As I look out my window this morning, I am struck by the sight of a blanket of leaves covering the ground. The foliage still on the trees is a brilliant array of oranges, yellows and reds. I feel the chill in the air and know that it is time to pack away my summer clothes and prepare for winter.
I have been very aware lately that my body and spirit are in a state of resistance. I do not want to let go of summer. I am fighting against an embrace of fall because I know that winter will be quick to follow…and it is the cold and gray of winter that I dread.
My fighting this transition from summer to fall started me thinking about how we also fight the seasons of our lives. You know, the times that we never imagined creeping up on us so quickly, like retirement and aging. Maybe you are nodding your head and thinking just what I am. “Where did the time go?”
In truth, the seasons, Fall, Winter, Summer and Spring have their own flow, year after year. We may experience them as going slowly or flying by. We may feel stalled or teased by winter days that won’t go away or that breath of spring that comes prematurely, only to disappoint, because winter is not done with us.
How does this translate to the seasons of our lives? How do we embrace our current season, especially if it is a painful one? This month we take a look to see what there is to discover and embrace about Retirement and Aging.
The season of retiring is about reshaping our self identity. When we no longer define ourselves in terms of what we do…then who are we? How do we let go of what has been such a central part of our life for so long? Any time we are in that letting go process, the first step is grieving the loss of what was. When we have done the work of grieving, we ready ourselves to think of what new possibilities there can be.
These possibilities can be found by looking inside ourselves to form a picture of what we have brought to our work, how that has served us well or not and what we have found the most fulfilling during our working years. With these clues, a vision of what might encourage new growth and discovery for us can take root. We are inviting a season of spring, with its promise of rebirth to take root.
How we decide to connect to others and to find meaning in those connections can take many forms. Volunteering, friends, family, new ventures and activities can open up growth opportunities that we never imagined. I can personally attest to that!
Women Reshaping Lives was created from the process that I have been talking about. My journey has challenged me and brought me great joy! It has been scary, overwhelming, awesome and wonderful! I have also been able to explore new activities and enjoy time with family and friends that had been limited by the confines and demands of my previous work.
Seeing and feeling our own aging is frightening and daunting. In a society that so highly values youth and youthful appearance, how can we accept our lines, wrinkles and aches and pains that come with getting older?
Fears of illness, pain and our very mortality can overwhelm and overshadow the embracing of this season of our lives. Worry over not knowing what may be in store for us can become so predominant that we obsess over that future and miss our present moments.
Look inside to find your sense of hope and faith. Open your eyes and all of your senses to be in the present with mindfulness and appreciation. Taking care of ourselves as best we can, in mind, body and spirit allows us to embrace our lives in this season.
Can you appreciate the wisdom gained from your life experiences? Look for ways to share and draw upon that wisdom. I find myself much more comfortable in myself than when I was in those earlier years of searching for who I was and wanted to be.
Whatever the current season of your life is, bring understanding, love and self compassion to it. Feel what happens and see how it has the capacity to open up new discoveries and joy for you.