Web site sponsors contest to find new word for life after certain age

Posted: Tuesday, October 17, 2000

WEEHAWKEN, N.J. -- Howard and Marika Stone don't like to call themselves retired. Graduated, maybe. Or refined.

The Stones -- Howard is 65, Marika is 58 -- founded the Web site 2young2retire.com last year after leaving their jobs in writing and business publishing for different chapters in their lives. While Howard Stone is collecting Social Security, he says he doesn't feel that retirement, a word he associates with rest after a life of work, accurately describes his life.

''It's kind of this unreal deadline for people that doesn't make sense anymore,'' Stone said. ''The idea of rest and play for the rest of your life is the ticket to the hospital. There's no reason to be productive anymore.''

In their August newsletter, the Stones sponsored a contest to do away with retirement, asking their 1,500 subscribers to come up with a word to describe life after that certain age.

Look up ''retire'' in the dictionary, Stone says, and ''it says withdraw. It says retreat. It says move away from the world. I don't know too many people that really want to do that.

''There's got to be another way.''

Stone is not the only person who thinks retirement may be becoming dated.

''We changed our name officially about two years ago,'' said Tom Otwell, a spokesman for the AARP, formerly known as the American Association of Retired Persons.

The organization changed its name to the acronym because at least one-third of its 34 million members are still in the work force, Otwell said. An AARP study shows that 80 percent of baby boomers say they plan to work after official retirement age.

The Stones, who live in a loft apartment with Manhattan-skyline views, took up new pursuits after abandoning their longtime careers. Marika Stone went to Lenox, Mass., to become a yoga teacher, and now teaches a few times a week out of her apartment.

Howard Stone, who said he threw himself a ''graduation'' party when he left his business publishing job, now works as a post-career coach who gives people who have reached the official retirement age advice on what to do with the rest of their lives.

Life after 50, Stone says, is ''a great time of life to learn more and maybe find something inside that's been hiding since we've been doing the stuff we should be doing.''

The Web site, which features members' post-retirement stories and links to such sites as the Peace Corps, Sierra Club, tutoring and foster grandparent opportunities, has had more than 100,000 hits since it was launched, Stone said. More than 80 people submitted suggestions for a word to replace retirement in the contest. K.J. Dante of Rockville, Md., proposed ''graduation.''

''I have graduated from kindergarten, grade school, high school, college, and will soon graduate from work. Each step of the way, I prepare myself for the next step,'' Dante wrote. ''Now I graduate into the final portion of my life, determined by me, with few limitations by others.''

Nancy Weidner of Fort Myers, Fla., suggested the winning word -- ''renaissance.''

''To me this means awakening, rebirth or time to do your most creative and self-satisfying activities,'' she wrote.

''Focusing on raising a family and saving for retirement has kept our noses to the grindstone. We can now awaken our dreams and become the person we always wanted to be if we didn't get there already or go beyond those dreams. I'm not ready to 'withdraw' from life but to go on and do my best. ''

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