Stillness-Part I

I finally made it, transitioning my work over the past two months
– and arriving at that uncharted territory called “retirement”

kayaking on Gale Meadow Pond

“So, what are your plans?” numerous colleagues asked during my last week in the office.
Me: “Ummmmm, I don’t really have any”
Colleagues: blank stares, apprehension
Me: “Well, we moved to Vermont”
Colleagues: visible relief, smiles, nods – “That’s great! Vermont is so pretty!”

I don’t know – does moving to Vermont constitute having a plan? And, isn’t the whole point of retirement to not have plans? – No calendar filled with endless meetings, no barrage of emails, no panicked last minute tasks to fix whatever avoidable problem happens to arise… That was my plan.

Gale Meadow Pond

Creating a plan

Driving home from my office for the last time, I pondered my apparent lack of a “plan”
– and created one (well – kind of, sort of)

  1. Turn off the early morning alarm
  2. Wake up early, anyway
  3. Load the kayaks in the truck and head to our favorite pond
  4. Grab my much neglected camera – check to make sure the battery is fully charged, neglect checking the memory card
  5. Paddle to the middle of the pond, savor a hot cup of coffee and revel in the stillness that surrounds me
  6. Be graced by the presence of two bald eagles, calling to each other across a peaceful cove (not actually part of the plan – but I am immeasurably grateful that this happened!)
  7. Rediscover the joy of snapping random photos (until the memory card is full)
  8. Feel at peace with the world, then carry on with a plan-less day

bald eagle

What next?

Seriously, though, what’s next? Well, I am resuming my photo challenge where I left off – “stillness”. The month of August will be devoted to stillness – in my photos, my art, as well as my life. Art journaling – I’ve joined Summer Studio and look forward to delving into the lessons. Maybe I will even be active in the social media that accompanies it – who knows? I signed up for a couple of classes offered by Laura Horn. And then – there are mountains to be hiked, bicycle adventures to be had, family to be visited, a giant stack of books to be read, and more minimizing (so much more minimizing)… Boredom is not in my immediate future.

bald eagle and hummingbird

It is time to decompress. Yes – sooner or later, I assume that I will add a little more structure to my days. So many ideas rattling around my head – all on hold, waiting for my okay to move forward. For now, my current lack of plans fills me with contentment.

water lily

How about you? Do you prefer to have set plans, or do you enjoy making them as you go – letting things unfold?


8 responses to “Stillness-Part I”

  1. Lissa Avatar

    Congratulations on your retirement, Karen! I followed this path in spring of 2012, determined to retire in my 50s and take charge of my life. And though I left a job I loved, I never regretted it. I really just had one major goal: to spend each day doing what I wanted to do. Take pictures of flowers instead of a new product I was writing service procedures for. Sleep in if I felt like it, instead of getting up at 4:30. Write in my blog, instead of writing technical manuals. Make my life mine again. Only one thing on a very short list hasn’t happened yet… a puppy. But the most important has, in spades. I’ve never, ever been bored.

  2. Sarah Avatar

    I make a loose plan for my day the evening before. By this time, the weather forecast can’t go too far awry. But I still try to build in plenty of open space to my day. Obviously right now, a lot of it is consumed by a puppy, but he is slowly getting there. If you ever want to Skype, FaceTime or Zoom sometime let me know. Once you get bored of course 😉

    1. Karen Lakis Avatar

      I’m not sure I will ever be bored – but would definitely like to Skype or FaceTime or (what the heck is Zoom?). I’ll send you an email!

  3. Lynne Avatar

    Happy days Karen . . .
    Best part of retirement, no meetings, deadlines, phone calls, time crunches, stress.
    I think the best plan is to enjoy more Bald Eagle, kayak quiet, camera in hand . . .
    I will look forward to hearing about your days and seeing pictures.
    Congratulations . . . this time is YOURS. . . . enjoy every minute.

  4. Beatrice Avatar

    Best wishes on your future plans, Karen. We always tell people that retirement is the best “job” we’ve ever had and we have been enjoying it for nearly 20 years. Every day is a new adventure, whether things are planned or just happen. We’ve done a lot in those years…relocated from our native NJ to a small VA town where we bought and renovated an older home, which we enjoyed for a dozen years, before relocating again to an apt in a former textile mill in NH. Those years were filled with new experiences for both of us and you will certainly find many as well. And, VT is also one of our favorite places, next to NH of course?

  5. Debbie Avatar

    oh karen, don’t make too many plans, it’s better to just “let it ride”, especially in the beginning!! i am so happy for you as i just love retirement!! you will have so much more time to do the things you love to do and let your creative juices flow!! these pictures are beautiful, the first and the eagle…he sure did have his eye on you!!!

  6. Barb Avatar

    I like to go with the flow now. I make appointments that I must keep, but otherwise, I enjoy the freedom to choose whatever comes my way. Don’t schedule too much is my advise. Wait and see what life offers you. These photos are awesome, Karen. That eagle! I’m on your mailing list now, so hopefully I won’t get so far behind again.

  7. Carola Bartz Avatar

    Your “plans” sound really good, and I am sure that eventually there will be some structure in your days. But I think this time of transitioning from the busy work life to the more relaxed retirement is important and it’s good not to have plans, to feel how life unfolds, what’s happening.
    I’m usually kind of in between. For example, I had plans for some parts of my summer break, but that also left some totally unplanned days that could unfold. It was a good mixture. My worry is that if I don’t plan at all time will just slip by and I might regret having missed some opportunities.

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