Monday, February 15, 2016

Monday, Monday, and a Daughter's Advice

I took the weekend off, blogging-wise, focussing on time with my guy, with two little cuties and their mama, and on some self-care. So I'm scrambling to post something for you this morning, even though I know not a single one of you would complain if I don't.

That pressure I so often feel to be doing this or that or the other not-sitting-around-reading-a-book-or-watching-Downton-Abbey activity is lifelong, and it almost certainly has much to do with being the eldest in a very large family. Raising four myself will have contributed, and then wanting to pursue an education and a career as well.

But I'm retired now, and the children are grown and independent, even if they are happy enough to allow some baby-sitting from time to time. And I'm 62 years old, old enough to be able to tell my Inner Child or my Inner Editor or my Dictatorial Left-Hemisphere or whatever entities are producing all the guilt and anxiety chatter that this simply has to stop. I mean, really!

I'm beginning my week (at least, that's how my pre-Retirement days have conditioned me to think about Mondays) thinking about this not only because Sue at High Heels in the Wilderness spoke (er, ranted) back to that perception, recently voiced by Grace Coddington, that many of us are "sitting around" one we give up that regular paycheque. Nor am I thinking about it because Lisa at Amid Privilege shared her commitment to "unhurrying" as she settles more deeply into her retirement. But to those two articulate reflections on time and how we use it in this fortunate stage of life was added my daughter's advice at the end of the therapeutic massage she gave me yesterday morning.

She's an RMT (a BC Registered Massage Therapist) this daughter, and I'd happily scooped up a booking when an unexpected opening in her appointment schedule coincided with my visit. There's something entirely wonderful about being cared for this way by an adult you've raised, but I won't wax lyrical and mystical and emotional about that here, now. She did what she could in an hour to release some of the tension I was hanging (tightly!) onto, particularly in my neck and shoulders. Then as I was sitting up on the table, gathering the coverings around me, she gave a few suggestion about some stretches I might do, some movements I might avoid or modify, and then the advice that's echoing still, that I'm really pondering: "My advice to you," said my daughter to me, but also said the  RMT to her client, "would be that everything you do, do 20% less."

Primarily, I think she meant that most of the physical actions I do could be achieved with less energy. Putting dishes away doesn't require all muscles be tense, and even running can be achieved more economically by a body that's not unduly clenched. But, of course, I take what she means at a more symbolic or metaphorical level as well, and I wonder what 20% less would do to my lists. . .

Here's the thing. At 62, I probably should start to shush those inner voices that impel me to do more. Except that at 62, some habits are deeply set, and one isn't likely to re-create a whole self. Let's just say, however, that I'm thinking about how and why and whether I'll dial down a bit...

While I'm thinking, here's how I'm dressing. Pretty dialled-down here, at least, as I'm getting ready to leave the massage studio my daughter practices at. Can you see her wise words ringing in my ears?
What about you? Have you managed, ever, to quell those Inner Scolds? Or do you find their instructions and admonitions useful? (I know I've achieved much of what I've done because I couldn't shut mine up, and even though they've shortened the distance between my shoulders and my ears, I'm grateful for some of that). Are you Unhurrying these days or trying to fit in as much as you can while you still have your health? And one last kicker: do you find yourself being as intense about play as you were about work and might that be something you need to dial back on as well?

Just dropped back in to chuckle at myself, and no doubt I'll have some company. That list of questions! That is really not the list of someone trying to dial back 20%, is it? Just Chill, Frances! Just Chill! ;-)

59 comments:

  1. Oh dear. I have been thinking about Sue's post, and Lisa's, and I feel (although I have some hesitation) I should speak for the sans-Inner-Scold group. I was on high speed for years...single mum, work with increasing responsibility (and projects, which have a consuming marathon-type nature that leaves one reeling), school, volunteering and board work, renovations and maintenance to an old house...not unusual but clearly not my default because...I left work on a Friday at noon, ran errands like a whirlwind, packed my bags and the next morning headed for the airport. We had brunch in the airport, complete with mimosas, and during that meal, I felt a 'click'. Something turned off. It has stayed turned off for four months so far. No Inner Scold. Happily, happily, slowly; just living. With no agenda.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Lovely. It is a click, I agree.

