Only you will know when it’s time to retire

NIAGARA, Wis. — Preparation for retirement — and the actual date upon which that much-anticipated event occurs — mainly focuses on financial considerations. How much money will I need in retirement? How much is enough to live a good life? How long will it take me to save that much? What tools are available to help me save? How fast can I grow my investments? Who should I select as my investment advisor? Certainly, all of these questions are valid and worthy of serious consideration. But they are one-dimensional, in that they consider only one aspect of a person. By concentrating only on financial concerns, the emotional and psychological frontier of retirement remains virtually unexplored.

When I was considering my own retirement, my employer was undertaking a series of cost-cutting strategies, and early retirement offers began emerging as one way of trimming labor costs. From a strictly business point of view, the logic is fairly straightforward: elimination of employees with the greatest longevity is generally elimination of those who are higher paid, which results in a smaller payroll. Three offers were made, and because of my length of service, I qualified all three times. I seriously considered it all three times … and turned it down every time.

In discussing the issue with a good friend, I confided in her that I was not sure what to do. She said something very wise that I have never forgotten, “Since you are having to think so hard about it, you obviously are not ready. When it is time, you will know.” She knew how important it was to be emotionally and psychologically ready for this next big transition to the final stage of one’s life. I came to the realization that I had worked long and hard to carve out a professional career, and I would not end it until I left on my own terms.

The right time came about two years later. It was as though a switch tripped in my brain, and I realized it was time. I found that I was no longer “up” for any new ways of doing things, and that was not fair to my employer. I was simply out of energy. There was no shame in it — just a realization that I had been working somewhere since I was 15 years old, and I was tired. I began the transition with my staff and eventually let it be known that I would retire on May 31, 2016 — 28 years to the day that I had begun the best job of my life. I had intended to just quietly leave that last day, but colleagues asked if I would let them give me a party. It was something I certainly had not expected, but that turned out to become a very happy memory and a lovely way to close the door.

This story of my own decision begs the question — how does one determine when he or she is ready to retire? Research has only begun on this subject, but it is clear that there is a psychological pattern that is similar to the emotional phases of life’s other passages. Mark P. Cussen states in his article on this topic that retirement is the final frontier of life and that retirees must face what is essentially the last transition in their lives. The first transition is when we leave home for school, the next comes when we join the working world, and the final transition is the one to retirement. During the first two phases, our time is governed by the expectations of teachers and then employers, with free time carved from the school or work week. Retirement gives us unlimited amounts of unstructured time that is totally up to us to fill. It sounds great … until you’re in it, and the days loom full of empty time.

Six phases of retirement have been defined and deserve consideration.

Phase 1: Pre-retirement — Planning time. Throughout the working years, retirement can be seen as both an oncoming burden and a distant paradise. On the one hand, we need to keep working hard to save all we can for retirement. We expend so much of our energy working to pay off the mortgage and put our kids through school — and rightfully so — that there is simply no time to consider what we will do when we get to our own finish line. Our energy is spent solving the problems of the day-to-day; retirement remains in the distant haze of an unknown future and relegated to the list of “issues to worry about later.”

Phase 2: The big day: Smiles, handshakes, farewells. This is, by far, the shortest phase of retirement. Everyone takes time to celebrate you, and there is a brief moment of tribute to cap off many years of hard work. Depending upon the tradition within the company, some may leave with gold watches or diamond rings. Some celebrations are less formal and celebrated in the course of a final day that includes cards, punch and cookies — or pizza and beer after work. All contain well wishes for the future. In some respects, experts say, this celebration is comparable to that which marks the beginning of a marriage.

Phase 3: Honeymoon phase — I’m free! Honeymoon periods follow more than just weddings and are often the first step after retirement. The retiree begins to engage in all of the plans he or she dreamed of: travel, hobbies, and visiting relatives top the list. For me and my husband, it was building the big deck onto our house — a project we had planned for 12 years. We kept telling ourselves that we did not have time to sit around on a deck while we were working anyway, so waiting for retirement made sense. We also took some regional jaunts and visited relatives. It has been fun.

Phase 4: Disenchantment — So, this is it? You have saved your money, had the farewell party, and took the trips — now what? Is this all there is? Can you actually start spending that money you saved? This phase corresponds closely to the couple coming to the realization the honeymoon is over, and now they have to actually build a life together. I remember this feeling very well. I had lost the rhythm of my day. While I was working, I was up at 6 a.m., got to work by 7:30, and was busy all day getting through my task list and meeting one deadline after another. Most of my days ended with an exhausted sense of accomplishment, and I went home feeling like I deserved a relaxing evening. I looked forward to weekend plans. Everything ran like a well-oiled machine for years. Now, that engine slowed wa-a-a-ay down, task lists were much shorter and finished much faster, and I was left with a big portion of unstructured day. It was pretty lonely until our best friends also retired. Then we started getting together for lunch on the spur of the moment or starting Happy Hour on the deck at 3 p.m. — on a Wednesday. Suddenly, not having a lot of structure was OK. I am still working on feeling good about spending money unless I have something physical to show for it. Research shows it is important to have a plan that allows you to enjoy the money you have saved and feel good about the time expended doing the things you want to do.

