Recently I wrote a guest blog post, Thriving Requires Letting Go of the Lies, for Sue’s Over Fifty and Thriving series. The idea for that post was inspired by the book, Girl, Wash Your Face, by Rachel Hollis (my review here). I have since decided to turn the subject into a new blog series: The Lies I’ve Believed.
In the original guest post, I introduced Delilah, my harsh inner critic who constantly reminds me I am not good enough, brave enough or smart enough. Her loud, commanding voice tells me I am better off alone than out in the world pursuing my dreams. She is quite convincing.
But I’m tired of living this way. I’m merely existing rather than embracing an abundant life. It is time to replace Delilah’s lies with the truth.
This week’s lie: Only a full calendar = a purpose-filled life.
I’ve eluded to my workaholic personality. The desperate need to hear my mother proclaim I don’t know how you do it all. She died before I achieved that goal.
After successfully transitioning from the sandwich generation into an empty nester, I retired for the first time in 2014. Our finances did not depend on my meager teacher salary, and I could not bear the thought of grading one more research paper. I was ready to spend time doing what I wanted to do.
I relished the first three months of retirement. It was like an extended summer break filled with photo walks at the arboretum and journaling sessions at the local library. I began a self-study on the craft of writing and soon developed a consistent writing routine.
The holidays were naturally busy but not stressful. I loved savoring all the special moments. I even rekindled my love for baking. However, once the decorations were put away and we settled into long winter nights, I found myself searching for significance.
Oh, I had plenty to keep me busy. I began the day with morning devotions and light exercise. After lunch, I continued my writing routine at the library. Often, I found time to meet with friends and take grandchildren out for special events. I enjoyed this pace of life. I felt at peace. But did any of this activity have a purpose? Or was I just self-indulgent?
Slowly over time, I traded this peaceful existence for a more “noble” purpose. In 2015 I returned to the classroom to teach just one class: How to Write a Novel in a Year. I enjoyed inspiring five eager students to pursue their passion … and I did not have to grade any papers!
However, that one class soon transitioned into two sections of How to Write a Novel, as well as two sections of English Composition, where I must grade several papers throughout the semester. I am also the faculty advisor for NHS (National Honor Society) and continue to hold a seat on the board.
Without realizing it, I am once again a human-doing rather than a human being. All those “just one more things” add up to full days with little free time. I rarely exercise anymore, and I can’t seem to write anything more than a weekly blog post. The calendar is filled and I’m exhausted.
Please don’t misunderstand my grumbling for ingratitude. I am thankful for the opportunity to teach these past fifteen years. It allowed me to give back to the community and (hopefully) have a positive impact on the world. But I think it time to pass the torch to someone else. Someone who is perhaps a little younger, more energetic and filled with innovative classroom ideas.
I worry though. Is it okay to spend retirement focusing on family, friends, and self? Does there need to be some greater calling in order achieve significance?
Is a purposeful life only possible with a busy calendar? Or can it coexist with peace and harmony?
The truth: A peaceful life can have purpose
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This ends the series on Lies I’ve Believed. I’m sure over time I will discover more lies that I will need to deconstruct and re-evaluate. But for now, learning to embrace these ten new truths will be the focus of 2019.