      Delete
    2. I'd love to hear or feel such a click -- I can manage it occasionally during yoga class or while I'm running or sometimes for a few hours on holiday far from home. But it's not hard-wired anywhere that I can see the switch to -- I'd like to work toward it, through mindfulness techniques (as long as those don't just become something else on the to-do lists!)
      May I ask if you remember other periods of your life where you were able to hear that click?

      Delete
  2. Ok I haven't retired yet so I'm commenting as an outsider. However I believe the problem with people whose whole life has revolved around their work as Grace Coddington's appears to have, is that they can't imagine a life without it and therefore perceive of retired people as "sitting around". Of course retirement is a new journey but an exciting prospect for those who are financially secure healthy and flexible (dare I say imaginative enough) to positively face the changes. While I appreciate that embracing change involves loss and anxiety at some levels, it's interesting to see how people embrace it in different ways with humour and colour and ultimately contentment or those who make a new career out of angst and introspection (contrasting approaches evident in the articles you have cited). I know which one I'd choose. Helene

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Helene, now I'm curious, which approach did you think I took? In case you think I was experiencing angst, often find that what appears to others to be over-thinking on my part is actually a space in which I am at peace.

      I haven't read Sue's piece yet, but I'm off to do so.

      We all find our quiet in different ways.

      Delete
    2. Helene, I can't speak for Coddington, but it's not hard to imagine that having worked in an industry oriented toward youth, she might be feeling as defensive about others' ageist perception of her and simply clumsy in her unwillingness to be lumped with other retired folk who, Personally, I find it easy to forgive her the sloppy categorisation, but I feel as if I lived through some of this when I chose to stay home while my kids were growing up (although I did work from home as well) -- assumptions made by those of worked for pay and those of us who made playdough and wiped noses and pushed swings and . . . . (Remember the buttons: Every Mother is a Working Mother?)
      I do hope you're not thinking I'm making a new career out of angst and introspection. They're longtime companions, truly, not new, but often, like Lisa, for me "what appears to others to be over-thinking. . . is actually a space in which I am at peace." I do often like to think aloud, or at least in writing, and I'm grateful you're taking the time to read and to chime in. To those of you who are still working for pay, this discussion perhaps seems awfully privileged and awfully precious. But it's where I'm at these days...

      Delete
    3. I've read both of your posts, Frances and Lisa, and the reason I love your blogs is that you provide the introspection that is missing in my life, both from lack of time and lack of talent. I find your posts and the discussions mind-altering in that they provide a window into a different way of looking at life. I am older than both of you but still working full-time, and hoping never to retire because my job (academic like Frances' but research rather than teaching) interesting and rewarding. I also have a 17-yo son who is in his last year at home before college and I am going through a very, very difficult divorce. So I'm constantly overwhelmed and I value the moments of peace that I find through reading your blogs.

      Delete
    4. Marie- I think of you often. Divorce is a bear. I hope you are OK.

      Delete
    5. Not sure how I missed your comment, Marie. I'll add my sympathy to Lisa's (although I've only seen the sadness of divorce secondhand) but mostly am inclined to chuckle a bit at the thought that if you have to outsource introspection, you've come to the right place!
      And I rather envy you that continuing engagement with scholarly research...and perhaps also with having had a child so late....or not envy so much, for the latter, as curiosity and a conviction that at our age we might make a good companion, as well as parent, for an emerging adult...

      Delete
  3. OH I could so use a massage! I have intense shoulder pain and it would appear to be tendinitis am off to the physiotherapist this morning....I need to make an appointment with a RMT.
    Sitting around does not describe retirement for either you nor I. Grand children, gardening, reading, knitting, walking, running, socializing, bridge, hobbies, husbands, houses, travel...well it would appear that they come first!
    We have plenty of time to sit around when we are in our 80's!

    ReplyDelete
  4. OH I could so use a massage! I have intense shoulder pain and it would appear to be tendinitis am off to the physiotherapist this morning....I need to make an appointment with a RMT.
    Sitting around does not describe retirement for either you nor I. Grand children, gardening, reading, knitting, walking, running, socializing, bridge, hobbies, husbands, houses, travel...well it would appear that they come first!
    We have plenty of time to sit around when we are in our 80's!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Have you considered IMS at all? My physio does Intra-Muscular Stimulation (similar to acupuncture) and I've found it so effective for certain injuries. Still, there's nothing quite as lovely as a massage, even a deep, therapeutic, slighty bossy one. . .

