Ready, Set, RETIRE!

by Karleen Sternisha-

Retirement, a word that brought visions of doing nothing, now applies to me! Retirement, a word that now is the newest adventure in my life. This is a time to rediscover me and who I want to be. Retirement especially affects my dear husband who has put on his seat belt as this journey begins. He’s already heard, “Time to paint the kitchen and dining room.” And, “The flower bed needs renovation.”

          Retirement is a time to reset life. By this age, I’ve learned what brings me true happiness. On my reading list was “Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder” by Adrianna Huffington. This book, although aimed at the young people building their careers, spoke to me as I enter this new stage of life. My retirement needs to be a balance of work, play, and inspiration. For the first time in many years, I get to decide what needs to be done today. So, I need to be mindful of what is important. The choice is almost entirely mine.

          Retirement will be full of projects but also a time to give back. I’ve received much in my life. Now I have time to give back. I have the time to commit once a week to help someone improve their situation in life. I have time to visit the sick and shut-in people. I have the time to listen; I believe that one of the most valuable gifts we can give one another is to listen.

          Retirement is a time to experience new things. I’ve signed up for a water aerobics class and planned a trip to a place I’ve always wanted to go. I can attend events like church retreats, assemblies, and yes, illness and funerals without having to worry about keeping up with the office schedule. I’ve set up a greenhouse. Let’s see. How late in the year will I be able me to grow lettuce? One of the not-so-great discoveries I’ve made is the lack of physical strength to get all these projects done. My years as an “office lily” have made for some soft muscles. But, you see, I have the time to work on that too.

          Retirement is a challenge for me to do nothing. The luxury of just deciding to sit down and read in the middle of the day is a treat. I have neglected appreciation of so many of life’s mysteries, for God’s mercies are new every morning. The sun rises beautifully every morning. The stars are the same ones that looked down on Adam and Eve. The morning is fresh and new, no matter what the weather happens to be. I have taken these and so many other things for granted because of my rush to get through the day. How is it that the tiniest hummingbird can migrate to South America every year? The squirrels in my yard have been chowing down on the salvias in my flower box. Who knew they ate anything but nuts and seeds? I am reminded that having NO plan for the morning is certainly okay in this new lifestyle.

Karleen’s greenhouse is part of her retirement adventure. Her first project is lettuce, which looks like it about ready to eat.

          Retirement has begun as a great new adventure. The rocking chair isn’t an integral part of my life but it remains an option when I’m tired. The possibilities seem endless. There are books to be read, new songs I can learn to play, and new songs to sing. Much to my husband’s chagrin, I am finding more things that can be done with the house. Maybe I will decide to expand my greenhouse experiment. Is there something I can do for the community that will make the world better for someone who is struggling? My husband, Paul has a relatively new ministry in Fulton. How can I help the church and community there? Church opportunities move from local, to region, to national levels. I would have time for that now. I wonder. God is in charge, so it’s all good.

Like my friend says, “Life as you know it will never be the same.” What an adventure!

Karleen Sternisha is recently retired from “The Union City Daily Messenger,” where she worked as an accountant. Her husband, Paul Sternisha, is a “serial retiree.” The neighbor says you just can’t get him to keep a job. Paul retired from the U.S. Coast Guard in 1988 and as pastor of Union City Christian Church 2012. He is now part-time pastor of First Christian Church in Fulton. No date has been set for that retirement. Karleen plays the piano for worship and teaches Sunday School each Sunday.