My Retirement

I’m planning to take an early retirement from the library on July 31. I’ve always loved my job, and still do to very much, however I admit that I am running short on new ideas, or more serious than that—motivation to plan and execute—for the 150 programs I put on each year, which make up half of my job.

But that's not why I'm retiring. Since 2009, I’ve been focusing more seriously on my writing, which I do during my free time, almost all of which occurs on weekends. Since 2009, I’ve been attempting to work a 45-hour week PLUS put in an additional 15-20 hours working on a book.

Not surprisingly, that kind of schedule is unsustainable for the long haul, and especially at my age. I’ve gained weight; I’ve developed blood pressure issues. I’ve sacrificed having a house that’s as clean as I would like. My quick dinners are less nutritious than I would like (true words from a former dietitian).

I’ve pretty much given up my hobbies of reading for pleasure and scrapbooking. The one thing I have not and will not sacrifice, though, is time with hubbie, friends and family. There’s always an abundance of that each and every week. With my large family, there is sometimes  too much. (I’m not seriously complaining about that. I am truly blessed.)

Last October I requested, and was granted, the opportunity to reduce my hours to 32/week. I wanted to see if the extra day would make a significant difference. It didn’t. It made my schedule a little more workable, but not enough to satisfy my growing desire to work full time at my writing.

Over the next five years, when I will reach official retirement age, I want to see if I can break through that “tough nut to crack” that is the world of traditional publishing and my preferred route. 

I made the decision to retire on March 1, my husband’s 60th birthday. It’s also when our income tax is due. Because farmers don’t get a monthly paycheck, no money is being withheld month-by-month. We pay it in a lump sum on March 1st. We don’t have a problem with it. We’d rather keep our money than have the government withhold more than it should and give it back later. We’re not into giving the government an interest-free loan. Enough on that.

My husband has always kept tight total control over our finances, and frankly, I haven't minded being spared the burden of paying bills.

When I signed the income tax forms, it became clear to me that we could probably manage without my income.

The decision was revolutionary for me, although its coming was agonizingly protracted and painful.

I would be giving up a good income, retirement, and health insurance benefits. I would also be giving up daily contact with the staff who run the library—my dozen or more lovely, lovely friends, as well as contact with my many storytime moms and kids. I would be giving up the security of an easy job and guaranteed paycheck for the insecurity of something whose ultimate result is unknown.

I don’t know if I have the talent to be published traditionally. I do know that spiritually, energetically, I am a tiger. I'll give it all I’ve got for at least five years.

That’s the bargain I made with myself, and my husband: I would leave one job and on the next day, begin my new, 40-hour/week job as a writer. I will continue to consider myself fully employed, at least until traditional retirement age. If I’m lucky, I’ll actually be employed again by then and finally fulfilling my life’s ultimate dream.

Since deciding on March 1, I’ve been through a roller coaster of emotions. At work, Summer Reading is right around the corner. But when that enormous but fun project is done at the library, so am I. Whoot. Whoot.

So far, my decision has been unbelievably liberating for me.  


  1. Hope your retirement is productive and happy, Cathy! Sure you'll be missed, but life must be lived. :)

  2. Congratulations! I did the same a few years ago and am now close to getting a publishing deal. It took me a while to separate 'work' from 'hobby' writing, but it's worth it. Good luck, Reb

  3. Thanks for the encouragement, E.J.
    Rebecca, that's wonderful news for you. Congrats! I hope to follow in your footsteps.

  4. Cathy, I'm so excited for you! You really are a tiger, and you will do great things.

  5. Sounds like you've weighed both sides with a great deal of thought--and have made the best decision for you. Congratulations! And best wishes. Cheering you on as you transition from one career to another :-)

  6. Congratulations on your retirement decision, I'm sure it was a tough one to make.
    Sorry to hear about your Mother.

    Keep us posted!


  7. Congratulations on your early retirement! Enjoy it, and enjoy your new post-retirement job as a full-time writer :) Here's to many writing successes!

  8. I'll miss being able to drop in and say hi, Cathy, but -- full speed ahead to you!

  9. CONGRATULATIONS!! Oh - I am so excited to hear about this next five year journey.

    I actually told my principal that I plan to retire May, 2015. So...three more years and I shall join you. I am hopeful to practice my writing in these three years, and perhaps develop a few possible manuscript ideas of my own.

  10. I'm glad you're happy with the decision you made, Cathy. The retirement phase is one of the treasured junctures in a person's life. Here, you can discover new passions and spend more time with the ones you love. I wish you a fun-filled retirement. Cheers!

  11. Congratulations on your decision to retire. I can't wait to see what the next few years will bring for you as you begin your new job as a writer (full time)!

  12. I hope your early retirement has been what you wanted it to be. It is good that you and your husband are great in handling the finances because that’s one of the more important aspects you have to manage when you finally retire. Well, how far along are you with your book? And have you taken up the hobbies you wanted to do, like reading and scrapbooking?

  13. Retirement may be the happiest day of your life, since you'd get to enjoy what you have saved and invested money for. But it would also mean you'd leave the job you have always loved. On the plus side, you deserve to have fun and relax after years and years of working hard. Live the dream. And I second that 'whoot-whoot!' LOL!

    Melody Rosenbaum


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