Saturday, December 18, 2010

Horoscopes

I’ve often wondered if reading my horoscope at the end of the day/month/year would reveal that things actually happened as predicted.  I normally read it at the beginning, then hope (or not) that the horoscope is accurate.

Well, with this curiosity in hand, last December 31, 2009, I copied my horoscope for the upcoming year, planning to assess whether it was remotely accurate.

My horoscope (from Calgary Herald I believe) was:

VIRGO You are still feeling the after-effects of the past 12 months and although January's solar eclipse will herald a respite, you may have to wait until late June for definite signs of progress. Because expansive Jupiter and restrictive Saturn are both focusing on your finances for much of the year, you will need to find a balancing point between parsimony and profligacy. With a friend or loved one relying on you for practical, emotional or moral support, your resources will be sorely stretched, especially around the time of April's Saturn-Uranus opposition. The year will end on a higher note than it began but just how high depends on you.

So…. my skepticism aside, this was vague enough for it to predict some well-timed activities with accuracy:
  •           In late June, the ‘respite’ came in the form of a month-long vacation on Salt Spring Island. So I suppose that was a bit accurate (keeping in mind that it was planned, not accidental).
  •          Of course finances were a focus since I was facing the end of my 25-year employment relationship
  •          The year is ending on quite a ‘high note’ as we (family) are travelling to Malaysia over the Christmas and New Year (again this is planned).


All in all, I’d say that the horoscope provided some highlights with a degree of accuracy. 

I’m looking forward to 2011’s horoscope with a new enthusiasm…  Hmmm, here’s guessing that there will be lots of travel mentioned!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Financial Planning is Kinda Important


So now that reality is setting in, so is the nitty gritty reality of my financial plan.

As part of the severance I got from my ex-employer, there is an offer of services of a Financial Planner.  This is rather normal.  I’ve decided to use these services to the maximum so that 1) I can objectively decide how best to invest these new found funds; 2) I have a plan of which source of income to draw from in which order so as to minimize tax burdens, and 3) I know I’ll be able to eat when I’m 80 years old (ie. Won’t be a bag lady). 

The Financial Plan will include such variables as:  current investments, projected living expenses, estimated inflation rate, estimated rate of return on investment.  As well, we need to include:  vehicle replacements, home upgrades, vacation assumptions, donation assumptions, and anything else that will impact the sources of income and expenses.   Of course, there is always the possibility that I’ll end up working again.. (Say it isn’t so!!!!!!)

We all know this planning thing is the right thing to do…but have we ever really gotten into the details?  I know I started the process a few times, but never really had the concrete plan in my hands.  There were always some things on the periphery that couldn’t be or weren’t included.

There’s great peace of mind that comes when going through this process.  I highly recommend it for everyone, regardless of your financial or employment status.

It’s kinda like knowing that you need to get somewhere you’ve never been before, but you’re too lazy or rushed to stop to buy a map.  You can take a few side roads and detours, hoping like heck you don’t run out of gas.  Had you had a map, you could have gotten there more efficiently, and not had the stress of the unknowns along the way.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Switching to Which Gear?

As you might recall, the purpose of this blog and of my entire self-professed unemployed state was to take a deep breath and ‘smell some roses’. 

Well, I seem to have forgotten how to “stick shift” because I haven’t quite successfully shifted down as much as I’d like.  If there is such a thing as ‘midway gears’, I’ve gone from fifth gear to four and a half.  The goal is to be in first or second gear.

I’m told that such a major transition (from working in high gear to unemployment) takes several months - some say nine months, others say twelve to twenty four.  Regardless, it’s much harder than you think.

I’m slowly unwinding some commitments that I made early in my ‘unemployed-ness’; in particular, those that involved ongoing involvement.  Ideally, I’d like to have ‘selected involvement’, where I can commit to do things, but then not feel guilty when I can’t or no longer want to.  This is a bit tricky once someone or an organization starts perceiving me as a reliable source of support.  For that reason, I’m very reluctant to commit to anything more at this time.

