Taking Retirement to a New Level

My concept of retirement continues to evolve…. When I was still working, I thought of retirement as the release from responsibility, doing always for others, and putting up with the constant BS and pressure that is the working world. As retirement came closer, I saw it as an opportunity to live life on my terms – and I was determined to keep it busy and fulfilling. After I retired, I gradually mellowed out and decided that retirement was an opportunity to enjoy and appreciate the opportunity to just ‘be’ – truly living my life each day on my own terms. For the past few weeks, with health problems becoming more and more of an issue despite my best efforts, I was floundering a bit – not sure where retirement was taking me.

Now, I am back on track and feel that I have, for probably the first time in my life, found my true calling. Regardless of all else happening in my life, going forward I am totally committed to channeling peace and hope and love and beauty. I think that is what the world needs right now that it is the best way that I can make the most of my retirement.

This mission of mine takes little effort. I can do it regardless of how I am feeling or what I am doing. I can do it when I am walking, cooking, cleaning, reading, shopping, driving, meditating – anything! It is that easy. It takes nothing out of me, I feel good doing it and I feel I am doing something truly worthwhile with my life.

I have never understood why some people deliberately channel so much hate, anger, greed and fear into the world. That takes so much effort and it makes the world so ugly and miserable. I cannot imagine what it does to people who do it on a regular basis.

So, yes that is my plan for retirement going forward – peace, hope, love, and beauty.

Have a great day!

More Lessons (finally) Learned 🤦

It is so strange that we can hear the same truth repeated over and over in our lives and never really understand the meaning or importance of the message.

I was raised in a relatively loving home. The Catholic Church and her teaching were a foundation of our lives. I have read countless books on self improvement. Through all of my life, the concept of forgiveness and unconditional love has been brought forth time and time again. I thought I ‘got it’.

I have tried to be a good, caring person. I have tried to not be angry or hateful towards others. I have tried to not be vengeful or judgemental. I honestly thought I had a fairly good grasp on living a ‘good’ life.

Early this spring, I developed health issues that seriously impaired my life. I was driven to retire from my job (a few months earlier than planned) and to start living a healthier life. As part of my healing, I began walking – a lot! – on a regular basis. My walks gave me time to think and many of my thoughts focussed on peace. (Which coincidentally was the subject I had chosen to focus on in 2020).

Walking in itself did wonders for easing my stress level. Spending time in nature on a regular basis was relaxing and beneficial. I walked for my peace. I walked for my family’s peace. I walked for peace for friends and neighbours and strangers. While my health was my initial reason for walking, peace was the driving force that kept me going.

These past few days, while I still walked every day and enjoyed my time in nature, I have started to struggle to stay focussed on peace. There have been a number of things happening that I have been dealing with – ongoing issues with my daughter, my son’s upcoming wedding (which will involve spending a couple of days socializing with my ex-husband and his family), politics – specifically a provincial election which will once again result in a landslide win for a party led by people who have caused serious grief and pain to many – including my family, and with colder weather moving in, a return to having my husband watching his television programs in the livingroom. (I love my husband and I certainly want him to be comfortable on his days off, but personally I am uncomfortable with television programs the likes of Jerry Springer in our house).

All of these situations have cost me a lot of peace. I ‘block’ one disturbing thing out of my consciousness and three more things gnaw at me. It has become increasingly frustrating.

FINALLY I get it!

Peace is one of those things that you cannot just have and hoard. You cannot have peace and choose to share it with some, while withholding it from others. You do not get to decide who is worthy of peace.

For the last couple of days, I have been walking for peace – for myself, for my family, for friends and neighbours and strangers – but including and specifically for those who I had been previously trying to block from my peaceful consciousness.

I feel so much better. The more I walk for peace for myself and others, including walking for those who challenge my peace, the more peaceful I become. Seriously – how simple is that? 🤷

Lessons Learned

I Walk for Peace

This year, my focus has been on peace.  As things go, my choice of focus for this year has been spot on.  2020 has been a stressful year for many people and for my own reasons, it has definitely been challenging for myself as well.

Challenges aside, I have enjoyed my quest for peace and have learned a few things in the process.

