As her sixtieth birthday neared
She felt suffocated by a dark cloud 
The thought of retiring tightened her chest
Nights were agony as she lay awake
In darkness fearing the foreboding future
A vast barren landscape lay ahead
How would she walk the forever road of vacant days
Would she continue to see her friends from work
She said her goodbyes, cleaned out her desk
And went sadly home to an empty house
The next morning dawned with a total sense of loss
Not having any goal, she puttered around the house
Watched tv and took a nap, surviving, but barely 
A few days later she awoke with an unexpected sense of relief
It was possible to linger in bed, eat breakfast slowly 
Read the paper and not be rushed
She scanned the computer looking for volunteer opportunities 
An organization that helped the working poor attracted her attention 
Tentatively at first, and then with enthusiasm, her efforts helped others
History had always been one of her passions 
She became active in the historical society, forming new friendships
Her desire to write could now finally be realized
From deep within, a stream of poetry filled page after page
One of her long time fantasies was to see foreign countries
She hesitantly signed up for a walking trip to the Cotswolds 
The group consisted of eight people all within ten years of her age
Every day they vigorously trekked for several challenging miles
Stopping only briefly for lunch in country pubs 
At night they relaxed over leisurely dinners in quaint hotels 
Her muscles ached, but her spirit and confidence were soaring
Suddenly, the world was opening up for her
Many more cultural walking trips ensued, 
All of them tested her endurance and ability to adapt  
The horror of the barren wasteland had turned into a new vision
Rich with friendships, interesting activities, and rewarding achievements 
The word retirement morphed from hues of black to a colorful rainbow
She no longer believed that age determined her destiny