It's not that I don't want to help or provide support, but if I don't take the time to figure out what I really want to do, I'm concerned that I'll end up doing 'stuff', just to fill in time.  I'm really looking for that ultimate work/job/activity that really jazzes me up and that I can envision doing in a bigger way someday.  Whether it's a paying thing of not is not the point...I want to know that what I'm spending my time on is valuable and enjoyable to me ... and hopefully someone else.

With my new awareness and philosophy in hand, I think 2011 will be very different for me.  I predict that I’ll be able to move from high gear to low gear more easily.  For now, I’ll just rev at a higher rate, anticipating the slowdown to the next gear.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Life As A Project

I’ve begun to see everything as a ‘project’.  It’s a very sick way to organize my life I realize, but it means that I do get a lot of things done….perhaps a few too many things.

I break everything into small mini-projects, determining all the intermediate steps to take so that the end is predictable.  The upside is that I have a lot of things going on at any one time because I can juggle a lot of ‘bits’ simultaneously.  The downside is that I have a lot of things going on at any one time, so people think I can manage all that’s going on.  The result:  I’m really not slowing down!!!!

Part of me thinks that this is just my way of dealing with the ambiguity of ‘retirement/unemployment’.  The other part of me thinks I’m a complete loser because I can’t slow down.  Then there’s another part that actually rationalizes this by thinking this is just the way I am. 

I really do need some help!  So what if I can take 4 writing courses, guitar lessons, guitar practice, do pro-bono project management work with 2 non-profits, meet friends for coffee, get a bit of exercise in, grocery shopping, laundry, shovel snow, create family calendars, book the side trips for our trip in Malaysia, AND keep some semblance of sanity!?  REALLY!!? 

HELP!!!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Things You Hear In A Coffee Shop

I’ve been spending a lot of time in coffee shops lately.  I tend to hang there between ‘coffee dates’ or meetings rather then going back and forth to home between my appointments.  I just find those that have free wireless networks, crack open the Mac, and tada, I’m doing everything I’d normally be doing in my office at home.  One day I’ll introduce myself to my ‘mobile colleagues’.  There are quite a few of us doing this.    

Last week, I was sitting in a Good Earth coffee shop, sitting just feet from 3 gentlemen.  It appeared that they were doing some sort of roundtable ‘coaching’, where they’d listen to concerns or issues each was having, and then would provide positive feedback and advice. They were discussing everything from employee issues, employer concerns, work/life balance challenges, and some personal health issues.  Nothing too salient, but it was interesting to observe (although not obviously) the support given by the men to their friend/colleague. I had to stop myself from adding my own opinions.  Didn’t think that would be too well received, however, since I wasn’t actually part of the discussion!

In a Starbucks a few hours later, I was sitting next to what appeared to be a brother and sister discussing their parent’s health.  The conversation was in French, so presumably they figured no one would understand their discussion.  Again I was very close to providing them feedback in dealing with elder parent’s health issues.  Apparently the mother is using her illness in the old ‘illness guilt trip’ to get her husband’s, children’s, and generally everyone’s attention.  We all concluded (silently in my case) that mom is responsible for her own health and that not giving her the attention will send the signal to her to get on with it.

I’ve been observing the shop employees as well.  As everywhere, there are those who truly enjoy their jobs and those that are miserably ‘putting in time’; no different that my observations in large corporate offices.  The real difference however, it that these folks can’t go hide in their cubicle and likely aren’t paid very well.  They have to face the public every minute.  I came close to providing my sage advice of: “perhaps you need to find something that suits you better rather than wasting your life doing something you hate”.  But then again, I was just there for tea.

I did get some good stock tips a well.  A company that will remain nameless is in the throws of a significant acquisition which will only be announced in a few weeks.

