HOW DID I GET THERE??!!
by Christine McGruder
How Did I Get Here?
One of the things I have most enjoyed since retiring, is nature photography. Occasionally, I am fortunate enough to capture animals in very unusual and hilarious positions, that I can almost imagine the animal saying, “how did I get here?"
It was my last day on the job, and as you can imagine, the day had been very busy with well-wishers dropping in, and the many phone calls from people I had grown to care about during my time working for this lovely church community.
Finally, the hour had come, and it was time to head out the door, and take that one last walk across the parking lot to my car. Oh how many months I had looked forward to this moment! I could not wait to be without constraints, and to do whatever I wanted to do! No alarms, no rules; no office politics – I was free!!
Fast forward months later: I wake up in the mornings full of anxiety, with no real plan for the day, and feeling like I had made a huge mistake – It was as though I entered an alternative universe where everything looked the same, but everything was also very different. HOW DID I GET HERE??!!
Many people enter retirement and enjoy every single moment. And yet there are many others who are challenged with the loss of routine and working relationships; adjustments to friends who retire and move away, or we struggle with isolation, or feel that we have lost all sense of purpose.
I have been all over the place on my retirement journey. I used to feel bad about it, and to be honest, it isn’t always easy to share how we feel with other people, and especially with retirees who seem to handle the transition so well. There is an unreasonable expectation that it should be easy. Maybe it should be – but the truth is, it can be incredibly difficult.
Retirement, requires intention and focus. Wendy Fisher shared some very sobering words with me during our recent coaching session. She said it is a shame that we give our whole lives to our work and to family, and a host of other obligations, and then not thoroughly enjoy this season of retirement – it is meant to be a good season, not one lost to depression, isolation, loneliness, and having no sense of purpose.
Somewhere along the line, I made the decision to stop waking up with anxious thoughts about my day – I stopped isolating, especially from people who really love me, and I stopped waiting for somebody to show up with a magic wand to make this retirement journey make sense. It is a journey that NONE of us have taken before, so it is important that we be gentle with ourselves along the way, and let go of how did we get here, and replace that question useless question with I am so very grateful to be here. I have not arrived by any means, but I cannot afford to stay stuck, and I also hope you feel the same way about this season of your life.
My story, just like yours will continue to unfold, and I am looking forward to sharing it with you. I do hope you also share your journey with us. We are here to help each other along the way, so let’s do this – because we can! The best is yet to come!