Tag Archives: retirement

Key decision made on retirement

This is the latest in an occasional series of blog posts commenting on impending retirement.

Decision-making can be a liberating experience.

It brings relief and an almost palpable feeling of weight lifting off one’s shoulders.

I made such a decision this week. I have decided when I’m going to officially “retire.”

It will occur on my 66th birthday, which arrives on Dec. 17, 2015. That will be the day I plan to start collecting Social Security income.

Big deal, you say? What’s so special about that? For starters, that will be the day I can start drawing SSI without incurring a penalty if I choose to keep working part-time. I become eligible for my full Social Security benefit on my 66th birthday. I am working two part-time jobs at the moment and I’m likely to keep working at them even after I start drawing my “retirement” income.

I feel quite good about making this decision. It signals another big turning point in my life since the moment I stopped working full time as a daily print journalist. I won’t go into the details of that event, except to say that I wasn’t ready for that moment to arrive. It did. The circumstances of that moment still anger me but a year and a half later I’m actually glad to have moved on to this phase of life.

My wife and I haven’t been this happy in years. We’ve been able to travel some in our RV. Our granddaughter is growing and developing beautifully. Our sons are thriving. I’m working these two part-time jobs and enjoying them both immensely, mostly because neither of them places much pressure on me. The auto dealership job allows me to meet people and get reacquainted with old friends; the blog I write for PanhandlePBS.org allows me to stay involved with public affairs TV programming.

Of course, I have this blog to which I often contribute several times daily.

I now await another key stage of my retired life when I turn 66 and will start collecting some income for which I’ve worked many years.

There’ll be more to report on this blog as we move forward.

A decision on when to start collecting Social Security might not seem like a biggie to some. It is to me. I’m glad I’ve made it.

Discovering new life in semi-retirement

This is another in an occasional series of blog posts commenting on retirement.

Life is a journey of discovery. I’ve known it for a very long time. Until one’s professional life ends abruptly — and not entirely the way one envisions it — then you learn fully about the discovery that awaits.

Such is what is happening to me now.

I just turned 64 years of age. I’ve embarked along several paths here and there since the late summer of 2012. A few of the paths have taken me down blind alleys. I’ve detoured a bit and moved on to other things.

But I think I’m hitting my stride at my relatively advanced age and I’ve learned that life does exist after one has the plug pulled on what had been a fruitful, exciting, fulfilling and — I hope– successful career.

I spent roughly 37 years in daily journalism, working at four newspapers in two states. I moved up the rungs as my experience grew. I hit a few bumps along the way, as we all do in life. I learned from mistakes, vowed never to repeat them — which, of course, didn’t always prevent me from making new mistakes. What a ride it was, allowing me to travel and to cover some of the most compelling people and events imaginable.

Then it ended. A company “reorganization” resulted in my resigning from a job that my employer said should go to someone else. One word described my feelings at the moment I learned my fate: devastated.

I packed up my office and left. I mourned the loss of my career. I had wanted to go out on my own terms. I’d hoped for a party, a toast or two, a few laughs around a big cake. It didn’t happen that way.

That was about 17 months ago. You know what I’ve learned? It is that I can continue to contribute to my community’s thought process. This blog is one vehicle. I spend considerable time each day spewing out thoughts and opinions on all manner of issues. I get smacked around by those who disagree with me and occasionally I get kudos from those of like minds. It keeps my head in the game.

About seven months ago I started working as a customer service concierge for a Toyota dealership in Amarillo. This job, too, enables me to employ another skill I’ve possessed for most of my life: an ability to speak to strangers. I greet customers at the dealership and seek to make them feel comfortable while they wait for their vehicle to be serviced. I’m successful most of the time.

But prior to the concierge gig, I got hired by the local public TV station in Amarillo as a public affairs programming blogger. “A Public View with John Kanelis” has been an absolute blast to write. My bosses at Panhandle PBS invited me to join them in October 2012 and the blog has enabled me to stay current on what public TV is broadcasting to our Panhandle viewing audience.

