Retirement and ending has been on my mind. I wrote about retirement in Being Put Out to Pasture. What I wrote then states what I feel about retirement and specifically retiring from active employment. So why is this on my mind now?
Recently, I was in a gymnastics club completing some observation hours, one of the requirements of being a women’s gymnastics judge. As an observer, I know that that’s what I was there to do. Yet, I’m a certified level 2 coach and spent over 22 years as a coach both of provincial interclub gymnasts and, especially, high school gymnasts. I was watching some high school gymnasts on balance beam and without a coach around them. And as I watched, I knew that I could help them. And so I did from the observation area. And it felt really good.
Yet, I was not being an observer and the competitive coach of the club came and spoke to me about it. I knew that she was right and I also knew that I felt as though my help had not been acknowledged. No “Thank you for your help and remember that you’re here to observe.” Just “You’re not supposed to coach.” The coach was right and it still hurt.
Why is it that once we retire from or stop doing something – being a coach, a teacher, an accountant, a deputy fire chief – we and what we know seem to be no longer valued? Sure, we may have stopped doing the gig and that does not mean that we don’t know what we know and that we cannot still make a contribution. Why is it that those who know us and who know that we have something to share rarely ask us to do that? Is it that others don’t want to impose? Is it that they feel we’ve done our bit and now can rest from it? Is it that others are territorial and worry about giving ground, so to speak? I don’t know. And I do know that I have the ability to say, “Thanks but no thanks.” if I’m approached to help. I can choose for mySelf. Others need not choose for me.
As I felt the waves of emotion move through me as I sat and observed, I felt increasingly hurt and angry with the circumstances and also with myself. That’s led to my wondering why it is that we quietly accept it when told that we should not or cannot do something which we know how to do, when we are told to wait our turn which may not ever arrive, when we are told that our help is not necessary even when we know we can make a contribution? Why do we not ask others to explain what they expect or what they mean? Why do we not believe in our uncontestable right to question the status quo and how others perceive things should be done? Why do we choose to disrespect ourselves by not standing our ground and saying our peace in a way which resonates with the truth of who we are?
For me, I know that the answer is fear. Recently, at a truly amazing BSI® session with Sheila Winter Wallace, I came to know that my belief that I have no right to question others has been rooted in my fear of being kicked and slapped down. I know that much of my belief was grounded in the family system in which my sisters and I grew up. To question my father was to question the divine right of kings. And we did so at our peril. And, for me, being kicked became equated with being inconvenient and demanding and worthless and less than. I know now that I’ve spent my life railing against that belief and trying to show that I have worth and value and a right to be ME.
So, I’m choosing to not let my first response to anything which occurs in my life be to justify mySelf to me or to anyone else. I’m choosing to ask questions even if others might consider them inconvenient or the answers obvious. I’m choosing to be grounded in knowing who I AM. I’m choosing to honour mySelf and what I know. I will not be confrontational and neither will I back away from potential confrontation. As I choose to honour and respect mySelf, I know that I will not be swayed by fear of being judged or of reprisal.
As I write this, I am very aware of how this choice feels inside – the depth of my breathing, the lack of muscle tension in my chest wall, the relaxation at the base of my spine, the internal silence as my inner critic has left me. There are no words to capture just how big inside I feel right now as the rightness of this resonates within me.
When we own our right to ask questions, we move beyond wondering when we will get to choose. When we own our right to ask questions rather than going blithely along accepting things as they are and not being grounded in our truth, our internal landscape changes and shifts. Old beliefs and paradigms collapse and make way for new ways of knowing ourSelves and the magic that we each are.
Standing my ground without expecting to be or fearing being kicked or slapped down or judged is powerful. And I’m remembering that how others respond to my choices – their judgments or words or actions – do not have the power to move me as I am true to mySelf and respect the I AM that I AM. So the change which I’m choosing to accept is to ask questions and know that it is my uncontestable right to do so.
We, each of us, can choose to question as we create the world in which we want to live. And in doing that, we truly live a life grounded on self-respect. What an amazing way to live life.