Don’t Retire, ReFire: Quarantine, a taste of retirement

By Gail Supplee Tatum, Columnist, The Times

It has been 11 weeks since most of us have been under Pennsylvania’s Stay Home ordinance.

How have you been spending your time?

Many of my clients, who are not yet retired and, quite frankly, fearful of how it will be when they stop working, are getting a taste of what retirement will look like.

The first, and most important, challenge we were faced with was to figure out how to stay connected with family, friends and colleagues, while staying safe.

Through these challenges, we learned how to FaceTime, set up or sign into Zoom calls, Google chats or Messenger Video Chats. This was just the beginning of how we would adjust our lives and expand our minds in order to thrive, not merely survive, amidst the chaos.

To no surprise, we figured it out! We learned something new and in learning this new form of communication, we found out that we don’t always have to travel to attend a meeting or a class.

We will also discover that some of the new ways we’ve been conducting business and living our lives are more efficient and therefore, will be blended with our pre-pandemic procedures.

For many of us, this time in quarantine has fired up a lot of creativity, whether it is for pleasure or out of financial necessity.

Those whose incomes were affected are finding alternative ways to make ends meet. Many are going through their closets and storage areas, finding items they don’t need, that are new or close to it and then putting those items on eBay, or other selling sites. This is another skill to be learned and will be invaluable for years to come. Grasping these skills serves two purposes. First, you’ve cleaned out your closet and decluttered your life. Second, you’ve put money in your pocket! What a win-win activity this is!

The learning online doesn’t stop there, either. The side benefit to being more comfortable in front of the computer is in knowing how to navigate the different sites to find whatever it is we want to know more about.

Then there’s our creative side, which is what we do for our soul and what we do to inspire others. We’ve been given the gift of time to cultivate our talent which will awaken our aliveness that has been lying dormant due to lack of time.

This aliveness will help us to turn from worry to joy, which will be good, not only for our own psyche, but also for all those around us. The joy of lifting the spirits of others, will in turn, uplift us.

I call this the cycle of positive momentum.

In a sense, we’ve been forced into a way of being that we ought not to have abandoned. We allowed outer interferences and our hectic lives to stifle our creativity. We must embrace the new changes that we’ve made, never letting them fade and only allowing new ideas to enter our realm of possibilities.

What retirement would look like doesn’t differ much from how we’re living right now. We realize how the importance of schedules and routines play a large part in our overall health and well-being. For example, go to bed and wake up at the same or close to it and eat your meals at the same time. Create a daily routine with the activities that bring joy, like walking, reading a book, etc.

There are other similarities between our stay at home ordinance for the health and safety of our lives and the lives of others and being home as a retiree. In both scenarios, we are learning to look at situations differently and trying new ways of approaching a task. We realize the utmost importance of staying connected with our family, friends and those who are important to us, in our lives. In both cases, there must be acceptance that we are here, at this moment in time, with these challenges, facing them and rising to the occasion, showing what we’re made of.

Our lives have changed and many parts look different, but as we uncover the hidden treasures that have been buried, it gives an enormous sense of satisfaction that we are more than capable of creating an enriching life in the next chapters to come.

Those with retirement on the horizon may not have discovered all of the possibilities available, as quickly, if not for our current situation. Retirement may have been described only as days free and clear of any obligation and that, with the angst of not knowing what to do, would have blocked the creative pathway. This glimpse of what it’s like to “be home” may give the emotional support needed to ease into retirement without fear.

We must embrace this time of staying home and view it, in a much broader sense, as us all being a part of a time that will go down in history and, God willing, we can say we lived through it.

We each may be one person but we are all connected as the human race. We need each other.

However, it is understandable that we are all a bit unsettled, bombarding our minds with questions, like, when and how long.

We are truly being put to the test to see what we are all made of.

What we’ve been going through for the last eleven weeks and how we’ve been dealing with it must have an outcome that is going to shift us in a new and better direction.

Now is the time for all of us, in unity, to shine!

By staying in one place, with time on our hands, we can choose to make an impact and do something meaningful or we can just get through it. Which one do you choose?

I’m choosing to emerge from this with some contribution and certainly with a deeper appreciation of what truly is important in life. My hope is that you will do the same.

I urge us all to not go through this unusually difficult time and come out empty-handed. For if we do, I’m concerned that we will one day realize that we missed out on an incredible opportunity to contribute to what could be called the era of Human Metamorphosis.

Please share in the comments below, how it’s been for you. What struggles have you been faced with? What have you discovered about yourself that you didn’t know before? What else awakened in you? How have you managed?

In the words of Winston Churchill during the darkest days of World War II – This is not time for ease and comfort. It is time to dare and endure.

Stay well. Be safe

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