Choose Joy: Three Keys to Investing Your Time in Retirement
Choose Joy features fifty inspiring stories of people ages 62-100 years who are making the most of their retirement. They aren't doing huge things like climbing Mt. Everest or founding nonprofits. They're simply making conscious choices to live with joy and meaning. Most of these choices require no money to pursue - they just take time and cultivation of a mindset.
Each story is a bite-sized illustration of how one person has chosen to live in this phase of life. After each story, a "Try This" section offers an action step, you can take to sample an activity like the one in the story. Putting these three key areas together will help you be happier, healthier, and have stronger connections with the people you care about. Find out how you can invest your retirement time with joy.
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This book was just what I needed....I was immediately drawn by Babs Plunkett’s willingness to follow an unexpected inner voice in writing this book. She admits that living with her unhappy grandmother was the source of a life-long conundrum on how to avoid the same fate. The solution was unanticipated: “I just woke one spring morning (March 1, 2018, to be exact) with a fiery passion to collect stories about people aging with joy and purpose.”
Some of the people she describes prepared for retirement and entered with a blueprint – they are inspiring, but they are not me. Many, however, slid into retirement without a concrete plan or purpose. More importantly, “Most didn’t find just one big thing that filled their lives with purpose. Rather, they curated an engaging collection of interests that gave their lives meaning.” Ahh, curating….an affirmation of the idea that we don’t always find a passion—opportunities and purposes find us.
I will reflect on just a few of the stories that touched me. I was particularly struck by Barbara. Rather than finding a particular volunteer opportunity and sticking to it, Barbara’s mantra is Tikkun Olam – healing the world – by finding many places that need short-term volunteers. She has filled in for librarians, made recordings for the blind, and substituted in after school programs. “When the volunteer role isn’t fulfilling anymore, I find something else”. Her mind is clearly activated by challenging herself with new ideas and routines, while at the same time doing good. Like Barbara, I will probably be best if I can find ways to learn by dabbling while doing good.
Molly’s story stood out because she is doing what she loves -- a pastiche of small passions – birds, pottery, and learning the harp! It is wonderful to read about someone who feels totally fulfilled with many small passions because it is the combination of them that keeps her excited, engaged, and learning. Molly is working with all of her senses in her curated mix, and I can sense the joy I will have if I savor my own mix as “enough” – even if it looks a little weird to an outsider – but that are just plain fun.
I found another curating story in Choose Joy that expresses the same unexpected healing power of the cell phone. Lois, at 100, has created a wealth of connections that sustain her even though she has chosen to live independently in an assisted living facility close to one of her children. Rather than keeping in touch only with family and what (at 100) would be a shrinking list of old friends, Lois has a phone list that includes people from all phases and places in her life. She doesn’t wait for people to call her – she reaches out. As someone with a bit of a phone phobia, she inspired me to start now.
As I reflect on many of the other stories in this lovely book, I find many ideas that will help me think about how I can curate joy in this “in between time” where physically “joining” is impossible but I can’t bear the idea of losing a year. I am writing down all of the website, on-line groups, and opportunities to do volunteer work by zoom that I can find. Anyone reading this book will find many stories that they can relate to and that inspire them to find joy in the slightly slower pace of retirement.