Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Last post

It didn't take a year to define normal--much to my surprise and those who know me well. The last 4 months (has it only been 4 months?!) since retirement have been about shedding what doesn't fit and accepting what does.

These days dressing up consists of wearing a bra and putting on my fall-back silver hoop earrings before I leave the house. I have one criteria for the few new clothes I've purchased: comfortable.

I am seriously considering not renewing my ICF coaching accreditation that is due next month. That identity was so past life. I had an article that I wrote early this summer published in a coaching magazine last month. I didn't even read it when it arrived in the mail, nor was I interested in the other articles in the magazine. Not being defined by my accomplishments is probably the biggest "letting go" and the most surprising. Accomplishments have been replaced by creativity and not the by-product of creativity, the act of. I recently painted three pictures starting with an orange background and seeing how different I could make them in mood. I painted one without my glasses so I could concentrate on shapes rather than detail. It is play! I am doing some work still based on commitments I made pre-retirement. I find that they are, for the most part, intrusions in my day. I rarely fire up the computer. My I-Pad is another story since I use it for games, music and connecting with friends.

There is no sense of urgency. If I don't get to it today or feel like doing it today, there is tomorrow. I've freed myself of schedules and almost let go of to-do lists. These days the to-do lists function to remind myself of important things like dentist appointments rather than an endless list of things to give me an illusion of productivity. Productivity is usually defined now by producing a good meal. This weekend's milestone was finding a great, easy biscuit recipe. I had a moment of panic last nite thinking about how close we are to Christmas and what I wanted to do. I started my to-do list, but switched gears and used it to determine what I could eliminate. Decided I didn't need to make gifts and will probably send New Year's cards when I can get back from holiday travels.

One goal for retirement was to incorporate an exercise routine. I've accepted that it may not happen. I hated PE and sports. What made me think I would suddenly embrace the gym? Instead, I am just naturally more active. No long days in front of the computer or on the phone. I probably won't loose 30 pounds either. I like to eat and drink and I am comfortable in my body. I sleep well. Go to bed later and get up when my body is ready. I love the first thing in the morning when the house is quiet and I can savor my cup of tea and decide what I'd like to do that day. There's no have-tos or shoulds.

One of the greatest blessings has been around my relationships. Some I thought were important have fallen away and I am really okay with that. The others are even more special now. I am listening better, caring about what is happening in the day-to-day for those I love and savoring every conversation. Yes, I think I've finally got this doing/being balance right. As I look ahead there really isn't much I want to DO, but there are lots of people I want time to just BE with.

Life is good!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Interesting wrinkle

We just took our first trip since I retired. The details are somewhat of a tangent. We went to Phoenix for our granddaughter's 14th birthday. Taylor was born with Down Syndrome, developed autism, juvenile diabetes and is blind as a result of her uncontrolled glaucoma. She is housebound and requires 24/7 care as she is also non-verbal, not potty-trained and is unable to feed herself. With the help of a local charity we were able to raise all but $7,000 to build a backyard pool, which will be used for therapy, family time and an opportunity for Taylor to have fresh air and exercise. Most of our visit there was spent preparing for a pool party to thank local contributors.

I came back with the persistent expectation of returning to work. Not sure what that was about--have I been "on vacation" psychologically and the end of a trip signaled "back to work"? Is it the start of the school year, which always meant that fun and games were over? Is it that I am needing to launch the survey for my book and have some real tasks to do? Or was it something about seeing my son and his wife's everyday reality compared to the pure leisure I've been experiencing? Not sure, but something definitely shifted and the reality of being retired is sinking in a little deeper and I am feeling a need for the first time to set some kind of routine.

The focus of this blog is on the process of defining normal in retirement. I thought I had it nailed only to discover that I still have some defining to do. What I am discovering, which will also help me with my writing or coaching of retirees, is that this is truly a life stage based on improvisation. The first for me. The shift has me thinking again about how what I am learning might help others while the last two months has truly been a mental pause and needed R & R.

