Jill Smith Entrekin taught high school literature for over thirty years, but retirement allowed her to write some herself. She’s now published two books, with a third on the way. On the Happiest Retirees Podcast, we emphasize the importance of core pursuits—activities that evoke passion and purpose in life. Jill has so many that she had to skip one just to make it to our interview. Life has thrown her some scary hurdles, but Jill found a way to keep going. If you’re looking for guidance on overcoming grief, finding purpose, and being happy, you do not want to miss this.
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- Jill Smith Entrekin [00:00:00]:And I decided, all right, this is the best time in my life to do what I’ve always dreamed I wanted to do. So I got started.Ryan Doolittle [00:00:10]:Jill Smith intrican was born in Thomason, Georgia, the emerald of Upson County. She taught high school literature for more than 30 years, but retirement gave her a chance to finally write some herself. Now she’s published two books with a third on the way. On this show, we emphasize core pursuits. They’re like hobbies on steroids, things that get you out of bed in the morning. And Jill has a healthy collection. She’s a very happy retiree, but that doesn’t mean it’s been easy. As we all know, life is full of challenges. But Jill has had some doozies, yet each time she was knocked down, she got back up stronger and more determined to live life to the fullest. If you’re looking for some guidance on how to be a happy retiree, you do not want to miss this episode. Jill Smith intrican is not a client of Capital Investment Advisors. She was not compensated for participating in our podcast, but, of course, we really appreciate her joining us to share her retirement story. Do you ever wonder who you’ll be and what you’ll do after your career is over? Wouldn’t it be nice to hear stories from people who figured it out, who are thriving in retirement? I’m Ryan Doolittle. After working with the Retire Sooner team for years and researching and writing about how they structure their lifestyles, I know there’s more to be learned, so I’m going straight to the source and taking you with me. My mission with the Happiest Retirees podcast is to inspire 1 million families to find Happiest in retirement. I want to learn how to live an exceptional life from people who do it every day. Let’s get started. Jill. Welcome to Happiest. Retirees.Jill Smith Entrekin [00:01:48]:I’m thrilled to be here today.Ryan Doolittle [00:01:50]:Well, we’re thrilled to have you. You are what they call a get. A good get.Jill Smith Entrekin [00:01:56]:
Oh, well, I like that. I’ve been called worse.
Ryan Doolittle [00:02:01]:
I wanted to thank you for driving an hour from Carrollton to join us in the Retire Sooner studio. I know we’re stealing you from your busy social calendar, but we’re sharing you with a listener, so I hope that’s a good trade off.
Jill Smith Entrekin [00:02:15]:
Actually, I just missed yoga this morning. That’s the only thing.
Ryan Doolittle [00:02:18]:
You know, when I make my wife miss yoga, she’s usually a little crankier.
Jill Smith Entrekin [00:02:25]:
That can happen with us, yogis. Yes.
Ryan Doolittle [00:02:30]:
It’s like if she doesn’t do downward dog, then I’m in the dog house. So help me settle a bet. Is it true that your daughters only call you Mama when they want something?
Jill Smith Entrekin [00:02:43]:
Always Mama. Now, if they’re upset with me, it’s mother, but any other time, it’s Mama. It’s Mama term of endearment for me. I love it.
Ryan Doolittle [00:02:54]:
I was talking to your daughter Holly about you, and she wes calling you mom, and then I noticed Mama would slip in there?
Jill Smith Entrekin [00:03:01]:
Yes. That’s she’s never called me mom. Okay. She’s too Southern to use that term.
Ryan Doolittle [00:03:06]:
It was a facade just for my benefit.
Jill Smith Entrekin [00:03:09]:
Yes, exactly. Okay.
Ryan Doolittle [00:03:11]:
You brought up yoga, so you’re kind of a workout nut, and you basically never miss a yoga class unless I make you.
Jill Smith Entrekin [00:03:18]:
That’s true. That’s true. Five days a week.
Ryan Doolittle [00:03:21]:
Wow, okay, and you have a group of girlfriends, and you all travel together. You volunteer at a homeless shelter, and you host a book club.
Jill Smith Entrekin [00:03:31]:
Ryan Doolittle [00:03:32]:
And your third book is about to.
Jill Smith Entrekin [00:03:33]:
Be published, hopefully so, by the first of the year.
Ryan Doolittle [00:03:37]:
Wes okay, so how did you find all these core pursuits? I mean, how did you know you wanted to do them? How’d you find where to do them?
