| by Linda George |
I’m halfway through my Gap Year, a concept much more common in the UK than the US. And instead of being 18 going on 19(Gap years normally occur between the ‘gap year ‘of high school and college), I’m 58 going on 59. Gap years usually involve traveling, however, the only travels I’m doing are in my mind, having recently retired and trying to decide on my NEXT STEP. I feel fortunate sitting here at my repurposed scrapbooking table cluttered with paper, pens, post-it notes, iPhone, computer and yes, white-out, waiting for the sun to rise. I’m grateful for my freedom from health issues, financial obligations and also from having to jump in the car like I did every morning for forty years to ‘earn a living.’ Now, each wonderful day of this Gap year is spent reflecting on my past, thinking about the present and dreaming about my next forty years.
I’ve discovered during this time that I LOVE doing research and could have been a researcher in a previous life. I start reading about one topic, which invariably peaks my curiosity about another area and I’m off and running. The hours fly by, and I have to pull myself away to go to the gym, buy groceries, or start supper.
I worried that after spending forty years focusing on elementary age students, my life would seem ‘less fulfilling’. Surprisingly, my days often seem more full. Now, instead of spending my days with 6-11 year olds, my time is spent with people from ages 10 months to 93 years old. Almost, the full circle, which has proven to be not only eye-opening, but also enriching.
Taking a Gap Year, has been a wonderful, growing experience for me and I would encourage all new retirees to spend a year reflecting, regrouping and restructuring their lives for the next act. In high school/college we hire guidance counselors to help prepare our youth for their futures. At my new crossroad, I didn’t feel the need for a counselor, but simply time to get in touch with my ‘inner self.’ Using a Gap year for this inner exploration has been a powerful, effective tool to help plan my NEXT STEP.
Linda George, 1-29-15