Three months to go

One down, three to go.

It has now been a month since I started this blog. Seems like it’s been a lot longer because so much seems to have changed. I actually do feel that I’ve changed in my outlook to the world a lot in the last month. Let me review.

Up until about a month ago I worked full time. Very, very full time. Long days. Always work to be done from home as well. Lots of pressure and lots of stress and lots of timelines and lots of bureaucracy. I’ve been working on the same portfolio for the past half dozen years or so and I remain very committed to that. Once I’d identified how many days I could take away from work in my last four months – perhaps ever – as a fully employed person, and scheduled those days, I essentially turned into a part-time worker for the summer months. That’s been a great opportunity to get a taste of retirement; cognizant all the time that this is only a replica and not the real thing at all. Still, I’ve been off work more than at work in the last month and I’ve started to develop some very new patterns of being.

I start my day more slowly. There seems to be more balance, more evidence of a centre; an emotional equator that holds strong. There’s rarely a reason to have to hop out of bed and get into the business of the day in no time flat. I have allowed myself the luxury of that second cup of coffee in bed – lovingly provided by David – and I lounge until 8 or 9 o’clock, which until now has been the time of day when I’d already likely begun preparation of that night’s dinner, watered some plants, and put in an hour or two in my office. Some days I wake up feeling a little lost at sea; so many courses I could take and so few signposts on which courses might be plotted to the best outcomes for me. Some days I wake up with this kind of mesmerizingly calm feeling and happy anticipation of what lies ahead. Always I am keenly aware that I can think about retirement – this new phase of living life that I’m about to enter – and I can try to image what it feel like and be like, but ultimately I still have little idea of what lies ahead.

I’ve narrowed down a thing or two, although not much though. I know that I need to think about my daytime hours as a retired person as just as significant and valuable as they were when I got paid for labouring through them. I am starting to understand what being “your own boss” means; something that I’m guessing those of you who’ve worked for yourselves all along have known for quite some time. I’ve brought to light some issues that will need thinking through in the next couple of months; issues related to identity, relationships, planning, expectations, opportunity, and – of course – identity. Mostly what I’ve done is started to get a bit more of a handle on the kinds of things I need to consider as I move from the life of being a full-time, public-servant (teacher, educrat) to a life of being just good old me. I’ve identified some potential quicksand (too many unscheduled hours) that I need to carefully avoid if at all possible, and I’ve identified some potential projects that are really exciting if I can only do them without letting them get out of hand.

Did you know that when a caterpillar secludes itself in a cocoon it actually melts to mush before it reorganizes itself into a butterfly?

I’m not sure what I imagined happened inside that cocoon when I was taught about metamorphosis, but I think that I imagined some magical “tada” and instantly that squirmy caterpillar sprouted wings and took flight. This is natures way. It’s a process.  You get from here to there only by travelling along a lane and experiencing the transitional things that let you move forward. I’m blessed with a loving family and good friends who are caring enough to set me straight when needed and gentle enough to guide me without leaving bruises. The books and articles I’ve been reading, and often noting in my writings, have illuminated some dark corners and deepened my understanding of this shift from professional to personal, from working on what others deem important to focusing on what I deem important, from rushing to leisure … and, at the same time, from pattern and custom to uncharted territory.

At some point in almost anything I’ve ever undertaken in life I have had a sense of events taking on a life of their own, a journey that I get to take but have very little control over — much as I’d rather think that I am in control of everything. Those of us who are adrenalin junkies know that chasing the next adventure is important. Usually that means a lot of planning and exploring and researching and hours and hours searching the net for the perfect “whatever”.  What is so exciting about this moment in my life is that I can see something coming to a natural, gradual and quite exhilarating way. Thanks for sharing this journey with me and I look forward to your guidance over the next months. As they taught us in kindergarten; it is better when you hold hands.

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