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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16 thoughts on “Winter Blues

  1. I can completely understand where you’re coming from! Retirement certainly is a journey but I suggest not rushing into any volunteer positions until you’re certain. I made this mistake early on when it turned out it wasn’t a good fit for me. Now I take making commitments a little slower and give it time to be certain it’s something I really want to do. It was too disappointing to quit and I ended up feeling I let a lot of people down. I think the lack of sunshine has been difficult for many of us this winter and my hope is getting outside as much as possible will help brighten the spirit and the soul. Hang in there. Who knew that retirement was going to be so interesting?

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  2. As always, I appreciate your insight and authenticity. I’ve often had that same sense of paralysis and distraction addiction as well of late, overwhelmed by future possibilities and uncertainty and playing “what if” on the past… particularly during my long decision process to leave my current company (More on that at a later date 🙂 ). The Shakespeare quote, “What is past is prologue” has been inspiration for me of late, so I pass it along. I am finding that even the “spiral of stuck” has a purpose to prepare me for what is coming next… as when I am stuck, there is usually some lesson coming at me over and over again until I accept it. You are brilliant, insightful, and compassionate… I am excited for the steps forward to present themselves to you and for the freedom that comes with it!

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    1. I had heard the rumor about you – coffee or lunch soon? I’m less of a backwards what-if person. My what-ifs these days are all about the future… what if this happens, what if that happens. Some is good because I get the details figured out, but when those scenarios run through the head at 3 AM… Sigh. My mantra right now is “things will happen at the right time”. Kinda if its meant to be, it will work itself out. Yes, I’m still doing the work to make it work out, but if it falls apart…it was not meant to be. Quite philosophical of me, hmm?

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  3. Well, winter appears to be darn near over, so no more winter blues! Hang in there. Emotions tend to be cyclical. Things will get better. Also, no comparisons!! You are your own person with your own agenda, needs and schedule. Don’t use anyone else’s life as a gauge of your own. I have long since developed a very fine sense of not giving a flying rip what anyone else thinks. I do what makes me content. If that is roasting coffee one day, great! If it’s tinkering in my shop, wonderful! If it’s playing golf, fantastic! If it’s sitting around drinking coffee and reading, so be it. Don’t put unnecessary pressure on yourself. That is one thing that should disappear in retirement. 😃

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    1. I need that reminder about the comparative inferiority (not that I use the term flying rip). Usually I’m better about it – using others as inspiration. This past month was rough.

      And now I seem to be always losing at a certain game! Talk about inferiority. 🙂 But I’m OK with being a beginner – I keep telling myself that. (I beat the game sometimes when I play the computer….why are you better than a computer at it?!?)

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  4. Pat – I’ve heard it’s been a rough winter all around. I know, that doesn’t help. Give it more time. You have just substituted all of these wonderful things like network lunches, regular exercise and journaling for something that you used to enjoy, or at least were more familiar with – your career. Our careers used to be our lives. I had a lot of my self-worth tied up in my job and there are days that a round of Tai-Chi does not come close to replacing that. Winter and retirement are a tough combination. Spring is on the way!

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    1. The “external environment” has certainly added to the blue feelings this year. And you’re right about work replacement – when this whole set of plans went awry, it was doubly devastating – my first really big “life project” in retirement and it’s a disaster. Hopefully the new plan will go more smoothly. Cautiously optimistic!

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  5. You and I are alike, aren’t we? Are you competitive, goal-oriented and an over-achiever by any chance? I feel your pain.

    I also feel like I am languishing behind while others forge ahead with their plans for self-actualization. All I can say is that everyone has a different path to get there. I have come to accept that mine will take a longer because I’m not clear on which path to take. As you know, it’s something I’m working on.

    Also, you might be missing working. I believe that to be part of my problem. But you want to work on your own terms, not someone else’s. That’s the tough part. People like us used to funnel a lot of our energy into our jobs. While we are pursuing personal goals, there is still a void there. At least for me.

    Let’s keep in touch Patricia!

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    1. I’ve totally figured my transition will take longer. Many told me to expect it to be 2 years. With my workaholic lifestyle in the past, I am now 2.5 years into transition and still a work in progress. I’ve said – “I know how to work. Learning how to live is much harder!” I know I need to make commitments going forward carefully, whether its part-time project work or volunteering. I tend to go all-in – the workaholic tendency is still there (last year’s part time project work showed that). I’m still a goal-setter – that’s ingrained! And an overachiever with high expectations for myself and others. Hubby constantly says “lower your expectations and you’ll be happier”.

      My most recent reading say … choose any path, just move forward – you can always modify in the future. I’m using that in our downsizing thinking – “it’s just a 8-10 year house” mindset lets me think about the things I want in these early retirement years and not worry about true aging. And trying something for just one month (last November I took on yoga)…another “just do it” for the commitment phobic-me. I just finished a book about using design thinking in life… I hope to summarize my take away in future blog! It’s all lot about finding your life path. (Are you a reader? I’d recommend it.)

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  6. It can be hard to get going in the winter, even here in Southern California. Blue skies and warmth always tempt me outside… not so much cold and gloom. Have you done any volunteering? Maybe having somewhere to go and people who depend on you being there (even just one or two days a week) would help you over the winter doldrums.

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    1. Janis, I’ve looked into volunteering twice now and both times it didn’t feel right – they wanted a bigger commitment than I was comfortable with. I did join a ladies group at the local playhouse…its money and 4 “gatherings” a year. And I’m planning on another group beginning this fall (they have the push for members then and I missed last fall). I know this blues will pass, but it was a tough month for sure.

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  7. Hi, Pat – Thank you once again for your honest portrayal of the ups and downs of retirement. I am sorry to hear about you experiencing the winter blues. I know that you are a positive person, with great tools, and things will soon be right again. Don’t overthink it.
    I was just about to write to you to see when you will next be in Florida. My husband and I have a trip planned there shortly and would love to meet up if you will be there.

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