“Aging: not necessarily a goal but just what happens in life. Can’t change it. Can’t stop it. Can’t even prolong it.“
Retirement: the goal of many from an early age. What is that really? The chance to leave a job you hate? The opportunity to do the things you’ve always had on your bucket list? The time really to settle down and enjoy YOU? So as I move into the 7th decade, I am going to share some words of wisdom (depending on those you ask, maybe not) because, well, I can.
Aging: not necessarily a goal but just what happens in life. Can’t change it. Can’t stop it. Can’t even prolong it. But what does that look like, from an ancient standpoint?
So as I move into the “BIG” birthday, I have had time to reflect. Nope, retirement doesn’t suit me. Several years ago I had decided to take more control of my life and to work toward a healthier balance, so I began having several vacations or even long weekend get-aways in the mix of my work routine. That helped immensely. That helped my sense of balance. That helped my perspective at work, just knowing that I could “play” as hard and as much as I worked. That helped me to work with a better attitude-even to have a better attitude about my work.
When I taught high school English (20+ years), on more than 1 occasion, I told my students that jobs were stepping stones to get to where they really enjoyed what they were doing and that when they stopped enjoying that, they needed to look at where the next path was. I decided that for myself one day, when I realized it was time for me to move on. So I did, into the counseling field. That then became my next profession, and now I move toward 20 years in this field. When people ask me about retirement (yes my family and friends are all aging, too), I can honestly say, “Not yet”. I still look forward to Monday mornings (TGIM), to the next session, to the next interaction. While there may be things I dislike, they are momentary and short-lived. I am still enjoying my “job”, and yes, I plan to stay around for a while. For the fun, and even for the “hard stuff”.
So what might that look like, continuing to work while I age? Well, I think I still am able to offer something to my clients, to be present, to be aware as they traverse on their journey, to provide the support they need and the push when they need that, too. I admit not always being proficient in the electronic part, but I am not as stubborn about asking for help when I need it. Although I was a bit hesitant (some would say resistant) to managing the telehealth aspect as we have moved into this new era, I have found clients responding well, have learned to navigate in a fairly good way the aspects I need to, and have embraced the ease and availability it has afforded clients, thus enabling “therapy” to take on an even more profound place in our lives.
What have I learned? I have accepted that I don’t know everything and can still ask questions. I have learned that I do know quite a bit and still have lots to offer those who ask. I have learned that I don’t have to share all that I know, especially when people aren’t ready to hear it. I know now that my self-worth is not about what I wear, how much money I make, who likes me (or doesn’t) or even what I said or did yesterday. I can move on in the best way possible, being me and sharing the parts I am willing to share. I work to let people discover what they need, providing some light when needed, some silence when needed, and some support when needed. As I can.
So when we move into a greater sense of balance, we can enjoy the “work” and the “play” as one can certainly complement the other. Aging? I prefer “youthing”, allowing myself to keep doing what I can, as I enjoy the experiences. Retirement? Not yet. I believe that I am similar to a lot my age, seeing a younger generation with changing values, still clinging to our work ethic, and yes, still stepping forward because we do have something valuable to offer, because we are still relevant and knowledgeable, and yes, even wise. Wisdom comes with the years and experiences, and perhaps the greatest wisdom of all is knowing the value of making a choice about what the next week, month, year looks like. Into 2024, so full of promises and potential. Oh yeah, bring it on!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Licensed Independent Mental Health Practitioner
Licensed Professional Counselor
Advanced Clinical HypnoTherapist
- Deb England began working part-time for Wholeness Healing Center in September 2004 and began full-time in May 2005. Deb practices primarily in the Broken Bow office and one day a week in the Grand Island office. Previously she had completed her practicum and internship at Morning Star Alliance, working in the Broken Bow and Grand Island offices.
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