Saturday, October 15, 2011

Retirement, Year 2

I left my workplace in June 2010. My priorities for that first year were clear: get started on my bucket list and travel a bunch. It was like I was making up for all my time- and travel-starved years.

And I did that. We took 14 trips. I got to hear Warren Buffett speak, learned to ride a Segway, and helped build houses for Habitat for Humanity. I took a class in teaching English as a second language, found out it wasn't something I wanted to do - and took a class in mediation, finding out it was something I wanted to do very much.

Now I'm into year 2 of not working, and my priorities are different. I realized on a recent 10-day trip to Alberta and Idaho that I've got five priorities: spirituality, community, curiosity, purpose, and exercise.

By spirituality I mean developing the habit of connection to a higher power of my understanding. Listening to what the universe has to tell me, spending time with a quieted mind. That's hard for me - I have a hamster running in my head most of the time, and the hamster apparently sleeps only when I do. I've learned that if I don't listen to the universe, I get off track in what I'm about.

By community I mean nurturing the habit of connecting with people in my household, my neighborhood and my larger community. It's easy to spend most of my time at home, on the computer or reading. I'm sociable, but not an extrovert - I'm not usually energized by being around a bunch of people. That usually happens in one-on-one conversation or in a small group. When I follow my own instincts I tend to isolate - which the hamster in my head loves.

Curiosity means engaging my mind to learn. To read, explore, ask questions. In my mediation training I'm learning to keep an open mind and a spirit of curiosity, because everyone's story in a conflict makes sense if I'm able to hear it.

Purpose means looking for opportunities to be useful, to be of service, to make a contribution to the wider world. Becoming a certified mediator will qualify for that. So will taking the steps necessary to get my book published. I've got a good mind and a reasonable amount of energy and there's no reason why I shouldn't use them both for the greater good.

And exercise. I've been a walker for years, but when I hurt my back in May and developed tingling feet, I stopped walking for a couple of months. Now I'm back at it - plus core strengthening exercises and light aerobics.

What can happen to me if I don't pursue all five of my priorities is that I get depressed or anxious. I become self-absorbed. I obsess about every physical symptom. I make myself miserable. My doctor tells me I'm healthy, but I'm 63 now and it's my job to take the best care of myself that I can.

I have friends in the real world and in the blogging community who love to spend time knitting, or reading, or quilting, or taking pictures, or doing nothing. So far that's on my wish list, but it hasn't happened yet. Maybe it will, if I remember my priorities.

This morning Art and I took a two-hour drive in a rural area. We were looking for a patch of chanterelle mushrooms he remembered from 20 years ago. We must have driven every road in a five-mile radius. We didn't find them. But we saw morning fog, hunters out for the opening day of the season, huge abandoned houses, and trailers at the end of dirt roads. We had good conversation and the company of each other. I barely noticed my tingling feet. That's a good thing.

Time now to go exercise!


Terra said...

I think your list is great. Your hunt for the mushroom patch led to some nice finds in the country. It is good to have a bit of a plan in retirement and I do too.

Teresa Evangeline said...

I really enjoyed reading this post and found inspiration here. I need to enlarge my list of priorities to include more exercise. I talk about it a lot, but do next to nothing. I want to change that. You've made changes and prioritized as you saw necessary. It sounds like you've found a wonderful rhythm to your life.

The biggest thing in miss in not having a relationship is the drives, just the companionship that comes out of being in the car together and seeing what you see. Sounds like a fun day.

Nance said...

This is the best mission statement for retirement that I've ever encountered. I'm going to print it out to refer back to, because we share many of the same goals. 'Cept, I don't know about the socialization one. I keep trying, but I have to push myself so hard; it just doesn't come naturally to me to seek new people out in this area where we are so atypical. We did, however, join a local liberal political group and that shows some promise of at least getting the mirror neurons firing from time to time.

June said...

I love that while you were looking for the mushrooms you didn't find, you found a whole lot of fun, good things that you didn't expect . . . and that you noticed them and appreciated them!

Travels with Emma said...

Volunteering and photography help me do all of those things. Best wishes on your journey...My verification word for tonight is persu! :)

Dr. Kathy McCoy said...

Terrific post -- and it sounds like you're off to a wonderful new start in your second year of retirement! Isn't it interesting how one's priorities and outlook can change? I love your new bucket list -- and the fact that these already have become such a part of your life as you go searching for one thing, but discover so much more!

Arkansas Patti said...

If it weren't for gardening, I would be one of those happy doing nothing.
I wish I had more of your drive.
I think your mushroom hunt was the perfect day.

DJan said...

Having met you in person, I can certainly vouch for the animated spirituality that you exude. And all the stuff you have done makes it almost impossible for me to imagine you "settling down." Every time I suggest getting together, you are busy going or doing something new! That's who you are, I think...

Great post, and I really enjoyed your list. :-)

Sandi said...

I appreciated this post as one that made me stop and think about the direction I'm going. While I'm not yet retired, I'm already thinking of those things I want to do with all that extra time. Your list is much like my own, perhaps with the exception of being more social. :) Perhaps it's due to not being retired that I am yearning for less socialization!