Then there’s the couple that believes that sitting side-by-side, busily typing/texting on their respective Blackberries, comprises a date.  Very few words are exchanged.  So my cynical self thinks this is ridiculous.  My romantic self thinks that, gee whiz, these guys are so compatible that they know what the other is thinking.  NOT.

So coffee shops are great places to eavesdrop if I want advice, entertainment, or a reminder why I don’t want to get back into the corporate race just yet. The downside is that, so that I don’t feel guilty using up their space, I have to buy something…and it’s not just a tea.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Travel = Change

Travel - it means something different to different people.  Whether it’s a short trip nearby or an adventure farther afield, to a 5-star resort or to a backcountry hut, all can be equally satisfying to the traveler, depending on the expectation of the trip.

My most memorable trips have been those where the person who left is not the same as the one that returns.  That is, the sum of the experiences resulted in a personal change within my spirit which would not otherwise have been possible.  Be it some newfound awareness of a culture or a fresh understanding of my own being, I cannot return to how I was before I left.

I am currently inquiring and narrowing down some options for travel next year.  I use an online Home Exchange site to find travel opportunities across the globe.  Not only does this type of travel reduce travel costs significantly, but it also allows us to live amongst locals who usually contribute greatly to our understanding and enjoyment in the visited locations.

My biggest dilemma is deciding on the purpose of the trip: exploring versus relaxing.  All options are in hot climates because I’d like to get away from our Canadian winter in March or April.  However, some options are a bit more adventurous (Central or South America) than others (a luxurious condo on the beach of Baja, Mexico).

Either way, I sense an adventure in the air…

Sunday, November 14, 2010

So How About That Rock Star Thing…

A while ago I declared that I’m a ‘wannabe-rock-star’.  Thought I’d give a bit of an update on my newfound talent. (NOT!!)

Well, I’ve increased my repertoire from two to four songs, gone from strumming using only major chords to using ‘transition chords’ (also called polychords), and, in some instances, can play, sing and count the beats all at the same time. (equivalent to chewing gum while rubbing you stomach and head simultaneously!!)  I should be ready for a premiere at the Jubilee Auditorium sometime next year…

What I do need to mention, however, is that I’m having a wee bit of difficulty with the transitions (kinda like life don’t you think?).  There are occasionally some lulls between chords while my head and my fingers communicate.  This is also the point in my performance where you might hear some sighs and even curses… because yours truly is rather impatient with her progress.

I spent all of my practice time last week playing five chords over and over and over, trying to smooth out the transitions between them.  How slow can a girl play?  Believe me….VEEERY SLOOOWLY.  Just when I think I have it licked, I realize that at this rate of play, I’ll get through American Pie sometime in 2012 and Stairways To Heaven in 2015.

Transitions… seems like I’m destined to deal with them somehow and sometime!!  Who would have thought that guitar playing was so deep??

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Pearly Gates Principle

Having grown up in a small, rural, and French Catholic community, I now realize that there were many contradictions which influenced the shaping of my thinking.

Without getting into the nitty-gritty details of why I’m so messed up (I’ll leave that to my therapist to sort out and potentially a novel one day), there were many competing cultural and religious philosophies.  I realize that these attitudes and contradictions are found everywhere; however, in a small isolated area, they seem more concentrated and perhaps more extreme.  Without the dilution by other ideals and cultures, the philosophies actually can become unspoken ‘laws’ in many people’s minds. (eg. Does it matter which language is my core language? Am I a bad person for not marrying into the same culture?  Is going to weekly mass imperative? (Let alone a French one!))

At some point in my life, I had to reconcile these contradictions and learn how to cope with the seemingly incompatible values (Love thy neighbor…as long as they’re Catholic!).  I created my own “Pearly Gates Principle” to guide me. 

This Principle is simply:  “When I get to the pearly gates, will this matter?”  At the end of my life, is the issue that I’m grappling with going to truly matter? 

