Nudged Along in Retirement by Fran K.
Sincere appreciation to Fran K. for picking up on my nudge. When Fran made a comment about enjoying pottery, I ever-so-casually suggested that she might want to update her tribe stories on this site with some of her latest reflections. (You’ll find her first two tribe stories here and here.) Voila! Yesterday, this was in my inbox.
Life has an interesting habit of tossing many experiences our way. Some are pleasant and some unpleasant; some are planned and some unplanned.
Throughout my life, I have used quotes as guidelines or inspiration. Quotes have come from educational journals, poems, respected well-known figures, and friends.
One of my ‘planned’ experiences has been to write and read more since retiring. I will talk more about writing in a new post on Travels with Fran in the future.
A new form of reading for me has been in the form of blogs from wise and experienced individuals who write about meaningful topics such as travel or retirement. I have sifted through some of their significant statements and looked at my earlier writing to help guide me through this, my second major reflection on adjusting to retirement since leaving my job six months ago.
I do not think I will have a ‘transition’ stage when I return
to Canada in June. Or maybe this second career was my transition period. That’s what I said in my February guest post on Profound Journey. It was while I was still in Uzbekistan, finishing up at Tashkent International School. My husband and I were eager to go home.
Ha!! I have definitely made huge transitions from a working life to a retired life. Back in 2001, I’d taken an early retirement from my first career. But I replaced that old career in education with a new career in international education which afforded me the opportunity to travel.
This time, I am cutting myself loose entirely from education even though I thrived for 45 years in that environment and it defined me as a person.
The transition, for me, has been to leave something I knew well, to something where I was suddenly the unskilled learner. I was used to helping colleagues and now I’m the one who needs help in developing new skills. That has been huge for me!
There have been many swings in our feelings
about where we are now in our lives. This really isn’t surprising. We taught for over 45 years, and being involved in something for that long gave purpose and routine to our lives. In addition to leaving education, we are leaving behind the vagabond life of an expat where locals treat you as a novelty. We’re also leaving behind the financial freedom we enjoyed. (Sept. 2017)
It was almost a celebrity lifestyle that we led as international educators. I think back to the Uzbek taxi driver (every car is a taxi) who spoke to us in fairly good English about life in Canada, and then waved us off as we tried to pay the fare.
Or of Sanjar, our regular driver, hosting us as esteemed guests at an extended family gathering during a spring ritual of making Samulak.
I think back to our landlord in Germany guiding us to visit local restaurants for fresh trout, or the ancient Caracella Baths in Baden Baden less than an hour away from our apartment.
Friends in Charleston S.C. took us crabbing for blue crab by day, and then back to their home where we ate those critters in their screened-in veranda well into the night.
Medhat, our Egyptian tour guide, upgraded us every time we accompanied a new set of our visitors on a Nile River cruise. By the time we went on our last cruise, we were living the high life in an enormous suite as we chugged our way along the Nile.
Another time, we made quick friends with Mahroo, our travel guide in Iran, who arranged a stay in an incredibly beautiful suite in Esfahan.
Yes, the special treatment we received from locals is a little hard to give up. These and many other stories are treasured memories.
This is the first time in my life that I do not have a charted path
to follow. I am learning to be okay with that! I assume there will be more to come in this adventure. (Sept. 2017)
In my final year of working, people often asked what I was going to do next. Our school director kept sending me postings for positions that seemed like too much work to me. Our high school principal kept saying that teachers would undoubtedly run into me giving a workshop at a conference.
My standard response was that I did not know what I was going to do; that I wanted to keep my options open. My rationale was that there might be something interesting out there that hadn’t occurred to me.
Presently, I am exploring a lot of things like writing, ceramics, and various forms of exercise. I tried Tai Chi and now know what struggling students feel like. I was a disaster in Tai Chi, flailing my arms and always landing on the wrong foot. But I stuck with it and it did improve my balance and coordination.
My grandsons’ hockey tournaments and Saturday games take up a lot of time. It is wonderful to see their eyes shine with passion for the game, and for the friendships they have developed and skills they have learned. I am very excited to have time for all of these things now that I am not working.
I realized 2017 was actually about replacing the benefits of work.
I’m still using working part-time to meet my personal needs for recognition of my mastery, because I have not found other things to do that yet. Pat Doyle wrote those words in a December post on her site, Retirement Transition.
Pat’s post articulated for me the function of work in our lives, and another role that work played for me. That was the “recognition of mastery” which, for me, tied in with my identity. I’ve grappled with this during these past six months. I don’t think I’ve arrived at an answer yet as to who I am, but I have moved beyond identifying myself solely as an educator.
RAW NEWS is proving to be the perfect personal growth framework
for me. It’s giving structure to my desire to spend time in the creative areas of reading, art, writing and learning, supported by a foundation of good nutrition, exercise, and self-care. Karen said this in her end of December post here on Profound Journey.
Karen’s journey through retirement is serving as a shining beacon for me. Her well-researched and reflective applications to her personal search for uncovering underlying strengths and talents documented in her postings are inspirational to me. In the same way as she was outstanding in her field of education, she is relentless in pursuing her destiny in Profound Journey.
I selected one photo from each month that represents a valuable lesson
learned. Many of these lessons are not new but have taken on even deeper meaning for me in my retirement. Donna Connolly wrote those words when reflecting on 2017 inher blog, Retirement Reflections.
I love the phrase “have taken on even deeper meaning.” At this stage in my life, I have the time to reflect more, to feel more deeply, to appreciate more, and to acknowledge just how precious life is.
A recent loss of a long-time friend, the passing of colleagues who competed with me for administrative positions, and of entertainers who defined part of who I am, have forced me to reflect on mortality like I have never done before. The bottom line is that I will never see or hear from these people again. All that is left are the shared experiences we enjoyed.
Understand that you are in the process of making a big personal transformation
that could change your mindset to where you will enjoy nearly every component of living. You just aren’t there yet. This passage is lengthy but worthwhile. You will have to jump through some hoops, but afterward you will emerge like a child who is seeing his or her world for the very first time. You will be amazed at something as simple as the beauty of a rose. Avoid being too serious in 2018. Pop a bottle of champange as you ring in the new year, and remember this moment. If you do, you might even see a long-term dream come to fruition. Just stay on course.
This was my horoscope in the Toronto Star. Normally I don’t put much stock in horoscopes. However, I do love this one and intend to keep it around in my new ceramics studio as a guiding statement. Key phrases for me include “big personal transformation,” “you just aren’t there yet,” and “you will emerge like a child who is seeing the world for the first time.”
I did already take one step from my horoscope. My husband and I popped a bottle of champagne to ring in the 2018 New Year!
Isn’t that an amazing horoscope for Fran! You can check out yours via the Toronto Star link. Please let us know what emerged for you in your 2017 reflections. And if a nudge will help you to consider writing a tribe story for Profound Journey, please consider yourself nudged!