Still I Rise: Balancing Activity & Tranquility in Retirement

still i rise

Standing around 5”2 and bubbling over with giant-sized energy, I recently spoke with 70 year old retiree and Sacramento, CA resident, Linda Prosper about how she maintains a happy and healthy lifestyle post-career. Prosper retired in November of 2009 after 26 years in the Kaiser Permanente Health Care System where she worked as a Medical Secretary and Transcriptionist. She has been seizing the day ever since.

“What I love about being retired is the freedom of knowing when I wake up, the day is mine,” said Ms. Prosper.

Rising every morning around 6 am, Prosper is the quintessential morning person. When she’s up, she’s ready to go! An early start time makes sense, as her post-working philosophy revolves around getting out the house, exercising, frequent adventures and friendship.

“I want to go out and learn new things, stay active. Staying in the house all day makes me depressed. Going out and meeting new friends makes me happy,” Prosper enthusiastically declared. This mantra has colored her every experience, including a trip to Alaska and her volunteer work in the kitchen at a local children’s center. When she’s not plotting the next adventure or serving her community, a typical day is filled with exercise, lunch dates with the girls and quiet evenings in the garden.

For the last eight years, Ms. Prosper participated in daily sessions of Zumba, yoga or strolls with her local walking group. Three years ago, she happened upon what has become her favorite sport: pickleball.

An avid tennis player during the 80’s & 90’s, Prosper’s playing became less frequent as it grew harder to find partners in her age and skill range. It was serendipitous when she stumbled upon a listing in the local paper, advertising a meet and greet for a new sport called pickleball. According to the, USA Pickleball Association, pickleball is a “fun paddle sport that combines many elements of tennis, badminton and Ping-Pong. It can be played indoors or outdoors on a badminton court with a modified tennis net. Games feature single or double players.”

“I fell in love on the first day!” exclaimed Prosper. Not only did pickleball fill the void left by tennis; but, she was also pleased to find that the other participants at her local court were senior citizens with an equally competitive spirit. Prosper now plays pickleball three times a week. She has since joined two recreational leagues and is preparing for a tournament at the end of August. Perhaps Prosper’s favorite part of pickleball is the expansion of her social network- Morning workouts often end in lunch plans!

“Greenery and being around water are also key to being happy. They help me sleep better at night,” Prosper explained. When Ms. Prosper isn’t playing pickleball, she can be found walking along the Sacramento River levee or working in her garden.

Walking has been a big part of Ms. Prosper’s life ever since she moved to Sacramento 30+ years ago. She joined a walking program at her local community college in the 1980’s to exercise and make new friends. She has been stepping out ever since. Walking makes her feel “free.” In addition to the positive psychological benefits, the social aspects of walking are just as important .With the cool river breeze blowing across the face, walks have become the perfect place to catch up with friends on the latest celebrity gossip and the comings-and-goings of family.

At the end of each day, Ms. Prosper can be found calmly, toiling away in her backyard garden. Developing a green thumb was one of the goals she set for herself upon retiring. Prosper’s garden has grown into a verdant oasis of tomatoes, red & yellow bell peppers and a rainbow of flowers. As the sun sets across the California sky, Linda Prosper is still rising, still thriving, having struck the perfect balance of activity and tranquility in her retired life.

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Rakia Seaborn

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