Yet the inspiration I received from your post comes from thinking about those things I can do now, in preparation for retirement. Especially the exercise. Getting back to good health is something I want before I retire, so I can enjoy that time!

betty said...

I think it is great that you make goals of what you want to work on in this "new" phase of your life, even that you've been retired for over a year. I think we are so regimented by work schedules when working, once not, it is easy to just let things slip, exercise, growing, learning, etc. To make concrete goals like you have I'm sure helps you to stay focused and productive in a new way during this next phase of your life!


Sally Wessely said...

You continue to inspire and motivate me. I loved your list of five priorities. They are very well thought out and carefully considered. While each of us might have a different interpretation of what the five priorities you listed for yourself might look for us, they certainly are five that I also could benefit from adopting. I can relate to your need to list each of the five that you chose.

You and Art seem to have developed such a rich relationship. I think doing these things together only deepens connections such as the two of you have.

Blessings to you as you continue to move into your second year of retirement.

Beth said...

I like your list of priorities and in that order too

Out on the prairie said...

Many times we need to push ourselves to stay busy. I need to push myself to get things done at home. When I wake I want to go, go ,go and forget about some simple things I neeed to do at home. A friend always writes me days after i ask to join me and complains she was busy sorting files, cleaning house(which never gets done), and finding trivial meaningless things to do so as not to exercise and have fun while retired.

Grandmother Mary said...

It's good to reassess each year and set new priorities. I like your five- sound and meaningful. I loved your description of your day with Art searching for one thing and finding something better.

Rita said...

Can tell you are a planner and list maker. You follow up on your plans and yet are flexible--like the mushroom trip. You know yourself well and are a busy woman on the go. Mediation sounds so challenging to me. You always seem to be doing something or going some place interesting. :)

My hamster's wheel broke. The world doesn't race and spin like it used to. ;)

Georgia said...

Very worthy goals. I would add one more. Family. The older I get, the more important family becomes. Folks with shared memories who might also have a hamster in their head that could relate to your hamster!

Dee said...

Dear Linda, as "Nance" said, this posting was an outstanding mission list. I've copied it so as to have it near me to read again and again.

Why? Because your five passions-to-be reflect my own.

Mostly I've been able to let go of the hamster-in-the-brain, but I still strive for mindfulness in all things.
That may take the rest of my life, but what better thing could I be doing than to becoming aware of the presence?

Thank you so much for this posting. It is a great help to me.


Friko said...

This is a very ambitious and worthwhile plan you have.
In fact, it's so good that it encourages me to do likewise, work out a plan for myself.

I tend to let every day go by without consciously doing anything towards achievement of any kind; not a good way to live. But if I set priorities and fail to keep them, I feel guilty.

I suppose there is always the danger of being overambitious. I quite like the idea of just being at times.

Nancy/BLissed-Out Grandma said...

I love the fact that you've set priorities. One of my goals is to do just that. And it's because of you that I've started walking. Will expand the exercise one of these days.

JeannetteLS said...

Your entry made me think, and that is always ALWAYS a good thing. There's been a lot lately about bucket lists, and the only thing that bothers me about it is that they evoke thoughts of dying in me. That's me. I loved it that Nance called it a mission statement! For that's what you've got here--the kind of mission statement that implies forever a work in progress. That's what we all are, I think.

Anyway, I'm glad I read your blog today--I missed yesterday's entries, and it's good that I took the time today to catch up.

Enjoy working on your list.

Deb Shucka said...

I love reading what you're doing with your life. It inspires me and gives me hope for when I join you as a retired person - much too far in the future for my liking right now.

Stella Jones said...

It is nice to get to the time of life when you can start exploring new things and new places.
I read your comment on D-Jan's Blog on Sunday and wanted to tell you why we don't have garbage (rubbish) bins in public places here in England. It's because people were putting bombs in them in order to blow up innocent civilians! That's why. It's a security issue.
In the 1970's I was bringing up three sons. I didn't go to London for many years with them because the I.R.A. (Irish republican army) was very active. I didn't want my sons to be blown up in the street or on an escalator on the underground. We are very security conscious here. We have to be!

Galen Pearl said...

I retired in June, so I'm still adjusting to retired life. So far it's very busy! I don't have a bucket list, but I have plenty to do. I enjoyed this post because I find it interesting to see how other people are approaching this stage of life.

Jen said...

Wonderful! I love that each year, you've grown and found new priorities and you are committed to seeing those through.

I understand about needing to listen. That hamster runs in my head even when I sleep! LOL!

Love the story of you and Art driving to look for mushrooms. Beautiful! Maybe I should go out mushroom hunting to see what I can find!

Thanks for sharing,

Olga said...

I really have to thank you for this one--and I will in a coming post on my blog. You are an inspriation.

Perpetua said...

Now catching up with neglected blogs after a very busy few months and delighted to read your last few posts, Linda. Your active retirement obviously suits you down to the ground and I love your well-thought-out list of priorities.