Recent retirees share their journey into and through retirement.
Below is the full transcript:
Jason: Alrighty folks, welcome back to another round of Sound Retirement Radio. I’m your host Jason Parker, and as always it’s my good fortune to have you as a listener on the program, tuning in from around the country. Thank you so much for being here. You know we’re doing something a little bit different right now. I know there’s a lot of folks around the country that are interested in retirement. It can be kind of a scary transition, so one of the things I thought would be fun would be to bring people on to this program that have actually taken the plunge. They’ve actually retired. Bring people on at different phases of their retirement to talk about what that was like before they retired, what it’s been like now that they are retired. What phase of retirement are they in. What are their hopes, their dreams. What were some of the fears that maybe they had to overcome.
It’s my good fortune to bring my next couple. This is really neat because I have a married couple on the program with us, D and C. D and C, welcome.
D: Thank you.
C: Thank you.
Jason: Hey guys, I really appreciate you sharing your retirement journey as you’ve made this transition into retirement. You’re a couple of years into it now. Before we get going in the program, I was hoping you guys could just maybe give us a quick bio. Tell us a little bit about who you are and then I’ve got some questions I’ll jump into.
D: OK, I’ll start. My name is D and I grew up in Indianapolis, Indiana. I was fortunate enough to attend Catholic private high school though high school, and attended Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana where I got my BA. I went on to California, and after graduation I worked for Apple in the Silicon Valley and startup companies there. Then I went on later to work for Lockheed Martin. I earned my Masters Degree at Stanford in Leadership Program, then transferred to Florida from California. Spent around eight years there doing a startup for the Trident program in King’s Bay, as well as logistic work down at the Cape. Cape Canaveral. Then on to Washington State where I spent the last 20 or so years of my career life. Where I met my loving wife. I had a total of about 27 retirement years in with Lockheed Martin. So that’s my bio.
Jason: All right, thanks D. How about you, C?
C: I grew up in Bremerton, Washington, and lived here almost all of my life. After high school graduation I lived in Louisiana and Texas, and I was gone away from Washington for about seven years. When I returned home, I was fortunate to get a job for Lockheed Martin during the years that Seattle had turned out the lights and nobody was hiring anyone. I was very fortunate that I got to start at the Trident submarine program in Bangor, Washington. While I was working there I earned my degree from City University in Business Management and Accounting. I worked at the Naval submarine base for almost 40 years, with time at Keyport also. That time just flew by so fast and before we knew it, it was time to start thinking about retirement. We had really thought about retiring a little bit earlier but then the downturn in the economy kind of forced us, not really forced us, but it looked like we needed to work a little bit longer. We did finally decide to retire about 5 years ago and have enjoyed it so much.
Jason: Awesome. Because I have a married couple on the program, which I think is so cool because we get to hear from both husband and wife, I’m just going to kind of bounce back and forth between each of you. I’ve got different questions for both of you. D, I’ll start with you. The first question I have for you is: if you were to write a book about your life, what would you include?
D: I think one of the things I would definitely include in my book of life was my journey with the Lord and the Catholic Church. I had wonderful experiences growing up as a young boy in scouting and all the things I was subjected to and the lessons I learned from all my family and friends. Definitely I would have to include in my book our travelling experiences now that we’re retired, and all the volunteering work that we do in the community and other things that we do to support our community. Because I believe that when you retire it’s time to give back for all the fruits that you’ve been given as you were in your working life. Now it’s time to give back to the community in your retirement life.
Jason: Awesome. When are you going to write that book, D?
D: I got it on my bucket list, Jason.
Jason: All right. C, as you think about life, what’s most important to you?
C: The most important things to me in my life are serving God and helping my husband in all the volunteer programs that he has going. Being there for my family and friends and volunteering. I really enjoy our time together whenever we can get together with family. I’m looking forward to a family retreat; we’re doing a sewing retreat next week with all my sisters and nieces. It’ll be a fun time.
Jason: D, because I’ve had a chance to talk to you a lot over the years, I know that travel is something that you really enjoy. Tell me maybe about some of the trips you’ve taken, and then also some of the things you have in mind for the future?
