Nudged Along in Retirement by Fran K.

Sincere appreciation to Fran K. for picking up on my nudge. When Fran made a comment about enjoying pottery, I ever-so-casually suggested that she might want to update her tribe stories on this site with some of her latest reflections. (You’ll find her first two tribe stories here and here.) Voila! Yesterday, this was in my inbox. 

Life has an interesting habit of tossing many experiences our way. Some are pleasant and some unpleasant; some are planned and some unplanned.

Throughout my life, I have used quotes as guidelines or inspiration. Quotes have come from educational journals, poems, respected well-known figures, and friends.

One of my ‘planned’ experiences has been to write and read more since retiring. I will talk more about writing in a new post on Travels with Fran in the future.

A new form of reading for me has been in the form of blogs from wise and experienced individuals who write about meaningful topics such as travel or retirement. I have sifted through some of their significant statements and looked at my earlier writing to help guide me through this, my second major reflection on adjusting to retirement since leaving my job six months ago.

I do not think I will have a ‘transition’ stage when I return

to Canada in June. Or maybe this second career was my transition period. That’s what I said in my February guest post on Profound Journey. It was while I was still in Uzbekistan, finishing up at Tashkent International School. My husband and I were eager to go home.children playing hockey

Ha!! I have definitely made huge transitions from a working life to a retired life. Back in 2001, I’d taken an early retirement from my first career. But I replaced that old career in education with a new career in international education which afforded me the opportunity to travel.

This time, I am cutting myself loose entirely from education even though I thrived for 45 years in that environment and it defined me as a person.

The transition, for me, has been to leave something I knew well, to something where I was suddenly the unskilled learner. I was used to helping colleagues and now I’m the one who needs help in developing new skills. That has been huge for me!

There have been many swings in our feelings

about where we are now in our lives. This really isn’t surprising. We taught for over 45 years, and being involved in something for that long gave purpose and routine to our lives. In addition to leaving education, we are leaving behind the vagabond life of an expat where locals treat you as a novelty. We’re also leaving behind the financial freedom we enjoyed. (Sept. 2017)hockey kids looking at trophies

It was almost a celebrity lifestyle that we led as international educators. I think back to the Uzbek taxi driver (every car is a taxi) who spoke to us in fairly good English about life in Canada, and then waved us off as we tried to pay the fare.

Or of Sanjar, our regular driver, hosting us as esteemed guests at an extended family gathering during a spring ritual of making Samulak.

I think back to our landlord in Germany guiding us to visit local restaurants for fresh trout, or the ancient Caracella Baths in Baden Baden less than an hour away from our apartment.

Friends in Charleston S.C. took us crabbing for blue crab by day, and then back to their home where we ate those critters in their screened-in veranda well into the night.

Medhat, our Egyptian tour guide, upgraded us every time we accompanied a new set of our visitors on a Nile River cruise. By the time we went on our last cruise, we were living the high life in an enormous suite as we chugged our way along the Nile.

Another time, we made quick friends with Mahroo, our travel guide in Iran, who arranged a stay in an incredibly beautiful suite in Esfahan.

exterior of ceramic studio
Outside my ceramics studio

Yes, the special treatment we received from locals is a little hard to give up. These and many other stories are treasured memories.

This is the first time in my life that I do not have a charted path

to follow. I am learning to be okay with that! I assume there will be more to come in this adventure. (Sept. 2017)

In my final year of working, people often asked what I was going to do next. Our school director kept sending me postings for positions that seemed like too much work to me. Our high school principal kept saying that teachers would undoubtedly run into me giving a workshop at a conference.

My standard response was that I did not know what I was going to do; that I wanted to keep my options open. My rationale was that there might be something interesting out there that hadn’t occurred to me.

Presently, I am exploring a lot of things like writing, ceramics, and various forms of exercise. I tried Tai Chi and now know what struggling students feel like. I was a disaster in Tai Chi, flailing my arms and always landing on the wrong foot. But I stuck with it and it did improve my balance and coordination.

My grandsons’ hockey tournaments and Saturday games take up a lot of time. It is wonderful to see their eyes shine with passion for the game, and for the friendships they have developed and skills they have learned. I am very excited to have time for all of these things now that I am not working.

woodstove and furniture in coachhouse
a relaxing spot around the woodstove in my studio

I realized 2017 was actually about replacing the benefits of work.