Phase 5: Building a new identity– thankfully, the letdown phase does not last forever, and retirees eventually move into a period where they begin to create a new kind of life. The most difficult aspects of this stage are answering the inevitable questions about oneself without a job. My title is gone by the wayside with my job, so who am I now? What is my purpose? Am I still useful in some capacity? It is very important to first ask these questions of yourself and, second, to find the answers to these questions if you, as a retiree, are to feel a sense of closure from the working days and find true satisfaction in retirement.

Phase 6: Moving on finally, a new schedule emerges, new marital ground rules for time together versus time alone are established, and a new identity has been at least partially created. Eventually, the new landscape becomes familiar territory, and this phase of life can be enjoyed with a new sense of purpose.

I have to admit I am still in the process of finding my “retirement niche.” I have managed to find a rhythm to each month and an appreciation for a nap around 3 in the afternoon — not a long one. Bills get paid, groceries get bought, the house gets cleaned, and laundry is done — each task naturally fits within the same time each month. I read a lot more and spend a lot of time corresponding with family via email. I have begun to appreciate the slower pace. But I found that I did need something more — something to stretch my mind that would allow me to keep doing what I liked best when I was working. About the time I decided I wanted to do some freelance writing, The Daily News called me and offered me this column. So far, it has been just what the doctor ordered.

Also, the increased amount of time spent with a spouse cannot be underestimated. First, it is important to accept that spending more time around each other is going to create friction where there may not have been friction in the past. Again, this mimics the time you needed to get used to each other in the beginning years of marriage. Identify the cause of the friction, tactfully point it out to your spouse or accept it when he points it out to you, and then together find a coping mechanism.

My husband and I have been married for 47 years and have accepted, and eventually appreciated, the fact that we are polar opposites in many areas. During our working years, we were apart a lot because he was on the road with his job. Now, we are together 24/7 and certain differences became irritants. He talks more than I ever believed one person could talk, and I need my quiet time. Solution: if I am in the “reading room” with the door closed, please do not disturb me. We can talk when I come out, but then I cannot limit the conversation. We have one home office and very different work habits — he tends to be a bit more cluttered than I am. So, we established a “clutter-free zone” between our two desks that must stay clear unless a large project is being worked upon. And, the biggie: there is more than one way to accomplish a task; as long as it gets done, it doesn’t matter whose method was used.

We are all creatures of habit. During the working years, certain habits served us well. When retirement arrives, habits need to be changed; we need to flex and compromise. When done with a renewed sense of purpose and a healthy dose of good humor, retirement can be quite a successful and fulfilling adventure.






Scenes and Sounds, 11:45 a.m Sunday through Saturday.

Sunday: Uno, 1 p.m.; dunking donuts, 2 p.m.; church, 2:15 p.m.

Monday: Room visits, 10 a.m.; resident council, 11 a.m.; library cart, 1:30 p.m.; bingo, 2 p.m.; ice cream social, 3 p.m.

Tuesday: Craft, 10:30 a.m.; reminisce, 1:15 p.m.; Kentucky Derby, 2 p.m.; PJ dice, 6:30 p.m.

Wednesday: Room visits, 10 a.m.; rosary, 11 a.m.; bingo, 2 p.m.; movie and popcorn, 3 p.m; afternoon van ride, 4 p.m.

Thursday: Reading buddy,11 a.m.; Bible study, 1:30 p.m.; pokereno, 3 p.m., 2 p.m.; laundry day, 4 p.m.; dinner theater, 5 p.m.

Friday: Mass, 11 a.m.; bunko, 1:15 a.m.; sing along, 2:30 p.m.; happy hour, 3 p.m.

Saturday: Meet and greet, 10:30 a.m.; daily newspaper, 11 a.m.; bingo, 2 p.m.

Iron County 

Medical Facility

Crystal Falls

Room visits: 9 to 11 a.m. Sundays and 1 p.m. Monday and Friday.

Exercise: 11 a.m. Monday, Wednesday, Friday.

Sunday: One-to-one church visitors, 8:30 to 11 a.m.; reminisce, 10 a.m.; afternoon matinee with popcorn, 1:30 p.m.; Church of Christ, 3 p.m.

