May 25, 2015
We first profiled Donna ten years ago, when she was our 100,000th member to retire. We caught up with her as part of our 25th anniversary celebrations.
In the decade since she's retired, Donna has been throwing curling rocks, hitting tennis balls, travelling the globe, volunteering with the Rotary club, and generally not sitting still.
Last year, for example, she spent a month in Scotland on a curling exchange program organized through her Rotary Club.
Her team was hosted by local families and played 19 games in 29 days. It was the experience of a lifetime.
"Teaching was a fabulous career, but now I have the freedom to plan what I want to do, and when. And with my defined benefit pension, I have the resources to be able to do it," she said.
"In our generation there was a time when some of my colleagues commuted their pension. And then the markets crashed and now they are having a tough time," Donna continued. "The security of a defined benefit can't be beat."
Retired life doesn't come without its challenges though. The past decade has taught her the importance of maintaining connections. "If you have a spouse, you need to work out a strategy so you don't drive one another crazy," she said, with a chuckle. "It's likely the first time you'll have that much time to spend with one another, without the distraction of full-time jobs.
"When you're working, you're part of a community de facto. When you're retired, you have to make a real effort to forge new friendships and maintain existing ones."
Her advice? Find something that interests you and see what's out there – reading groups, sports clubs, volunteer organizations are all great starting points. Both she and her husband enjoy playing tennis, but they have chosen to volunteer for different organizations. It's a new balance, but one that she is happy to achieve.