Cheese or dessert madam? – Part the second by 72 year old Superwoman

Working for a charity isn’t exactly fluffy but there is some fun to be had. You don’t have to work for a charity – there are cultural, sporty and all kinds of organisations out there who would be glad to have your skills. Art shows, music festivals, teaching kids to stay on their bikes or walk up hills, whatever turns you on.

It is rather important that you are physically up to whatever you want to take on. Too many people who have worked right up to the wire and made no preparations at all for retiring are snapped up by the grim reaper relatively quickly. It’s hard to go from the work jungle to the nothing going on wilderness without preparing for it. She died of a broken heart and death from deadly boredom when she gave up work does not often appear on a death certificate. But would do if the doc wasn’t so fixated on finding a medical explanation. Heart failure. Indeed. Covers them all does that one. Your health is the biggest limitation you are likely to encounter. If you’re unfit and overweight, and hitting the booze and fags  start tackling those issues before you make further plans. Take up a sport. The golf courses are awash with oldies some of whom you may have met in a previous incarnation. When they weren’t wearing those funny jacquard sweaters.  Pringle have a lot to answer for. Even if you have been running up mountains at weekends for years this is no preparation for Everest. If you’ve got a medical condition of any kind it’s likely to get worse as you get older.  And new ones will crop up. Know your physical limitations and adjust your goals accordingly.

Some of you will have your eye on a new business. A clothing boutique, a toy shop, a florist or a cooking based operation, a little pub in the country perhaps. Maybe something with little capital outlay that you can operate on the net. These might seem like fun but this is no time to lose your competitive edge. There are people out there who’ve been doing what you fancy doing half their lives and the competition will be stiff. And in the present economic climate forget the country pub. You can pick up a bargain from the receivers anywhere. They’re falling like nine pins all over the place. And doing the gracious mine-hostess thing in a pub is extremely hard work. You may have been a brilliant cook and hostess for dinner parties. Running  a pub is not an extension of your dinner parties. Ever tried rolling a beer cask across the cellar from where the delivery man left it in the wrong place? Not the time to remember you’ve got a bad back.  If trade isn’t picking up in the first three months the next person stepping on your nice Welcome mat will be the receiver. New business? Spot the holes before you fall into one.

Some people go off on completely  new tracks.  The kids leave home, and you get empty nest syndrome. Reconfigure it as FREEDOM to do what you want– and grab with both hands. When my kids left home I said we might be moving before long. I was well under retirement age but your kids always think you’re  old and past it. Right – a cosy two bedroom retirement flat is it? No, we’re buying a 14 bedroom country house hotel. What? Is there life after kids leave? There is indeed. They’ll come back, and will either be a bit narked or over the moon to find the old lady has a new lease of life. Maybe you’ve always wanted to have  go at painting or throwing pots, writing a book, playing a musical instrument, learning Welsh, designing clothes or developing your hidden talents into a business, something creative (not that the spreadsheets weren’t creative – perish the thought.) Now’s your chance. You might find you’re a lousy painter/writer/ musician. And if you don’t have any other languages already Welsh is a helluva big obstacle course for a beginner.  Hot shot career women are not used to failing at things are they? Reality check time in some areas.  If you’re not good at losing, bury the evidence of your failure, a skill you fell back on at work sometimes, and try something you might win at.

