During the past year since leaving my full-time job, I've been on a mission to transition from a fast-paced corporate executive to a person who is more balanced, calm and happy.
Am I all the way to bright? No, no, no.
Am I further along than I was a year ago? Yes, yes, yes.
Am I where I thought I'd be 12 months after saying good-bye to my 30 year career? Yes and no.
The first six months after leaving my job I was still on a treadmill. I traveled to speaking engagements, kept up my blogging and social media, exercised like crazy (to make up for all the exercise I hadn't done in 30 years), planned dozens of lunches with friends and acquaintances. Every day I was busy, busy, busy. I did not slow down.
I felt a need to prove that I was working—to foolishly please myself or to please others. I didn't feel I deserved my current freedom or as a new friend said the other week, I didn't feel "I earned it." When I really did.
January arrived with mountains of snow. Whoa, Judi, what are you doing to yourself? my body cried. My irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) acted up after a bout with food poisoning. My menopausal sleep patterns kept me up into the wee hours of the night. My mind, body and spirit began to drag from exhaustion.
The FODMAP Diet Physically Changed My Life
In April, my gastroenterologist suggested I follow the FODMAP diet. Some call it the "tummy diet." It's a gluten-free, low-lactose, low-fructose diet that eliminates foods that cause indigestion and bloating. Unfortunately some of the foods that I consumed most of my adult life—like apples, pears, peaches, high fiber cereals, bagels and artificially sweetened teas—are no longer allowed.
Onions and garlic and any processed products that contain any powdered form of these foods are also off my shopping list. I'm cooking more naturally with fresh ingredients. The positive results override the negatives—my stomach pains are nearly gone and I feel so much healthier. (I cheat now and then, but I'm doing a pretty good job. Yes I am. Yes I am.)
Now it's time to give myself permission to transition other areas of my life and slow down. It's time to take my yoga and mindfulness meditation practices off the mat, stop judging myself and instead take moments to stop, breathe and be—to live in the present and enjoy each day.
I just finished reading Life Reimagined: Discovering Your New Life Possibilities by Richard Leider and Alan Webber. I enjoyed the book very much. The authors provide what they call a Life Reimagined map that I'm using to reconfigure my "what's next" for my life after 50. As Richard and Alan advise, "The map's six guideposts are a guidance system that can help each of us find our way forward." I feel like I've experienced all six areas this year:
Reflect: I may not have paused at the start of my journey, but I'm definitely pausing now and intend to keep pausing along the way.
Connect: I am getting feedback from my trusted family and friends, from my boyfriend L, and my therapist Dr. F. I agree with the Life Reimagined philosophy—a person cannot take this journey alone.
Explore: This step is easy for me. There are so many possibilities I want to test out during my life after 50—writing, travel, yoga, meditation, reading, volunteering, sewing, decorating. My list is endless.
Choose: This part is where you focus on priorities and do a deeper dive and a reality check. I am narrowing my choices, but not there yet.
Repack: Here you decide what to let go of and what to keep for the road ahead. Richard and Alan recommend "lightening the load, both tangible and intangible, for the new way that is opening up."
Act: Ooh, ooh, ooh, the last step is about taking action toward making the possibilities real. Richard and Alan say that "taking action releases energy through the optimism that comes with choice, curiosity, and courage."
I hope you'll join me and give yourself permission to transition. It's not as scary as it sounds. In fact, it's rather fun. Check out and sign up at LifeReimagined.org, sponsored by AARP. Come on over—it's full of possibilities.
P.S. Speaking of possibilities, I'll be traveling the end of this month on a girls' vacation with my daughter A and my sister N. Will be sure to report back when I return from my explorations. Unlike a year ago when I visited France, this time I'm packing a smaller suitcase and taking a lighter load. Excuse me, you want to know where I'm going? Okay, I'll give you a hint: Ciao pescao!
Disclaimer: This post is supported by Life Reimagined: your guide to rethinking what's possible and seizing your "what's next" in work, relationships, health, personal finance and more. All opinions are my own.
This post originally appeared on aboomerslifeafter50.com.