Life after retirement? You bet!

As the bus drove by my house, I wondered what I was going to do now. You see, that spring I retired from teaching. The school district where I taught offered a generous early retirement incentive. After consulting with a financial planner, I decided to retire.


I spent my summer enjoying time away from the job. It was the first summer I wasn't going to school at the university, reviewing all my old units, or preparing my classroom for the next school year. It was a great summer and the first one in a long time that I had all to myself.


So here I was in the fall, wondering what to do now. I did put my name on the substitute list from the school where I retired. I got a call in October from a kindergarten teacher asking me to substitute for an extended leave in January.


I jumped at the chance.


A new discovery, a new life
Around the same time, my husband and I had a contractor put a sun room on our house. To save money, I did the painting. I took a few classes on faux painting and knew I wanted to give it a try. With brush in hand, I began. I painted the walls using a sponging technique. I painted the steps in the room using a dry brush technique.


The contractor was amazed and told me I should paint for him. I didn't take him seriously. I took a few more painting classes and learned the art of stenciling.


I extended my painting to furniture and found I enjoyed that much more than painting walls. I painted a few of my own pieces. I showed my work to a few friends and relatives, and to my surprise, they asked me to do pieces for them.


That January I began the extended substitute job. By then I'd had so much time to myself, and I was really enjoying my painting.


Going back into the classroom after being gone for eight months made me realize it was time to move on. I started to get more calls about painting. I had business cards printed up. I put some of my furniture in shops around town, and I was asked to do some commissioned pieces for fundraisers. I was having a ball.


The hours were mine, I was earning a few extra dollars, and the job was relaxing without all the stress. I knew this was what I wanted to do with my time.


Follow your bliss
I still get calls to sub for some teachers. I do that when I want to stay in touch with the children and my former colleagues, but I relish the days I spend painting.


I have heard similar stories from other retired teachers. One man I know loves cars. He retired from teaching and is now a shuttle driver for a car dealer.


Another retired teacher I know loves to quilt. She bought a long arm quilting machine and now has a list of customers who want her to quilt for them.


I realize there are some people who couldn't wait to retire, but there are many still teaching who wonder what else they would do. To those I say, there is another world out there. Think about what you like to do for a hobby, learn a new interest, or listen to what others say you can do well.


Teaching has shown us that we are creative, flexible, and determined. With those attributes we can take our interests, talents, or passions and turn them into new adventures.


(Ann Halverson taught 20 years in Bonner, Missoula, and Clinton schools.)


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