D: We’ve traveled a lot. In the past we’ve gone to the Holy Land, the religious sites, all over Israel and Jordan and Egypt. Two years later, during the millennium, we took a long trip. We did all of Italy and Rome and that was a fabulous trip. Then about three years ago we took cooking classes in Southern France and spent a week in Paris. That was a week of nothing but love and ‘Gay Paree’. We enjoy, or I enjoy as well as my wife, we love to go to the National Parks within the United States and touring British Columbia and the Alberta Province in Canada.
Jason: Hey D, on that note. If there was just one trip … if you knew that your time was limited and that you could do just one trip, which one would it be?
D: If I only had one I could do in the future, I would like to tour Germany, Poland, France, Switzerland, and Spain. Basically a cruise trip where we would be gone about 45 days. Because that’s a part of the world I’ve never been able to go to. I’d love to do that. It’s on our bucket list in the future. Perhaps in the very near future, actually.
Jason: Boy, that sounds awesome. Maybe because of your experience on some of the trips you have been on, if you were going to recommend, maybe someone out there is just getting ready to retire and they’re trying to figure out what they want that first retirement trip, that first travel experience to be about. What would you advise them, what would you recommend them to consider?
D: It depends on whether you want to stay within the U.S. or you want to go abroad. I would say if you’re going to go in the U.S., you might want to take a trip across the U.S.A.. Go south, or go north and then come back on a southern route. Hit all the places that you have wanted to hit. For us it’s the National Parks and many of the sites that we like to that we’re interested in seeing. I would recommend that. If you’re going abroad, I would plan a trip … excuse me … to the European sites that best appeal to you. Or perhaps it’s Russia, China, the Orient, Indonesia, I don’t know, but whatever pleases you. I would put that on my list as a possibility for the next future trip.
Jason: On that idea of the National Parks, is that something where you guys rented or bought a camping trailer and went that route? Did you fly from location to location or did you drive from location to location and then rent car. How did you guys do that?
D: Basically, it was driving from location to location and staying within the National Park itself because I believe it’s important to be staying where you’re going to be. Camping is great, but it’s not our thing, but it is for a lot of people I know. If you’re going to do a trip like that, an RV is great, but for us we just used a vehicle and stayed place to place and put our reservations in ahead of time at whatever park we were going to go see.
Jason: So you actually found there’s places, there’s hotels or resorts right there in-
D: Yeah, all over the U.S. where you can actually book a reservation and stay at the park.
Jason: That’s awesome. C, we live in a beautiful part of the world. I’m reminded, because I was born in Ohio and I have some family that have never seen the ocean and I just think that’s kind of wild. What do you love about living here in the Pacific Northwest?
C: Like you said, the Pacific Northwest is like the most beautiful area of the United States. We’ve traveled to almost all of the different states and all the different areas. And for the weather, the convenience of being close to Seattle, the convenience to shopping. For us here we just live a couple miles from all the major shopping. We have a secure little neighborhood and we wake up to mountains and water view every morning. It’s just God’s piece of Heaven for us.
Jason: C, let me ask you a little bit more about this decision on where to retire. Maybe some of the things you think are important, because you guys are retired now. As you think about your actual house that you live in and where you live, what would you say are some of the most important decisions for people making the decision about where, the actual home that they want to live in retirement?
C: We have been looking for the perfect home for several years, and a rambler certainly is the ideal for your golden years. After you get into your 70s, 80s, you want to be able to live on a one level. That’s ideal. However, we haven’t found that here because there’s just not that many available. But that’s just one aspect. You have to be able to live where you’re going to be able to enjoy your space, the beauty, and your hobbies. We’re both into gardening, although D does most of our gardening. I think being around people that you can trust, love. Our neighborhood is secure. You don’t want to move into an area that you don’t know anyone. I think it’s wonderful to have friends and family close by. So many things to enjoy. I think I grew to enjoy our house more when we almost moved to another place, but after looking at everything you have to really decide what you need, I guess.
I’ve been meeting a lot of people out in the area. They’re also looking for the same thing, that rambler. That one-level living, that downsizing. It’s a major undertaking to downsize from a larger home. To change your lifestyle, somewhat. It’s something that you really need to think about.
