The Bookworm: End of work; end of the world

Terri Schlichenmeyer

"How Do I Get There from Here?”

By George H. Schofield, PhD

c. 2017, Amacom

$16.95, $24.50 Canada; 237 pages

How Do I Get There from Here?” by George H. Schofield, PhD

White sandy beaches. Waves that gently kiss your toes with warm water. In your minds’ eye, they stretch for miles and they’re yours to explore. That will be your retirement – or so you hope. But as you’ll see in “How Do I Get There From Here?” by George H. Schofield, PhD, you might dare to hope for more.

How long ‘til your retirement? If you’re over 50, you may count years, months, maybe even weeks until you don’t have to hit the alarm anymore. But get this, says Schofield: thanks to technology and modern medicine, today’s 50-year-old may have fifty more years to live.

What will you do with all that time? Most people, Schofield says, will find that idleness is boring after awhile: a survey done in 2014 showed that the average retiree takes just over two years to “relax and recharge” before returning to the work world. The “New Normal” is that we don’t want to slide “slowly downhill through golden years of leisure until death … ” Instead, there’s chance for challenge ahead, opportunities to learn new things and to jettison that which doesn’t work for us anymore.

To get there – and do it well – takes a good balance between planning and action. Be willing to listen to the experiences of others before leaping, and keep in mind that an “Old Normal” doesn’t necessarily apply here. Also, be sure you know the difference between “Continuous Change” (expected natural progression) and “Discontinuous Change” (the throw-you-for-a-loop things that happen). You’ll encounter them in abundance after you retire; be sure you’re able to deftly handle both.

Become financially literate, and update that knowledge often. Gather a handful of pros you can rely on for various issues of your life. Ask your doctor what she’d like to see you do to become healthier. Cultivate curiosity, learn new things, and let go of old notions. Remember that retirement is not a “life stage” so much as it is a continuation of life. And finally, know when you’re “done” planning.

“If you are dead,” says Schofield, “you’re done.”

Naturally, you want your golden years to shimmer like real gold. After all, you may have more golden years than you first thought, and “How Do I Get There from Here?” will enhance them.

Right from the outset, it’s the whole-life advice that sets this retirement book apart from the others. Author George H. Schofield doesn’t just focus on the financial; he encourages readers to look within and ask hard questions before making any kind of move. This, of course, assumes that you’ll stay healthy, which Schofield tackles; it also assumes that you have no emotional baggage, a subject he also dives into. Quizzes help here, as do DIY worksheets. True, readers may scratch their heads over the weird faux-interviews that Schofield seems to have with himself, but there are takeaways inside those, too.

This book means work, but it’s eye-opening work so grab a pen and “How Do I Get There from Here?” Read it carefully. Missing it’s a beach.

“The Worrier’s Guide to the End of the World”

By Torre DeRoche

c. 2017, Seal Press

$16.99, $22.49 Canada; 259 pages

“The Worrier’s Guide to the End of the World” by Torre DeRoche

Life is a long, strange trip. It’s filled with missed connections, late arrivals, and departures that hurt. You might have a smooth road, but the wrong map; there may be detours you don’t expect, or streets that are closed to traffic. But, as in the new book, “The Worrier’s Guide to the End of the World” by Torre DeRoche, it’s all worth it, if you’ve got a good travelling companion.

Fear was something that Torre DeRoche grew up with. Her father was a film director, famous for his horror movies; posters for them hung in DeRoche’s childhood home and every day, they fed her fears. One of those was a fear of death, which grew and roared when her father passed away shortly after her grandmother died – and then DeRoche’s long-time boyfriend left her.

After those emotional blows, DeRoche “didn’t keep in touch with anyone,” so she was surprised when Masha, a woman she’d met months before at a networking party, emailed her with an invitation: Masha was walking across Europe on a “pilgrimage,” and would DeRoche like to come along?

Fear almost said “no,” but DeRoche said “yes.”

What better way to face phobia head-on than with someone by her side?  She and Masha had become fast friends once before; they could do it again – and they did, across Italy , through lazy fields and hostels of stone. They marveled at how they were each others’ best travelling companion. It worked out so fantastically that Masha asked DeRoche to come along on another pilgrimage, this one across India.

But as well as the first walkabout went, the second was correspondingly disastrous. It was hot, dusty, and filthy on their India trip. Accommodations often lacked basic sanitation and the threat of poisoning – by food or vermin – was constant. Masha always seemed angry. DeRoche felt confused by her friend’s mood. Everything had changed, including her newly-waning waves of fear – and that left a pretty clear message: sometimes, you should “let go of what should be and fall, instead, into what is so.”

Spiders, airplanes, mice, clowns, dogs, heights, snakes, being alone, death, are you scared yet?  Do you need a minute before you start reading “The Worrier’s Guide to the End of the World”?

Fear not: this book isn’t anything that’ll frighten you further. Author Torre DeRoche focuses instead on things we all understand: loss and despair, friendship and self-discovery. Here, fear is the driver of the story, but DeRoche’s journeys – both emotional and physical – are the end result, and the trip is recounted with humor and vivid color. On that last note, don’t be surprised to find yourself in a gauzy flowered meadow on a sunny afternoon, or a polluted red-dirt highway you’ll share with roadkill. Yes, DeRoche is that good at taking a reader there…

Readers looking for a travelogue will find a nice change of pace here, as will those looking for a humorous slice-of-life or a vacation read. It’s different, it’s enjoyable, “The Worrier’s Guide to the End of the World” is worth the trip.

The Bookworm is Terri Schlichenmeyer. She has been reading since she was 3 years old and never goes anywhere without a book. Terri lives on a hill in Wisconsin with two dogs and 11,000 books.