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Do retired boomer women still have a life?

We think this is cool: a newly retired female baby boomer not just co-writing a book about retirement — the emotional side of it, the healthful side of it, the spiritual side of it — but asking other women for their experiences so the book can be comprehensive. Normally Roxanne Jones of Harpswell, Maine, blogs about the lighter side of life. But the question she’s asking today — and hoping to get answers about — is, Were You, or Are You Ready, for the Emotional Impact of Retirement?

We baby boomers broke new ground when it came to women in the workplace. Once limited to traditional women’s jobs like secretary or teacher or nurse, today there are few career paths we haven’t taken — and glass ceilings we haven’t broken.

But now we’ve got a new trail to blaze: retirement. Estimates are that 10,000 baby boomers are turning 65 every day — and according to the Census Bureau, more than half are women. We’re populating the ranks of the retired in record numbers.

Roxanne Jones

How are we going to navigate this stage of life? And I don’t just mean the financial side of things. What about the emotional impact of this transition?

How do we maintain a sense of purpose when we no longer have to get up and go to work each day? Do we feel a loss of identity or relevance when we no longer work— and how do we handle that? How does being retired affect our relationships with partners, children, or aging parents? Do we love the freedom that retirement offers, or loathe the lack of structure?

Because age 66 is on my horizon — full retirement age according to Social Security — I’d begun pondering when and how I might make the transition. I’m certain that I want to gradually downshift versus making a hard stop, so I’ve begun working fewer days per week— a perk of being my own boss. But despite the lure of life without constant copy deadlines, I’ve struggled with deciding when to pull the trigger and go all in. Those existential questions are swirling about, unanswered.

Enter my friend Leslie. She’s retired for the third and (she swears) final time. Along the way, she’d discussed the process with numerous friends and family members. The feedback she received from other women retirees intrigued her.

Some, she recalls, had found their own transitions easy and seamless, others struggled for a while to establish new normals, and some never seemed to adjust to what they felt was a lack of purpose and loss of identity. Some even refused to call themselves retired, believing it connoted a withdrawal from life.

Leslie thought there might be a book in there, eliciting women’s wisdom about the realities of retirement. She asked if I’d like to develop it with her. I self-servingly said yes. After all, what better way to get the inside track on retirement than by hearing from women who’d been there and done that?

So after some initial research that affirmed we’re on the right track, we’re now gathering submissions for a book entitled Voices from the Other Side … of Retirement. It’ll be a guide for yet-to-retire women, with insights on what retirement is really like from women who’ve already left the working world.

Unlike most retirement resources that focus on finances, Voices will speak to the human side of this transition — the emotional, health, spiritual, relationship, and everyday joys and challenges that this stage of life can pose.

Roxanne Jones (left) with Retirement Voices co-author Leslie Inman.

We’re inviting retired women to add their voices to this book by telling us what their retirement experience looks and feels like, what they’ve learned, and what they wish they’d known before they stepped away from work.

If you’d like to add your voice, simply go to www.retirementvoices.com and complete our online questionnaire. Submission deadline is April 30, 2019. Women whose submissions are accepted will receive a free copy of Voices when it’s published.

The foundation of this project is the idea of women helping women by sharing their hard-earned wisdom about what retirement is really like.

As someone who’s trying to figure it out herself, I really hope to hear from you!