The Real Reason People Retire?


I wish an elder had told me the truth about aging—and what is perhaps the real reason people retire.

I never wanted to retire. I am one of the fortunate ones who loves what I do and feels a sense of calling, which motivates me afresh whenever my resolve wanes.

And it’s waning more and more. Not because I don’t love my work, but because of the demands of the current season of my life.

Demands I wish someone had told me ahead of time.

woman sitting on seashore

Photo by sk

But you see, in Western culture, we don’t like to talk about aging. Nor do we respect the wisdom of elders, by and large. Old age is seen as a time of decline, of growing less and less useful, of more dependency.

I don’t think it has to be that way. It’s each elder’s responsibility to do all we can to age well.

It’s quite possible. But it’s also more time-consuming than I ever imagined.

Of course there are the health issues. I continue to maintain that we don’t have to accept that aging necessarily means more frailty. I refuse the prevailing image that our bodies are like aging machines rusting out, whose parts need to be fixed and often replaced.

I refuse to believe that ailments are a result of a lack of some medication. (I’m talking drugs, not medication that supplies what the body already needs, such as insulin or thyroid hormone.)

To me, the human body is a living organism, capable of repairing itself (though not indefinitely) if given the right support to offset the many assaults on it. (I’m talking toxins of so many kinds, inadequate nutrition, inactivity, medications, unnecessary medical procedures, to name a few.)

I’m finding that that kind of support is rather time-consuming, and it takes deliberate intention, since it goes against the grain of our instant gratification culture.

person holding brown grains

Photo by Mariana Medvedeva

My lifestyle is centered around maintaining health, to a large degree. I cook my own meals from scratch, avoid processed foods, eat very few sweets. My adult children enjoy my meals, but they often ask, “Is there anything sweet in the house?” Most often the answer is no, unless it’s honey.

It takes time to cook, though I make simple meals: a protein, a vegetable and/or healthy grain, and a salad for dinner; leftovers of same for lunches. Breakfast: smoothie, egg, and gluten-free toast, or oatmeal.

I buy organic as much as possible (though I often wonder if they just slap the label on so they can charge more).

I walk for only 20 minutes usually, but I do it every single day, figuring that consistency must count for something. I’ve walked nearly every single day (rain or shine, but not if there’s ice), for the past 28+ years–ever since God gave me that as a prescription for overcoming post-partem depression. (And it worked!)

I also journal every day. That was also part of God’s prescription for the depression. I do “morning pages,” writing whatever comes to mind, first thing in the morning, for three 81/2 x 11 pages, longhand. At night, I jot down the gifts of the day in my gifts journal.

Of course I do my Healing Codes and other healing practices (from my Align with Your Divine Design program).

This is crucial. I have long wondered if one reason people get sick in older age is because the unhealed “heart issues” start screaming at them, through their body’s signals. Gabor Maté’s books, especially When the Body Says No, and the research he cites confirm this is true.

This is why I’m so passionate about healing heart issues, why this is my calling. If you can heal the heart issues before the body has to scream at you, you can prevent many of the “problems of aging.”

person in black suit jacket holding white tablet computer

Photo by Towfiqu barbhuiya

There are other considerations with aging, I’m discovering. There is the financial: Can I afford to retire? What if I run out of money?

If you’re taking care of an ailing family member, that factors in, too. There are legal and medical considerations. Are my assets protected, should I (or a loved one) need long-term care? Do I have family or other support? Do I have the right kind of health insurance? (For example, some Medicare Advantage plans are wonderful, some are traps.)

Social connections are crucial for healthy aging, research confirms. It is even one of the preventable risk factors for dementia. Staying in touch with friends, reviving old friendships, making meaningful connections take time—but it’s worth it

So is staying physically active. And you need the right kind of exercises, done the right way, I’m discovering. If you have a condition, such as osteoporosis as I do, you need to be careful which exercises you do.

There are usually more doctor visits, for yourself and/or aging loved ones. You might want to research suggested therapies before you undergo them. (For example, if surgery is suggested for a condition that could be helped by physical therapy—you might feel a need to research that. I was urged to go on medication for osteoporosis, but I felt a need to investigate other options.)

woman in brown top reading paper

Photo by Clément Falize

What about taking care of your eyesight? Without good eyesight, you can’t drive, which is a huge factor in independence. (Check out the Bates Method natural vision therapy. I’m taking a class now in this approach, and it is–well, eye-opening. I had no idea glasses actually weaken your eyesight, for instance.)

What about your home? Is it set up so that you can age well in it? Do you have to move to a one-story home, or can you make modifications to your existing home? Do you need to start decluttering in a big way so that, should you have to suddenly move, it won’t be as much of a burden?

And let’s face it: we don’t have the energy or stamina we once did. I marvel at how I was able to run a business and a home, rear two children, and have an active social life when I was younger. Everything seems to take me much longer to do now.

Do you see what I mean? All of this takes time. It’s a new part-time or maybe even full-time job, to maintain health in “the wisdom years.”

I wish someone had warned me. So now I’m warning you.

Be intentional. Heal. Plan.

Now that you know some of the issues, there is a lot of information you can glean from the Internet as well as from talking to others. Unless someone tells you what you need to know, though, you don’t know what to look for.

person holding white ceramic mug

Photo by Alex Padurariu

Most important: embrace the blessings and responsibilities of this season of life if you’re now in it. Be aware of it and plan if you’re not yet there, so that when you are, you can embrace and receive more of the blessings and less of the challenges (because you have staved them off through planning).

That’s one of my current Truth Focus Statements: “I fully embrace the responsibilities and blessings of this season of my life.” (A good one for any season of life, no?)

May you be led to all the ways you too can embrace all that God has for you in your current season of life.

And if you’d like some extra help with navigating the challenges of your current season of life, check out my current coaching availability at HealingCodesCoaching.com.

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Sheree Clark

Sage words here, Diane! You’ve really done a service by saying out loud what so many of us are thinking and feeling. It’s a little less scary when you realize you’re not the only one. Thank you for your calm wisdom.

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