Getting Out of My Comfort Zone

by MT
(Lake Tahoe, Nevada)

The View From the Top of the World

The View From the Top of the World

In only 9 days, I will retire from my 34 year career as a teacher. I am alternating between exhilaration and sheer panic! Moving from a structured life to a more free-flowing one is difficult for someone with an anxiety disorder like me. So, yesterday, I decided to push my comfort zone a bit...

Sunday, June 2. As I get older, I grow more fearful of new experiences, especially those which involve physical exertion. I might have a heart attack somewhere out where they can’t rescue me, I might meet a bear (I live at Lake Tahoe - we have lots of bears here, so this is not a random, weird fear), I might get lost and not be found because my cell phone battery died, I might…well, you get the idea. For me, it seems to be all about safety.

So, on Sunday I took a small step and did a new two mile hike up to a fire lookout station. I don’t have much problem with hikes I’ve taken before – it’s the new and different experiences that pose a challenge for me. After all, hospital facilities are rarely found on a fire road in the woods!

The trail was rated as “easy/moderate” but was steeper than I was led to believe and uphill all the way. I had to stop often to catch my breath. As I listened to my heart screaming for mercy and struggling to breathe, I felt the old fear of dropping dead right then and there in the middle of the fire road where no one would ever find me. However, I persevered and trudged (albeit slowly) on.

I stopped frequently and enjoyed the view and chatted with the many paragliders who were humping their equipment up to the same destination. “How silly I am,” I thought, “There are plenty of people around to pick up my dead body and they could easily carry it considering how much they have on their backs!” I was merely hiking to the top of the mountain – they were planning to jump OFF the damn thing!

I am proud to say that I didn’t give up and turn back and the view from 7100 feet was worth it.

This particular fire lookout site (they tore the 1927 building down in the early 2000s) is high above the north shore of Lake Tahoe and at 1000 feet above lake level you can see the towns strung together like beads on a tree-lined chain with wide swaths of gorgeous beaches leading to the lake. It was spectacular and gave me a new perspective on this beautiful place I call home.

I’ve been meaning to do this particular hike for about 35 years and I have finally followed through. Better late than never!

The trip back down the mountain was glorious. I was so excited that I accomplished this small goal, there were people to talk to on the trail and some of their excitement about what THEY were about to do (paraglide off the top) rubbed off on me. And, of course, it was all downhill from there!

Lesson: I am 62 and I can still hike uphill to a destination 7100 ft. above sea level. I am blessed with health, a beautiful environment and I didn’t give up. That’s enough for one day!

Wendy: Wow.. Go For It! I am sooo proud of you! I don't know I could have done that -- both the climb AND the anxiety of it!

I am absolutely THRILLED that you posted this! A true glimpse into what retirement can be, for all of us, if we simply conquer those irrational fears and HAVE FUN in life.

That might mean trying to paint even if it's pretty childish looking in the end, if it's what YOU feel you want to try -- just do it folks!

Now if you've always wanted to climb Two Miles after thinking about it for Thirty-Five Years... just do it! Go back to the top of this page, or even Print it Out for later..and Just Do It!

Thank YOU, MT!!

Comments for Getting Out of My Comfort Zone

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Just a thought
by: Tom Sri Lanka

I am going to get my wife a tracking device. You can buy one with a panic button in case of emergency. Just a thought

Facing Retirement and Ageism
by: Anonymous

I took a buyout . As i left the parking lot i knew my life was changed forever. At first, it was exciting. Then I was fortunate to find a part time job.

Before that i experienced ageism for the 1st time. oh my, did that hurt ! I am a darn good hard working person.

The 2nd time I experienced ageism was when i returned to school. I like learning, however, two instructors felt uncomfortable with me; i was "odd", "different", and "old". Yep, that hurt. So now i am seriously looking at a university vs a community college.

I feel going to school is a form of therapy so i don't become a person i never intended to be; school eXpands the mind---->without drugs (lol)

It will also get me out of the house, mingle with younger people, and as a bonus, i can attend the university at a discount !

Occassionally I do wake up with anxiety; good coffee and activity usually diminishes the symptoms.

planning for more
by: bernadette

congratulations MT. you inspire me. I am 64 a trader on goods I bought from europe. I cant travel often anymore. but i feel I can't go home and sit down. Maybe i need advice. By the way I live in Douala cameroon even though I am in canada visiting children for sometime.

A Thanks to Wendy
by: Larry Steward

I just found this site and I'm delighted to be connected with other retirees. I must thank Wendy Fisher for creating this and being such a resource for people like us in transition to a new world.

My challenge at 71 is to find a way to transition from a home improvement contracting service to the role of a coach for retired people much like Wendy has done.

I know I can't help people if I don't learn what issues they most deal with during this exciting but sometimes difficult journey.

I look forward to reading all these comments and sharing my transition along the way.

Is 70 too Old?
by: Shirley

Hi everyone,

I am new to this so stay with me!
I retired 5 years ago at the age of 65 after spending the last 5 years of my life living on an Island in the Highlands of Scotland,

After doing a number of jobs throughout my life, the last one was being a dog groomer on this Island in Scotland.
I was born in the EAST END of London, married 3 times,3 sons, 9 grandkids.