Being able to bring the issue back to a simple Yes or No answer has helped me be less conflicted and more compassionate towards those who may not have the same perspective I have…because they too have their childhood influences to grapple with.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Recalibration

It’s unfortunate that it often takes an extreme life event to bring things back into perspective.  Only then do we hit ‘reset’ to recalibrate our view on what is really important.

My recalibration occurred a decade and a half ago when I went through my divorce.  It wasn’t a hard divorce in terms of the physical and finance split: we both agreed to keep the breakup fair and conflict-free.  What was hard, however, just sorting through the debris of our lives to understand what went so wrong.

Looking at myself in the mirror was very difficult.  Of course I took my fair share of the blame…if not more.  The hurt of knowing that I, as a somewhat intelligent 25-year old (when I married), could make such unwise decisions.  What hurt the most, however, was the pain we both went through to come out the other side better human beings.

Resurrecting out of that fog, I distinctly remember thinking that nothing could possibly be more painful (other than the death of a family member).  Yet I knew that close to 50% of the adults in North American did or would go through this experience.  How could that be???

My new criteria for measuring the criticality and impact of my pedestrian life’s events became:  “If no one is dying or starving, it can’t be that bad.”  I used this in business as I do in my own personal life. 

Life and living became much more important than the potential worry and stress of most events that filled my days.

I do, however, have to remind myself of this once in a while.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

The Three-Act Life

I recently saw an interview with Jane Fonda which really caught my attention.

Jane Fonda, a 72 year old fitness icon, described how, at the peek of her career, she was suffering deeply from low self-esteem. How could this be??

Jane described her philosophy on life (I paraphrase here):  The first thirty years are the Growth Act; the next 30 years are the Building Act, and the third or last phase is the Becoming Whole Act.  The third act, which brings with it the cumulative wisdom of the first two acts, is the best of all.  You are not looking for validation, affirmation or success.

How did she get to the third act in tact?  Jane’s approach, when she was 59, was to do a Life Review.  In this Review, she researched the aspects of her life which were difficult or unresolved in order to fill in some blanks.  She interviewed those who influenced her greatly (ideally parents, siblings, childhood friends, …) in her life so that she could better connect the dots of her ‘play’.

She finally understood why her mother committed suicide when she was 12, why her father was a narcissist, why she had no intimacy in her three marriages, and finally, why, despite all her fame and fortune, she sold her mind and body to whomever offered her love.  Knowing now that she had never been able to love herself first has enabled her to fill in the puzzle pieces of her life.

It was only in her third act that she became whole.  No more need to please others in order to feel complete.  The love she needs comes from within.

I don’t plan on waiting until the end of my second act to begin my Life Review….primarily because I want the benefit of having my parents’ input on some of it.  

Out come the notepad and recorder…

Thursday, October 28, 2010

'Stuff'

Anyone who knows me well will remember my rants a few years ago when my sister and I undertook my parents’ ‘downsizing’.  My parents moved from a large home in the country to a much smaller condo in town.  The move meant reducing 50+ years of accumulated ‘stuff’ down to about 20% of the original amount.

Don’t get me wrong…my parents still have a very sizable stash of belongings.  That we had to reduce by 80% is only indication of how much they had to be rid off to fit into what most people would think very adequate.

Now, extrapolating to the not too distant future, this 20% will again have to be further culled another 80%.  What will be left is roughly what would fit into a 500 sq ft apartment, which doesn’t have a kitchen.

How depressing!  Not only because I am already preparing myself for a ‘goundhog day’ experience (finding boxes, rummage sales, and generally clearing out a whole house which isn’t my own!), but in general, the thought that we work our whole lives to accumulate ‘stuff’, just to then turn around and get rid of it.

What a cycle!  I suppose if we were too efficient in recycling or finding those who really needed ‘stuff’, our economy might be in jeopardy.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Next Phase

My mother hasn’t been sleeping.  She admits this is from a combination of my father’s snoring and her worry.  She knows that the current situation isn’t sustainable, but is unable to see past next week.

