Anniversaries – A Time to Reflect

There seems to be natural moments to reflect & celebrate the past and then plan the future. For some this could be the year-end, the change of seasons, or the new moons. For me there are now two concurrent anniversaries that are making me pause to reflect and celebrate: the 4-year anniversary of retirement from full-time work and the 3-year anniversary of this blog. Both are quite startling as in “it’s been that long?!?”

I can still recall the (sinking) feelings of leaving work. I had no plan. Work was central to how I saw myself; the loss of the ready-made connections (conversations, validation, feedback), structure, and accomplishments (even with the deadlines) created a huge void. What was my value if I was not contributing in the work force? I was a workaholic who had not ever devoted any mind-space to create hobbies; I didn’t even have an exercise program! Who would be my circle of support and friendship if I could not talk about work or regularly be with my work-based people? I didn’t want to be the “ghost in the halls” at work. I wanted a LIFE!

I’ve come to realize that these past few years have been the most growth-filled period of my life. Yes, it took a while to find out what I really liked to do. I had to articulate my real values, discover my own interests, and give myself permission to try new things. I had to find the real me inside, lessen the living others expectations, and begin living from a place of positivity (not cynicism).   I still struggle with comparing myself to others, feeling I’m not good enough, and feeling despair that I’m not “keeping up”.  But awareness of those moments is the beginning of change.

Three things that have made the most impact these past few years:

CREATING DAILY MOVEMENT

When I retired, I had absolutely no exercise program – no movement, no strength, no flexibility. For years, I knew all the reasons why I should have had one. But the knowing never made the doing any easier. Some of the things that (finally!) worked for me to create movement, strength, and body flexibility in my daily life:

  • Having an accountability partner. A friend and I walk almost every Monday at lunchtime. It works for her calendar – she is still working so has it scheduled as a meeting! She’s very fit, so we usually do a 4 mile hike at the local park. And I can’t not show up – I need to text her a reasonable excuse if I’m missing.
  • Buying class passes. I hate to waste money, so having a 5-class pass (or 10) makes me go to the class. This worked for both Zumba and Yoga. Now, I’m a regular and if I’m not there, the instructor worries that something is wrong. I need to let them know when I’m traveling (and they ask about the trip when I’m back)!
  • Walk & Talks. I’ve turned lunch dates or coffee dates or happy hours into walks. This has worked with a couple of friends and they were actually thrilled… they could use the exercise as well. So now when I call/text/e-mail to set something up, it’s a talk about where to walk instead of where to eat/drink.
  • Putting on workout clothes or walking shoes. A weird one, but then it’s a reminder to just do it! And I recently got a FitBit to see if that might also help with daily motivation.

So while I have not lost any significant weight (I like to eat too much), I am stronger and more flexible than I have ever been.

CREATING CONNECTIONS

Creating connections was intentional work – regularly reaching out to plan activities, regularly commenting on blogs. It often felt like work as I set targets, created action plans (email this person on this day, comment on that blog today), and worked on follow-through. I hadn’t realized a new support network was in place until a couple of things happened.

  • When I got my cancer diagnosis, I decided to be open about it. It actually surprised me how many folks I knew also had faced similar challenges. And were willing to share their experiences to help me deal with mine. But even more so was the outpouring of support (cards and notes) from both IRL and on-line folks.
  • We had our official open house at our new home… it was delayed for months because I was dealing with cancer treatment. (I just needed my head to be in another place versus party planning for that time.) We had such an amazing turnout of people (40+) and yes, some arrived in the pouring rain. And then helped wipe off tables and chairs after the rain…. it was planned as an outdoor BBQ and we had a 30-minute downpour 15 minutes into the beginning of the party.

I have an abundance of great people in my life and for that I am so very grateful! Why my surprise? I’ve always felt that I wasn’t a good friend to people…so why would people send me notes or come to my party (and in the rain).

It’s time to change my core beliefs: I have filled my life with positive, supportive people, both online and IRL.   The ones who say, “you go girl”, no matter what I’m trying! The ones who tell me I’m being too hard on myself (yeah, I am), who tell me I’m great just the way I am (trying to believe that), who surround me with positive energy and make me smile. Some of those folks are work-transitioned, some are old renewed friendships, and some are new to my life.   I am grateful for them all!

PRACTICING POSITIVITY

I was a critical, glass-half-full, worst-case-scenario-planning worrier. I was the first to point out what was wrong, what could be improved, or why it wouldn’t work. I also had a huge Imposter Complex. I’ve explored many self-development tools in the last few years to encourage a positive outlook. For me having a positive outlook includes: be curious, practice gratitude, practice kindness, be more in the moment, and let go of what doesn’t really matter. The top tools I use to aid my practice of positivity:

  • Daily Journaling – It’s completely stolen from Julia Cameron’s The Artist Way. My morning journal is my daily touch-point on my emotional, physical, and spiritual health!
  • Action Planning – I am a planner; I need structure. From a yearly vision board, to seasonal bucket lists, to 52 new things this year, to a weekly check-list… I am intentionally planning and then refining my life plan.
  • My Blog as my Life Coach – This blog space and the connections I have made all around the world are a continual source of inspiration and motivation to live life fully, to thrive on this journey.

