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California Lutheran University's Student Newspaper Since 1961

The Echo

California Lutheran University's Student Newspaper Since 1961

The Echo

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Pursuing interests in retirement is rewarding

Photo contributed by Luisa Johnson
Former Cal Lutheran professor Luisa Johnson said she found an appreciation for art during retirement, creating sculptures such as the one pictured.

Retirement happens for various reasons. However, many retirees struggle to find purpose after leaving their careers, and it is imperative that retirees incorporate hobbies and interests into their everyday lives to enjoy their golden years.

According to an article in Psych Central by Nina Chamlou, one-third of American retirees experience symptoms of depression after resigning from their careers. Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Iris Waichler, attributes these feelings of depression to a lost sense of direction in life.

โ€œFor many people, their work offers them meaning and purpose in their lives. When their job is gone, it can be difficult to fill that gap with something else,โ€ Waichler said.

This has not been the case for former professor at California Lutheran University, Luisa Johnson. Johnson is 72-years-old and has been retired since 2012 after being diagnosed with lyme disease.

โ€œI was licensed as a clinical psychologist here in California and I taught here at Cal Lutheran from ’84 to ’89 in the psychology department,โ€ Johnson said.

Since retirement, Johnson has pursued different passions that she was not able to focus on during her career.

โ€œI got really sick with lyme disease, within about six months or so I had to retire,โ€ Johnson said. โ€œA friend of mine invited me to consider being trained to be a spiritual directorโ€ฆit was a companioning and listening kind of ministry.โ€

In addition to spirituality, Johnson said she has been able to find her appreciation for art during retirement.

โ€œI took four years of art in high school and four in college. I always thought I was going to be an art historian or artist of some kind but I got completely into a whole other career path,โ€ Johnson said.ย 

Currently, she is enrolled in a sculpting class at Cal Lutheran where she is creating a bust of her six-year-old granddaughter. Johnson has also done previous classes where she was able to make life-like sculptures of her subjects.

The Psych Central article by Nina Chamlou emphasizes the emotional effects retirees face when challenged with living on their own, sedentary lifestyle obstacles, financial strain and health problems. While not all of these problems can be solved with an active lifestyle, participating in hobbies and setting new goals can make retirees less prone to experiencing symptoms of depression.

Oakmont of Agoura Hills is a senior living community that is home to many local residents, including 92-year-old Marilyn Sokolof. Sokolof has been a resident in the Oakmont community for two years and is known for having a bedazzled walker that she calls โ€˜chariot.โ€™ย 

โ€œI really like it here and love the people in my community, I have to say that I am pretty popular around here,โ€ Sokolof said.ย 

Sokolof was formerly an accountant, but stopped working many years ago to be a stay-at-home mother. At Oakmont, some of Sokolofโ€™s favorite activities are bicycling, exercise class and mahjong.

โ€œI am on the welcoming committee and have done a couple of fashion shows here and I also teach a class called โ€˜then and nowโ€™โ€ Sokolof said.

Recently, the welcoming committee greeted a new resident, 85-year-old Nan Branstetter. Formerly a ceramicist, Branstetter now enjoys painting, playing bingo, and collecting dolls.

โ€œI have 84 dolls, and theyโ€™re all purpleโ€ฆ I just decided that I am going to decorate my new room with all my dolls,โ€ Branstetter said.

Branstetter said it has been hard for her to adjust to a new environment having only moved to Oakmont 6 weeks prior. Overall, the activities and nightly happy hour has lent itself to providing opportunities for socialization, Branstetter said.ย 

Staying active and pursuing hobbies does not go away with age. If anything, retirement gives people the opportunity to participate in the community and develop niche passions that they never had before.

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