September Musings

Retirement for me is an intentional way of living, aligning my lifestyle choices and actions/activities with my highest priorities/values. I’ve crafted a lifestyle vision statement based on that:

Active. Connected. Creative. Contemplative.

This blog post is simply a series of musings I’ve had this month as I’ve contemplated various blogs I am reading.

 

Am I Achieving?

I was very excited this month to have my book (Retirement Transition – An Innovation ApproachAmazon link here) reviewed by Kathy over at Smart Living 365. If you have not read it:  Here’s the link to her blog post.

Her post raised the question, “What is Achievement?”  Is achievement different than completion? Kathy hypothesized that perhaps achievement needed to be the creation of something. I added in the concepts of engagement versus mastery to the mix as I thought about it.

I think a sense of completion can be achievement. Completing a project, for sure. But also, completing a task. Even just completing the next step in the journey. Especially if those tasks, steps, activities are linked to your vision. For me, I want to be active, connected, creative & contemplative. When I complete a yoga class or post a blog or even finalize my seasonal action pan, I do feel a sense of accomplishment. I’m not mastering the skill (although I am getting a bit better over time I hope). I’m not creating anything (I feel achievement by posting, not writing!). But I am moving myself closer to the vision of how I want to live.

I’m not sure I personally have accomplishment as a strong value, but I did feel the loss of accomplishment when I stopped working. And felt a strong need to replace that benefit I got from working. Perhaps someone who has accomplishment as a stronger value would need “bigger ” tasks/ projects/ creations to fulfill their own sense of accomplishment.

But for me, completing feels like achievement.   What about for you? What is accomplishment for you? Do you need it?

 

Over-thinkers Anonymous?

Kathy M. guest posted on Zen on Min’s site (link) talking about the monkey mind (and her daily routine.) We need to form a recovering over-thinkers club! So many of us suffer monkey brain – for me it’s playing scenarios from the past (If I only said /did this), future what-if’s (plan for all the contingencies), and continual Compare & Despairs.

Some of the overthinking I’ve done this month includes worrying I’m not doing enough to keep myself healthy and vital.   A blog read on Neuroplasticity (link here) talked about how you can do a lot of things in life that will enhance the functioning of your brain. This is critical for not only for continual learning but our ability to relate to the world. It also helps improve our overall feeling of wellbeing.

The first recommendation was on the physical side: active, sustained engagement (20 minutes a day) and ensuring that the activity challenged us, which means it allowed an increase difficulty and strain over time. I think my yoga and strength training fit, but I’m not doing 20 minutes everyday! The second recommendation was on the mental side: learning something new like a new language, how to dance, or playing a musical instrument. Nothing in my life choices fits this mental stimulation. What should I be exploring that fits this profile?

I continued overthinking with a thought-provoking post from Deb (link here).  Since retirement, I’ve been spending time thinking about my life, in an effort to identify some put-aside dreams or passions. Because I still have not released the “should of retirement” of finding your passion!  Recently I shifted thinking about my life journey from a decades approach (promoted in many inspirational books I’ve read) to looking at significant turning points. Deb talked about identifying when/where values were tested and when/where there were significant personal insights. I’m coming to realize so much of my life was about meeting (perceived) societal/parental expectations, taking the default path, and being afraid of risk (opting for security). Now I wonder if it’s too late to change.  

I am still finding a balance between doing and being – this seemingly oxymoronic state of claiming to Be Un-busy and having an Action Plan.  I do need my calendar/to-do lists for structure, but am finding I enjoy the slower pace of life and the time I can spend in contemplation and reading.   But now I’m wondering, is contemplation over-thinking? Maybe I’m not a recovering over-thinker at all!

 

Oh dear, more Compare & Despair

Yes, I’m still doing Compare & Despair too often, especially on what I perceive to be the “should of retirement” which is of course the “full potential of retirement”.  You know the should-do-list: the passion project that’s turned into a money making business, joining the board of one of your favorite non-profits, the boosted exercise program resulting in winning races/tournaments, the 4 times a year jaunts to the best travel locations plus learning a new language beforehand to enhance the experience, the spontaneous activities (because work is structured and retirement should be freedom), and the move to the downsized, de-cluttered, age-in-place home with an amazing view.

Retirement is about making personal lifestyle choices that fit personal values and visions. I need to keep reminding myself of that and recognize that people’s suggestions or questions of “You should try…”, “Where are YOU traveling to…” or “I don’t need X (like you seem to)” is NOT an indicator of judgment on my choices!   Recently that I realized I “hear” judgmental undertones (overtones?) when they might not even be there! That awareness has been amazingly helpful… sometimes people are simply asking a question out of curiosity, a desire for connection, or to provide information… they are not judging your choices. (OK, sometimes they might be, but I will not care… they have different values and visions!)