      Delete
  5. Frances, here's what I think. I've always been a serious doer of stuff. So much stuff. I don't feel that now I'm doing nothing, only that what I am doing I am infinitely more present in. So clearly fewer acts, less impact on the broad world, but in fact an increasing sense of self. If that makes any sense at all:).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, it makes a great deal of sense. I think part of what's happening is simply allowing the transition time, and of course my retirement has coincided with a remarkably busy time in my family's life, so there's a huge whack of time already carved out by and for the grands. And the demand, since I went back to grad school, to keep my interests more narrowly focused, when I'm really more of a magpie generalist, has meant that I have a closetful of pent-up learning projects just waiting to spill into the room. Gradually, I'm going to have to see which of those to focus more fully on, be more present in, perhaps, but letting others go. Some days, it feels that there's been too much letting go, so resistance. . . If that makes sense, in turn. Thanks, fellow over-thinker. . . ;-)

      Delete
    2. Just weighing in on this "over-thinkers" thread. Still puzzling over which of Lisa and I are "choosing" angst, as Helene observed. Neither, actually. Who would choose angst? But it's not always easy to turn off the tendency to measure one's "achievements"... especially if we've been as you say hard-wired for that. My rant was honestly felt, but not anger fuelled. And mostly intended to be entertaining and a bit informative. Not a bad thing to share one's path with others who may trod there soon, or are already. When I first started down the retirement road I thought I was the only one feeling a bit displaced, a bit like I had just lost a part of myself, but not one that I wanted back, necessarily. I thank you guys for making me feel like I had company in my struggle:)

      Delete
    3. This is why I'm writing, Susan, and it's why I value you and others sharing on the topic (was it Marianne or Elizabeth who wrote the first post I came across, back when I was still trying to imagine retiring? -- such a relief to find that!). As with any other lifestage I've passed through, I find it ever so helpful to know there are others out there confronting similar issues -- and articulating my own perspective helps me to act consciously, not simply to react or to take up prescribed paths... Thank you!

      Delete
    4. Isn't company the absolute BEST?

      Delete
  6. It's that constance balance between 'being' and 'doing', giving ourselves permission to kick back sometimes. I still struggle with the need to carry on striving, even though I really don't need to and can give myself permission to enjoy myself and my life for what it is now. I think the most important thing, and the hardest thing any of us can do, is to be in the moment. Interesting, thought-provoking post, Frances.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, I think that this is really important, this being in the moment. I also struggle with discernment, that is, trying to tell which of the striving is for me, because I do believe that some of it makes me happy. Thanks for commenting -- I know that you have spent some time thinking about this as well as about where to live while balancing that 'being' and 'doing.' So many decisions seem to stem from sorting these foundational priorities.

      Delete
  7. Interesting post. think Helene makes an interesting point about Grace Coddington. Also LPCs distinction between doing nothing and doing less but being infinitely more present in what one does. And then I suppose there's forced busyness the antithesis of happy retirement imo. Its all about balance I suppose and we must find our own equilibrium. Many questions... I'll pop back to see how the discussion is going. Now off to read the blogs you've linked to Mary

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's true, isn't it, Mary -- so many things, in the end, come back to balance and perhaps to knowing what balance comprises for our individual lives. Easy to look at others' retirement and see too much busyness or too little novelty, but finally, finally, we have a chance to see what works for us... thanks for adding to the discussion.

      Delete
  8. I just read Sue's post and it makes me think of my friends in their 60's who are afraid to retire. A teaching pension is adequate for most people to live comfortably
    (they actually have other money) but they're equally afraid of new curriculum, a new communication network, having to teach a new grade and school closures.
    These are not weak women but they are being controlled by fear. Retirement activity is what you make it. I miss teaching and preparing for my Thursday French
    conversation still provides me with satisfaction. (That voice...I still want to be a good teacher). I am a "striver" in a family of "strivers". That does not change with
    retirement . I am "too much a thinker" but I find that it is the observations of and connections with our surroundings that make life rich. You may never silence the "voices" completely. My mother, who raised four children, still thinks that she should not sit still during the day. You did inspire me though...I caught a cold on my flight to Oaxaca and as soon as I feel better, I am going to have a massage.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Madame, you have so wisely and perceptively pointed to something that's been on my mind but never worked its way into this post: how much of what we do or don't do is fear-driven. Coddington's very defensiveness suggests that part of her motivation is a fear of being seen as old or as "sitting around." Similarly, I'm beginning to realise that some of the paths I've been clearing have been fear-driven and I'm rethinking a few big decisions because of that (not quite ready to say more about those yet).
      The other thing you say that I'm so glad to see is that being a "striver" as I know I am is not going to change with retirement, nor is my tendency to intellectualise. While I'd like to dial down those voices, I also value them. Thanks for validating that sense and for taking the time to comment from Oaxaca -- I do hope you're feeling better soon -- a massage and some sunshine should help!

