It was still dark and the house was silent at 6:30 this morning as I stood in the kitchen forming dough into a ball and setting it on parchment paper to rise. Gerry was out to a men’s meeting and I had just put a cup of soy milk in the microwave to warm for my second up of coffee. As I puttered I ruminated on some words I had just read in a blog I came across this morning. Before I tell you about the new blog let me back up just a bit.
I turned fifty-six a couple of days ago. In the days–no weeks–leading up to my birthday I found myself blanketed with a melancholy that often finds me when my birthday looms. I wrote about it here in here and here and in an article at Adoption Voices Magazine but this year it seemed worse. As I neared my fifty-sixth birthday I found myself thinking about my (adoptive) mom and the fact that I was having a birthday she never got the opportunity to enjoy as she died suddenly at age fifty-five. I was now officially older than my mom had ever been.
The fact that Mom died so young has been a driving force for me throughout my life. Her death, when I was in my early twenties, propelled me to return to school and ultimately to embark on a career that blessed me with a good measure of financial security. The blunt realization of how fleeting life is helped me to make the difficult decision to leave an abusive marriage. The tragedy that she never had an opportunity to enjoy life in her senior years led me to retire last year as soon as I was eligible. Now, as I pass the age she attained I find myself without a beacon and I feel set adrift as I ponder what comes next.
This morning I stumbled upon about Kathy Merlino’s Kathy’s Retirement Blog, and her thoughts on the Stages of Retirement. As we come upon the one year anniversary of our own retirement, relocation, and repatriation the idea that there are different stages to this retirement journey resonates for me.
Life over this past year has not been what I envisioned. I don’t, by now, have a second book drafted even though I do have a fairly comprehensive outline on my desk. I’ve spent much more time in the kitchen over the past year than I imagined and found a sense of satisfaction in canning and preserving food that has me pondering writing an ebook on the subject.
As we begin this new year, and I step over the threshold into the years that go beyond the example I had in my mom I find myself with a sense of trepidation about what comes next. I don’t know the answer but I know the One who does and that helps. Reading about the experiences and thoughts of others is also helpful and that’s why I’m pleased to have stumbled on this new blog this morning. It’s also another of the reasons I appreciate the technology that allows us to connect with people and ideas we might otherwise not be exposed to. It helps us feel less alone when we find ourselves standing in the precipice of the unknown.
Since I retired I haven’t thought much about the job I left but last night I dreamed about work and a huge project that had been near and dear to my heart. In my dream, I sat in a room learning about changes being made to project leadership, shaking my head and believing they were doomed to fail, but with a sense of detachment instead of the gnawing pain in my gut that I experienced so often when I was in the thick of it.
I gently surfaced into wakefulness, bringing with me the memories of the dream, and I was relieved those days are behind me. Then, as I read and sipped coffee in bed, I came across a few articles that reminded me how blessed I am to have the opportunity to live this simple life we have chosen and to focus on passions and pursuits that fulfill.
It’s an opportunity my mom never had. So, as I move forward through uncharted waters I do it with her in my mind and my heart, embracing, with gratitude, the gift of every day.