Jason: I wish, I hope we have builders out there that are listening to this program, because we have this tidal wave of this huge demographic of people all heading into retirement. Ten thousand baby boomers and they’re all looking for the same thing. Low maintenance, easy to maintain. They want to be able to live on one level, they don’t want a two story house. They don’t need a huge space. I think that the builders out there, they’re trying to maximize square footage in so many cases by going up. I wish they were paying attention to demographics a little bit more in some instances.
D, let me throw that same question to you. In terms of what do you like the most about living here in the Northwest?
D: I like a lot of things that C has already said. The serenity of living the area we live in and what we actually enjoy with nature, the hiking, the beauty of the mountains around us, the water. It’s just a Godsend to have that around you every day. I never take it for granted.
I think that where you live is extremely important and it’s a tough decision to make when you transition into retirement. Whether you want to stay where you are or look for a retirement community. As you mentioned, most retirees are looking for a ranch house now or a retirement community. An area where you can lock and leave it, people are watching out for you, you have good security, and you don’t have to worry. So that when you want to travel, you can do the lock and leave and not worry about where you’re living. All those things are important. As well as being accessible and things like daily exercise, being able to keep healthy, an area where you can have pets if you love pets. We do. That kind of thing.
It’s a big decision to make, and as C mentioned when you get in your 70s and 80s you have to be looking out ahead. When you do transition to a new residence, it takes years to get rid of all the stuff you have, pare down, and right-size so that you can be able to live in a smaller space with less time and maintenance involved.
C: I think there’s one more thing too, that we haven’t mentioned. Convenience to medical services, because as you get older it seems like you spend more time going to different doctor’s appointments. It’s nice to be able to establish those relationships and to have them convenient.
Jason: You guys, I’ve got a question for both of you. Feel free, either one of you or both of you can answer this one. I’m curious to know, at this point in your life you guys have been retired for five years now, what brings you the greatest sense of fulfillment and satisfaction?
C: I think it’s the volunteer work that we do. D started a group where organized a group of people to pick up the bread at Panera’s at the end of the day, every day, and we take it to different soup kitchens, food banks, and a variety of different places in the local area. I think that’s been one of the most rewarding things we’ve done. We’ve also been helping some retired priests that need to find a place to live, and helping them along. We’ve had some volunteer time with … let me let D answer this about the different organizations he’s been volunteering at.
D: Habitat for Humanity, Salvation Army, Benedict House. All these are areas that I’ve been involved with. I love doing the volunteer work because it’s so gratifying to see the fruits of your labor in the eyes of the people you’re helping. I believe, as I mentioned earlier, that when you’re retired it’s time to give back to the community that you’ve lived in whatever way you can do that. There’s so many volunteer opportunities. Working at the Naval Museum as a historical guide, working at the Kitsap Museum as a historical guide, volunteering wherever volunteers are needed. There’s so many opportunities out there. I think volunteerism is one of the most rewarding things as a retired person that you can have. Some people at our age miss out on that because they think they’re limited. You don’t have to do everything, do what you physically and mentally are capable of doing. Any volunteer work you do can always be a very rewarding experience in your retirement years.
Jason: That’s interesting. I appreciate your guys’ thoughts there on fulfillment and satisfaction, because ultimately that’s what people retire for. To get the most lifetime satisfaction and do what’s really most important to them. What they’re going to enjoy and what brings them pleasure and joy and fulfillment. I appreciate that.
C, this is a question for you. You’ve been retired for five years now. Have you ever considered going back to work?
C: I felt when, before I retired, I’d like to continue to work part-time. Maybe helping people organize their homes or be a professional organizer, but then when it came right down to it after I retired and I spent that first year just feeling what it was like to be a housewife. It was so exciting to be able to stay home, make my own schedule, and to help friends. Have more time for sleep, for exercise, for reading. The time’s just went by. It’s been five years and I’ve never regretted not working. Not one minute.
Jason: That’s funny, that is funny. That’s interesting. D, how about for you? What are you enjoying the most about retirement now?
D: Sleep, for one thing. Actually, the opportunity to sleep longer than you ever used to when you were working. Your time when you’re retired is your own time and you can pick and choose where you allocate that time. That’s a nice place to be, that you can allocate your time and resources wherever you want them to be.
