September 5, 2013

The Not So Secret Ingredient for a Satisfying Retirement

Probably millions of words have been written about how to have a happy, productive retirement lifestyle, almost 80,000 of which have been mine! Financial planning, working on your marriage or primary relationship, developing a hobby or passion that lights your fire every day, allowing your spiritual side to blossom....you have heard it all before. There really is little new under the retirement sun, unless it is whether retirement is even a valid concept in the 21st century. But, that's the subject for another time.

My experiences during my recent vacation highlighted one other indispensable requirement: friends. Yes, friends. These are the people who aren't related to you who will put up with your quirks and oddities just because they choose to. They will take you to lunch, share dinner with you at your home, or have a hot dog while sitting next to you at a ballgame.

They will laugh with you, cry with you, hug you when you need it, and give you a verbal slap when called for. They will allow you to be you while gently nudging you to grow and develop. They will listen as you try to explain away your mistakes without judging or condemning you. Friends are what makes living rich and full of joy.

Too often we leave friends behind when we retire. Sure, we mean to stay in touch, but drifting apart after the bond of work has been severed is what usually happens. Old friends may move away or fall out of our lives due to divorce , sickness, or death. Sometimes we just grow apart.  Making new friends as we age becomes more difficult.

That's why what has happened over the past year to Betty and me is so special. During our two trips to Portland we have met some people who have become a very important part of our lives. We love them, care about them deeply, and long to be with them whenever possible. Amazingly, they feel the same way.

This trip we met a new couple who we instantly developed a bond with. That relationship is likely to strengthen and deepen over time, too. We were able to talk with each other like long lost college chums, feeling comfortable and at home in each other's company.

Of course we have very important relationships with friends in Phoenix. They enrich our lives every time we are with them. But, it is impossible to have too many true friends, wherever they may live. Betty and I feel as if we have hit the jackpot.

To our new friends in Portland (and those we met there), know that you make our lives fuller, more exciting, more vibrant, and more loving just by being you.

Friends must be one of God's way of showing us we matter. Otherwise, why would He put them in our lives?

courtesy blog.clarity.fm -

17 comments:

  1. Aaaah! Friends....someone once told me that friends are family that we choose for ourselves. What a blessing indeed.

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    1. Family has to put up with us, friends don't but they choose to. That what makes them so valuable.

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  2. During our working days, my wife use to get very aggravated and disappointed when her business contacts did not treat her like a "friend". Many times I tried to explain that just because they spent time together and shared experiences did not make them a friend...but an acquaintance or associate...it was just business. Fast Forward to retirement and we have experienced many of those "associates" develop into friends, maybe because expectations changed...no longer was there a material means (sale) to be gained, but simply enjoyment of each others company. Valuation of the fellowship is an end in itself and very important as we get older. Thanks for bringing this topic up.

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    1. Good point, Ron. Relationships certainly change over time. Some weaken and disappear while others strengthen and turn into something special. Then, there are those out-of-the-blue friendships that just suddenly happen.

      Whatever the route they take, we are blessed when a friendship happens.

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  3. You're right about the friends, Bob. We're looking ahead to our wintertime in Tucson and are ready to meet up with folks who became friends just last winter.

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    1. You and Art established yourselves quite quickly last winter. The folks I saw seemed quite friendly and easy to get to know.

      Betty and I will be coming down to see you guys again (and Barb and Earl Torris) later this fall.

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  4. Wonderful thoughts! I have some dear friends I have known for 30 years, and have some new friends I made recently while attending some real estate classes.. who are adding new insights to my life.. friends enrich life so MUCH.. deepening friendships is a great idea for retirement, when we have the time to devote to just hangin' out!

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    1. Too many of us lose many of our friends after retirement. It is so important to maintain the ones that are meaningful to us and be on the constant lookout for new ones. Your real estate school experience is a perfect example.

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  5. Friendship truly enriches our lives. I have sound that since I retired, being with people who share common interests has helped me to meet others who I enjoy spending time with. Work relationships, while important at the time, faded away pretty quickly. There is only one person from my previous work life with whom I keep in touch.

    I often wonder about what happens to the very old, as isolation sets in, either through disability, inability to drive etc. I imagine that life can get pretty lonely at a time when we need friends the most! Having friends of different ages may help with this issue, but doesn't address it entirely.

    I tend to be somewhat of a loner, by choice. However the few people that are my friends are so very dear to me, and very much enrich and give meaning to my life. I am so grateful for my friendships! Including with my husband!

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    1. Adding friends to one's life may be a bit like throwing a rock in a pond. The ripples from one friend can open up opportunities for more to enter your life.

      Your observation about loneliness as we get older is quite accurate. A good example is my dad's situation. Since my mom died two years ago he has stayed to himself for the most part. Then, a few months ago a very nice lady who lives in the same retirement community began joining hime for breakfast and lunch. I can see a difference in his demeanor since she cam into his life. There is no romantic angles, it is just that he has another person to see in his life on a regular basis.

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  6. I can't say enough about the friends in my life who have seen me through the ups and downs. They come in all dimensions, some I have almost daily contact with and those that there is less frequent contact but it seems like just yesterday when we're together; we just pick up where we left off. This strong social circle is what has kept me in this area years ago when I considered relocation. One of my friends was recently widowed and she considered moving 5 hrs away to be closer to one of her children. She has chosen not to move at this time because of her friends.

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  7. You are so right, and as people have pointed out, your friends may change after you retire as old friends die or move away. Sometimes it can be a challenge to make new friends at this stage of life, but it's important to reach out and make the effort.

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    1. I have more friends now than I ever did while working. Part of that is because, as a consultant, I had no regular office to go to. Plus, I just didn't take the time or put in the effort.

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  8. I think what happens is that the depth of our friendships deepens and that those with whom we have more superficial relationships seem to fall away.

    The friends who we value now are the ones who nurture us, who love us just the way we are and who are committed to our well-being. The keepers.

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  9. You are so right. It's such an important part of a happy life. Some stay close even though they are far away, geographically. Social media has helped reconnect us with some friends we'd lost touch with, and it's like picking up right where we left off. I love that about technology.
    b

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    1. Our Oregon friends have become like that. We hadn't seen them in 13 months, but when we reconnected it was as if only a short period of time had passed.

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