When reflecting upon this past year, I selected one photo from each month that represents a valuable lesson learned. Many of these lessons are not new but have taken on even deeper meaning for me in my retirement.
January: Be grateful for friends who keep in touch
Even in this age of ‘social media galore,’ it is easy to lose meaningful connection with others. I am saddened by many relationships that have gone unnourished and greatly appreciate those who have done the extra mile to keep me in their lives…and to remain in mine. Here’s a sampling of a few of those people who I have been able to connect with in retirement. If you do not see your photo in the link, please drop by or otherwise keep in touch. I would be delighted to add your picture.
February: Last minute travel has great perks
Spontaneous, spur of the moment travel can be very invigorating and may be more doable than you think. Last February, we were able to book a Cocoa Beach Home Exchange with super cheap flights by booking less than one week ahead. Sometimes a last minute break is just what the soul craves.
March: Happiness is being part of the gang.
When I was a young child, my favourite t-shirt featured a Peanuts cartoon bearing this quote. For many reasons, this shirt became significant to me and I included it in my memorabilia that I brought with me to university. Research repeatedly proves that those who are surrounded by friends/family typically enjoy greater health benefits.
April: Grandparenting never gets olds
When a baby trustingly snuggles in your arms, or a toddler takes your hand and calls you Grandma…it melts your heart. I look forward to discovering further milestones in Grandparenthood. Bring it on!
May: Live your life to the fullest NOW!
Last May I had a health scare that instantly dissolved my petty worries and clearly revealed what and who was most important in my life. Miraculously, the health concern turned out to be a misdiagnosis. The valuable lesson learned remained.
June: Love where you live.
There has been significant research done on ‘Blue Zones,’ environments that increase our health and happiness. I am extremely grateful for our small island town. It contains beautiful beaches, offers a mild climate (by Canadian standards), is highly walkable and is a doable drive to most of our family members. As an added bonus, we are surrounded by the best neighbours ever!
July: Great accomplishments begin with just one step.
Tackling the top travel item from our bucket list, my husband and I agreed to walk over 700 km of the Camino Trail this past summer. Two months before showtime, I developed sciatica and came down with dreaded (and long-lasting) bronchitis as well as an ear infection. I feared that I would never make the hike.
August: The journey outweighs the destination…BUT the destination can be pretty sweet as well!
But make the hike we did…and we loved every minute of it. Within two days of walking my sciatic nerve returned to normal as did the rest of my health. These challenges served to increase my determination…and made reaching the destination even more thrilling. (You can read more about our Camino adventures starting here.)
Milestones are important…and give us a great excuse to honour those we love. This past September was Richard’s 70th birthday. We are both grateful to all who sent their warm wishes and helped commemorate his big day.
Want to increase your own well-being? Do something for others. Richard and I are fortunate to be regular volunteers at our local animal shelter. This past autumn, we also had two amazing volunteer experiences at Best Friend’s Animal Sanctuary in Utah. In all cases, we have gained much more than we could ever give.
November: Reach Out
I’m grateful for all those who have reached out and turned being ‘acquaintances’ into firm friendship. This past October-November, I was able to meet in- person four bloggers whom I regularly follow. I have also been able to meet one other blogger who has recently moved near me. Whether it be at your yoga studio, during a walk in your neighbourhood, or at your favourite blog…reach out and make a new friend. It can enrich your life one-hundred fold.
December: Cherish Every Moment
For this recent Christmas holiday, my immediate family (four sons, three daughters-in-law, two grandchildren, granddog, my parents, Richard and I) decided to celebrate ‘presence’ instead of presents (although a few of those snuck in as well). With one son currently living in Singapore, and another son working out of province…plus all of our busy lives, it is often impossible to get all of us together at one time. I was grateful for every single moment. As a bonus, my daughter-in-law, Jessica, has offered to write a Guest Post about this experience. Please stop by again this coming Sunday to check it out. (Even I have not read it yet.)
What about you? What was an important lesson or reminder reinforced for you in 2017?