|Rainy Day at the Beach|
For example, in the last couple of weeks, I have done the following: completed second language lessons in German or French daily, attended yoga twice a week, gone skiing twice, made a weekend trip to Vancouver to attend the Canadian national figure skating competition and visit friends, volunteered for a local service group, made arrangements to join a group of local artists, made plans to join a local social club, gone for hikes and walks, babysat my grandsons, gone out for a dinner and a coffee date, and completed two small academic writing projects.
As well, Rob and I went for a beach walk on a rainy day, and I tried some new photography techniques.
|Patterns in the Sand|
This is still a very relaxed pace compared to what I am used to. Most nights, I get nine hours of sleep. Most mornings, I sit around drinking coffee, doing my language lessons, and reading for a couple of hours before I even get out of my pajamas.
But what I have not been doing is progressing on my creative writing and art projects. The last few days, I have felt restless. I have woken up grumpy, having had upsetting dreams about frustration and loss.
"Uh-oh!" I am thinking. "Maybe the honeymoon period of retirement is coming to an end. Maybe I am now going into the part of the retirement transition when I will feel at a crossroads, not knowing what my purpose is."
Karen Hume has written about the retirement transition as being a difficult time: "Your transition to retirement is supposed to hurt. If you are doing it right, there will be a lengthy period of chaos and loss occurring sometime in the first few years of retirement."
So I was thrilled to read Kathy Gottberg's most recent post, "Why wait Until Retirement to Live A Rewarding, Meaningful, and Purposeful Life?" As I have written before, I have had trouble defining my purpose. In her post, Kathy writes about the concept of dharma, and specifically Stephen Cope's perspective of it as explained in his book, The Great Work of Your Life—A Guide for the Journey to Your True Calling.
Dharma, as described by Kathy, immediately fired my imagination. It seems to be a more roomy, holistic notion than "purpose." One's dharma is what you are called to in life -- acting from your sacred duty or your true self.
I used Kathy's list of questions to guide me as I journalled about my dharma. From this process, although I still cannot put into words a single calling, I realized that I have a cluster of themes or foci in my life, or a kind of interwoven tapestry of pursuits, that all point to my dharma. Since my earliest childhood and throughout my life, creative art and writing have been persistent elements in my thematic tapestry.
I had a whole day with nothing scheduled. I didn't even have to cook. I decided that it would be my day for going into my studio and painting.
After journalling about my dharma, there was still most of the day left. So I did a deep clean of the ensuite bathroom. I even scrubbed every centimeter of the shower tiles down on my knees with a scrub brush.
That went so well that I decided to assemble the shoe rack that I purchased two weeks ago. I set it up and filled it with shoes that had been stuffed in bags since the move.
Then I moved on to the last remaining moving box tucked away in a corner of the bedroom. I unpacked it, found homes for everything, and neatly smoothed out and rolled up the packing paper for reuse.
By now it was mid afternoon. I had not even entered my studio. I was hungry, so I made myself some lunch. While eating lunch, I re-read the chapter of Brene Brown's book Braving the Wilderness, in which she talks about writing yourself a permission slip.
Why was I avoiding painting? I love painting, and feel happy and fulfilled when I do it. I have set up a nice painting studio right in my house. Why couldn't I make myself paint?
I couldn't use my old excuse of not having enough time.
And, by the way, why have I been avoiding working on my novel? I had to put it aside in December for a bit because everything related to Christmas made things really busy. But now January's almost over. Why am I not working on it again?
This is always my battle with creative pursuits. Once I start, I am fine. But I fight the muse and find all kinds of reasons and distractions to not get started in the first place. I have often used external structures to trick myself into starting -- things like NaNoWriMo, signing up for weekly classes, or promising to submit something on a certain date thus creating a deadline.
|Composition and Colour|
In the late afternoon, I went downstairs, not to my studio but to my office. I put the post-it beside the computer. Then I turned it on and began to work on my novel.
Hello old friend! I am so happy to be writing again.