Watching a woman smoking a cigarette and walking down the street in Montreal, I am struck by the number of harsh habitual behaviors to which humans subject themselves. You wouldn’t see a dog walking around smoking.
I have been wanting to write about intention. By this I mean a life by design, not accident; a life in which you actively choose where to put your attention, your money, your time. Annie Dillard notes:
“How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives. What we do with this hour, and that one, is what we are doing.”
For me, working meant built-in purpose, a schedule, a routine. My days were interesting and full and fun. I rarely had to choose – I could spend indiscriminately, I could multi-task, and I believed I was doing it all. I was the embodiment of “more.”
Annie Dillard also wrote:
“There is no shortage of good days. It is good lives that are hard to come by. A life of good days lived in the senses is not enough. The life of sensation is the life of greed; it requires more and more. The life of the spirit requires less and less; time is ample and its passage sweet. Who would call a day spent reading a good day? But a life spent reading — that is a good life.”
It is that life of the spirit I grapple with now that I do not have a built in schedule. Without work to distract me, I can see clearly the culture’s drive to commoditize the human spirit. I stand apart and observe how we deftly we are pulled into the life of sensation – though our increasingly intelligent devices, targeted advertising, food and medical options presented through traditional venues. “More” and “faster” are the dictates of this drive.
I also observe more people now who are choosing to live an intentional life. They are opting to live less expensively, to do without or to live in a rural environment, so that they can be free from work earlier in their lives. I’m not sure if these folks have always been there and I didn’t know them, or if this is becoming a movement. In any event, as I get further from the noise and drama of working life, I see more options than ever before. Options for good days and a good life.
I really enjoy watching the You Tube contributions of Dr. Sarah King, PT, DPT, who is a Parkinson’s physical therapist (and owner of Invigorate Physical Therapy and Wellness). She wrote a letter called Things I Wish I Could Have Told You the Day You Were Diagnosed with Parkinson’s – the letter is here; the video here. I recommend it for everyone – it could have been written for anyone recently diagnosed with “aging.”
To believe we are not broken, that a future is still ours to create, and that we can get where we want to go with small changes applied with urgency is important for everyone.
Your colleagues are not your friends.
Your boss is not your family.
Even if they have been to your home.
Even if they have met your wife.
They may remember you.
For the stand you took, a battle fought.
For your authenticity.
But they aren’t going to stay in touch.
Regardless of what they say at your retirement party.
A few words exchanged with a stranger at a coffeeshop.
A dramatic storm coming across the lake.
The screaming, yipping celebration of the local coyotes.
That’s what I’ve got now.
Here are nine things that I see differently from this perch called retirement, now I have been here a while:
- Building a New Life. Think about retirement as the chance to build a new life from scratch, and this goes doubly if you are moving to a new part of the country. This is an opportunity to be yourself fully, so think about not just the stuff you want to start doing, but also what you want to stop doing. You will still have constraints, of course, but how you maneuver around them is part of who you are.
- Giving. What you give to others in retirement is a mindset and attitude as much as knowledge and time. Help others be better.
- Money. Unless you have really saved “enough” money, you are going to need a budget. Get that spreadsheet ready. Also, there is nothing like a 30 minutes, once per week, discussing with your spouse what you spent and why.
- Organizing. Retirement requires just as much, if not more, administration and project management time as your working life required.
- Living Space. If you move to a new area because you believe it to be cheaper, give it a year or so before that cheap kicks in. There is always a period of settling into a new home and new community that requires resources.
- Time. Take responsibility for yourself and the time you have. Don’t drive your spouse crazy.
- Parents. Your parents and your spouse’s parents are going to need attention. You basically have four parents now (more if you have a multiple marriage situation), and you are going to have to help attend to all of them at one point or another.
- Health. Your health belongs to you – not your doctor, your spouse, your friends, or your trainer. If you aren’t in the habit of moving around most of the time, of eating mindfully, recognizing when you are stressed, then your health is already declining.
- The Future. You cannot know what is to come. Don’t believe every thought that pops into your mind.
