Building a good day in your retirement

NIAGARA, Wis. — I have been retired now for just about four years. I can truthfully say that as much as I looked forward to this time of my life, it has taken some adjustment. Many of you who have made the transition to these retirement years may be experiencing similar feelings. And those of you who are still working, but are thinking about retirement, may also be wondering when the time is right for you to leave the workplace behind.

The biggest adjustment for me was finding meaningful activities to fill my days. The key word in that sentence is “meaningful.” For 28 years I had loved my job and had been proud of my employer. I had tremendous respect for my co-workers. They were all dedicated healthcare professionals who worked tirelessly to care for sick people and to help healthy folks stay healthy. My days were filled with interesting activities and numerous deadlines. Best of all, my job challenged me to use my education and all of my skills. And each day on the job, I felt that what I did made a difference.

At first, it felt great to have no schedule and no worrisome demands from the “boss.” I retired at the end of April so very shortly was surrounded by beautiful weather and plenty of time to give my house a good spring cleaning. Cupboards and closets were reorganized in short order, and I caught up on my sleep. My husband and I were free to take any day off we pleased and fill it with a jaunt to Marquette or with exploration of a place we had never been.

But I soon got caught up on housework; you can only clean so many closets and sort through so many drawers. Retirement started to get a little boring, and the days began to drag. Now what? Also, the realization that I was aging hit home as I began to be challenged by arthritis. I could no longer take the miles-long hikes in the woods or climb the rugged trails I had once enjoyed. After my husband and I climbed Hogback Mountain for the second time, we figured we would be doing that hike at the age of 70. Nope — not gonna’ happen!

Mary Pipher, in her book “Women Rowing North,” talks about building a good day as we age. She states, “How we spend our time defines who we are. There is no magical future. Today is our future… Right up there with the need for oxygen, food, and sleep is the need to have a reason to get out of bed every morning.” And, staying true to one of her recurring themes in this book, all of us have the power to choose to build interesting days. Pipher stresses that each of us has the ability to craft days filled with meaningful activities, satisfying routines, time spent with family and friends, and the ability to cope with stress.

So how do we go about crafting such a day and building meaning into our life once we have retired? Balance seems to be one of the keys. We need to develop a schedule of work that allows us to have smooth-running lives. Chores still need to be done, but we do not have to be slaves to a schedule that keeps us so busy that we miss out on the simple pleasures of friends and family time. As Pipher puts it, “We need space around space. We don’t want too many appointments in one day… We can allow ourselves puttering time and hang-out time. We can mark out appointment — free days in our schedules. Our energy is a valuable resource that must be wisely allocated. Pacing is key.”

Stress management is as important during retirement as it was during our working years. Even though we are no longer working, life can still cause us stress. As we age, we may begin to worry more about our health or the health of loved ones. We may have the demands of care-giving placed upon us. It is very important to find healthy ways to alleviate this stress, and the method chosen will be unique to each of us. Some of us will find relief in solitude while others will find that the company of friends provides stress relief. Some will retire to a quiet corner at home with a good book while others will prefer a ride in the country or a walk through the woods. Whatever the remedy, it is important to find what is both effective and healthy.

Managing expectations is another point made by Pipher. She states that happiness correlates with reasonable expectations and explains that there are two personality types. Minimizers keep their expectations low, and maximizers want every experience to be a little better than it is. My mom was a maximizer who spent so much time anticipating an event that by the time she experienced it, she was disappointed because it never lived up to her expectations. I find myself to be the opposite. I purposely keep my expectations low so I can be pleasantly surprised when things turn out better than I expected.

Living in the present, or relishing the moment, is another skill that can bring more meaning to life in retirement. We can allow ourselves time to really savor the moment in which we find ourselves. I have learned the value of a slower pace in life. I now have the time to watch and appreciate the changing seasons of the year. Watching the buds pop out on the trees, the leaves change color, or the snow cover bare branches brings memories of my younger days or fills me with appreciation that I am still alive to experience the changing seasons. I may not be out hiking the trails, but I can savor those memories as I immerse myself in my surroundings from a park bench. As Pipher put it, “Life becomes so much simpler when we realize we are in no hurry. We can learn when to toss our lists out the window and step into the moment.”

