My official last day of “work” was on Monday, June 7, 2021. I am reflecting on my last month as a new retiree and I wanted to share my thoughts with you. Most of my thoughts are good ones, so if you are into that sort of thing, you may enjoy what I have to say.
I had read in many places that it is good to retire with “a plan.” Instead of retiring FROM something, you should know what you are retiring TO. My plan for the three months following retirement was to rest, reflect and rejuvenate. One month into it, and I think I am accomplishing that. What I am going to do in the fall has not yet been determined.
Being newly retired after working in various social work positions feels like being on vacation. I felt the immediate sense of pressure, burnout, and overwhelm lift in the first couple of days of my retirement. I started feeling like “me” again. I was sleeping better (and longer), looking after myself, and enjoying the FREEDOM of not having any pressing plans or demands on my time and energy. Getting back to making myself a priority included serious and fun stuff, like:
colouring my hair blue, then purple
painting my finger nails and toe nails
reading/listening to books
started a “Diamond Art” project
saying “No” to some opportunities and commitments to honour my time of reflection and rest
shopping for new non-work clothes, shoes, and other fun things
getting a three-month yoga membership and doing yoga three times weekly
catching up with my friends and talking with them on the phone or FaceTime
going for walks
enjoying my backyard and my flower garden
The other things I have enjoyed is our camping trips with our travel trailer to two of our provincial parks. We went to Spruce Woods and Grand Beach. Although the temperature was around 30 degrees celsius, we made the beset of it!
Now that I have reconnected with myself and my husband (on our camping trips for sure!) my mind and heart are now starting to think about what I want to do with my time starting in the fall. As my energy and passion starts to return, I feel that the sky is the limit on what I can do. I am open to new opportunities, but I don’t want to overwhelm myself just yet.
I have taken my mom’s advice and have written a list of things I want to do each day. Getting a routine and building some structure to my day is helping. (And if I don’t get to it one day, I can carry it over to the next day!)
The biggest surprise so far is how fast the days fly by. I would have thought the days would drag on, but that is not the case for me! This is a reminder to make sure I am intentional with how I spend my time, for fear of “wasting” my life away. No other negatives have been experienced thus far.
I asked my doctor, “What advice would you give me, as a newly retired person?” She said, “Stay active.” I will definitely take her advice seriously.
I am still waiting on my retirement pension papers to arrive. It’s weird not having an income. Hopefully that will get sorted out soon.
No one has asked me (yet) “How’s retirement?” If someone asked me, I would say, “Great!” It still feels like a vacation to me – which is a good thing. How long will this feeling last? Only time will tell. I’ve never been retired before, so this is all new and exciting in it’s own way.
Celebrate National Women’s Health Week with us! On May 11, 2021, at 8:00 pm CST, Angela G. Gentile will be hosting a Zoom book launch for her newest book, “Flourish or Fade.” Register on Eventbrite to attend. There are a number of awesome books, services, and products that have been donated by some amazing women to help make this book event special. Please see the list below and enter to win! (see Contest Details below).
1. Angela G. Gentile: “Flourish or Fade: A guide to total well-being for women at midlife and beyond” (paperback, $21.00 CAD value). Now available!
2. Dr. Andrea Wilkinson: BrainShape Accountability Calls ($300.00 CAD value)
“Free Phase II Accountability Calls with Dr. Andrea of BrainShape” ($300 CAD value)
Accountability Appointments take place via TWO 60-minute video calls.
CALL 1: Discuss your concerns and struggles + build a plan to help you address them (e.g., sleeping difficulties, chronically stressed, low energy, lacking mental focus, etc.) Whatever the problem, let’s talk about it & build a plan you can implement right away.
CALL 2: Accountability Appointment to check-in on the goals you set out in Call 1.
The winner of the BrainShape Services prize will book their INITIAL CALL by visiting www.BrainShape.ca/call and book a time in Dr. Andrea’s calendar. This is a free offering of the supportive elements provided inside the Brain Vitality Blueprint, and helps people take the first step towards improving their health and well-being.
3. Billie Best:“How I Made a Huge Mess of My Life” (paperback, $12.99 USD value)
5. Kay Ross: “The Playground of Possibilities” (card deck, $20.00 USD value)
This card deck is a self-help, personal-development tool with 52 questions for you to ask yourself. Every question starts with “What would be possible for me if I…?”, to prompt you to let go of your old, limiting thoughts, beliefs and stories about yourself and the world, choose more useful ones, take inspired action, and improvise more resourceful, joyful ways of being. Kay was born in Scotland, grew up in Australia, and has lived in Hong Kong for 27 years. She’s passionate about personal development and healing, and is also an improv performer. The deck costs $20 USD plus postage from Hong Kong (the full amount depends on the number of decks ordered and the destination).
