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  • Writer's pictureJane Rubin

The Space Between - What is it?

Updated: Mar 8, 2023

Greetings and welcome to my blog, The Space Between. What exactly is the space between? And why should we care about it?

The Space Betweenis about our time and how we choose to spend it. It begins when we retire – from a time-consuming career, from the commitments of parenthood or from other life commitments – ones that overtake our lives. That space between may last a very long or short time, and at the backend is infirmity and the ever after.

For many of us, we avoid it. We avoid it because it is hard to think about. After all, we’ve been very busy, very involved with our jobs, kids, parents etc., and have not given ourselves a ton of time to think about us. We avoid it because we have fears about money, boredom, and our relevance. We avoid it because we like to think about ourselves as young, vital, energetic and sexy. In all, we avoid it because we are afraid of change.

Recently, I had to think about it – and it was scary for me. I had been working since I was 13 years old. A child of depression era parents, it was all about hard work, saving money, responsibilities and contributing to the world around me. My first job was bagging donuts on Sunday afternoons at a local bakery in town for the after-church crowd. It always struck me as pretty funny that the first thing this wave of people wanted to do was eat sugar. I’m sure I would too! My father sold the baker his ovens and helped me get my first job. I had to save half of everything I made and by the time I got to college, I had enough saved to pay for my books and travel expenses home. Later, I worked in libraries so that I could study a little, did research for professors and eventually, had professional jobs. I took minimal time off when my children were born. The pressure of childhood learned values made it difficult to take long breaks.

In my case, my health and my age converged. It was clear that the stresses of my job were getting in the way of caring for myself. My physicians wanted me to rest more, eat better, and get much more regular exercise. They want me to live longer. I had expected to work another year or more and thought that I would have those extra 12 months to help me strategize.

I had begun to think about what retirement might look like a few years ago. I talked to many people – some who I knew, some who I met on vacations and asked them about how they went about the process of letting go of their careers. Everyone had a strategy and different advice; but what I found, was that it was all short-term. Most people were looking at how to handle the transition. I heard things like, take a great two-week vacation and by the time you get home, you will be relaxed and your mind will be full of ideas and you won’t want to return to your job. Then what?

I knew a few things I did not want to do or to have define me. I had never been a follower - a crowd sort of person, so was not quickly drawn to groups. I also knew that as much as I adore and dote on my grandchildren, I did not want to become a steady babysitter and have an obligation that would preempt the challenge of defining my new space.

Thinking back, the last time I had an empty slate was in college. I started college not knowing what I wanted to major in. I wasn’t completely sold on the decision I made, so worked a few years while I got to know myself better and then returned to school. I spent the next 45 years working in various roles in healthcare administration. It was fulfilling and purposeful and am proud of my contributions. Now, after 45 years, I am greeted with that empty slate again and this time I have far more wisdom – I know that this space will be shorter and I cannot waste it.

My blog will be about my self-discovery, my plan, experiences and the lessons I learn along the way. Although it is mostly about me, hopefully many of you will see a part of yourself in my experience and it will help you figure out your space between.

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