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Living Your Best Life

Visited a life-long friend yesterday – a friend who has always inspired me.  I will never let her go, if she’ll have me, because I am uplifted and filled with thoughts, ideas, motivation every time I spend time with her.  If you stumble upon someone like that on your journey, hold on!  That is a relationship worth nurturing.  It is a teacher brought into your life for the long term.  It can, as it has done for me, help guide and inform your entire existence, for the better. 


We three couples went to my friend’s beach house for lunch.  It was supposed to be good weather….and to me, it absolutely was spectacular because it sprinkled, sun showered, poured, and warmed us in pure, bright summer sunshine.  We joked we’d had a full year of New England weather in an afternoon.  Her home includes two walls of glass doors, flung completely wide to let in the breeze coming off the ocean and swishing all the grasses (now many more to protect against recent coastal flooding) just in front of the deck.  It is a perfect home to come in, go out, come in, go out – still feeling as though we were outside even when rain forced us inside.  Her space is light, airy, book and art filled, comfortable.  I looked and listened to my friends, but every minute or two, I just looked at that ocean, those clouds, that blue, blue sky. 


I had the two girls to brunch at my home a few months earlier, and they were so eager to know about retirement.  Both of them were still working and wanted the lowdown.  What was it like?  How was I doing?  What was I doing? 


(A neighbor said to me a few months after I retired, “I think of you all day.”  I said, “You do???   Why?”  She said, “I’m just wondering what you’re doing as I’m bored working, typing away.”  My other neighbor said, “Just look out your window!  You'll see she’s sitting on the lawn, reading a book!!!”)


Yesterday at the beach, one of the girls reminded me what I told them at brunch.  She smiled and asked, “Still living your best life?”


My answer, an emphatic, yes!

Still living my best life indeed, nearly one year out. 


I have a couple friends about to retire and this conversation inspired me to want to share what the first year of retirement has been like for me, in the hopes it might prompt others to intentionally plan for what’s coming for them.  Because my happiness, contentment and gratitude are seemingly deeper than they’ve ever been, I thought it might be worth talking to you about it in the hopes it helps others on the cusp. 


Firstly, I’d say don’t wish for retirement too young.  Enjoy your life, now, every day.  Don’t wish your life away.  Be proud of your work.  Be productive.  Word hard.  Make good decisions, right for you.


But when the home stretch begins to come into your sightline, then pause, reflect, prepare with intention.


I realize we are all different – in our principles and values, how we like to spend our time, what brings us joy.  I would recommend thinking ahead, a year to two or five, about what these things mean to you.  Start to visualize what a life without work could allow you to do for these realms of importance to you.  How could you enjoy and grow, every day – not “retire” but “transition” in a way that brings your authenticity further out?  It may include new work for you, or part time work, or volunteering.  I thought I might want to take some part time work, in time, but do something creative and completely different than my 40-year career.  After a year, I’m thinking no.  I don’t think I want to “work” in a traditional way, but who knows?  The beauty is that in retirement, you can take everything slowly and continue to change/transition year-by-year or week-by-week, however you want, for whatever feels right for you.   

I’m kind of a slow burn.  I think a lot, plan, visualize.  I’m deeply rooted and steady.  I’m not spontaneous.  I’m a decision maker but make my decisions with a significant amount of thought and research.  I’ve learned this way of being allows me to make the right decisions for me, over and over.  If I feel something strongly (like “it’s time to retire”), I know I should proceed.  I know, after so many years of life, that I’ve done my research and planning and my body and mind know what is best for me.  I trust myself.  I trust my decisions. 


I feel this first year of retirement has been an exhale for me. 


I’m still doing that long, deep, healthy exhale a year out.  I’m de-briefing from all I’ve done, all I've been.  For 40 years of work, I hurried, inhaling, inhaling, inhaling.  Rarely exhaling.  Rarely lying down on the earth to let its energy and life force connect with me, calm me, ground me. 


When people asked ahead what I’d do in retirement?  Would I travel?  Write more books?  Volunteer? 


My answer was:  I want to live simply and beautifully

Some would pause, tilt their head, smile.  Some would say with a sense of calm:  I like that. 


What did I mean by that? 


Well, from all I’ve read since I was a girl, I knew, if not in words early on, that I needed to be content with an ordinary day.  I knew my life was up to me – no one else.  I didn’t look to someone else to love me, heal me, save me, care for me, lead me, make me happy.  Amazingly, I have all of that in my life, in spades!  But as a young woman, I knew I was responsible, accountable, for whatever I might have in my life, whatever I might feel.  I choose happiness. 


I have lived my life enjoying the beauty of nature, every day, all seasons.  I knew I didn’t have the wealth for lots of stuff – but interestingly, for me, that absolutely would not have been my best life.  In being honest with myself and grounded, I discovered early on that my choices for how to spend my days, what to read, what to listen to, who to spend time with were true and right for me.  All of that has led me to a place where, at retirement, I am accustomed to living intentionally, simply and beautifully – walking every day rain or shine, reading, writing, sitting in nature and just being – looking, listening, thanking the Universe for the beauty and wonder that is all around me.  I go to the Farmer’s Market.  I tend my home.  I tend to my family.  I cook.  I listen to inspiring podcasts by the mentors/teachers meaningful to me. I fill my days with good.


This simple life, simple days of just being grateful for the sunshine or snow or rain – or the wondrous weather at the beach house – suit me to a tee.  I have never felt so calm, content, grateful, at peace.  I feel healthy, strong.  I’ve slowed down everything. 


My motto used to be:  Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today.  As a full-time working mom, it had to be. 


Now my motto is:  Why do today what I can put off until tomorrow?  Tomorrow will be fine.  Don’t rush.  Don’t stress.  



Breathe in…..but then breathe out, deeply. 


Life force.  Life energy. 


When your retirement begins to draw near, I hope you’ll plan ahead for what your best life will look like.


Then, I hope you’re able to live it. 


Retiring with no regrets, no “wish-I’d-dones,” your ducks in order and some of your hard-earned dollars saved, is truly wonderful.  I am beyond grateful to be right here, right now…. my best life. 




2 則留言

Stacey Godwin
Stacey Godwin
4 days ago

Kim, I don’t know if you remember me from your working/AUG days, but I’m so glad to hear you are living your best life in retirement! What an inspiring post to read, I’m hoping my retirement is only a few years away. I wish you all the best as you continue on this amazing journey!

Kim Kalicky
Kim Kalicky
4 days ago

Stacey, yes I remember you! I loved working & talking with you! AUG and the Advent conferences were fantastic. I still have a lot of friendships. When your time comes, you will love retirement! Our careers were great, learned a lot, but retirement comes well-earned! Do keep in touch & thx so much for reaching out!

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