Most years it takes me a few days in early January to compile a list of potential words and choose my word for the year. For 2021 though, it was easy; I chose the first word that popped in my mind: Jubilada. Thanks to Latin etymology of many Spanish and English cognates—20,000+ they say—this word is my current favorite. For the last decade or so, when reviewing the past year and looking forward, I’ve chosen one word to accompany me into the new year.
“Jubilada” is the feminine version of a Spanish adjective that means “retired.” Linguistically its false friend (similar roots, different meaning) in English is “jubilant.” Since I am shouting for joy, a.k.a. jubilant, due to my retirement, the relationship of these two words seems closer to a true cognate (similar roots, same meaning).
Don’t get me wrong. I enjoyed working on behalf of children and families in hospitals and schools for all those years. But when I was 62, the same age Rob was when he retired, I got envious. He’s five years older than me so he has given me a close-in example of how fun it can be to call one’s own shots. So, I put together a glide slope—part-time work, academic leave and COBRA—easing down until I finally reached that magic age of 65 in November 2020. Mine is definitely an example of privilege because I was in a position to plow through the challenging maze to Medicare with options.
Of course, you’ll still find me reading books on the porch to preschoolers whenever I get the chance. Or taking cookies to my baby grandniece and her family. I can sniff out those young parents who might appreciate my encouragement; I hope they realize the encouragement is mutual. I see how well they are doing the most important work in the world—raising children. And these days, parenting during a pandemic is new territory.
Sometimes I get restless considering what I’m going to do for the rest of my life especially as most of the opportunities for travel and volunteering are still in lockdown. But that is nothing new for me, truth be told. The inner work of Being has often gotten short shrift to Doing from me. In this new world of physically-distant retirement, one of the things I like most is that I no longer report to anyone but God. This simple realization makes me jubilant a lot of the time. Not what I was expecting in 2021, my first full year of official retirement, but better.