Category Archives: Retirement and Rejuvenation

The Joy Of Letting Go

Have you ever laid in bed, late at night, listening to a faucet drip? Remember that moment in between each drop? You hope it stops. You fear it won’t and then… the next drip sounds and you wait again.

One part of your mind says, ‘get up and do something about that drip’.

The other part, it wants to believe it will just happen naturally. The drop will stop dripping all on its own.

And so, you lay there wavering between the hope it will stop, and the fear it won’t.

Like the child learning to feed the wolf of kindness and grace, or the nasty harbinger of grief and misery, we go through each day making decisions between drips and drops of time passing. Between choosing hope over despair. Possibility over holding on. Love over fear. The known over the unknown.

In our quest to hold on to what we know, we are blinded by our fear of losing what we already have. Trapped in the fear we will lose it all if we let go, we cannot see that letting go is the initiation rite of passage we must pass through to discover the joy of flying.

Yesterday, on a bi-weekly call with two beautiful women friends, I shared how I fear letting go of ‘this space’ to create a new, exciting platform from which to launch my ‘next phase’.

I know. I know. Who says I need a next phase anyway? Heck! I’ve paid my dues. Done my service to humanity. After almost 20 years working in the homeless serving sector, I ‘deserve’ to ‘go quietly into the sunset’ or some such trite apothegm.

Fact is, I say I need, no wait, want a next phase. I want my life to have meaning that is purposeful and of service to humanity. Not because it feeds my ego. It’s not my ego that yearns for sustenance. It is my soul, my heart, my ‘person’.

I don’t want to go back. I want to go forward to explore a different terrain than the not for profit world I embraced so whole-heartedly in the past. A world that gave me great joy and fulfillment.

And see, there’s the thing, right there. It ‘gave me’. Past tense. It is not of the present.

What brings me joy today?

The peace and tranquility of my life is lovely. But as I told my friends yesterday, I miss the feeling of being busy. Of juggling many things. Of making purposeful decisions about big ideas.

Ahhh yes. I miss big ideas and big thinking. I miss feeling like I am part of making change happen.

I don’t want to go back and I cannot go forward without letting go of this space between the drip and the drop.

The end of this month will mark my one year anniversary of freedom from the 9 to 5, which as my daughters remind me was more my 24/7.

It has been a year of challenges. Of gut-twisting growth and heart-wrenching breakthroughs. Of soul-defying deep dives and fear-inspired pushing back.

I am ready.

And that’s the exciting part. “I don’t know” is a beautiful place to start my exploration.

I crave depth. Substance. Meaning.

Always have.

I crave growth. Creative expression. Connection. Belonging.

The question is: Am I willing to let go of holding on to what is, to fall into the unknown that is calling out for me to soar and discover all that is possible beyond what I already know? Am I courageous enough to live the questions with grace?

As Rilke so beautifully said,

Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.”

Rainier Maria Rilke

The question is: Am I courageous enough to live the questions knowing the answers can only be lived through letting go of holding on to what I know?

Am I willing to let go of holding on to what is, to fall into the unknown that is calling out for me to soar and discover all that is possible beyond the edges of all I know?

Ooohhhh…. What heady, exciting, life giving questions to live everything now!

 

Everything Changes and Some Things Stay the Same

My Writing Space

In the winter, when I sit down at my desk in the morning, it is usually dark.

I find it comforting. The soft darkness of the room enveloping me, the glass in front of me separating me from the air outside, which on a morning like this when the thermometer registers a chilly -32C, is a good thing.

This morning, the sun was already up by the time I sat down.

I slept in.

I think it’s becoming my new normal. To fall asleep and to rise later.

But I’m not sure I like it, or at least have adjusted my creative juices to the shift.

I have always been a morning person. Creatively, that always meant the muse was most active in the mornings. Words flowed easily. Ideas sparked naturally. Images cascaded onto the canvas with ease, in the early hours, slowing down as the day progressed.

It’s not to say that the rest of the day isn’t filled with creative expression. Just that in the morning, I don’t think about the process. I am one with the process.

It is possible that this current late rise phase is because of the cold that has settled into my body like a bear curling up in his den for a long winter’s nap. No sense coming out until the temperature outside rises.

Or, it could be that because of the absence of a formal workplace with its time clock demands and deadlines, my body and mind have decided I can relax.

This morning, as the sun peeked in through the blinds and I lay in bed contemplating my day, it dawned on me that I am in the final quarter of my first year of being in this rejuvenation phase of my life. And then, later, as I sat at my desk writing, I realized my math was, as it often is, somewhat wonky!

