Friday, July 13, 2007

Weaving the Threads - Part One

Suddenly I find myself surrounded by people going through major life changes. If we are very lucky, we travel through many years of child rearing, navigating the sometimes deep and treacherous waters, waters that can make the Columbia/Pacific Bar look tame, with grace and dignity. Then, at the end of the journey, good fortune still holding, we turn out a fine and well-prepared adult version of the children they will always remain as in our heart. That done, I find myself surrounded by change:
  • Retirement and its excitement;
  • Potential for serious health issues;
  • Acknowledgement of the hopelessness of the condition of one's spouse;
  • Guilt and recriminations;
  • Marriage and the nurturing of a new life joined;
  • Fussy battling that has become the norm for communication;
  • Clues about what I might do to prepare for my own retirement;
  • Listening to others' stories;

These bullets have all visited me this month and I am reminded of how grateful I am for the companion I have in this life.

Do we scrap? YES

Do we get over it? YES

Are we joined at the root of our own basic selves? Does this keep us joined in purpose and goals? Does the future look good? ALL YES

Could I be happier? YES

Would I change anything? NO. ABSOLUTELY NOT.

I think about retirement now and I realize that I like my demanding job but I won't miss it at all when the time comes to navigate this big change. Until recently I could hardly wait. The two years seemed to drag in my mind. The next two years loomed as a monumental waste of time. It was only time marked for financial reasons - the getting of our money ducks all in a row. But then I read MaryEllen's recent post and reflected on Don's recent passage into the world of retirement. MaryEllen and Don and two things in common:

  • They prepared ahead of time, and;
  • They are busier than ever.

Over the course of several months we followed MaryEllen as she streamlined her possessions, moved to a new place, and feathered her very downsized but totally charming nest. She is tackling major health issues and paying it all forward by bringing activity and companionship to an elderly neighbor.

Don retired and life exploded into a fireworks display of change for us. He decompressed, started to smile more, took out his self-produced Honey-Do list and went to work again. Along the way he's made progress in his genealogy searches at a pace that didn't exist before.

And then there was the wedding, the vacation after, the surprises that ensued, the problems we encountered with the water pump on the car and the easy switch to a Plan B while the water pump was being replaced.

For a not terribly social sort of man, he has done more visiting in the past two months than I think he has done in the past two years and much of it HE planned. So my question is "Who ARE you and what have you done with the Don I knew?" Not that I'm complaining, of course.

So what does this all say to me? I have two years and a bit before the big passage is on me. I can use the present to prepare for the future or I can sit back, work, and do nothing except think about it a lot. The second choice holds no appeal and doesn't fit with my new intention of being in control of my life. So, prepare I must but what will that involve? Three things have been speaking to me recently:

  • Unpacking my past;
  • Create a personal space that works;
  • Heal myself physically and spiritually.

Doing these three things will clear my path to retirement so that when I arrive, I will be ready. I hope, as I travel this road, that I also find the greater purpose I have been seeking.

End of Part One


CattyCat said...

Annie: This is a wonderful post. So internal and introspective yet oh so clear and strong. It is good you are looking and not just assuming. I was afraid and worried about retirement. That was a wasted emotion. Retirement is living life the way you choose, not the way a job dictates. It is freeing and freedom.

I am flattered that you noticed my approach to retirement. Sometimes blogging seems so strange, but sometimes we are heard, touch others and in return feel so loved and known. Bless you Annie. Hold tight and time is guaranteed to pass. You will be retired and your life will be so surprising to you. I will watch and be there where I can, for you, my friend.


Wanda said...

Yes, Annie, Wonderful post, that needs to be read by the young and old, those thinking about retirement and those of us who are!!! You bring to light real questions and answers.

Star said...

The three things that are speaking to you are biggies. Wishing you boatloads of success as you meet these challenges head on.

Mary Timme said...

Isn't it amazing when we realize that life is basically what we make of it? I'm reminded time and again of that old saying of Lincoln about, 'Most men and women are about as happy as they choose to be.' Having that sink into the pores of my mind for 20-30 years, about 12 to 13 years ago, it finally became 'real' for me. I decided to become the person people wanted to have around for a long time, whether I lived a long time or not. Now, 12 to 13 years later I'm starting to reap the rewards.

Talking to a young man at the church office the other day (My day for volunteering at the front desk)he expressed what he wanted in a wife, what he wanted his life to be and what he wanted God to do in his life. I told him, in answer to his unspoken question, that some of the bravest, strongest, most courageous men and women I knew get up each morning and go to work to take care of those who need it. He didn't get it, but hopefully the seed is planted.

