Winter Blues

I’m sharing this past month’s Winter Blues because sometimes I think it’s helpful to hear that not everything in retirement transition is an easy road.

My “morning mental health checks” since the beginning of this year have not been good. Yes, part of my morning journaling is an emotional assessment.   Last year seemed to be full of joy, positive expectation, and contentment. When I’ve dropped into blah-ness or uncertainty, my new tools were helpful in creating more positive emotions.

During the past few weeks, my morning emotional check-in has been full of words like overwhelmed, adrift, uncertain, discontent, resentment, guilty, aggravated, discouraged, isolated, dejected, and dread. A blah day felt like an improvement.

My regular tools did not seem to be working – I did the networking lunches, dinner dates with friends, regular exercise (yoga and zumba), and journaling with gratitude and affirmations. And still the emotions remained negative.

I’m (still) chronically overthinking on “the issue” that derailed me in January – lots of what-if scenario thinking, creating multiple to-do lists.   And my strong need external validation is making me feel bad – I want someone to acknowledge my efforts in all this detailed planning (and no-one is).

I’m doing the comparative inferiority again – recent retirees I’m connected with (those networking lunches!) are traveling (one couple did 15 trips last year including regular from weekend jaunts), re-designing their houses (bathroom, kitchen, bedroom renovations), doing regular volunteer work, taking classes, having fun hanging with their grandkids, and digitizing old family photos/movies. Why is my calendar so empty? What am I not activating my own action plan?

A part of me wants more things “to do” and another part of me worries about overdoing and feeling even more overwhelmed/overworked. A part of me wants more activities and projects on the calendar and a part of me is just so tired of planning.

I’m becoming the Queen of Wasting Time – iPad gaming, FB-ing (Pantsuit Nation & local version suck me in for hours), trash novel reading – because that gives me a sense of numbness.

I will keep working the tools – gratitude, affirmations, planning fun things, checking things off the lists. There is a new plan on “the issue”.

I’m hopeful (a positive emotion!) that in a few weeks there will be more contentment and positivity in my life.  My words the last two days have been “cautiously optimistic” …. Maybe my tools are working?

 

Picture Credit: Pixabay

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Learning to Live

I have had a lot to learn about daily living as part of retirement transition.   I was a workaholic; my work defined my daily and weekly living. Work/life balance was solidly on the work side of things.  When the work went away, I needed to figure out how to live life. I’m still a beginner but here’s what I’ve learned so far:

  1. Every day life is ordinary.   While I don’t have the stricture of working – the living by the clock, the frustration of a daily commute, and the banality of meetings – retirement days are not a nirvana of extraordinary adventures. If I expect that, I’ll be disappointed.   I am learning to enjoy the ordinary.
  2. I need to plan my everyday. Yes, I have discovered I really do need to have a plan.   A new life in retirement does not magically appear; time does not fill itself with engaging activities. I need to intentionally schedule things – from meet-ups with friends to time to write. Otherwise the days fritter away and negative feelings spiral.
  3. Consciously using the new tools in my toolbox makes the everyday days feel a bit closer to nirvana with a more peaceful, positive rhythm.   Using my new tools (morning journaling, affirmations, practice gratitude, practice yoga) takes effort, (dare I say ”work”?) but they do make living every day more enjoyable.
  4. When looking to how others are living life (friends, bloggers, random people you meet), focus on inspiration and not comparison. The comparison is so much easier, but too often lends to a sense of inferiority.   Everyone is different, with different strengths, different interests and desires. I need to define my own daily living.
  5. It’s the journey, not the destination.   A quote this Type-A recovering-workaholic, goal-setting achiever continues to remind herself daily! Embracing the journey means doing things I enjoy every day, giving new activities my best shot, and being OK with being a beginner. And focusing on activities that really interest me, not ones I think I “should be” doing.
  6. There is a huge gap between purpose in every moment of every day and completely wasted time. Some people find that singular passion that becomes their life purpose. Stop the comparison… many people do not.  Having the freedom to craft every week with a multitude of enjoyable activities, including time to just stop and be, is fine. Someday a larger purpose might present itself, but enjoying living is OK for right now.
  7. The options are limitless and the choices can be overwhelming. Just do something. Take a class. Read up on a topic. I have the freedom now to explore… so I am exploring! I can become a 21st Century Renaissance Woman – a blogging, spiritualism-exploring, yogi; a theater-going foodie who takes exotic mini-adventures; and an innovation-gig consultant. Why not!

For me, retirement transition has been about learning how to live, not work.   Yes, I am a beginner at it, but am finding joy in the learning.