Posted by: susanrmeyer | July 20, 2007

Transformed by Time

Who knew that 62 would be a milepost birthday? Well, I suppose that all birthdays are mileposts in one way or another. What made this birthday such a big deal was a little notice I got in the mail in June. It was from the City of New York. “You are entitled to a payout,” it said, “starting on your 62nd birthday. Please come into our offices to file.”

So here it is – I’m officially retired from the City of New York. I had not expected this to be a marker event. It will be, after all, a very, very small sum. Not a pension. Barely a pe…. I will most certainly not stop working. I have too many projects afoot. I’m having too much fun. I’m YOUNG!!!

And yet … I felt different. I felt old. I felt tired. I felt superfluous. I understand why Brits are not layed off but made redundant. I felt redundant. Nothing in my life has changed except that a very small check will now arrive every month.

I began asking friends who had already retired and was surprised to see how common my feelings were. I spoke to women who retired at 55 and women who retired past 65. They all had the same feeling. Most of them had wonderful plans for post-retirement living. I’m happy to report that some have transitioned to new careers, others are finally spending time with family; some are gardening, some are traveling. One has promised herself that she will do at least one new thing every week. These are all vibrant, energized, interesting and exciting women. And yet, each had that experience of being shelved.

It only took a few days to move back into my busy schedule, to begin planing Fall workshops, to schedule meetings with project partners. But those few days were sad and difficult.

The experience reminded me that transformation is not always pleasant. Our transofrmational experiences are what we make of them. If we do not look for the lessons within each, we may not learn. And that transformation requires more than celebration – it requires great compassion, understanding, and space for grief as well as joy.

I come away from this transformational experience with a renewed commitment to help others through the transitions the 60’s bring. I come away with a better understanding of the need to support transformation in its many forms. To not force joy when there is none, but rather to reach out the hand of friendship, walk with another and wait for that place of serenity or calm or peace or simply willingness to talk. And to listen and cry and then – only then – laugh and wait for joy to arrive.

It will.



  1. Very nice!!

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