Surprise! You’re Retired.

This time last year I had no idea I would be retired. Being told I could not return to work hit me hard. I’m 57 years old. Too young for the senior citizen crowd. Too old to be cool.

I’ve tried not to think about it. What do I want to do with this new chapter of my life? I’ve been told it’s important to stay busy. Stay social. Structure your schedule. Do something that matters to you.

The doctors say avoid stress and do what you can to keep pain to a minimum.

My Mom says, “We can go to lunch and the movies.”

Jolene says, “Just relax …and make dinner.”

Rehab says, Go to the gym 5 days a week.”

Therapist says, “Take good care of yourself.”

I’ve been at the gym 3 times a week. To me that is almost miraculous. I am going to Chair Yoga, taking a Mindful Meditation class about Aging and Wisdom, getting Acupuncture and trying to organize the house. I keep up with a ton of doctor’s appointments and testing. I want to volunteer but think I need to wait until I am physically stronger. (I was back in the hospital a couple weeks ago.) When the going gets really tough, I look at puppy videos online.

I’m bringing my scrubs to Goodwill. My cleaning lady is purging and organizing my cabinets. Everything is different now. I feel the need to change other stuff too. Nothing too crazy, maybe some new curtains or art. Definitely not a tattoo. Maybe I’ll trade in my car or join the Art Museum.

I guess this is what it feels like when people divorce or change careers. Change is hard. We all know that, but why is it so hard? Even good change can brings so much stress.  We fight like hell to keep things the same. We stay in bad marriages and bad jobs just to avoid change. We deny potential medical issues in an attempt to avoid changes that come with the care and treatment we really need.

They say Change is the only consistent thing in life. Nothing ever stays the same. I need to embrace that.  In my Meditation class this week we discussed a poem called The Guest House by a 13th century Persian poet, Rumi. It talks about our heart, our souls being like a Guest House. Whatever life hands you can be welcomed in with joy and love. I’m trying.

The Guest House –Rumi

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.