My father’s mental state is worsening, as is expected with someone with Alzheimer’s.  His mobility is limited and, in fact, lessening quickly as occurs with diabetes. 

All this is overwhelming for a 78-year-old woman whose experience is limited to the goings on of a farm and its household. To have to proactively plan and decide the future for her husband and herself is more than she can bear…hence the headaches.

In my usual ‘bull in a china shop’ way, I asked my mother very directly what the options in this town might be for potential ‘next phase’ living.  There are few:  there is independent living in a lodge and assisted living in a nursing home.  Nothing in-between.

My approach must be non-emotional or else I risk doing as everyone else has done:  nothing.  I make appointments, get on waitlists, and hope that whatever happens occurs in a manner that doesn’t require any real choices.  The variables are 1) the progression of illnesses, 2) my parents’ openness to change, and 3) time.  All these variables will determine ‘the next phase’.

For now, I’m hoping that having a few potential options will alleviate my mother’s headaches and some of my guilt.  I definitely have the better end of this deal.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Going Home

As with many of us ‘middle agers’, our aging parents’ wellbeing and care becomes a bigger part of our lives.  In my newfound unemployed state, I do hope to spend more time with and for my parents.  I am currently with my parents back in my hometown in northern Alberta.

Going home to visit my parents is always an introspective experience. 

Where I grew up will always be ‘home’, even though I’ve been away for 29 years.  The connotations of ‘childhood home’, whether this is the town or house, mean that I’m going back in time and age.

Parents are always parents, but mine haven’t quite figured out that, at 46 years of age, I don’t need parenting anymore.  Advice is always free flowing and concerns voiced.  I wonder if there will ever be a time when I will be thought to be capable.

Going home always stirs up a mixture of anticipation, nostalgia, and sadness.  Anticipation because, after the long trek, I’m looking forward to seeing my parents to confirm if, what they say over the phone, is really how things are.  Nostalgia because this is where the memories of the first 17 years of my life remain.  Sadness because, although not discussed, my aging parents are living the last of their years as independently as possible before they progress to that ‘next phase’.  We never discuss this ‘next phase’ because to do so means acknowledging that we’ve actually thought of it.

My father was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s two years ago.  The diagnosis, however, was only confirmation of what I knew 8 years before, when the first signs appeared.  I’ll never forget those first times when I witnessed my father’s always-so-sharp mind’s deception. 

My mother, who was always the less healthy of the two, is now the full time mother again.  Always the doting wife, she is now caregiver, chauffeur, cook, and everything else.  She rarely complains, but her exhaustion is obvious.

Leaving is difficult.  The guilt of abandoning my mother with such responsibility is overwhelming.  Driving away, back to my easy, uncomplicated and seemingly selfish life is nearly unbearable. 

Oddly enough, my parents are happy.  They have worked hard their whole lives, so for them, their current challenges are relatively small.

Perhaps I would have the same perspective…  Perhaps….not likely.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

What Colour Are Your Glasses?

So much of how we feel is based on how we perceive and receive signals.  And conversely, how we interpret signals depends on how we feel.  If the filter through which we’re seeing is tinted, either by anger, insecurities, or other  in-the-moment feelings, we likely aren’t interpreting those signals accurately.  Unless we explicitly ask questions that will help us see more clearly, we will internalize our feelings…incorrectly.

I’ve been reading a lot about ‘mindfulness’.  This refers to, in this moment, scanning my body, breathing, and mindset, to understand how I’m feeling…which will ultimately determine how I interpret information.  Although I’m doing this ‘on the fly’ (i.e. Not laying down on the yoga mat all day to figure myself out), I’m finding that this actually does help to slow down reactions and anxieties overall.

