Present Tense

On retirement and fear….

9473170550_a8d06952b6_hI’ve been retired for over 6 weeks now. Calling it retirement still grates on me. I prefer ‘not working’. Retirement sounds so old and final and stodgy. It also sounds sort of clinical and legal to me. Like some sort of ‘status’ that you use on government forms or something.

So, I think I will stop using that word for my situation. Starting over: I stopped working for money about 6 weeks ago and I’m holding up just fine. No regrets and I honestly don’t miss the job. I thought that I would. I had a sneaking suspicion that I would miss certain aspects of my life as a radio host; that I would long to weigh in on current events or issues. I wondered if my opinions would back up like a clogged drain pipe, causing a messy flood of unspent energy.

Nope. I don’t even keep up with current events anymore. I don’t have to. Seems that the world keeps spinning whether I know what’s happening or not. In a related story, it keeps spinning without my valuable opinions being shared on the radio every morning. I suspected as much, but the truth is, I don’t care and it doesn’t bother me.

I would love to know the percentage of what we fear will happen, actually happens. In other words, all of the stuff that we worry about, ponder and over-analyze; the ‘what ifs’ that keep us from doing what we want to do.

Ever since I announced to friends, family and then publicly, that I was leaving my job, I heard this drumbeat: “What will you do? I would lose my mind. I have to work. What about money? Won’t you go crazy? You’re such a go-getter; you’ll need to find something to ‘do’.”

That is fear talking. Not my fears, other people’s. I thought about those things because I’m a worrier and a planner, although I’ve let go of a lot of that stuff. People who immediately voiced those ‘concerns’ to me, are afraid to make the changes that they long for in their lives.

Sound familiar? Do you often find yourself in the hell of “What if (fill in the blank)”? You cannot move forward on your life’s path if you are paralyzed by those what ifs. They are fear grabbing you by throat or the neck or the heels, keeping you from fulfilling your needs or dreams.

Your life will never be perfect. EVER. There will never be a perfect time to jump off that cliff into the unknown. That’s just not how it works. Sometimes you have to jump and see where you land. Do it while you have time because none of us are guaranteed anything in this life. Sudden changes can happen in an instant and sometimes those catalysts are just what we need to get off our asses and change our direction.

But, catalysts are messy and stressful. How about you do things on your terms?

That is what I’m the most proud of regarding my status. I left on my terms. I moved forward on my timeline. I left on top. Now, I’m not looking back.

So, yes. Retirement is great. Thanks for asking.

January 6, 2015 Posted by | Musings | , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

What am I gonna do?

retire sunriseI am freshly retired and since it is so fresh, I’m not quite sure how I feel about it. Right now, it’s mostly relief, mixed with a bit of anticipation and yes, some trepidation.

The trepidation arises from the hundreds of people who have asked me, “What are you gonna do once you stop working?”. My response for months has been that I just wanna ‘be’ for awhile and see what bubbles up. I’m here to tell you that for many people, that is not an adequate response.

“But, what will you do. Will you travel? Will you work? Won’t you get bored”? Honestly. I. Don’t. Know. That’s the point of this next phase. I will watch and wait and see what fizzes up. I’m giving up the planning/forcing/controlling urge to have the next 20 years mapped out.

After a few days of these question, I started telling people that I’m going to watch Breaking Bad on Netflix and that’s as far as I’ve looked into my future . Many laughed; many just looked at me with pity.

We live in a culture that requires a 5 year plan, a mission statement and a jam-packed schedule. Busy, busy, busy! We are judged on our accomplishments, much more so than our happiness or emotional well-being. Which could be why so many people looked at me with such concern when I said I have no real plans.

They worry that I will be ‘bored’ and I probably will; as if that’s the cardinal sin of our time. But, what’s boredom? Time with yourself? Solitude? A chance to sit and think and reflect, without having to be going somewhere or doing something or just filling time?

I will adapt. I will develop new routines and interests and paths. I have no doubt that I will miss my radio family and the laughter we shared every morning. I will miss the forum that the radio show gave me to voice my opinions and perspectives, but that energy will be channeled elsewhere and there is a very good chance that I will find something even more fulfilling.

So, here I am. Freshly retired and I have no freakin’ idea what I will do today, other than breathe.

November 23, 2014 Posted by | Musings | , , , , , , , , , , | 43 Comments

Let’s run away…..

running awayI was standing in the bathroom the other day drying my hair, when an idea hit me.  I’ve had some of my greatest epiphanies and revelations in the bathroom.  Doing something mindless allows my brain to wander down unbeaten paths.  I was thinking about a time years ago when I was between jobs. My husband and I packed up the car and headed west.

We had no real plan or agenda in mind;  just a general idea that we wanted to explore Montana, Wyoming and Idaho, so we grabbed the dogs and a few maps and wandered for about 3 weeks.  It was freeing and fun and undisciplined and as I mused about it the lightening bolt struck:  I want to run away from home.