I left the formal work-world May 31st of last year. That puts me into the 7th month of re-designing my life. Lol — given that there are 12 months in the year, I’m still almost two months away from the final quarter.

Just goes to show, some things never change. No matter the changing circumstances of my world, math has never been, and still is not my forté!

But lots has changed. Where once I bemoaned sleeping in, now I welcome its luxury.

Where once I told myself I ‘had’ to go to sleep by a certain hour, I’ve relaxed my standards and let my natural rhythms have their way.

I also no longer feel compelled to fill my calendar with ‘things to do’, meetings and coffee dates. In fact, given the weather and this cold, I may not schedule anything until spring, just in time for the bears to come out of hibernation.

Everything changes and somethings just say the same. What hasn’t changed for me is the delight I feel every morning when I arise knowing my day is mine to organize, let loose, let flow as it may.

Baby, it’s cold outside, but inside, well, let’s just say I’m off to the studio to put it back in order — something I haven’t done since clearing off the tables which I needed to use for Christmas dinner. We went away, my daughter moved in for three weeks and used the open floor space as her dressing/suitcase area.

They moved into their newly renovated home last night and now… I am off to play.

Of course, that’s after I take Beaumont to the park for a short, and I mean short, romp. Even with his new coat and boots, it’s still too cold out there even for a furry friend.

(BTW – stay tuned for Sundays with Beaumont — he has a lot to say about his new outfit! Spoiler alert — he’s not impressed. 🙂

 

Let Me Taste Every Bite of Life

One of the things I am noticing about this ‘here-in-my-world not out-in-the-world workforce’ place is I am enjoying my kitchen more and more every day.

I have always loved to cook. I am intrigued by the opportunities to experiment when I dive into the process, the curiosity it ignites with its constant invitation to explore, ‘what would it taste like if I add…?’ or ‘what would happen if I do…. this….?’.

And then, when life got busy, really busy, I started spending less time in the kitchen. When every moment was determined by the extra minutes I could carve out from beneath the pile of to do’s that kept rising higher than the laundry waiting to be sorted on top of the dryer, cooking became a rote process. It took time and where was I supposed to find more of that?

In my newly embraced ‘here-in-my world not out-in-the-world workforce’ mode, I am spending more time thinking about food and the kitchen. I am pouring over recipes, checking Pinterest for ideas on what to do with this ingredient or that vegetable, dreaming up soups and sauces with the savoir-faire of a sous chef in a fine dining establishment (okay it’s more like at a ‘diner’ establishment and a sous/sous/sous chef but a woman can dream!)

And it’s been fun.

Cooking is a form of creativity for me. It is meditative. Relaxing. Soul-filling. And, having more time to spend delving into its mysteries and wonders is a gift — and one my beloved dearly appreciates as he is the beneficiary of my desire to keep creating in our beautiful kitchen!

Some lessons learnt savouring time in the kitchen include:

  1. Like life, cooking is an art form. It is best experienced with all your senses awakened and attuned to your environment and everything in it.
  2. Creating food is one part alchemy, one part science and the rest is all just pure love, joy and curiosity. Sprinkle liberally. Douse everything and everyone in love.
  3. Food is about all our senses. It not only has to taste, feel, look and smell good, it also needs to evoke an emotional response that ignites our gratitude, joy and aliveness.
  4. Cooking is all about being.  It’s not something you do. It’s something you experience by being immersed in the curiosity of its alchemy and magic, savouring each moment, tasting each morsel of energy created by the act of creating meals to nourish body, soul, spirit and wholeness.
  5. It’s fun to cook; alone or with someone(s) special. It’s always heart-filling to share your creations with another or more than one — remembering that it’s not about the food you’re creating or eating, it’s all about the community you’re building when you gather around a pot on the stove or around the table and share in a meal created with Love.

I am spending more time in the kitchen savouring the opportunity to create and imbue our home with my love of creation.

I am grateful. I am blessed. I am alive.

By Golly! I think I’ve got it! My new career.

Day 29 — 30 Day Art Project
Song of Joy

I’ve got it!  My new career! I know exactly what it is.

Seriously. It came to me this morning as I was sitting watching the sun come out from a cloud laden sky and dapple the golden leaves of the trees outside my window and the sun fairies dance on the waters of the river flowing by.

You know how tornado chasers race all over the countryside in search of winds to follow and photograph, to document and capture?

Well, I’ve decided my new career will be kind of like that… but not really.

I’ve decided to become… A Rainbow Chaser!