Being mindful means ‘being present in the moment’.  I must admit, I thought I was quite mindful…until recently. I’ve noticed that, unless I take the time to do the full-body-scan exercise, I’m really only scanning from the neck up.  This tells me about what I’m thinking, not how I’m feeling.  

Glasses provide protection from flying articles…but they also allow us to see things more clearly.  The tint we apply is ultimately our choice.


OK.. enough of this deep thinking stuff for today!!  :)

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Stepping Outside Of My Comfort Zone - BIG TIME


Ok, I’m a closet ‘wanna-be-rock-star’.  There, I wrote it. 

I’ve known it for a while, but haven’t wanted to admit it.  I love singing and I’m not too bad at it.  I play the piano – poorly at best.  So now I’m trying my fingers at guitar playing.

It’s very humbling to start something from ground zero at 46 years old.  Mary Had A Little Lamb and Ode To Joy are the extent of my repertoire to date.  I had my first lesson with a new instructor last week and I think this one has promise.  The last one was easily half my age and a hundred times my talent.  The real problem was that his ego barely fit through the door.  I felt like the lessons were more about him showing off his riffs (for those non-music folks, this has nothing to do with his body!!) than me knowing how to play a scale.

So, I’ve had to cut my nails to the quick, shut all the windows in the house, and now pluck at the guitar for at least 30 minutes each day.

I’ll let you know when my first album comes out…make sure to look in the nursery rhyme section!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Strengths Alignment

About 5 years ago, I made a conscious decision to assess if my personal strengths were aligned with what I do in my job.  Although at the time I wasn’t in love with my job, I knew that I enjoyed about 50% of my job and that the other 50% was drudgery.


I went through an exercise of identifying my strengths (defined as “what I’m good at and enjoy”…need both of these!), then identifying roles/jobs that might satisfy those strengths.  That led me to change the direction of my career trajectory.  Fortuitously, my next role was a great fit and I truly loved my job.


When things changed at my workplace, having this knowledge helped me assess as much what I didn’t want to do, as those things that I did want to do.  This was the first step in knowing that, ultimately, I’d have to make a step change in my life. 


Marcus Buckingham’s “Trombone Player Wanted” video is one that I strongly recommend to anyone who is searching about how to identify your strengths and then align them with what you do everyday.  Only 2 of 10 people have this alignment in their jobs.  The rest basically tolerate.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Reality Sets In - So Now What?


So I am really and truly unemployed. I’m on Day 8 of this new adventure.  It really does feel, however, like I’ve just taken a few days off from work and am only catching up on ‘stuff’.  I’m getting a lot done, but this really isn’t what I envision as ‘unemployment’.   

I’m having the odd nap, setting up some coffee dates, making travel plans for a trip to Malaysia in December (had already determined this before the end of work), procrastinating about doing some yard work, and had the winter tires put on the car.  I’m on top of the birthday cards, grocery shopping, and laundry.  Hmmmm.. now what?

I’m conscious of needing to balance the retirement ‘essentials’:  intellectual, social, fitness, creativity, and philanthropy. 

Social:  I’ve scheduled some coffee dates – Check
Fitness:  Ok.. I’ve missed a few runs since I pulled a calf muscle last week…but I went this morning – Check
Creativity:  Re-started guitar lessons (took a break through the summer) and started my Creative Writing course – Check
Philanthropy:  Doing a few small projects at the YMCA and planning on taking a bigger Corporate Volunteer Fundraising role – Check
Intellectual:  TBD (not a lot of stimulation at this point!)

So, how can I increase this intellectual bit, without doing ‘work’ in my field of expertise?  I suppose the philanthropy is sort of using my skills, but to date hasn’t been strenuous.

Open to suggestions…

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Emotional Age


I really am not 46 years old.  I know the difference between today’s date and my birth date tells me so, but I truly don’t feel like a 46 year old.  Somewhere along the way, the number changed but I didn’t.