Jill Smith Entrekin [00:03:46]:
I taught high school English for 31 years, and when I retired, my husband was still working. I was fortunate that I was only 52 when I retired and I had 31 years in. But that’s a good perk for being an educator and still had my medical insurance, so I was good to go. The first six months of retirement were difficult because you fill it loose ends, and I’ve discovered that that’s normal with other people I’ve talked to. But both my daughters and my husband knew that I’d always wanted to write a book. My father was a journalist, he owned the newspaper and was editor of the newspaper in Thomaston. So I grew up with printers. Ink in my blood, I guess you’d say. So my youngest daughter gave me a book for my retirement, and the title of it was how to Write the Novel. I finally sat down and read that and I decided, all right, this is the best time in my life to do what I’ve always dreamed I wanted to do. So I got started. I was lucky when I taught. My last five years, I taught at Macintosh High School in Peachtree City, and I divided my time between seniors and freshmen. Seniors are hoot freshmen. Now. I learned over the years that freshmen until spring share one brain. So anything you’re going to teach them, you’ve got to really show them. And we had read a beautiful short story by Truman Capote called A Christmas Memory, and I wanted them to write a memory essay, but they said, what’s that? So I figured, okay, I’ll write one so I can give them an idea of what to write. And so I wrote one that actually became the springboard for my first book. And I thought if we’ve got time, I would read it to you.
Ryan Doolittle [00:05:48]:
Oh, of course.
Jill Smith Entrekin [00:05:49]:
All righty. Reading Truman Capote’s A Christmas Memory helped to spark a special memory of a Christmas long past for me. I just turned eight and was finally old enough to be a Brownie Scout. After meetings, I was allowed to walk the three blocks to the newspaper office where my daddy, or diddy as I called him, worked as editor and part owner. Just before Christmas, Mrs. Edson, our troop leader, had each brownie bring a scrubbed out Campbell soup can for our Christmas crafts project. She provided rick, rack, glitter and paint so that we could create a pencil holder for a loved one. I knew right away that my pencil holder would be for Diddy. Though never much of an artist, I toiled with pain’s taking care on the project. Before the meeting ended, mrs. Itsen had each brownie display her decorated can. Somehow, the cans of all the other brownies seemed prettier than mine. Amidst the snickers, I overheard Rachel Fountain, the tallest, meanest girl in our troop, whisper, I bet her daddy throws that right in the trash can. By the time I’d walked the three blocks to Diddy’s office, my face was red and chapped from burning tears. Where’s my little sunshine? Diddy asked. When he greeted me, I was too devastated to speak. Instead, I shoved my now tacky gift into his hand. Diddy grinned. I can tell you worked hard on this, and it will be a perfect for holding my chewing gum. Years later, when my dear, dear Diddy died suddenly of a heart attack, I helped Mama clean out his office. Atop his desk was the ugly green can filled with clove chewing gum. That Christmas so long ago left me with a simple memory about a simple gift and a lifetime of realizing that the greatest gifts are those that come from one’s heart. So that was how.
Ryan Doolittle [00:08:00]:
You know, the thought of you giving your dad this Campbell soup can. And I know that you, at the time, felt that the other girls in the class were better at their glitter globs than you were, but the fact that he kept it for his entire life, I think from your essay, you didn’t realize that until later.
Jill Smith Entrekin [00:08:20]:
No, I did not. But I have the can now. And when I was doing my touring with my first book, Starve Flint, I always showed the can because this idea does make its way into the book. But it became the springboard. The interesting thing was, when I wrote this, I had an English teacher’s daughter in my class, and the English teacher came to me the next day with the essay I had written, and she said, Jill, this is good. You really need to expand on this. And I laughed and put it in what we teachers call file 13, because I’m grading hundreds of essays and research papers. I didn’t have time for that. But when I retired and I read that book about how to write the novel, the first thing I did was to get out my essay and think, okay, let’s get started. So I did.
Ryan Doolittle [00:09:15]:
It’s so crazy. What ends up inspiring us to kind of springboard forward?
Jill Smith Entrekin [00:09:20]:
You’re exactly right. You’re exactly right. I had a lot of encouragement from my family. My two daughters and my husband was my biggest cheerleader. And when I wrote, he was still working, but I had a process of writing and I’ll tell you a little bit about that in a minute. But when he would get home, if I had finished a chapter, it would be waiting in the kitchen and he would get so excited and we would go out on the back porch. I’d have a glass of wine and he’d have his cocktail and I would read it to him. And he was a great auditory listening person, so he heard things that were wrong and he’d stop me and say, no, that doesn’t sound right. And there was one time where the little girl is driving a straight stick, an old Studebaker, 51 Studabaker. And he worked me through that. And then the second book there’s a lot of football in it. And he had played football and was a huge Georgia fan. So he worked me through all the correct ways to talk about the plays and the football. So it was a family affair, but it was so much fun.
