Articles

Retirement: Stepping into a New Stage in Life

© 2019 Brenda Dineen | Reprinting permission with credit to author

wood-bench-986347_1920

The times have changed in retirement land.  As recently as a generation ago, retirement was quite scripted: people worked all their life—often at one job—retired at 65, got their pension and a gold watch.  Then they were sent out to pasture. Just before his 64th birthday, my father retired after working 29 years in the civil service.  He settled into declining age and died when he was 72.

Baby Boomers and those coming up behind us have much bigger hopes and expectations for our future lives.  We are a generation who have lived with optimism, some of us with a strong vision for our future. Many of us have taken care of our health and can expect to live longer than our parents did.  Life expectancy is now much longer for both men and women.  We will retire and go into our elder years in different ways from our parents and grandparents. We have always wanted more and better, and we believe we can create it.

What does retirement mean to you?  Does it signal a time of freedom and relaxation?  A time of not having to work any more?  Or are you fearful of dropping into an abyss or a void, with no purpose in your life?

In the past, our ideas of retirement included these thoughts:  end of work life, being put out to pasture, being put on a shelf, losing a place of meaning and significance in society.

Nowadays, there is a huge range of opinions and views. Some people avoid the word ‘retirement’ and instead are using terms like ‘reinvention’, ‘renewal’, or ‘reengagement’.   I think we will be hearing words like this more.

Do you embrace retirement with optimism? Or do you dread the thought of leaving your work world and feel uncertain about what life will bring?

For many, retirement signals freedom. Freedom from the work world, and new opportunities to do what you want. Many people can’t wait to retire so they can finally do the things they really love.

Here are some suggestions for people at different stages:

Not yet retired?

If retirement is far away, you may be postponing thinking about it.  If your retirement is within 10 years, you are wise to begin planning for it now. Certainly you need a financial plan long-term.  How will your support yourself for what could be an extended life beyond your work years?

If you are within 5 years of retirement, you need to have a very concrete plan, including finances, life style and overall vision of your new life. Do not postpone making this plan.  It is key to having a satisfying retirement.

Beyond a financial plan, you have to think about your new life. What do you want it to look like? Who will you be with and where will you be living?  Are there interests you want to pursue that you don’t have time for when you are working full-time?

You may be worried about what you are going to do with your life when you retire. If you are totally immersed in your work life, you may not be cultivating other interests.  This is a mistake that some people make: they do not plan for what interests they will pursue and what they will do with their time when they retire.

Many people are postponing retirement because they do not have the resources to support themselves. Not everyone has a pension or adequate savings. We are now seeing many people working part-time or full-time in their 60s and 70s because of this.

Already retired?

Hopefully you are feeling really happy with your new life. What are you enjoying? Do you have a sense of purpose?  If not, how will you find one?

Many people go through a transition in the first year or so of retirement. Some feel empty or lost after having such a full life in the work world and feel a void in their life.  Have you experienced this?

One woman said to me: “When I left my retirement party I felt like I was driving off a cliff.” It can be a wrenching adjustment for some people when they leave their work permanently.

Many others are very happy to have retired, and adjusted to their new-found freedom.  They are busy with travelling, gardening, book clubs, house renovations, grandchildren, taking courses, and having new adventures.  The possibilities are endless. One man said to me: “I’ve been so busy since I retired, I don’t know how I ever worked full-time.”

It is important to find a purpose in life when you retire.  Contemplate these questions:  What is my life about now?  What do I still want to contribute? What do I look forward to when I get up in the morning?

Never will retire?

There are people who never want to retire because they absolutely love their work and feel called to continue to express their passion and creativity until the end of their days.  This includes artists, actors, writers and others.  This is what actor Christopher Plummer says about retirement:  “Retirement is death. Absolute death.” Plummer says he want to continue to do what he loves until the very end. “That would be a wonderful way to go, just dropping dead on the stage.”

Whatever time of life you are at, take stock. Do you have a vision of your life that is positive and fulfilling?  If there are obstacles, ask yourself what you need to overcome them. Make a plan for your life that you are excited about. Reach out and ask for support when you need it.

I have described a range of responses to retirement. It is important to be true to yourself and what you want in life, and not to compare yourself with others.

I would be happy to hear your retirement stories, whatever stage you are at.

When you feel confident about your life plans, you are on the right track. May you find peace and contentment in your life.

Warm wishes,

Brenda

“Helping you navigate through the second half of life with clarity, vision and purpose”

To contact Brenda directly you can e-mail her at: brenda@brendadineen.com
or call: (604) 435-9400 for a FREE 20 minute phone consultation.

Ageism: A Prejudice That Runs Deep

© 2019 Brenda Dineen | Reprinting permission with credit to author

Ageism-A-prejudice-that-runs-deep=Brenda-Dineen

“Know that you are the perfect age. Each year is special and precious, for you shall only live it once. Be comfortable with growing older.”
– Louise Hay

How life would be different in our world if each of us was comfortable with growing older. Just imagine, no pressure to be anything different from what you are right now. No need to deny your age. And celebrating whatever stage of life you are in right now. And each stage of life is honoured and valued. Perhaps we will be living like this in the future.