6. Camille Goscicki, of Vitalaging4women, “Seize the Moment! A Guide to Living in the Present” (ebook, $4.99 USD value)
Do you live with regrets from the past, and fear the unknowns of the future?
It’s time to let go of fears and regrets and live for today. Seize the Moment! is your mini-guide to grab the present moment and live for today. It includes three bonus worksheets that will help you become more mindful. (Everyday mindfulness tips, practicing mindfulness, and becoming present for peace of mind.) Note: eReader not included.
7. Donna Thomson: The Unexpected Journey of Caring (hardcover book, $39.00 CAD value).
“The Unexpected Journey of Caring: The Transformation From Loved One to Caregiver” by Donna Thomson and Zachary White, PhD with a foreword by Judy Woodruff (Rowman & Littlefield, 2019) Available at all online booksellers Hardcover – $39.00 CAD)
With a foreword by Judy Woodruff, The Unexpected Journey of Caring is a practical guide to finding personal meaning in the 21st century care experience.
Personal transformation is usually an experience we actively seek out—not one that hunts us down. Becoming a caregiver is one transformation that comes at us, requiring us to rethink everything we once knew. Everything changes—responsibilities, beliefs, hopes, expectations, and relationships. Caregiving is not just a role reserved for “saints”—eventually, everyone is drafted into the caregiver role. It’s not a role people medically train for; it’s a new type of relationship initiated by a loved one’s need for care. And it’s a role that cannot be quarantined to home because it infuses all aspects of our lives.
Caregivers today find themselves in need of a crash course in new and unfamiliar skills. They must not only care for a loved one, but also access hidden community resources, collaborate with medical professionals, craft new narratives consistent with the changing nature of their care role, coordinate care with family, seek information and peer support using a variety of digital platforms, and negotiate social support—all while attempting to manage conflicts between work, life, and relationship roles. The moments that mark us in the transition from loved one to caregiver matter because if we don’t make sense of how we are being transformed, we risk undervaluing our care experiences, denying our evolving beliefs, becoming trapped by other’s misunderstandings, and feeling underappreciated, burned out, and overwhelmed.
Informed by original caregiver research and proven advocacy strategies, this book speaks to caregiving as it unfolds, in all of its confusion, chaos, and messiness. Readers won’t find well-intentioned clichés or care stereotypes in this book. There are no promises to help caregivers return to a life they knew before caregiving. No, this book greets caregivers where they are in their journey—new or chronic—not where others expect (or want) them to be.
“Nobody grows up planning to be a caregiver, but many of us will become one and sometimes when we least expect it. Thomson and White bring powerful insights to help understand what it means to be a caregiver and how to truly support those of us who will travel this unexpected journey.” – Samir K. Sinha, director of geriatrics, Sinai Health System and University Health Network, Toronto; health policy research director, National Institute on Ageing
Contest open to adults aged 18+, worldwide. No purchase necessary.
Identify which prize(s) you would like to win. Submit the item name/number, your name and email address to Angela at firstname.lastname@example.org. (Your name and email address will not be given out to anyone else, unless it is required in order for you to obtain your prize(s)).
One entry per person, per item.
Entries accepted from Wednesday April 21, 2021 at 5:00 pm CST until Saturday May 15, 2021 at 12:00 noon CST.
Winners will be drawn on or before Sunday May 16, 2021 at 12:00 noon CST.
Qualified winners will be notified by email and your mailing address will be required so we can ship you your prize.
Every attempt will be made to get your prize to you, however, in the unfortunate event there are restrictions in your country, you will be ineligible. In that case, another draw will be made to seek a suitable winner.
When making a puzzle, one doesn’t usually think about how many challenges will have to be overcome. Well, we had our challenges with this one. This beautiful “Bull Moose” artwork by Robert Bateman had been chopped into 500 little puzzle pieces. I had been keeping it safe in my closet for a number of years, waiting for the right moment to put it all together.
My son Lorenzo pulled it out of the closet and said he’d like to complete the puzzle with us (my husband Cupp and I). The guys said, “We can finish this in a couple of hours, no problem!” I had my doubts. I hadn’t done a big puzzle like this for years. I remember them taking hours or days to complete. Puzzle-making is fun and relaxing. We would work as a team!
