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Staying social

December 12, 2016

On a blustery late-November afternoon, Susan Franceschini’s Mississauga home is filled with laughter and chatter. Susan’s hosting five friends, Debbie Maltas, Diane Harmon, Terry Tidy, Phyllis Jones, and Lynn Opre. Listening to the banter, it’d be easy to assume this group has known one another for decades. But, they haven’t. They’re all retired teachers who met within the past four years through the Retired Women Teachers of Ontario.

Joining a group specifically to help retired teachers connect and socialize has played an integral role in helping each of them to adjust to life on pension.

“When you’re working, your colleagues are one of your biggest sources of support. You experience the same challenges in the classroom, you likely have kids the same age, and more often than not, you’re going through similar phases of life at the same time,” said Terry. 

So, it’s no surprise that support should carry through to the next stage of life, “except now we don’t talk shop, we talk about our grandkids,” added Diane.

Phyllis, the newest recruit having just retired in July 2016, talked about the fear she had of transitioning from an extremely structured and social life, to a life that felt like an unchartered, wide-open territory.

“It was terrifying to think that I would retire and just close my front door and be on my own,” she said.

Like the others, she sought out the group and discovered a whole new source of support and friendships.

“Whether it’s book club, euchre games, or trips to the theatre, being involved enriches our lives,” said Susan.

And there’s no shortage of snacks or recipes to go around.

Check out our favourite tips overheard during the get together:

  • “Find structure by giving yourself one thing to do each day, and don’t be afraid to start small, like getting the laundry folded. Otherwise you’ll try to do it all, or nothing at all,” – Terry.

  • “You have to get over the guilt of putting yourself first after 30 years of putting your students and your family first,” – Diane

  • “As teachers we’re good listeners. Sometimes these groups offer a forum to just talk about what’s happening in your life, without judgement or advice offered. You just need the ears of friends,” – Susan

  • “I volunteer at a foodbank and animal shelter. It’s totally different from a school setting and it gives me a new sense of purpose,” – Lynn

  • “I focused on my own well-being and started practicing yoga every single day when I retired. I feel stronger, more confident and healthier,” – Phyllis

  • “There’s something really special about a group of women who are like-minded and have had similar experiences. We connect easily and we can talk about anything,” - Debbie

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