Your soul does not age. Your body does. We all grow older. All of life on our planet ages and changes.

When the Baby Boomers were young, age 30 was considered ‘old’. “Don’t trust anyone over 30” was a mainstream slogan when we were in our youth. After all, we were young, we were huge in numbers and we felt like we could take on the world. Imagine, 30 seemed old and untrustworthy. Until we turned 30 ourselves. Our generation grew up with a very strong ‘youth mindset’.

I remember my grandmother when she was 70. She was considered ‘old’ and at that age people were not expected to do much more. They were expected to decline. And not make much contribution. Life was all downhill from there. Widely-held expectations have always played a significant role in how we age.

Ageism is the most tolerated form of social prejudice. There are other forms of discrimination such as racism and sexism. These are frequently called out and named in mainstream media and politics. Ageism feels like there is something in the air that is uncomfortable but is never named.

There is widespread discrimination against older people. Just think about the word ‘old’. Old has a connotation of being useless, worn out, cast aside, something to be discarded. An old car. An old appliance. Old shoes. What about an old person? People don’t want to be labelled ‘old’.

There are many disparaging comments and words directed to older people “He’s over the hill” ‘She is a little old lady” “I’m having a senior moment”. So many words are condescending to older people, diminishing their value. These comments and attitudes are common. Why do we tolerate discrimination based on age?

One day my sister Claire took our mother to a restaurant. When the waitress came to the table she took Claire’s order, then she looked past Mum and asked Claire, “What does your mother want?” As if Mum could not speak up for herself. This kind of behaviour is quite common, making an assumption that an older person can’t express herself.

Many people begin to feel invisible as they age. Not acknowledged. Passed by. So many people in their older years feel they no longer have a purpose.

Our society is so obsessed with youth, that it can be a challenge to escape these pressures. We put a lot of stock in youth and youthful appearance. But the value is not for the soul, but for the youthful body and the youthful look. We are so immersed in ageism that we don’t even notice it is all around us.

We tend to deny aging. 60 is not the new 40. When we recognize the stage of life we are at, we can embrace what it holds for us: opportunities to learn and grow. Having a purpose that is meaningful is possible at every stage in life.

We have lost sight of the value of aging. Our judgments and preconceived ideas get in the way of seeing the truth in people. Each stage of life is a gift. For those who are retired, these years can be the best time of your life. If you keep physically fit and mentally sharp, you can accomplish new things. Instead of resisting the aging process, you can actually welcome and enjoy each new stage in life.

Try practicing these few exercises in the weeks ahead:

• Celebrate whatever stage of life you are in right now.

• Notice if you judge yourself or others as being old.

• Go out of your way to greet those who may be feeling invisible.

• Honour yourself and others equally, regardless of age.

If we don’t recognize our own value, and the value of those who are in their older years, where do we look for wisdom? Who are the wisdom-keepers and where are they? Our society needs to acknowledge and honour elders. Wisdom-keepers hold the depth of soul and experience.

Perhaps a big shift in letting go of ageism will begin with the current Baby Boomers. Our generation has always felt full of optimism, confident that we could change the world. We have always been innovators. Maybe we can take on this issue and begin to transform it in our time. Let’s liberate ourselves from outdated beliefs that restrict how we see ourselves and everyone else.

Warm wishes,

Brenda

“Helping you navigate through the second half of life with clarity, vision and purpose”

To contact Brenda directly you can e-mail her at: brenda@brendadineen.com
or call: (604) 435-9400 for a FREE 20 minute phone consultation.

Embracing the Aging Process

© 2012 Brenda Dineen | Reprinting permission with credit to author


The afternoon of life is a time to listen deeply to your heart.
– Carl Jung

Do you find yourself resisting the aging process? Are you fighting to hold on to your youth and perhaps pretending you are not getting older? Living in a youth-obsessed culture makes it difficult for many people to not only accept the aging process, but also to honour it.

How do you experience the aging process?

We are all aging. Our bodies are gradually changing and we are not as resilient as we once were. I had to have knee surgery and now I cannot run or jog. This is a loss.

Most of us, especially Baby Boomers, have been pretty conscientious and have taken care of our health over the years. However, we find we can’t halt the signs of aging. This is a challenge, living in our youth-oriented culture. We are urged to fight the aging process. Products are marketed as “anti-aging.” That’s like marketing “anti-life.” This is resisting what is.

There is overwhelming pressure from the media and advertising to look youthful. Advertising and selling products bring in big profits. There is no immediate monetary gain from wisdom and experience. Yet here’s something to contemplate. Money cannot buy these gifts: wisdom, life experience, perspective, deep insight and knowingness. These are treasures to be cherished.

A challenge we face is to find these inner treasures that we do have and to feel good about ourselves as we notice our outer appearance changes.

How do we talk about aging?