I haven’t made any new discoveries about myself now that I’m well into semi-retirement. Instead, I’ve been able to reaffirm what I learned when my wife and I packed up our then-young sons and moved from Oregon to Beaumont, Texas nearly three decades ago. It is that I am an adaptable creature, far more than I thought I was when we left those familiar surroundings in the Pacific Northwest for a decidedly unfamiliar environment — in every possible context — on the Texas Gulf Coast.

We adapted and changed and have carved out a nice life all along our Texas journey.

It’s taking a new turn and we’re looking forward more than ever to the future. The past is what it is. The future is exciting because we don’t yet know what we’ll discover.

We’ll be ready for whatever awaits.

I’m now calling myself ‘retired’

This is the latest in an occasional series of blogs commenting on retirement.

I made a decision this weekend that involves my immediate future.

I’ve decided to say that I’m retired — even though I’m still working, sort of.

The decision came from a Facebook notice that popped up. It asked me to update my employment status. I clicked on the “retired” box and then saved it. So now my Facebook profile has me listed as “retired,” although I later — at my wife’s suggestion — entered “blogger” along with it. So it says I’m a “retired blogger.”

This is a big deal in my evolution from working guy to fully retired guy.

I’m working part-time for an auto dealership here in Amarillo. It’s a customer service job; I work about 24 hours a week. My job is to welcome folks who bring their vehicles in for service or who are waiting while they purchase a vehicle. I make them feel comfortable, offer them something to drink or eat, ask if they need a ride somewhere, talk them up a little bit.

The job is so much fun I have a hard time calling it actual “work.” I spend my afternoon with individuals I like in an environment that produces little pressure. My employer asks me simply to treat people with courtesy and respect, which I am able to do.

I have another job. I write a blog for Panhandle PBS’s website. Panhandle PBS is the new name for the site for KACV-TV, the public television station based at Amarillo College. It’s a free-lance gig and, too, is a serious blast. I write about public affairs programming at Panhandle PBS/KACV. I also write about other public policy issues as I see fit. I submit the blogs — titled “A Public View” — as drafts and they’re posted by the staff at KACV.

Check it out here:


So, those are my jobs. They are more fun than I can possibly have imagined having.

My wife says it well. I am getting paid for doing something I love to do: talk to people and write.

Social Security is still down the road a bit. When that income kicks in, then I’ll be able to declare myself officially and fully “retired.”

For now, I’ll settle on pretending to be retired. I’ll get lots of practice. Who knows? When the day arrives, I’ll be proficient in all that retirement entails.

Another hurdle cleared on path toward retirement

This is the latest in an occasional series of blog posts commenting on impending retirement.

We knew we could do it. We knew we could hitch up our shiny new fifth wheel to our nearly as shiny new 3/4-ton pickup and take it on the road.

What we didn’t know is that we’re getting pretty good at it. Are we “seasoned” RV travelers, equipped to handle any challenge that’s thrust in front of us? Well, I don’t know. I’ll let you know when we think we’ve mastered the ultimate challenge, whatever that might be.

Our three-night excursion took us to Albuquerque. We spent two glorious days of fellowship with good friends, Ed and Caroline. On the first day, the two of them took us to the city’s famed botanical gardens, then to the zoo and finally to the aquarium. On the second day, Ed arrived at the RV park we called home for three nights and we scurried about 50 miles west to an astonishing pueblo occupied by members of the Acoma Indian tribe. We parked our vehicle and rode a shuttle to the top of a mesa overlooking a spectacularly beautiful valley — and where Acoma residents live with no running water, plumbing or electricity.

We toured the pueblo and heard the tale of how the Acoma arrived in that region in 1150 and endured purely unimaginable hardship. They were persecuted for worshiping their native religion and essentially forced to become Catholics, thanks to the Spanish settlers with whom they fought.

At the end of both wonderful days with our friends, we went routinely back to the RV camp and enjoyed the evening in our travel vehicle.

I guess the most surprising element here is the ease with which we are able to get hooked up, to get on our way down the highway, to unhook the assembly and then rehook it up for the return trip home.

To those who have done this before, I likely am preaching to the proverbial choir. Or, perhaps you’re thinking: “What a weenie. Of course it’s simple. It ain’t rocket science, bub. What did you expect?”

