Semi-retirement and following passions

I went down to the lake this morning with a cup of coffee. It waswp-1473004970418.jpg a beautiful clear morning – birds singing, fish jumping – and it was nice for about 10 minutes. Then the humidity started creating a sheen of moisture on me, so I went back inside. It gave me enough time to decide to write a blog post.

If you’ve been reading here, you know that I recently quit my job. I decided that I would call myself “semi-retired” rather than “unemployed”. After all, I am of an age when many retire, and I do have that 401k, although if I tried to just live off of that, it wouldn’t last long. Anyway, I’m not unemployed. I am picking up some part-time hours doing medical reviews from home.

So, what’s been happening with me since I made the big decision? How does one adjust to not having the boundaries of a 40-hour-week job, after years of arranging the rest of one’s life around that box? It’s mostly mental, I think. (pun intended!)

Day to day life is great. Robert and I continue to find ourselves compatible and happy together, which is such an amazing blessing. I’ve started going to yoga class four times a week, and spend regular quality time with my grandchildren. I love getting to eat at home, preparing simple meals of grains and fresh organic vegetables from the farmer’s market.

Then there is the following of my passion, what I really care about. I am an Ayurvedic Practitioner, and have the intention of introducing those who want better health to a new way of living. (and being paid for it!) There are simple changes in lifestyle that can make a huge difference, that can help with stress, anxiety, digestive and weight issues, insomnia, and overall health management. But I find that I am a bit of a procrastinator, a little stuck. I know that I have something of value to offer, and it is just a matter of finding the clients who want to be committed to making positive changes.

So I decided to get some help to move me in the right direction, and am taking a course with Brian Whetten called Selling by Giving. The premise is that it can “transform the way I relate to my fears and inner doubts, and shift from judging them as problems to seeing that they are reliable course indicators showing me that I am heading in the right direction.”

And I’m not finished being a student. I am studying Ayurvedic Spiritual Counseling with New World Ayurveda. I’ve got skills and knowledge about how to make diet and lifestyle changes, but most people are resistant to change. So in this course, I’ll learn how to “help my clients understand what is truly at the root of their obstacles and have the inner transformational skills needed to permanently overcome those blocks.”  I need this for me, first, because I am as resistant to change as anyone I may try to help. Change always has to start with me!

Sounds like a lot when I put it on paper! And it is, but not too much. I’ve found time to paint, to take walks, to have wine with friends. In the midst of all these plans and possibilities, I remember that what matters most is this moment – am I being kind, compassionate, and loving to whomever is around me, and to myself?

Through the eyes of a two year old

I spent some time with my granddaughter yesterday. She is at that age where she has started to think about things, but is not yet able to express all her ideas verbally. She is stringing words together, but most of what she says is delightfully unintelligible.

“Swing and slide?” she asked in her sweet baby voice. So I put her in her stroller with her baby doll and pushed her the mile to the park, a green patch in the city. I wonder what she thinks, as the cars swoosh by, and we pass random people. She puts out her hand to touch some hedges along the side walk. We stop to smell some flowers.

She got restless the last quarter mile or so, asking me questions I couldn’t understand, talking and occasionally singing. I was glad she was happy, and I would point out things along the way, telling her we were almost there. Finally, we were at the green, first passing the dog park, which brought on a stream of dog like sounds from baby, then there we were at the playground. There were a lot of other kids and parents out on this warm February day.

wp-1456191076862.jpegI helped her out of the stroller and she headed for the swings. All but one were occupied, so I lifted her up into it, and “swing, swing” she laughed and sang as I pushed her. She gazed in fascination at the little girl in the swing next to her. “Baby!” she chortled with delight.

I spent the next 45 minutes following her around the small play area, guarding her as she climbed ladders meant for older children, laughing with her as she slid down the numerous slides, pleased that she cooperated with other children. Often she would stop and just stare at another child, and I wondered what she was thinking. Another little girl around her age was not having a good day, and as my little sweetie observed her crying, she said “baby cry? night-night?” Good observation, I thought!

