GET A LIFE!
by Caroline Corser
Cheerleader for Positive Lifestyles
Just because we're retired doesn't mean we have to quit living. When I ask
people who are about to retire what they plan to do with their lives, I often
get answers like, "Oh, I plan to build a meaningful relationship with my
grandchildren." Or people tell me, "I'm looking forward to visiting with my
children." I say, "Beware! You're treading on treacherous ground." Granted
that it is important and wonderful to have close and meaningful relationships
with our children and grandchildren, retirement should not be a time to depend
on our children to make our lives meaningful.
We've all heard of the "empty
nest syndrome" when parents, especially mothers, find a great void in their
lives after the children they've raised and nurtured leave home. It's only
natural to want to continue caring for our children, but we have to give them a
break and let them live their lives.
Expecting your children to
include you in their lives can lead to resentment and strained relations, no
matter how much they love you. You will have more to share with them and be a
more independent person if you find your own interests and build a new life
for yourself. If you haven't done it before, now is the time to assess your
talents and passions and look for that something that turns you on, that makes
you eager to get started making things happen for you. Developing a special
interest is important for a balanced life, whether you're just approaching
retirement or already out on your own.
Many people don't know what their special interest is. If you are one of
those, consider these examples. Most people find their passions related somehow
to their past careers or to their own special talents. My friend Rose was
already an outdoor person when she developed a passion for birding. Sarah has
always been athletic, even though she earned her living as a high school
counselor, so it wasn't such a far stretch to take up in-line skating. Jim, a
retired teacher and college counselor, had been looking for some new way to
help people when he found he could teach English for the Peace Corps.
Others discover they have untapped interests that they never before had acted
upon. Frances Weaver, author of several books for seniors, didn't try writing
until she was in her 50's, after her husband died. Jacques, a professor of
philosophy and English, had only acted in one production when he was a college
student. A few years before retirement, he discovered his love for acting and
since then has performed in more than 50 productions. Although Nancy loved art,
she never tried painting until after her career in early childhood education.
Her newfound passion is watercolor painting, which she pursues at every
If you haven't yet found your passion, if your life seems pointless and lacking
in zest, start by assessing yourself and your interests. First, write down the
type of person you
are. Are you an outdoor person or an indoor person? --a thinking person or a
doer? --a reader, a writer? Do you prefer to participate in groups or work
alone? Do you love to teach others or learn new things for yourself? Are you
happier working with plants, animals, or people--with wood or metal-- with words
or numbers? List as many descriptive words as you can think of about yourself.
Next, write a short paragraph about what you have most enjoyed about your work
or your relationships. Describe the hobbies or activities you always wished you
had time for. Think about the people whose lives you always envied. What were
doing that you would like to do? This is the place for you to record every
inner desire you have harbored in your soul. Let every thought come out with
no hesitation or criticism. Put them all down on paper so you can remember
them and work
with them as you continue your search. Thoughts too easily escape us if they're
not written down.
Once you've scraped up every
possible interest you've ever dreamed about, you can read it all over and start
to toy with ideas for possible adventures you might try. As an idea comes to
you, jot it down and consider how you might turn it into a new adventure. This
is where you can start taking action and realizing your true potential. You may
have to do a little research. Go to the library or check on the Internet for
information or names of organizations that might tell you how to pursue your
new adventure. Whatever you do, don't give up until you've learned as much as
you can about what you might do to make your dream take shape. Finally, you
must start moving. That may mean enrolling in a class, or buying brushes and
paints, or joining a club. The important thing is to dare to take the first
steps and give your dream a try.
People sometimes deny
themselves an opportunity because they're afraid they "might not like it." Be
open and flexible and approach your new adventure with the attitude that if
this doesn't work, you can try some other option. In the meantime, you're busy
building a life for yourself. Just imagine the stories you'll have to tell your
children the next time you see them. Even misadventures are fun to relate, and
they'll admire you for having the gumption to stir up the waters and put new
spark in your life. Go for your dreams, and make every day YOUR OWN adventure!
Cheerleader for Positive Lifestyles, speaks to baby boomers and seniors about filling your life
with laughter and play. She can be reached at 661-871-9201
Contact Caroline now to engage her as a keynote
or workshop leader for your next meeting.
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