Ryan Doolittle [00:10:32]:
Well, I don’t know if he did this, but your second book, Bucks Junction, was from the point of view of boys, right?
Jill Smith Entrekin [00:10:40]:
Ryan Doolittle [00:10:41]:
So did he help you stay in that tone?
Jill Smith Entrekin [00:10:44]:
Well, the second book is loosely based on my husband and his first cousin. And when I was working on that book, we were still living in Peachtree City, but his cousin was in Carrollton, actually, in a little town called Bowden Junction, which is between Carrollton and Bremen. And it was where I had the setting. And that’s how I came up with Bucks Junction. And we would go visit his cousin and we would sit out on the porch and they would start talking. And I always had a yellow legal pad and I would just reach down and just write and write and write and then take it back and turn it into a chapter. So that was a lot of fun because I will say that the first one is loosely based on my life. Loosely. As I tell everybody, the joy of writing fiction is you can take a little truth and twist it any way you like.
Ryan Doolittle [00:11:40]:
Jill Smith Entrekin [00:11:41]:
And so that’s what I did. But it’s told from the point of view of a girl who becomes a young woman in the course of the story. The second one, the point of view of a boy becoming a young man in the course of the story was a little more difficult because that voice is hard to find. But hearing all those old stories between him and his cousin helped me a lot to be able to do that. Yeah.
Ryan Doolittle [00:12:05]:
When you started these so you said you had taught literature for 30 years and then now you’re encouraged to do it yourself. But how much confidence did you have in your ability to do it?
Jill Smith Entrekin [00:12:19]:
Well, at first I had no idea. I really had no idea and terrible. I hate to say this, but as an English teacher, one of the first rules that you teach your students when they’re writing is to have a plan. You got to have an outline. You’ve got to have a writing plan before you start. Well, I didn’t do that. That was just not the way my brain worked for this. But I would start with an idea. And we had two boxers over the years that I was writing, and my first boxer was named Huckleberry, after Huckleberry Finn, which is one of the books I used to teach. And we would walk, and I would work out the details of that chapter in my head while we walked. I wore that poor dog’s pads out, but then I would come back, and I would write the chapter, and then I would sit on it for a day or two. Well, I’d read it to my husband. He would hear it. I’d make changes. The way I work is I’m more of an editor, so I would go back and change things and change things and change things. I used to tell my seniors if Shakespeare walked in and we were reading Macbeth, he would sit down with a red pen and start making changes. So editing was the way wes my storyboard, my know, I would get it down in the rough, and then I would polish it. So, really, that’s the way I would start. And when I couldn’t get a chapter done, I would go walk or cut the grass. I did a lot of planning when I cut the grass. But in the second book, my youngest daughter is a freelance writer, and she edited both my books.
Ryan Doolittle [00:14:03]:
Jill Smith Entrekin [00:14:06]:
Her name is Amy. And my second book, I was finished. I was so excited. I mean, it was like I tied a bow on it, and I sent it to her. Well, 24 hours later, she called, and she said, mother. And I went, uhoh she said, you need another chapter right in this particular place, because you lose the thread of buck and Lonnie, who are the two main characters. And I went, oh, please, no. I was so upset. So I slammed down the phone, and I grabbed Huckleberry. I said, no, actually, it Wes, my second boxer. Then Sundance. And I grabbed Sundance, and I said, we’re going to walk. And when I got back, I had that chapter, and actually, it was my husband’s favorite chapter in the book, and I had to admit that my editor daughter was so that was difficult to learn, but it was the right move, and I’m glad I didn’t just leave it and fuss with her.
Ryan Doolittle [00:15:06]:
So between Huckleberry and Sundance and now I’m assuming Dixie dixie your dogs. All the dogs are kind of clamoring to be your dog because they get to go on a lot of walks.
Jill Smith Entrekin [00:15:15]:
They get to go, dixie and I walk three times a day oh, my gosh. Well, we live somewhere where her backyard is a postage stamp now, so we walk three times a day. But she does love it, and it’s great for my thinking and borrow.
Ryan Doolittle [00:15:31]:
I’m always trying to get steps on my watch and sounds like I need to borrow some of your steps.
