Pushing the Reset Button at Retirement

I’m catching the sunset on Jimbaran Beach – in more ways than one!

Before you slam your hand down on that button and set off buzzers, bells, and alarms, let’s back up for a minute.

It’s better to begin in our fifties, a few years before retirement.

I was 59 when I had my first evolutionary astrology reading. I didn’t expect much. I’d been checking the weekly Capricorn forecast for years and it was vanilla pudding — never bleak but never celebratory either — a one-size-fits-all dispatch that could mean anything.

Imagine my shock when after an hour of recounting what nobody could possibly know about me, the astrologer, whom I’d never met and whose only access to my character was through my natal chart, issued this ultimatum: If you don’t change the way you’re living your life now, Sherry, you are nailing your coffin shut.

Gulp! Had I heard right?

It was the end of a Saturn return, she said, an event that occurs approximately every 30 years of a person’s life and whatever I put into motion or left unchanged in the next months would set the pattern for my final stage.

Now let me guess…you’re asking why I believed her?

It’s like this: when you’re on opposite sides of the country having a reading over Skype with someone you’ve never met and that person affirms everything you think you know about yourself, your tendencies, your f-ups, your sterling qualities, and all they have is a time, date, and place of birth, it’s hard to pooh-pooh any advice that comes forth.

Her pronouncement was especially disturbing since the litany of grievances I was managing at the time would have filled Santa’s better-watch-out list. I prided myself on my ability to handle just about anything. I was strong, stoic, unflappable. But when I heard nailing your coffin shut, my blood turned to ice. Mortality was a fact I didn’t want to look at and this stranger had shoved it in my face.

The session ended and I sat for a long time staring at the wall.

I’d pushed my desires and dreams to the side to be who I thought I should be for everyone else. The gravity of her damning words sank in while I searched for a shred of happiness in my work, marriage, friendships, and found none. My daughters had moved on after college, one to New York, one to California, and one to South Korea. Without them I ground along on a treadmill of monotony, lonely, disillusioned, and numb.

Questions floated through my mind:

Why was I still enduring Minnesota’s nine months of winter and three months of mosquitoes?
Why was I hanging out with people who shared none of my interests, calling them friends?
Why was I selling real estate when everything about the job sucked me dry?
Why was I married?

But the biggest question of all was: If not this then what?

What did I want? It took the next two years to figure it out and another year after that to execute the new plan. But at sixty-two my social security benefits kicked in and I was ready. When I left for Bali I left alone and I’ve stayed alone. I paid for a fifteen year lease on a house and remodeled it to suit me, using every dime of my retirement savings to do it. At my age that was risky and I wouldn’t recommend it but it worked for me.

Living here, surrounded by people as quirky as I am, I’ve found my tribe. I’m doing what I was meant to do in this lifetime which the astrologer defined as my north node karmic future. I’m creatively sharing wisdom, or kata mutiera — word pearls — according to the melodic Indonesian language. I write about the lessons I’ve learned along the way, and model an unconventional approach to aging. It’s not something I set out to do. It’s what naturally evolved as I allowed a future to unfold that aligned with the desires of my heart.

An unexpected gift came as a result of pursuing my north node path. My serious Capricornian self was set free to embody radical happiness. It’s a state of being I never would have known had I not been issued a dire wake-up call…and listened.

 

 

 

 

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10 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Diana Brandt
    Aug 26, 2018 @ 11:26:00

    I would so love to meet up with you when I step out of my fear zone and travel yet again to my spiiritual home….Ubud….
    I have followed you for years?? It seems…and this time I want to ask you to meet me for an injection of….Bali..Ubud.
    I too am a capricorn and relate to all you say.
    My good friends are having a special family temple ceremony on October 3 and I want to be there.
    Thankyou for your beautiful insights and clever words.
    Diana

    Liked by 1 person

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  2. Diane Struble
    Aug 26, 2018 @ 12:28:47

    As you would suspect, I am not a believer in astrology; but, if that is what it takes to follow a dream, I will be happy for its existence..

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    • writingforselfdiscovery
      Aug 26, 2018 @ 14:15:56

      Indeed I would suspect that, Di. I was a skeptic willing to be persuaded. Living in Bali many of my closely held prejudices have been blown to bits. What we believe to be true shapes our reality. Mine has been significantly reshaped in the most extraordinary ways and I’ll be forever grateful.

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  3. gerard oosterman
    Aug 26, 2018 @ 14:03:13

    Well done. Never be afraid to follow your dreams. Fear is our biggest enemy. I have the same feelings for Bali. A place for those that feel spiritually dehydrated.
    You did well to escape the horrors of terminal capitalism.

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    • writingforselfdiscovery
      Aug 26, 2018 @ 14:22:28

      The horrors of terminal capitalism – well said Gerard! When I visit the US now I am overwhelmed by the size and the amount of everything from shirts to shoes to beauty products to breakfast cereals! I have to think it’s what America has done to mask the loss of soul. Just keep buying…it will make you feel good.

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  4. Emilia Hay
    Oct 12, 2018 @ 09:27:43

    Very inspiring Sherry. Since retiring from paid work late last year, I am gradually beginning to peel back the layers of my various life roles and rediscover who I am now and what makes me happy. Its a process of questioning and letting go of the ‘shoulds’ and the fears. Fear of loss, fear of change, fear of judgment and more Im sure. To be able to express honestly and fearlessly who you are is what I love about reading your blog. Keep inspiring.

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    • writingforselfdiscovery
      Oct 12, 2018 @ 10:06:11

      Thank you for reading, Emilia! Retirement IS INDEED a process discovering – or rediscovering – what makes you happiest. The wonderful part is that now there is time to give ourselves those things that uplift and nurture us on a consistent basis. I remember hugging those stolen moments to me – they happened so rarely. Now it’s a constant joy because I never take for granted this beautiful freedom to do and be and choose what I want, moment by moment.

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