I cleared off the kitchen table. We got at it and found the light that was shining down over the kitchen table was too bright, so we had to find something to filter the glare bouncing off the pieces. I tried a pink sunbrella, but the pink tinge over the puzzle made it to hard to see. I tried another one, but it was orange –– same problem. We thought something white would be best, so I found a white sheet. That worked fine, but the sheet wrapped around the light looked quite strange!
We ate a couple of snacks, and I had a big glass of water. Finding pieces that fit together was a bit of a challenge. We started with the border. We looked for the pieces with the flat sides. Sometimes it seemed like forever before we found pieces that fit together. One time when I found a good fit, I declared, “Win!” That became our signal when something fit.
Unfortunately, I knocked my glass of water over onto the puzzle! Now we had water all over the pieces. We had to quickly sop up the mess. Then we noticed as the water penetrated into some of the pieces they started to come apart. Oh no! Now we needed to glue some of them back together. This wasn’t going very well.
The puzzle-making adventure seemed to be going slower than we had anticipated. I was getting a bit tired of it all and went to sit down on the couch. I noticed our pup Berkeley chewing on something. I got closer to her, and realized it was a piece of the puzzle! Oh no! Now we have some pieces that need to be glued together AND a piece that is chewed. This is getting a bit ridiculous!
A half-hour later, Cupp told me “We are getting close to the end, you may want to come and help us finish it up!” I went over to see how far they had gotten, and I noticed there was a piece missing from the moose’s nose. I scanned the table looking for it. I couldn’t see it anywhere. I told them “We won’t be able to finish this puzzle if we don’t find this missing piece.” We figured it may have fallen onto the floor. I got down on my hands and knees, using the light from my cell phone, and I couldn’t see it anywhere. I started to worry that perhaps Berkeley ate it. I started looking in places she may have brought it, like her bed or her favourite carpeted area, and nope. Not there. I said, “Maybe it’s still in the bag.” So, I dug into the garbage and checked the bag. Nope, not there. Now I am convinced that Berkeley ate it. Oh no! Now we have an incomplete puzzle with pieces that need to be glued together and a piece that is chewed!
I eventually went to bed and woke up in the morning to find the puzzle done, with the glued pieces, the chewed piece, and the missing piece. It was a puzzle-making activity that didn’t quite go the way we had planned. It was fun, nonetheless!
I am a contributor to a collection of short stories, called The Mighty Ant, edited by Jessica Bryan. This collection will delight anyone who enjoys reading or being read to.
My two stories include “You are Never Too Old” and “For the Love of Flowers.” These are my first attempts at short-story writing.
Here’s me reading my short story called “For the Love of Flowers.”
The book is in large print and is a fundraiser for the North Carolina Chatham County Council on Aging.
Get your own copy and enjoy reading and sharing with others! The stories are also great conversation starters!
Angela G. Gentile
Angela G. Gentile, B.S.W., M.S.W., is a registered social worker and is employed as a Geriatric Mental Health Clinician in Winnipeg, Manitoba. She is married to Agapito and has two adult children, Lorenzo and Simone. Angela enjoys writing, reading, and travelling and considers herself a realistic optimist. For more info: www.AngelaGGentile.com
When I was going through my cancer ordeal, my dog, Rocky (a senior), was my constant companion. He lay beside me on my bed, he followed me downstairs when I went to get something to eat, and on the days I was bedbound, he seemed to be aware of my plight. When my family went out to work or school, or attended family functions that I wasn’t well enough to go to, Rocky was there with me. He seemed to get me more than anyone else. We bonded in a special way. I was never alone.
After my treatments were completed (which were absolutely torturous!), my daughter Simone started talking about wanting a new puppy. She was saying how she was missing having a little girl-dog around, so I encouraged her to get one for herself. I told her we would help her look after it. It didn’t take her long to decide and she went for it!
Well, what a joy this little one has brought to our lives. The fun and excitement started when my daughter called us to say one of the breeders she called said she had puppies that were just a few days old, and she could come and take a look! Soon after, Simone and I made plans to go out to the country to see the puppies. They were purebred Havanese (like a small poodle).
Simone picked out a blond female and named her Berkeley. We visited her every week as she grew old enough to be weaned from her mother. I (we) had something fun, sweet and exciting to look forward to. This helped get my mind off my cancer ordeal. Rocky was still my trusty companion, and this little addition was going to bring a new dynamic to our household. The anticipation of the day we could bring her home was killing us! We were in love.