Thursday, August 30, 2012


Ever wake up in a foul mood and then reinforce it thinking about everything that isn't going smoothly? I'm irritated at myself because:
  • I am spending way too much time each day playing Words With Friends; the "hit" I get when there are plays waiting for me is similar to the hit I got opening email each morning when I was working
  • I haven't exercised like I promised myself and now I am running out of good weather here to be able to do it outdoors; I can't for the life of me (interesting choice of words) find the motivation
And I am just plain irritated because:
  • I am having to chase a couple coaching schools for my survey and it feels too much like work
  • I am having to learn the technology behind SurveyGizmo and it scares me since 1) I am paying to use it and 2) I get one shot at the survey
Wish I hadn't made the commitment for the survey and book at this point as I am finding I still need to just screw around and do whatever I feel like. I underestimated my need to rest and just relax with no goal. Who would have ever guessed that what I really needed was to be unproductive? (Probably everyone but me!)

Thursday, August 16, 2012


I continue to purge, clean and organize so I tackled my office bookshelf yesterday. I donated 179 books to our local library and tossed a 3 foot high stack of binders and conference handouts. It is interesting to notice what I kept:
  • several core coaching books that I think I may need as reference for my book
  • 3 psychology books
  • a single copy of the book for which I wrote a chapter in 1996; donated the extra copies that will soon end up as landfill, but I couldn't bear to toss them
  • two Tarot books and two decks of Tarot cards
  • an exercise and diet book (out of a weird sense of obligation)
  • an entire shelf of books focused on using narrative and/or dialogue to develop and/or heal
  • travel books for Maine and the west coast
  • two assessment binders: Personal Directions and CCL's suite of 360s
  • 3 books on publishing a book
  • 2 genealogy books
  • dictionaries including a medical dictionary from my pre-med days. a thesaurus, Merck manual
  • 2 fiction books that I've yet to read!
  • field guides for identifying birds
  • a shelf dedicated to "inspiration"--some poetry, 2 Julia Cameron books, two Patti Digh books, one little book entitled What I Learned From Children's Books
  • a few gardening books mostly for reference photos for art; I don't weed!
  • jewelry and art books
  • a shelf of journals--some empty and waiting, others with sporadic entries whose content would embarrass my kids
  • 9 books on aging
  • 7 books on what I'd label as human development
  • only 6 books on retirement (there used to be 3 shelves!)
  • yearbooks
Shel said, "I can't believe you are giving so many books away. They contain everything you've learned over your career." He's wrong. I can give them away now because I realize that they only served as a catalyst for my own thinking. What I learned came from my experiences, insights and reflections. It will be in my brain as long as there is room.

The freed up spaces on the shelves now house family pictures and art and there's SPACE for whatever comes.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

A sign

I told everyone I knew when I retired that when the next big thing emerged, I would know it. It's been weeks. I followed a semi yesterday and saw a sign that said, "Earn your commercial trucking license in 30 days." Pretty sure that isn't it!

Seriously, what if? What if nothing big comes? I'm beginning to think that "big" might look very different than it has in the past. Interesting.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Time flies

Andy Rooney once quipped, "life is like a roll of toilet paper; the closer you get to the end, the faster it goes!" How can my days, weeks go by so fast? I thought time went by quickly when I was working since every day was scheduled to the max and I was exhausted at the end of each day. Time is actually going faster for me now. Once I opened the door to "what would you like to do today", there are not enough hours.

Did I mention liking this? :)

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

It's Tuesday

Took a nice walk this morning. Came home and cooked bacon and from-scratch blueberry pancakes using fresh berries from our Farmer's Market. Had a leisurely conversation with Shel. Played a couple moves on Words With Friends. Getting ready to hit Michael's and an antique store for project supplies. Tonight we are meeting friends for Taco Tuesday at our favorite country dive. It's just Tuesday--an ordinary Tuesday--people and I am not on vacation! Amazing, this new life!