I’m still using working part-time to meet my personal needs for recognition of my mastery, because I have not found other things to do that yet. Pat Doyle wrote those words in a December post on her site,  Retirement Transition.

Pat’s post articulated for me the function of work in our lives, and another role that work played for me. That was the “recognition of mastery” which, for me, tied in with my identity. I’ve grappled with this during these past six months. I don’t think I’ve arrived at an answer yet as to who I am, but I have moved beyond identifying myself solely as an educator.

RAW NEWS is proving to be the perfect personal growth framework

for me. It’s giving structure to my desire to spend time in the creative areas of reading, art, writing and learning, supported by a foundation of good nutrition, exercise, and self-care. Karen said this in her end of December post here on Profound Journey.

slab roller for ceramics
my new slab roller

Karen’s journey through retirement is serving as a shining beacon for me. Her well-researched and reflective applications to her personal search for uncovering underlying strengths and talents documented in her postings are inspirational to me. In the same way as she was outstanding in her field of education, she is relentless in pursuing her destiny in Profound Journey.

I selected one photo from each month that represents a valuable lesson

learned. Many of these lessons are not new but have taken on even deeper meaning for me in my retirement. Donna Connolly wrote those words when reflecting on 2017 inher blog, Retirement Reflections.

I love the phrase “have taken on even deeper meaning.” At this stage in my life, I have the time to reflect more, to feel more deeply, to appreciate more, and to acknowledge just how precious life is.

A recent loss of a long-time friend, the passing of colleagues who competed with me for administrative positions, and of entertainers who defined part of who I am, have forced me to reflect on mortality like I have never done before. The bottom line is that I will never see or hear from these people again. All that is left are the shared experiences we enjoyed.

pottery kiln and wheel
kiln and wheel

Understand that you are in the process of making a big personal transformation

that could change your mindset to where you will enjoy nearly every component of living. You just aren’t there yet. This passage is lengthy but worthwhile. You will have to jump through some hoops, but afterward you will emerge like a child who is seeing his or her world for the very first time. You will be amazed at something as simple as the beauty of a rose. Avoid being too serious in 2018. Pop a bottle of champange as you ring in the new year, and remember this moment. If you do, you might even see a long-term dream come to fruition. Just stay on course.

This was my horoscope in the Toronto Star. Normally I don’t put much stock in horoscopes. However, I do love this one and intend to keep it around in my new ceramics studio as a guiding statement. Key phrases for me include “big personal transformation,” “you just aren’t there yet,” and “you will emerge like a child who is seeing the world for the first time.”

I did already take one step from my horoscope. My husband and I popped a bottle of champagne to ring in the 2018 New Year!

Isn’t that an amazing horoscope for Fran! You can check out yours via the Toronto Star link. Please let us know what emerged for you in your 2017 reflections. And if a nudge will help you to consider writing a tribe story for Profound Journey, please consider yourself nudged!


Join the tribe:


  1. Hi Fran,
    Let me be the first to thank you for your post. I found it really thoughtful and insightful, and that’s not just because you paid me such a nice compliment! I like your format of reflecting based on something you’ve read or something you’ve written to yourself. It seems to me that this is a particularly authentic way of recording your reflections.
    So I checked out my horoscope and I like yours way better! Mine – Virgo – begins “Plans for how you greet 2018 could be subject to change–not once, not twice, but many times.” While that may be true in the details, I have absolutely no intention of abandoning RAW NEWS. It took me a heck of a long time to come up with that and to start working it.
    I love the photo of your grandson and his friends gazing into the trophy case, dreaming, I presume, of hockey stardom.
    And your ceramics studio is beautiful.I’d originally only included a couple of the photos you provided because I was trying to keep the photos of your grandsons by the hockey reference. However, I couldn’t resist redoing it so that we could show the cozy interior of your studio/coachhouse and, of course, your new slab roller. Are those mugs on the window ledge made by you, Fran?

