I got out back in 2009 and I've been hesitant to move back in. Any thoughts?
Don, if you've been hiding in cash since 2009 you've missed an almost doubling of the market. That being said, a lot depends on your age, your family status, work status, other assets you may have, etc. It's impossible to answer your question without knowing more about your particular situation. My clients are fully invested right now, if that partially answers your question.
Implicit in your question is that you couldn't stay the course back in '09 and decided to exit the stock market. Presumably you didn't need the cash, you were simply fed-up with downward price volatility. That's understandable. A financial crisis is not fun for anyone.
Is this a correct picture?
The thing about the capital markets, including the stock market, is that they're not for everyone.
From my experience, people who successfully invest share three attributes.
First, they focus atttention to valuations and don't pay too much for securities.
Second, they are long-term oriented and seek to mostly buy quality, enduring businesses.
Finally, they are patient and possess the right temperament. They seek to use caution when things look good, and embrace optimism when they look bleak.
A good advisor can help you with the first two attributes. But only you can be patient and stay-the-course when the world looks like it's ending.
In other words, you may have a genius IQ, but if you can't handle the fact stocks will experience wide price swings, the answer is, there'll probably never be a good time for you to get back into the market.