In the Homestretch of Retirement

A snapshot I took of my cat stretched out across my appointment calendar captured what I thought retired life might be like: disregard my agenda and curl up in the rocking chair with my cat in my lap, reading novels and nodding off.

I quickly learned that meaningful retirement isn’t like that! It must include purpose, structure, and community. As a person of faith, that means living the Sabbath rhythms.

I retired in 2020 after 35 years as a hospital secretary. Soon after, I received a postcard from a volunteer coordinator that said, “Your friends at Crowded Closet think you belong here.” Crowded Closet is an Iowa City thrift shop that supports Mennonite Central Committee. I had long joked that I volunteered to shop there, finding bargain clothing suitable for my work. How exciting to have a chance to finally serve as a worker!

I found my niche in the book-sorting corner. As a writer and a reader, there could not have been a more delightful assignment. I feel proud to be making a difference in the world, and I benefit from the community of volunteer workers.

One of my reasons for retirement was wanting more time to devote to creative writing and getting published. I knew showing up was 80 percent of reaching one’s goal. So first thing after coffee and reading REJOICE! I start writing. I have had several pieces published and others accepted for later publication. It keeps my eyes on the prize of glorifying God with my writing.

It took a few months to decide bow to structure my time. I knew that I wanted to make Sunday special and not a day to work or shop. It takes planning and routine the entire week. When Sunday comes, I start the day with tai chi, a standing, moving meditation that helps quiet body and mind. I worship with First Mennonite Church of Iowa City and attend adult education before a nice noon meal. Then I take a short nap and a long walk. All these things make Sunday the homestretch of my week.

I joked that retirement was a picnic because I meet friends over the picnic table outside my apartment building for coffee and snacks almost every day. No, retirement isn’t one long nap. It is a purposeful journey of walking beside Jesus as he teaches me how to find rest for my heart. ❖

Margalea Warner is an Iowa transplant of 36 years. She was drawn to the state by a mentor who encouraged her to pursue her dreams of being a writer. Now in retirement, she feels like that dream is coming true.

ABOUT — The article above appears in the December / January / February 2021-2022 edition of REJOICE! magazine. [Available Here] An image of the cover is below. The date of this post is currently 9 Nov 2021. It will be updated to 1 Dec 2021 next month.

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