For me, as C mentioned earlier, the volunteer work. I also get a lot of gratification out of men’s bible study groups I’m involved with. The YMCA exercise programs. Entertaining in our home and having family and friends over here on a weekend basis, constantly entertaining and sharing with each other. Our time on this Earth is limited. When you want to make every moment of your retirement as blessed as they can be, and I can’t think of a better way of doing that than enjoying where you live and sharing your home with family and friends.
Jason: You guys, I want you to think back. Both you. Think back to six years ago. You’re still working, you hadn’t retired yet. What would you say is the hardest part of making that transition from career to retirement?
D: For me it was saying goodbye to all the wonderful people who worked for me. I had a team of people at Lockheed Martin that I loved working with and it was real hard saying goodbye. But for me the gratifying part of it is that they were all capable, trained, and ready to step up to the plate when I walked away. It was a seamless transition and that’s the way I wanted it. That was the most gratifying part of still working but it was hard to say goodbye.
Jason: How about for you, C?
C: We certainly thought what it would be like that last day we drove off the base and said goodbye. I thought it would be a lot harder than it was, but actually looking back it was a joyful day. We both retired on the same day. I think that’s a decision, too, that was hard to come to. Whether we would retire together or not. Looking forward to that time we would have to do the things we wanted to do. To create our own schedule. To realize that if you’re staying late at somebody’s house in the middle of the week you didn’t have to rush home and get to bed because you had to get up at 4 o’clock in the morning. That was the most fun thing that we discovered was not having to have that schedule of getting up so early.
Jason: What about challenges? Now that you guys have made this transition into retirement, what would say is the biggest challenge that you find that you have to overcome? The biggest hurdle that you feel you’re confronted with?
C: One of our challenges is sharing the kitchen. We both love to cook, so we have to learn how to either share or give up that space for the other person to pop in and do their thing in the kitchen. I think that’s one thing. Sometimes our schedules conflict and we kind of have to make sure we keep our calendar up to date, that’s another issue that you kind of have to work out.
Jason: How about for you, D? Anything come to mind there?
D: I think today, one of the biggest challenges is keeping up with the technology of the times. Things change so rapidly with technology, and the time you’ve gotten and figured out what to do on an iPod or on a phone they’ve changed the technology and it’s something new again. I don’t discourage older people from learning it, but I think it’s important that you do because if you don’t keep up with the times you get lost and you really are dependent. The world today is dependent on a world economy so we have to be up on technology to know what’s going on.
The challenges of security in general, making sure that your privacy is maintained. That your financial records are kept secure. Those are challenges that I think we all think about and we are faced with as retirees. It’s just a reality of today.
As C mentioned, making sure we don’t double-book our schedules to do something on the same day that we can’t fulfill both obligations. It’s a challenge being retired. You wouldn’t think that your calendar is that big of a challenge, but it really is.
Jason: You know, there’s a great app for that D.
C: But then you have to have a smart phone to do it.
Jason: There you go.
You guys, I just want to finish up. Maybe, again, say thank you for sharing your journey here as you’ve made this transition. What’s important to you and how you guys have been doing this. In summary, anything that you guys just want to share with our listeners before we finish our time together?
C: One thing for me is having that piece of mind that our finances are allowing us to retire without a lot of worry. I think that’s an important key issue to understand. How your income will be throughout the rest of your life. It’s a long time to plan for, 20 or 30 years. I think that’s one thing that gives me a lot of peace of mind is to have that locked in.
Jason: All right. How about for you, D?
D: You need to create a life that you don’t need a vacation from when you’re retired. Instead move to where you want to live, do what you have a passion for life to do, start what you haven’t done yet without fear, and create a life that you want today without fear of change. Live each day as though it was your last. Leave a legacy for your family that you’re proud of. Never forget to have God in your life each and every day. Remember actions speak louder than words so live by example, after all it is your life. I think we must always strive to set good examples and to show that there is no limits of the accomplishments you can have in retirement life. It all rests on your imagination and your effort to put into making those dreams, your retirement dreams, a reality.
Jason: Thank you for agreeing to be a guest here on the radio show with us.
D: You’re most welcome.
C: Thank you, Jason.
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