Lessons from the Last Year
As we start a brand new year and say goodbye to the last one, I extend a special thanks to my friends, family and readers of my blog who have kept me company when I could have felt lonely and helped me find a platform for my voice.
I entered retirement about a year ago with a fair amount of trepidation. I was concerned about some real and anticipated fears and have come to realize that my career was not relevant to those fears. What mattered most were the tools in my “life toolbox". I had been collecting those tools my whole life and never fully realized it. I gave my career too much power. Faced with an empty canvas, I needed to rely on those tools to fill it with joyful, productive and satisfying images and experiences.
My love of reading and then of writing not only helped fill the moments when I could have been bored or lonely, but blossomed and have become my favorite retirement past time. So much so, that I feel frustrated if I’m not spending at least 20 hours a week or more with a book/kindle in my hands or writing at my computer.
I worried that I would be isolated. I have rarely felt that way. Between my family, particularly my adorable grandchildren, my old friends who I lunch with and some who I play cards with, and my new ones, my social bucket is comfortably full.
I worried I would be lazy and instead of taking better care of myself, I’d sit around more - particularly with the excuse of treatment induced fatigue. Instead, my mornings have become far more active than any I had during my work life and I am hitting my movement goals on most days. I’ve lost a handful of pounds and I am admiring the way my arms now look. No more old lady arms for me. My waist is still another mountain to climb. And, while I’m being honest, I love my afternoon siesta.
Mostly, I worried that my health would preoccupy me. Work had done a great job distracting me for many years. But, I discovered something about cancer. Living with it is more about your mind set than what you are engaged in during your day. It goes back to the tool box and the tools you’ve learned to live with the hardships. I discovered that the way I deal with cancer and my fears, is to put them away if there’s nothing more I can do about it and get back to living.
I start this new year with a tremendous sense of optimism about mankind. It's the optimism that comes from people speaking out. Some say our current political environment has given permission to the ‘haters’ in our society. I say, like it or not, it has enabled all of us to have our own voice. Yes, some of the worst human animals have been smoked out of their subterranean hovels, but I also hear voices all around me who refuse to accept evil, intolerance and human wrongdoing. We say that we live in a country with free speech, but to see it in action is awesome! As a historical reader and writer, I’ve learned that the most inhuman times were characterized by intimidation, fear and lack of response. It is the opposite today. So, bravo out there - you give me hope.
I start this year with a big project to finish - my first historical novel. This is the biggest brushstroke I have chosen to fill my retirement canvas. I am determined to finish a clean draft and begin the review process by summer. I plan to share some interesting information I come across in my research on my 2020 blog.
I start this year with my vegetable garden already growing in my head. Learning from last year‘s garden, I am modifying my plan and getting excited about my rocket arugula, my first anticipated harvest.
I start this year with love in my heart and a sense of deep gratitude for the medical care I have received. I am grateful to live in a time when I have access to life sustaining drugs, incredible doctors, nurses and technicians who have helped keep me going. And of course, my wonderful family and close friends who propel me forward with their love and when I need, form a safety net beneath me.
I start this year excited about opportunities I have yet to discover - they surround us and lay within. They are always there to discover. I hope all of you have a wonderful year ahead and wake up each morning excited about your endless possibilities!