Master the Art of French Cooking and Retirement

My husband is a manly man. He was the third of three boys. After a stint in the U.S. Army, he went into manufacturing, a very masculine world, where he worked his entire adult life. His first retirement project has been to build a plane in our garage.

The one movie I wanted to see this summer was Julie and Julia, with Meryl Streep in the title role playing Julia Child. Most of us grew up with images of Julia Child cooking on PBS. Ms Streep embodies such a wonderful interpretation of this daring and dynamic woman.

Like many new retirees, Julia was looking for a sense of meaning in her life. She was also looking for ways to fill her days. Some people know what they want to do with their lives. For most of us, it’s a search and a willingness to explore new activities. One way to start is to understand what you value, what’s important to you.

Without giving away any plot lines, I can safely say that Julia Child wasn’t born a great chef. In fact, when she and husband Paul moved to Paris, she was at a loss as to how to fill her time, just like many new retirees. She experimented with different activities before deciding to enter the Le Cordon Bleu school of cooking.

When my husband was thinking about how he wanted to spend his retirement, he reached back to an old dream he’d carried for many years to build a plane. He’s discovering that while he enjoys building the plane, it’s not enough. We’re both surprised by the sudden desire to cook.

The delicious smells of French cooking permeate my house with Julia’s signature Boeuf Bourguignon simmering on the stove. What does my husband share with Julia Child? They both value the concept of ‘mastery.’ You can’t build a plane if you’re an amateur. You can’t truly be a French chef if you’re unwilling to follow the rules.

Each of us is guided by core truths we hold about ourselves and the world. As you rediscover these values, they become the center from which you experiment and create a new retirement life.

BOLA TANGKAS