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Focus Pocus

May 22, 2015

Had interesting conversations with a friend today about how, in retirement, we spend our time. This is an oft-occurring conversation these days with friends who are here. Or with friends who are near here. Predictably and right on schedule, it seems, I am that person who sits around cafes in town with other similarly aged friends talking about retirement; end of life stuff; the quirks, surprises and frustrations of health and aging (I am nowhere near at peace with sagging skin).

(Old people conversations happen when I’m not talking about my teenage kid.)

To the question of post-work work:

For my part, we’re looking at a person (me) who went from a very high profile job where I was very engaged in community and civic life, to a post-work life that borders on reclusive. Not reclusive in the sense of not leaving the house–that would be depressing–but in the sense of choosing volunteer activities that are very low profile, quiet, behind the scenes, in some cases anonymous. Avoiding boards, avoiding organized community groups…generally avoiding the spotlight.

I mean, what’s that? I thrived on the spotlight. I thrived on being at the center of things. Thrived on being a go-to person. My identity was all wrapped up in my job, and my place in the community, in my field.

I think I am slowly, finally seeing the pattern, and I think I am now beginning to put together the whys. (It’s taken, oh, about ten years to see this.)

Shall continue to unravel this little situation.

Shifting gears…

I will say that it can be a nice blank slate to work with… retirement. A nice time to consider your gifts (yes, gifts), interests, passions, needs–and channel those into work and activities that are useful and fulfilling. A few days ago, I was walking, thinking, and I started to put together one of those  what would the perfect day/week/year look like?  things. What would inspire me? What would I feel most pleased about doing and/or accomplishing? Where would I do it and with whom? Who matters, what matters? What do I want to leave behind?

Of course these are necessary and illuminating exercises. (That must lead to something besides a list.)

Adele and I talked, too, about what compels us to do professional work for no pay (in many cases a legitimate choice), or in some cases for very little recognition. Those latter gigs can be a bit weird. Telling, in any case.

Adele has always been someone who, at times uncomfortably, cuts to the chase. If nothing else, she calls the question, forces you (well, me) to look a little harder at your (my) choices and be clearer and more certain about what you’re (I’m) doing. And why.

We all need friends like that.

~ ~

So, in addition to focusing on life, I’m also still having trouble with the focus on my camera. Adele was willing to be my subject for some experimentation on settings and whatnot, in order to get to the bottom of this, which I didn’t. But I did end up with a few not too blurry photos worth posting.

This one’s marginally fuzzy:

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This one’s pretty clear… even shows her cool turtle ring.

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2 Responses to “Focus Pocus”

  1. aquasoul Says:

    Those are GREAT questions to ruminate on Kari. Like who’s important, what’s important, what’s my ideal day like, where do I want to spend my time and energy, and all those post-retirement questions now that we get to choose a bit more freely how our days are spent. I still miss the working life a lot because…I just do. But getting cancer slaps those questions right upside your face with even more of an urgency so that’s kind of my new job — making sure I figure out the answers. And hey I’m still making LISTS so if you stumble on a better way, please let me know! Although today I made great strides because I pushed back on a panhandler who I decided was wasting my precious time after getting mildly annoyed with me for suggesting (compassionately, at first 🙂 that she take her kids (who she was teaching to panhandle) to the county to get some help. Ruthless! And boy that felt good.

    • Kari Says:

      Compassion shows up in many ways. Sometimes the most compassionate thing to do is say no. Sometimes turning compassion on ourselves is what’s called for. We have to trust ourselves and follow our hearts. Sounds like you did that.

      And lists? You betcha.


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