Do you remember the feeling you had on the first day of summer vacation? Most of us experienced this feeling at the beginning of each of twelve summers throughout our school years. Can you recall the sense of freedom; the sense that the days and weeks ahead were to be filled with adventures to be defined only by you? Maybe, like me, you raced out the door to get to the ball field, probably a vacant lot, for a game that did not have a ninth inning, but was over when there was not enough daylight to see the ball? Or maybe you have a memory like mine of standing across the street from Mrs. Peffer’s apple tree waiting for the right moment to race to the tree to get a couple of those delicious, green apples? Do you remember heading to the woods for a day of building “the fort”, or “the place”, that would be your home away from home during the summer? Maybe you remember riding your bike, on the spur of the moment, to grandma’s house, having lunch, and then stopping on the thirteen mile ride back home to swim in a clear, cool creek? Do you remember walking hand in hand with someone special to get an ice cream cone, or walking through the park in search of the perfect spot for a quiet picnic? Do you remember helping the elderly couple next door with their yard work and feeling the joy of doing it just because it felt good, not because you were getting paid? I not only remember those feelings and adventures, but my wife, Mary Bea, and I are experiencing them again as they returned on the first, and each following, day of our retirement. The “summer” of retirement may have you playing ball again, possibly with your grandchildren, in an over fifty league, or chasing a golf ball. Mrs. Peffer’s apple tree may now be your favorite restaurant where you may wait in anticipation of happy hour with half price appetizers (gives one the same feeling of swiping green apples). Building “the place” may be replaced with building your cabin in the woods, or a small remodeling project in your retirement home. The bike ride to grandma’s house might be replaced by spontaneous a car ride in the country where you can still wade in a cool, clear creek. You can still walk to the ice cream shop with today’s special person and retirement partner. You can still volunteer to help your neighbors, whether next door or across town. Everyday in retirement has untold opportunities, and that is why I have written this book. As a former executive with a major corporation, I understand the pleasure one gets from the challenge of the job, as well as the concern many have that they are not ready for retirement. I have written this book to put a different face on retirement for those who see it as an end, or feel that they are not ready. I received great pleasure and personal satisfaction from my work life of 37 years, but those feelings can never compare with having the feeling of the first day of summer, everyday. I hope to demonstrate to the reader that retirement provides freedom; freedom to do what you want, when you want, to what extreme you want, and how you want. It is about the freedom to be who you want to be. I hope that the reader can identify with the first day of summer feeling and what you can expect during this very long “summer” called retirement. There are many things to expect for which you may want to develop a plan. While I cover financial planning, the book is not from a financial planner’s perspective and looks at being prepared personally, psychologically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually, and physically to make and experience many life changes other than just ending a career. The book is based more on personal experience and emotion and less on general facts. It is a collection of our opinions and observations after a fantastic five year adventure. While it is our adventure, and one cannot duplicate another’s experiences, we believe that we have a set of experiences that provide insights that the reader will find interesting, enlightening, humorous and curious. While some think of retirement as an end, this book is about retirement being a beginning, with the chance to begin again, everyday of your life. Our message is best illustrated by a conversation I once had with a former work colleague. He was concerned about retiring because, as he said, he was not a person who “could sit around and do nothing”. His words took me back to when we were preparing to retire. Many work associates and friends insisted that I was too young to retire, that I would miss working, that I would be bored, and that my life would not be fulfilling in retirement. After thinking about their comments I decided that their opinions were really based on their lives, and were about them and not us. My intent in writing this book is not so much to prove them wrong, but to present different opinions and show that retirement is very different for us, and can be for others. As I told my former work colleague who was concerned about doing nothing, other’s opinions are interesting to explore, but they are about them and not him. He needed to assess what retirement would be for him and his retirement partner and explore what activities and opportunities were available to him before he looked on retirement as a time to “do nothing.” In contrast to this point, our first five years of retirement have been amazing. We lead exciting and rewarding lives. Is this because of our advanced planning and preparation? Is it because we approach life with gusto? Is it because we are lucky? Is it because we are blessed with good health, high energy, many interests, good humor, love for each other, adequate finances, many friends, best friends, faith in God, a wonderful family, a desire to help others, a love for learning, a love of the outdoors and a passion for life? The answer to all these is probably a resounding YES! The answer also demonstrates how far from “doing nothing” retirement can be. Before I began to write this book, I was sharing our thoughts and experiences in conversations with friends. I then decided to put these thoughts on paper to share with others. I wanted to put into words our experiences of the past ten years. The first five years were the planning and preparing phase. The next five years have been experiencing the results of our planning. The views shared in this book are just one set of opinions and experiences. While the book is from the perspective of a corporate executive and of a married couple who have retired together, we are confident that many of the points, opinions and outlooks expressed will be helpful to anyone anticipating, avoiding, dreading, experiencing or enjoying retirement. If the thoughts in this book allow one reader to experience The First Day of Summer, Everyday, as we have, then we have been successful.
Jerry Collins was born in Pennsylvania in 1944 and lived for most of his childhood and teenage years in Indiana, Pennsylvania. He attended Kettering University (formerly GMI) in Flint, Michigan where he received a BSME in 1968. He also attended Stanford University School of Business on a Sloan Fellowship and received an MSM in 1979. He worked for General Motors Corporation for thirty seven years with management and executive assignments in manufacturing, engineering, car program management and as a divisional general manager. He retired from General Motors Corporation in 1999 after an exciting and rewarding career. He and Mary Bea, his wife of thirty seven years, have enjoyed five exhilarating years of retirement. While Jerry’s career gave them great joy and personal satisfaction, they have found through planning, preparation and a willingness to try new things that retirement provides many opportunities for equally rewarding experiences. They are avid hikers, sports fans, volunteers, readers and travelers. Their family includes their two sons, their wives and three grandchildren. After living in Michigan for several years, Jerry and Mary Bea have made Las Vegas, Nevada their retirement home. They spend their summer months at Silver Bay, NY on Lake George.