June 25, 2019

Stressed Thinking about Retirement? How to Look on the Bright Side of Life


Francine the Cat

Meet Francine, Feline Resident of Credit River Retirement Residence

How do you plan to spend the rest of your life?

Does this question inspire you to pull out a pen and paper so you can begin plotting?

Or does the question make you want to hide under the bed sheets?

It’s easy to overthink this life transition and drive yourself into a frenzy. Luckily, there’s a more carefree approach to retirement that you may want to consider.

Meet June and Audrey. They live in the Independent Living suites of Credit River Retirement Residence in Streetsville, Mississauga. Call it good fortune — or a stroke of genius — but June and Audrey managed to skip retirement prep school and land on their own two feet.

Their strategy is simple. They’ve chosen to be grateful and to celebrate the bright side of life.

Here are 3 tips on how to have fun in retirement without losing sleep about it.

  1. Be Open and Say Yes More than You Say No

Chances are you have a strong work ethic, but how would you rate your play ethic? Do you say no when a neighbour invites you inside for tea? One way to start building friendships in retirement is to remain open to possibilities.

Two years ago, a mutual friend of June’s and Audrey’s introduced the now-friends. “We were watching a music concert here” at Credit River Retirement Residence, says June, when her friend spotted Audrey across the way.

That’s all it took —a friendly wave — to begin, what turned out to be, a close friendship.

“We think we’re lucky we have each other,” says June, who sealed the relationship that day by asking, “Should we have a glass of wine at the bistro?” To which, Audrey replied — yes.

  1. Stop Making Big Plans and Savour the Small Moments Instead

How much do you love your to-do lists? They were once your means for getting things done, such as stocking the cupboards and making sure there were enough gifts under the tree. A list of activities or a routine can be one way to avoid boredom in retirement, but not everyone swears by them.

“We don’t structure our day,” says June, when asked about a typical day in the life of June and Audrey. “We like the feel of  “spur of the moment.”

When June’s or Audrey’s daughters stop by for a visit, the friends often take the opportunity to go out shopping. But they never fuss when it comes to making plans.

Rather than plan extraordinary moments, they savour the joy in the small moments.

“We have a lot in common,” says Audrey. Both hail from England, love to watch British comedies and laugh at the silly antics of Audrey’s cat. They confess that they spend most of their time chatting and laughing. “An hour will go by,” admits Audrey, “and we’ll say what did we talk about all this time?”

  1. Learn to Laugh When You’d Sooner Cry Me A River

Unfortunately, there will be days when you feel as though life delivers more loss than laughs. June’s husband passed away three years ago. “I’m still not adjusted now,” pipes up June. “Married 66 years in June.”

Audrey recounts how lonely it was living in the same house after her husband died eight years ago. “You have your days, but we talk it over,” she says, referring to her chum.

In spite of the occasional low moments, they choose to be grateful.

“This is all part of life, whether you like it or not,” June proclaims, “We’re old. And what are you going to do? You make the best of it.”

June and Audrey count their blessings. They’re grateful for good marriages, happy children, engaging grandchildren, the beautiful community at Credit River Retirement Residence, and of course, their friendship. Having good friends in retirement, they say, is more vital than at any other time in their lives.

So what’s the long-term retirement plan for June and Audrey? If today is any indication, there will definitely be no schedule or strategy meetings.

“This morning we laughed so hard when I spilled yogurt,” says June. I was covered in blueberry yogurt right down from my top to my toes; it was seeping into my sandals.”

Therein lies their plan: Always be open, always be grateful, and always look on the bright side of life.