It was a decision to which I gave a great deal of thought and prayer.
I talked to lots of people who had gone through the same experience. I asked them how they knew it was the right thing to do at the time they did it.
I carefully considered any and all advice and perspectives. I discussed the matter with the knowledgeable experts of my life and others close to me whose opinions mattered most.
I weighed all that, repeatedly pondered the impact and then retired June 30 from my position of assistant vice chancellor of media relations and communications at Purdue University Northwest.
Before continuing, let me emphasize how fortunate I realize I have been to drive away into the retirement sunset in my own car, so to speak. My dad enjoyed a successful career as a manufacturing plant maintenance supervisor only to “retire” earlier than he desired when his plant became the property of new ownership.
Virtually all of us know of individuals, if not themselves, who had retirement thrust upon them or prematurely activated in response to circumstances beyond their control.
I get that. I get how fortunate I have been to have enjoyed a satisfying career for an employer I admire and respect.
I appreciate having served and fought the good fight with capable, outstanding, hard-working colleagues devoted to doing what’s right, and now I appreciate having been able to walk away on my terms after 32 years.
So what motivated me to retire? The financial issue aside of being confident in my ability to support myself and family during the days I have left on this planet, here’s why retirement made sense to me:
I don’t see retirement as an end, but rather a right turn into the next chapter of a continually fulfilling life. My wife, who also retired this past spring as a teacher in the School Town of Munster, and I are blessed with good health, but nothing is guaranteed. We both felt it was time to seize the moment and cross off a few bucket-list items while we’re happy, healthy and otherwise able.
I also tend to view retirement as a multi-syllabled synonym for change. My plans are not to move from a thriving higher education environment to a hammock or leisure chair. Rather, I want my right turn to get me onto a pathway of new opportunities fueled by time so I can do more of what I want to do when I want to do it, at the pace I desire.
I hope to spend my retirement doing some of the same tasks I did at PNW and as a member of various community organizations. The fact I am writing this piece — and that you are reading it — speaks to those aspects of my former job that continue to fuel a proverbial fire in my belly.
After 43 years as a working professional, including several in the sports department of The Times of Northwest Indiana, I came to conclude my retirement will be an exciting new door of opportunity to pass through if I choose to make it so.
Now please excuse me as I prepare to pass through my garage door to engage a relationship of opportunity with my yard and my lawnmower.