      Delete
  9. I heard a very interesting talk by Ruby Wax (she was on a book tour promoting her latest piece on mindfulness). She said that to be over busy is a sign of success in our Western world. The busier we are, the more important we feel, she suggested, even though we say that we long for free time. But doing nothing is so hard.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's definitely very hard for me. This is why I was so fascinated by Jill Bolte Taylor's Ted Talk on the insight she gained through her stroke. I do believe I need to find ways to slow down or to do less (20%), but I'd love to do that without turning it into another goal to achieve. . . ;-)

      Delete
    2. The Ted talk is on my to do list...

      Delete
  10. I think I have always attached my self-esteem to what I do and how much I accomplish. I would like to shift my feelings of worth simply to the consciousness of being a human being. It seems like that should be easy, but it isn't.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Exactly, Murphy. I'm trying, but it's not easy even after a lifetime of raised consciousness. . . Perhaps the effort counts, at least. . . ;-)

      Delete
  11. Oh, I'm probably not one to ask! But I hear you, Frances. One doesn't "retire" from the kind of work I do, though we are going through a transition from well-paid professional work to less of that and more of our own projects. This was always the plan, so it doesn't come as a surprise, but the "rewards" are different. Doing things for yourself, because you love them, feel called to do them, because they give you and others joy, can actually be scary and feel like jumping off a cliff. We have to trust our own intuition, and also listen to our bodies and emotions for danger signals. I don't want to do 20% less; I want to continue to live intensely and fully as long as I can, but out of that still, centered place inside myself, not in order to please others or the world. I think that's the challenge of these years for me.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Oh, I'm probably not one to ask! But I hear you, Frances. One doesn't "retire" from the kind of work I do, though we are going through a transition from well-paid professional work to less of that and more of our own projects. This was always the plan, so it doesn't come as a surprise, but the "rewards" are different. Doing things for yourself, because you love them, feel called to do them, because they give you and others joy, can actually be scary and feel like jumping off a cliff. We have to trust our own intuition, and also listen to our bodies and emotions for danger signals. I don't want to do 20% less; I want to continue to live intensely and fully as long as I can, but out of that still, centered place inside myself, not in order to please others or the world. I think that's the challenge of these years for me.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm not sure I want to do 20% less either, and I absolutely want to "live intensely and fully as long as I can." Perhaps, though, in trying to ensure, mindfully, that my actions come out of "that still, centered place inside myself" rather than from a need or wish to please others, just perhaps that still-ness will account for my body's health throughout that intense, full living. Because after all, respect must be paid to the real effects of living on the body, and this is part of what my daughter was trying to point out... Going through transitions such as you are must take its toll as well, exciting challenges and rewards notwithstanding. May we get to spend more time in that still centre. And thank you so much for adding that imagery to the conversation!

      Delete
  13. Throughout my adult life I've had periods of working, not working, working part time, and mothering through the lot. This year, I will turn 60 and I question myself for taking on this teaching position (and adding to it). In spite of the extreme busyness, I love it and find my mind stimulated even if my body gives out at 9 pm. I know that this is a short term position (from my perspective) and I'm willing to put the time and effort in. No children at home, although I miss the flexibility of being able to spend weekdays with the grandchildren. It's a trade-off that I'm happy with for now. As to retiring (for the last time), will mean filling my days with other things. How privileged we all are to have the choice to loll about, or volunteer, or spend time with grandchildren, or write books, or take classes.
    As someone who, like you, is the eldest child, and quite driven to accomplish, I'm learning to just let things slide where they can until I feel otherwise. When I'm particularly stressed or busy with too many things, I take an hour to read. Paradoxically, I emerge from the fictional world refreshed and able to accomplish everything that really needs to be done.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'd have made exactly the trade-off you did for the possibility of a new and interesting course (have done, in fact). My tower of buiding blocks, though, got to toppling point, and there's only so far things can slide. You sound as if you're handling yours with wisdom, and as long as that flexibility to spend the time you love with grandkids isn't compromised for too long, I suspect you'll enjoy the juggle. The housework can wait -- believe me, mine still is! And yes, here's to the recharging power of fiction!

