Some people survive. Some thrive.
Linda Rhodes is a young senior who retired in the spring of 2015 and is living and flourishing in her new life of freedom. She lives in the Lower Mainland in the same home she’s lived in for many years. She worked most of her life in a large corporation, where she held many positions, the most recent being a supervisory role in the finance department.
Compared to her parents, Linda’s retirement has been a busy one. For her parents, life was a bit mundane after they retired. They were bored and didn’t really have many goals or interests. But Linda is a “list” person and always has a project or a trip to plan. For her, retirement is unlikely going to be boring.
With an active mind, Linda likes to learn about new things and isn’t afraid of adventure. Travelling to the Middle East with a couple of friends, she wasn’t sure how safe the trip would be and took the advice of the travel agency when they told her not to worry. Turns out, it was one of the best vacations she’s ever had.
Grounded, wise and calm, Linda deals with tragedy with a plan and fights through the emotions to keep them at bay. Having a good understanding of what’s important to her, she makes those things a priority.
Linda lives with her daughter and their cats, adjusting to her life as a new retiree. Some of her favourite hobbies are reading, cooking, golf and travelling. She has endless interests however, dabbling also in gardening, researching, writing a blog for Kidney Cancer Canada, surfing the net, playing games and visiting friends. It makes one wonder how she had time to work!
Linda has three young grandchildren who live close by. When they come over, they often help her with some sort of project. They love to be busy and it helps satiate their boundless energy. It also helps Linda stay young by soaking up their youthful vibe. Their energy keeps her going and on her toes, albeit wearing her out for the night. A day with them is better than a glass of wine for helping her sleep.
Some people retire without an idea of what they’ll do to occupy their time. Linda likes to tell people, “You always have to have something to look forward to.” She has recently travelled to China and is planning on taking another trip in the spring. For several years she has travelled, visiting places such as Hawaii, France, Italy, Turkey and Greece.
Maybe it was because Linda had a career in finance, or maybe it came naturally, but she has always been good with her money. Because of this, she’s been able to retire and not have to worry about whether or not she can afford to do the things she likes to do.
She stresses the importance of being familiar with your finances. If your spouse is the one who handles them, you should still know which bills need to be paid and how much you’ll have when you retire or at certain age intervals of your life.
These days Linda is adjusting to not only a new life as a retiree, but also a new life as a widow. She calls it her “new normal.” For her, always having something to do keeps her balanced and content. She finds the positive in a situation. For example, she has had to recently learn how to do things her husband Ken used to do. It’s hard not to take even the simplest chores or tasks for granted until you have to do them yourself.
Linda is an inspiration to others because of how she carries herself. In stressful situations, it’s usually Linda who is calm and collected. She is also full of knowledge and good, solid advice, lending to the many meaningful friendships and bonds she has with others. She’s level-headed. When Ken was sick, one of her best friends Bev observed, “She just knew what needed to be done, and she did it.” Linda knew then, and still knows now, the importance of staying active.
She also knows how relationships enrich your life. When Ken passed away, one of the most difficult obstacles for Linda was to be with people for the first time as a widow. These are the very people she had known and cared about for years. And many were still couples, making her feel odd as a new single. It was the fear of the unknown, of not knowing how they would react, what they’d say, or how she’d feel.
Linda will tell you that you should “Accept every invitation you can, don’t let your social life go. Realize your life is going to go on; it’s not stopping because you’ve lost your spouse. You have a life to live and most likely your spouse would have wanted you to live that life, not to sit at home and dwell on what you’ve lost. You can’t change what is. When you accept the fact that you are a widow/widower, then you can move on and realize you have a life to live and only you can make that happen.”
The blog Linda continues to write has helped her as well as others. She hopes to maintain it and, although it’s been almost two years since Ken passed away, she continues with it because it may help that one person who is trying to cope and gain inspiration along the way.
One of Linda’s favourite sayings is one she tries to live by:
“If you want to be happy, you have to be happy on purpose. When you wake up, you can’t just wait to see what kind of day you’ll have. You have to decide what kind of day you’ll have.”
Retirement doesn’t mean retiring from life. Retirement is a new chapter of your life. As Linda awakens each morning and thinks of the day ahead, she knows in her heart that Ken would be proud of how well she is adapting to her “new normal.”
MARCH 2016 INSPIRED SENIOR LIVING
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