Transitions take time …

My old office

My old workplace

I gave up full time work six years ago and I am still adjusting to the changes brought about by that decision.

Many, many times I dreamed I was back at work – usually late and a bit lost – people had moved around and I couldn’t find them.

This week I dreamed my old boss fired me! I was actually pleased, especially when he gave me a cheque for $14,000 (only in my dream)! I thought this might signal an end to my dreaming about work.

Not so! Last night I dreamed we had a work reunion and I woke up with the idea of setting up a Facebook page for my former colleagues. That idea wore off by breakfast time!

I hadn’t realised how much hold the workplace had on me. Hopefully I am ready to let go of the life I had in the workforce and enjoy in the life I have now.

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A Little Bit of Love

Sometimes it is hard to come to terms with the increasing rhetoric of hate and fear that is found in society. Has the world always been like this? When has it become OK to vilify people because of their religion, race, gender …

The challenge, as I see it, is to remain hopeful that there is more good than bad in people and not to respond to hateful attitudes in a way that fuels them to grow but to remain optimistic that love will overcome.

Transitioning to Retirement

My old workplace

My old workplace

I will be facilitating  a course through the local branch of the University of the Third Age starting in February. The topic of my six-week course (2 hours a week) is Transitioning to Retirement.

I am fascinated with this topic following my own experience in adapting to life post full-time employment (at age 55). When I was working I used to see people in cafes as I rushed past them on my way to the office. I really envied others’ freedom to enjoy a coffee and to read the paper during the morning rush hour. I knew I wanted to do that one day!

That was about the extent of my retirement planning!

Since then I have tried out seven different voluntary roles, five different paid jobs (including casual positions), explored self-employment,  studied professional, creative, and feature writing. I also studied philosophy and dabbled in a few other things as well.

My research recently led me to a book by Nancy K. Schlossberg called Revitalizing Retirement: Reshaping Your Identity, Relationships, and Purpose, published by the American Psychological Association. It is an interesting read!

Nancy talks about having a Psychological Portfolio for retirement made up of IDENTITY, RELATIONSHIPS AND PURPOSE. She suggests that we need to address each of these areas to make the most of the retirement years.

Having moved location at the same time as leaving my long-term career means I have work to do on all three of these areas. I am hoping that my experience and research may help others who are in a similar situation.

Now I think I will have a coffee and read the paper and watch all those workers scurrying to and fro!

Assertive or aggressive?

I have never been very good at dealing with conflict. I just don’t like it!

Never-the-less, we are sometimes caught in situations where we either give in too easily on the one hand or, alternatively, get too angry.  I came across this little story recently and thought it was worth sharing (again) as I believe it provides an alternative to the extremes of not acting and reacting in a negative way.

Once there was a snake with a rather bad attitude. The small village near where the snake lived was very fearful of this snake because he would strike without warning and devour its prey. It was known to eat hens, dogs, and even big animals like cows. The villagers gathered at the edge of the field, and with drumming and shouting, and sticks and stones, made up their minds to find the snake and kill it.

A holy man came upon this loud and angry crowd and asked, “What is this about?” The villagers told him of the snake’s villainy. The holy man asked, “If I make this snake stop doing these evil deeds, will you spare his life?” The villagers reluctantly agreed to give the snake – and the holy man – one chance.

The holy man entered the field and commanded the snake to come to him. “What issss it?” the snake hissed. The holy man’s words were simple: “Enough! There is no need for this. There is plenty of food without eating the villager’s animals.” The holy man spoke with kindness and authority and the snake knew his words to be true. He nodded in agreement and slithered away.

It was not long before the villagers discovered that the snake would not harm them. They were grateful, but some of the villagers in their anger over what had been done, began to beat the snake with sticks and stones. The abuse continued until he could take no more and hid underneath a large rock, determined not to break its word to the holy man. “Why is this happening to me?” he said, “ I followed the holy man’s words.” Soon the fearful snake was near death from the beatings and the lack of food.

One day, he heard the footsteps of the holy man and with his last bit of strength crawled out to meet him on the path. The holy man, seeing how terribly beaten and sickly the snake looked, asked, “What has happened to you?” The snake told the story of the beatings and torment and how for days it had hidden underneath a rock to protect itself.

The holy man stood silently shaking his head. “Oh, foolish snake,” he said, “I told you not to bite but I did not tell you not to hiss.”  With this the snake understood and slithered away.

optimism

The passionate idealism of youth

Hope

How can I recapture the enthusiasm I once had to make a difference in the world? Have I changed and become complacent with my good fortune. I remember times when I was younger when I really believed in something – I put all my energies towards making a difference. Perhaps I was idealistic.

Today I have the time and the resources to do something worthwhile but cannot seem to capture the passion I used to have. I seem to have an excuse for every idea I come up with. A lot of it has to do with my lack of trust that my effort will meet its desired outcome.

There is no less need in the world today than when I was younger. I find it hard to trust charities and fear that my contributions may evaporate in keeping the Western administration afloat.

I have a strong belief that literacy is important in achieving equality in our society. I have trained as a tutor however there hasn’t been any demand of late for my tutoring.

I am supportive of the rights of Indigenous Australians but what can I do there to make a difference? The issues are very complex and I risk being a white ‘do-gooder’.

The current refugee crisis calls out for our help. How can we be of help without just contributing financially? (and considering my lack of trust in charities …). I can sign online petitions and I do that when I can.

I also see many people in our community at, or around retirement age, with many skills and lifetime experience who would welcome the opportunity to do something constructive with their time and skills. How can we harness this resource for the better of our community?

