Fred and Pat Rackow were more than ready for retirement. At 56, Fred had spent most of his professional life managing high-pressure fuels and gases at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, while Pat had managed accounts for an oil company for the past 14 years.
"At first my job was exciting -- wow, we were launching a space shuttle!" Fred Rackow says. "But after 10 years, it was just a job."
Worse, Rackow was getting tired of the pressure of his job. But he wasn't ready to retire to a rocking chair on his porch or take up golf.
The Rackows are in the midst of what may be the hottest retirement trend of all: the reinvention of work. A new job as TV star?
Baby boomers may be willing to walk away from the rat race, but that doesn't mean they want to stop working altogether. Rather, many want another chance at the dream job they long ago abandoned for practical considerations, such as supporting a family.
"I have seen some kind of interesting moves from people in this generation who have way too much energy to stop working," says Chris Fahlund, a senior financial planner at T. Rowe Price, whose own husband has worked as a yacht broker and contractor since "retiring" from his job as a college administrator. "This past Christmas, we got a card from a friend who had been an attorney and who now works in a bike shop."
When Valerie Ramsey and her husband, a private-school teacher, relocated for his new job on the Monterey Peninsula in California, their children were old enough that the mother of six could finally pursue a full-time career.
She spent a summer working in a pro shop for Pebble Beach Resorts, selling golf balls and hats to tourists and learning how to use a computer. "Then I think I just nagged the HR people until they decided to get me off their doorstep by sending me to the marketing department," where she started as an administrative assistant and ended up running public relations for the resorts.
Earlier this year, at 64, she decided it was time to embark on her next dream job: model. "I wasn't looking to become a model, especially at my age, but before I knew it, I was doing it part time," Ramsey says. Becoming a model at 61
It was the same for the Rackows. The answer was to retire -- to a new career. They found 20 acres just outside El Dorado, Ark., and in July 2007, the couple celebrated the opening of their new business, Barkingham Acres. Its services include dog kenneling,