1.  I have spent sixty-four years battling anxiety and one year focusing on peace.    I have learned that I  should have started focussing on peace sixty-five years ago. 🤦

2.  I have learned to make MY peace my priority.   For the better part of my life, my priority has been trying to maintain a peaceful, pleasant cushion around others to try to keep them happy and peaceful.  My reasoning being, if they were happy and peaceful, they were not making my life difficult and stressful.  In my defense,  I had a very high-strung mother.  My first husband was difficult (such an understatement🤣🤣🤣).  My current husband is a really good man but, after number one, complete trust in any man has been difficult for me.   My children were typical, difficult at times children.  Finally,  as an administrative assistant for the better part of my career, it was my job to keep things running smoothly in my work environment.  I drove myself to be the peacekeeper.  Except, my peace was way down the list of my priorities.    I have come to realize that to enable or encourage peace in any situation, one must first be at peace themselves. 🙄

3.  I have learned that peace makes all of  the best things in life possible.   Health and well-being is difficult to impossible when one is constantly stressed.  With peace, health and well-being come naturally.  Happiness is next to impossible when one is stressed and anxious.  With peace, happiness is natural.   Love is difficult to impossible when one is constantly stressed and anxious.  With peace, one is easily more loving and more loveable.  Relationships are healthier and easier.   Prosperity is possible when one is stressed out and anxious – feeling prosperous is difficult at best.  One never feels financially secure when one is anxious and stressed.  You feel you need more and you worry about losing what you have.  You develop poor financial habits or addictions that undermine your efforts to be financially secure.   Peace brings a feeling of security to all aspects of one’s life – including financially.   

4.  Peace is the gift that keeps on giving.  I could, and I intend to,  make my peace my priority going forward in my life.  I believe we are born into this world to evolve – to become better, stronger, and wiser –  as individuals and as a whole.  I  believe peace is the key to evolution – at least to my evolution. 

Changing Seasons

The struggle is real. Moving from summer to autumn, in Saskatchewan, just doesn’t work for me.

Trading the summer heat for the autumn chill does not work. Trading bright sunny skies for dull, overcast ones does not work. Trading green grass, thick lush trees and colorful summer flowers for the depressing dying plant life of autumn definitely does not work!

This morning Kat and I headed out for our morning walk. We took a route that we do not usually follow. We trod along four or five kilometres of city sidewalks. It was ok. The weather was warmish. The people we crossed paths with were friendly.

Finally we reached our neighbourhood park. I started to take more notice of the nature around us.

The grass was pretty sad looking.
Some of the trees were looking downright depressing.

And then I saw IT!

A perfect golden leafed tree framed by brilliant blue sky.

It is amazing how one can find so much peace and joy and hope and beauty in one glance. I could have been looking in the wrong direction and missed it. I could have been shuffling along staring at the ground and feeling miserable and I could have missed it. But there I was, walking through my favourite little park, looking for peace and hope and joy and beauty and BAM there it was.

Wishing all a great day – or at least one perfect moment. 🤗

Back to Business

Holiday in Saskatchewan

After a month of holidays, my husband headed back to work this morning. I would say we are back to our normal schedule, but with his twenty four/ seven shifts we do not really have a normal schedule.

It has been a nice month. We did not accomplish a lot but it was relaxing having Dan home. I spent a lot of time walking my dog, getting in shape and clearing my thoughts. It is amazing the things you think about when you are wandering the same streets and paths day after day. I plan to share some of those thoughts on my blog in the days to come.

I hope everyone has had a nice summer. With September just around the corner, our summer days will soon be gone. 😢

Lazy Days of Summer💖

Tranquility

Nature makes peace and harmony and tranquility appear so easy. When I look at a bed of ferns and and clover, I see peace. When I see trees, I see peace. When I look up to a crystal blue sky and watch fluffy white clouds drift by, I see peace. When I see gentle ripples on a body of water, I see peace. When I see a perfect blossom, I see peace. I can hear and see and feel peace throughout nature. More than anything, I want to look within my mind and body and soul and find peace. I am a part of nature. It should be so easy. 🤦

I hope that today, whether you look without or within, you find what you are looking for. 🕊️

Seclusion

When I created my blog, I was focussed on my impending retirement. WordPress had other plans for my blog. “Instead of Retirement 101…”, My blog website became “Seclusion101….”. As strange as that seemed to me, it was actually a perfect fit for me. According to Wikipedia “Seclusion is the act of isolating from society”.

I admire people who can walk into any situation and make it better. Some people enter a room and radiate happiness. Others can be caught in the midst of drama, conflict or fear and radiate peace and calm. I am not one of those people.