Monday: Cooking, 9 to 10:30 a.m.; DT luncheon, noon; bingo, 2 p.m.; Sunshine Club, 2:30 p.m.

Tuesday: Book Club, 10 a.m.; Mass, 10 a.m.; mystery ride, 1 p.m.; travel film, 1:30 p.m.; current events, 2 p.m.; action movie, 6 p.m.

Wednesday: Coffee social/animal kingdom, 10 a.m.; monthly birthday party, 2 p.m.; night bingo, 6 p.m.

Thursday: Puzzler, 9:30 a.m.; bowling, 10 a.m..; wild life film, 1:30 p.m.; Presbyterian church, 2 p.m.; happy hour, 2:30 p.m.

Friday: Crafts, 9 to 10:30 a.m.; exercise, 11 a.m.; room visits, 1 p.m.; penny ante, 2 p.m.; activity council, 3 p.m.; comedy movie, 6 p.m.

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



Wet your whistle, 9:30 a.m. daily.

Exercise, 10 a.m. daily.

Movie, 10:45 a.m. daily, and 3:15 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

Gathering place, 11:40 a.m. Monday through Saturday, and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Popcorn Day every Friday

Sunday: Company’s coming room visits, 1:30 p.m.; Protestant church, 3 p.m.

Monday: Did you know? 10:15 a.m.; Marian Linder music, 2 p.m.; po-ke-no, 5:45 p.m.

Tuesday: Trivia, 10:15 a.m.; Wheel of Fortune, 2 p.m.; movie and manicure, 5:45 p.m.

Wednesday: Sharpen your senses, 10:15 a.m.; Paula D. music/monthly birthday party, 2 p.m.; flip five, 5:45 p.m.

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

Friday: Manor Care monthly, 10:15 a.m.; Lucky 13 game, 2 p.m.; chips ‘n’ chatter, 2:30 p.m.

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

Maryhill Manor

Niagara, Wis.

Rosary, 8:30 a.m. Sunday through Friday.

Sunday: Catholic Mass, 9 a.m.; derby day, 10:15 a.m.; bingo, 1:30 p.m.; Protestant service, 2:30 p.m., Christian fellowship, 5:30 p.m.

Monday: Spelling bee, 10:15 a.m.; nickel jokereno, 2 p.m.

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

Wednesday: You be the judge,10:15 a.m.; Jokereno, 2 p.m.; Chaplet of Divine Mercy, 3 p.m.; “Family Feud,” 6:15 p.m.

Thursday: Catholic Mass, 9 a.m.; Scattegories, 10:15 a.m.; help your neighbor, 2 p.m.; concert, Transformation Trio, 6:15 p.m.

Friday: Trivia 10:15 a.m.; happy hour, 2 p.m.

Saturday: Crafts, 10:15 a.m.; pamper and polish, 2 p.m.; movie and popcorn, 5:45 p.m.

Victorian Pines

Iron Mountain

Juice time, 10 a.m. Monday through Saturday

Exercise, 11 a.m. Monday through Friday.

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

Sunday: Coffee clutch,10 a.m.; Bible study, 1:30 p.m.; refreshments, 3 p.m

Monday: Ukulele with Katie, 2 p.m.; refreshments, 3 p.m.

Tuesday: Craft class, 2 p.m.; refreshments, 3 p.m.

Wednesday: Music with Crystal, 2 p.m.; 

Thursday: Communion with Deacon Don,10 a.m.; crosswords, 2 p.m.; rosary, 3 p.m.

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

Saturday: Movie and popcorn, 2 p.m.

Florence Health Services

Florence, Wis.

Morning news, 6 a.m. daily.

Beauty shop open on Tuesday and Thursday.

Sunday: Bingo, 10 a.m.; music with Grace and Dave, 2 p.m.; reading, 6 p.m.

Monday: Bingo with Bette, 10 a.m.; Connect Four, 2 p.m.; room visits, 3 p.m.

Tuesday: Craft, 10 a.m.; music with Larry J., 2 p.m.; pistachio party, 3 p.m.

Wednesday: Bowling, 10 a.m.; alphabet dice, 2 p.m.; trivia, 3 p.m.

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

Friday: Catholic Mass, 10 a.m.; craft, 2 p.m.; happy hour, 3 p.m.

Saturday: Rummy, 10:15 a.m.; one-to-one visits, 10:30 a.m.; social circle, 2 p.m; hangman, 3:30 p.m.

Pinecrest Medical Care Facility


Busy Bee, 12:45 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Sunday: Grace church, 10:15 a.m.; trivia, 10:30 a.m.; Lutheran service 2 p.m.; reminisce, 3:30 p.m.

