I write this pondering things as yet another birthday fades away in the rearview mirror. Hard to believe. What everyone says is so true – they just come at you faster and faster the older you get.
Another anniversary, of sorts, is that it was five years ago today that I lost my job…the very catalyst of the adventure I have been on the last five years. Quite a five years it has been!
I am now at the point I wanted to be at when I decided to set out writing this next chapter of The Book of Shawn five years ago. Better yet, it has fallen pretty well into the timeline I had imagined. For someone who doesn’t believe in planning much, I have done pretty well I feel and it proves you really don’t HAVE to schedule your entire life to the minute or second if you just open yourself up to ALL of the possibilities instead of SOME of the possibilities. I still keep trying to figure out about achieving the things I set out to do. With all of this free time I will be able to get out on the road and make use of the trailer and travel.
Five years is hard to imagine, but even more hard to grasp is that I left the Midwest 20 years ago this past August. Twenty years, three granddaughters, a few failed relationships, college and high school graduations, a wedding, great jobs, excitement, off-roading, camping…pretty awesome over all. I have never looked back about the decision to leave where I grew up or leaving Colorado (but that took a little more deciding since I do still a special place in my heart for Colorado).
If you have followed my blog from the beginning (thank you so much and you know who you are!) or have gone back in my blog to catch up (thank YOU too!), then you know many of the things that I have been lucky enough to see and do – epic road trip to move to the PNW, biology stuff, lived on two National Wildlife Refuges (one I was alone on an island), had a life-changing motorcycle wreck, boat training in Pearl Harbor, seeing orcas near my boat while patrolling, the multitude of animals and the beautiful places they live that I also got to live in, daily boating, bucket list checkmarks…a list that is continually and endlessly added to.
During this adventure I have also been fortunate enough to meet thousands of new people and make some new close friends in the process. When you take some chances in your life it really opens up SO many possibilities in your life and comes with so many rewards. You can do so much if you just let go.
Of course, on the flip side there has been the overwhelming, deep loss of family and close friends who were also family and the ensuing grief; the grief that brings on this type of reflection. The personal tragedies and loss in my life over the last year, and especially the last few months, have definitely affected me – how could they not? There is such a sense of emptiness that it rocks you back on your heels pretty good and tends to make you think a lot about a lot. It sets you adrift in a sense…you look back at your existence, your life, and what things were like before a loss. Even though there is looking back, you also have to keep looking forward as well and that is what I am trying to keep focus on. You also realize how fast life can get away from you so you better get off your ass and live it!
There is that “R” word – retirement – a word that tends to mess with one a little when someone asks you if you are. It is an odd thing to think about when asked. Not in a scary way to me…no way. I am embracing it fully and it’s gonna be fun. If you have read some of my previous posts you will understand what has been happening in my life this past year, and that is just what I still have posted currently after deleting some things that were hastily posted. Other things have happened that I do not care to think about let alone post about so we’ll leave those things alone. But, and I am sure that I posted this before, it IS weird to think of being retired.
Being retired from working is what we all strive for in our lives, but once it gets here it is strange. All our lives we are trained (passively) to be competitive for jobs. Working in the jobs I have been working in as a seasonal employee you are used to having to compete for positions every 6 months or so. Being established in my position I really do not have to worry about that any longer, but it is still hard to comprehend that this is probably my last job for my last employer and that it will probably only be for just a few more years. I am starting to understand the details of that “R” word a little more now that it’s my reality. It is strangely exciting and a bit more complicated than I thought it would be. Managable, but still a little complicated.
So, am I retired? For the most part, yes – I only work 5-6 months a year now. I have a few seasons left in me but I am not living to work.
I am living to live!