      Delete
  14. Another first-born here. We were all raised with the expectation that we would try our best, always. I don't know when I'll be able to cease striving. Even though I know that I will retire within two years I still work harder than a need to. I often ask myself 'what are you trying to prove and who are you trying to impress?' Of course, added to this (as for so many of my generation) is that pesky sandwich situation. As much as I find life stimulating and fulfilling I find it exhausting. When I think of retirement I think of the things I might have time to do - all the things that get pushed to the side right now. We'll see.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You remind me so clearly of how quickly the exhaustion hit once the one-block-too-many got put on the tower, and I realise I'm only just emerging from some of it now. The "pesky sandwich situation" is so emotionally demanding. There's such a release in thinking forward to when you might get to do all the things you've back-burnered -- consequentially, perhaps, I'm quite dogged right now about fitting those in, and the sorting will have to happen again. It always seems one confronts priorities and the need for balance -- at least, if one is privileged enough to be able to exercise choice. I hope you'll get there soon. I suspect you'll find it very liberating.

      Delete
  15. You have very competent and very wise daughter who knows you very well:-)
    I had to downshift a lot (learning-well,still am-,working,volunteering,doing,doing,doing too much before) ,some of it was a must and other I've chosen,but than there are so many beautiful things left and one can concentrate more,more being present,to enjoy more (yes,why not?). One can learn a lesson or two from bad things,too :-)
    Dottoressa

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. She is a wise young woman, and I'll happily pass on the compliment, thank you Dottoressa.
      The biggest wisdom I find in your comment is that one can certainly learn a few lesson from bad things. Mistakes are so instructive, although we'd generally prefer to avoid them.

      Delete
  16. Some of my retiree friends seem to be on a mad merry-go-round , dashing here & there between various activities & long holidays . It seems to suit them though . They don't usually notice the small pleasures , but that's not you , you seem to be aware of the beauty around you & enjoy it - hence your photography . Reading all these interesting comments , I think perhaps I'm rather lazy .....but I shall call it my meditating
    Wendy in York

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm betting you're not lazy at all, Wendy, and I say that because it's one of the big accusations I make of myself, to my husband's amusement and frustration. Just because we don't do that dashing nor grab a seat on the merry-go-round doesn't mean we're not occupying our time quite meaningfully and happily on the small, quiet things. But I so often prefer to stay home . . . meditating I'll call it as well. ;-)

      Delete
  17. Hello Frances - at last I am commenting! Very interesting post for me. At the moment I'm berating myself for not making more PROGRESS with all the things I'm taking on while still working full tilt in the run up to retirement/career change/year-to-refocus. An only child, so heavy self-imposed expectations. At weekends I long for sitting down and losing myself in a book as I used to when a child or a student, but the ease of that seems to have fled and I am beset with thoughts of what I should be doing instead.
    The massage is spot on what you need tho! We are all fans of our Canadian massage therapist here - the whole family really benefits from her deep tissue massage, hot stone therapy, and overall deep calm. Crazily, my daughter discovered that the therapist had attended the same Canadian summer camp as a teenager that she (my daughter) worked at the past 2 summers as a counsellor.
    Am really enjoying your thoughts about retirement/a new active life that you've embarked on, as I approach my own.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello there, Linda! Shall I berate you for berating yourself? If only we could make as much progress with self-care and kindness as with our other goals, right? But sometimes it seems as kind just to get those items on the list done since reading while they're undone gives us no peace.
      Our Canadian RMTs have high standards, especially the ones in BC whose certification allows them to work virtually anywhere, so I'm told. I do love a hot stone massage -- and I love that overall deep calm you speak of, which so many RMTs seem to tap into. My daughter doesn't necessarily manifest it in all areas of her life, so it's fascinating to get to experience it while I'm on the table. (crazy coincidence re the shared summer camp -- I mean, it's a pretty big country!)

