Oops, I said it again. (Not to be confused with Britney Spears who did it again if you keep up with that kind of pop culture.) Three words keep flying out of my mouth these days with more frequency than my nighttime trips to the bathroom. While I can. It’s as if death is knocking at my door. It isn’t, I assure you, at least not that I know of, but age is sneaking up on me. Actually, some days, it’s more like an assault when I look in the mirror first thing in the morning and then stretch to get the kinks out of my back. While I can. Code-speak for “I’m feeling the effects of time.”
My health is great, my finances are stable, my life goes along at a pace I enjoy, and I seldom wake up to an alarm. Yet while I can has entered my psyche and it’s made me review my life – what’s behind me and what’s ahead of me. I’ve come to the conclusion that there are five phases in my life. I’m wondering if you would assess your life similarly?
When I get older – Rebellious adolescent, teen and college years when I knew best, and had a solid vision of my future, and knew exactly how I’d get there. I was ready to break free from the frustrating constraints of my parents and society. I NEVER want to revisit those years.
When I have more money – Post college/ young adult through my early 40’s. I finally realized what life really cost, and that was a jolt. And this was before student loans were lifetime payments and HGTV told everyone how to decorate. Further, I wanted to have all the hip shoes just like the next woman, and counted the days between times I’d wear outfits. I know, Call me fickle. It’s no surprise advertisers target this group. I can’t imagine this phase when children enter your life, except I’ve seen many exotic vacation plans traded in for tents and eventually, pop-up campers.
When I have the time – My career was at its most demanding with promotions and a move, and for the first time, even though I had more discretionary income, I didn’t have the time to enjoy it. Long hours, volunteer work, responsibilities with an aging family member. For others, they discover they’re the filling in the sandwich between parents and their children and grandchildren. For me, this was absolutely the most stressful phase. Retirement financial planning put me in a panic, and personal health became more significant when I received both a colonoscopy and chin hairs as fiftieth birthday presents.
While I can – My first few years of retirement have been filled with volunteer work, travel, pursuit of new interests, and a part time job after four years out of the work force. But as I lose contemporaries, and see health challenges my friends face, as I understand what’s important to me and what’s not, I am in a hurry to do things while I can, so when I move into the final phase, it will be…
I’m glad I did, and not I wish I had.