Lots of questions but not many answers. Maybe I kid myself and just think of these issues but am really complacent in my comfortable space. If only I could reignite some passion to make a difference in our world!

If you had three wishes, what would they be?

wishesI chose this question out of 48 Questions to Ask Your Kids by Erin Waters & Momastery (Momastery). It is a resource to “Unlock the hearts of your little ones using these keys to great family conversation”.

I thought the questions could also double as interesting prompts for blog topics.

Now, let me think about this important question for a minute or two …

1. My first wish is to ask for peace of mind. A mind that is calm and confident yet humble, grateful and open.

2. My second wish is for health, happiness and peace of mind for my family, friends and neighbours.

3. My third wish is for the rise of a new way of doing and seeing life where we can live in harmony with each other regardless of our race, wealth or poverty, religion or cultural differences. Our current system of capitalism and democracy does not make the greatest outcome for ALL. It may serve us well in many ways but perhaps there are other paths not yet traveled.

If we were all able to experience good health, happiness and peace of mind then perhaps a new perspective may be possible where we can all live together in peace and mutual support.

So, what would your three wishes be?

A clumsy jump into retirement

My old workplace

My old workplace

The post below was written for an exercise in my creative writing class.

I can’t do it any longer. It will kill me if I keep going. After all, it is only a job and there must be more to life than going through the motions and playing the games. The pay and conditions are good but they don’t make up for the emptiness of the soul in doing something that no-one cares about.

The games – well they aren’t much fun. They are word games mostly. The government agrees to being a party to a strategy or initiative. Each year some lonely public servant checks what promises were made and provides some affirmative words to demonstrate that, yes, we, the government have really done something about it. It is written down in black and white weasel words, so it must be accountable. If it is not written down, there may be hell to pay.

I worked for the Office for Women’s Policy – in fact I was the last of the team to resign – I don’t think it is called that anymore. The issues considered were important but they got lost in the midst of political battles and point scoring. Either that or they got stuck in the mud of bureaucracy. For six months I worked on a cabinet submission to encourage greater participation of women on government boards. There was no appetite for this. The public cry was that women shouldn’t be supported to get on boards. After all, men don’t get support – they get appointed on merit. What – are you suggesting that every man on a board has more skills, knowledge and experience than the average female applicant? No, that doesn’t hold water.

Working full-time meant I left home at 7.30am each morning and got home at around 5.30pm each evening. I had little energy to enjoy my leisure time. Work consumed me. Some people can switch off after a day at the office but to me it was personal. The quality of my life was questionable.

We got away for weekends down south as often as we could. I couldn’t wait to get hold of the local papers and check out the real estate pages. We looked at houses and drove down the streets of Busselton and wondered what it would be like to live there. We dined out and pretended we were locals – could we make it a reality?

Unbeknown to me, Tom had done some research online about Busselton. I found a brochure in the mail one day about a Lifestyle Village in Broadwater, close to the beach. I didn’t pay much attention to it but suggested that we could have a look at it next time we were in Busselton. On our next visit we met with the sales rep and looked at a few houses on the Saturday. We decided to have a second look on the Sunday and took away a package of information to consider.

In no time at all, we signed the contract for our new home. We had three months to sell our Perth property. We put it on the market and it sold after thirteen days. Crunch time came at work – it wasn’t difficult to leave as I mentioned earlier, I was the last of the team to abandon ship. I was lucky to be able to keep a tenuous link to my job in case the experiment didn’t work out – this was six months leave without pay.

I haven’t looked back. I didn’t decide to retire – I just jumped out of the workforce when the opportunity presented itself. Now, five years later, I am still considering what my next act will be.

Confidence booster

I developed the tool below to help me in times when I doubt myself.

I think of the word confidence and go through each letter at a time.

Sometimes I can’t remember my original choice of words and then I come up with new ones that reinforce positive thoughts in my mind.

CONFIDENCE IS MADE UP OF MANY SMALLER PARTS

C is for capable. You have the basic knowledge and experience to do the task at hand.

O is for often. When you do something often you become more confident in your ability.

N is for now. It helps if you focus on the task at hand, now, and not try to do tomorrow’s work today.

F is for follow. It may mean following a recipe, some guidance, a style manual, or the instructions in a manual.

I is for interest. If you have a genuine interest in what you are doing, you will feel more confident.

D is for determination. If you aspire to do well – chances are good that you will succeed.

E is for elements. If you understand the basic elements of the task, you can then tackle them one by one until the task is completed.

N is for new. Be always be open to learning something new. It is OK to acknowledge you haven’t done something before, however, be willing to learn new things.

C is for cheerful. If you can approach whatever you are doing with a cheerful attitude, your chances of success are greater.

E is for effort. You need to put in some effort and do the work that is required to the best of your ability.

PV1

The flow state

I am reading (still) Flow – The Psychology of Optimal Experience by Mihaly Csikszentmihaly and published by Harper Perennial – first published in 1990. It is one of those books where I keep going “Aha!” as I discover the writer has put my jumbled thoughts into eloquent words that seem quite profound. It is not often I find a book that answers so many questions for me.

I could not do it credit by trying to explain his findings but I would really encourage you to read it. One of the things that appeals to me is that it not pop psychology but seems to have some real research behind it.

To quote a New York Times Book Review, “Flow is important … The way to happiness lies not in mindless hedonism, but in mindful challenge.”

Visual for being in the flowI spoke to a friend on the phone yesterday (we haven’t caught up in many months) and I recommended this book to her. She was amazed at the coincidence as she was just about to put in an online order for the very same book – how is that for synchronicity?