Living life to the fullest is the one message that my mother taught me every day. She always told us to enjoy life and do everything we wanted to do instead of waiting for the right time to do it. It didn’t make much sense to me at the time since I didn’t really know what life was all about, but it started making sense as soon as I turned 18 years old. My mother use to talk to us about death and how wonderful it is when you have done everything you want to do without having any regrets or saying, I wished I woulda or shoulda taken a trip to Yosemite or to see the Eiffel Tower. I grew up in a family with 11 uncles and aunts that were always a joy to be around. Actually, all of the lessons they taught me and my cousins, still lives inside of me today.
Many of my friends are starting to retire from long careers with some anxiety. I learned early that the word retirement only means preparing to get involved in all the activities that we love. Many of us work many years at jobs that we hate because of so many horrible managers and co-workers that should never be in their positions. We have been taught to put up with the bullshit because it will lead to our retirement, even if it means giving up so much of ourselves. Once people retire from their jobs, sometimes they feel stressed about what they should be feeling, or others go into a depression of not knowing or remembering all the wonderful plans they wanted to accomplish. It’s key to remember that we are never too old to achieve the goals that we set for ourselves. Retirement is an opportunity to reimagine the life that you want to live. Initially, there is some stress after working 8 hours per day with people that you may have visualized poisoning them with a slice of delicious banana bread and a laced cup of tea or coffee. The mere thought of that makes me smile, even today.
Throughout my life, I followed my mother’s rules of doing everything I wanted to do, and as often as I could. Being happy is the most important thing in all of our lives. Each of us have the power to choose joy and happiness. Often, we get caught in relationships or partnerships that may drain us of our desire for happiness. It happens to all of us. The key is being able to identify when it’s happening and changing directions that are focused on being happy by any means necessary. Over the years, I have done things that most people would cock their heads to the side, looking at me like Pepé the Crow, thinking that I probably had lost my mind.
As I look back on many of my adventures, I wonder, were they right? I remember being on a job that I loved and living in a Victorian flat in San Francisco that was exquisite, but all I was doing was working long hours without any real goals. So, I gave it all up and moved to Paris, France for a few years. It was the happiest I had been in a very long time. It felt great to get rid of everything except my lap top computer, my clothes, and my massage table. Don’t ask. My plan was to never return to America, but sometimes things happen that force you to make hard decisions. At the time my mother was getting ill, and my help was needed. I still remember my sister saying to me, “ You have the nerve to be having fun in another country, you need to come home and take care of your mother because I am too busy.” Her words struck me like a sharp blade, and I didn’t understand the anger in her words towards me. After many restless nights, I decided to return to America, traveled to Texas and relocated my mom to the San Francisco Bay Area. My mother reminded me that this was just another part of my time to enjoy life with her. From that moment on, the stories and laugher continued between us. I still miss my mom who died many years ago. Losing a mother is often more difficult than losing a father, especially if she is a good mother.
After talking to so many people about these issues, I decided to create a plan that I wanted to share with others through a training course that would help others to discuss what they would like to do with their lives. I gave it the name of Flourish. Our world is full of possibilities if we are willing to peek around the corner or turn the page of our next chapter. Lessons in life have taught me that looking ahead with curiosity and courage can make your life fun and full of new possibilities. Don’t let fear hold you back from making changes or trying new things. Let’s eliminate the word retirement and change it to Restarting Life. After helping so many people to reimagine their lives, I learned age didn’t matter. Whether you are 18 or 80 years old, we all have the curiosity to push the restart button to try something new that will move us to another plateau of enjoyment. Often fear of the unknown or failing gets in the way of moving forward.
Here are a few tips to help you to reimagine a happy and enjoyable life when you restart your life:
- Find your purpose in life. Starting a new chapter means you now have lots of time to do the things you have always wanted to do. There must be a bucket list in one of those drawers or under the mattress.
- Straighten out you finances if needed.
- Stay healthy. There is no excuse now that you may not have the time to get out and walk short distances or book a trip. I consider walking to a gate to get on a plane to a place you would love as exercise. Exercise is much better than sitting on a Zoom call for 4 to 6 hours each day.
- Meditation is a great way to clear your mind. There are many free apps available, or you may consider taking a class to test the waters. Yoga is another form of exercising that can also be fun, allowing you to meet new people.
- Make a list of friends in your circle that you enjoy and trust. This is one of the exercises that I use in my Flourish training course. Identify friends that can be walking buddies, those that make you laugh until tears roll down your legs, and others that may be great advisors.
- Laughter is good for the soul and the best medicine to enjoying life.
- Remember, the most important tip is to always pamper yourself and love yourself first. We can’t love anyone else if we don’t.
As we move into the third year of COVID, many people that I chat with feel they have lost those years. To be honest, I often feel the same way and have to literally shake myself in order to get those negative voices out of my head. It’s true, we have been unable to do many of the things that we always enjoyed, but it doesn’t stop us from choosing to be happy in our mindset. It’s not easy, but I would prefer to work twice as hard to reach a happy state of mind, body, and soul instead of giving in to sadness and defeat. Every day, I challenge myself to stay positive. Thinking of true friends and great memories support my strive for success. Even if today was my last day to be alive, my true friends all know how much we miss, love, and trust each other. The thought makes me smile.
So, once you start your next chapter, what will it look like for you? Are you happy? This is the best time of our lives, so let’s start reimagining life today and discover a new happiness.