Jill Smith Entrekin [00:15:39]:
I’ll be happy to share.
Ryan Doolittle [00:15:42]:
Well, you speak a lot about retire. Revise. Revise, yes. I assume you were arrested for the teacher police for not writing an outline, but now that you’re revise revise, revise. I feel like there’s almost a theme there for retiree because you’re sort of revising or reinventing your life.
Jill Smith Entrekin [00:16:05]:
Oh, yes, and I have reinvented my life more than one time since I retired.
Ryan Doolittle [00:16:10]:
Well, I want to hear how you had the courage to do that, how you knew what to do.
Jill Smith Entrekin [00:16:15]:
Well, I don’t know that I did know what to do. Like I say, the first six months, it was like when the school buses ran, my feet hit the floor. It was like I was still in that school teacher mode. And it took about six months before I started to figure out all the adventures that I had ahead of me. And that’s what I call them, adventures, because I was young. I still feel young. So my husband and I were always he was a workout fanatic before I was, but I joined the gym with him. I started going to classes in the morning. I made a group of friends there. And then I joined a Bible study at my church, and before long, I was one of the facilitators for the Bible study school teachers that got that in their blood. And so I loved that. So I had two groups of friends there, and then my husband and I. I did the two books. Well, the first book, I finished it, and I couldn’t find a publisher. I had two publishers interested. It was published in 2010, and this was earlier this was about between 2008 and 2009, I had two publishers very interested, but one of them said the economy had taken a little dive, and one of them said, we just can’t take our chance on a new author. And the second one said, we love the story, but it’s too long. I learned later on that there’s a certain length that readers like, and you don’t want to go over that. And mine was way over it. Okay. So they said, if you can edit it down, we’ll reconsider. So the name of the publishing company was Hatchet. What a perfect name for me to have to cut. So my daughter and I began to edit it, and it was like cutting off appendages every time she’d send it back to me. But we finally got it down, and by then my book fell under the category of literary fiction, and they had closed that particular department of the Hatchet Publishing Company because of the economy.
Ryan Doolittle [00:18:35]:
I thought you were going to say, Because of you.
Jill Smith Entrekin [00:18:41]:
So I was pretty devastated. But my husband, the forever cheerleader, said, put it on the back burner and start working on the second one, which I did. So I just went from the next one and I learned, keep it between 80 and 110,000 words. That’s what the reading public likes in a book. And it was easier with the second one because it was boys and boys are not as verbal as girls are, so it was easier to do that. So I was into writing that second book when a gentleman, a well known figure in Fayette County, approached me and said, I have opened a small publishing company and I’m interested in reading your book. And I knew he was publishing, but what he was publishing were nonfiction. So I said mine’s fiction. I don’t think it fits with your publishing company. He said, well, just send it to me. So I did, and 24 hours later he came back to me and said, I love it. I’m going to add a new brand to the publishing company and we’re going to publish it under that new brand. So then he was waiting in the sidelines for the second book. So in between, when that first book, when Star Flint came out and I started doing all kind of book clubs and signings and doing all of that in between, I was working away on Bucks Junction. So I was busy. I got busy in a hurry with all of that. And that kept me really busy until when the second book came out in 2012, I spent a good 18 months on the road, touring, doing everything. Anytime anybody asked me to come talk about my book, I was there because my oldest daughter, the marketing guru Holly, said, the best way to market your books is by word of mouth and you showing up places. So I did that. Then my husband retired in about 2014, but he kept a sideline part of his business and he was still working, doing it, but from home. So that was nice.
Ryan Doolittle [00:20:54]:
Commercial doors. Was it commercial?
