Sacramento Bee readers share retirement experiences, advice

Published: Tuesday, Apr. 1, 2014 - 9:27 am
Last Modified: Thursday, Apr. 3, 2014 - 6:29 pm

Retirement defies uniformity and wanders in all directions. What makes one retiree happy and content may make another unfulfilled and miserable. There are similar paths taken, but life after work is mostly a diverse journey. We asked Bee readers about their retirement and below are excerpts from their responses.

Marie Carvidi


Retired 2013, division administrator

“My years in college and retirement share a kinship. In college, I had just the right amount of responsibility, just the right amount of freedom and the whole world in front of me. Trust me, retirement is just like that! Embrace this most exciting gift of time in your life.”

Fran Parker

Fair Oaks

Retired 2009, environmental tech

“Retirement means never having to say you’re a couch potato. After I retired, I got an African Grey Parrot who is the best talker in town. I joined CERT – Community Emergency Response Team – where I learned how to keep ourselves, family and community safe in a disaster. Four mornings a week I have Senior Stretch, which keeps me flexible, and I have 25 new BFFs (best friends forever). Keep your mind and body busy. Get that 20-minute power nap and eat an apple a day! I am lovin’ it.”

Rita Hauf


Retired 2002, telecommunications systems manager

“Do not be afraid! The stress level goes way down after retirement. Are there people you will miss? Have lunch with them as I have done with one group of people for over 10 years. You won’t have to worry about what you’ll do with all the time. My calendar is so full now that some days I need a day off. You can be as busy as you want or relax when you want. It is a grand time of life.”

Marilyn Penland


Retired 2000, communications technician

“If you look around for something to love, your days will fill up so much you won’t even have the time to miss work. We chose to retire here, relocating from Sonoma County. Our friends thought we were nuts. We soon realized that Sacramento has so much to offer. My husband bikes, we go to shows, and to the many good restaurants. We were amazed at how many restaurants there are until we realized that all those politicians and lobbyists need to eat somewhere. I volunteer at the Casa Garden Restaurant and we both belong to the Renaissance Society. If you’re bored in Sacramento, you don’t have your eyes open.”

James Critchfield


Retired 2005, unit manager

“Don’t sit at home waiting to die, volunteer! I sat around for two years getting really bored. So my wife said to come to Kaiser hospital and volunteer in the GI Clinic. I’ve been there eight years and it’s great. I love working with all the patients and the smart young doctors and nurses. I also go to Zumba workouts three times a week. One of the best things about retirement is I don’t have to shave every day.”

Cathy Keil


Retired 2006, sales

“When I retired, I immediately wrote out a list of classes I wanted to take at the local community college. One by one, I enrolled and completed most of those classes. I started with horticulture, moving on to creative writing and ceramics. I found my passion in sculpting and haven’t quite been able to return to the rest of my list. I am vice president of Placerville Arts Association and chair two of the committees. Is this a second career? Perhaps. I have most assuredly found my passion and it just doesn’t get any better than this.

“We retired in our late 50s after working in careers that we both loved; my husband a pharmacist and me in sales. We planned for our retirement early on in our careers and were faithful to those plans. We are now quite comfortable and are able to travel as much as we want. We enjoy our children as they lead their own comfortable lives, working in their chosen careers and raising our four grandchildren.”

John Tinker


Retired 2012, MRI tech

“Give it some time. Practice retiring before you retire. I’m enjoying the second cup of coffee in the morning and not having to rush.”

Linda Petta


Retired 2011, meeting planner

“Sacramento is a great location for retirement! Take a day or one-night trip to Lake Tahoe, San Francisco, Santa Cruz or Monterey. Drive up or down the beautiful California coast. So many wineries and not enough time! There are great day trips to Napa, Sonoma or all the great wineries in Amador County. Take a wonderful walk along the American River Trail, visit Old Town or the Crocker Art Museum. Have lunch with old friends or catch the latest movie on Senior Mondays.”

Wendy Carlson


Retired 2012, teacher

“Work until you are no longer enjoying getting up every day, going in to face another day. That is what I did. Now that my husband and I are retired, he can golf every day, I can train my dog and the two of us can attend musical presentations during the week at the Community Center and Memorial Auditorium. We can take drives when we desire to see things such as a covered bridge, Folsom Lake or go to sports events such as the River Cats. We could not do these things before we retired because of the long hours we put in at work. I personally got up every morning at 4:30 a.m. and didn’t leave my classroom until 4:30 in the afternoon. I was too exhausted to do anything else in the evenings and had housework to do on weekends.”

Crane Walden


Retired 1988, distilled spirits

“When I retired I had been working and living in the Bay Area. Traffic was exceptionally bad. My wife and I looked at several retirement locations and decided the Sacramento area had all that we were looking for: a reduced cost of living, good weather (except for a few hot days in summer), excellent medical and hospital services and easy access to the mountains and seashores.

