Monday, November 20, 2017

Living Engaged

I’m driving home from Boston when my iPhone pings, pings again, and once again. Must be something important so I pull over at the next rest stop. The message is from my son. Three images, no text. I zoom in. I think I see a diamond on her finger. I write back, “Is this what I think it is?”

Yes, we’re engaged! Call you later.

News travels fast. Within 24-hours we receive phone calls and emails from friends congratulating us on our son’s engagement. Everyone loves to share in the joy of a newly engaged couple.

Fortunately the excitement of being engaged isn’t limited to a marriage proposal. Author Bob Goff reminds us that, “Being engaged is a way of life, a way of living and loving.” Perhaps a good place to learn about living engaged is to think back to what it felt like to be newly engaged.

Dream Big. You don’t enter marriage with the thought that your life with this person will be good enough. Instead, you make big plans for your future together. You imagine the best and are willing to put forth the energy to make it happen. Retirement is no different. Just because you might be downsizing some areas of your life, don’t downsize your dreams.

Totally Committed. Before you propose marriage, you feel a need to protect yourself incase things don’t work out. You have one foot in, one foot out. Once you’re engaged, you’re all in. Totally committed. Do the same when designing your retirement engagement. By getting involved in significant projects, committing your time and talents to meaningful organizations, and investing in authentic relationships, you experience life fully engaged.

Involve Others. Newly engaged couples express feeling excitement and bliss when they share their news with loved ones, friends, and coworkers. “Hearing that our loved ones were just as excited about our decision only served to reinforce my own happiness.” Share your engaged-life with others. Expand your social networks. Share your dreams and goals. Soon you’ll find that they want to add logs to your fire—supporting and encouraging you to live fully engaged. Do the same for them.

Experience Wonder and Comfort. Engagement brings a sense of wonder that you can spend so much time together, see each other at your best and worst, and still feel prepared to build a life together. There’s comfort in the fact that this person, your very favorite person, reciprocates the depth of feelings that you have for him or her. Where can you find wonder and comfort in retirement? Be curious, open to new experiences, and approach life as a great adventure—fully engaged to life and with life.

Copyright 2017. Patrice Jenkins. All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

A Bigger Garden

My husband’s 92-year-old uncle was on hospice care. He had lived a great life. Done several things that many of us only talk about doing—started a new business, hiked the Appalachian Trail, appeared in movies and advertisements, won awards at the NC State Fair for his photography, chutney, and jams—all after the age of 65.

Even though Uncle Tom’s family had no expectation of him living another year, he had other plans. At our recent visit he said, “Next year I’m going to plant a bigger garden.” Tom wasn’t delirious. His body simply was worn out. He really did want to increase the size of his garden. I suppose he woke up in the morning thinking about heirloom tomatoes and rows of sunflowers. Uncle Tom believed in expanding his life, even when the end appeared imminent. He passed away two weeks later.

Retirement is often viewed as a time to downsize, expect less, and gradually slow down. People expect us to “act our age.” If we suggest something BIG, they think we’re confused or fantasizing. They chuckle behind our backs. 

Why think about a bigger garden? And yet, why not?

I’ve decided to follow Uncle Tom’s example—to plant “bigger gardens” through my attitude and actions, and experience life as an ongoing adventure. 

How about you? What will be your “bigger garden?”

Copyright 2017. Patrice Jenkins. All Rights Reserved.