I'm Angela and I'm 57 and a half years old. I'm in that No Man's (or Woman's) land between paid work and official 'retirement'. I've had a great career, starting as a journalist on a rural weekly newspaper, before going on to university as a mature student and graduating to become a health promotion specialist in the NHS.
Lecturing, research, community engagement and project management have all featured in my career pathway over the last ten years. My last job was as a project officer for Age UK Lancashire, working alongside The Dukes theatre in Lancaster, to develop a programme of cinema and arts events for people with dementia and their families. It was a lovely project but, sadly, the funding ran out in March this year.
And now I still want to work, but in a different way, more flexibly, more creatively. The need to return to my roots as a journalist and writer is my driving force. But I want to carve out a niche in life story writing, recognising that we each have a story to tell. Naturally, I'm putting a lot of energy into writing my own story, the story of my own childhood and career. Over the coming months I'll be sharing some of this with you as I write my blog.
I'm also running workshops on life story writing at Barton Grange, to motivate and inspire others to get started. I'm not setting myself up as some kind of 'expert' here - there is no one who is more qualified to write your own story than you are - but I offer some basic tools to get you going.
Alongside this, I'm also helping my husband with his electrical contracting business, doing general admin. I visit my 81-year-old mother in a nursing home. I have two grandchildren and a dog that I walk for up to three miles each day (the dog, not the grandchildren!). I also try to keep myself fit by running and have recently joined a local running club.
So, yes, life is very full, very busy. And yet...despite all of this, I am, dare I say it.... lonely. Yes, I've said the word now, committed it to print. But the truth is, I'm lonely and isolated, at 57 and a half.
Don't get me wrong. I am blessed in many ways, with a loving husband and family, good friends and neighbours. What I'm really missing is the buzz of the work environment, the camaraderie that you get from office colleagues, the sense of routine and structure and of being part of a wider world that work brings.
I suspect I'm not alone in this and that many others who are making the transition from formal work to retirement or semi-retirement will identify with these feelings. At the same time, I am excited by the possibilities offered by a new life away from the rigidity of work. Writing, voluntary work, community work...the list is endless.
So, really, my blog is an online diary of how I manage the transition from formal work and career to becoming someone who is 'Nearly but Not Quite' - and hopefully still a long way off - retired.