Jill Smith Entrekin [00:20:56]:
Yes. Yes, it Wes. We had a large house in Peachtree City and we decided it was time to sell it. I had been helping to care for my mother. She passed away and we decided to sell the house. And on our bucket list was to move to Florida. And so this became the next adventure. I’m telling you, my different adventures. And so we moved to Sarasota, near our youngest daughter Amy, who lives in Bradenton, which is not that far away. So we moved to Sarasota and we spent two years in Sarasota doing all the beach stuff that we always wanted to have time to do, and we loved it. But he started showing some signs of poor health. We weren’t quite sure what was going on. And after two years, I looked at him and I said, you ready to go back to Georgia? And he said yes. So that’s when we moved to Carrollton because he grew up in Carrollton and it was like God’s hand moving us there. It was perfect because he had a lot of friends and family still in mean less than six months after we moved back to Carrollton, he was diagnosed with Lewy Bodies Dementia, which is an ugly, ugly disease. It’s what Robin Williams had and Ted Turner has at the time and still there’s very little literature on it. So I spent the next couple of years I had started the third book but I had spent the next couple of years with the third book on the back burner while I cared for him and we lost him in December of 2020 and then I had to reinvent myself again. We had been married for almost 50 years, and as my mother used to say, we were the two that were joined at the hip. So it was quite a change for me. But I figured out there were things I could do that he had always handled all the finances. And when he got sick, I had to do it. And, oh, my, what a learning curve. But I figured it out, I learned it and I learned about how to get my taxes ready and all that that I had never done before and it was during at the end of the pandemic when houses were selling really well and I knew I needed to get out of this big house. It was way too much for me and I took a little ride with my dog one day on a cloudy ugly day, I said, let’s go for a ride. We went over a mile from where I live to this community that has townhomes and there was one for sale by owner. I wrote it down and I’m going to tell you something because this is funny about financing too. I had just gotten his life insurance and I had talked to someone that handled my other money and I didn’t really like what he said to do so I called my brother in law Mike Moore, who was a broker, a stockbroker for 35 years in the Atlanta area and I said, what do you think? He said, no, I wouldn’t do that either. He said, Joe, I know you said you wanted to invest in some property. I’d use that money to do that. I said well, that’s interesting because I’ve got an appointment to see this townhome tomorrow. So I went the next day. I loved it. I mean, I made them an offer and I had never done anything like that. My husband, he was sitting on my shoulder lower I made them an offer and they said, Let us think about it. Went back and called the real estate agent that had helped us find the house in Carrollton. I said, can you sell my house? And she said in two weeks. And so when I started telling her what I was doing, she gave me some tips. I went back, and the people called, and they gave me a number, and I countered, and they took it. So I spent the next nine months using I was able to purchase the town home and use the insurance money to have it totally remodeled on the inside. And I hired people. I had never done anything like that. And I thought, I can’t believe I’d look and I’d go, how am I doing this? How am I doing this? But I did it and sold the other house and moved in. So once I got there, that was an adventure in itself.
Ryan Doolittle [00:25:27]:
Well, your financial acumen seems so good that you might have to go on one of our other podcasts. Maybe money matters.
Jill Smith Entrekin [00:25:34]:
Hey. I lived with a man who could balance my checkbook in his head, and I heard him bid jobs on the phone with numbers that he’d come out and pull out of his head. Now, the man would leave me a note on the refrigerator, and every other word would be misspelled. So we complimented each other quite well, right? But I guess I learned from Osmosis because I watched him for so long, and it’s amazing what you can do if you will just do it. Just try know, instead of just sitting there wringing your hands. And that’s not what I wanted my life after losing him to be. So it hasn’t been well, when you.
Ryan Doolittle [00:26:22]:
Say, Just do it, I see why your daughter Holly’s in marketing, because that’s such a great tagline for know. Just do it.
Jill Smith Entrekin [00:26:29]:
Ryan Doolittle [00:26:34]:
You know, in the way shows work. This would be maybe where the sad music comes in because I have a tough question. You’ve kind of touched on it already, but I think it really speaks to how strong you are, which I’m just trying to get a handle on because I don’t know that I could be that strong. So you’ve talked about how you fear that in society, everyone today kind of feels like they should get exactly what they want to be happy, but life isn’t really like that. It’s unpredictable. It’s unfair. And here’s a few unfair things that have happened to you. So while writing Star of Flint, your sister was yes, I think juvenile.
Jill Smith Entrekin [00:27:12]:
Yes, she passed away. And the story Star of Flint is loosely based on me and my sister, who died.
Ryan Doolittle [00:27:19]:
Okay. And then while writing Bucks Junction, your mom was dying of.
Jill Smith Entrekin [00:27:27]:
Ryan Doolittle [00:27:27]:
And then while writing your third book, your husband died of Lewy Body dementia. And then, by the way, your dog died. At some.
Jill Smith Entrekin [00:27:38]:
Case, we lost some dance right after we moved to Carrollton in.
Ryan Doolittle [00:27:42]:
Case you didn’t have enough going on. That happened. But despite all this, you seem to have found strength and peace and joy, and I’m just wondering how, because I think I would just be complaining a lot.
