Sunday, June 27, 2010

Well, I did it! I took all my tasks for today from my online calendar except for the ones that had to be done. I'm working with a group of six women to compile an "abcdarium" on states of mind. Each of us chose letters and wrote a 300- to 500-word piece on a word beginning with that letter. The edits have to be to the compiler by Wednesday.

One of my letters is "V" and I chose vitality. I turned in the first draft in May and it was honestly critiqued by my group. I put off doing the edits until today, because I needed a chunk of time. Now I have the time!

Here's the current version of Vitality:

My favorite definition of vitality is “the power to live or grow”. I retired from work in June, and I’m thinking of it as a beginning of the next part of my life – one full of freedom and choices and vitality.

In the United States, the idea of the “golden years” of retirement was created after World War II to encourage older workers to leave the workplace to make room for younger workers returning from the war. Before that, people just worked until they physically couldn’t do the work, or died. For the last 50 years the idea of retirement – years of leisure after the end of a person’s work life – has come to be seen as a right. But that view of retirement is more about withdrawal or retreat, and less about continued engagement in the world. That’s not the kind of retirement I’m planning.

In the workplace I served my employer and its clients. My expertise grew with time and experience, but the limitations of office politics dulled my enthusiasm. During the last few years I’ve worked mainly for the money, the benefits and the pension, to prepare for a retirement full of freedom.

For me, ending my work life means opening up time to use in pursuit of my dreams and passions. I won’t just be sleeping late or playing golf or reading in a hammock. My plans include taking classes in mediation, teaching English as a second language, and learning to build houses for Habitat for Humanity. I’ve learned that when I’m of service within my community and beyond, I’m engaged and excited about my life. I’m 61, but my mind is alert and active and curious. My body is healthy and strong. I see myself as a woman with vitality, and I’ll be able to apply my life experience – wisdom, flexibility and enthusiasm – to projects bigger than me. And, if I’m on a path that isn’t satisfying, I can choose a different path.

I’m looking at the next years of my life – with all its possibilities for greater vitality – through eyes of wonder.


Blissed-Out Grandma said...

That new freedom and enthusiasm and sense of purpose all sounds like vitality to me!

Linda Reeder said...

Congratulations on your retirement! Don't get worried if you find yourself wondering what to do. That will soon pass. The great thing about retirement is that you can take your time, you can slow down when you want to. Even for a person full of vitality like you, that can be a blessing.

Tabitha Bird said...

Congrats Linda! WOOOOHOO! The rest of your life awaits. Go greet it with Vigor and Vitality :)

Deb Shucka said...

I love this look at vitality and at the possibilities of new life even at our age. I'm so excited for you as you embark on this journey of following your heart and your dreams.

The book you and your friends are working on sounds wonderful. I hope you'll tell us more.