Angel of the North, significant as a focus for evolving hopes and fears.
I guess the day I signed up to my first pension plan, retirement must have been in my mind. Spurred on by the happy retirement enjoyed by own parents after my father retired at 52, as I too approached my fifties I began to mull more and more with the idea of giving up the office ties.
Like so many professional women who graduated from university in the 70's, I believed that I could be Superwoman; have a career, children and a wonderful home life. To some extent everything has fallen into place in that way, but at a cost: the time for leisure has been limited; I missed out on many aspects of my children growing-up; at home we live amongst disorganised chaos and a house badly in need of some tlc; there have been (and still are) times when I am quite simply utterly exhausted.
So three years or so ago, the plan began to hatch. I had to find a way to reduce my working hours and ease myself into retirement mode, with a view to opening horizons that to date I have not had the time to experience. Believe me, I'm not necessarily talking expensive holidays or travel here. Sometimes I would just love the opportunity to rediscover a creative side buried inside me somewhere, assuming that it hasn't all been sucked out by the pedantic nature of all the paper I process on a daily basis.
As a result I retired from the business where I had worked and been an owner-manager for some 30 years and found myself what I hoped would be a less stressful position, working part-time with a view to easing myself out of work and into retirement.
Maybe it's an age thing, but I still get tired and lack time to do all those things (I know not what) that I've denied myself the opportunity for. Perhaps the part-time at 4 days a week isn't sufficiently part-time enough (it's certainly a big improvement on the commitments of running your own business in partnership with others); perhaps I'm just becoming bored with the nature of the work I've now been undertaking for more than three decades. There's also a window of opportunity looming, because our youngest child completes her secondary education next year, hopefully will be proceeding to university and ought no longer to be reliant on us to the same extent. Whatever the cause, and driven on by my husband who is officially old enough to have qualified for a bus pass, the decision has been made - we retire in 2014!
Trouble is that we don't have a plan; we don't know what retirement really entails; we haven't even found the time to properly consider its implications and what we want to do with it. We have our dreams (and our doubts), of course, but the time for serious planning has begun.