I am a sponge for the emotions of those around me. By the standard of current terminology, I am an empath. I get close to anyone who is experiencing extreme emotion and I absorb it by default. I do not even have to be physically close to people I have close ties to – like my husband, sons and daughter. I feel off if there is something seriously wrong with them or the situation they are in.

There are occasions, when this ’empath’ way of being is helpful. I can generally feel when people need comfort or support. I can also generally feel when people are in a state where it is best to just back away and give them space. For the most part, being in the midst of extreme emotion just beats me up – regardless of the type of emotion.

I hate parades. I always have. When the planes fly over or the band strikes up and the crowd unites in excitement and anticipation, I am overwhelmed by the urge to burst into tears. Funerals crush me – even when the deceased was not someone I was personnely close to. The collective grief of family and friends suffocates me. Angry outbursts are the worst. Even if people screaming at each other are across the street, I feel terrified. I know these situation are over reactions, but that is how I am.

I would love to live on an acreage surrounded by nature. In the city, I make do. Regardless of where I have lived, I have always had my special place where I could ‘isolate from society’. Back in the days when I was alone with my teenagers, my ‘place’ was a corner of the kitchen cupboards. I could open a window, sit on the cupboard with my feet in the sink and enjoy a cup of tea and a cigarette. Nobody came near me when I was in my corner – until Dan came into my life. He was allowed in my corner. (He wasn’t allowed to put his feet in my sink.)

Now it is relatively easy to seclude myself. I have indoor and outdoor places that are perfect for isolating. Life has never been better – in retirement and seclusion.

Have a pleasant and peaceful day🌞

Father’s Day 2020

Dad and my son Danny

My father was a good man.  He was kind and peaceful.   His life was never easy but he dealt with it – whatever it was. 

Dad was born premature, weighing one and a half pounds.  His father bundled him up, put him in the sleigh and hauled him off to town to be baptized.  On the way to town, the sleigh hit a rut and overturned.  Dad was thrown into a snow bank.   He survived (obviously).  If I know my Dad, he was laughing when they found him.

When my Dad was old enough, he was sent to a convent where his classes were taught in French.  When he was in grade two, his mother suffered a serious stroke.  My Dad went to work for a storekeeper, spending his days sitting in the basement of a store removing eyes from potatoes.  His father needed help feeding his family and paying medical and care bills for his mother.  As always, Dad did what he could do to help. 

As a teenager, Dad went to the city to work with his brother, Herman.   A few months later he returned home with Herman’s body.  Herman had died a victim of tuberculosis.  Dad was by his side, holding his hand when he passed away – then he brought him home to be buried in a grave marked by a concrete gravestone that he designed and made for him.

Dad’s grave in front of the cross he made for Uncle Herman

After Herman’s death, Dad stayed home to help the family.  He became a licenced bartender and a true craftsman at applying stucco.  Although his formal education had been so short, Dad never allowed that to limit his options.    After my parents married, Dad went to work at an Airforce training base during World War Two. (At five foot nothing and color blind to boot, the army wasn’t looking to send him into battle).  After the war, my parents moved up north, where Dad supported our growing family with his stuccoing skills.  When they moved to southern Manitoba, he entered the auto body trade.  When I was three, we moved back to Saskatchewan. My parents purchased an autobody shop which they ran until they retired.

Dad, my niece Teenie (Jeanne Christine) and I

After retirement, my parents enjoyed a few easier years.  They would visit my siblings and I on a regular basis.  At my home, Dad could always find yard work to keep him happy and occupied.  When we moved to a home with a large, neglected yard, Dad was in his glory for years!  

In 1989, when Dad was eighty years old, just months after celebrating his fiftieth anniversary with Mom, my Dad was diagnosed with cancer of the sinuses.    He passed away four years later, on December 17th, 1993. Losing a loved one is always difficult, watching my Dad waste away for four years from this insideous disease was heart wrenching  beyond belief. It was also incredibly inspiring and such an honor to witness the strength, grace and dignity that he displayed throughout his final years.

Final visit with Dad. He was joking about running out of time before Mom had the camera focussed.

Rest in peace, Dad. Happy Father’s Day!

Fyi Father’s Day is on June 21st. At least one of my sons keeps track. Same son who informed me I was 59 when I was pretty sure I was 48🙄

Freedom

This year, I have chosen to focus on PEACE. Each morning I write out a number of affirmations relative to peace. Every night, I try to fall asleep with peaceful thoughts and feelings. Throughout the day I try to make peace my priority.