Realizing I am a structure-girl, a list maker, and a planner and being OK with it has been freeing. I am healthy, in a wonderful long-term relationship, and financially secure. I love my own litany of choices (my own weekly highlight reel!) that can include: write a blog post, read blogs, read books (inspirational and fun ones), take a class (creative or learning), build my strength training habit, food shop at my favorite boutique stores, do yoga (especially on the beach), do crossword puzzles, go on mini-adventures in town, see a play, create lists, link up with friends, and play in the garden. Yeah, I have a happy, full life and I will stop perceiving “expectations”; I will stop apologizing for who I am and the choices I’ve made: I will continue to be grateful for what I have.

How do you stop the Compare & Despair?

Friendship Shifts

I’ve been having a feeling of friendship abandonment this month.   Two of my regular Walk & Talk friends have both returned to full-time work. They are in different life stages – one is now empty nesting, one is now kid-full-time in school – and they both choose to return to work full-time at this point in their lives. They were two of my reliable long walk & talks – one weekly and one monthly. (Unfortunately, I’m not good at walking without accountability partners.)   And there was the good friend who moved overseas for a 2-3 year assignment, so no more monthly Whine & Wine. Then my Florida part-time neighbor (snow bird like me) told me she’s getting a divorce and her soon-to-be-ex is taking the Florida property. We had already made plans for next winter.   I’m feeling a sense of loosing connections this month!

In a similar area of thought, an old post from “Where the Wild Things Are” ended with “The grass is always greener when you water it” quote. (link hereThis is not a phrase I had heard before and I love it. It was about attention to relationships — take the time …. to listen, to express appreciation, and find things to do together. It made me ponder: What am I putting on my Autumn List to “water the grass”, especially as I’m feeling friendship loss?

Podcasts

I finally figured out podcast listening. A bit anyway. I’m working through a list of ones recommended, listening while re-starting my strength training. So far, only 1 is a “return to” podcast. [I’ve got 5-6 more on the try-it list.] I’ve been surprised how it feels like old-time talk radio!   Guess it’s like calling bell-bottoms flares.

An intriguing moment from my podcast listening: The idea that instead of trying to shut down the negative voices in your head, encourage the positive ones! Use affirmations. And surround yourself with supportive people – those that encourage you to try and celebrate your minor victories. My blogging community is definitely this!

Missed Photo Opps

So mad at myself that I didn’t have my phone out taking photos…. so many missed photo opportunities this month. I have got to start documenting some things so I can post big thing pictures… or just great memory pictures. This month? I met a blogging buddy IRL!! (Hi Karen H). We had a full family gathering to celebrate the adoption of my newest great-nieces! (My family side is only 11 people, but we live in 3 different states and last time we were all together was 10 years ago). A midweek foodies event was a great charcuterie layout at the home of one of our foodie friends. Spending time at the beach with hubby.  And I got a lovely new pedicure (went with a new FL friend – a lunch date).

My September was full of musings. Overthinking? Maybe!  What have you been musing about?

 

Picture Credit: Canva (still trying… not there yet)

19 thoughts on “September Musings

  1. Every day in this thing called being retired is an adventure in learning to be me but in a different way. I am taking more time to ‘do’ and to ‘be’ and find it most helpful to no longer think “I will get this done, then relax”. I no longer do things by the reward method nearly as much. It is really helping me to have a loose plan of each day and a quick reminder on my phone helps me to see what/where I am meant to be or not then. I do not punish myself anymore with negative thoughts. I am quite liking the me I am learning to become as I get ready to turn 70 next month.

    Denyse #mlstl

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    1. Denyse, I like how you phrased that – “not punish myself with negative thoughts”. I’m working towards that! And actually, when I look back, am getting better at it. I too am liking the me I am becoming!

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  2. Can I send a virtual hug your way? Compare & despair is a toughie & I wish I had the answer for you. I’m listening to Desert Island Discs at present (BBC) – it’s been going since the 70s but there are some real treasures in there. I pick & choose people I’m interested in. As an aside, I get that you’re tough on yourself – it’s obviously how you get so much done & believe me, I can identify with that. Take care…

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    1. Jo, I had to laugh…. you’re the first person who has ever said that they are glad I’m tough on myself! As I doubt that will ever change too much, it’s nice to know someone “gets it”. Thanks for the virtual hug, too. I’m getting a bit better at shutting down the Compare & Despair…. At least now I recognize when I do it.