This is a list of the researchers, medical doctors, and other health professionals who I have been following, and learning from, in 2017. You can search for them on YouTube and find any number of interviews that will clarify their areas of expertise and hypotheses. I consider each of the people on this list to be examples of the next stage of medicine – they look at human health as a system, and have gone far above and beyond the tools and facts presented to them in their original, traditional medical training. If you wish to own your health – physical, mental, emotional, spiritual – I’d encourage you to check out any of these experts.
Mark P. Mattson, Ph.D is Chief of the Laboratory of Neurosciences at the National Institute on Aging Intramural Research Program National Institute on Aging. He is also Professor of Neuroscience at Johns Hopkins University. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZpcVku45hFY
Dale Bredesen, M.D. directs Alzheimer’s Disease Research at UCLA, founded the Buck Institute on Aging, and is the author of The End of Alzheimer’s. https://www.drbredesen.com
David Perlmutter, M.D. is a Board-Certified Neurologist and four-time New York Times bestselling author. His most recent book is Grain Brain, The Surprising Truth About Wheat, Carbs and Sugar. https://www.drperlmutter.com
Valter Longo, M.D. is an Italian-American biogerontologist and cell biologist known for his studies on the role of starvation and nutrient response genes on cellular protection aging and diseases. He is a professor at the USC Davis School of Gerontology and director of the USC Longevity Institute. https://bluezones.com/2016/04/fasting-for-longevity/
Steven R. Gundry, M.D. is an American cardiac surgeon and held the Chief of Cardiothoracic Surgery title while he was a Professor at the Loma Linda University School of Medicine. His most recent book is The Plant Paradox. http://drgundry.com
Zach Bush, M.D. is a triple board-certified physician (Endocrinology and Metabolism, Internal Medicine, and Hospice and Palliative Care) who is first an educator. He seeks to provide a grassroots foundation from which we can launch change in our legislative decisions, ultimately up-shifting consumer behavior to bring about radical change in the mega industries of big farming, big pharma, and western medicine at large. http://www.zachbushmd.com
Joseph Mercola, D.O. runs a web-site that is full of energy and information about functional health. http://www.mercola.com
Thomas N. Seyfried, Ph.D. is a professor at Boston College. He runs a research program focused on mechanisms by which metabolic therapy manages chronic diseases such as epilepsy, neurodegenerative lipid storage diseases, and cancer. The metabolic therapies include caloric restriction, fasting, and ketogenic diets. His most recent book is Cancer as a Metabolic Disease.
Alessio Fasano, M.D. is an Italian medical doctor, pediatric gastroenterologist and researcher at Massachusetts General Hospital. He has made major contributions to the understanding of autoimmune diseases, in particular celiac disease, and is a super-entertaining speaker and educator.
Sachin Patel, D.C. is the founder of the Living Proof Institute and was my introduction to the field of functional medicine. He describes himself as a guardian of truth and a warrior of light, and he has lived up to those words in multiple ways for me. He is the single best public speaker I have ever seen on the topic of true health. https://thelivingproofinstitute.com
Darren Schmidt, D.C. has focused 100% on clinical nutrition since 1998. He owns the Nutritional Healing Center of Ann Arbor and is also a professional speaker on health. His purpose in life is bankrupt drug companies by helping lots of people become healthy.
Joe Dispenza, D.C. is an educator driven by the conviction that each of us has the potential for greatness and unlimited abilities. He helps people understand how to boost happiness, creativity, and productivity. His most recent books are You Are the Placebo: Making Your Mind Matter and Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself: How to Lose Your Mind and Create a New One. http://drjoedispenza.com
Honoring the place between no longer and not yet.
This report says that the concept of “phased retirement” is still uncommon.
Talk about dashed expectations. A study published recently from the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies (TCRS) finds that 77% of employers believe many of their employees plan to continue working after they retire and 47% say many of their employees envision a phased transition to retirement. Yet far fewer actually let them keep working for the firms in retirement and have a phased retirement.