The Art of Retirement!

Welcome to Art of Retirement : Consider what shape your life will take.

To stay curious--stay open

To stay curious–stay open

First off, the word retirement should be stricken from our vocabulary because it suggests an outmoded concept for living well!  Instead, we need to be looking at re-engagement, reconnecting, and redesign as more accurate concepts.  We need to be asking “What is my life experience telling me about the life I have yet to live?”

Even if we know these things, it can be hard to access our own history!  Our life story is all about us–we hang it on our walls, have it in our photo albums and reveal it in our party chatter. But the really useful stuff, the memories, beliefs, talents and vision may be hiding in plain sight.

  • Whether you’re still working or in search of good work, you can expand your thinking beyond its current scope to include work that matters most to you.   This search for meaningful “work” or occupation is a lifelong task for most, made more urgent by the awareness of time and for many, the perceived and real limitations of self, transferable skills and access to useful information.

  • Limitations from within are the most cunning for often we can’t see the incremental steps we are taking to slow down, not keep up, leave things for other people to do, not walk that extra step. In this way we may be enacting our parents’ view of aging.  While this process is happening, the outside world is seeing us and assumes we are frail before our time. “May I carry your bags to the car?” a helpful shopkeeper asks. “Would you like my seat,” a thoughtful rider asks. At times, of course, these are welcome gestures, but are we infirming ourselves by internalizing the projections of others?  We need to be watchers at our own gates.

  • Our options in later life are subtly influenced by current and previous environments. The media sends messages about the good life, the easy life: “This is your time, enjoy it to the fullest.” What’s more they will even provide us with leisure ware and cruise ships to display it on. There are fewer images of those that have chosen meaning and purpose over happiness and ease.  This time may actually be the one time in life we get to dedicate our time, energy, wisdom and resources to making a difference!

  • We are creatures of habit and our thinking follows familiar paths. But to live fully and in touch with our deepest needs, we have to jump from familiar thinking to the less familiar but fertile terrain of our yet-to-be. This involves opening the doors to new knowledge about ourselves, to the  rediscovering of forgotten interests and skills, to seeing paths not fully pursued and projects and ideas left at the wayside.

Living well means being alert to the new, the unexpected, and that which is yet-to-announce itself!  

Art of Retirement opens your memory and imagination to discover the  “works” you are yet to do in life.

Whatever the shape of those works, whether they involve essential travel, study, conversations, writing, forgiving, interviewing, healing or founding, AR provides frameworks for guiding you and others through a satisfying life design process.

AR offers seminars, presentations, retreats, online and private consultations, as well as assistance on special projects that may include:

•  Writing autobiographyCreative Outdoor Projects
•  Audio and visual recordings
•  Designing commemorative rituals
•  Organizing family retreats
•  Creating books and art pieces
•  Designing journeys of remembrance that may involve local, national and international itineraries

AR works with a team of specialists who have expertise in ethnography, legacy work, web design, film-making, editing, art installations, and special
events planning.

Posted in Art of Retirement by Kendall Dudley. 2 Comments

Robbins Library Program in Arlington MA: Living Your Life With Moxie: Vivid Frameworks For The Next Chapter

Make peace with being a nomad and moving so often

Where will you move next? What parts of you will you more fully inhabit?

Consider the container in which you live.  Do you need to change it in some ways? Are they fundamental or more decorative? Do you need to tear down a wall or add an addition or move your structure entirely? Albert Camus talked about being happiest in a prison of our own construction.  Without a form of prison, we would have little focus. How is that prison of yours? Does it need alterations? Additions? or just a new paint job?  If you’re willing to explore possibilities, how would you begin? How would you let new information seep in? Sometimes we are really in search of the right questions.

What is that name of that period that starts around 60 and goes on for a long while if we’re lucky?  The Age of Reflection? The Age of Opportunity? of Redesign? Reconstruction? Gene Cohen MD described the period starting in mid life as the Creative Age because of the forces that are let loose in us…forces that we can damp down and ignore if we need to but are available to us if we’re willing to listen and cultivate them. I think of it as an opportunity for shifting paradigms about ourselves, about having our assumptions challenged and ultimately being loosened by them, and made freer.

If we slow down to listen, though, we are in danger of hearing many voices, some painful, some indistinct, some clearly yearning to have an influence.  But listening is hard if you’re not used to it and it needs to be primed with humor, writing, art, acting, rule breaking, risk taking, dreaming–steps necessary to let your reality come closer to the surface.  Egads! Yes, but how to do that?

Kurdistan in Summer

A first step: Write your life story in an hour. Give it a title. then another title.  See that many titles appear yet each suggests a subtle difference in how you see you life.  What would the cover of the story of your life look like? What are the variety of images that come to mind? What do they suggest about the future?  Are there parts of your life story that suggest “work” you are yet to do in life?  Any unfinished “work” with your family, interests, skills, dreams, or personal history? Have you yet to learn enough Croatian to visit the town your beloved grandmother once knew as a child? Have you never studied guitar intensely enough to be as good as you once dreamed of being? What is calling you now?

To learn more: Contact Kendall at 781.640.9957

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Living Your Life With Moxie: Customizable Programs

These 2-6 hour programs explore the wild ride that is the second half of life through a process that includes play, purpose, work, vision, love, pilgrimage and community—many matters practical and sublime.  Customizable to your organization, family, friends or co-workers, Living With Moxie adds unique approaches to getting at and providing motivation for what matters most to individuals now. I invite you and others to bring your boxes so together, we can help us climb out of them. Call 781.640.9957 for information or lifeworksdesign@verizon.net

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Life After Work: Designing The Rest of Your Life @ the University of Pennsylvania

 With 100 people you get a lot of stories to work with, a lot of energy and ideas with which to weave new ideas and spark insights.

We took creative risks together–naming tentative ideas with more awareness and force than we knew we owned–we did things that pushed envelopes like writing our life story in 35 words and seeing what insights emerged from that impossible task.  We looked at the unfinished “work” before us that might bring light if not always delight because sometimes doing the necessary requires doing the hard thing as well. Some said they entered a new space inside, others felt reaffirmed, some liked having new ideas dangled before them, others were there for the show and tell and sparkling water ! 

See Life After Work on this site for specifics. 

The presentation was delivered at the Wharton School, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

For more information, send mail to Kendall at lifeworksdesign@verizon.net.


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