    1. Hello Karen,
      Thank you for all your kind words.Lately, it seemed there were a lot of postings that fit with what I was thinking. Maybe it just the old saying “when the student is ready, the teacher will come.”
      Horoscopes usually are something I read and sort of gloss over, but I liked everything about this one. So I am posting a copy of it in my studio. I agree that your horoscope is one that you should ignore.
      Yes, this grandson has already figured out what team he wants to play for. They have quite a little team and a lot of talent. Hockey has made a huge difference in both of my grandsons’ lives.
      I love my studio. It is warm in the afternoon due to the sun shining into it. The mugs on the window are from a flea market in Tashkent called Yungiabad. They are the base of teacups that were used on trains when the Russians occupied Uzbekistan. I bought them to be candle holders. I have made one of the inserts as a trial and plan to make more in the winter pottery classes.

  2. Fran/Karen, I looked up my Toronto Star horoscope and had a chuckle when it said I might need a bigger house! We just downsized!! But as expected in all horoscopes, there was a line I found especially telling: “You might view the world as being unpredictable and difficult at times, yet you’ll realize what a good life you have when you look back on your year”.

    Fran – I found the specific quote and you’re reaction to it a very compelling read. And tickled pink that I was one of your inspirations. Thank you!

    Like you I don’t feel like I am there yet. But perhaps that is good… because I am learning to enjoy the journey and not worry too much about the destination. The Type-A, it’s-all-about-the-destination girl said with a strong affirming voice. Yes, learning. 🙂

    1. Hi Pat,
      Like I said, I usually don’t put much stock in horoscopes. This one just worked for me. Your comments on work really articulated important ideas for me so thank you for saying them so well.
      I really do not feel I need to rush to get anywhere in retirement. I have spent a whole career meeting specific goals. I am almost enjoying not meeting the usual expectations. When I first retired I put on my calendar all the days I would clean each area of my house. I think I only actually succeeded in that once. You are right -enjoy the journey.

    2. HI Pat,
      I think you are learning exceptionally well. I hear shades of your Type-A, it’s-all-about-the-destination girl, but they are only shades that wonderfully tint your personality, not something that will damage your journey at all but rather enhance it.

  3. Hi, Fran and Karen –
    As we have very similar backgrounds, this post greatly resonated with me.
    I love your sense of adventure and your openness to revising/adjusting/letting go. I look forward to following both of your journeys in 2018!
    Thank you for the mention. I greatly appreciate it!

    1. Hi Donna,
      Thanks for your thoughts and for the inspiration of feeling deeply.
      I am enjoying the “play” aspect for sure.
      Looking forward to reading your posts in the new year.

  4. Thank you for updating your tribe story, Fran. I read it with great interest and can only hope that with time I too will find this true for me as well. I quote “I love the phrase “have taken on even deeper meaning.” At this stage in my life, I have the time to reflect more, to feel more deeply, to appreciate more, and to acknowledge just how precious life is.” Your ceramic studio looks like a wonderful space where the creative juices can flow.
    I too checked out my horoscope for 2018: these statements jumped out at me, they are…
    Know that no matter how out of control life gets, you will land well. For someone who loves to be in control, trusting that the outcome will be great could be difficult during moments of chaos. You can do it! 2018 will be a year to remember!
    Karen, thank you for the nudge as well. I will have to update my tribe story since life has opened up for me in a way it never has before. There are lots of things to update such as what I am doing now and what all my thinking about at the end of 2017 has left me with. When I get something written up I will send it to your inbox. 🙂

    1. Hi Susan,
      Your Horoscope sounds great. It provides a challenge and then reassures you can deal well with the chaos-it should be fun.
      Looking forward to reading your tribe story as well.

      1. Thank you Fran, and you are so right about the horoscope. Lucky for me whatever comes my way I will be able to land on my feet. 🙂 I will have to put some thought into writing my tribe story update. I am sure as soon as I send it on to Karen she will make it magically appear on Profound Journey (she’s just good like that 😉 .) I would love to hear what you think about it once it is updated and you can read it.

    2. And I’ll be very happy to see your update to your tribe story in my inbox. I know you are very busy with your YouTube channel, and with reading your new Stephen King book as you mentioned in this week’s other post. So I’m not expecting the tribe story soon, but will be happy to see it when it arrives.

