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One Year Into Her Retirement Widow Seeks New Purpose

DEAR ABBY: I am a 64-year-old healthy widow with no children. I retired a year ago after a successful 42-year career. I am financially sound.

I couldn't wait to retire because my job was demanding, and toward the end it had become extremely stressful. About two months into retirement -- and after taking a few trips -- I began feeling worthless and guilty for being nonproductive. I tried a part-time job, but it wasn't my thing.

I'm now considering another part-time job, volunteering or returning to school. I have always wanted to further my education and get a graduate degree, but I don't know if I'm too old to meet the demands.

I feel like I lost my identity when I stopped working. I know it had to end one day, but I still have a lot of energy and want to engage in some activity that will revive my self-worth.

At this point, I don't know what that will be. Your thoughts and guidance would be greatly appreciated. -- SEARCHING FOR "ME" IN TEXAS

DEAR SEARCHING: Not everyone ages at the same rate. Some people wear out faster than others do. Today, for various reasons -- not all of them financial -- many seniors choose to remain in the business world. Their work ethic and experience are valuable assets.

If you think a graduate degree would be challenging and would help you in a new career, then by all means, go for it.

When people tell me they are thinking of retiring, I always ask, "And what will you be retiring TO?" because I am convinced that retiring to "nothing" is neither physically nor emotionally healthy for individuals who are used to being active.

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