Finally, for me, writing this column every week has given me just enough purpose to fill the professional void left by my retirement. It gives me one deadline to meet each week and challenges me to find a topic of interest to my readers. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoy writing it and that you also find it helpful. As you contemplate retirement, or work to make your retirement meaningful or more enjoyable, I wish for you the ability to build good days for yourselves and to appreciate each moment of time you have left in this life.






Schedule not available.

Iron County 

Medical Facility

Crystal Falls

Sunday: One to one church visitors, 8:30 to 11 a.m.; room visits, 9 to 11 a.m.; reminisce, 10 a.m.; bingorama, 2p.m.; Church of Christ, 3 p.m.

Monday: Crafts, 9 to 10:30 a.m.; exercise, 11 a.m.; room visits, 1 p.m.; bingo, 2 p.m.; sunshine club, 2:30 p.m.

Tuesday: Book club, 10 a.m.; prayer, 10 a.m.; wildlife film, 1:30 p.m.; travel club, 2 p.m.; romance movie, 6 p.m.

Wednesday: coffee social/yoga with Dodie, 10 a.m.; room visits, 1 p.m.; current events, 2 p.m.; night bingo, 6 p.m.

Thursday: Puzzler, 9:30 a.m.; bowling, 10 a.m.; Bible study, 1 p.m.; travel film, 1:30 p.m.; St. Marks church, 2 p.m.; happy hour, 2:30 p.m.

Friday: Crafts, 9 to 10:30 a.m.; casino,9:30 a.m.; exercise, 11 a.m.; pass the prize, 2 p.m.; activity council, 3 p.m.; musical movie, 6 p.m.

Saturday: Room to room bingo/high rollers, 10 a.m.; geri-gym, 11 a.m.; intergenerational social hour, 2 p.m.

Manor Care


Wet your whistle, 9:30 a.m. Sunday through Saturday.

Exercise, 10 a.m. Sunday through Saturday.

Lobby activity, 11:15 a.m. Sunday through Saturday and 4:15 p.m. Monday through Thursday.

Popcorn Day every Friday

Sunday: Just jokes, 10:15 a.m.; company’s coming room visits, 1:30 p.m.; Protestant church, 3 p.m.

Monday: Did you know? 10:15 a.m.; bingo, 2 p.m.; pokeno, 5:45 p.m.

Tuesday: Name 5 game, 10:15 a.m.; crafts, 2 p.m.; movie and manicure, 5:30 p.m.

Wednesday: Table talk, 10:15 a.m.; bowling, 2 p.m.; flip five, 5:45 p.m.

Thursday: Crosswords, 10:15 a.m.; good neighbor bingo, 2 p.m.; crazy for cards, 5:45 p.m.

Friday: All about March, 10:15 a.m.; pokeno, 2 p.m.; movie, 3:15 p.m.

Saturday: Current events, 10:15 a.m.; bingo, 2 p.m.; movie, 3:15 p.m.

Maryhill Manor

Niagara, Wis.

Rosary/communion, 8:30 a.m. Sunday through Thursday.

Sunday: Catholic Mass, 9 a.m.; “Family Feud,” 10:15 a.m.; rummage bingo, 1:30 p.m.; Protestant service, 2:30 p.m.

Monday: Derby day, 10:15 a.m.; nickel jokereno, 2 p.m.; Baptist service, 6 p.m.

Tuesday: Current events, 10:15 a.m.; bingo, 2 p.m.; Yahtzee, 6:15 p.m.

Wednesday: Pictionary, 10:15 a.m.; baking group, 2 p.m.; Bible stories, 3 p.m.; movie and popcorn, 6:15 p.m.

Thursday: Catholic Mass, 9 a.m.; Stations of the Cross, 10 a.m.; parachute, 10:15 a.m.; jokereno, 2 p.m.

