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A perfect storm ...

I have spent my life focussed on others.... I suppose as as we all do in one way or another.   Work, career, my daughter and of course family.    

Back in 2015 I knew that the next phase of my life was imminent and like so many in the pre-retirement phase of life, I started preparing.   How, you ask? Well, I started counting paydays to my retirement.  23, 22, 21 pay days and so on. This was my way of preparing myself for that day.  (D-day was scheduled for 30 June 2017).  As is typical of a corporate environment, many of my colleagues viewed it negatively! It never ceases to amaze me how assumptions can twist/distort the truth of what is. However, not being someone who really agonises over "the stories" created by others: "she can't wait to get out of here" or "she has already checked out" (my favourite). Really people? I didn't pay too much attention to the whispering and corridor discussions.   While they often hurt, I believe that these comments were merely reflections of the state of mind of the commentators. I digress...

Did I have a plan? Well sort of.  I kinda knew what I didn't want and had some things on a bucket list. One thing was very clear to me though:  I wanted to do things that I loved and was passionate about.  Not that I wasn't passionate about my career and the various disciplines I was exposed to in the corporate world, but that life is about adding value to others and the organisation. Very little was about adding value to oneself if truth be told. Don't get me wrong, I liked corporate life.  In particular I loved the people development aspect.  Creating opportunities for growth in others... yes that was the best part of my career. 

The first step in preparing to retire was downscaling, getting rid of 'stuff' and minimising the things in my life.  My house was too big for me. In May 2015 my daughter and her family moved into the house and I into the adjoining flat (Suzi's Boudoir).  

So back to my plan.  My Plan was to travel for 3 months, walk the Camino Santiago and then come home and settle in the town of Greyton.  Here I would live a typical village life, away from the city but close enough to travel in if I chose to knowing that I had the Boudoir as a base for the city trips. I could see myself doing my stained glass hobby, spending time on my Genealogy quest and then making jams/preserves to trade for other goods at the village market.   A life in the country yet close enough to the city and my family.  Idyllic if I say so myself.  This is how I pictured my retirement.

So how has this plan gone? I hear you ask...

The Universe is an amazing thing... it brings you to a place where you need to be at the right time. One just has to understand this to see its beauty.   One also needs to understand that things happen to teach and prepare you for the future. More so, what I have come to know is that sometimes going with the universal flow is better that fighting it.  This has certainly been the case for me.

As things turned out, I retired a whole year earlier: 31 July 2016 to be exact.  This past year has been probably one of the most difficult of my life.   I faced the worst challenge in the workplace, which thankfully left my integrity and dignity intact. As if this wasn't enough, my daughter and her husband (Karmen & Adam) made the huge decision in February 2016 to immigrate to the USA taking my two precious grand children too of course. Their plan was to be in the USA by end 2016!  

My life was in a perfect storm.  

It wasn't so much that I consciously decided to go with the flow - I didn't really have a choice. I was in a seismic squall, or so it felt.   Chaos and upheaval on all fronts in my life.  All mostly out of my control and affecting me at deeply personal levels.   Life wasn't supposed to be like this... it was supposed to be a year of easing toward retirement, cruising into the next phase while enjoying the playful counting down of paydays.   Amazing how just when one thinks that all is calm and good, the universe brings about the greatest learning.  This is how I view the past year - a year of learning things about myself which I now realise have prepared me for this new journey I am on.

I left the workplace mid - June and was immediately faced with my saboteur archetype incessantly reminding me that "I had no purpose", "was not needed" and had "no reason to get up in the morning".  Truth be told, I had not expected any of this.  I hardly knew myself, couldn't believe that I was in such a negative conversation with myself.  After all, it was my decision to retire, my decision to move on.  So for two weeks I vegged .... yes, literally did nothing.  Hell I even spent the odd day or two in my PJs.  OK so it was winter, it was freezing  and I was hooked on a couple of series on Netflix!   Seriously though, it took me the best part of a month to become accustomed to my new status in life: Retiree.

I never realised how one is defined by the job you do or career you have.  The sense of purpose it gives you. I never expected to feel so rudderless and directionless (and it wasn't as if I didn't have a plan).   

The realisation that I needed to do things that added value to me was the catalyst to breaking the bonds of my saboteur.  Out came my original retirement plan!  Re-planning now my focus. First that daily list of what needed to be done.  This helped get me out of bed and off of NetFlix.   I decided to do two things daily for me:  Yoga and walking.  This is my 'me' time and helps me keep focussed.  Then the review of my original plans for retirement.

2016 has certainly manifested as "The year of immigration" as I too made the decision to immigrate.  (I could not get old on one continent with my little family and grandchildren on another).  

Again the universe demonstrates its' wisdom and timing.  My dilemma about immigrating is my Mom, Joy.  She is 87 and in Frail Care.  I could not leave her at this time. As things turn out I cannot immigrate any time soon. Karmen can only petition for my Green Card once she is a US Citizen and this can take up to 3 years.   You see, Universal timing.   So in the next 3 years I will be travelling between the USA and SA.  I will be travelling elsewhere en route... of course. 

I am most definitely not going to plan beyond this next year - things can change and I have come to know that the only constant is change and I am ok with that.   With this in mind, my immediate plans are to spend the first two weeks of October in the UK in celebration of my 60th birthday and then spend December and January in the States with Karmen, Adam and the kids. I will return to SA before I embark on the Camino Santiago in May and June 2017.   Beyond this I haven't planned as yet.   

Exciting isn't it?    So come along with me on this journey...