Retirement Classes and Lifelong Learning Opportunities in Plymouth

Retirement can be a daunting shift for many baby boomers, but Plymouth offers a plethora of learning opportunities for all of life’s stages.
Plymouth offers a plethora of learning opportunities, like art classes, for all of life's stages.

As more Baby Boomers reach the age of retirement, they’re faced with an omnipresent quandary: What do you actually do with your day after you leave your work life behind? The hours once spent on the job leaves more time than many know what to do with. The good news is that no matter how daunting the question might seem, what really awaits new retirees is new opportunity. Life in retirement begins a new chapter that can be filled with new adventures, new hobbies or new employment. Here’s how a couple of locals are redefining retirement.Cinda ColumbPast Life: Psychotherapist and life coachPresent Muse: Traveling, painting and volunteer workIn 2012, Plymouth resident Cinda Columb began a transformation. After years as a psychotherapist and a certified life coach, Columb and her newly retired husband, Scott, began to spread their wings in the newfound freedom semi-retirement offered. They set out as many would: traveling. For the Columbs, this included a mission trip to Costa Rica, followed by a three-week excursion to see the country and to better understand the culture and people. Yet while traveling is relaxing and fulfilling, Cinda Columb knew she would need to find a new hobby when she returned home to fill her days.  Looking for an outlet for her creative side, Columb began painting classes at Minnetonka Center for the Arts. Her first class in landscape pastels quickly became a favorite pastime. She was naturally drawn to creating colorful landscapes and was praised by her instructor after completing her first piece of art. The courses she’s taken give her the opportunity to create something new every two weeks. Columb’s previous career focused on analyzing people and human behavior; she says one of the most interesting aspects of her new hobby is how it has changed the way she experiences nature, what she observes and how she sees color that she wouldn’t have noticed before.  She also spends more time volunteering to mentor women in transition, mostly mothers whose primary job is care for their children, but who want to develop their profession. Columb draws from her experience as a life coach to help understand women’s strengths, creating a positive environment to encourage and enrich each woman using an online questionnaire tool called the StrengthsFinder, developed by Gallup to do just what its name suggests. “It is all too common for people to focus too much on our weaknesses, when we should really pay attention to what we do well,” Columb says. “Life is a series of transitions.” Ron TimmPast Life: Graphic artsPresent Muse: Photography and teachingFor Ron Timm, the transition into retirement has been moving from one rewarding job to another. After working in the graphic arts industry and now as current president of the Digital Photographic Society, Timm began teaching in 2004. First he focused on his love of photography. Timm is a certified international photography judge, the director of a photography judge training school, president of his camera club and a former president of the Camera Council, the leading governing body of many photography organizations in Minnesota and Wisconsin.Timm teaches the class around finding ways to spend your retirement days—literally. When he started teaching classes at Plymouth Creek Center in 2004, it was merely an opportunity to share his passion of photography with others. What it became was the beginning of his own next chapter. All told, Timm has taught in 14 community education school districts, including Plymouth, Eden Prairie and Minnetonka, and even at a local college. While he continues to offer photography-related classes, Timm has expanded his offerings to include a wide variety of other courses that seniors might be interested in, including how to save money in retirement, how and where to find part-time jobs, matching hobbies to interests, where to find volunteering opportunities and the challenges of being a landlord. (He’s combined them all, in fact, into a “Retiring? Now what?” course. See sidebar for more information). Many seniors appreciate his computer literacy course, and with the advancements in mobile technology, Timm offers a course on using tablets like the iPad—important tools used by boomers to connect with distant friends and family. “With the resources available to us,” Timm says, “we can visit places we’ve only read about, learn new skills, enjoy our families and, just like anyone else, enjoy the journey.”