By Dr. Judith M. Taylor
Dr. Judith M. Taylor, a former neurologist, enjoys a late-life career as a distinguished horticulture historian. She’s written six books on the subject.
Early retirement has clearly been shown to be detrimental to your health. The Wall Street Journal’s report, “The Case Against Early Retirement,” which is based on a major national study, laid out the pitfalls. Essentially, to retire into idleness is to die. There has to be a reason to get up in the morning. If it is only to sit, overeat and, perhaps, drink too much, your health suffers.
The scientists showed that if such people went back to work the problems with their health were reversible. The most important thing one can do after leaving a full-time job is to pick out a challenging task and work at it as if your life depended on it. It does.
When I was 60, my husband, who was a lot older than I was, suggested we pack it in and move to California, I thought: “Why not?”
That was 25 years ago. Within a short time, I was so busy that I managed to avoid the downsides of early retirement.
We were married for 55 years until he died in 2016 at 92. Now I carry on without him, but find that living into my 80s is a bonus filled with unexpected sources of satisfaction. Other than the great joys of children and grandchildren, perhaps the richest moments come from writing and researching. I find these activities very addicting.
I am now 85 and came to write books by delightful serendipity. The house we bought in California had a sadly neglected garden. We planted two dozen olive trees, and I could not find any books about them, so after a lot of research, I wrote my own.
Very little comes close to the excitement of seeing that first book in print. Stopping after the first book was impossible; I have since written five more.
In my case, the kicker is that I only write books about subjects of which I know nothing about. The idea of penning a book about something I am already familiar with seems dull and dry.
My passion for creating books has given my latter life just as much meaning, happiness and purpose—maybe even more—as any regular job could have.
Becoming a horticultural historian has been a delightful chapter in my life; remember, it’s never too late to follow your dreams.
Dr. Judith Taylor was born in London and educated at Oxford. For more information on her books, such as An Abundance of Flowers: More Great Flower Breeders of the Past, visit www.horthistoria.com.