It’s my one month anniversary of my accidental, unintentional, abrupt semi-retirement. And ten days since I became an empty-nester. The best word I can think of to describe my current state of affairs is DISCOMBOBULATED. It’s an odd place to be. But if there’s one thing I have learned, it’s to run with these emotions. So I’m going to acknowledge and absorb these feelings of being unbalanced and disconnected, and then I’ll move on….
In the last month, I’ve lost the two most important aspects of my life – my job and my child. I worked at the same place for over 16 years and raised my child for almost 14 years. Now I’m alone…unless you want to count 3 sociable cats and 1 “new” rescue cat that hides under the bed. Here I am in the middle of my own sleep challenge and I’m writing this at 3:00 in the morning, awakened by a hurricane of emotions. I feel angry, betrayed, lonely, sad, excited, motivated, and happy. How is that possible?
As I began to ponder my feelings, I recalled a class I took as an undergraduate – the Sociology of Death and Dying. Yes, there was such a class and it wasn’t as morbid as you might think! Prime reading was the work of Elisabeth Kubler-Ross and her five stages of grieving (denial and isolation; anger; bargaining; depression; acceptance). Not everyone goes through each stage in the same order, but I realize now that part of me is grieving. I have to remake myself, and that’s exciting…and scary. But I also know that I have to give this time, and as one of most impatient persons in the world, I’m not good at waiting. So what’s a girl to do?
This last week I’ve been putting in a lot of hard labor cleaning my house, outdoor living space, and yard. And I plowed forward on my business plans – forming an LLC, opening a business checking account, and applying for a business license. So despite feeling discombobulated, I can still move forward on many fronts. The downside is that all of this work is isolating, and I do not want to become a hermit! So I’m taking three steps that will get me out in the world.
One of the smartest moves I ever made was becoming a certified Virginia master naturalist. Hanging out in nature has a huge happiness factor for me, and the fact that there are so many cool people in my chapter is a bonus. And now that work is not a barrier, I’ll be spending more time with my nature friends. So in the next week I’ll be heading to the Blackwater Ecological Preserve on a field trip and volunteering as a trail guide for an educational activity at the New Kent Forestry Center. Plus, I’m moving forward on getting a bat monitoring project up and running. I’m going to spend more time joining outings and getting involved now. That should cure some of my feelings of social isolation.
I’m excited about creating the Early Exit Academy to guide people toward financial independence and more rewarding lives. And I’m eager to develop strategies that will bring 30-Day Challenges into the light of day. But I’ll be the first to admit that I have a lot of learning to do! I’ve signed up for a couple of online training opportunities and Internet-based networking communities. Unfortunately, it’s not the same as being able to “bounce ideas” around with a living human being. So tomorrow, I’m going to check out an event called Cobblers’ Collective, a weekly meeting of local entrepreneurs and freelancers. If nothing else, I’ll be able to enjoy conversations with like-minded individuals.
It’s odd being fired. As the one who was fired, how am I supposed to react? Sorry folk, I’m not playing the role of bitter old woman. But there’s no playbook for this – either for me or my former colleagues and work friends. It seems a bit awkward. Many of my former colleagues have given me space, and I needed that space. But I’ve had enough time to absorb the shock, so I’ll be taking the initiative to reconnect with some friends from the old workplace.
My only routine this last month has been a 4-week fitness program, which ends this week. I won’t be signing on as a member – not worth the hefty price tag. But that leaves me with absolutely no routine! And I can’t function without some routine in my life. I have some major tasks ahead of me that are out of the norm, such as clearing out some dead shrubs with my new chainsaw and painting a couple of rocking chairs. But now’s the time to explore my options and create a schedule with new routines. At the heart of my new routine will be walking and practicing qi gong in the morning, meditating regularly, and of course, building my business. I certainly love having flexibility, and I’ll be just fine once I add some structure to my life.
Dr. Brenda is a sociologist, educator, blogger, motivator, and financial coach. In addition to blogging at The Five Journeys, she writes 30-day challenges at BetterLifeChallenges.com. Her passion is guiding people on their journey to financial freedom through coaching at DrBrendaMoneyCoach and online courses at EarlyExitAcademy.com.