Aging Well

Staying Sane in Retirement during COVID

After retiring from WRAL, Laura had a long list of things to do. Staying at home due to the global pandemic wasn't in the plan.

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Laura Stillman
Laura Stillman

Who knew the pandemic would still here now? Thankfully, I’ve been able to socially interact more with a small number of friends for lunch or dinner more regularly – we only eat outside, we’re all confirmed mask-wearers, and we keep our distance. A couple of Zoom classes keep me in touch with real faces and voices. But I find that I’m still spending lots of time in my condo alone.

So, I’ve searched for other ways to keep reasonably sane in spite of this. Three activities have become my favorite things, and all surprise blessings that I never would have had time to pursue if I were still working full-time.


In the last month, I have been transformed by the ultra-popular series, OUTLANDER, based on the books that were published in 1991. It’s about the Highlanders of Scotland in the 18 th Century, and the struggles at the time with Great Britain regarding whether a Protestant or a Catholic would rightly wear the crown. Many of these Highlanders eventually came to North Carolina, and settled in the western part of the State. Even though it’s all filmed in Scotland, the episodes look just like the Blue Ridge Mountains! They also feature Wilmington, New Bern, Tryon Palace, and even Alamance, where a very significant battle was fought. The first 3 seasons are on Netflix, and the other 2 are on Starz. Season 6 is in the works. Start watching now and you’ll be speaking Gaelic before you know it, swept away by the history, the scenery, the authenticity of the life at those times, and the stunning good looks of the main stars!


I have renewed my love of reading, and keep a book by my bed at all times. It goes with me to the pool, to the salon, and anytime I go out for lunch. I’ve enjoyed a mixture of beach reads, and more serious fiction. Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh is my go-to, and I simply order a book online, then run by the store to pick it up. My favorites thus far have been American Dirt, Big Little Lies, This Tender Land, The Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell, and 28 Summers.

Getting Involved in Politics

I am now one of the engaged army of retired people who have the time and interest to get involved in politics, and it has been so energizing. When I was working, I had to play it straight down the middle as we had clients on every side of the issues. Now, I am free to express my opinions and to work to help those whom I trust and believe in! There are so many activities that can be done to fit your interests, time, and skills. It makes me proud to serve in whatever way I can. I want to be one of those people on Election Day, and beyond, who can honestly say that I had skin in the game to bring about desired results! It also keeps me on my toes to stay as informed as possible.

The bottom line is that in some unexpected ways, I have made this down time of retirement during a pandemic as productive as possible. But I still can’t wait until we’re all safe to return to our normal lives.

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