Ronni Goes on Vacation
Guest Blogger 2007: Susan Fisher

Guest Blogger 2007: Frank Paynter

[EDITORIAL NOTE: While I am away speaking at the Gnomedex conference in Seattle and then off to Oregon for a few days vacation, several excellent elderbloggers agreed to fill in for me as guest bloggers.

It has become tradition over several years and trips now that Frank Paynter of listics always contributes. Today his story is titled I Could Be Handy Mending a Fuse…. Please make him welcome with lots of comments and visit his blog too.]

The older I get the more people ask me about "retirement," and the less satisfactory seems my glib answer that "I took an early retirement in the sixties and now I'll have to work until I die."

Right now I'm winding down a long term contract with a customer who had begun to seem like an employer instead of a client. The parting is a good thing for me. I was less and less engaged doing things that interested me there. But as has always been the case over the last ten years of my consulting practice, I'm faced with the question, "What will I do next?"

I'm sixty-two and Beth is not much younger. Right now, with both of us working we're not rich but we're comfortable. If we can count on our savings not being incinerated in a massive inflation and also count on a Social Security benefit that includes medical coverage, we should be able to do okay when we actually do retire at the age of 65 or 66 or later.

I have three or four projects in front of me, but I'm trying to figure out how to monetize any of them. There's the children's book about the disappearing cat. When I've finished writing it and Christine has illustrated it we may have a few bucks to split between us. Coffee money.

There's my little tech service start-up idea that might turn into a decent business if I can sell the service. There's the book on bloggers that has practically written itself and is now just waiting for me to pull it together and submit it to an agent or two. Also I've been thinking about selling stuff on eBay. (Insert smiley face here; I know how vocationally challenged I sound).

I have started hunting for paying work, casting a wide net to find an engagement as a project manager or a planning consultant. I've also started doing some ab curls each morning. One of the cruelest tricks of aging is how my outside appearance has diverged over time from my self-image.

Winston remarked the other day on how as we get older our friends start to look older than us. He had his tongue in his cheek on that one, and I know what he meant. No matter how we joke though, to find work when you look as old and overweight as I do is not often easy.

Add to that the fact that I have some high expectations regarding autonomy and responsibility and compensation, and that I'm competing for work with younger people and it looks even more daunting.

The U.S. has a law against Age Discrimination. Employers can't discriminate against you just because you're over forty. FORTY? Forty is the full bloom of youth. And a lot of employers discriminate against you if you're 62, if only subconsciously.

If your friends wonder about your retirement plans, so does an employer; and, if she's looking for someone for the long haul, well - how much longer can she expect you to haul it?

I think I'm being realistic about my prospects right now. It won't be easy finding the next right thing. But I'm optimistic anyway. There are over six billion people on the planet and we all have needs. Finding a rewarding way to help fill those needs is my next challenge, and that challenge sure beats what I've been doing for a living for the last several months.

[At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Mike Rubbo retells a famous old story that has resonated with him through the decades, titled An Occurrence at Owl Creek.]


With your sense of humor you should try writing a weekly column for your local newspaper. That should add some donut money to go with your coffee money.
I really enjoyed your story. Thanks for a fun jump-start on my day.

Thanks for the mention. An old boss of mine used to say, "Getting old is a bitch, but better than the alternative."

With your divers creative streaks you demonstrate from time to time, I have a feeling your next pursuit will be off the wall you have not yet seen.

Thanks Darlene. Good idea! Winston... regarding my next pursuit being off the wall I haven't seen yet, well -- it will probably be "off the wall" and that's for sure.

I feel like I want to say something wise and funny, Frank. But, honestly, you are a courageous and honest man. Facing your reality and those "abs" crunches with such a young and passionate heart and soul! It sounds like a daunting but exciting time. I hope I'll be close by bearing witness and accompanying your journey, even if it is only to dance from time to time.

I hear you, Frank. I, too, am considering how I want to support myself through my fourth twenty years. I find that it is somewhat daunting.

Hi, Frank. It sounds like you have many more skills than just changing a fuse. Thanks for so eloquently articulating the quandaries and efforts of many boomers to create an engaging, useful, fun "job" to see us through at least 4 score years!

Tamarika... without a 40 hour per week commitment the time available for dancing will certainly be less structured! Mr. AQ and Ms. Snowden, I like this idea of having another twenty years or so. If I see 80, I hope I'm looking ahead to 100.

Shoot for 100 is my motto, as at 50 I figured that was just the first half of life. Sounds like you have lots of talent and skills, so with so many possibilities you're surely bound to connect on one or, maybe even more. Here's wishing you the best.

Winston's comment about friends always looking older reminded me of the time I looked up a college roommate thirty years later. She grabbed me by the upper arms and stared at me intently. I was silent. Finally she asked, "Do you know what I'm doing?" "No," I replied. "I just wanted to see what I looked like," she said.

Some of those irons you have in the fire sound real hot. Good luck.

Good luck and God bless you! I enjoyed your post and would love it if you kept us informed.

To "monetize" my efforts is a goal I have had for years. I keep following my dreams and they don't monetize very all. Thank goodness my husband understands how to monetize. And he hates his job, which is sad.

I wish you the best outcome for your projects and sure hope they'll bring you some income as well. As you Americans say, growing old is not for sissies! I know what I'm talking about as I'll soon be turning 63!

I'm right there on that path (maze) with you. I'm 65 this year, and have closed my micro-business. Last Dec. my group health insurance came in with a 20% increase, I couldn't pay that. Can't have employees with out minimal decent pay/benefits so I downsized the business. I thought I'd be able to hold out for 5 more years. So I'm looking around for some interesting opportunities to do with my accumulated experience/knowledge. Lots of volunteer opportunties, but renumerated are fewer.

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