|BWS Stories - "If I Could Save Time In A Bottle"...Embracing Our Authentic Selves|
"If I Could Save Time In A Bottle"...Embracing Our Authentic Selves - Coming Into "My" Time
Kathy Wilhelms lives in Northern California with her two cats. She works at FedEx Freight as an Executive Assistant to the CEO and has two children and 4 grandchildren. She and her older daughter co-wrote a monthly article for the www.raisingadaughter.com website.
Coming Into "My" Time
I feel the need to race on. After all, 50 has come and gone. I’m approaching retirement, or at least beginning to think seriously about it. Yet, with that, I feel scared and stuck. I read a marvelous book, entitled, My Time, by Abigail Trafford. This book includes stories about those of us who feel “jolts” along the way in our later years and decide to do something about them. To change or quit a job, to travel, to pursue an interest long put on hold.
I too have felt those jolts. My life is coming to some kind of crescendo. I feel an increased tempo, a flash of light, a window or maybe a door opening ever so slightly. I want to take life by the horns. I don’t want to get to the end of my life and have nothing but regrets - because that’s what I’m filled with right now. Regrets – that I didn’t get a college degree; regrets – that I didn’t wait until I was in my late twenties or early thirties to get married and have children; regrets – that I even married the second time; regrets – that I am “only” an executive assistant. And yet the prospect of getting to “my time”, that time of life that is truly all mine when I retire, scares me to death!
I still don’t know what I want to do “when I grow up”. I’m afraid I’ll miss “it” again – whatever “it” is. I’m afraid I’m past risk-taking and fun-having. And I’m not even 60 yet! I want to embrace my later years like I’ve never embraced anything before in my life. But - how? Life coaching, reading self-help books ad nauseam? What, what? I feel as though I’m careening out of control and my life will turn down a path that will be another dead end. I just can’t let that happen.
I wanted to turn this fear into healthy self-introspection. I wanted to write about who I am – journaling, if you will. So, the first step I took was to go on a retreat. It was a women’s retreat of silence where the only time talking was allowed was during the lecture/writing sessions. It was a wonderful time to get off the merry-go- round of daily pressures and routines and look deep within.
During one of the small group discussions, the talk turned to actions we could take in our lives. The piece I wrote, prompted one woman in my group to say, “wow, you’re really an action person”. I have to admit, that gave me pause. So I tucked the thought away so I could mull it over later.
Another part of exploring “my time” is how much I feel stuck. Stuck – because I can’t afford to sell my oversized house and buy a smaller one right now. Stuck – not being able to move away because my dad is still living here and I don’t want to leave him alone. Stuck – in a job that gives me very little fulfillment, but provides the security I need so I CAN retire.
I was sharing these thoughts with my group at the retreat. And, out of the blue, another woman said to me, “maybe “stuck” is where you’re supposed to be right now.”
Those two statements really hit home for me. After digesting these thoughts for a while, I came up with a small revelation which has helped me to take a saner look at my approaching retirement years. I decided that maybe “being” is better than rushing around “doing” right now. Maybe by being, I will be more receptive to ideas and input from people and circumstances around me, so when I am “doing” it will be the result of introspection and reinforcement. And as for being “stuck”, I also realized that maybe at this point in my life, I am right where I need to be to receive the “jolts” that will come my way and be able to decide to keep an idea or wait for more understanding.
Life is certainly a process. It’s a flowing stream of thoughts, inputs and circumstances. To “be” is to act as a leaf being carried by a stream’s natural movement, rather than a stone that impedes the water’s flow.
So, take heart over-50 ladies! It’s not over and the best is really yet to come! Embrace yourself, your age, your exploration. See you in “my time!”