Monday, October 15, 2012

UnRetiring: Surprising Stories of a New Generation

Leaping into new adventures

A year ago this month, I “retired”  from  my lifelong career in newspapers. I left filled with the anxiety common to my generation.

What would I do? Who would I be?
Like a move to a new city, people said, “Give it two years. You’re in transition.”
To what? And why wait?
I decided to do what journalists do: I began to interview others who were going through what I was going through – the transition from career to what I call the “next great thing.”
 And because I cringe at the word “retired,” I called my blog “UnRetiring.”
This new stage of life is in the spotlight now. It’s new because so many people are living healthy so much longer. Just as adolescence now seems to stretch to age 30 or so, “middle age” is creeping into Medicare land. And it’s exploding because the Boomers, the oldest of whom are 66, are now stepping into it.
Over the year, I have been surprised by the ways people are reinventing themselves as well as by their range of emotions.
I’ve talked with people who feel guilty if they’re not somehow contributing to bettering the world. And others who feel totally guilt-free, thrilled to be mostly just improving themselves. I’ve learned how much harder it is to enter this stage of life if you were forced out of the old one through a downsizing; the ego bruising lingers on. And I’ve laughed a lot, learning about late love affairs and unlikely leaps.
Speaking of leaps, I’ve been advised to be mindful of plunging in and to learn to say “no.” Instead, in exploration mode,  I’ve said “yes” to almost every idea that’s come my way, creating exhaustion and exhilaration.
Rick Cooper -- playing with locks
The number of people who worry for years about leaving their careers, even as they crave doing so, surprised me. I don’t know why it surprised me, since I endlessly had the same debate with myself – until I finally left, after 30 years at the Philadelphia Inquirer. .
Once on the other side, I found that organizations have sprung up around the country to help people who want meaning in their lives to find ways to do so. And I’ve also found people in transition eager to talk-- one on one, in small living room groups, and through this blog.
Today, in the first installment for, I’ll share the story of Rick Cooper, a New Hampshire locksmith I met by chance one dark and dreary night. My interviews will run daily through this Friday, then weekly on Mondays

Read past interviews and get a glimpse of Dotty Brown’s own transition over the past year at

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