I came here with my latest husband who is 10 years younger than me because he had just retired from 34 years in the Royal Navy doing search and Rescue work in Cornwall.

He was offered a job here doing the same line of work, so for the last 11 years I have lived here with no real friends as this Island still regards us as "INCOMERS"

Although we have great neighbours both sides of us I still miss my mates from the East End!

The markets, the coffee mornings after we had walked the kids to school.

Now we are on the move again, this time to North Wales as my husband has been transferred to another base staying with the same company.

So I thought that I should join an on site pen pal club asking for ladies around my age who live in North Wales so that by the time I moved there I would have a small network of friends and not fee so isolated.

Well it seems I am just too old at 70 to attract any pen pals, I thought 70 was the new 60 seems I was wrong! in my mind I am still in my 30's but it seems numbers do count.

I run a very clean home, I walk my dog 2 miles up hill everyday whatever the weather,
I am fit and healthy, my mind is still intact as far as I know, I take an interest in just about everything going on around me, I am loyal and honest, everything I would want in a friend.....

I am so looking forward to living on dry land again where I can shop and choose what I want rather than waiting for it to arrive by ferry.

All I can hope for is that the ladies I meet in Wales will welcome me and not put up an age barrier.

I did it
by: Redrooster46

I did it.. I retired in July and did what I wanted for many years.

I moved from the city to the country.. I live in a small town in Mississippi, only 59 people. I have been so busy getting use to my new lifestyle.. I am going to do some farming and hope to raise Goats.. The best thing I ever done..

Scary but I am happy and having fun!


by: Linda

What an amazing story, I am 62 also, after 45 years as a Banker I am going on retirement October 31st of this year.

I am experiencing many fears right now, aging, money, health, loneliness etc.

After reading your story I am in deep reflection on how I could do something in order to build up assurance within myself. Thanks for sharing your story, I will try learning from it, I realize I have lots of work to do on myself!

Well done!

Getting Out of My Comfort Zone....
by: Marie-annette

I loved your sharing...cheers! by the way age is a number... and you are as old as you feel....
You certainly have what it takes to succeed.

Wish i could be adventurous as you even at my age now....74...when i am about to try this i will let you know......

happy writing....

Thank you!
by: MT

Thank you for all your wonderful comments.

I'm off to do an easier hike today, but plan a bigger one tomorrow. Stay tuned!

Writing is an outlet for all my angst, Larry, but yes, I have taught English/writing for many years.

Getting Out of My Comfort Zone
by: Larry Wall


I really enjoyed the content of your posting.

And I really, really liked your writing style.

Me thinks you probably taught English writing in school.


MT - Lake Tahoe
by: Nettie

Congratulations MT! I am feeling the same way you described - being nervous about leaving a long time career and entering retirement!

I really enjoyed your post and now want to think of something that I can do which will take me outside my fear and be something that I have never done before! Hopefully I will post whatever it turns out to be.

Everyday at work I have moments when I don't want to retire, but to stay on and see some new project to completion, or to just work with some of my new staff who have such enthusiasm....and then there are the other moments when I am reminded that it is time to move on and let younger nurses take over. I am just finding it a roller coaster ride right now.

Any advice?

Awesome words of wisdom
by: Sharyn~~~CANADA

Only 62 yrs old and look at u ~ that is still very young* it is the new 42*

What do u have planned for the next 38 years of yur life?

I think u should take up paragliding~ oh, come on, u can do anything yur little heart desires. Baby steps~ 1 activity at a time ~ amazing what u WILL accomplish in yur retirement!

Take pics and start a journal, the next generation of yur family would enjoy reading about life after RETIREMENT* It is not a death sentence ~ it is a new beginning for u and every-one!

Just have to stay possible & stay away from negative people* Good luck in yur future ~ sounds like u r in for a great ONE**

i am done
by: diane

Last friday was my last day at work..I have never had this much free time in my adult life. First it was husband and children and then work. so now I am free.

In the last two months I have given notice at work, listed my condo for sale and sold it , bought a new condo in another town where my daughter and grandchildren live and am now packing up to move.. I bounce between "what have I done" to "yipee" and somewhere in between.

The point is I am moving ahead, maybe to quickly for some but this suits me. I never wanted to sit in my apartment and try to figure out what to do. now i have a whole new town to explore.

by: aRTHUR c. fORD,sR.,POET/EDITORAnonymous


Amazing adventure
by: Nina from London

How wonderful to hear about your triumph. Well done!!! In spite of any qualms you went ahead which is inspirational.

Like yourself I taught for 31 years both in New Jersey and in London. Then when I turned 60 I began to work part time and gradually my volunteer work and interests took over. What makes a difference is creating your own timetable and routine. The structure is up to you with lots of activities or very little. Often I have to catch myself because I have a habit of doing too much.

Have fun in planning your retirement.

Best Wishes, Nina

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