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What now? Coping with major life changes.

You were counting the days until you retired. You would think to yourself how great it would be when you did not have to go to work. You would have less stress, more time to do the things you always wanted to do, and you would catch up on years of lost sleep. No more hectic commute and aggravating traffic. Fast forward six months into retirement. You wake up, sit at the edge of the bed and think, "Why should I bother getting up now? I have nothing to do today." Some days you go back to sleep; other days, you force yourself to get up.

When you finish breakfast, you look out the window and wonder, "what the heck happened?" Is this all there is? Is my life over? Are all the good times gone? These are not unusual thoughts, and many people feel out-of-sorts after retirement. You might not be aware of it, but what you are experiencing is a form of mourning. A considerable part of your life is gone, and it can feel very much like the loss of a loved one. Just like with any form of mourning, you must give yourself time to go through the stages of grief. You will reach a point when you reach acceptance and are ready to move forward with your new life. When that happens, ask yourself what you want to do now that you have the time and freedom to try new things. Just because you closed one chapter in your life does not mean you won't have many more to come. It is never too late to be creative and productive. You have earned the right to do something for yourself now. Even if you have a great pension and never have to lift a finger again to make a dollar, you can still be part of a workforce, community, or become an entrepreneur. However, it would be best if you took a moment to think about what you want and what would make you happy. You have the chance to do something you have always wanted to do, so don't miss out on a golden opportunity.

I've been talking a lot about retirement from a job, but what about empty-nest syndrome? If you think about it, when your kids go off to college or get married, you no longer have the job of "mothering." You may feel depressed and saddened that you are no longer responsible for your children's well-being. It is okay to feel the loss. You have "retired" from your full-time mom position, but now you can consider yourself a consultant. However, that can backfire very quickly if you try to impose your opinions upon your grown children. If they ask for help and guidance, give it. Otherwise, remind yourself that you raised them to be independent and capable of making up their minds. If they make mistakes, it's okay. If they get their hearts broken, be there to console them and help them through the bad patch. Understand that although they have moved out, they will always be your children, and you can have a close relationship with them if you respect the fact that they are now adults. Once you have gone through the mourning period and get the point of acceptance, be aware that you have lots of time to do the grown-up things you couldn't do before. You and your spouse are now free to go out for a nice dinner alone, get together with friends without worrying about the kids, and even travel to places that are not kid-friendly. After a while, you might find you are having the time of your life! If you had your children early, you might choose to go back to work or even start your own business. In these days of COVID, it can be easier since many small businesses have gone virtual. It certainly cuts down on cost since you don't have to pay rent for an office or storefront.

Whether you retired from work or are an empty-nester, you are embarking on a new journey in your life. Whatever you decide to do with your newly found freedom, you get to choose which path to take. The important thing is to give yourself the time to heal and don't feel guilty about it. When you are ready, pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and then show the world what a fabulous, kick-ass woman you are. The world is waiting for you, belladonna.

Please comment as you see fit, dear readers.



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