Monday: Life connections, 9:45 a.m.; sensory, 10 a.m.; song service, 1:30 p.m.; rosary, 2:30 p.m.; sensory, 3:30 p.m.; Yahtzee, 6 p.m.

Tuesday: Life stories, 10:30 a.m.; bingo, 1:45 p.m.; reminisce, 3:30 p.m.; room visits, 6 p.m.

Wednesday: Casino outing, 10:15 a.m.; cards,10:30 a.m.; wine and cheese, 2 p.m.; trivia, 3:30 p.m.

Thursday: Exercise, 10:30 a.m.; bingo, 1:45 p.m.; cards, 3:30 p.m.; one-to-one visits, 6 p.m.

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

Saturday: Hand massage, 10 a.m.; life stories, 10:30; manicures, 2 p.m.; sensory, 3:30 p.m.


Note: All centers ask for 24-hour advanced reservations for lunch. If you have meals delivered and will not be home, 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.

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.

Crystal Falls Center

Head cook: Lucy Korhonen


The center will re-open Monday, March 4, by serving the evening meal. Soup and salad bar at 4:30 p.m., dinner at 5 p.m.

Crystal Lake Center


The center is closed on weekends.

Monday: Woodcarvers, 10 a.m.; mahjong in dining hall, noon; Les Artistes Art Club, noon; bridge club, 12:15 p.m.

Tuesday and Thursday: Pinochle, 12:30 p.m.

Thursdays: Two-person team cribbage, 12:30 to 3:30 p.m.

Tuesday, Thursday and Friday: Billiards, 9:30 a.m.

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

Friday: Smear, 12:30 p.m.

Last Saturday of the month: Music jam starting at 1 p.m. Admission is free. 

Dances take place from 7 to 10 p.m. on the second and fourth Fridays of the month. Admission is $6; coffee is free. 

The Photo Club meets 1 to 3 p.m. on the first Tuesday of the month.  

The kitchen currently is closed due to plumbing issues, and meals are being served at the Breen Center. Christine McMahon has information for all meals and can be reached at 906-774-2256, ext. 235. For transportation, call Buzzin’ Around Town at 906-282-0492. Rides are $3 for age 60 and older, and $3.50 for younger than 60. 

Transportation is available from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. 

Felch Center


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

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

A congregate jigsaw puzzle is done daily.

Aging and Disability Resource Center 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 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.   

Fence Center/Town Hall


Meal at noon Wednesdays only. Reservations are requested. Cribbage and cards are available.

Florence Community Center/Town Hall


Home-delivered meals are available as always. Meal is served at 11:30 a.m. at the center on Friday only. 

The meal site is temporarily closed Monday through Thursday due to a staffing shortage. 

Tipler Town Hall


Serving lunch at noon on the second Thursday of the month.

Hillcrest Senior Dining Center, Aurora


Meal is served at 11:30 a.m. Monday through Thursday. 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 at 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 of Feb. 24:

Monday: Macaroni casserole, peas and carrots, fruit and milk.

Tuesday: Scalloped potatoes, ham, Brussel sprouts, fruit and milk.

Wednesday: Barbecue pork sandwich, potato wedges, baked beans, fruit and milk.

Thursday: Mostaciolli, meatballs, cauliflower, dessert and milk.

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. We welcome any senior groups who would like to use the meal site as a meeting place — join us for lunch and 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. 

Those who have not been at the meal site/senior center are invited to give it a try. Those who haven’t been here in a while are encouraged to come back.

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.

Menu for the week:

Monday: Finnish pancakes with strawberries, sausage, hash browns, muffin, orange juice, salad bar.

Tuesday: End of winter dinner — beef stew, potatoes, roasted vegetables, soup and salad bar, fruit, juice, dessert.

Wednesday: Liver and onions or burger, mashed potatoes and gravy, squash, salad bar, fruit, juice, dessert.

Thursday: Turkey burger on a bun, potato wedges, carrots and onions, soup and salad bar, fruit, juice and dessert.

If Norway-Vulcan area schools are closed due to bad weather days, so is the senior center. If the schools are on a two-hour delay, the center remains open.   

Cards are played daily after the noon meal.

Craft and exercise classes: Mondays and Thursdays.

Ceramic and art classes: Wednesdays.

Puzzles always in the works.

A senior coloring class meets daily. All are welcome. Some materials will be provided.

Telephone reassurance is available for any senior who doesn’t get out much and would like a friendly daily phone check to see that all is well.

Note: File of Life packets available at the center.

Sagola Center


The center will be closed for the remainder of February — the cook is on vacation. It will re-open March 5.

Meals: Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, 11:45 a.m.

Cards: Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

Commodities available every other month and quarterly commodities are every three months. A puzzle table is available to enjoy.

Volunteers are always welcome. 


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