Are you thriving in retirement, or are you feeling at a loose end when it comes to finding new connections and a sense of belonging?


Today I have the next guest in my series on Cultivating Wholehearted Living - thriving in the second half of life. Leslie is a fashion blogger, a Bucket List blogger, a book blogger, a home styling blogger, and writes about all of these things over at Once Upon A Time And Happily Ever After. She's writing today about a topic that has been in the back of my mind for several months - and I'm sure others have struggled with some of the same thoughts and feelings. So, on that note, I'll hand it over to Leslie from here....


New friends and old, I'm so honored to have been asked by Leanne to write a guest post for her blog.  We have been blog friends for several years over the miles between Australia and the United States.  Both began blogging shortly after retiring from busy professional lives.  And have both used blogging to help us figure out this chapter of life.

It seems to me that Leanne is well adjusted to retirement and has happily rediscovered herself.  She has become content and happy with "being" and not "doing".  And is comfortably Unbusy. I, on the other hand, have good days and bad.  Some mornings I awake to realize I have nothing planned and celebrate that freedom to do whatever I want with my day.  Other mornings I crawl out of bed realizing I have a very full day and can celebrate that welcome busyness.

And vice versa.  There are quiet days when I am not sure what I should be doing.  And busy days when I wish I was just home in bed.  I am still struggling with this thing called retirement.  Not sure where I fit in these days.  Where I belong.


When did you most feel like you belonged?  Perhaps you are currently in a season of life where you feel very much connected to a group or a situation, a work environment, a pastime you do with others.  Or maybe, like me, you have been connected in the past but are struggling to replicate that in your life right now.

When I retired from my career as a librarian, I also retired from having day-to-day relationships with people outside my family.  I lost contact with most of my teacher friends.  Most of them were about 10 years younger than I and still working.  And I wasn't working any more.  During my 25 year career, I got my daily friendship fix and didn't really need to see my teacher-friends after the dismissal bell rang each day.  But retirement can be a lonely affair.


Immediately after retiring, I had to have my second cervical spine surgery when the metal plate inserted in my neck during the original procedure came loose and shifted.  For a few weeks, I was enjoying the slower pace of life in retirement as I recuperated.  Once I was up to resuming normal activity, however, there was no one around to do things with.  My husband was, and still is working.  My sister, who lives in the same state (Texas) yet 800 miles away, was still working.  Both of my daughters...working.  It felt like everyone was working but me.  Everyone had a place they belonged.


While on Facebook one day, I came across an advertisement for the very first Get Your Pretty On (GYPO) style challenges and capsule wardrobes with Alison Lumbatis.  It was spring and my closet was heavy with teacher-type work clothes.  I decided to register for the GYPO challenge to move from my professional look into that of a lady of leisure.  Members of the style challenges are invited to share the looks they create in a private Facebook group.  I did so with great enthusiasm and made friends with over a dozen women with whom I still have contact today.  But none of them live here so ours are only virtual relationships.  However, I am no longer as active in GYPO.  And as our relationships were based on the wardrobe challenges, many of these friendships have fallen away.


A couple of the girls I became close to through GYPO also blogged.   Blogging was something I was totally unfamiliar with.  After following the blogs of some of my friends, I decided to begin Once Upon a Time & Happily Ever After as a way of chronicling my transition into retirement.  But it quickly morphed into something different as I joined link up parties with some of my style sisters.

Sometime in 2015, I think, I was invited to co-host, with about 10 other gals, TheStyle Me Bloggers blog which transitioned into The Blended Blog (TBB) after a year or so.  I think all or at least most of the ladies had also participated in GYPO.  Joining the group gave me a sense of belonging in the wide world of blogging.

The idea behind this effort was a good one.  Women from several countries, all ages and walks of life working as contributors to this joint blogging effort.


Over the couple of years we were together, however, a few members dropped out of the group.  In some cases, a couple of the girls felt forced out from the group.  Which was kind of how I felt.  Without going into the details here, I just felt unheard when I made suggestions or offered to create graphic or when I came up with potential blog post prompts.  In my opinion, there was a little of that dreadful 'mean girl' spirit in the group.  Some of which I encountered in my years in education, a predominantly female profession.

Three or four of the girls became very close friends and began moving in a different direction.  Less than a year after I withdrew, the group had disbanded.


In the years since TBB, I have continued to struggle to find my posse.  My crew.  Online and IRL. In real life, I've tried my hand at volunteering:  Creative Kids, setting up a circulation data base for the El Paso Holocaust Museum, helping at The Mustard Seed Cafe, and most recently a few times at the Clothes Closet at the FirstBaptist Church.  I have taught art through the Young Rembrandts after school program, worked as a substitute librarian both full and part time for months at a time, and data entry for Rio Grande Trade eBay store. Nothing has felt like the right fit.

Then there's blogging.  I have lost sight of my original intention and purpose for blogging.  And instead, I seem to be joining other bloggers for link ups that are their vision and design.  All great fun but not really helping me find myself.


I reached out to Leanne after reading her end of May post entitled Turning the Volume Down a Little (For Now).  We visited on Facebook Messenger about blogging and retirement and busyness.  And she invited me to write my thoughts on all of that for this guest post. Since our conversation, Leanne has written another wise post that spoke to me, An Unbusy Retirement is Fine - It's Not a Competition.  She writes:

I think there's stages of retirement - first there's the adjustment to no longer working and not having the commitment to a regular schedule. Then there's the phase where you start to figure out how nice it is to be free of commitments and expectations. Then things start to diverge - one path is to start filling your days with lots of different, interesting pastimes so that boredom never creeps in and you remain interested and interesting. Another path is to return to the workforce because retirement wasn't what you thought it would be. And yet another alternative is to continue on with a relaxed free-form retirement where you decide what interests you, and where you toss out anything that feels like an over-commitment.

I think I might be slipping into the third path Leanne describes above...beginning to feel more comfortable in a "relaxed free-form retirement."  Enjoying what I enjoy...how profound!!  And tossing out the things I have tried and didn't enjoy. But I would still like to find some folks to 'free-form it' with.


Throughout all of my post-retirement experiences, happily or miserably, the only constant has been me.  I have come to the realization that when things don't work out, the problem might be that the fit wasn't right for me.  Others are thriving at substitute teaching, eBay data entry, developing authentic relationships with other bloggers.  At my husband's baseball game last weekend, I took an informal poll of the players' wives...almost every single one has embraced retirement and hasn't looked back since the last day on the job.  I seem to be the exception.

But I am working on it.  And plan to blog more about my journey - the original purpose for my blog - as we move into August.  Back-to-school month.  This will be the seventh August that I am not returning to full time employment as a school librarian.  It is time that I find my retirement comfort zone.  My purpose and sense of belonging.


Are you thriving in retirement and making heaps of new friends, or are you feeling at a loose end when it comes to finding those connections that came so easily when we were younger? Any helpful suggestions for where to find that elusive sense of belonging?

Meet Leslie

In what felt like the blink of an eye, I have gone from full-time wife to my sweet husband, hands-on mom to my two beautiful daughters, and elementary school librarian to a retired, empty nester with lots of time on my hands. I write my blog to help rediscover who I am.

My links:

Are you thriving in retirement, or are you feeling at a loose end when it comes to finding new connections and a sense of belonging?
Are you thriving in retirement, or are you feeling at a loose end when it comes to finding new connections and a sense of belonging?
Are you thriving in retirement, or are you feeling at a loose end when it comes to finding new connections and a sense of belonging?

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Cresting the Hill - a blog for Midlife (Middle Aged / 50+) women who want to thrive