Monday, August 27, 2012

The First Day of the Rest of My Life

It's the first day of school, and I'm supposed to be sad. At least everyone warned me that I would be. My first day not going to school in 40 years (or so :-) and my daughter's first day of high school.

Okay, I'll admit that second one leaves me a little misty, especially as I scroll through the Facebook photos of all the kids I've watched grow up. But my situation? It's all good.

I made my daughter an actual breakfast - cooked on the stove! - before she left. I went to the gym. I saw friends, checked things off my to-do list, made plans and was here when my daughter came home from school. In short, it was a good day.

Today, a friend of mine who retired a few years ahead of me shared the retirement advice she'd received from one of her former teachers. Make plans, he told her. Dabble. Figure out what it is you want to do - or might want to do - when you retire, and set the wheels in motion. If you do that, retirement will be good.

He was right. Now granted, I have only one day under my belt, but I've been dabbling for as long as I can remember. Some things stuck, some didn't, and while I've never lacked things to do, I've often wished for more time to do them.

Earlier this summer, I got into the habit of plotting my days out on paper - appointments and non-negotiables in one column, my to-do list in another - much like I did when I held a full-time job. Last night, I made sure to sit down and do just that.

And so today, I accomplished a few things that weren't on the list, and gave short shrift to a few that were. But that's okay - tomorrow is another day, and infinite possibilities await.

Some might say I'm in denial, pushing away my true feelings, leaving them to boomerang back at me and knock me flat when I least expect it. But after 27 years as a counselor, I think I have a pretty good idea of when I'm overcompensating and when things are just as they seem. There's a lightness of being when things are just what they seem, an unhurried pace that grants permission to simply be wherever I am at that moment.

And that's how I felt today. Tomorrow? That's another journey. But today was a good day.

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