I find it beyond beautiful that Don is harvesting his seed that he's planted, evidently tended for years and is reaping, and joyful, not merely happy, beyond measure that you are taking the time to plan. Good for you!

vicci said...

Annie......Can't wait to sit and laugh......have fun.......:-)xxoo

trailbee said...

After the first year, and having finally settled into his retirement, I, also, had to look for the man I thought I had married. He became the sole cook, I the full-time student. Slowly, he has come into his own, sometimes to aggravate, most times to surprise me, but always bringing with him his eons of work expertise and affability. And, yes, there are definite health issues. Wow! So, waking up each morning is a major miracle and godly gift. Life is good. Thanks for talking about this, with ops for a comment.

Naturegirl said...

Oh boy Annie this is a deep thinking post for sure! I have been retired from my career at lease 10 years now! How quickly time flys when one is enjoying life! I hesitated as you for several years to finally call it quits and so glad that I did. I was always afraid to do so because I ~
did NOT want to lose my so called ~identity and financial independence~

I have since re-invented myself and I like the person I am today..more the person I was when younger and free of obligations and have time to really see the world around me and enjoy life..doing all the things that I really want to do and
all that defines the real me!

Now I wait for natureboy to do the same...he is almost there!
Great post I could go on talking about this forever...YOU MUST HAVE A PLAN! HUGS NG

Susie said...

You've really put some deep thought into this post. I admire how you have such a gift for putting your thoughts down in such a straight and clear thinking way.

miss*R said...

I love this post - I have only skimmed through it because I found myself holding my breath and saying,yes, yes! My gorgeous man has mentioned the 'R' word just recently and I am in a panic. I am going to re-read your post, will come and comment again, I am sure, then I am going to go and find Maryellen and read her blog
thankyou Annie - you are one of my life's gems xoxo

Lee-ann said...

Annie, I believe you very much speak for many here, this lovely post is one many of us think about every day as the moment gets ever closer to retiring.

I very much look forward to part two. and pssst! I loved the photo in the cafe, I called my DH over and said "look there is a dear blogger friend from the other side of the world" ((he smiled)) then said if she has a blog, a nice smile and loves life I can see why she would be a blogger friend!! I am still trying to work out his thinking!! lol lol lol lol!!

Have a lovely week Annie.

A Fanciful Twist said...

You have such a beautiful blog. So many thoughts and questions.. the past the future the unknown...Yet, you seem to undertsand it all... I have learned to prepapre for the future, but try to live in the moment. And, really try to not make myself sick with worry about everything.... Ahhh, the complexities of life.... But, it can be wonderful too, as you said, you wouldn't change anything..... That is wonderful! xxo

Gemma said... glad you commented on my blog....because it brought me here to this great post. Creating a personal space for yourself is so matter how close you may be in any will always live with yourself first.

Julie Marie said...

Annie - I have come to this post several times but gone away without making a comment. I guess I am jealous because I will not be able to retire. Be glad you have your financial ducks in a row.

Don't worry about retirement. You are already giving it careful consideration and when the time comes you will be ready.

I just love that picture of you. It is exactly how I see you! I admire you for you wisdom and for continuing to seek wisdom. You are a seeker AND a knower.

I am fortunate to be able to go along with you on this search.

God bless you,


trailbee said...

What a super photo, Annie! I love it. It's you!

Carmen said...

Love this picture Annie! And love how you have been taking care of those treasures belonging to your family.
Now on this subject of retirement, even that I still have 20 or so more years to go after reading Maryellen and your post, you guys are making me worry and care about this subject but that's fine, sometimes that's what we need someone else telling their story for us to act, too. So, I thank you for this fantastic post and now, I promise myself to work or at least write down in my notebook those questions you are asking yourself for me to answer real soon. Thanks again!

Julie Marie said...


I should not have said that I am jealous because I can't retire since that would mean I am jealous of you and I am so not jealous of you or envious of you in any way. I wish you only the best and am very happy for your rosy future. I am sure that when you are not working you will find so many things to occupy yourself you will never be bored. My longtime supervisor at my previous job retired in January and she does nothing but go, go, go! I can hardly fit myself into her schedule!

And, you are taking care of yourself and that will alleviate concerns for health issues. Now I have to start doing something too.

All my best,


AnnieElf said...

Hi Julie,

Please rest assured that I did not take that the wrong way at all. I've used the word "jealous" to express the feeling of a deep yearning myself and that is how I read it. I know when the time comes for you, you will have a blast. Anyhoo, you just started a job you seem to be very happy with. I vote for enjoying it for a while.


paris parfait said...

Lovely introspective post, Annie. So many changes, but most of them very positive. xo