How two former lawyers are changing the face of retirement for women.
Karen Wagner and Erica Baird, two former corporate attorneys, both hit a major milestone in their lives a few years ago — retirement. However, like everything else in their lives, they did not take it sitting down. Unlike many others who count down the days, even minutes, until they can retire and completely unwind, Karen and Erica decided to do the complete opposite.
“We expected to have broken all the glass ceilings by now,” they said. “And we certainly didn’t think we would see one after we retired — especially one that would keep us from living fully in the world we changed when we broke through the barriers to the working world.” They continued, “But here we are — again. So we said, we’ve done this before. Let’s get to it.”
In just a few sentences, Baird and Wagner perfectly capture the essence of their new venture — Lustre, a website that presents an authentic image of a modern retired woman. These women, once highly visible participants in the workforce and the world, became invisible the day they entered retirement. They experienced being valued in the workplace for their minds, experience and skills, yet saw all of that appreciation disappear upon entering retirement.
Through Lustre’s website and social media channels, Karen and Erica are using their voices to fill a void and bring together a community of boomer women who are in the same position as them — women who are still powerful, vibrant and active in life. The purpose of Lustre is to put this cohort back on the map and to update notions of what retirement looks like. Karen and Erica were part of the group that changed the image and expectations of corporate women when they started working. Now, through Lustre, they are prepared to change similar misconceptions for today’s retired women.
What’s more, unlike retirees of the past, this group of newly retired boomer women expect to live many decades beyond retirement. They are healthier in mind and body than ever before.
One of Lustre’s major topic areas focuses on physical health and wellness. Karen and Erica are both active people, never sitting still and walking wherever and whenever they can. Karen has a regular exercise routine every morning, whereas Erica, who has trouble with routines and gyms, finds ways to constantly move her body, furniture, or whatever else is nearby. Both women, like many others in their position, are more physically active now than before they retired. On the Lustre site, you will see that Karen and Erica have already written on physical health topics including the importance of exercise, myths about supplements and a new women’s health initiative at a hospital system. They plan to continue to regularly address health and wellness topics themselves as well as having regular guest posts from medical professionals.
In addition to physical health and wellness, Lustre highlights mental health issues and emphasizes the importance of staying mindful and engaged at every age. Being active, smart, experienced and vibrant people, boomer women want new challenges, new opportunities and new ways to continue to be engaged in the larger world.
Karen and Erica are also quick to point out that embracing this new kind of retirement is just as important for the workforce to get behind as it is for the retirees themselves. With 10,000 boomers retiring per day, this is a group that can no longer be ignored or cast aside. In their words, “Today’s retirees can either be major contributors, sharing our vast expertise and experience and leading purposeful lives. Or, if we are cast off as useless, we will likely become unhealthy and needy, takers rather than contributors. That’s just too many takers for society and our economy to handle.”
While the Lustre community is working together to promote the authentic image of today’s retiree, it is just as important to Karen and Erica that these women also pass along the lessons they have learned, both personally and professionally, to younger women. “We want them to know that we are glad we stuck it out, and that we are here and available to help them accelerate their own success,” they said. To read some of these lessons, and see the latest posts from Karen and Erica, including how they stay engaged and active — including learning to fly — visit Lustre.