Friday: Rosary, 9:30 a.m.; Catholic Mass and Adoration, 10 a.m.; tie blankets, 10:15 a.m.; happy hour with Denise., 2 p.m.

Saturday: Pamper and polish, 10:15 a.m.; St. Patrick’s Day crafts with Northland scholars students, 2 p.m.

Victorian Pines

Iron Mountain

Juice time, 10 a.m. Sunday through Saturday.

Exercise, 11 a.m. Monday through Friday.

Shopping days: 10 a.m. Tuesdays and Fridays, must sign up.

Sunday: Bible study, 2:30 p.m.; refreshments, 3 p.m.

Monday: Bingo, 2 p.m.; refreshments, 3 p.m.

Tuesday: Left-center-right, 2 p.m.; refreshments, 3 p.m.

Wednesday: Flippo, 10 a.m.; chair exercise, 2 p.m.; picture look, 6 p.m.

Thursday: Pastor Jason, 10 a.m.; manicures, 2 p.m.

Friday: Father Timothy, 10 a.m.; trivia, 2 p.m.; reminisce, 6 p.m.

Saturday: Bingo/family and friends visit, 10 a.m.

Florence Health Services

Florence, Wis.

Morning news, 6 a.m. Sunday through Saturday.

Sunday: Bingo/family and friend visit, 10 a.m.

Monday: Bingo, 10 a.m.; uno, 2 p.m.; reading, 6 p.m.

Tuesday: Shopping trip, 10 a.m.; trip to Scandinavia, 3 p.m.

Wednesday: Black jack, 10 a.m.; Ash Wednesday service, 1 p.m.; reminisce, 6:15 p.m.

Thursday: Pastor Jason, 10 a.m.; manicures, 2 p.m.; reading, 6 p.m.

Friday: Catholic church, 10 a.m.; happy half hour, 2 p.m.; reading, 6:15 p.m.

Saturday: Family and friends visit, 10 a.m.

Pinecrest Medical Care Facility


Sunday: Grace church, 10:15 a.m.; sensory, 10:30 a.m.; social circle, 2 p.m.

Monday: Life connections, 9:45 a.m.; busy bee, 12:45 p.m.; song service, 1:30 p.m.; rosary, 2:30 p.m.; Phase 10, 3:30 p.m.; one-to-one visits, 6 p.m.

Tuesday: Employee of the month meeting, 10 a.m.; busy bee, 12:45 p.m.; bingo, 1:45 p.m.; reminiscing, 3:30 p.m.; room visits, 6 p.m.

Wednesday: Social circle, 10 a.m.; busy bee, 12:45 p.m.; movie, 2 p.m.; cards, 3:30 p.m.; one-to-one visits, 6 p.m.

Thursday: Exercise, 10 a.m.; busy bee, 12:45 p.m.; bingo, 1:45 p.m.; cards, 3:30 p.m.; sensory, 6 p.m.

Friday: Catholic Mass, 10:30 a.m.; busy bee, 12:45 a.m.; happy hour, 2 p.m.; cards, 3:30 p.m.; one-to-one visits, 6 p.m.

Saturday: Trivia, 10:15 a.m.; sensory, 10:30 a.m.; bunco, 2 p.m.


Note: All centers ask for 24-hour advanced reservations for lunch. Those who have meals delivered who will not be home should notify the center.

Alpha-Mastodon Center


Meal at noon every Tuesday, Thursday and Friday.

Amasa Center


Open Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

Lunch at noon.

Bingo on Tuesdays.

Free meal drawing on Thursdays.

Menu for the week:

Tuesday: Chop suey, rice, Oriental vegetable blend and lettuce salad.

Wednesday: Barbecue pork on a bun, baked beans and cucumber salad.

Thursday: Pasties, mixed vegetables and coleslaw.

Breen Center


Meals Monday through Friday.

Pasty sale every third Saturday of the month, except on holidays.  

Cards and games available 9 a.m. to noon and 1 to 2 p.m. 

Hostess on duty Monday through Friday.   

Treats and coffee, 8:30 to 11:30 a.m.

Center retail store is open 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Friday; volunteers and donations are welcome.

