What retirement means to me?

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What Does My Retirement Mean to Me?

By Catherine Lopez-Brown

After being retired for two years, I began to feel like I needed to have a purpose in life.  What am I going to do with all the education and training I worked so hard to get for the last 35 years?  I climbed the mountain to become a teacher and now it seems like something is missing.  I had a mission before, to teach my students well.  Being retired now and having lunch with friends is not enough.   

As a very young child, I loved creating clothes for my dolls.  I don’t think I knew what a fashion designer was but as I grew older and started making my own clothes for school. I learned to create beautiful clothing that was inexpensive.  My sister and I had one of a kind outfits made from Simplicity patterns and the fabric of our choice.  We were lucky to live on a farm with seven acres of apple trees. My mother would sell a couple of bushels of apples and then we would go to TG&Y to buy fabric.  I loved the way new fabric smelled and I loved the feel of the fabric in my hands. I loved having the prettiest clothes at school.

I was always very shy.  I don’t think I talked to anyone.  I joined 4-H when I was very young, at about age eight.  I stayed in 4-H until I was eighteen.  I learned to sew and cook, yes!  But more importantly I learned to talk!  I gave speeches and talks called demonstrations.  I was chosen one of five in the state of New Mexico to go to a 4-H Youth Conference in Washington, D. C., when I was sixteen.  I was from a small town.  I went shopping in Albuquerque for school clothes once a year.

I didn’t want to get married out of high school, because I didn’t want to be trapped.  I wanted to see the world.  I went to NMSU for three years.  Then I did get married and had two wonderful sons who are married now and wonderful sons of their own.  I divorced their father after seven years of marriage and raised my boys alone, finished college with a teaching credential. 

When I graduated from college, I used my tax refund check and went on a European vacation.  I visited ten countries in eighteen days.  I saw the Northern Lights in Lucerne, Switzerland, swam in the Mediterranean Sea, went on canal boat and was sung to in Venice.  I climbed the highest castle tower in Segovia, Spain. 

Most days though, I spent going to school each day with a smile because I loved teaching and taking my boys to baseball and football practices and games.  One spring day I was invited to climb a mountain with a group of high school students.  I climbed highest peak of the Organ Mountains!  I was surprised to see a carpet of ladybugs at the top.  I didn’t want to go to the top.  I begged them to come back for me, I made it.  I was very sore for two weeks and had to pluck out 100 little cactus thorns in my arms.  I was wearing long sleeves.  I was amazed that I could do it.

Retirement allowed me to return to those childhood memories.  Retirement gave me the freedom to explore the more creative areas of my brain. At first, I wrote a short book about each of my seven grandchildren and made up lively adventures.  Then I started volunteering at a charitable organization.  I had the idea that I could teach people who were out of a job how to be an entrepreneur, but I had different people each time. 

I kept going to look at the closet full of beautiful fabrics I collected over the years waiting to become beautiful creations, just waiting for me to start my new business.   I started making decorative carpet bag backpacks and tried selling them on ESTY.  I sold one, gave away six.

Now I have the time and the freedom to take business classes and start my own business. I learned how to create a website, ordered business cards, and wrote an elevator speech.  I intend to sell the clothing I create for an underserved market.  When I go shopping I notice that there’s not much variety for people over the age of 55. The clothing styles are either too low in the cleavage, see-through, tight and are limited to different varieties of plaid for men. 

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