I was wearing out before she did, and, anticipating the trek back, coerced her back into the stroller with the promise of a snack and taking her shoes off. Thus settled, we made the journey home, with her chatter and singing delighting me. She tweeted with the birds, and, pointing out a squirrel, “get nuts?” she queried.

Arriving home, I took off my sandals and sat on the tub to wash my dusty achy feet, which turned into a bath for her!  We splashed and laughed and it was absolutely delightful!

It wasn’t until I was leaving that she had a meltdown. She was trying to communicate something to do with a toy car that looks like “Sassa’s car” and it seemed to be important that she take the car outside but since she was naked Mama and I were saying no. So she threw the car and quietly crumpled and threw herself around a bit. This is when parenting is hard. What is it going on in the mind of a two year old that is inexpressible and therefore frustrating? What is a grownup to do?

Fortunately, her mother practices gentle parenting, and spoke to her gently but firmly. She offered to put a diaper on her and take her outside, which was satisfactory. There was still something on baby girl’s mind, but she was less upset, and was happy to see my car, for whatever reason, and we kissed and hugged and I went on my way.

All this to say, a two year old lives moment to moment, joy and frustration being dealt with as it comes, and we grownups have lessons to learn from it. If you have a two year old, remember this the next time they throw a tantrum. They don’t have the words to express themselves yet, so it’s not a punishable offense. And you? Take life a little less seriously, and enjoy each beautiful moment.

 

 

Embrace the moment!

I’ve had several memorable moments already this morning.

Waking up in the dark, the dream memory fading, savoring the nearness of my lover.

Drinking  a chocolate strawberry spinach smoothie with fresh grated nutmeg sprinkled on top.

Driving to the park while it was still dark, sparse traffic on this Saturday morning.

Walking alone on the path, runners passing me up, and timing it perfectly to catch the sunrise.

perfect sunrise

I came home and decided to take a cup of coffee down to the bench by the lake. It was still early enough not to be too hot, not 80 degrees yet. The water was quiet and calm, few birds, no people.  I watched the fish jumping, my mind wandering all over the place, and I found myself pondering something someone said at work yesterday:

“It’s Friday! One more day closer to retirement!”

It’s just a saying, and I laughed with everyone else. But really, that’s not how I want to face my life, or my days.

“This day is dragging, I can’t wait for it to be over.”  

“I can’t wait for Christmas, or my birthday, or… retirement.”

But stop, look at the moment. Maybe I’m a glass all the way full person, and I might drive other people crazy with my perpetual optimism, but why not? If you go through life waiting for something that you think will be better, you miss out on a lot of great moments.

I haven’t always thought like this. I went to a silent meditation retreat last year, and had no timepiece, no way to keep up with time. Our days were guided by gongs. I knew the schedule, knew that the gong would go off in 2 hours, but without a watch, all alone in my room, it seemed like time stood still. I purposed then to never say that the day was dragging or I wished it would be over.

I do catch myself watching the time while I’m at work,  and when I leave the building, I always feel very happy to go. But when I catch myself, I try to stop and look at the moment and embrace it. Maybe its a lull in activity. I can meditate, or find a window to look out of, or help a coworker. Maybe my phone won’t stop ringing, so I can give each caller my full attention and be polite and kind.  Maybe someone is facing hard decisions about a loved one’s medical condition and care and I can give them my full attention, guidance, and even a hug.

There are hard moments too. I have experienced personal pain, loss through death of loved ones and loss through others’ choices. These are moments that are difficult to embrace. In these moments, sometimes all we can do is accept compassion from others and know that the storm will pass and the sun will come out leaving our hearts forever changed.

Right now I confess I am counting down the days until we leave on our long awaited three week vacation, a road trip through parts of New England up to Maine and Nova Scotia. I am very excited. I have wanted this for a long time. I am marking the days on the calendar! But at the same time, I purpose to savor the moments between now and then.  There are books to read, paint to play with, sunsets to savor, walks to take, work to do, a trip to pack for, and most of all, people to love.

What moments can you appreciate today?