I think back to when I was young and remember what 46 year olds were like back then.  At least where I grew up, those adults who had toiled the farmland and raised a gazillion kids seemed a lot older than I am today.  Their bodies were already tired and their minds told them they couldn’t and shouldn’t do certain things.

I know that I am younger today than I was 10 years ago.  How, you ask, can this be?  Well, I believe the people that surround me shape my ‘emotional age’.  Today, I surround myself with people who don’t see age as a constraint, but as a license to do what they’ve always wanted to do.  This ranges from undertaking activities they’ve longed to do but didn’t (skiing, singing, painting), without the fear of failure or criticism, to finally delving into passions that have long been suppressed. 

As a result, I have undertaken activities I wouldn’t have dreamed of doing 10 years ago.  Whether it’s getting to a level of physical fitness I’d only fantasized about or letting go of the traditional ‘career path’, I know that stepping out of my comfort zone makes me feel great.  It gives me a comparison to what I felt like before and reminds me how exhilarating it is to not follow the crowd.

It’s great to feel younger every year!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Changes


As we were driving through Kananaskis Country last weekend, one of Alberta’s many treasures, I was in awe of the brilliant colors surrounding me.

I realize this will sound outrageously corny, but I became conscious that I’m going through one of the greatest changes in my life at a time when my surroundings are changing from lush green (thanks to a lot of rain recently) to brilliant autumn colors (thanks to the near-freezing evening temperatures).  I know this happens every year, but this year I seem overly sensitized to this transformation.  (Perhaps this just means I’m getting old and getting in touch with my mortality??  Yikes..)

With these changes comes the preparation for the next season, be it fortifying our vehicles with winter tires, cleaning the yard of leaves and dying plants, or emptying our gardens of our summer harvest.  The analogies are plentiful. (Or…am I just conscious of what’s on my ‘to do list’ as soon as I stop going to the office…  another Yikes!)

Normally I would be sad by the loss of summer to the chilly and cold winter weather (yes, in Canada we often jump from summer directly to winter!).  This year, I’m actually enjoying the transition period because it’s giving me time to adapt and adjust from one state to another. 

All I ask is that we don’t get snow before I get winter tires on my car!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Emotions Of The Voluntarily Unemployed


As with any major change event in your life, there are many emotional phases to transition through before getting to the ultimate peace.

About a month ago, I went through the ELATION phase.  This was when I realized that what I had been fantasizing about would actually happen.  With this elation was RELIEF as well, knowing that I can now work on a plan for my future. (of course, knowing that I can is different from actually doing it!)

Another emotion that often creeps in is DOUBT.  Let’s be clear… I DID NOT EXPERIENCE THIS PHASE… I skipped right over it.  I’m sure I’ll have to come back to analyze this later, but for the time being, I’m very comfortable with my choices.

Right now, I’m going through a small ANXIETY phase.  This anxiety is self-imposed, because later this week, I’ll be saying goodbye to my routine, my place of work, where my colleagues have been the primary source of social interaction for years, and goodbye to colleagues who have become my dearest friends either because of proximity (gotta love those cubicles!) or because of the common values and experiences we shared.   I know that some with remain dear friends, but for those that have been mere acquaintances, it is more likely that our paths will cross less and less.

My primary emotion at the moment is IMPATIENCE.  I just want to move on.  I’ve been preparing myself psychologically for months; having to put on a good work fa├žade is draining. Even though I’m not sure what the future will look like, I’m ready to get on with it. 

Monday, September 27, 2010

Switching From High To 'Unknown Gear'


It is not without trepidation that I’m consciously switching from the corporate ‘high gear’ to the unemployed ‘low gear’.  By ‘low gear’, I mean that I am consciously not looking for another job.  I am, in fact, avoiding discussing job possibilities with anyone in my industry or profession.  I do not want to jump into doing ‘stuff’ in order to fill my days or put money in the bank account.

