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?

Advertisements

A Tree

 

Following this post I am returning to posting once a month.  On the off weeks I will be re-posting archived posts.  After 129 posts and nearly four years, I have written about most of the topics I wanted to cover and then some.  I’m also making a concerted effort to focus on the writing of my book.  I’ll still be here, just not as often.  Thank you to everyone who has continued to follow kathysretirementblog.  I couldn’t have done it without you!  See you next month.  K

 

A Tree

A Tree

Right after retiring someone related a story to me about a man who was obsessed with a tree in his yard. Yes — a tree. He was unhappily retired filling his days with nothingness. He left all of the household chores to his wife and spent most of his day puttering in the yard or watching TV. Presumably out of boredom, he fixated upon a dying tree. The tree was a huge shade tree, an oak, I think. It towered above his house, so that if it fell, it might land on his roof causing considerable damage. Yet, the man, who had the money to do so, didn’t have the tree cut down. But, he talked to everyone he met about his worry over the tree.

The story, related to me by someone who continues to work today, obviously stayed on my mind. At the time the story struck me as a dismal example of someone who chose not to create a fulfilling retirement agenda. The storyteller saw it as an example of what retirement is for most people. From time to time I see this person and they are amazed at how rich my retirement life is. Sadly, the man obsessed with the tree is still obsessed with the tree. No decision to remove the tree though it is now dead and no decision to make changes in his life in order to create a rich retirement life.

To me, the tree is a metaphor for this man’s life. Maybe he sees it that way, too. Maybe he thinks if he cuts it down, he’ll be cut down, too.

Most of you who write me are apparently enjoying a fulfilling retirement life. Some of you are enjoying retirement despite setbacks due to a spouse’s death, a financial crisis, disease or accident. Retirement is hard. Especially if you were used to someone telling you what to do every day or you worked within tight guidelines. Freedom is not as easy as we thought. And life still serves up curve balls. Sometimes we encounter a block where we get stuck in life, replaying a routine again and again like the old broken record, like the man with the tree.

Currently, I’m dealing with my own block of sorts. I’m on my third try at writing a retirement book. Third times a charm, you say? Perhaps, but only if I am able to move beyond my fears. The book is at least sounding better — not as boring as the first two attempts. However, I am still held back by my fear that it will not be interesting, I will not say anything new and no one will buy it. All of us have blocks at some time or another. My mode of operation is to keep moving as I’ve learned action results in a reaction leading me to more action. Eventually, I will do something to take me forward.

For anyone not sure of how to get unstuck, this week I added a new website to my Blog Roll — http://www.melodycoach.com. There is nothing in this for me. I am throwing it out there to help those who have written about not knowing how to move forward to a more fulfilling retirement.

Melody Romeo (love the name) retired last November from her forty-year private practice as a therapist. There is no better way for her to spend retirement than to continue helping people by coaching them toward their retirement dreams. Melody uses evidence-based Energy Psychology, an assist that taps into the energy pathways between the mind and body. Through research over the last several decades we know there is a mind/body connection. As my doctor told me a while back, “The majority of people in hospitals are there due to stress related illness.” Stress can make us sick. Worrying about what to do with your retirement time can be stressful. If you have tried other methods and failed or if you have tried nothing at all and are looking for something to try, perhaps a coach can get you moving forward.

Whatever you do, please don’t become the man sitting on the couch in front of the TV looking out the window obsessing on a dead tree. Get someone in to cut down the blankety-blank tree and move forward with your life!