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Page’s Perspective: Pickleball and Transitions

The Problem:
My husband has recently retired, and now I find I am living with Eeyore! He cannot figure out what to do with himself and mopes around the house watching TV and generally getting in my way. I have a great social life since retiring two years ago. I play mahjong, I work at a local thrift center two mornings a week, and occasionally travel for a long weekend with my gal pals. What can I do to help steer my once active and otherwise wonderful lifelong partner in a happier direction?

Page’s Perspective: This may seem like a strange response, but stick with me. When I first heard the term pickleball, I wondered “What the heck is that?” Of course I looked it up on Youtube and Wikipedia, finding it is a game played with paddles and a wiffle ball on a modified badminton court. But “Why?” I continued to wonder.

After learning more about pickleball and meeting a few folks who play it regularly, it was easy to understand the fun and addiction that they expressed for the game. First of all, it involves a bit of strategy. It is about placement of the ball. Secondly, it is typically played in doubles (over 90% of players play doubles vs. singles), which means you don’t have to run all over the dang court, and can play for longer than you might if you had to run 30-40 miles; the court is a bit smaller than a tennis court. Thirdly, it is truly a game of honor. If you fault, you call it, with integrity. And lastly, the socialization that comes with this relatively new sport is fantastic. Pickleball lovers unite! (I hope that is on a ball cap somewhere.)

But why do I bring this up to answer a question about how to slip into retirement gracefully? First of all, let’s ditch the word retirement and call it “rewirement” instead. Because what you are doing is beginning a transition that should start before you quit your day job. Join clubs, groups or organizations that have people in them you would like to know, or that perform services for your community, but in a fun way. Even the word ‘volunteer’ can sound like drudgery if there’s no fun in it for you! Some examples are theater support groups such as Thalian Hall or Cape Fear Community College, Supporting the Dreams organization for youth, or perhaps taking a more active role in something in which you believe—your choice!

It is all about getting connected. Connection is the ticket to a long, healthy, and happy life. Science says so. Don’t take my word for it, listen to the TED Talk by Robert Waldinger, director of Harvard’s 75 year study on adult development. The title is “What Makes a Good Life?” Here is 75 years of hard core proof just waiting for you!

Even if you tell me you don’t like groups and you would prefer to sit at home and knit (nothing wrong with that!), there are organizations that could benefit from your skills that would allow you some connection to something larger than yourself.

Now back to pickleball. Here’s a fine example of something fun, active, and filled with the possibility of new and interesting friends. Who knows—you may end up on the Board of the International Pickleball Federation! Yep, there really is one. Happy rewirement!

Page Rutledge is a licensed Clinical Social Worker practicing in Wilmington, NC. She specializes in anxiety management and relationship counseling. Visit her website and blog at

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