“Strongly consider volunteer work. I served two rewarding terms on the Placer County Grand Jury and learned more about county and city governments and schools, libraries and jails than I could have any other way. There are volunteer opportunities in almost every field of interest. Often you can tailor volunteer hours to your personal liking. There may be opportunities to volunteer at your place of worship. I became a lay reader at my church, was later asked to preach, and now aspire to become an ordained deacon. It’s been said that when you find something you really like to do, it is more like fun and play than a job. I have enjoyed the company of a great many people who became good friends along the way. That is something not to be missed!”

Earl Hamilton


Retired 2008, U.S. Air Force

“It takes around six months to settle down and figure out what to do with all the free time. It’s very important to have several things that interest you and that you like to do. You can get bored very quickly with no hobbies or goals. Balance your finances like your life depended on it because it does. Get involved in a charity or volunteer group and you’ll meet new people who share your interests. It’s a great way to make new friends. Find something physically constructive to do. Somehow I found out I really enjoy working in my garden. It’s very peaceful and relaxing. You must also change your diet and exercise even more. We slow down a lot from out former busy lives and the pounds will pile up very quickly. Your retirement is a blessing from God. Give back to those less fortunate.”

Vivian Sarte

Elk Grove

Retired 2011, administrator II

“I enjoy the freedom to do things I wasn’t able to do when I was working, to get up whenever I want to, to socialize more, and, most of all, to enjoy my family, especially the grandkids. Sacramento is a city big enough to do a lot of things yet small enough that I don’t need to drive an hour or so to meet with family and friends. I can do a lot of things in downtown, stroll around the Capitol, dine, shop, take visitors to Old Sac, the Capitol, Sutter’s Fort etc. The parks in Sacramento are great!”

Tom Watson

Rio Vista

Retired 2012, federal government

“I left this ‘Out of Office’ message on my government computer for 30 days, until I walked out the door: ‘To ALL, after 43 years of Federal Civil Service to my country, I’m gone as I terminate my employment on Aug. 3 to pursue a more rewarding lifestyle which I intend to enjoy for at least the next several years. It is with much pleasure that I announce that it is time to pursue several interests on my bucket list:

• “Learn to dance with my wife.

• “Learn to speak Spanish.

• “Ride a bicycle to Sacramento.

• “Play racquetball and volleyball, again.

• “Be a docent at a museum.

• “Do 10 other things that I haven’t thought of doing yet!

“C’ya on the other side ...”

Durrell Appel

Elk Grove

Retired 2008, staff associate with AT&T

“When I decided it was time to retire I wanted to make sure I retired! I didn’t want to pick up another job. Why leave the old one where you’re making ‘top pay’ and start back at minimum wage? The best thing I love about retirement is I don’t have to fight traffic going into work or coming home! And now, when it’s nasty out, I stay in. I don’t have to worry about accidents! It is a very scary step to take, but now I am so busy that I am hardly at home! How did I do what I did while I was working?”

Linda McElroy


Retired 2013, analyst

“I thought I would be in a rhythm by now (after years of a state job structuring my rhythm), but I am coming to the conclusion that flexibility is the new rhythm! For me, working out is a priority so wrapping that activity around the errands of the day helps create my structure. I also am helping family members out and appreciate the time I now have available to do that. So my advice is to be open to possibility and be flexible.”

George Nyberg


Retired 2013, TV director

“Develop a routine that includes exercise and stick to it. The older we get the more important it is to stretch and exercise on a regular basis. Also, give something back to your community by volunteering. Find something you enjoy and share your time and knowledge.

“Sacramento is a great place to recreate. I spend a lot of time on the American River Parkway, running and bicycling. I enjoy the peace and tranquility of this majestic place.”

Gail Hulse


Retired 2004, elementary school teacher

“If you don’t have hobbies, get one (some). After adjusting to being ‘free’ 24/7, find a way to structure your day so that it doesn’t waste away. Take time for exercise, learning something new, volunteering and spending time with family and friends.”

George Perkins

Rancho Cordova

Retired 2007, construction

“My most enjoyable thing in retirement is not being caught in rush hour traffic. It’s also great to eat breakfast and drink my coffee slowly and be able to read the whole Sac Bee newspaper before having to run out to work. My wife and I also enjoy our workouts at the gym when it’s not crowded. Our pleasant weather here makes it great for working in the yard, going for walks and taking car and motor scooter rides. We now get to take greater part in our various club and church activities.”

Ron Byrd


Retired 2001, database consultant

“We live downtown (we started in Lincoln at Del Webb’s but found it boring). Love to walk the streets just to see what’s going on and run and bike the American River bike trail. Plus, I enjoy the usual amenities of urban living, Sacramento weather and shade trees. My wife takes Amtrak almost weekly to San Francisco where she volunteers as a docent at Asian Art Museum.”