It is a big deal for two people who are discovering the joys of a new world that still awaits. We’ve worked pretty damn hard for many decades and we’re getting set to enjoy some time exploring the North American continent.

It’s starting to come together.

First ‘real’ RV outing awaits

This is another in an occasional series of blog posts about impending retirement.

Our next significant hurdle looms as my wife and I prepare for our first out-of-town excursion in our shiny new fifth wheel travel vehicle.

We’re taking our rig on the road, westbound on Interstate 40 to an RV park on the western edge of Albuquerque, N.M.

My wife made this call and, as usual, it’s a good one.

We chose Albuquerque as the place where we’ll indoctrinate ourselves with the open road for a couple of reasons.

One is that we love the city. There’s plenty to see and do there. Downtown is quite interesting, with a wonderful Historic Route 66 district. Old Town is quaint. Sandia Peak features a spectacular tram ride to a summit that’s more than 10,000 above sea level.

The other reason is that Interstate 40 is a relatively straight shot between Amarillo and Albuquerque.

We don’t envision a lot of challenges between the cities. The landscape is wide open. We’ll just set the cruise control on 60 mph (or thereabouts) and head west. There will be some mountain grades to climb as we approach Albuquerque, but our Dodge Ram pickup — which we’ve named Big Jake — is quite capable of completing the climb.

The “Big I,” which is the I-40/I-25 interchange in the middle of the city, could present a mild challenge as we navigate our way through. Our hope is that we’ll time it so that the traffic isn’t so bad once we get there.

We’ll spend three nights at the fully equipped RV park, getting more acquainted with our rig. We broke it in nicely a few weeks ago with a local outing in Amarillo. The time is coming for our next big challenge. We’ve been to this place already, visiting my sister and brother-in-law who were camped there overnight this past March. It’s got all the amenities we need: water, sewer, electricity, cable TV, Internet access.

We’re trying to be systematic and methodical as we adapt to this new way of life.

Wish us luck.

Semi-retirement beginning to sink in

Note: This is the first of an occasional series of blog posts discussing the onset of retirement.

I’m beginning to like being semi-retired.

It was nearly a year ago that my life was turned upside-down. I walked away from a career I had enjoyed beyond my wildest imagination. My journalism career had exposed me to some of the most interesting experiences possible. Not many folks can say they’ve attended presidential nominating conventions, interviewed a future president of the United States, a sitting vice president of the U.S., made a tailhook landing on nuclear-powered aircraft carrier (and been catapulted off the flight deck), covered stories in nearly a dozen countries around the world, exposed corruption in government, commented on a whole array of public policy issues or flown over an erupting volcano.

A management “reorganization” scheme this past summer forced me to make a decision I wasn’t prepared to make, which was to resign my job rather than seek a lesser-paying job at the company where I worked — with no guarantee I’d get even that.

My boss told me I no longer would be able to pursue my craft, which I had done for nearly four decades at three newspapers in two states. So I called it quits.

I’ve been working part-time ever since. And now my wife and I are relishing the role of semi-retired citizens. We recently purchased two vehicles: a 3/4-ton pickup and a 29-foot fifth wheel to pull behind it.

We’ve taken the fifth wheel out for a three-night “camping trip” across town, at an RV park — where we got acquainted with our new vehicle. We learned how the plumbing works, we’re getting quite good now at hooking and unhooking the fifth wheel to and from the pickup. Driving the assembly is a piece of cake.

We’re anxious to take our vehicle out for a real trip, which we’ll do in due course.

I’ve learned that we’re entering an exciting new world of discovery.

Our brand new granddaughter is growing up before our eyes, even though she lives with our son, daughter-in-law and her two big brothers a six-hour drive away. Our retirement travel plans include the kids, all of them. We’ll arrive at that point eventually.

For now, we’re both feeling better in our semi-retirement skin all the time.

I’m working three part-time jobs and enjoying all of them immensely. I’m betting we’re going to really enjoy full-time retirement even more when that day arrives.

We’re in no particular hurry for it to get here. As my late mother used to admonish my sisters and me when we were kids: Do not wish your life away.

Not going to do it, Mom. Life is pretty darn good as it is — right now.