      1. Thanks, Karen, for understanding that I don’t mean tomorrow when I say I will be updating my tribe story. I will try to make it sooner rather than later though. I just need to get some videos done up on my YouTube channel and reading some more of my Stephen King book. I am only 8 pages in and so far am enthralled with his storytelling as I usually am. I do find when I am reading I am trying to pick out Owen King’s influences. I am so not used to collaborations between father and son.

        1. I can imagine that after having read so many books by Stephen King, the temptation to spot the different authorial voices would be enormous. Of course since King is so good at it, as is his editor, there may be nothing to spot. It will be so interesting to hear your take on it when you’re further into the novel.

  5. A very interesting post, Fran. Somehow, I never got round to planning goals – one thing just seemed to lead to another and I found myself occupied and happy. Funnily enough, I looked up my horoscope too and apparently by 2019 I will be writing a pamphlet on the art of manifesting goals! So better late than never 😉

    1. Hi Anabel,
      That is a riot! Looking forward to reading your pamphlet on goals! 🙂
      Goals sound a lot like work to me. I do like Karen’s use of the word “intentions” much better.

    2. Hi Anabel,
      My mother has the same horoscope, and the same response re the pamphlet on goal manifestation. Hmm, wonder if there are any Cancerians out there who will be writing about goals or if they just got this one totally wrong 🙂

  6. My first year of retirement was odd; I felt like I was sneaking out of school. I had a very demanding and stressful job at which I worked 70 plus hours a week from November to April and from May to October, just your run-of-the-mill 40. The day I decided to retire, I put my feet on the floor in the morning and thought “I’m finished”. That was nine years ago and I have never regretted walking away from working life. Karen, your retirement has been a resounding success because you’re curious – you explore, you learn (and you read those 150 books!). Fran, each one of us has to find our place in life many times from the day we’re born and I think a good retirement is just another opportunity to find another place. Good luck to you!

    1. Hi Anna,
      I relate to the feeling you had about sneaking out of school. For me, it seems odd to be receiving a pension for doing whatever I want.
      Thank you for your words of wisdom!

  7. Hi Fran and Karen, You both have such nice studio space for your creativity. Thank you for sharing your insights and progress. I look forward to following both of your RAW NEWS updates in 2018. Happy New Year!

    1. Thanks, Natalie. Yes, I do love my studio space. Sometimes I just go out to stand in it because it is such a nice atmosphere. Happy New Year.

  8. Hi Fran and Karen! Great end/beginning of the year post! I checked out my horoscope too and was relieved to see that it included popping a champagne cork also 🙂 . I love your studio space, Fran… it looks like one that would encourage creativity.

    1. Glad you got to pop a bottle of champagne also. I really enjoy my studio although a lot of supplies still need to be brought in. Hope your year is good.

    2. Hmm, given your change in your GratiTuesday posts so you can pursue your passionette of photography, and your post about glassblowing, I see a creative 2018 unfolding for you, Janis. How exciting!

  9. Taking life as it comes, to “see what happens” and not follow a defined path, opens doors and opportunities and, to me, is an element of freedom. Hard to get used to, probably, if you have lived a routine or scheduled life, but once experienced and realized how life can truly be up to you, it is hard to go back. Luckily, (most) retired people never have to go back. 🙂 Cheers to new opportunities, new realizations, new purposes and new horizons for you in 2018, Fran!!

    1. Thanks, Liesbet. You are spot on when you say that it is a little hard to get used to the “see what happens: approach. I am enjoying this approach at this stage so much because my working life had been one of routine and schedules and goal setting and, and and…. It is so enjoyable NOT to follow any of these previously required parts of my life. As a matter of fact, we had breakfast at 9:00 one day last week. It was such a pleasure!

    2. Thanks for commenting, Liesbet. It’s so great to see Fran embracing the freedoms of this stage of life. She had been concerned that it would be a challenge but, as you say, once experienced it’s hard to go back.

  10. Wonderful blog post, Fran! Although I never worked overseas, in so many other ways, your past year of retirement transition resembles mine. Your comment (echoing Pat) about work being a way to represent one’s mastery, an important part of one’s identity, really resonated with me. Isn’t it wonderful how we learn from and share with our online blogging community?


    1. It was so reaffirming to me to be able to relate to the words of members of the blogging community! Thanks for your thoughts and I hope you are enjoying retirement!

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