Death Valley Retirement


An author never knows where his book will show up.  Last week it was Paraguay, this week Thinking Anew is in Death Valley.  Hearing from readers is the best part of writing.  I was approached recently by a guy I swim laps with each morning wanting to know how I am handling retirement.  He knew I was familiar with his story – he ran a successful remodeling business for thirty years but the business died during the Great Recession.   He calls it forced retirement and uses the term semi-retired when someone asks what he does for a living.

The transition into retirement is difficult even under the best circumstances.  The urge to get back into the business world, as retirees used to know it, dies slowly.  It takes years for retirees to adjust and many never seem to make the transition.  In my case I went from being a left brain CPA and investment banker and found a way to awaken my creative right brain.   I learned to draw and paint and helped a psychotherapist friend write a book.  I also crew for a friend who is now on a two year repositioning cruise from Los Angeles to Miami with his Stevens 47 sailboat.

Retirement is the time for change . . .  profound change.  You must first find out what you don’t want so you can discover what you do want.  I found the best way to do that is to write my aspirations everyday for twenty or thirty minutes and record the raw creative thoughts that bubble-up during this process.  I avoid the stress builders like TV news and Talk radio.  While I spend way too much time with doctors, I do work out and I’m attentive to my creative desires.

Despite the social label, retired or semi-retired, you still need to grow as a person.  You will have urges for adventures.  You will still want to experience newness.   But how do you do this with limited resources, energy and beaten down desires?

The secret is the same for most successful ventures; you must be willing to help someone else get what they want.   You must be daring and willing to seek inspiration.  You must learn to play so you can find a way to reveal yourself.  And the odds of success increase dramatically if this is aligned with what you were meant to be.

My swimmer friend found a rustic spot to renew himself.  He goes to Saline Valley Hot Springs every year in late winter with his best friend who flies in from Minnesota.  Saline Valley is a desert oasis 65 miles up a dirt road just left of the entrance to Death Valley.  They soak in the hot springs, watch bats dive bomb for sips of water, stargaze, enjoy the desert breeze that breaks the solitude,  laugh at the wild donkeys who wander through camp, explore mountain trails  and marvel at how a coyote can open an ice cooler.  This year they decided to add writing to things they do at their desert oasis.

They told me they found old mines and themselves.   They laughed at how resourceful they had become and marveled at the desires they were developing.  They warned me this location may be too hard to reach for most people and they were sure there are many more places in this world you can go to find yourself.  The important thing is to have an evidence based methodology, a pen and paper.   Your imagination and your Higher Power will do the rest.  If travel isn’t in your plans, you may want to paste a photo in your composition book of where you would like to be.   Try using the power of writing for 90 days.  You will be amazed at your ability to creatively transform yourself and will love the changes taking place in your life.