How many people have you heard say lately:  “Gosh! I LOVE my job!”  (Unless, of course, they are still in the honeymoon phase of a new job or received a big whopper bonus!)  A while back, I was someone who said that.  Once that changed, I knew that I had to do something, either in my role, my relationship with my employer, or my mindset.  Ultimately, I chose to change all three.

Of course, not everyone has the luxury to jump off the high-speed work train.  There are, however, some things that we can all do to make our work more aligned with what we would really enjoy.  This takes courage and a lot of self-awareness of what we really want and don’t want.

Stay tuned!!...more on this later…

Friday, September 24, 2010

Voluntarily Unemployed: Why?


So what was the purpose of leaving a well-paying, mostly satisfying job to now be voluntarily unemployed?  Many people would suggest that I’m crazy. Going through mid-life crisis. Overly stressed. Lazy. Barking mad in fact.  Actually I’m none of these.

I’ve been very blessed:  I’ve had a great run at a career; I’ve made some lucrative financial investments; I’m reasonably fit and healthy; I have a very supportive partner, but most importantly, I’ve been exposed to very diverse people who have given me insights into lives and lifestyles I would never have considered 10 years ago.  These are people who have stepped out of their comfort zones to explore careers and activities they felt passionate about, leaving behind the usual societal pressures of more, bigger, and faster. Most of these individuals were very successful in the first careers, but at some point, they ventured away to do what made them more fulfilled.  They are artists, musicians, writers…or they simply do a variety of things that fulfill all the important dimensions of their life.

This blog is about the exploration of what, given this blessed opportunity, I can and want to do for the second half of my life. 

I know I’m not unique in this adventure…so I hope to get insights from those who have undertaken this path before me and those who are on the same search. 

Feel free to blog me your insights, experiences, and advice.

Leaving The Employment Nest


I am a 46-year old professional who has decided to leave a corporate career to explore what I might want to do for the second half of my life.

I have chosen to switch gears from the fast-paced corporate life to one of the unknown, discovering what I need and want in a purposeful life.

I’m one week away from ending a 25-year relationship with my employer.  Although this should be a sad, scary, and perhaps conflicting time for me, none of these emotions describe what I’m feeling.  As with any good divorce, I’ve been thinking about this breakup for quite a while.  We ‘haven’t been getting along’ is a bit of a misstatement.  Perhaps ‘irreconcilable differences’ is more appropriate.

At some point in the past three years, my ambitions have tapered, my loyalty dampened, and my perspective broadened beyond what my employer could offer.

Although ultimately the decision to end my career with Corporate Calgary was my employer’s, I have consciously and sub-consciously been sending out the ‘pick me!’ flags for the severance package lottery.  The stars aligned and….Ta Da!, here I am.

I’m now off to my next adventure!!

OH… and did I mention that I’m a young 46 year old??!

Switching Gears: What's This All About?


So why create a blog? What’s this blog suppose to be about anyways?  Who will ever read it?  These are the questions that keep coming back to me as I venture into this bizarre world of blogging and self-analysis. 

Once I’d (or at least my employer) determined that I was leaving my illustrious 25-year career, I started questioning what a 46-year old does with her time, talents, and treasures when she doesn’t have to get up at 5:00 am to get to her cubicle to work to facilitate a corporation to make billions of dollars per year.

Of course she gets on the Internet to find out what others do in the same situation.  Well….it appears there aren’t that many people willing to share their experiences, emotions, and stories about how they ‘get to where they eventually get to’.

There’s a lot of information about financial planning for retirement, semi-retirement, job hunting, mid-life crisis, or career development, …but not a lot on ‘figuring yourself out at mid-life’.

So my offer is to blog my way along my path of self-discovery.  There will be bits and pieces about the multiple dimensions that I believe I will be challenged to balance:  fitness, social, intellectual, financial, creativity and philanthropy. (I reserve the right to expand this list as I go!)

Feel free to blog me your insights, experiences, and advice.