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Not This Life . . . That Life

Nothing is forever, it was true. - from Miss Jane, A Novel by Brad Watson
Nothing is forever, it was true. – from Miss Jane, A Novel by Brad Watson

I have not posted in a while. I couldn’t.

I lost my endeavor.  I didn’t feel like it.

Besieged is how I have felt. Priorities I carefully chose suddenly began to compete for my energy. The necessities of participating in life (and moments of trying to figure it out what was happening) made even the creative possibilities I set in motion impossible.

I was deprived of clarity.

It happens all of us. Life is like that.

So I began days not with a to-do list but no list at all.

The space that allowed was not my undoing but my deep privilege. It’s been 7 months.

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Ambushed by Desire

What hit me was an intense longing.

I wasn’t unhappy. In fact, life was good.

I live in an appealing place, in a house that sits beautifully on the water’s edge, with a man I love and respect who loves me back more. I bike, have friends, travel and cherish my relationship with my beautiful daughter and her family.

I had determined a path for my work in the future.

There was nothing not to like.

A simple invitation to a place I’d never been began my undoing.

It happened as I walked up a hill in a Mexican mountain town. This strong stir arrived with clear verbal intent. OMG, I want to live here.

I could have blamed the altitude.

“I want to shape my days in a different culture.  I want to better know individuals I’m meeting. I like this walk on dusty cobblestones in this old town where I buy beautiful flowers in the market for not a lot of money, sit in the square and listen to bells, and be the recipient of the shoe shine man’s smile as he deciphers my Spanish.”

(I also like daily living with a maid and gardener – both in the realm of possibility if you live in Mexico.)

I’ve had extended stays of 3 months in Nicaragua, Chile/Argentina, and Ecuador. But this was different. This was about long run – say a couple of years. A semi-permanent or maybe permanent, this to that.

Returning home, I gaze online at real estate in San Miguel de Allende. I have never returned from anywhere and done this.

Where did my longing come from? I do not know. It simply arrived.

I could have archived it. I did not.

It seems to me we can never give up longing and wishing while we are still alive. There are certain things we feel to be beautiful and good, and we must hunger for them. ― George Eliot
It seems to me we can never give up longing and wishing while we are still alive. There are certain things we feel to be beautiful and good, and we must hunger for them.
― George Eliot

Longing is Invitation

General malaise, discontent, envy and depression are signs of uneasiness with life.

I didn’t have those so this longing – this heartfelt desire to live differently– felt out of place.

In the last third of my life, I’ve had false starts and fruitless detours. But I had re-ordered and restored myself to an equilibrium that for sure didn’t need stirred up with a grand scheme of packing up and moving.

The idea does not please either my husband or my daughter.

Perhaps, I thought daily, this yearning feeling will go away.

Longing has sharp edges. Longing beckons and stabs.

In longing we move from the known to something we want that is unknown, to somewhere we may know little about and to lovers with whom we’ve spent little time.

Longing transforms a life. Longing can begin with a small inkling or a tiny notion. Longing can clang so loudly it hurts.

We have to be determined to block out noise of an unfulfilled whim or instinct. Perhaps you are good at this. Many of us are.

A good way to keep everything in check is to map out a linear life for your last third of living then relish that safe feeling. I get that.

But life should not feel like you have already arrived.

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You are 2/3rds Done

Perhaps, you think it’s crazy to harbor hopes and dreams in the last twenty years of life, let alone act on them.

I can’t honestly say I blame you. It complicates things and gets you all scaredy-cat.

Here’s what I know. I felt more in the middle or late-middle of life than toward the end. If you think you are half-way done with life, you could be kidding yourself. I was.

But if you are late-50s you are more like 2/3’s done.

This realization will shorten your orbit. (All this is without the disturbing speculation that your health and your death is out of your control.)

Get a good list of your unfulfilled desires up against a realistic timeline of your life that’s relatively small at this point and I guarantee you’ll be far less intimidated about changing up life.

I visited San Miguel four more times to look beneath my infatuation. Was I being ambushed by hype?

I took friends with me and watched as they never felt anything near my euphoria. Some liked it well enough. Others readily packed and won’t return.

Two people who clearly love the lives they created in this place provide solace.

One moved to San Miguel from Atlanta over ten years ago and vibrancy radiates through the ends of her short red hair. The other just sold a home in San Miguel and said, “It’s the worst mistake I’ve ever made.”

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That. I Want That.

Eventually I realize that intense longing has bored a hole into my good life more than once.

My longing moments always begin with Oh my god because they upend me:

  • OMG, I want get married. (1965 and again in 1981)
  • OMG, I’d like to bike the Pyrenees (ongoing)
  • OMG, I want to have a baby. (1969)
  • OMG, I have to go here. (inspired by pictures to a place I’d never heard of-  Oaxaca, Mexico – 1988)
  • OMG, I’ve got to leave this job and do something else. (early 90s)
  • OMG, I want to get in that sailboat and see how far I can sail it. (In my case, learn to sail it. – 2010)

Action ensued on all of these except for that biking trip to the Pyrenees which is a stretch for my capabilities but I’m not dismissing it. Modified, it could happen.

