Learning to be Retired

I am sitting at my kitchen table with my coffee and my laptop, looking out past the patio and over a couple of rooftops to the lake below thinking about why I have been unable to organize my thoughts to write a retirement post. Then this morning I read this blog post by Tamara Reddy and had an Oprah-sized ah ha moment.

Actually, I have had this same ah ha moment over and over and over. 🙂

Three months into my retirement and I am feeling a bit lost. Everybody I talk to and everything I read says it takes 1 – 3 years to feel settled after such a major life change. So of course, at only three months in, I have barely stuck my big toe in.  Of course I feel lost. It is normal.

Phew! It’s nice to know I’m normal! It’s normal to feel a bit displaced. To be tossing around and unable to settle one’s thoughts.

I keep telling myself that.

I have been very busy trying to replicate my life in Whitehorse.  I still feel that I must fill my every moment with productive work, and so I have tried to pack everything that I had planned for my retirement into these last three months.

Read dozens of books! Join community concert band! Join quilting guild! Join Fiber Arts guild! Bake bread! Try new recipes! Take quilting classes! Make friends! Lose the last of the weight! Become instantly fit!

Do do do! Produce produce produce! Time is my enemy and I am still fighting that.

I have not yet learned how to relax into a slower pace.

But I am working on it! Mornings last longer and longer as I sit with my coffee and read the blogs I follow. Walks are taken everyday, usually along the lake shore.

My advice to myself?

Dear Nita,
Just as your dance students learn how to be in their bodies in a new way , you are learning how to be in a new place in your life. Breathe! Relax into the movement. Don’t force it. Allow the new you to emerge as you dance your way into a new way of living. An inspired life, like an inspired dance performance, comes from a place of relaxation, understanding and joy.

Cheers for a Playful 2014!

Hello and Happy New Year!

Have you ever chosen a word
just one single word
to guide you through the year?

For the last couple of years I’ve held the word balance close to my heart. It was the word that helped me to navigate a very busy life: teaching up to 5 dance classes per week, directing a dance troupe, choreographing and producing shows while managing to have a family life and working a 9-5 day job (phew!)

58-Collins

Balance was the word that got me through to the other side of menopausal depression. I was out of balance physically, emotionally and hormonally. Searching for and maintaining balance was the lifeline that I clung to and the rope I hauled myself up by. It kept me secure during the heartache of deciding to let go of my dance troupe and students. I kept it in the front of my mind during my weight loss journey (65 pounds!).  It was the word that taught me to put health and happiness above productivity.

Balance guided me through the waters of deciding to retire relatively young; to move to a new town and seek out new adventures.

1-CollinsBalance: what a beautiful word!

But now it’s time for a new word to live by. It’s time to get out of the box and…

41-CollinsPLAY!

This year I am going to play in my kitchen and learn to bake a cake from scratch. Specifically, some of the Chatelaine cakes. Yum!

…and I will experiment creating delicious meals from all over the globe: India, Japan, Italy, Thailand…! No fear in the kitchen will be my new motto – play with those spices, Nita! Try it out!

37-CollinsIn my Creativity room I will play in the sewing nook, on the yoga mat, in-front-of the dance mirror and with words at my laptop.

My body will become stronger as I play outdoors, exploring local walking and hiking trails with Kelly and Sammy. We’ll take our bikes out and explore some of the country roads.

I will play in the garden, discovering all the wonders of living in a zone 5 gardening region.

I vow to put myself “out there” and be open to meeting new friends, getting involved in the community somehow (music? theater? dance?)

32-CollinsMy friend Melissa at 100 Billion Stars puts it brilliantly (you can read her entire blog post here):

Play is a way of making room for our potential. It isn’t about pretending to be something we hope to be one day. It isn’t about presenting a different face to the world, trying on masks and personae. It’s about being authentic and true to ourselves in an atmosphere without judgment or rules. It’s from this place that growth begins, releasing the possibilities that have been lying dormant all our lives.

So here I am this morning, wishing you all a wonderful year of play and a hell of a good time doing it!

70-CollinsNo fear! Have fun!

PLAY!

(these wonderful family photos were taken by Heather Jones of hpj photography at our Fox Lake cabin last September. We had so much fun!)

what early retirement means to me

“You think you can. You think you can’t. Either way you’re right.”

I came upon this quote on Tamara Reddy’s blog, Early Retirement Journey and it jumped right off the page at me. I’ve been feeling some trepidation lately…worries that the small budget we’ve set for ourselves won’t be adequate, worried that I will be bored, worried that I won’t make new friends. People keep asking me what I plan to do in my retirement, which sends me into a bit of a panic because I haven’t been able to formulate a coherent answer.

But today I feel good, and I’m reminding myself that these are normal fears for someone who is making such a big change – leaving my daily routine, moving to a new part of the country and all that that entails. I would have to be crazy if I didn’t feel nervous about it! Phew! I’m okay! I’m normal!

And I know that it will be okay because, really, it is only my circumstances that are changing, not my attitude. I have always lived a big life, and now I will have the time to explore and enjoy the things I love to do even more…live even bigger!

What do I plan to do with my retirement? Well, I am a healthy 52 year old woman and my husband is a healthy 55 year old man and we both look forward to being active together. We both enjoy walking with the dog, and look forward to living in a climate where we will be able to do these family walks most of the year ’round.

We don’t do much hiking these days because of time constraints, but when we spent a month in Australia a couple of years ago we went hiking almost every day, and we hiked into places that I had no idea I was physically capable of going. And I loved it!  Both of us are looking forward to throwing the camper on and driving into nearby provincial & national parks to check out the trails. I’ll start off slow and train up to the steep hikes, getting stronger and fitter with every outing. And then there are our bicycles, and believe me we have plans for using those!

I love yoga and Pilates, and I’ve included classes into the budget. I figure I can meet some new friends this way, too.

And as you read in my last post, I would like to do some teaching or coaching in the local dance community (assuming they’ll have me, of course!)

I also look forward to having time to write, and get involved in a writer’s group. In fact, I’m taking another creative writing course right now and loving it.

I would like to do some volunteer work as well, and I’m interested in working with children. Maybe I could be part of a food-for-learning program and help prepare & serve breakfasts in the schools. I’m sure the volunteer possibilities are endless.

And music, of course. We will definitely be involved in music – I almost don’t even need to mention that one, it’s so obvious!

I haven’t even mentioned my love of handwork, and you know that knitting and quilting are going to be high on my list.

I  am going to have a fabulous garden, including fruit trees (apples, cherries, plums anyone?)

I want to experiment in the kitchen and make interesting meals together with my husband, and share those meals with new friends. I look forward to reading a good book from cover to cover. And if I want to do something I will, and if I don’t want to do something, I won’t.

Whatever I end up doing, it will include participating in my new community. And, hopefully, I will make a positive contribution.

And if we get homesick for  the Yukon, we can drive the truck & camper up whenever we want and stay for as long as we like.  The cabin at Fox Lake will be there waiting for us.

I am falling in love with the endless possibilities.