Make the most of retirement

List localizes tips from how-to guides for making the most of retirement

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By KATHY DES JARDINS CIOFFI
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It’s been 47 years since Woodstock, and no better statistic sums up how far we’ve come from the hippie dippie days of yore than this: About 10,000 baby boomers are retiring. Daily. In other words, if you and Sha Na Na’s Henry Gross are about the same age (65), or if Jefferson Airplane’s Grace Slick is practically as old as your mother (77 in October), then welcome to retirement – now or sometime soon – Woodstock Nation.

While retiring can be rife with concerns regarding health and wealth, one rosy fact might ease the transition: Now at least you’ll have time for the pursuit of happiness.

As unalienable rights go, this one seems particularly well suited to baby boomers, owners of the first Barbies and inventors of Beatlemania. Since this generation of retirees also spent the last 25 years supporting the “For Dummies” book franchise, publishers wisely anticipated a demand for how-to manuals on having fun while qualifying for Medicare, and responded accordingly.

What that means for 76 million Americans of a certain age is they can find advice aplenty for their next stage of life in books like “How to Retire Happy, Wild and Free,” “The Baby Boomer’s Guide to a Rockin’ & Rollin’ Retirement,” “Retirement is Fun: A New Chapter” and Stella Rheingold’s “101 Fun Things To Do In Retirement: An Irreverent, Outragious & Funny Guide to Life After Work.”

To illustrate just how entertaining retirement can be in North Fulton and Forsyth counties, we checked out Rheingold’s tips and, using some chapter titles as guides, assembled a sampling of activities ideal for anyone retiring now – or in 5, 10 or 15 years. What we found was far more than 101 fun things to do in the area, meaning local residents of any age couldn’t be better positioned to let the good times roll.

Music Music Music
Music helped define the newest generation of retirees, and music of all strains can serenade them still. Two concerts remain in this year’s lineup of Roswell’s free Riverside Sounds Concert Series, on Sept. 3 and Oct. 1 (www.roswellgov.com). Chattahoochee Nature Center’s Sundays on the River Concert series continues Sept. 11 (www.chattnaturecenter.org). Alpharetta’s Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre has 10 events remaining in 2016 (www.vzwamp.com). About once a month, the Autrey Mill Unplugged series in Johns Creek serves up candlelit evenings of live music in a natural, historic setting (autreymill.org). The LIVE! In Roswell concert series is among many offerings at the Roswell Cultural Arts Center (www.roswellgov.com). Three more performances in 2016 remain for the Michael O’Neal Singers all in Roswell (www.mosingers.com).  And everything from bluegrass and country to holiday orchestral music will be coming up at the Cumming Playhouse (Playhousecumming.com).

Get Political
With the presidential election two months away, there’s still time to connect with campaigns. Choose from organizations dedicated to Democrats (fultondems.org, fcdpnc.org), Republicans (www.fultongop.org, forsythgop.org), or Libertarians (www.lpgeorgia.com).

Tend Your Garden
If having a green thumb during your golden years is a goal, the UGA Extension in Fulton County and North Fulton Master Gardeners can help – for free. In September, learn about shade gardening or lawn care for fall and winter. October classes include composting, bulbs and planting trees and shrubs (www.nfmg.net). For information on the Forsyth County Master Gardener Program, go to fcmg.sharepoint.com.

Show Me!
Venues offering live shows of every stripe abound locally. The upcoming season at Roswell’s Georgia Ensemble Theatre will offer musicals, comedies and more (get.org). The Cumming Playhouse, a performing arts venue in a historic setting, offers plays, musicals, concerts and fine dining throughout the year (Playhousecumming.com). ACT1 Theater is a community theater and outreach of Alpharetta Presbyterian Church (www.act1theater.com). Similarly, ActingUp is a Roswell United Methodist Church ministry (www.facebook.com/RUMCactingUP). Local high school theater departments also stage productions throughout the school year. 

Eat It. Just Eat It.
Diners drawn to cutting-edge cuisine can delight in the food-truck phenomenon sweeping the region. Alpharetta’s Food Truck Alley continues through October on Thursday evenings (www. awesomealpharetta.com). Johns Creek’s Food Truck Friday is scheduled Sept. 16 and Oct. 14 at Technology Park (johnscreekadvantage.org). In Roswell, Family Food Truck Fridays will be Sept. 30 and Oct. 28 at Riverside Park (visitroswellga.com). For those with retro tastes, open hearth cooking as well as classes in historic kitchens are among many events on the Southern Trilogy Historic House Museums calendar for Roswell’s Barrington Hall, Bulloch Hall and Smith Plantation (www.roswellgov.com).

Get Sporty
Tennis, the “sport for a lifetime,” is a game anyone at every age and level can quickly learn at a number of venues. USTA Atlanta, serving Fulton and Forsyth counties (www.ustaatlanta.com), offers a wide range of league opportunities. The Atlanta Lawn Tennis Association (www.altatennis.org), the self-proclaimed “largest local tennis league in the world,” organizes league play in subdivisions and clubs throughout the metro area. For 22 years, the North Fulton Golden Games has provided adults 50 and older a chance to participate – and medal – in a myriad of competitions, from canasta to rock climbing and shuffleboard to swimming and diving (www.facebook.com/NorthFultonGoldenGames). Senior centers operated by Senior Services North Fulton have classes ranging from walking and dancing to balloon volleyball and tai chi (www.ssnorthfulton.org). And many other senior-specific programs can be found at local YMCAs, adult recreation centers and recreation and parks departments

Dive Into Literature
One resource could fill every spare second not only with books but also instruction on nearly any topic imaginable – the public library system. If you do nothing else on this list, check out the bounty of classes at North Fulton libraries (afpls.org/events) and in Forsyth (forsythpl.org/eventCalendar/
eventCalendar.aspx). Need more ideas?

There’s a wealth of local art exhibits, countless fairs and festivals, a profusion of year-round holiday-themed events and so many fundraisers and causes to support that retirees might wonder how they ever found 40 hours in a week for work.

Given all these options, not to mention Atlanta just down the road, take heart, Woodstock Nation, retirement just might be the time of your life. ■

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Farrah Haidar, left, and Hala Yassine, are two of the seven sisters involved in Seven Sisters Scones in Johns Creek, offering their customers a modern take on a traditional breakfast treat.
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