Artful Aging


In retirement, step away from the expectations our generation has placed on us to always be busy

I cringe at the word retirement, and try to avoid using it on forms when I am asked what my employment is, or when someone asks what is it that I do? I look sideways at my friends who use the word and want to correct them, asking them not to sell themselves short with such an archaic word. Like when the word ‘girl’ fell out of favor with women over a certain age. But hey, some girls embrace the word like some are trying to embrace the word slut. I don’t even like typing the word slut, but it rolls off my tongue more easily than the word retire.

I gobble up magazine articles that say that getting older does not signal the end of anything, but the beginning of all sorts of new adventures. Every word and shiny product that I read about tells me that no longer working must involve being actively engaged and on the go.

The more I read these kinds of messages, the faster I breathe. Much like when I worked full-time and found myself panting with the need to do more, or be more. When I realized I was doing this again I asked myself, “Why am I still hurrying? Haven’t I done enough of that already?”

Then the great retirement goal was within reach. We were not going to be the generation that sat in a rocking chair in our ‘old age’. We needed to hurry and find our true passions that we hadn’t been able to pursue before. We could travel, work part time, volunteer and contribute to our communities, or pursue what we really wished we had done forty years ago. One of the most overworked phrases of our Zoomer generation is “I’m busier now than when I worked for a living.” We even hurry when we say that. And when we turn to meditation as a way to slow the pace, we look for the faster version. We meditate for five minutes and try to be mindful as we hurry to whatever is next on our daily schedule.

Now our children are being told to ‘lean in’, to reach for the top of the corporate ladder or other career. But I see that my daughters have learned to lean out too. They will say no, I am not going to do that or take that on right now. Maybe they watched their mother and decided that they didn’t need to be like that. Always rushing. Now I too want to learn to lean out, away from the expectations our generation has placed on us to always be busy.

What if we stopped hurrying and embraced the slowness of time and place? What if we really did stay still and quiet during our mindfulness sessions and slowed our pace when we are on the go? Maybe we can pass the baton, and let the young people take over the hurrying now.

Mary Mesheau’s two books: Beyond Me…A Principal Mystery and A Lockdown Murder, written under the name Mary Sawyer, are available on For more of her wonderful humor, visit her blog at