Jill Smith Entrekin [00:27:56]:
I am anchored in a spiritual faith that gets me through everything. And you wouldn’t know. You could not believe the number of times I have just stopped and said, help me, sweet Jesus. And I get that strength, I get that inner strength. I have a lot of friends that really circled the wagons around me when my husband was sick. And he was a personality plus. He was a salesman and he was bigger than life and he was a great family man, an amazing husband. We had an amazing marriage. And to watch him deteriorate and the first thing that went was numbers. He lost all ability and he was.
Ryan Doolittle [00:28:49]:
So good at them.
Jill Smith Entrekin [00:28:50]:
Yes. Just broke my heart. But there are a lot of things worse than death. And when you watch people that you love suffer, you know that they’re not suffering anymore. It makes it easier to go on. Now, that doesn’t mean I don’t think about him every day and that doesn’t mean that I say, okay, Lord, I’m starting this chapter now. I need some help. And put Dana my husband’s name was Dana and he gave and received many a black eye over that name, which sounds like a girl. I said, Put him on my shoulder, sit him right here so that he can help. And I’ll be honest, that’s what gets me through every day and still does.
Ryan Doolittle [00:29:31]:
And I just want to say I kind of love the name Dana. And I’ve been pitching to my wife if we have another kid because I think it’s a versatile name.
Jill Smith Entrekin [00:29:39]:
Ryan Doolittle [00:29:40]:
Maybe this is a sign that I maybe so. Okay, so this speaks a lot to Perseverance and I know oh my gosh. One of your books, does it start with a quote from the Book of James?
Jill Smith Entrekin [00:29:53]:
Yes, that star. Flint, my husband. Now you talk about somebody that was resilient. By the time he was eleven he had lost a brother in a car wreck and by the time he was twelve he had lost his father to a heart attack and he was the baby. He was the youngest of four children. He was still really young and the other three were already grown. And then when he was 15, he was in a moped accident with his female cousin on the back of it and somebody ran into the back of them and she was killed. That all happened before he was 16 years old. But he pulled himself up by the bootstraps and he had this wonderful ability to look for the good in everybody and he was perseverance in the flesh. And the storyline, one of the threads that runs through Bucks Junction is the verse from James perseverance must finish its work so you can be mature and complete, not lacking in anything. And my oldest daughter, Holly, when that book came out, she had me a beautiful bangle bracelet engraved with. That verse, and I’ve got it on today, because anytime I do any kind of speaking engagement, I wear it. And it has been my rock, my standard for moving forward.
Ryan Doolittle [00:31:23]:
Wow. I was going to say because Amy did all the help on the book, but then Holla giving you that bracelet puts her back.
Jill Smith Entrekin [00:31:32]:
Yeah. I try not to let them compete with each other. They are very dear to my heart. They are very different, but they’re also very close to one another. And they have been. As a matter of fact, when my husband first passed away, I finally had to tell them they were getting way up, too up in my business, both of them. I said, Let me figure it out myself. But they were just being protective, of course.
Ryan Doolittle [00:31:59]:
Yeah, but you said, I need some space.
Jill Smith Entrekin [00:32:02]:
Ryan Doolittle [00:32:05]:
Your family seemed so close, and that doesn’t always happen. How did you do that?
Jill Smith Entrekin [00:32:11]:
Love. Enthusiasm for whatever they wanted to do. My husband was a strong believer that even though they were girls, that they could do anything they wanted to do with their lives. And I supported that 100%. And we took a family vacation every summer to the beach, and we spent a lot of time together. He was the one that they would go to him for some things and me for other things. If they had boy trouble or they needed help with the research paper, they came to Mama. But if they had money problems, or Holly, especially when she first started in the business, she talked to Daddy once a week about what was going on and when. Her first job, they had lunch every Friday. They would meet for lunch every Friday because they were both working in Atlanta. And then I think little sister Amy was there, too, for about two years. And so they would all three have lunch together. They left Mama out, but that was okay. I know I was back teaching back then. Okay. Anyway. But I think you have to work at relationships, and you have to learn to compromise, and you have to learn to take the backseat sometimes and be the driver sometimes. I was so amazed at my husband’s ability to support me. He called himself the book Totor when we would go to book events, he said, I’m just the book Totor. But I don’t think I ever except when our children and our grandchildren were born. I don’t think I’ve ever saw him prouder. When my books came out, it was like he was just such a great support.
Ryan Doolittle [00:33:53]:
You picked a good one.