These longings turn out to be markers of change that made my life bigger and better.

But when you are a mature adult – again let’s say fifty-five or so – it’s a great deal easier to keep living the same life suffused with an understanding that you had your chances and this is what you got.

So you live the life you have.

Nothing wrong with that but it’s not how I’m going to do it.

The longing doesn’t feel out of place anymore. It feels grand.

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Post Script

Thanks to all of you who electronically or in person let me know that you missed my posts.

I am in thoughtful pursuit of getting my desires into reality. I continue to hold to fast to encouraging each of you to live deeply by sharing knowledge, experience, and wisdom from a firm foundation.

Expect shorter posts and a finished book.

I hope you will travel along with me and join in the conversation. I appreciate each one of you.


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Lost in Transition? Try the ‘Tough Cookie 100-Day Plan for Getting Unstuck’ (Over 30 Ideas)

Time keeps on telling me who to love, where to go. Time keeps on pushing me further on down the road. -- Lyrics from "Time" by Josh Rouse
Time keeps on telling me who to love, where to go. Time keeps on pushing me further on down the road. — Lyrics from “Time” by Josh Rouse

There are only two types of people in the world: people who do what they say they’re going to do when they say they’re going to do it, and people who don’t do what they say they’re going to do when they say they’re going to do it.

I am the first type. I do what I say I am going to do. Unless, of course, I’m stuck. I hate getting stuck.

All of us, despite best intentions or track records of follow through, often find we’re lost, confused, undecided, doubtful and ambiguous. We’re frozen in place in the larger context of life, even as we manage to look busy and ooze a pretend-kind of happy.

When it comes to inventing life – a new or continued career, different view out the window, ways to make money, different people to hang with, better focused choices, more engaged productivity – the whole darn thing is daunting.

We think about how we might change. We think how life could be even better. We think we should start thinking about our last third of life.

Time passes and we drift around in our thoughts.

It’s not you that’s the problem. It’s the process. (more…)

Posted in Craft a Post50 Lifestyle, Productive Longevity, Productivity, Self-Management, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Stuck? Confused? Can’t Find Your Late-in-Life Groove? You Need a ‘Tough Cookie’ Voice.

There is no old age. There is, as there always was, just you.                 -Carol Matthau
There is no old age. There is, as there always was, just you.
-Carol Matthau

Getting stuck in a life transition isn’t fun. Even smack in the middle of a lull when we feel something’s bound to come along to move us forward (we’re not sure what) is enough to make us think we missed a step we should have known about.

The situation prompts us to ask, “How did this happen to me?”

In the last two months I met three people baffled at their current lot in life who did want to talk (quietly) about being lost and stumped. They also disclosed how surprised they are to find themselves stupefied by the future.

With long and successful careers, each established firm future financial footing and chose traditional retirement in January of this year. If you think they were euphoric leaving the rat race behind to fill their Google calendars with what they wanted to do, you’d be right.

They were excited and exhilarated. But it didn’t last long. Their forays into freedom and wellbeing had a shelf life less than those onions you keep in a bin in your garage.

  • As a district manager of sales at Sears for over twenty years, Sara, 60, left in January when new management was at odds with her values. “It was time to go,” she said. By mid-March she’d done everything she ever wanted with a block of free time – clean out the garage, swim off Maui, paint the guest room, and visit old friends. “Now what am I supposed to do?” she asked. Friends tell her it’s time to volunteer but that doesn’t excite her at all. “I’m way off course, no idea what’s next and to be honest, a little dazed.”
  • John, 57, ended his 22 years as a school principal with a celebration. “I’m very pleased with my decision to retire,” he told me. “My heart just wasn’t in it anymore.” John said he was very restless after six months of not working and is concerned that his time ahead isn’t filled with more meaning. “I guess I’m shocked that I’d still like to work at something.” John also thinks about moving from Florida to Arizona. “I always dreamed of living in the desert.”
  • Penny, 59, left her position a small accounting firm in January then found the bliss of not working wore off in a mere 60 days. Her husband has no plans to retire. “He comes home from work full of things to talk about,” she said. Penny does yoga, goes to the cleaners and unloads the dishwasher. “It all makes a life that’s mighty uninteresting,” she whispered.

These spontaneous conversations with each individual at different social gatherings were clandestine in nature. Why? Because who wants to shout out, “Hey, come on over and hear me discuss how adrift, bewildered and stumped I am about what to do with my life.” (more…)

Posted in Productive Longevity, Productivity, Reconstuct Retirement, Self-Management, Uncategorized | 4 Comments