I can’t believe it’s been more than 6 months since I retired. So many changes. So many adjustments, and it’s not over yet. Several of my friends are in various stages of their own transitions, and have requested I do a mid-year reflection on what went right and what still needs work. Here goes.
- I didn’t expect the decompression from years of high-stress work to take this long. I’m still going through bits and pieces of it, but I keep telling myself it’s going to take more time and to be patient. I allow myself to take the time I need to pull myself out of the funks. I meditate for 30 minutes when I find my stress gets a bit high. And I talk to my best girlfriends when I need therapy. The good news is I’m doing all that less now than when I first retired, which is encouraging. I find acknowledging these kinds of milestones are important.
- Elderly parents with health issues are a huge source of life-stress for us Boomers, and I completely underestimated the toll it would have on me and my available time as I retired. The long lag time between blog posts shows the strain as my husband and I deal with the awful realities of a parent with dementia. Fortunately, I have a wonderful Village of girlfriends in the mental health industry, and they’ve been so very helpful in getting us through this difficult time.
- Saying “No, thank you.” has been harder than I thought it would be when various non-profits have called asking for my assistance. Some of these groups I’ve worked with in the past, others have friends of mine on the board. I have been strong, and have resisted getting spun into the Volunteer Vortex. I am currently giving as much time as I possibly can to my current commitments, and there is only so much of me to go around. I’m actually pretty proud of myself with this one.
- My friends have been amazing in this journey. Their support and caring has enabled me to get over the difficult patches that arise in any transition. You all know who you are, and how much I love you. Thank you.
- My art has been a huge blessing in my transition. I have a wonderful mentor, and a great group of people in my two weekly classes. I am learning so much, and enjoying every minute. My work is progressing steadily, and I can’t ask for anything more. I’ll do a post on that later. Right now, this is my sanity. I can also say, for the first time since I was 4 years old, that I look forward to Monday morning.
- I have discovered patience. This may sound like a simple thing, but to anyone who knows me, it’s a very new skill. Retirement has shown me that there is time for pretty much everything to get done – in it’s own time. I’m not where I want to be in this area yet, but I’ve made huge strides since September.
- Sleep. I’m sleeping well these days, and credit reduced stress and lack of jet lag for this new blessing. I’m rarely waking up at 3am with racy-brain, and unable to fall back asleep. The lack of frequent travel and the toll it takes on your body has been key. Not having my phone ring on a regular basis at 4am with a client crisis, or an idiot on the East Coast who doesn’t understand the concept of time zones, played a huge part in my now-happy sleep.
- Fun. I am now doing things because I will enjoy them, rather than because I have to. I’m on a committee that’s planning a large anniversary gala this fall, and am having a wonderful time working with a group of amazing ladies. I’m also returning to help set up a mentoring program for my sorority. I’ve had a great time the past several years mentoring smart, capable young ladies who want a career in communications, and formalizing that so more ladies can benefit is deeply satisfying. Working on this with a college roommate makes it even better. It’s all fun.
- Attitude. I have always been a glass half-full kind of a person, but work and life stress did take its toll on me at times. I knew it was time to move on with my life when my usual sunny attitude developed increasing clouds, with chance of thunderstorms. I figured I would bounce back immediately when I retired, but found that was definitely not the case. It took time, and some pretty conscious adjustment on my part to get back to feeling like my usual self. Six months in, and I’m where I want to be on the attitude front. I count that as a blue-ribbon moment.
The fact I can only think of 3 challenges and have 6 wins six months into my first year is pretty good. I’m not saying I’m rocking retirement, but I am at least trying to make the adjustment.
At this point, I can ask nothing more. It’s a work in progress.
Life is good.