I've been in a frenzy of activity since our return from sunny Tucson to the cloudy Pacific Northwest - mostly trying to declutter and organize. I always run into some resistance from my husband Art when I try this, so it's been somewhat of a struggle. My sister finally suggested I lay off for a week or two, to allow Art to rest up from the onslaught of my suggestions. So I have. I recognize that sometimes I engage in "whirling" behavior when I'm trying to avoid thoughts percolating in my mind.
When I quit my job three years ago, I had goals I worked toward and accomplished:
- We've taken 27 trips since June 2010
- I took a course in teaching English as a second language and decided I didn't want to teach; that was a relief, actually
- I participated in builds for Habitat for Humanity and realized I don't have the stamina to work alongside laid-off 30-something construction workers; I'd rather take a nap after lunch than go back to work, and I'm afraid of standing on scaffolding or roofs
- We wrote and self-published a book
- I spent 140 hours to become a certified mediator practitioner
- We lived on our retirement income and I am pretty sure I won't become a Bag Lady
- We became snowbirds during the darkest of the Pacific Northwest months
- I developed the habit of exercise besides walking - water aerobics and line dancing
As I pondered my depressed and bored mood this week, I realized I'm in transition. Not a comfortable place for me. Doing all the same things I did three years ago doesn't suit me now. But I'm not sure what I might be doing instead. I know this three-years-into-retirement thing isn't uncommon. That's a comfort, somehow. Here are some thoughts that may be part of moving through my transition.
- I like diversity of ages around me. I'm not real keen on spending a lot of time just with people my age or older, unless they're active and inquisitive types. In my community I like the energy of little kids shrieking on swings, and young parents pushing strollers as they jog, and tattooed young people with that attitude of "I'll never get old" - the same one I had at their age. I have taken a few classes through Lifelong Learning organizations, but I think I may look for one at a community college that's not just for seniors. And I suspect I may need to switch my water aerobics schedule so that once a week I'm in an evening class where I'll be exercising with all ages of women.
- The dressing room of a community pool is an eye opener. I've been excessively modest all my life; in college the three classes required for P.E. that I took were archery, golf, and bowling, because they were the only offerings where you didn't have to dress out. So many different kinds of bodies in the dressing room at the pool! I'm glad to finally be participating in the diversity. Everyone there is exercising, and that's a good thing. There is a nearby Korean spa I have heard is a fabulous experience, but it requires nudity. I have never even considered it. I might now.
- Yesterday I went to the mall and bought new lipstick and eye shadow. Nothing dramatic, but not the same thing I've worn for the last 20 years. The young woman found me new shades that look natural. That probably could have happened years ago, but I was proud of "I always get the same thing" when I handed the clerk the old stuff and asked for a replacement just like it. I don't wear makeup a lot these days, but I'm becoming willing to choose something other than the same old, same old.
- While at the mall I bought a pair of flip flops at REI - my first pair in 30 years - and some clothes at Chico's. These were all to prepare for next month's trip to Kenya. I let the woman at Chico's choose colors for me that I never wear ("I only do black and red and blue") - but look pretty good (cream and tan cropped pants and a muted olive green t-shirt). Something different, you know. And the new clothes will be fine for next winter in Tucson.
- I like sharing my thoughts and ideas with my husband Art in a friendly way. When I told him yesterday that I was depressed and bored, he put down the paper and listened to me. He was especially thoughtful all day. I should spend way less time talking to him about things I think we (he) should be doing! I printed out a map of Kenya, marked it up so he could see where we'll be each night of our trip, and read from the Lonely Planet Kenya book about each park. Now I feel like we're taking this trip together. That's a good feeling.
- There is nothing I can do about gray weather this time of year. But I can make my to-do list flexible enough that, when the sun comes out for a few minutes or an hour, I can stop what I'm doing indoors and sit in an Adirondack chair - on the deck or in the garden - facing the sun. Even if it's 8 in the morning and I still have my pajamas on. There are birds out there, singing, paying no attention to the weather.
So I'm in transition. I wish I knew where I was going. But if I say "yes" to what comes along, I'm more likely to find my new path than if I doggedly pursue the same one.