From Corporate World to Homestead – Reinventing in Retirement

IMG_0407In my final year of teaching, I have been a basket case of emotion, while my husband appeared to waltz effortless from the corporate world to the homestead in retirement. When Gérald lost his job; he found a new life. What happens when a caring boss goes head to head with the powers that be in the cutthroat, save-at-all costs, corporate world? At perpetual odds with top management for the past 5 years of his career, losing his job was inevitable, but what surprised me was how much happier he is now without his printing career.

I chose the early retirement option, while I always assumed Gérald would pursue his career into his 80s. After working long hours from the age of 14, instead of pining over his lost job, he embraced early retirement and found the freedom liberating.

Gérald worked in the printing business for 36 years producing everything from carton packaging to brochures to books to newspapers. As director of a newspaper printing firm, he lived on the edge ever ready to meet the impossible demands of clients and shareholders in a dying industry. Sleeping with one eye open, he waited for emergency phone call in the middle of the night. How do you put out a half a million copies every night without making a mistake somewhere along the line of distribution?

IMG_0294To be honest I thought he would be lost without the constant buzz. Instead he found time to enjoy his passions long overlooked when trying to make ends meet as a director, father and husband.

Now he plays volleyball, manages the neighborhood association, and serves as CEO of my website. He fired the gardener and finds pleasure in doing his own yard work and is giving our home a much-needed facelift after 2 decades of neglect. He learns new sports, helps me coach, and takes online classes. And he cooks gourmet meals and serves up fare that would put most restaurants to shame.

As my final school days approach, I look to him for inspiration. For the past 30 plus years, I have worked with kids. What will I do with my hours if I am no longer helping students write papers, organize schedules, navigate exams and wait for the next bell to ring?

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personally designed wine labels from colleagues

With his new found joie de vivre the Frenchman demonstrates that happiness and fulfillment is attainable even after one quits the day job. And he bowed out of his arena with so much class. While I was crying over the injustice and worrying about his mental state being put out to pasture, he sailed into retirement with the same grace that he faced each day in a field filled with adversity. I admired his dignity as he spent the last 6 months training his replacement and preparing his staff for the transition of management. Then after the fanfare of colleagues, clients and employees heartfelt farewell, he never looked back, content in knowing that he served his company as an honest, well-respected, hardworking leader.

He left his profession with his integrity intact.

Posted in family, inspiration, relationships, social view, sport.

30 Comments

  1. Cheers to Gerald! He left at the top of his game then created his own game. What a wonderful legacy. Now you have the perfect template for your own transition. I have no doubt you will channel your energies into a productive and fun next phase of your life. Wishing you the best!

    • Thanks Kathy. I will keep that image in mind “perfect template for your own transition” as I navigate the jumble of emotions in final months of teaching. As you will remember from when you retired from nursing, it is a bittersweet time.

  2. Fantasticque!!!So happy to hear his transition goes/went well. You, too, have started the steps to that next phase. with your writing. It inspires others. You will still have great purpose. So enjoy the well-deserved opportunity.

  3. Oh, Pat, you’re so blessed to have a ready-made template for how to handle the next stage of life! Gerald is to be commended for filling his days with interesting, enjoyable things, things he didn’t have time for when he was working. You, too, will do that, I predict. I imagine fear is what keeps some people in the workforce longer than they want. You’re wise to use this transition to its fullest. Best wishes to you and your Frenchman as you EMBRACE what lies ahead!!

    • Yes, Debbie, I think you are right. Change is always a bit scary even if we know it is best for the health and mind. I will try reach out to the future with open arms as you so wisely suggested.

  4. I love retirement, I haven’t been as productive as Gerald…I should get busy! You will love it too, an opportunity to develop new interests. Congratulations!

  5. I am in my 60’s, and have observed people I know (and people at my job) who have retired. Those who succeed have a good idea of what they want to do post retirement and have researched it. Someone I know has done volunteer work – I think she will have a good idea of how to approach retirement. I haven’t done that research yet. I’m happy the transition worked for your husband – good for him!

    • Good advice, Alana. I have clear ideas too what I would like to do in retirement if my health will cooperate. We would love to travel but with a bad back that is more difficult, but we will find a way. Thanks for stopping by.

  6. Great news Pat. As long as Gerald retains his health, he can retire with gusto. As you surely know, health is our wealth. Luckily, you have your writing and love of books to keep you happy in retirement, as I can’t imagine you sitting around crocheting table mats somehow… 🙂 The important thing is that Gerald left with his head help up high. I have been there and done the same when my professional integrity was challenged in the UK. It never felt so good to leave that place, and as I closed the door another door opened for me on the other side of the world. I look forward to retirement and leaving my work inbox behind, but that will be a long while yet… lots of love and luck to you as you enjoy the final summer term at La Chat xxxx

    • Rach, I know you have faced a lot of obstacles in pursuing a career in academia. The ability to keep integrity intact when challenged by the powers that be reveals character. And I know you are one strong woman. In retrospect aren’t you glad that those road blocks led to other avenues and a place where you are happier and more appreciated.

      • True! Some things are perhaps meant to be… and each of life’s knocks does shape us in different ways and help to build our resilience… 🙂 xxx

  7. Pat, I’m so glad your husband is thriving in retirement. I know you will do the same. Retirement is still years away for me, but I’m starting to plant the seeds for what I want that chapter to be. I look forward to following you on your journey. I know adventures await!

  8. I, too, was impressed with Gerald’s graceful exit from his company in spite of the adversity he faced the past few years. His work ethic, unwavering integrity, commitment to excellence, and concern for others remains a wonderful legacy. Now he is showing us how to live as retirees with his positive attitude, sense of adventure, and appreciation for each new glorious day. Congratulations on your retirement, G, and wishing you many, many happy, healthy, meaningful years ahead.

    • Sweet Suzie !
      Thanks for the nice comments, even if you are obviously biased. Ha.
      I am enjoying my free time much more than I thought I could. When caught in the permanent maelstrom of business, one cannot envision doing otherwise. How wrong. Life is too short to devote it only to companies who do not give a hoot about their workers anyway.

  9. He must be an amazing man! You should follow his lead and finally get too all of the things that you never had time for make a list!

  10. Congratulations to Gerald, but Pat, I feel your pain! I left the classroom this year to pursue other interests, but I’ve “failed” at retirement from teaching! I am done with the American public school system, but I am truly hoping to find a position in an independent school for this coming fall. It appears that I still have the heart of a teacher! I wish you much luck and love as you embrace each “last time” something happens this year.

    • So nice to hear from you Lori. I think no matter when we retire we will always have the heart of a teacher. And it is so true that like you said I am embracing the last time of everything this year. If I remember right you teach English and are super techie. Ever thought of starting a blog? Wish you the best of luck getting back in the classroom.

  11. Your last sentence says it all, Pat! Your husband left with his integrity intact and so will you. Now, keep going right into what is sure to be another best season of your of life~ Congrats!

  12. I have no doubt that you will continue giving to your community, Pat, in some form or another. Congratulations on embarking on this new chapter! I look forward to reading about your adventures.

    • Thanks, Helene. I look forward to following you too every step of the way and hope that our paths will cross one day on either side of the Atlantic.

  13. I have no doubt that you will continue giving to your community, Pat, in some form or another. Congratulations on embarking on this new chapter! I look forward to reading about your adventures.

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