Saturday, May 28, 2011

Can I let go?

My family will tell you that I am often consumed by work.  Today's technology certainly contributes to that.  I work in the office long hours and take work home.  I check email or my Blackberry even during my private time.  It isn't unusual for me to read and send emails at eleven or twelve at night.  While I never have trouble falling asleep, I sometimes wake up in the middle of the night thinking about a problem or issue that needs to be resolved.  So, I have wondered if I would be able to let go.  I found my answer when I was forced to take some time off this past winter.

I had to have surgery this past January.  While it wasn't the busiest time at work, there was a lot going on.  I was hoping to only be gone for 4 weeks but it stretched out to 6 weeks. This time turned out to be a blessing.  I rediscovered some of my favorite pasttimes: reading, games, movies, watching the wildlife in our backyard, spending time talking with my son and husband.  It was wonderful!  I didn't constantly check my email, I didn't get phone messages about work, and I never checked my Blackberry. It was during this time that I was convinced that I could let go of work and embrace the world of BEING!

Returning to work has been hard.  I caught the bronchial virus that was going around everywhere and had to take even more time off.  While I was trying to get my health back and feeling guilty about needing to be at work after my long absence, I realized that I was ready to let go.

Don't get me wrong: I have loved my work!  It has been challenging and exciting.  At times, I was definitely an adrenaline junkie as many of us in the Human Resources world are!  I'm very proud of the work that I am leaving behind.  I've accomplished a lot.  However, I have reached the point where I firmly believe that it is time for someone else to pick up this work and move it forward.

I want to use retirement to rediscover the Art of Being!  As you know from reading my posts on this blog, I am always looking to find joy in my life.  I know that I will always continue to do so, but I also want to just BE!  I want to enjoy the act of living, loving, sharing.  Don and I have discovered many wonderful friends throughout our marriage, and I want to share joy with them and my family. I also want to revel in the silence and live in the moment. Can I let go?  I CAN let go of work, but I will never let go of learning new things, facing new challenges,and  loving life/family/friends.  I also know that I will never let go of Joy!  What about you?

Have you found your joy today?

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Am I a Title?

For 33 years, I have held a title: teacher, mentor, adjunct professor, lead mentor, administrator, director.  Now that my work life with the school district is ending, I will be leaving those titles behind.  It makes me wonder how I will feel.

I remember watching my dad when he retired.  He was a vice president of a major corporation one moment; then he was not.  It was hard for him.  I think that he lost a part of his identity.  Status was a big part of his generation, and his status was tied to his title.  

I am a member of the baby boomer generation.  I survived watching the Vietnam War every single night during my formative years.  We questioned the government; we questioned the status quo.  I know that this changed my life.  I was not like my parents in defining myself by the viewpoints of others.  I decided a long time ago to be my own person.  I am hoping that this will continue into my retirement.  I also realize that I have other titles that may mean even more to me!

One title that I am proud of is "wife"!   That title is one that I have held for a very long time-almost 38 years now.   I have earned it!  I was fortunate that I married my best friend, but every marriage is hard.  You have to work at it, and I have done so.  While my husband will still be working for a few more years, I am hoping that my retirement will allow us to spend more time together on the weekends instead of errands or resting because I was so tired.  Eventually, we hope to be able to travel and explore old age together.

Another title that means a lot to me is "sister".  I am so blessed because I have twin brothers whom I love very much.  They don't live in the Twin Cities anymore, and I don't get to see them very often BUT I adore them.  This is a title that I have held the longest-for 47 years.  (Sadly, both of my parents are gone so I can't claim the title of daughter anymore.)  My brothers have shared my journey/my history and love me no matter what.  There is always a connection there.  Since there is a difference in our ages, we are in different stages of our lives.  However, I know that they are always there if I need them.  

I have saved the most important title for last: "mother".  This is the one that I am most proud of and I think that it truly defines me if any title does.  This one has changed my life!  I will be a mother to my last breath.  I know that fathers love their children, but I don't think that they understand a mother's love.  It is visceral!  It is all-encompassing!  And it never goes away no matter how old they are-no matter what they do!  I am so proud of my sons and the young men they have become.  They are smart, caring, and loving.  My older son is a lot like me.  We often see the world in the same way, and I enjoy watching him with my granddaughter (yes, I am a grandmother, too!).  He is in love with his daughter and it touches my soul.  How can I describe my feelings for my younger son?  We are alike and different at the same time, and we have a connection that is strong, resilient, and indescribable.  I am grateful for every minute I can spend with him as I watch him grow up before my eyes.  

