The Big Deal of Little Things

In the midst of adjusting to the joyful, yet somewhat bewildering, experience of leaving her very successful and meaningful career for “retirement”, Nora, a Vibrant Old Woman, related an interesting and life-changing exchange she had with her husband.

“You do such BIG things!”, he said to her, in such a manner that it caused her to pause and consider what exactly he meant and why it sounded like a not-so-complementary judgement.

“Yes”, she agreed “I do big things. I always have.”

But hearing the words out loud gave her the opportunity to consider this reality. Perhaps after enjoying a long successful career of doing “big things” she was trying to compete with her own standard, she thought. Maybe this new stage of life requires something different.

The cliche “bring it down a notch” came to mind!

A new M.O. resulted:

“Now I’m focusing on just showing up, participating, being encouraging, and enjoying being with people. Not in charge, just being there. Nothing spectacular…just participating.”

Going from being in charge to ‘just showing up’ and participating is not easy. In fact I’d say, that’s a BIG deal!

When we see the value in ‘just showing up’ and enjoy the experience for what it is instead of for the performance we give or the results we render, we begin to see past the material and the temporal, make room for surprise, and savor the little things in each moment.

Life reveals it’s own meaning when we give up the urge to make things happen big…like we used to do!

Success in the workplace is usually measured by reaching performance goals set by our job description, our supervisor or boss, or by out-performing the competition, and/or increasing the bottom line. It’s all about results and achievement, and meeting or surpassing expectations, performance reviews and evaluations.

Retirement, on the other hand, is all about no job description, no one noticing or checking our performance, no reports, no supervision, no reviews, no competition. It’s about freedom to set our own pace and choose our own way.

Each day holds little things and is willing to reveal their big deal:

The pleasure of a demitasse after a simple supper can make the evening feel special…just a little tastes so good!

Wearing a treasured string of pearls with everyday shirt and jeans can change feeling frumpy into feeling beautiful…just a touch of class.

Looking into the eyes of the person talking to me when I listen can change a brief impersonal encounter into a pleasurable and even memorable day-changer.

Having two hours to do the crossword puzzle without any pressures or interruptions can make an any-day feel like a great day!

Sometimes the all-you-can-eat mega buffet is thrilling and brilliant (especially if you’re a 15 year old growing boy!) BUT sometimes, especially at my age, it overstuffs and causes an uncomfortable feeling of heartburn and regret. (BTW this is a metaphor…nothing against mega-buffets!)

A small well-made entree, or even a tuna sandwich on a slice of fresh bread, served on my favorite plate is perfect satisfaction!

A little is a big deal when it is just enough.

I love the lines in a wonderful poem,When The To Do List Ends by Mike Essig, that speaks to this:

Notice the glorious small things.

Seek joy in the ruins of the day.

Take the vital pulse of your soul.

Find the beauty in your heart…

What are the small things that are the BIG deals in your life? Why are they big deals to you? What adjustments have you made since leaving your career?

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