There is life after retirement (pinch me ... am I dreaming?)

Wednesday - 6/25/2014, 2:00am EDT

Senior Correspondent Mike Causey is on vacation. This is the first in a series of guest columns written by Federal Report readers. Today's column is from former U.S. Forest Service employee, Connie Hendryx.

When I retired in November 2013 after 35 years with the U.S. Forest Service, I wasn't sure what I would be doing with my time (other than anything I wanted to do!). I heard all the warnings: "Use the word 'no' often!" "Don't answer the phone for the first three months!" and so on.

I did plan on doing some traveling and having some quality quilting time (one of my favorite pastimes) in the new studio my husband built for me. I knew I wanted to work at my CPA's office doing taxes during the tax season (Yes, I love doing taxes!). I also wanted to "close the circle" (I had been a "candy striper" in Barton Memorial Hospital in South Lake Tahoe in my teens), so I wanted to join my local hospital's auxiliary.

So, life seemed set! I felt I wouldn't have any time to feel "lost" after pulling the plug. I was pleasantly surprised at how smoothly my retirement went. I received an extra paycheck I hadn't planned on (guess I didn't count well!), and received my annual leave check fairly quickly. My interim annuity came through and was close to what I had expected from the estimates my Forest Service retirement specialist had sent me. After only three weeks of receiving the notice that my retirement case was assigned to an OPM specialist on Dec. 26, 2013, I received my full annuity. Life was good!

Going into the new year it still was sinking in that I had really worked 35 years and was now enjoying the benefit of all those years. My favorite time was (and still is) Sunday night, knowing that I didn't have to get up at 5 a.m. to drive over the hill to Fort Jones, California, to start the day at 7 a.m. Monday.

A little wrinkle came into my retirement plans from my pastor, asking if I would be willing to be the part-time secretary for my church in February. After some time in prayer, I felt up to the challenge; after all, I had been retired a whole three months! Also in mid-February, I started working one day a week at my CPA's office. I also was volunteering at my hospital one morning a week. So after three months of retirement, I ended up working and volunteering five days a week!

The money is small, but the gratification of helping people with their taxes, at church and at the hospital is huge! I am so thankful that I was able to retire at 55 (which is young, compared to the private sector) and that I worked for an agency that had an adequate annuity to live on. Looking back on the past seven months, I wouldn't change a thing. I do get teased about working almost full time, but I thoroughly enjoy every day. As I said before, life is good! — Connie Hendryx


NEARLY USELESS FACTOID

In 41 states, "Brooklyn" is now the most popular girl's name that begins with a B — but New York is not among them. Overall, the moniker is the 28th most popular girls name beating out more traditional favorites, such as Samantha, Allison and Sarah, according to the Social Security Administration.

(Source: Associated Press)


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