With retirement, comes many more hours of free time. Goes without saying, but, just saying! I spent my first year immersed in figuring out how I was going to do this retirement thing. I recognized the need to connect with people and not just ideas (as many well-meaning friends and family shared!) However, I am very comfortable keeping company with ideas! Still, volunteering was one of the suggestions and I knew I would get to that sometime but here's the thing - it is almost expected of you in a small town! Once I identified myself as newly retired and started to indicate where my interests and passions aligned, invitations abounded. This would not happen in the BIG city, I am sure. But word travels fast up and down the streets of a small town. I overheard someone say that you can form a committee within an hour just by shouting an invitation off your back porch.
Admittedly, I have turned down some opportunities because I am well aware of my lack of energy and still very cognizant of my recent work overload, but I started out small. Sitting once a month at the art gallery in town has opened up the world of artists to me on a first name basis. Joining their group helped as well. Declining an inquiry regarding leadership was wise!
As an outcome of the recent campaign for a new prime minister in Canada, I voiced my opinion on Facebook and here about the Syrian refugee situation and for poor people everywhere. I felt like a hypocrite since I was not putting action to my words even though my heart was breaking. Enter an opportunity to serve on a committee working to bring a Syrian refugee family to our small town. I inquired, attended a meeting and found myself taking on fundraising - a new venture that has definitely broadened my number of acquaintances in town! It has also zapped my low store of energy and absented me from my keyboard! Well, my public keyboard and book keyboard although I have been caught up with typing minutes (my former colleagues would be amazed!), printing cards and speaking with the local paper. Can I just say that even for a good cause, I still dislike having my photo taken?
Volunteering may be a common theme for many retirees. For me, it is new. I rarely volunteered beyond the scope of accepted parental stuff and occasional church activities during my active work career. Single parenting four children had something to do with that! Stretching my learning curve to be more public is a BIG change for me. It has its positives as I like the fact that I can put action to my words, but it also zaps my energy levels as it takes me out of my comfort zone. A two-edged sword! I have decided it is a path worth exploring, but I have also accepted that I have limits I need to respect. There is no way to discover these limits besides pushing them! So I am pushing them and keeping an eye out for that brick wall!!
I have also been using some of my energy to support a new anthology that is officially launched today. The Voices from the Valleys is a collection of stories written by local authors (that includes me!) with proceeds going to support Doctors Without Borders. Available on Amazon today!
I have another story going into Childhood Regained to help support Save the Children's efforts working against child labour in South Asia. This one is not up for pre-purchase yet.
Please check them out on Amazon or find out more here:
So, no matter what, I am beginning to see that I can re-engineer my life at any stage! I just have to be willing to take a chance. The ball is now in your court.
Go on - take a chance!