When we went to get Berkeley to bring her back to her forever home, it was as if we had brought home a new baby! We had visitors, puppy gifts, even a “Puppy Shower” my daughter planned. Simone wanted to bond with the puppy so she made sure she looked after all the pup’s needs – such as comfort, food, water and a warm comfy place to sleep. She had to get up in the night to let her out to do her business. The household and family dynamics were changed. Even Rocky had to adapt to having a little one around. Heck, I am even called Gramma now!
I was house-bound for many months during my healing and recovery, so I was the main one helping with the house-training. Often I played with Berkeley as she had lots of energy and a playful spirit (when she was awake). When she started teething, we had to make sure she had lots of appropriate chew toys and made sure the house was “puppy-proofed.”
Berkeley has added so much joy to our lives. I can’t imagine what my recovery journey would have been like without Rocky and our new little one. Raising a puppy is hard work, but the rewards are tremendous.
Please share your dog (or pet) story.
Angela G. Gentile
Angela G. Gentile MSW, RSW is a clinical social worker and author of the book, “Caring for a Husband with Dementia: The Ultimate Survival Guide”, “A Book About Burnout: One Social Worker’s Tale of Survival” and the “Dementia Caregiver Solutions” app for iPhone and iPad. She lives in Winnipeg, Manitoba with her husband and has two adult children. For more information, visit: www.AngelaGGentile.com.
I received some gift money for my 50th birthday. I wanted to do something special. I considered getting a nice piece of jewelry, but instead I decided to get my DNA tested through AncestryDNA.com.I am really happy I did it because now I can truly say what my heritage is.
We all have a unique set of DNA and it carries our genetic information. We inherit or “receive” our genes from our parents, who receive them from their parents, and so on, way back through the generations.
I have done some genealogy (Family Tree history) over the years, and I know that my parents and three grandparents were all born in Canada (one was born in the USA). My great-grandparents were born in Canada, Sweden and Scotland. Through my research, I learned my great-grandparents and their parents (my great-great-grandparents) on my fraternal grandmother’s lineage were all born in Sweden.
Prior to getting my DNA results, I guessed that my ancestry was about 60% Great Britain (including Scotland, Wales and England) and 25% was Europe North (Scandinavian/Swedish).
I was very surprised to find out that I am 97% European! I was born in Canada, have lived here all my life, but my DNA is primarily European. This is how my “Ethnicity Estimate” breaks down:
30% Scandinavia (Norway, Sweden, Denmark)
17% Great Britain
11% Europe East (Includes Poland, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Russia, Austria)
10% Finland/Northwest Russia
6% Trace Regions – Includes 4% Italy/Greece (I married an Italian!), 1% Europe West, and less than 1% European Jewish and Iberian Peninsula.
The remaining 3% is comprised of traces (less than 1%) of Native American, Asia South (India) and West Asia (Middle East such as Saudi Arabia).
I find my results very interesting and it makes me realize that although I was born in Canada and my parents are also from Canada, my DNA mainly originated from Europe. I don’t even think I can really call myself Canadian after learning this. (I also have a Canadian Passport!)
AncestryDNA also notified me to say that I have some possible matches in their database and two are possible 2nd-3rd cousins! Confidence level: Extremely High. I have sent them both an email asking if they would like to explore this further.
Maybe I should get into Scandinavian art. I’ve always liked painting and I love old folk art. Maybe I’ll have to take a trip to Sweden and Ireland! I will have to explore all those other cultures in my heritage, too (e.g., Poland, Finland and Austria).
If you are interested in knowing more about your DNA and ancestry, it’s a fun thing to do. It costs about $129.00 Canadian (www.AncestryDNA.ca).
I recorded my reveal on video. Take a look if you are interested in hearing/watching my reaction (6 minutes).
Useless trivia time! I came across this website that has some mildly interesting and unique facts that are based on a birth date. It’s called “You’re Getting Old!” You can enter your own birth date or that of someone else and come up with a whole bunch of useless information. Ha!
You can find out how many days old you are, or how many candles you’ve “lit” in your lifetime. You can find out when you will hit special milestones. For example, do you know what day you turn 20,000 days old? I do. And if I live to be 40,000 days old I’ll be almost 110. That will be on the 24th of September, in 2075!
There is so much I have learned, including:
The number of people on earth has more than doubled since I was born.
I have taken over 404 million breaths. (The number rolls over every breath I take, just like the odometer on the car.)
You can find out what special events occurred in history during your lifetime and how old you were. How old were you when the World Wide Web was announced to the public by Tim Berners-Lee? Were you even alive yet?