Am I giving up my titles from work?  Yes!  However, I am keeping the titles that truly define me, that truly are important to me.  And who knows?  I may experience exciting and new titles in my future!  And no matter what: my joy is still with me because it is in my family! 

Have you found your joy today?

Sunday, May 8, 2011

You're retiring? You must be old!

I can remember when I was young and heard about people retiring.  I always thought, "They must be old.  Their life is almost over."  I pictured them with gray hair, going to bed early every night, not really having much to look forward to in their remaining years.  Then my dad retired from Corporate America, had 2 different businesses, moved to Florida, moved to Arizona, and had a great retirement life with my mother.  This made me examine my definition of retirement. For the first time, I had a very different perspective on what retirement really meant.

I also remember that, when I began teaching, I wondered how I could ever do this for 10 years-let alone enough years until I could retire.  It seemed FOREVER!  My own retirement seemed so-o-o-o far away.  I first substituted, then had my own classrooms; I mentored, became an administrator, and a director.  Now I look around and discover that 33 years have gone by.  What I thought would take so long, in retrospect, seems like it went by fairly quickly.

Am I older?  Yes, of course, I am!  Do I have gray hair?  Of course, I have some gray (I still have some red hair, too)!  However, I also am wiser, and I like who I am at this point in my life.  I feel like I have accomplished wonderful things in my life: raising 2 sons, having a very successful career that has challenged me and that I have loved, had a loving marriage with my best friend.  I feel like I have paid my dues and am looking forward to my retirement.

In my first post, I talked about how I viewed life: that we go through 3 phases: childhood, adulthood, and retirement.  I am now entering the third phase of my life: retirement.  I believe that I have many wonderful years to enjoy life.  I can do this without feeling guilty or having it compete with my need to earn a living.  I have earned the right to explore life without the time constraints I had during my adulthood phase.  I can stay up late (which is my natural rhythm) without having to worry about getting up for work each morning.  I can finally have time to be at home and may even be able to have some time just for myself!

I know that I am very fortunate to be able to do this.  Many are not able to experience this phase in the way that I am hoping to be able to do.  I am looking forward to having the time to learn new things, to explore new things, and to enjoy time with my family.  What will I do with my time?  That is a post for another day.  For now, I plan to find my joy.

Have you found your joy today?

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Countdown to Retirement

Today begins the countdown to retirement! Two months from today my career life will end, and I will be starting the next phase of my life.

It seems to me that we live our lives in three phases: childhood, adulthood, and retirement.   During childhood, we have an innocence about us.  Our lives are filled with joy about all of the new discoveries, learnings, and play.  If we are lucky, we are safe and loved.  Time goes slowly, and we can't wait for our next birthday.  During adulthood, we discover autonomy, love, work, and pleasure.  We struggle with money issues, relationships, starting a family, and careers.  Life is exciting and hard!  We have disappointments and exhilaration.  Stress becomes a constant companion, and we often forget how to play.  It was during this phase of my life that I discovered the title to this blog: Joy2Day

Joy2Day has become my daily mantra.  My career has been with one educational employer my whole life.  Curiously enough, my career has been divided into 3 roles: teacher, mentor, HR director.  Amazing to be able to do this in one educational setting!  I have been very fortunate.  When I was in my mentoring phase, I discovered an appreciation for joy one day when I watched my mentor, the HR director at that time, take a moment out of his busy day to stop and literally smell the roses before a meeting!  This was a full-body, live in the moment experience for him.  You could see him leave behind the baggage of the day and embrace the fragrance and beauty before him. This was eye opening to me.  I had always heard that saying, but had never truly understood it.  

Later when I (to my surprise!) became the HR director, I remembered that event as I was struggling with the stress of the job.  That was when I made the promise to myself to find joy in my life every single day!  Some days it has been very difficult to find joy, but it is always there: my sons' smiles or phone calls, my husband's presence at my side on the couch, a sunset, a deer in our yard, birds at the feeder, a tulip popping through the ground.  Something is always there if I only open my consciousness to finding it!  

Now as I am transitioning from the adulthood phase to the retirement phase, I hope that I can continue Joy2Day as my companion.  I hope that, with the extra time available to me, I will find joy and not the boredom or restlessness that many retirees experience.  I am striving to fill my days with simple joy, and I want to take you on that journey with me!  

Have you found your joy today?