Typically, the harder I try to focus on improving one aspect of my life, the more obstacles life throws in my path. This year has proven no different. There is virtually no area of my life that has been easy and peaceful. Personally, there have been health issues, financial issues, family issues, work issues and of course technical issues. In a broader sense, our city, province, country, and world seem to be going to hell in a handbasket.

It would be easy to give up, but I have endeavoured to keep focussing on peace. On the fiftieth day of 2020, I have finally made a significant breakthrough. By making peace my priority, I have released the overwhelming urge to control everything in and around my life. This alone has brought me the peace I desire.

As humans, we all have the power to choose. The first thing we need to choose is where our priorities lie. Life is dicey and insecure, more so now than ever, in my mind. We are reminded daily that there is little to no security for ourselves and our loved ones. It is easy to become so insecure that we move into survival mode. We try to control everyone and everything around us. We justify becoming aggressive and trying to deprive others of their right to choose. This never ends well for anyone.

The only path to personal peace and growth is to focus on our own priorities, while respecting and allowing others to focus on their’s. There are any number of ways to accomplish this.  Here are a few of my suggestions:

1) If there are issues at work, focus on your task at hand. Ignore the office politics, the gloom and doom of company rumors, employers and co-workers who are being unreasonable or ignorant. You are there to do your job, you are being paid to do your job. Just do it. Focus on doing it well. Regardless of anything else that happens, you will gain confidence from a job well done and it will help you to develop an exit strategy, if leaving your position becomes inevitable.

2) Having health issues can easily become overwhelming. However, they can be made tolerable for yourself and those around you. The first step is to accept and acknowledge your health issues. The second step is to deal with your health issues with professional help you can trust, informing yourself about your condition, and doing everything you can to minimize the effects of your health issues – be it with diet, exercise or lifestyle changes and focussing on any improvement you can make. I am amazed at the accomplishments and legacies of people who have been affected or are affected by overwhelming health issues.

3) Financial issues are another of life’s challenges that can easily become overwhelming. I have been there. I know how difficult it can be. I have sold pop bottles to buy milk for my babies and have worked multiple jobs to provide for my teenagers. I have lived so close to the edge that an unanticipated car repair was virtually catastrophic. I survived – somehow you do, as long as you have faith that you will and you keep working towards financial stability. Once again the first step is to acknowledge and accept your situation. The second is to get  professional help if you need it and make the changes you need to make. Keep working towards increasing your income and cutting your expenses and you will slowly start to get ahead. It isn’t easy, there are times when it seems your efforts are totally futile, but if you keep working at it, it will happen. I have reached a point in my life where major unexpected expenses are frustrating, but I have to keep it in perspective and be grateful that we have the means to cover them.

4) Relationships can be particularly challenging. There are times when one must admit that a relationship is unhealthy, unsafe and the right thing to do is to terminate it. If every relationship starts out great, is great, and ends up in termination and anger, the problem is probably you. The thing with relationships is that they take respect, consideration, compromise, and trust. You cannot always be right. You cannot always be in control, you cannot always be ‘the winner’. No one else can give you the perfect relationship. You have to do your part.

5) No matter how much you love anyone – even your own children, you must allow them to make their own choices and suffer the consequences of poor choices. Inevitably, you will be forced to, so they can learn and grow. You can offer them a hand up if they are legitimately making the good choices – to a point. They are still the ones who need to put in the hard work. To encourage them to make poor choices or to pave every road for them is enabling them, undermining them, keeping them dependent on you, and serves neither of you in the long run. You have to step back and trust that your children will learn, grow, and live the life that they are meant to.

6) Regardless of how passionate you are about any cause or point of view, others are equally passionate about theirs – and have every right to be. In Canada, there is currently and increasingly, a divide between those who are passionate about the environment and those who are passionate about the economy. The two sides become further apart as they fight for control and an overwhelming win. The harder they fight, the less likely it is that anyone will . Regardless of which side we support, we need to be open to compromise, respect and mutual concern for both the economy and the environment. We need to work together to ensure that those who drive the economy, respect the environment. We need to recognize the importance of a strong vibrant economy and recognize the efforts that industries make to operate in an environmentally responsible manner. It works both ways or it does not work at all.

Regardless of what the issues are, or whether they are personal, global, or anywhere in between, the solution is the same. We need to get our priorities in order, focus on what is important to us, release control of what is not, and approach the issues with peaceful hearts and minds. 🕊️