As plans for celebration of the holiday season are finalized and we gather with friends and relatives, it seems an appropriate time to reflect on the blessings of the past few months. While the human tendency might be to rhyme off the things that did not work out as planned — which for me included the unexpected death of my sister, personal health issues, and cancelled travel plans for retirement trips to Europe’s wine country and to the Amazon. However, there is more value in focusing on the life changes that have brought joy and a sense of gratitude.
So these are some of the blessings I will celebrate.
- Family — What can I say that expresses the gifts of a wonderful husband of 40 plus years, a marriage that brings continued excitement, happiness and fulfillment; and an adult son who is healthy, fun to be with and succeeding in his own life! Even if I had nothing else to celebrate, having these two wonderful men in my life would be enough for me.
- Retirement — It’s now more than six months since I left my career behind. As much as I enjoyed my work, I don’t miss the office. Most of all, the stress is gone! I sleep when I want to sleep and eat when I want to eat. The obligations that come with leading a not for profit membership based organization with an important child welfare mission are gone. It was a particular privilege to do the work and I celebrate the career opportunities and successes I had.
- Play — I’m learning to have fun again. In the serious pursuit of work and career I had no time to play bridge, to read books for pure enjoyment, to ‘be’ in the outdoors really looking at nature, to take fun courses, to play with my cats nor to just spend an afternoon goofing off! Interestingly, learning to play is how a child discovers the world — so it is for retirees as well! And there is so much to discover, often right in my own backyard.
- Friendships — During my career I had an extensive network of colleagues and acquaintances. Some of these relationships have developed into friendships that I celebrate. I also celebrate those relationships with friends that go back 20, 30 and 40 years. These people know me well and have supported me through so many phases of my life. Finally there is enough time to take a day trip to visit friends that live a couple of hours down the highway, to chat with neighbours, and to develop new relationships.
- A new hip — Not a blessing that will be on most lists, but for me, having a hip replacement a month ago assures me that I will have a good quality of life for many years to come. What’s more, I live in a country and city where the best of hospital care, orthopaedic surgery, and rehabilitation has been assured. All that’s left for me is to do the home exercises between physiotherapy treatments and have the patience to allow enough time for convalescence.
- Summertime at the cottage — A relaxed lifestyle, long walks on the sandy beach, lots of friends visiting, a bounty of local foods, gin and tonic on the deck, seeing stars in real darkness — these are some of the delights of cottage life at Lake Huron. Wonderful memories.
- Yoga — Though temporarily not part of my daily routine, my commitment to regular yoga classes and home practise has sustained me through good and bad times during the past six years. Whenever my blue mat is unrolled on the studio floor and I lie down to start breathing exercises, my body automatically begins to relax. Many teachers over the years have gently guided my progress and gradually my body naturally gravitates to various poses. The muscle memory is incredible and is helping me as I regain my capacity to walk following the hip surgery.
- Blogging — Making time to write regularly has kept my mind active and has kept me learning. Writing a blog post requires a different style than writing professional reports or briefs so blogging has also meant learning new skills. I celebrate that I have stayed with my postworksavvy project and now have quite a repertoire of posts and some dedicated readers –yeah! I also celebrate the connections with other bloggers around the world who I may never meet but who encourage me and keep me writing about the retirement experience.
- Living in Canada — What a gift to live in a country that enjoys a stable government, a civic society and many freedoms that others only dream about but that I often take for granted.
These are only a few of the many blessings that I will celebrate during the holidays. What blessings have brought joy and fulfillment to your life? Your list of blessings will be different although there will likely be overlap. Think of the people and the goodness of your life and reflect on your blessings. Whatever you celebrate, do it well.
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Blessings to all, Jeanette