More than a half-dozen Arlington women recently answered the question: What can you say about retirement? Jamie Usrey, who was a teacher in the Arlington County Public School system for 20 years, is hardly letting a lot of grass grow under her feet.
She said, “I feel a little embarrassed when I say I am retired when I look at people who are still working hard … like Hillary Clinton. I am enjoying being able to be outside more — biking, playing tennis, working in the yard, going for walks with friends and taking more trips to see national parks where we can hike through the beauty of nature. I have more time to exercise … love those zumba classes … and read. I love doing Reading Recovery "light" with three kids where I feel I am kind of still 'working' but don't have to go to meetings or write up long reports. I do want to find a way to be more helpful in making our government work better ... next week. Lots to still do and lots to still see.”
Jan Heininger says she is “happier than ever with even more travel, near daily long bike rides, daily mile swims in the summer, and far more time for reading lots and lots of books. I also get to spend far more time at our beach house where I can more easily avoid politics.”
Ruth Neikirk said: “Retire? I never did retire. I stay busy. It’s good to stay busy.”
Karen Smagala said: “I’m busier than I ever have been since retirement, and I’m enjoying life so much more. My blood pressure went down when I stopped working. People who aren’t retired think that retired people have all this time: but I don’t have more time. I had to stop saying ‘yes’ to people who thought I had free time. I do the Master Gardener program and I work at the library in the tool shed two hours a week.”
Sheridan Collins said: “Busier than ever! Docenting at the Textile Museum provides continuing education for the brain, tennis and gym keep me fit, and this year more time on politicking helps maintain a healthy attitude. And then there’s grandmothering requiring lots of travel. All good!”
Mary Lanaras said: “Retirement is like: everyday is a snow day!”
Joanna Cameron said: “Retirement? There is no such word! If you retire, you stop moving, and if you stop moving, you get old. Retirement is just a word signifying that your priorities have shifted to ones that are all about enjoying what you love, getting outside more and relishing the things that make you happy. Staying in motion above all.”
For many women, retirement is a foreign concept: they didn’t necessarily work outside the home earning a salary from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Lanaras worked to home school her children until middle school and helped her husband, Charles, with his real estate business. And then there are people like Flo Broussard, 88, an Arlington resident from 1960 until she moved to Goodwin House a few years ago: she responded by saying: “Retirement?” I’m a lifelong volunteer. I have volunteered for WETA, The White House, Alexandria Hospital, and several other organizations. Then when I ‘retired’ to Goodwin House, I still volunteer, doing plantings and making crafts for sale to benefit local charities.”
And there she was on April 2 at the Rehydration Salts project at Temple Beth El.