Birthdays acknowledged every day.

Evening meals are on the first and third Thursday of the month. Salad bar opens at 4 p.m., with dinner at 5 p.m. Donations are $4 for those 60 and older and $5 for 60 and younger.

Menu for the week:

Monday: Smoked sausage, sauerkraut, parslied potatoes and green beans.

Tuesday: Salisbury steak, mashed potatoes, gravy and carrots.

Wednesday: Stew.

Thursday: Night meal: Spaghetti with meat sauce, wax beans and garlic toast.

Friday: Fish or cheeseburger, potatoes and mixed vegetables.

Soup, salad and dessert are offered with every meal. Reservations for meals are encouraged. Walk-ins are welcomed.

Crystal Falls Center

Head cook: Lucy Korhonen


The center is not just for seniors — bring a friend.

Suggested meal donations: $5 if older than 60; $6 if younger than 60; $1 extra for take-out.

To reserve meals, call the Center by 1 p.m. with name and number of people.

All dinners include the soup and salad bar, homemade dessert, tea, coffee and milk.

Open: Monday through Wednesday, 4:30 p.m., soup and salad bar; 5 p.m., dinner.

Mondays: Basket weaving after dinner — all are welcome for dinner and/or class. Beginners can make their first basket with materials provided.

Menu for the week:

Monday: Barbecue chicken and ravioli.

Tuesday: Pork roast, potatoes and carrots.

Wednesday: Chimichangas, chips and dip.

Crystal Lake Center


The center is closed on weekends.

Monday: Woodcarvers, 10 a.m.; Les Artistes Art Club, noon.

Tuesday: Pinochle, 12:30 p.m.; two-person team cribbage, 12:30 to 3:30 p.m.

Wednesday: Spinning Spools Quilters Guild, 1 p.m.; crafters, scrapbookers and others also welcome; knitting and crocheting class, 1 to 3 p.m.

Thursday: Pinochle, 12:30 p.m.; Happy Quilters, 1 p.m.

Friday: Smear, noon.

In addition to home delivered meals, a lunch at the Center is offered every Wednesday from 11:45 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. along with two evening meals each month. Meals cost $5 for those younger than 60 and a $4 donation for those older than 60.

Home delivered meal menu for week:

Monday: Pizza casserole, Italian blend vegetables and breadstick.

Tuesday: Bratwurst, baked beans and winter blend vegetables.

Wednesday: Chili, cornbread and side salad.

Thursday: French toast, scrambled eggs and spiced applesauce.

Friday: Tuna salad sandwich, coleslaw and string cheese.

Any questions regarding the home delivered meal program at this Center can be directed to Christine McMahon at 906-774-2256

Wednesday: Noon meal at Center is chili and salad bar.

Transportation is available from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Call 906-282-0492 or 774-2256. Rides are $3 for age 60 and older, and $3.50 for younger than 60. 

Felch Center


Meals served at 11:30 a.m. Monday through Wednesday.

Bingo after lunch on the first and third Wednesday of each month.

Menu for the week:

Monday: Breakfast biscuit, hash browns and fried apples.

Tuesday: Lasagna, garlic bread and green beans.

Wednesday: Barbecue, oven browned potatoes and peas.

Aging and Disability Resource Center ADRC of Florence County, Wis.


Director: Tiffany White

Suggested donation for seniors older than 60 is $4 per meal. Residents younger than 60 must pay $7. Reservations and cancellations are needed 48-hours in advance.

The ADRC can assist area seniors and those with disabilities with transportation Monday through Friday. Transportation reservation should be made with meal reservation.

Menu for the week:

Monday: Parmesan chicken breast, au gratin potatoes, stewed tomatoes and fruit.

Tuesday: Taco pasta salad, corn bread and fruit salad.

Wednesday: Turkey sandwich, mashed potatoes, broccoli, fruit and blueberry pie.

Thursday: Split pea and ham soup, grilled cheese sandwich, lettuce and tomato and fruit.

Friday: Vegetable lasagna, dark green salad, garlic bread and fruit.