Building up a hobby into a more absorbing activity is often a very easily attainable goal. Well done on making some preparations for retiring. The one thing you will have more of when you give up work is time. Unless of course you indulge yourself in faffing round the supermarket for two hours instead of the half hour it used to take you. It won’t take long for the glamour of that one to wear off. Not having the time is maybe what held you back from getting a painting in the Open Exhibition at the RCA  or the Tate. Try something local first. One of the things I enjoy doing most is running the local community art exhibition. I can’t draw a straight line with a ruler but it doesn’t matter. (I do have a splendid collection of paintings all over my walls screaming Good Taste.) I can organise and artists usually can’t. Marriage made in heaven. The clue is in the word community. It’s non – competitive and no prizes for the best rose, landscape or doggie portrait. Anybody at all within a certain mileage radius of the village can bring in a painting and we’ll stick it on the wall, without passing judgement. And what is very interesting is that these paintings sell. In fact so successful is it that what was originally an amateur show, and still is largely, attracts professionals who see that we sell and want a piece of that action. This in turn keeps the standards up.  It does of course take some bottle if you have never exhibited before to enter and might be hanging next to an RCA. They all have a chance of selling, from the £25 pansy to the £450 landscape.  The secret I believe is to keep your buyers as happy as your artists. We have a preview evening at the start of the show for all previous buyers.  Glass of wine each, bag of crisps between 90 people and a chance to meet the artists. I go into full on salesperson mode, and it does of course help to remember who they all are. “Hello, Mr K, good  to see you again. Your favourite artist X has some lovely work in this year – hanging over there.” Back comes a beaming Mr K with an X art work. Kerching. Everybody’s happy.  It breaks my heart to see the £25 pansies coming in. What level of self esteem does that artist have that they think their work is worth £25? The frame must cost that. I feel like going round and giving them a big hug. Couldn’t you nudge it up to 30 quid this year Nancy? Quiver of anxiety – couldn’t possibly. OK, suit yourself.

Then there’s relationships. If you are not in a relationship, good for you – you can do what you like. The world’s your lobster. Oysters? Come on girls, think big. If you are in a relationship maybe it’s time to take stock of the guy who in recent years may have turned into that lump at the other side of the bed.  Who the hell is he anyway?  Did I actually marry him once? Re-assess, review and either try to re-ignite the spark or if he’s your limitation, do your own thing. If he doesn’t want to join you, fine, if he has a better suggestion also fine– if he’s deadly dull he’ll be there when you come back, giving you a catch up on the latest football scores and so on, and you can buzz off to Madagascar again. Your friends of course are a huge asset when you retire. You have time for them now.  But you might also discover that like the lump at the other side of the bed  they too are not quite as exciting as you thought they were when you were all superwomen.

It’s never too late to make new friends.  I have to say ditching baggage not wanted on the future voyage is a major step when you are heading for a new start.  This is quite hard and depends entirely on how keen you are to embrace the new.  Try not to throw  the baby put with the bathwater.

Travelling is often a big ambition with all the time in the world ahead of you. You have three months (at least) instead of a fortnight to wander at will. This is where you need to take that health check. While 40 degree temperatures might have looked attractive when you looked through your Cardiff window at the rain pouring down they might not feel so comfortable in real life. And who knew there were so many mosquitos in the Sarawak jungle?  Who, unlike the colourful pests  in the Cairo bazaar, do not take money to go away. Do your homework before embarking on the adventure of a life time. If you want to travel with a purpose, there are plenty of aid agencies needing people of any age with skills. But they have to be the right skills. If you faint at the sight of blood, can’t stick a plaster on to save your life and  can’t teach people who don’t speak your language some training might be necessary. If you want to brush up first aid skills join the St John’s Ambulance brigade. And get into those frightfully expensive operas and concerts free.

Don’t forget your roots, don’t forget your comfort zone.  There are people left behind who care about you and they are not easily replaceable. You always have the option of staying in your comfort zone. Which won’t work if your job was the key component of your comfort zone.  I will not bore you with my final destination career. I’m an astrologer, which is a calling not an off the peg career choice. When I took that route half the people I knew said She’s finally flipped her lid this time, and the other half queued up to have their charts done. You too might choose to do something for which half the world will think you’re bonkers. Good luck with that one. Will of steel and rhinocerous hide required. We are never too old to change if we want to.  When you walk out of the work door for the last time there’s a whole new world out there to explore. Think mental, emotional, physical and social stimulation. Any or all of those are what you’ll miss most. They are all replaceable. Enjoy, have fun, be happy!

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One Response to “Cheese or dessert madam? – Part the second by 72 year old Superwoman”

  1. me Says:

    the wisdom of a superwoman, a sage crone, thanks!

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