 

So I am celebrating my 4-year/ 3-year anniversaries. I am happy with how far I’ve come and looking forward to the next few years.   As I’ve said in previous posts, my 21st Century Retirement is a Series of Transitions. I’m celebrating where I am, but I know there are more transitions to living life even more fully.

What moments do you use to reflect, celebrate, and plan?

 

Picture Credit: Pixabay

38 thoughts on “Anniversaries – A Time to Reflect

  1. Pat, I’m so glad I came over from #BloggersPitStop. Your post is very inspiring, giving readers practical ideas. Sounds like you’ve really taken to this retirement thing! I work out every day early in the morning, but I’m going to use your great Walk & Talks idea to encourage friends who are having a tough time getting into a fitness routine.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Jean, Thanks for coming over and commenting. I try and give practical advice on things that worked for me as I transitioned into retirement. It wasn’t the easiest of things, and often feel like I’m still a WIP in retirement. The Walk & Talks have been great…I have 4 women I now do them with on various timings (one weekly, one bi-monthly, 2 randomly) and everyone has enjoyed it.

      I can say, we are usually fair-weather walkers, but this past winter I even did mall walking and it was good. We had coffee when the first person called “halt” – and no foul for calling halt. I was in recovery mode for some of that time (calling halt), but one friend was just starting her exercise journey and another dealing with sore knee – each called halt and then we sat over coffee.

      Good luck with starting your own Walk & Talks!

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  2. What a great post, Pat. Thanks for sharing the things that have helped you transition to a fulfilling retirement. I have a good daily movement routine in place that I think I can sustain after retirement. What I believe I will need to work on is the human connections. Luckily, I’ve made some wonderful connections (like you) through blogging, and I’m close to my family, but I can easily see how that could become the extent of my socializing if I don’t intentionally work on this. I’m a bit of an introvert, but I do love people. I also need planning and structure. I’m working now on finding a workable balance between planning and living in the moment. It’s a work-in-progress. I love your blog and am so happy you’ve kept at it for three years. Congratulations on the anniversary!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Christie, I am an introvert who likes people as well, so I totally understand that challenge. You want folks around sometimes. It actually helps by being in control of time planning… I can set up dates and still have my solitary time. And the balance of planning and being in the moment for me is sometimes just letting go of the plan. Happened yesterday and I’m OK with it. It’s a mental thing really and one that’s a WIP!

      The IRL connections for me took time and effort…dare I say work. I put together a schedule for myself and put it on the calendar (ex. set up date to walk the Sue). I was the one reaching out to schedule things and still am with quite a few people. A couple of folks are now reciprocating. But as long as they continue to say “yes” when I reach out and I enjoy what we are doing… I view the time & effort to plan as my gift to them.

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  3. Congratulations on these milestone moments – and all the personal growth you have achieved in a short period of time. I love your “movement” story and hope to incorporate more of that in my retirement life this fall. You are an encouragement to me 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Pat! for someone who had no plan and an unexpected retirement, you have embraced this phase and excelled! Many people who know retirement is coming don’t have a plan… and of course our generation is hardly the “sit on the front porch” type! Congratulations on taking charge of your situation and creating a plan and a life!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. LOL. I’m a planner too. Since the retirement came earlier than anticipated, I did tell everyone that my first year out was all about making the plan. Still, planning a life was not as easy as I thought. I had “fallen” into so many elements of my life – working for the same Company for 30+ years, married for 25+ years. Planning a lot of new things took time and effort…and new skills. I hope by sharing some of the how-I-did-it gives others some insight for their journey.

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  5. Congratulations, Pat! Glad to see you’re less hard on yourself and you’re anticipating more transitions in the coming years. I reflect on my day every day and have loose plans for my week, month, or year as something to look forward to. #MLSTL

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Natalie, I look to my blogging buddies to help me be less hard on myself. 🙂 I also reflect on each day and am OK with changing plans…but have found I need more concrete plans or else my couch-potato self comes more to life! Hubby is more like you – very loose plans and taking each day as it comes. Makes for some interesting marital challenges.