Fence Center/Town Hall


For meal reservations, call 855-528-2372

Meal served Wednesday only with the same menu as listed under ADRC of Florence County. Reservations are requested. Cribbage and cards are available.

Florence Community Center/Town Hall

For meal reservations, call 715-528-4261

Home-delivered meals are available. Meal is served at 11:30 a.m. at this center Monday through Thursday, with the same menu as listed under ADRC of Florence County.

Tipler Town Hall

For meal reservations, call 715-674-2320

Serving lunch at noon on the second Thursday of the month only, with the same menu as listed under ADRC of Florence County.

Hillcrest Senior Dining Center, Aurora

For meal reservations, call 715-589-4491

Meal is served at 11:30 a.m. Monday through Friday, with the same menu as listed under ADRC of Florence County. Transportation arrangements can be made to and from the meal site.

Hermansville Center

Coordinator: Pam Haluska


Meal is at noon Monday through Friday. Suggested donation is $3 for age 60 and older and $7 for those younger than 60. Morning coffee is available daily.

Fifteen games of “fun bingo” are played each Tuesday and Friday, along with a 50-50 drawing.

Tuesday: Bingo, 12:45 p.m.

Wednesday: Cards played in the afternoon. Call ahead to see if a game will be going on.

Friday: Bingo, 12:45 p.m.

Monday through Friday: Walking in the gym, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. A treadmill also is available.

Enjoy friendly interaction with other crafters.

Iron River Center


Meals served 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Monday through Wednesday; a $4 donation is encouraged from those 60 and older, and a $5 payment is required from those younger than 60. Thursday meal, 3:30 p.m. soup, 4 p.m. salad bar, with dinner 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. Home-delivered meals are available — call 906-774-2256 ext. 235 or ext. 230.

Menu for the week:

Monday: Pizza and cottage cheese.

Tuesday: Ham, scalloped potatoes, carrots.

Wednesday: Sweet and sour chicken, rice and Oriental vegetables.

Thursday: Lasagna, cauliflower and garlic bread.

Niagara Northwoods Senior Cafe and Center

Meal site manager: Corrie Maule, 715-251-1603

Senior center director: Jill Anderson, 715-251- 4154

Noon meals served Monday through Thursday. Transportation is available to the meal site for those living in the Niagara, Wis. area. Any senior groups who would like to use the meal site as a meeting place are welcome — join us for lunch then stay for a meeting or social time. Wii games, cards, puzzles and board games are available to play. 

Other activities are in the works — suggestions are always welcome. 

Norway Center

Director: Susie Slining


Monday through Thursday: Meals served at noon, with salad bar. Soup also is available at 11 a.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Milk, juice, bread, fruit, tea and coffee served daily. Meal donation is $5. Reservation for the meal should be made in advance.

Two special-themed meals take place each month on Tuesday, with bingo, prizes and a 50-50 drawing.

Two evening meals offered at 5 p.m. on the first Monday and third Wednesday of the month, with bingo, prizes and a 50-50 drawing.

Wednesday: Blood pressure clinic from 11 a.m. to noon

Menu for the week:

Monday: Noon meal: Tater tot casserole, peas, salad bar, fruit, juice and dessert 5 p.m.: Company chicken, mashed potatoes, gravy, vegetables, soup and salad bar and dessert.

Tuesday: Daylight Savings Time dinner: Cheese ravioli, green beans, Italian sausage, soup and salad bar, fruit, juice and dessert.

Wednesday: Hot chicken salad over noodles, carrots and onions, salad bar, fruit, juice and dessert.

Thursday: Beef enchilada with vegetable toppings, beans, rice, soup and salad bar, fruit, juice and dessert.

Cards are played daily after the noon meal.

Craft and exercise classes: Mondays and Thursdays.

Ceramic and art classes: Wednesdays.

Sagola Center


Meals: Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, 11:45 a.m. Cards: Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Commodities every other month and quarterly commodities are every three months. A puzzle table is available to enjoy. Volunteers are always welcome. 

Note: The center welcomes back their cook this month. Meals will begin again on March 10.


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