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  3. There’s always so much to think about, isn’t there Pat? I wish we lived closer together, I would join you and Leslie in a walk and talk. For now, I’ll have to be content with connecting online. I love this community we’ve developed. Take care! #MLSTL

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    1. Christie, And I’d so love to accompany you on one of your great hikes! Yes, this community is wonderful – so supportive, encouraging, inspirational. I’m so grateful for it.

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  4. Hi Pat,
    I loved Kathy’s review and so admire your accomplishment of actually writing and publishing a book. And I also agree that perhaps you are too hard on yourself.
    In education there was constant tension between “process and product”. There are certainly times where completing a product is important and the goal of a certain exercise. However, process – the learning process – has merits in its own right and should not be dismissed simply because it doesn’t always result in a finished product.
    Process also implies editing and revision…taking what you are learning and applying it to a situation to improve it – whether it is a product like a blog or book, or life skills and habits like meditation, eating, exercise, and self-care.
    The growth mindset is the important piece.

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    1. Nancy, I’ve never been in education but your description of process versus product is extremely interesting! My mind took it also to the journey versus the destination. For years for me, it was all about the destination. Hubby has given me items (T-shirts, bracelets, wall plaques, stickers) with quotes about enjoying the journey… he’s been trying to get me to focus on the journey… the process… for years. In fact, my word of the year this year is journey! So I really like your builds on this…. the learning, the applying, the growth mindset. I am getting better at enjoying the journey…enjoying each day as it unfolds. Yes, someday’s I slip back into the destination mindset, the Compare & Despair, the feeling like I am not meeting expectations, feeling that I am not enough…. but I am happy to say that those days are getting to be fewer. And that is growth!

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    1. Thanks Donna! I really enjoyed Kathy’s review also. It was interesting how she really picked up on Jolts of Joy…it’s a tool I’ve used many times myself. Sometimes when I’m getting a bit down on myself, I need to stop and recall how much I’ve changed about my life….bringing more joy into it, being more active, connecting to people all over the world. Blogging connections really help bring these positive aspects of life home.

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  5. It seems to me that you grade your self quite hard. I think that retirement, like life, is a balancing act and that sometimes we lean more one way than another. You’ve done a lot in a short period of time. You sound very goal orientated, which I totally relate to, but I guess sometimes we need to allow ourselves to chill out — I’m not good at that yet but I’m only a few months into semi retired. Take care and relax!!
    Bernie

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    1. Bernie, My hubby constantly tells me my personal expectations are just too high…. yeah, I am hard on myself. And you are tight also that I am goal oriented… but trying these days to focus more on the journey than the destination. It’s nice to be reminded to chill and relax a bit!

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  6. Your mentioning crossword puzzles reminds me of both of my parents, who were crossword devotees well into their mid-eighties. They stopped reading books for some reason (I hope that never happens to me), but I was always heartened that they continued with the crosswords late in their lives. – Marty

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    1. Marty, I wonder if they stopped reading because it became difficult on their eyes… I know my mom says her eyes “get tired” if she reads too much. And she was always an avid reader… as am I. While I do like crosswords, I am certainly not at the NYT level! I like a challenge but one I can also finish. Our local paper daily crossword gets more challenging every day of the week… when I finish a Friday one, I’m thrilled! Happens infrequently… and Saturday I can barely answer a handful of clues! Happy to see Monday come back around! LOL.

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  7. I just want to give you a hug. Can you feel it? Two arms around. We are very much alike in that I overthink everything. And tend to ‘beat’ myself up about things that most people would have long since forgotten.

    I wish wish wish we could walk and talk together. I need a friend desperately to confide in and exercise with. My husband and I gym and bike ride and hike together. But there are times when you just need a girl friend.

    As far as missed opportunities for taking pictures, you do still have the memories! And you can just make it more important to be sure you have your phone around for the inevitable photo ops that the holidays and this crisp, beautiful season offer. I kick myself for not using my good camera more. But carrying it around is cumbersome. Still hope to work on grabbing it as I go out.

    Writing a book certainly counts as mental stimulation in my book. But you can also try games that are intellectually stimulating like Wordscapes or Duolingo for languages, or Words with Friends. A few minutes a day might help you feel like you are doing more in that department.

    Most of all, dear friend, just try to be easier on yourself. Know that so many of us think you are amazing. And have accomplished things that we (I) long to do!

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    1. Leslie, Thanks for the hug! and thanks for thinking I’m amazing. I know I have very high expectations for myself – too high my hubby always tells me. There are a number of blogging buddies I’d love to live closer to for either a regular Walk & Talk or Whine & Wine! I do hope someday to meet more of you-all! Oh, and I play scrabble against the computer – that’s my game vice!

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