We speak about aging in these terms: a curse, a loss, a burden, a defeat, even something to lie about. Aging is given a bad rap. In traditional cultures, old people are the elders, the carriers of wisdom. They are respected. Unfortunately, we have completely lost this in our culture. This is a deep wound in our culture that is not acknowledged or dealt with.

Aging is not a disease. Aging is a natural process. Our generation can turn the tide of “anti-aging” into the deeper understanding that as we age, we achieve personal wholeness. In this second half of life, we have many gifts to share and life experience to pass on. We definitely have choices about how we are going to be living in this stage of life.

What you need to have a healthy second half of life:

*Eat well and have an exercise program that works best for you. Stay active.

*Cultivate nurturing relationships and friendships.

*Keep your mind sharp by trying something new.

*Meditate or find ways to calm and relax your body and your mind.

*Learn to accept what is happening instead of fighting it.

*Let go of judgment and criticism. You will feel much lighter.

*Bring laughter and joy into your day.

*Maintain a positive sense of yourself.

A study at Yale University found that older people with more positive self-perceptions of aging lived an average of 7.5 years longer than those with less positive self-perceptions of aging, even after other factors were taken into account.

Discover what gives your life meaning:

Why do you like to get up in the morning? What gives you the most energy? When you find the keys to these questions, you can start to embrace this time of life, and discover a purpose in living.

There are many treasures to be found at this time of life. When we were younger, we were so focused externally: education, career, and family.

Now we have the time and space to:
– become more reflective
– appreciate and share our gifts
– have creative pursuits
– commit to lifelong learning

Can you find the inner beauty and gifts that you are yours? Can you feel good about yourself as you notice your outer appearance changes? Perhaps we can all find comfort in knowing there will be many of us in old age. The Baby Boomers comprise by far the largest generation and we will be going into our elder years together. We are a big cohort that can support and encourage each other on this further journey through the second half of life.

Find some peace and contentment exactly where you are right now.
This will be much more fulfilling than purchasing a jar of anti-wrinkle cream.

Please reach out for additional support by calling for a free 20 minute phone consultation with Brenda 604-435-9400.

Is This My Body?

© 2011 Brenda Dineen | Reprinting permission with credit to author

I first injured my knee in 2003. I was jogging on a treadmill and noticed pain in my knee. The pain didn’t go away that night, but I went back to the gym the next day. “What me? I don’t get injuries”, was my inner thinking. So of course, the pain increased.  I decided not to go to the gym for a while, but I didn’t seek medical help.  This is called Denial.  I refused to recognize what was going on.  I was lying on the couch complaining about my knee and my daughter suggested I go to a doctor or physiotherapist.  Which I did, two months later!  My inner voice was asking: Is this my body? Is this actually happening?

Later, in 2009 I was going to hot yoga classes, and I tore the cartilage in the same knee in a deep knee posture. Snap!  I felt it tear. That was the end of the hot yoga classes.  It took over a year to get the right specialist, an MRI and finally knee surgery in 2010.  Surgery did not fit my self-image!  I had to surrender and see that I had overtaxed my knees for a very long time.

I think many of us have similar experiences with our bodies and our health. We are operating from the past e.g. I used to easily run around the Sea Wall in Vancouver. And participate in the 10 km Sun Run.  Those days are gone for me. I cannot run now. I have had to let go of running. I now accept this and see what exercises I can do.  I have a bicycle and often bike along the river near where I live. I can use the elliptical trainer, the  bicycle and the rowing machine at the gym.  As some activities are no longer possible, we need to look at what works for us now.

It is frequently a challenge to accept the changes taking place in our bodies. Especially in our 50’s, 60’s and older, we all have some issues with our health.  Our skin is becoming dry and wrinkled, our hair thinning, our bones more brittle, our cardiovascular rate is changing and our senses are not as acute. Weight gain is common. We also experience the loss of beauty and can feel invisible as we are passed by.  We walk by a store window and see our reflection: Is this me? Is this my body?

One of the best things you can do for yourself at this time in life is come to ACCEPTANCE. That means, accepting what is happening: accepting the changes in your looks and your health. It’s when we resist change that we come into difficulty. Instead of saying “No, No, not me!” can you say: “I am willing to love and accept myself exactly as I am.”

We often hear advice about getting older:  Stay active!   This seems obvious, but I am finding it to be so true. I have always found exercise that I like and I notice at this time in my life that regular exercise is of great benefit. I feel wonderful riding my bike along the river. I enjoy Hatha yoga and stretching. I drink more water.  I respect my body more. When I was younger, I took it for granted. Now I treasure it more.

Contemplations:

  1. How has your body been a friend to you throughout your life?
  2. How has your body felt less than a friend? Has it betrayed you?
  3. How do you talk to your body? Do you appreciate it?

Thank your body for all the ways it serves you every day. Marvel at all its functions and its beauty. Take a moment to remember that all the systems of your body continue to function 24/7, without you consciously thinking about them. Finally, take three deep breaths and give thanks for being able to breathe.