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Kathy Maydo in Thunder Bay on Aug. 26.Brandy Kenna/The Globe and Mail

Kathy Maydo, 64, Thunder Bay

I retired in November after spending about 30 years working in the health care field. For the past nine years, I had two different jobs; one at a hospital and one at a medical clinic. Working in health care is a stressful environment, no matter what job you do, especially since the pandemic. I was getting burned out. It was time for a change.

I didn’t think much about retirement until last year. All I knew was that I didn’t want to be retired in Thunder Bay during the winter. Everything fell into place last summer when my partner and I found a place to buy at an RV resort community in Brownsville, Tex. Now I had a place to go to escape the cold winters.

Still, I was scared to retire. Financially, I was a bit nervous but I have a pension, my mortgage is paid off and I started taking CPP at age 60. I was more worried emotionally since I’m a recovering alcoholic with 10 years of sobriety. A lot of time on your hands is hard for someone in my situation. Plus, my partner is six years younger than me, and he’s not retiring yet, so it meant I would be spending more time alone, especially down in Texas in the winter. But I have travelled alone before, so I was confident I could make it work.

Retirement is very social, which means there’s a lot of opportunity for drinking. I think alcoholism in retirement is something that isn’t talked about enough. It’s especially important for people in early recovery to ensure they have the support they need.

I have to be more diligent and reinforce my boundaries for my recovery. I work hard at staying busy. I started playing pickleball in Texas, which I love, and joined group dinners at the RV resort. I have also found AA meetings. I made it through my first winter, and I am already getting excited for the next one. I bought some acrylic paint and am planning to take some art courses, which I’m looking forward to.

I’m also a big traveller. Before I retired, I travelled to several countries across Asia and Europe. On my bucket list are Africa and Croatia. One of my sons lives in London, England, and the other in Revelstoke, B.C., so I will be able to visit them more often.

My favourite part of retirement is not having to rush around. I’m calmer. But I still need to keep active. My advice to others is to think about how you will fill your time in retirement; otherwise, it can be a shock. Also, you need to keep social, which means putting yourself out there a bit more so that you’re not just sitting at home.

As told to Brenda Bouw

This interview has been edited and condensed.

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