Jill Smith Entrekin [00:33:55]:
Yes, I did. That’s a funny story, too. We met at a fraternity party at West Georgia College. He was a Sigma New and I was a FIMU. And that night I went back to the dorm and told my roommate that I was going to marry him, and six months later, we were married.
Ryan Doolittle [00:34:09]:
Wow. I guess you knew it was just like, bam.
Jill Smith Entrekin [00:34:16]:
Ryan Doolittle [00:34:17]:
Oh, my goodness.
Jill Smith Entrekin [00:34:18]:
I was 19, and he had just turned 21 when we married, so oh, my gosh, I would have killed my daughters if they’d done that. But, yeah, it was a different time, right?
Ryan Doolittle [00:34:27]:
So you were married more than 50 years, right?
Jill Smith Entrekin [00:34:30]:
Not quite 50 years. We missed it by about six months.
Ryan Doolittle [00:34:34]:
Okay. My parents have been married 55 years or so.
Jill Smith Entrekin [00:34:39]:
Ryan Doolittle [00:34:41]:
Well, and people will always say to my mom, that’s so romantic. But her response is more of, well, kind of. But it’s also hard work. It is work.
Jill Smith Entrekin [00:34:52]:
A relationship like that is work. But he just had this amazing philosophy about life, and when I would come home from teaching and it had a really bad day, his favorite line would be, honey, by july, you will have forgotten all about it.
Ryan Doolittle [00:35:07]:
Oh, that’s crazy.
Jill Smith Entrekin [00:35:10]:
But we laughed a lot. That’s another thing. Laughter, even now is so important for my life. I am not a mully grubber. I am not one that sits around and feel have you ever heard that word, mully grubber? My daddy used to use it. You got the mully grubs. Get out of the mully grub. But laugh. Find joy in whatever makes you happy. And a lot of times, it’s just walking my dog and hearing the birds and just being a part of this world and don’t sit in front of the TV and watch the news all day long because especially and that happens to some of my friends. I know people that watch. And that’s not a way to live. That’s a lazy way to be miserable. So I heard a lady say one time when my mother was living somewhere, and I met this much older she was older than my mom, and she said, you’ve got to exercise and socialize. And that is so true. So very true.
Ryan Doolittle [00:36:10]:
It’s so true. It makes such a big difference.
Jill Smith Entrekin [00:36:13]:
Ryan Doolittle [00:36:14]:
Do you think all this I mean, not just the writing, but everything you’re talking about is sort of a life catharsis? It seems like you kind of.
Jill Smith Entrekin [00:36:24]:
The first book was a book I needed to write. I needed to write it. It was cathartic for me. The second book was one I just wanted to write after I’d heard all these tales from my husband. He had so many big fish tales. And here’s the funny thing about those big fish tales. I thought, there’s no way that really happened. When I started researching the book, he had this core group of friends, and I wrote each one of them. I emailed each one. I said, I want you to tell me one story that stands out about dana when y’all were growing up as teenagers. Well, some of those big fish tales were the truth because that’s the stories they shared with. And I think that was not only cathartic for me. It was cathartic for him, because there’s one very serious issue. It has to do with the Moped accident that I told you about, and he never had shared that with me. And it was a 4 July, and we were babysitting somebody, our next door neighbor’s swimming pool. Hard thing to have to babysit. So we were in the pool. It was hot, and he was floating on the float, and I was just hanging on the end, and I just started asking him questions, and he shared what had happened, and that was the first time. And, I mean, we’d been married 44 years by then. Yes, writing is cathartic. I think exercise is cathartic. I have a lady that stands right next to me in yoga, and she’s 75. I have a lady that comes to my second class, which is for all ages, but it’s for senior citizens, too. We make it our own. According to what, weight? She’s 93 years old, and she does not miss a lick. And she uses the same weights that I do. But here’s what I tell my friend in yoga. I looked at her one morning, I said, if I don’t wake up with something hurting on me, I’m dead. I mean, I’m dead because but move and that hurt will go away. That hurt on the outside, and sometimes moving will make that hurt on the inside go away. It will lift whatever it is that you’re letting pull you down.
Ryan Doolittle [00:38:39]:
I think I exercise more for that than I do for the physical.
Jill Smith Entrekin [00:38:43]:
It’s so much for the brain and the soul. Exactly. I totally agree.
Ryan Doolittle [00:38:48]:
Yeah. I mean, luckily, I just happen to have six pack ABS and giant biceps.
Jill Smith Entrekin [00:38:54]:
That’s nice. There are some things that gravity to your body when you reach my age that ain’t no exercise going to help.