      Delete
  18. Again, how timely. I am not officially retired as I am looking for a new job but I am out of teaching and looking for something different. This is not easy but I forge onwards - in a relaxed stylee. Some days I can just sit around and do little, others I like to go out and about. Mostly I enjoy not feeling externally pressured to do, do, do...internally I can go from decided meh to martinet, depending on the day. Habits of a lifetime are very hard to change but I don't want to be miserable or anxious any more. I think that is as good a place as any to start. I would say that I do what I like. And have as little to do with that which I do not like as I possibly can. It may be fine for Grace C, but not for me. And 20% less is an excellent rule of thumb.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, this is me as well, being able to go from meh to martinet, although I probably spend more time on the martinet end of the spectrum.
      I suspect Grace C will be doing what she likes as well, don't you think? And probably some fun stuff. But I hope she figures out the 20% less before the body gives out. As much as we like to claim we can keep doing as much as when we were younger, there's considerable evidence that ageing does happen and it makes a difference, right? Now, onwards shall we forge, relaxedly . . . (I sense an oxymoron lurking. . . )

      Delete
    2. Oxymorons: the story of my life.

      Delete
  19. You seem to be •asking• for feedback and possibly ideas for how to live differently. So I would like to reflect back to you the cycle I have seen you live (as self-reported) for years: do-do-do-do-get very low. As i recall your retirement was a step toward breaking that cycle, among other reasons. So why castigate yourself for breaking a cycle that was not adding to your happiness?
    Coddington's condemnation is the typical stance of someone with a lot of ego-fluff derived from the professional self. Also, when a person keeps ultra busy, she does not have to look at herself; it's a great place to hide. Many writers, philosophers and others have long written about the value of stopping, of "far niente".

    I like to say I have uncovered a hidden talent for idleness.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Honestly, I'm asking for feedback but not advice, really. I'm just curious to know how others manage and sharing what I'm thinking and experiencing and somehow through that whole process, generally, I tend to move toward knowing what works for me. I don't think I castigate myself for retiring, because I know it was time to prioritise health and happiness, especially given what's happening in universities, particularly in the humanities, these days. But I do have some grief over letting go of some very satisfying aspects of that work. To a certain extent, I found my tribe in those classrooms and hallways, and much as it might seem I can stay in touch, that's not practically the case.
      I very much appreciate your validation, though, of my decision to retires as a good one, and of the value of slowing down. I feel I've long had a wonderful talent for idleness and now need to accept and even flaunt it. . . ;-) Dolce far niente, indeed!

      Delete
    2. A very thoughtful and discussion provoking post. Have to say I find Duchesse's comments re Grace Coddington unnecessarily harsh. Surely we should all be entitled to enjoy our senior years as we please. Her castigation of Grace is as ignorant and judgemental as the stance she criticises. Even more intrigued to see that Duchesse has her own blog where she has just announced that after eight years she will no longer be blogging as she has taken on paid work. I do hope that it's not a case of "a lot of ego-fluff derived from the professional self"! Patricia

      Delete
    3. Oh dear. I do wish we weren't harsh in our considerations of each other. Personally, I get Coddington's defensiveness, especially in a youth-focussed industry, and I think many of us have susceptible egos at this age -- witness all the emphasis on visibility from Female Bloggers of a Certain Age. As for Duchesse, you'll see from the responses she's got to her announcement today that she gets as much adulation there as she's likely to get from paid work, if it were ego-fluff she's looking for. (Pardon my defensiveness on her behalf -- we've been blogging friends for years and she's generously shown me around Toronto when I visited. And she's the least likely person I know to be seeking the ego strokes) I take your point though, and I think it's a very good one, Patricia -- why not support each other's choices (Coddington made herself a target by critiquing how others were presumed to spend their retirement, but we needn't copy her)

      Delete
  20. Wonderful readings this morning (when I "should" be cleaning and organize my sewing room and it's annex, the guest room.). I have always felt the pull of achievement versus the more personal quieter joys of life so I think some of this is how I am wired and how I was raised just playing out over time. I saw that Grace Coddington remark in the news and sort of giggled about how different it must be to live in her world. I had a grandfather who was the son of a successful New Yorker but who saw the play You Can't Take It with You in the late 1930s. Within a year or so he sold the big brownstone house and his practice and moved the family to upstate New York where they had summer vacationed. He lived a life very much like my own....some part time work initially plenty of time to fish, garden, visit with friends, travel, active in the local community.....and his story colored my actions in my career and my finances. When Inleft the corporate world I missed the social aspects of it and I think that too might be coloring Grace Coggington's remarks. But that merely meant I had to find new ways, like my grandfather, to fulfill my social needs. Nowadays I am still sometimes too busy and I am taking your daughter's 20% suggestion to heart. Since we are planning for a several month kitchen family room renovation this year I think part of that will be removing 20% of what we own in that space.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. How remarkably lucky you are, Jane, to have such an example in your grandfather. What a wise man! And I'm thrilled to hear such an endorsement of the power of fiction/drama to effect change.
      My social life needs addressing as well and with the 4 kids' families, the 5 grandchildren, family can keep me very busy, especially since I really want to keep up many creative and intellectual and even exercise (running, yoga) pursuits I've put off for or cut back on for so long. I like your idea of applying the 20% less concept to paring down, simplifying.
      Good luck with that renovation! Sounds big...