Gretchen Vogel

Fair Oaks

Retired 2002, communications technician

“I came into work one day and was offered an early retirement package and was gone in less than six months. I had no time to build any relationships with people who may share my same interests, and I find it very difficult, now that I am retired, to connect with anyone socially. Before retiring, try to find a hobby or activity you may want to pursue in retirement. Then take some classes, try to connect with people at work or a club or group who may also want to pursue the same activity. My passion was food and wine, but I can’t eat and drink all the time. I was never the athletic or crafty type, but I do wish I had tried to find an activity I liked and maybe someone who liked it also. My husband loves cars and has a garage full of projects. Going to American River College’s cooking school for lunch is a real yawner for him. I love it!”

Naomia Gould


Retired 2005, human resources

“If you have less than a year, maybe even two years to go before retiring, stop buying work clothes. Actually, stop buying anything that you don’t really need. Avoid the gotta-have-it-just-because frame of mind and save those dollars. Start downsizing, getting rid of stuff you don’t need. Selling these items may give you extra dollars to add to your retirement fund. Think about what you’ll do with your spare time, whether it is volunteering, social activities and hobbies or traveling, exercise and catching up with old friends. It can get boring at times so seek out events and activities to stay active. And, save, save, save.”

Debra Kapitan


2012, administrative assistant/law enforcement

“My husband, Jack, retired in 2011 after 40-plus years in the automotive business and flying air cargo for a UPS-contracted company. I retired in 2012, after 37 years of state business, primarily in law enforcement. The first six months that he was home alone allowed him to acclimate to our Active Adult (55+) Community and have dinner fixed for me every night when I got home. Then came my retirement. I’d always been home about 1 1/2 hours before him and always did the dinner thing so we were kind of lost. He now plays golf with his guy friends every Tuesdays and Fridays (weather permitting) and we workout together every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. I have also taken up Hawaiian hula dancing on Monday and Wednesday afternoons. Retirement is absolutely GRAND! We HIGHLY recommend it!!!”

Connie Donohue


Retired 2012, senior information systems analyst

“Have a plan. For example, I wanted to start hiking again. Since my husband and I have retired, we’ve gone on several beautiful hikes within California. If you can’t afford big vacations, go on little ones and two-day trips. Most important, STAY BUSY. As most say, I am busier now than when I worked. Stay social.”

Barbara Fox


Retired 2012, microbiologist

“If retirement is a planned-for event, it is easier than being an unexpected consequence of being laid off rather late in your career. It does, however, get easier and the prospect of more free time than you could have imagined becomes less daunting. Slowly, old, and newly found, interests and friends become a great source of satisfaction and joy. Volunteering satisfies the need to help others and give back to the community and society. Keeping fit, travel, and reading all contribute to a satisfying life, post retirement. Follow your bliss. We have earned it.”

Phil Youngdahl

Citrus Heights

Retired 2008, business owner/salesman

“Stop buying things and start enjoying what you have. Be able to say, ‘Yes,’ whenever a friend wants lunch, dinner, golf or a vacation somewhere. Go see your relatives. Meet them in San Francisco. Help your children and grandchildren. Take the RV to the beach. Play Mexican Train Dominoes in the back yard with friends so you can smoke a cigar and have a drink. Read the books you never took the time to read when working.”

Sue Solomon


Retired 1998, college professor

“Volunteer, volunteer, volunteer! There are dozens, if not hundreds, of organizations that are understaffed. Most, but not all, are local nonprofits engaged in animal rescue; elderly, disabled or financially challenged humans; and many other categories. I did animal rescue for about 25 years. Now I’m a volunteer with the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department, which relies on mostly senior citizen volunteers like me to take non-emergency police reports from the public to free time for deputies to respond more promptly and completely to more serious crime. Schools constantly need volunteers. If you’re recovering from an addiction or have been convicted of a crime, you know the issues very well and can assist others. What about helping at a homeless or battered women’s shelter? Teach disadvantaged kids to do something you know, be it cultural like art or dancing, knitting, sewing, basic bike or auto repair. The list is endless. You’ll enjoy doing it when you see the rewards.”

Arna Perry

El Dorado Hills

Retired 2011, senior information systems analyst

“Find yourself a hobby before you retire. Have a plan on where you’d like to live and what you want to do with your time. For me, retirement has been a blast! I found a new community that I wanted to live in and a hobby that I wanted to play at. I volunteer in our community lodge, participate in groups here, and travel to places around our nation. I wouldn’t change anything for the world! I worked a good many years and saved for my retirement; it’s my time to play!”

Read more articles by Dan Vierria

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