a few weeks, I had no motivation to even begin to clean a closet…or even go to one museum. My 23-year-old daughter asked ‘What will you do all day?’ I began to think I was depressed… I didn’t like not having some purpose or passion to fuel me. So I signed up for a writing class and began working for a nonprofit agency which worked with single mothers. Suddenly I felt my old energy and passion return. My mind was revved up again, engaged.”

When I first retired, I looked just like the woman in the TV commercial for Cymbalta or Amplify. Depression hurts. People need to have their minds engaged.

For the past two weeks I have had this acute sinus infection and have not wanted to move my bowling ball head off the pillow. I got really depressed and then angry at myself. “It’s not cancer, for God’s sake!” I whisper into the raccoon eyes in the mirror. “Get over yourself.”

As I hit the three-year mark of retirement, I have learned it is vital for me to feel the energy and passion for living as Margaret explains. The empty box of Thin Mint Girl Scout cookies was just a diversion from facing the truth. I thought I needed to focus on writing, but teaching will always be my passion too!

Speaking of passion, my neighbor Jean has the gift for gardening.

She just rang my doorbell and handed me two scarlet camellias to brighten my living room. I asked her if she had any words of wisdom for my column and she said she wanted to thank Pat, the volunteer who helped her complete her income taxes, a free service for seniors offered by AARP at several locations in our area. Wow! Pat deserves a medal of some kind. I use a calculator at the thrift shop.

Do you have any gardening advice for retirees, I ask?

“I just want to get it done,” she said. “My age has caught up with me. I am looking for a condo!”

What’s your passion? Does it change as you get older? Contact me at

What I love about this area is the unique charm and diversity among the different towns. I love quaintness and charm of Lewes, the excitement and exuberance of the Rehoboth Boardwalk in the summer, enjoying happy hour in Dewey at sunset. Both Milsboro and Milton offer antiquing and great restaurants too.

Our town of Lewes is expecting many visitors this summer, and what better place for them to begin than stopping by the Ryves Holt House on Second Street next to St. Peter’s Episcopal Church.

Docents Ann and Nancy devote their retirement time by sharing the history of the first state. Currently walking tours are held every Friday, Saturday and Monday at 1:30.

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