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  6. I really like that I’m gradually reducing my work days Pat. I always worked 4 days a week (and did all my chores etc on the other day) then I dropped to 3 days a couple of years ago and now I’ve negotiated down to 2 days – perfect for me – just as I get sick of all the work drama, I walk out the door and forget about it. I’m learning to fill my “off work” days with blogging and coffees and walks and Tai Chi and reading and jigsaws and on it goes. I find I could easily sit at home in my pjs all day, so I make plans – I’m not as intentional about it as you are (much admiration coming from me!) but I am definintely trying to have a plan and some purpose to each of my days. Great post and happy anniversaries!
    Thanks for linking up with us at #MLSTL and I’ve shared this on my SM 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Leanne, There’s a whole retirement advice area about reducing work slowly for transition to retirement – you’re living that advice! For me, “being active” is a huge part of my desired lifestyle. Not that I want to be busy for the sake of busy, or doing things I don’t like… but engaging in things I like, people I like…that’s what makes me happy. If I’m not intentional about it, I end up with days at home doing nothing except eating. And then I hate myself and spiral negative. So, I send out emails and make plans….for walks, for dinners, for mini-adventures. I wish I had more non-working friends close by because Hubby can get tired of being my companion on some of my plans. That’s my current focus… finding non-working friends who want some local adventures. Too bad so many of my blogging buddies are a continent or ocean away!!

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  7. I smiled and nodded my way through your post! Yes, been the hard worker who retired from education and then said “what now?” . Learned how hard it is to adapt to retirement life when your heart has been left behind with family. But I managed to get to know ME more as a result. Then, boom, I got cancer too. Learning what I can harness in terms of my own strengths and capabilties has been the highlight of my cancer diagnosis. Being a blogger and so well supported by many people I have never met, as with you, has been some wonderful. Keep on keeping on! Denyse #MLSTL

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Denyse, My on-line tribe is where I find so much commonality. I knew about your cancer but not the fact you were a workaholic as well. I think the dealing with cancer made me more aware of my post-work reality…and the fact I have adapted to retirement life. Not that there isn’t more growth to happen…but so many changes have occurred and I do have a different lifestyle in place now. And I’m liking where I am! On-line friends and all!

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  8. Hi Pat, you could have been writing about me regarding being a workaholic with no hobbies. I started my blog about year after I had retired because I felt completely lost. Like you I enjoy regular daily movement and combine running and connection with my Saturday Sisters. Life is there for us all but sometimes we our expectations of ourselves or concern about what others might think can be a barrier. I’ve changed my thinking over the last few months and am starting to feel less pressure from my hobby (blogging) and more enjoyment of life. That includes spending time with my newest grandson, Elliot and his older brother, Ethan. They certainly make my life worthwhile. Thanks so much for sharing a motivating and inspirational post with us at #MLSTL and enjoy your week. xx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sue, I’ve thought so about the workaholic feelings based on things you’ve written. It’s funny but I’m feeling more pressure on the blog/writing in the last few months. Self-imposed for sure as a result of “Compare & Despair”! I just started another 21-day meditation series to see if I could find a new forward pathway…felt like a good time to set some new goals. Will see how that goes. I’m never going to have that fulfillment of grandkids (I went the no-kid route), so that is one we won’t have in common…but I appreciate the positive feelings it generates in folks. I’m so glad you’re close enough to enjoy them regularly!

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  9. Hi Pat, I found your blog through the #MLSTL linky. I can relate to your feelings about transitioning out of your job. I left my job recently and don’t yet have another position. Being in this limbo has been interesting, as I’m so used to my identity being defined in large part by my work. The downtime is nice, but challenging. It sounds like you’ve found your groove, so to speak. I don’t know what your cancer journey was like as I’m new to your blog, but it sounds like you have overcome that hurdle. Congratulations on the anniversaries.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Kristin and thanks for commenting. Don’t you just love MLSTL and all the great women to meet! I love that you used the term interesting about the limbo state you are in. I spent a lot of time thinking about identity without work…. I also don’t have kids, so no “mom” (grandma) identity either! Blogging has helped… I can call myself a blogger. When I’m having fun with it, I call myself a lifestyle manager. Because that is really what I do! I manage a (more) healthy lifestyle creation, day in and day out.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I could have written this myself. “I can still recall the (sinking) feelings of leaving work. I had no plan. Work was central to how I saw myself; the loss of the ready-made connections (conversations, validation, feedback), structure, and accomplishments (even with the deadlines) created a huge void.” I feel so much the same way. Much of my validation, the sense of purpose, identity felt stripped away when I retired.

    I had always exercised, had hobbies but there’s only so much one can do of those every day. I have begun working part-time for a bit and am enjoying having that additional reason to get up.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve heard so many (retired) people doing part time work to fill the voids – whether it’s conversations, connections, feeling of accomplishment, or even identity. I did it for awhile although not doing any at the moment. I’m finding I don’t miss it, but haven’t written off trying some again in the future. If you are enjoying it – keep doing it!

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  11. It shouldn’t be a surprise to us, but somehow it always is, that we have the capacity to continue growing, learning, and re-inventing ourselves in this next chapter of our lives. All change is a little uncomfortable at first, but you’ve come through it brilliantly.