Ryan Doolittle [00:39:06]:
Well, again, I think I’m already, you know, just kind of wrapping up or one of your books. I can’t remember if it’s Bucks Junction or not. The Ogichi rivers. Kind of yes.
Jill Smith Entrekin [00:39:21]:
The Ogichi River. That’s in Bucks Junction. That’s down near oh, okay.
Ryan Doolittle [00:39:27]:
Oh, one of our producers, Mallory, I think, likes going to Savannah. Okay. So you kind of described it as ain’t nothing around it. The Ogichi River. That seems like the exact opposite of your life, because there’s a lot around you. So any symbolism of what maybe the Ogichi was the opposite of you, or what maybe it just has perseverance.
Jill Smith Entrekin [00:39:54]:
The ogichi is solitude. But let me tell you something. There’s a lot to be said for solitude. After Dana died, I had to learn to live alone without being lonely. And sometimes solitude is good. I like my time alone. Now, that doesn’t mean I need it 24/7, but yes, I like a busy life, but there’s a difference in making busy and enjoying the busy. And you have to find what it is you enjoy, and that will bring you joy. And you’ll be busy, too. But solitude is good, too. There’s times for that. And I’ve had a lot of time to reflect, and I think I spent a lot of time reflecting on this book. This has been the most difficult book for me to write because I didn’t have my number one cheerleader right behind me.
Ryan Doolittle [00:40:47]:
Jill Smith Entrekin [00:40:48]:
And because I’m a little more detached from the characters in this book. But it’s been a blessing for me to write because it has really pushed me. And even when we’re retired, we need pushing. We don’t ever need to just.
Ryan Doolittle [00:41:09]:
With your with when you had your Cheerleader, it was like the chattahoochee, and then without him, it’s like the.
Jill Smith Entrekin [00:41:18]:
Ryan Doolittle [00:41:20]:
And would you you just reminded me. There’s a line from a movie called Heat where Robert De Niro plays a criminal, and he says, I am alone. I’m not mean, there’s nothing wrong with being alone. It’s all if you feel lonely or not. Right.
Jill Smith Entrekin [00:41:38]:
Ryan Doolittle [00:41:41]:
We could be lonely with people all around us, or we could be completely happy with no one.
Jill Smith Entrekin [00:41:46]:
That’s exactly right. And I’ve found that happiness because I love to read, and so that’s my solitude, is reading. And it’s almost like a pacifier at night, and when I run through the channels on TV and there’s absolutely nothing on, then I pick up my Kindle and I read.
Ryan Doolittle [00:42:03]:
Right. Well, Jill, before we go, do you want to say anything else about your new book or when it’s coming out.
Jill Smith Entrekin [00:42:09]:
Or where people can find you a little bit about it? The title is Bonnie Max Cafe. It takes place in Zebulun, Georgia, which is in Pike County between Griffin and Thomaston. And Thomaston is my hometown, and it has a schoolteacher in it, but most of the action takes place in this little cafe. And I have a real former colleague who grew up there, and he gave me a lot of inspiration with some of the colorful characters from the time period. It starts in the 60s, but it goes all the way to today. But the characters, colorful characters that he remembered have become characters in my book, and so that’s fun. But a lot of the action takes place in the cafe, and it has a mystery twist to it, as my other two do. Both of my other two books have a little bit of a mystery twist to them, but it’s been fun to write. It’s been a challenge to write. But I’m getting so close, I don’t know what I’m going to. My youngest daughter, Amy said, Mama, why are you in such a hurry to finish it? She said, what are you going to do? Then we’ll see. Next adventure.
Ryan Doolittle [00:43:25]:
Yeah. Well, next book, hopefully for your readers, you’re just like the railroad in Bucks Junction. You keep going.
Jill Smith Entrekin [00:43:32]:
Yeah, that’s what you have to do. Chug a lug.
Ryan Doolittle [00:43:35]:
Exactly. Well, Jill, thanks so much for being on Happiest Retirees and for showing us what it is to be a happy retiree.
Jill Smith Entrekin [00:43:43]:
Well, thank you. I have really enjoyed getting to talk with you.
Ryan Doolittle [00:43:46]:
Oh, same here. The pleasure is all on this side of the microphone.
Jill Smith Entrekin [00:43:49]:
Oh, well, thank you very much.
Ryan Doolittle [00:43:51]:
All right, well, you have a great day.
Jill Smith Entrekin [00:43:52]:
Okay, you too.
Ryan Doolittle [00:43:53]:
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