Okay. so it’s not really a well-known or probably even a ‘real’ career that will earn me a gazillion dollars but, hey, if it brings me joy, Why not do it? And anyway, who’s to say my donning the mantle of Rainbow Chaser won’t make it ‘go viral’ and all that jazzy stuff that happens when something someone does captures the imagination and whims of others?

Why Rainbow Chaser?

Because I can.

Because who doesn’t love rainbows?  And heck. The world is filled with them! They’re universal. They’re magical. And they always appear after the rain when the sun comes out and sparkles through the light.

Me, I love rainbows and after several days of wallowing in the dark  matter of the icky stuff that sometimes clogs the free-flowin’ style of my living life on the outside of my comfort zone, chasing rainbows is so much better than living under the dark cloud of my own unease.

See, sometimes I get stuck in the story I am telling myself about why I am not wanted, not needed, not welcome on this journey called life.

Sometimes, I believe my own critics who troll the avenues of my mind, seeking out weak spots on the edges of my limiting beliefs and the fears tucked away in hidden alcoves where the sun don’t shine.

And here’s the thing, I figure as a Rainbow Chaser, I’ll be dancing in the rain and the sun because everyone knows, rainbows are always waiting in the wings for their star appearance after the rain.

To be in the right place to capture the rainbow, I gotta be willing to stand in the rain knowing the sun is still shining behind grey clouds. I gotta hold onto my belief that if I breathe deeply enough, the wind’s of time, supported by a whole lot of Love, will blow those grey clouds away and the sun, along with its beautiful sparkling light-lit rainbow, will appear.

And then, another question popped into my head like a gopher on Ground Hog day popping out of his hole.

Are there rainbows in the night? Do they appear by moonlight after the rain has passed but we never see them because we’re sound asleep waiting for the sun to rise?

Oh boy! My Rainbow Chasing career is off to a good start.

A deep question to dive into and explore. Because, seriously, if I’m sleeping through the dark, how will I know when the sun has risen? What if, I choose to let rainbows and moonbeams cast away the dark and create a world of joy. A world, my heart can really sing about!

Yup. Rainbow Chaser, the career of dreams and flights of fancy.  A career worth dancing in the rain for and singing out loud my song of joy.

Not bad for a day that started under gloomy skies!

Now that I’ve got my eyes wide open and my heart a beatin’, I’ll see ya’ll later.

I’m off chasing rainbows, and fairy dancers and sunburst making daydreams worth chasing! And maybe, when the sun sets, I’ll go chasing moonbeams and starlit staircases leading up into the glittering beauty of a beguiling night sky strewn with a gazillion diamonds — cause the more I think about it, the more I’m thinkin’ there are rainbows in the night —  diamonds cast ’em when they capture the light just so… Why wouldn’t the stars?

Ain’t life a wonder?

The Exquisite Unknowing

It is the exquisite beauty and angst of this journey called life. So much is unknowable. When you name ‘the something’ you think you know, it is changed and you begin again the quest to know that which is unknowable.

And still, we try to know it, name it, place it. To hold it fast. To let it go.

Like the silence. It is unknowable and immune to our entreaties for certainty we exist within the silence, that we will be heard within its deep embrace.

These thoughts come to me this morning as Beaumont the Sheepadoodle and I wander the woods that line the river where he likes to play.

Autumn’s golden hues are sprinkled amidst the still green leaves of summer. The air is fresh. The river cold.

Yesterday I walked these same paths. They were different then. I could not know what I would experience today. Today was unknowable to me yesterday and anything I think I know today, will be different tomorrow.

I could not know the experience of ‘retirement’ until I entered into it. It is different than I imagined. Filled with the mystery and wonder that arises within me as I journey deeper into its unknowning. Filled with feelings I had never experienced and could not conveive of until I entered its sacred space.

In its complexity lies its simplicity, the paradox of change and growth. What was becomes different, filled with what was and the what wasn’t known before. And as soon as I name it, it becomes unknowable again for in the naming what I believe I know, I create space for all I do not know to enter.

What do I not know cannot be answered with words. It must be experienced, felt, rested within for it to become part of my being who I am when I let go of believing I know everything there is to know about me, myself and I.

We are all the magician and the performer, conjuring up stories we tell to make sense of who we are in a world of mystery. Steeped in the dichotomy of being unknowable from the outside in. With every surrender of knowing what we believe to be true about ourselves, we journey deeper into the mystery of being our true selves in the unfathomable mystery of life.

