Years ago, it seemed like a dream. Being a small business owner, would I ever be able to turn the page on that chapter of my life? Well, through the grace of God, hard work, diligent financial strategizing and a lot of wishing, hoping and praying, I made the leap – later than what I dreamed and sooner than I expected. Now what do I do? My retirement benchmark was my Dad’s retirement. I remember the day so clearly, so clearly in fact that it might just have been yesterday rather than 1985. I received a panic call from my Mother. “You won’t believe this. It can’t be happening. What will I do?” she said and my mind started to race.  Who died? What black plague had descended upon that row home in South Philly? What member of our family, a very colorful one I might add, did what to whom, when and how did they get caught? Questions like these streamed through my mind while my Mother talked and sobbed simultaneously. When she finally took a breath I asked, “Mom, what happened?”  She paused and in between sobs said “Your father retired! He came home last night and announced that he retired! What will I do?”  WHEW…no calamity!

 A little about my Dad. The first to graduate college, he tolerated a short-lived career as a high school history teacher. He left after less than a year for his sanity but more so for the safety of the students. He just couldn’t understand why they weren’t excited about medieval wars and ancient Rome. His next career – a car salesman!  His knowledge of cars included how to drive them and how to curse at them. Despite everything, he was successful for the 45 years he sold Buicks. He provided a good life for our family including putting my brother and me through 4-year colleges in which we boarded. In the early part of his ‘sales’ career, he worked from 9 am to 4 pm with a short break for dinner, and then back to work until 9 pm. He did this 6 days a week, and a half-day on Sunday.  He was a man we recognized more from the pictures around the house than the person himself. A great man, a good provider and, for the most part, a missing husband and father and now, someone who would home, 24/7. I’m happy to report that after several months of adjusting, my parents settled into a comfortable routine…Mom upstairs and Dad in the basement where he enjoyed his cigars, the Philadelphia Eagles and his Scotch.  They stayed married, sane and best friends until his passing in 1991.

  Now I’m facing retirement. My story is different from my Dad’s. At 40, I married for the 2nd – and last time might I add. At the same time, I became the stepmother to a beautiful 14 year-old daughter, Jacki. She was potty-trained – a good thing however she was FOURTEEN. My husband Jeff & I were building our dream home and I was starting a business. Obviously, I’m a true believer in multi-tasking! Everything was planned with the exception of starting a business.  It sort of evolved when I became a ‘displaced executive’ or fired however you’d like to describe it and was encouraged by the two most influential people in life, my husband and my mother, to ‘do my passion’. When Jeff suggested that I start my business, I thanked him for his support, rolled my eyes and called my Mom. She agreed with Jeff. However, it was her closing comment that started my entrepreneurial journey. She said, “What’s the worst that can happen? You’ll have to go back and work for someone? Don’t look back on your life when you’re 65 and say maybe it would have worked.” She was 65 when she gave me that sage advice. So with a lick and a prayer, RCTaylor and Associates was born. It worked. I sold the business 24 years later…and it continues to this day under the new owner. Thanks, Mom.

 So what to do in retirement? After moving into a 55+ community I traded my briefcase for bocce, my car for a golf cart, writing proposals for playing pinochle and business meetings, volunteer work, and that was just in the first year! Retirement has given me more time to do all the activities I whined about not doing because of work. More time to try different things. More time for naps. More time for family and friends. More time to appreciate all my past and present blessings. More time to ‘give back’. More time to live life.  I now wear nothing but elastic, and every day when I wake up it’s Saturday.

 In the words of Bill Waterson, creator of Calvin & Hobbs, when you retire “There’s never enough time to do all the nothing you want.”  Amen.

A Niggle

“What do you want to be when you grow up?” is a common question asked of kids. Research shows that today’s kids have many of the same answers we had – a doctor, a nurse, a dancer, a policeman, a fireman, and a teacher. There also were other answers that were quite different. A video game designer, a master distiller, an internet blogger, a professional bridesmaid, a Walmart cashier and a paleontologist…that’s someone who studies dinosaurs…I had to look it up.

I don’t remember what I wanted to be. However, I was told, since we had so many doctors in the family, I should look to medicine…and I did, majoring in the sciences. My first job right out of college was in a hospital. There I learned I didn’t like the sight of blood, illness made me sad, and I couldn’t pronounce half the terms. Out went medicine and in entered accounting. That lasted less than a year – just about the time I got debits, credits and balance sheets all figured out. Sigh.

Next job stop – a customer service center. I struck pay dirt. I loved the job and was good at it. Calming upset customers, solving problems and leading a team came naturally to me. But there was still a ‘niggle’ in the back of mind telling me that something was missing. That ‘niggle’ gained form years later when, as a corporate trainer, I started writing programs for our clients. It was at the computer, when designing a program, that I felt the most alive, productive and, yes, happy. You see, I love to write. It only took 30+ years for me to discover what I wanted to be when I grew up – a writer, publishing the next great American novel.

To prepare for the accolades I was sure would follow, I took on-line, classroom and self-taught writing courses. Four outcomes: a great title; a half-finished business book; a fabulous plot that would make even the most successful authors green with envy; and a cookbook. No great novel. One day, I received great advice from someone who has written and published over 15 books. WRITE. JUST WRITE. It doesn’t have to be good. It doesn’t have to make the NY Times Best Sellers list, it just has to be YOU. That’s how the for the Love of…series began. I realized that my ‘niggle’ was sharing stories accumulated over the years. Stories that would bring a tear to your eye, a laugh to your belly or an idea to your head. Stories that inspired.

Recently, while playing cards with three retired, smart, and card savvy women, one mentioned that she always wanted to write a child’s book. She is one of many people I’ve spoken with who has a life-long ‘niggle’. Unsolicited advice – “Just Do It”. Don’t let self-doubt, inaction or thinking it’s too late, the three main reasons people don’t pursue a dream, stop you from releasing your inner ‘niggle’.

My next ‘niggle? Learning Calligraphy.