      Delete
  21. Thanks for posting this Frances. I appreciated Sue’s post and Lisa’s “Unhurried” post as well. I am still working, although I am currently doing 75% less, (not 20%) as I am only teaching one course. I have had an undiagnosed (despite my best efforts to find out what it was) and untreated illness since last summer and everything came to a head during the first week of a busy semester. I now have a diagnosis and am in treatment, but that week, I simply collapsed.

    Now that I am (just) managing one course, I have had time slowly to heal my body and work my way back up to full time teaching again. I am savouring the quiet, the unhurriedness, the lessened sense of urgency and panic. I am not frantic. My inner scold does surface from time to time, but wiser colleagues than I am have cautioned me not to rush back to full time work too soon, only to crash again.

    I am taking care of an elderly parent and all of you know what challenges (and joys) that brings.

    I am not yet at retirement but I can see that when I do I will probably be paring down and being careful about choosing what I really want to do. But I will always, always make lists. I love them: the illusion of control, the satisfaction when you can cross something off, the moments of excitement when you put something exciting to do on a list for the future. Thus I appreciate your list of questions!

    Brenda

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm so sorry, Brenda, although glad you've found out what's going on and are able to take some time to heal.
      Of course, there's no assurance that 20% less would have helped stave off a collapse, but a good reminder to all of us of the importance of our health. Choosing carefully, as you predict doing in retirement, is so important -- hence the lists, perhaps? or, at least, perhaps they can help in the vetting process. An illusion of control is a very comforting illusion.
      (I've emailed you, btw, hoping we might get together soon)

      Delete
  22. I'm sorry too, and Frances, so lovely of you to include me in this post and thus this comment thread. All my affection streaming northward right about now:).

    ReplyDelete
  23. Between our three posts, Lisa, it's a big conversation, isn't it? And overall so very supportive. Affection reciprocated -- feel it coming back your way?

    ReplyDelete
  24. Been thinking about this post. For me a fundamental question is, How do I want to spend the limited days of my life. They were always limited, but it's more pressing now. I still have energy but it is not so easily renewed.(Like you, jet lag hits harder.) Some persons (often "personages") attach much significance to achievement, visibility, being current, and are very negative about "just sitting there". But reading (of course, an edifying book ;)) and watching the light shift on the water- nothing wrong with that. And like Brenda, we can care for others. Those to me are worthwhile ways to spend one's time, and I am happy to see perspectives like Coddington's explores and questioned.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm so glad you came back to add this comment. I'm not sure why that didn't surface for me when I wrote the post, but, in fact, that was perhaps the most significant part of the framing that helped me decide to retire. Certainly, if I could do all the things I want to do with full energy and unlimited time stretching ahead, I'd continue to juggle. But my grandchildren are growing and I'm ageing, and those two processes will continue to happen inexorably until, well, you know. . .
      I love the way you translate "just sitting there" -- some people will never be able to see the richness of savasana. . .
      Watching the light shift on the water--nothing wrong with that at all. Thank you!

      Delete
  25. What a smart daughter you've raised! (Take all the credit :-))

    ReplyDelete
  26. I am in the same situation. Once I hit my 60s and the kids were all grown, I found myself without anything to do when they didn't need me to babysit. I found that visiting the local museums is a great way to spend my day and really expand my horizon too. I look forward to new exhibits each month.

    Brooke Burgess @ East West College

    ReplyDelete

I'd love to hear your response to my post. Agree, disagree, even go off on a tangent, I love to know you're out there, readers. Let's chat, shall we? I apologize, though, for the temporary necessity of the Word Verification -- spam comments have been tiresomely numerous lately, and I'm hoping to break that pattern.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...