In embracing our journey as not being defined by who we think we are, we discover the exquisite unknowing of all we thought we knew about our true selves. In wonder and awe of all we do not know, we discover we truly are magnificent.

I had a wonder-filled wander with Beaumont this morning.

I am grateful for the unfolding of my unknowing.

May we each fall into the joy of unknowing who we think we are to discover how magnificent we truly are.

Namaste.

 

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Love Fills In The Cracks


Dark gives way to light
Morning breaks, the heart opens
Love fills in the cracks.

It can be so easy, when standing in the dark of night, to believe the light will never come.

And then it does.

And with the light comes awareness and with awareness the peace of knowing that just as the night moves into day, this moment too shall pass.

And in its passing flow into this moment right now.

Being in this moment right now, the joy and laughter, the sorrow and grief, of the moments past flow freely into memory leaving only the possibility of unfathomable joy and wonder, awe and beauty right now.

This retirement gig has been challenging for me. I am now into my fourth month and my rhythm is still off, my daily gait ungainly.

And then I laugh at myself because, never having been retired before I don’t really know what my rhythm is which is kind of like saying, I don’t know what I’m looking for!

How can I find anything if I don’t know what it is? Perhaps the secret is to stop searching and simply become one with the journey.

Working was easy. Get up. Get going. Rinse and repeat.

This rejuvenation post-retirement is…. a learning process.

Patience is required.

So is kindness.

So is self-care.

Giving into self-care this morning I wrote a Haiku. Writing poetry of any kind has always been my go-to space for clarity, healing, self-care.

I had forgotten.

So… maybe I am getting this rejuvenation post-retirement thingie.

Remembering the things I’ve forgotten in the busyness of life and then… doing them in this moment right now with a loving, gentle heart filled with gratitude for the lessons of my path, the light of each morning and the Love in my heart.

And now, I think I’ll go for a walk with my dog.

 

Creativity Activist – my new gig!

Last weekend, when my youngest daughter and I were at Twin Falls Chalet together, one of the guests was a gentleman who had retired ten years ago from a high level executive position with a multi-national corporation.

Since retiring, he and his wife have built an exciting path that has taken them on travels they’d always dreamed of, and doing things they’d always wanted, alone and together.

One evening, as we sat around the fire and chatted, I asked him about how he had found the transition.

It was easy, he said. Once he’d walked out of his corporate headquarters for the last time, he’d never looked back.

One of the things he did was to create a new descriptor for himself in the new space of his retirement. it’s a ‘title’ that says who you are and what you’re all about, he advised.

In his case, he became an “Adventure Athelete”.

I’ve been thinking about his words for the past week, seeking support from the muses and the universe to help me in discerning, what is my ‘thing’ in this new space in my life and the answer has appeared.

Creativity Activist.

That’s my role, my vocation, my ‘title’ in my life.

I am a Creativity Activist.

For me, this means I use my imagination, creative expressions and talents to make a positive difference in the lives of people and the world by inspiring others to ignite their unique expressions to create better in the world. Each of us has different passions — using our creativity to inspire greatness and better in our passion field is key to personal happiness and to building a better world on every level.

I believe we are all creative by nature. Each of us has our own unique way of using our imaginations to “create and inspire better”.

I believe the world needs all of us to become engaged with creating peace, harmony, equality, and joy in the world. Our imagination and creativity is vital to making change happen — change that will balance socio/economic paradigms, untether political doctrines and shift demographic inequities.

My creative activism is focused on inspiring people to ‘know and love themselves better’. I believe that self-love is the gateway to acceptance of one another, as we are, in all our differences so that we can celebrate what makes us unique on the common ground of our shared humanity.

For me, this is the foundation of creating positive change in the world. When we love ourselves, as we are, without shaming ourselves or others for our differences, we create space for all points of view to be heard and valued. And in that space of equality and harmony, anything is possible.

I am excited.

The thoughts above on what it means for me to be a ‘creative activist’ are not completely defined. But knowing my key motivator and focus in this post-retirement from the formal workplace space, feels…. inspiring… uplifting… freeing… right. 

I want to fill each day with activities that give me a sense of purpose, meaning and joy. What I put my attention on grows stronger in my life. Putting my attention on thoughts and activities that ignite creativity and imagination to create better in the world affirms me. Strengthens me. Comforts me. Inspires me.

How I spend my time is a statement of who I am. Spending my time in the here and now creating opportunities for others to get inspired to express themselves in unique ways that bring harmony and joy into their world, creates better in the world all around me.

Colour me excited!

Paint me a rainbow!

Fly me to the moon!

I got this!