There are so many things in life that can suck you dry.  Jobs, kids, marriage, parents, finances, health issues;  you’re not quite sure who you are or what you want.  It’s not a sign of weakness to admit this; it’s human.  It’s a sign that you’re about to grow.

Sometimes we need to walk away; to step back and break the monotony of ‘this is how we do things’.  We get up at the same time, drive to work at the same time, sit at our same desk, eat our same lunch, rush to meet our family obligations, plunk down in front of the tv/computer, fall into bed. And so it goes.

In the academic world sabbaticals are accepted and encouraged.  It could be a month or a couple of years, but your job is there when you get back.  What a fabulous perk, eh?  I have a great job, but I crave some time away;  away from the screwy morning radio hours; away from having to always have a perspective or an opinion; away from having to talk, talk, talk.

A sabbatical gives us a chance to check back in with ourselves. A chance to leave behind the rigid, soul-sucking routines that much of our lives can become.  A chance to re-connect with what feeds our soul or excise what doesn’t.  A chance to recharge the batteries of our passion and reassess our strengths and weaknesses.

I know it seems like pure fantasy; who can really just walk away from work to screw around and ‘find themselves’?  Not many of us and that’s a shame.  Imagine how much more productive we would be?  Nothing clears the mind and creates focus like getting away from the stuff that drives us crazy.  You can have the best job in the world, but there are times that you just want to walk away and regain some perspective on the rest of your life.  It’s nearly impossible to do that with deadlines, obligations, meetings, budgets or ratings banging at the back of your head.

So, let’s be practical.  Most of us can’t march into the boss’s office and announce that we’d like to take a couple of months off to recharge and come back as a more committed, valuable employee.  But, a girl can dream, eh?  Maybe it’s as minor as shuffling our routine, adding a walk at lunch time, changing our diet, committing to a good book in lieu of TV, spending more time with friends, saying no to an extra (and overwhelming) task.

Back to my earlier sabbatical years ago that inspired this post.  I left a great job and explored other opportunities for a year or two and then recommitted myself to my radio career and achieved greater success than I ever imagined.  Without that break, that time away to reassess, it never would have happened.  It was a big risk that paid great rewards.  Lesson learned.

December 4, 2012 Posted by | Musings | , , , , , | 9 Comments

Do you know when to leave?

I was chatting with a friend recently about her job.  Like me, she has been on the radio for many years, but she finds herself in a situation where more and more is demanded of her, with very little input and no extra money.  She’s been moved around, her duties change monthly and she generally feels unappreciated and sorta bummed.  I get it and probably a lot of you do, too.  She is struggling with what to do next.

She asked me how I managed to thrive in my radio career, amidst rampant downsizing, consolidations, syndication and sadly, instances of horrible management and I thought about it.  First, I  learned to put myself in situations where I fit in, where I could grow and learn and hopefully, thrive.  But, I think the most important thing that I’ve learned over the course of my almost 30 year career, is to know when to leave.  Know when it’s time to move on.

The more I thought about it, the more I’m convinced that it’s one of the hardest things for most of us to do and yet it’s probably the most important.  Knowing when to leave.  It doesn’t just apply professionally, it applies to life in general.

I’ve left jobs that were obviously not a good fit, but the bigger leaps were when I left jobs where I was well-compensated and successful; when people looked at me and said “are you nuts”? I’ve moved from cities that I liked and the same question arose from friends and colleagues.  Logically, I knew that I was in a decent situation; I was leaving something that was working on some level, but it was no longer working for me, at my deepest level.  Full disclosure: I’ve also been told (okay, I was fired) to leave various jobs and to be honest, that worked out for the best, too.

I’ve heard from a lot of people lately who are worn out, stressed out, freaked out and they are stuck.  Stuck in the idea that they HAVE to make their current life work, because there is no alternative.  That it’s better to be in a horrible situation that you know, rather than leave it behind to seek out a better one, because maybe that better one isn’t out there.  I’ve used my career as an example, but it could be another part of your life.  Relationships, habits, reactions, friends, job, money, etc.  Whatever isn’t working in your life.  You don’t have to stick with it.

Sit and ponder your life and your choices and your decisions.  How many times have you made a tough choice that scared the crap out of you and then six months later, you look back thinking, “I wish I would have done that sooner.  Why did I wait so long”?  Sound familiar?  YES.  We instinctively KNOW when it’s time to leave, to move on, to move forward and yet it can be so hard to listen to our inner voice that’s telling us we’re not in the best place.  That inner voice that manifests as stress, restlessness, sleeplessness, anxiety, over eating, over drinking, frustration, sickness.

And think about this:  maybe moving forward is actually circling back.  Back closer to your family, back to what you originally wanted to do or be until life steered you in another direction; back to the healthier, more relaxed lifestyle that you had before you had kids/money/obligations/status, etc.  Maybe it’s time to ask yourself, “Is it time to leave”?

June 24, 2012 Posted by | Musings | , , , | 12 Comments


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