Living On The Edge

At the podium (all photos courtesy of WAHHI)

At the podium (all photos courtesy of WAHHI)

I am sometimes asked by readers what they should do to have a fulfilling retirement. That is a very personal question, which only they can answer. What I do know is they have to live on the edge — their personal edge. Living on your personal edge means leaving your comfort zone. Last week I did exactly that.

Back in November a question came to me through the blog from Lilabeth Parrish, Program Chair for the Women’s Association of Hilton Head Island (WAHHI) asking if I ever did speaking engagements. Before emailing an answer I thought about the question. Prior to retiring, speaking before audiences was a regular part of my routine, especially as a real estate instructor. After I retired, I gave several presentations on gardening as part of the Master Gardener Program. Did I speak publicly about retirement? No, never, because, until now, no one ever asked me to.  However, I was open to the idea.

After a phone conversation with Lilabeth and WAHHI President Kathy Reynolds, I agreed to give the presentation at their February 8 luncheon. To my surprise and delight I learned this is an organization of several hundred. Giving a speech before even a fraction of that number was enough to make my knees quake.

I was definitely about to live on my personal edge. From the get go I would be leaving my comfort zone. I would need to write the speech. I would have to practice the speech. I would have to deliver the speech. I would have to be confident and assured. I would have to motivate, inspire and entertain all at once.

Kathy Reynolds, Me and Lilabeth Parrish

Kathy Reynolds, Me and Lilabeth Parrish

The entire process reminded me of work, but in a good way. I felt challenged, excited and even a little afraid. My mind conjured the usual self-imposed limitations. All the what-ifs crowded in trying to supplant my confidence in my ability to deliver. I pushed them aside, enlisted the help of some friends to read the speech, listen to the speech and give me honest feedback. Thank you Claudia and Paulette! The speech was written, re-written and re-written and re-written so many times I lost count. It was recorded and played back, and recorded and played back, and recorded yet again and played back yet again.

On February 8 I was uncertain no more. Quite comfortable with what I was about to do, I mingled with this wonderful group of women. Their February mission was collecting cookies for first responders in the community and jewelry for a Valentine’s surprise for nursing home residents. Valentine themed centerpieces adorned the tables and many of the women wore red or pink. The organization’s energy filled me to the brim.

A meaningful retirement belongs to those of us who take a leap into uncharted territory. If someone told me five years ago I would be standing on a stage in Hilton Head giving a speech on The Changing Landscape of Retirement, I would have thought them crazy. At that time, this blog was not anywhere on my horizon. Stepping outside my comfort zone created a new work life for me in retirement. And, I love what I’m doing.

Living on your personal edge at any time of life provides a feeling of empowerment. You did it, whatever ‘it’ is. In retirement it’s easy to sit back in the comfort of what you know. Taking some risk, trying something new, discarding self-imposed limitations is the only way to find what fills you up in your retirement. By doing exactly that, I found my personal edge — what’s yours?

17 comments on “Living On The Edge

    • Hi Luisa, The speech is rather long…about 2600 words but I’m working on doing a podcast of it. In hindsight, I wish it was recorded. I’ve never done a podcast before, but will post online when it is available to listen to on your computer. K

      Liked by 3 people

  1. Congratulations on pushing past your comfort zone! Love the topic as well…. and since I know that you’re an expert on it, I know it was an awesome speech! I like the concept of “pushing past comfort zone”… and everyone’s comfort zone being different. Looking back on my 2.5 years in retirement so far, yeah, I’ve pushed past mine a few times. And in each case, I am super happy I did. I’ll be thinking about future things now to keep pushing out of my comfort zone.


  2. Hello Kathy,
    I loved your article, ‘Living on the Edge’.
    One of the principles I have followed in my retirement is to ‘Live Dangerously’.
    I have a strange and totally unsubstantiated belief that many people get ‘old’ when their life gets boring and overly stable.
    Maybe its too much of a generalisation to think that there is always something new to be tried or explored.
    I am not saying that this attitude makes life any more calm or any easier, but the challenges that this kind of living throws up makes everyday different from the day before. I like to imagine that ‘Living on the Edge’ keeps me young at heart and maybe will even add a year or two to my life.
    I’ve heard some old people say that they would rather wear out by living life to the full rather than stagnate and rot from a lack of mobility and engagement.
    I don’t want to do either.
    I want to continue to live like the world is my oyster. And I will!

    Thanks again for your article,


  3. I have just found your blog. After retiring once about 4 years ago, I experienced all the discomfort you discuss. I made it 2 1/2 years but was not acclimating. I went back to work and was glad I did for many reasons. I am now ready to retire again and am doing research so I don’t hit the same walls I did the first time. Your blog will become one of my resources. Thanks for your candor. I love what you are doing and presenting to a huge unknown audience was very brave. I congratulate you and hope to emulate you, but not in a stalker, steal your identity kind of way.


  4. Kathy, I think you’d like today’s post about author Jena C. Henry. I notice that she’s one of your commentees in this list. Anyway, she began writing books in her retirement and is giving away 3 of her The Golden Age of Charli books + a $25 Amazon gift card at

    I hope you’ll pop over and check it out, and thanks for your good work. I think I’d like to write books and speak when I retire in a decade or two.


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