    I know it’s unnecessary, but I’m going to say it anyway … celebrate this milestone and keep planning for more 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Joanne, Looking back it was just a surprise at how much changed. I guess I knew things would, but I’m so different now than I was 4 years ago. And yes, I am now less worried about more changes happening in the future…. the stop and review has released some of that fear.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. We have tried to plan for the worst case scenario and hope for the best. So far, it has worked. Our transition to what is termed “early retirement” was made easier for us by going from full to part-time work, and being self-employed [with much less income!!] on our small farm/orchard, which is now sold. We are now under a different label “fulltime nomads that housesit fulltime” 🙂 I have a small list of things I will hopefully do once we resettle back in NZ after we have got tired of travel. One thing that will be consistent in blogging. It is what I class as my movable community. Enjoyed reading your journey Pat, as I could certainly relate to it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Suzanne. Your lifestyle transition is so big! I think the idea of full-time travel/house-sitting is amazing. Not for me, but what wonderful adventures you must be having and places you are seeing. Great that the on-line community can move with you too!

      Liked by 1 person

  13. This is so good Pat! I’m already planning my retirement (no official date yet) and I’m thinking of incorporating many of the same things as you have already done, so now I know I am on the right track. Thank you!
    And congratulations!!!!

    Deb

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Deb. I think it’s brilliant that you’re tapped into this tribe of relatively newly retired and are looking for guidance and inspiration. I was retired for a year before I tapped in… and it made a big difference and continues to help me almost every week!

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Congratulations, Pat! You have so many reasons to celebrate, not least of which is that you’ve taken all of that growth of the past four years and synthesized it beautifully so that you could share it with the rest of us. As you know, that ability to synthesize all of your work is a sure sign that the growth is permanent and not a temporary flash in the pan kind of habit.

    I’m glad to see that you ended with a conviction that there are more transitions, and more opportunities for growth, to come. As a Sage, you’re a woman who needs to keep on learning and keep on sharing your wisdom with the rest of us. And we are grateful that you do 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Karen, you know my buttons (LOL – a synthesizing sage). Thanks for your comments. I’m not sure all the stuff I’ve learned is permanent yet… some is still work in progress! But that is so OK.

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  15. Congrats, Pat! I’m one of those who has told you in the past that you are too hard on yourself so I’m thrilled to read this very positive, self-affirming post. You go girl! You have come such a long way in the four years of retirement and three years blogging. Anniversaries are a great time to reflect and celebrate and you have a lot to be proud of. I often look to you for inspiration to think about what I really want and proactively go after it.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Janis, I know you’re one who’s told me I’m too hard on myself; And there are others as well. Trying to learn it. Thanks for another you-go-girl and for letting me know you look to me for inspiration. This is why I continue to blog!

      Liked by 1 person

  16. Hi Pat! “You go girl!” Anyone who sticks with a blog for three years should be very proud of your accomplishments. I find it so difficult to believe that you didn’t consider yourself an optimist because I find your writing very hopeful and encouraging to us all. Not only do you inspire, but you also offer such great ideas that we can use to do something similar. I’m happy to have found your blog and look forward to seeing where you go from here. The future is bright! ~Kathy

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Kathy, Thanks for another “you go girl!”. I know most of my new blogging friends are shocked about the fact I’ve not always been hopeful and positive. But old friends are also amazed I’m so positive now! It’s a better place to be!

      Liked by 1 person

  17. Congratulations on your milestones. I think that honoring anniversaries of any kind provides an opportunity for reflection and planning. I celebrated a few milestones 2 years ago – my 60th birthday, the silver anniversary of being single, and a mortgage “burning”. The end of one year and the beginning of another is big for me. I set yearly goals and it’s helpful to me to evaluate them at that time. I also set weekly goals, things I want to accomplish in the coming week, many of which are dictated by the seasons, i.e. process the rhubarb, pick the raspberries, get the grass cut, pick the social outings, etc. I enjoy my slow mornings – the meetings with myself – and use that time for reflecting, celebrating and planning.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Mona, Congrats of your milestones as well! I didn’t do anything for our “end of the mortgage” which occurred just a few months ago with our downsizing move. A missed celebration for sure. I’ve gotten into seasonal goal planning as well… which I am enjoying. Some folks need the goal setting and check-off feelings of accomplishment…others don’t. Sounds like we are both in the first camp.

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  18. What a nice post, and I relate to very much of what you have described. My moments of reflection/celebration/planning almost always occur on my morning walks. Its when I get some of my best problem solving and idea creation accomplished.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Tracey. What a great habit to have – a morning walk. I’ve gotten into the habit of morning journalling and love it. I do walk, but don’t tend to solve the worlds problems then… just enjoy the scenery!

      Liked by 1 person

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