Exploring the Stories of the Islands and the Freedoms of Third Age

On Being Fired at 63


I turned 63 at the end of last year.  It’s an age around which a lot of people give up on life it seems.  I didn’t know that until I became aware of it happening all around me.   A growing awareness of what I observed in others created a growing determination inside of me not to be like that.  I turned 60 at the end of 2006, and that was one of the most rewarding years of my life.  You could say I began as I intended to go on.

January 22nd of this year found me at my desk, then, having returned Christmas week.   I’d just spent two and a half months on sick pay after falling and breaking a wrist. (More lessons in economy!)   I went back after New Years full of positive energy.  So you’d think that losing my job mid-January would have sent me into negative spin, wouldn’t you?  Truth is that my work ethic and that of the company had been running in ever-diverging lines for some while, add to that the slow, but sure, grind of spending a good part of the working day listening to whinging, and then add the irritation of office politics, and, well, I can’t say my heart was broken.  The euphemism I was asked to use was that I was taking “early retirement”; friends advise me to say I was “made redundant”, and there is a certain amount of truth in that because I am not the only one to be let go.

I feel sorry for people who dislike change, who aren’t ready for life’s twists and turns.  First off, it must be so worrying and second it must be so boring!

In that sense, then, it didn’t faze me.  Since I was under no illusions about the machinations which lead to my dismissal, and since, so far as I know, I was given the correct amount of severance pay, it resembled more a granting of freedom than anything else.

It capped a month of turnings points, Guy moving to England, Austin moving to Adeje and starting a new job in a field new to him, all of us moving house, so the timing was appropriate.

El Médano

The enforced downtime after breaking my wrist last October had already set in motion a self appraisal, and had made me take a look at myself in depth.  I didn’t much like what I saw.  An inner voice, one that whispered about stability and which condemned risk- taking, had led me into a string of dead-end jobs since my nest emptied back in 2002.  Although volunteer work had restored my self-esteem after 2005, it was a balance that had tipped back into a personal negative in recent months, the immigration crisis having lessened, and the need to be on constant alert having disappeared.  Comfort eating, mainly from boredom at work, had piled on pounds, especially over the last, two years.  Working in a basement, away from the public eye, in recent months, had made me tend to the hippie/sloppy in appearance (no problem if that’s you, but it wasn’t me).  Up until my reduced income in October a monthly pay-check had made me lazy about my dreams and ambitions, and it showed on the outside as well as inside.  So perhaps I had, in effect, done all the angsting and appraising before, rather than after, my dismissal, so that I had none of the loss of self-esteem or feelings of worthlessness a social scientist would have predicted.

Am I worried about my future?  You bet.  Do I feel as if I am on the scrap heap, unlikely to do anything with what remains of my four score and ten?  No way!  Am I going to let that worry rule my life?  No way!

I’m a fan of Aerosmith, so the first time I heard “Life’s a journey, not a destination” was in their song, as I bopped in rhythm and agreement.  Of course it was Emerson who said it first.

This enforced change of direction then, is a new adventure, a “fork stuck in the road” (Offspring I think?).  True, generally speaking it’s better to make these turns oneself, but my feeling is that my positive energy may well have been the precipitator.  There was me thinking I could harness the energy to enjoy my work, when all the time it was pushing me in entirely the other direction.

This blog is now become a survival manual, a finger raised at convention and certain people (if they ever read this, they will know who they are).  This is me saying I refuse to roll over and retire, to spend my days gossiping with other miserable ex-pats or to add any more to the inevitable lines of age by baking myself in the sun every day.  This is my record of my new life.

This is my first collage for foto-class, and symbolic – doors which may open onto just about anything.

Within 24 hours of my dismissal I had bought a Canon EOS 500D.  Media Mart didn’t have in stock the Nikon over which I had been fantasizing, and no way was I going to risk my “sensible” voice cutting in and telling me this was folly, (my experience has always been that when I listen to that voice it turns out wrong) so I went for the Canon, before I could rethink, and no regrets as yet.

Within two weeks I had signed up for a photography course.  I am halfway through now, and can report it to be one the best things I’ve ever done.  My efforts, as shown below, are still feeble, but improve by the week.  Much of the rest is on my Flickr page (see sidebar for link).  This is not going to transform me into Eve Arnold, but it will help me to help myself to explore any talent I may have.

This picture, the collage above and the video in the previous post were what I submitted for the first exhibit of          students’ work last week.

I also took advice from both sons, and invested (I use the word advisedly because I did feel guilt) money in workout clothes and equipment, and made notes about what they told me about diet, which goes way beyond what I have read in magazines or on the internet.  Gym membership is out of the question, so this will all be in-house stuff.

I am also in the process of taking up other, abandoned or postponed ideas, more on those another time.  Sadly, the thing I can’t do is complete the BA with the Open University for a while, there just isn’t enough in the kitty.  Maybe I will be one of those people who, at 80+, makes the headlines by completing their degrees, who knows!  My lack of degree has weighed heavily around my shoulders over the years, but at the moment putting it on the backburner doesn’t hurt so much.

Otherwise, of course, I moved, and I already recorded my delight in the change of atmosphere.  I unpacked.  I packed up the owner’s stuff and took it down to the real estate agency, where they will store it for the length of my lease – that was a bit like moving twice over, but it’s all gone now.  The new place lacks a view, but the ocean is almost on my doorstep, so this means I will not be spending time watching passing boats and ships and daydreaming of being on one of them.  I am near the airport, departing flights almost pass overhead, but somehow, what with all the noise, they don’t inspire so much from this distance.  For the first time in a year and half or so my possessions are all unpacked, and in place to make my life as pleasant and purposeful as possible.

I have given two weeks to my father, whose annual inspection visit took up the first part of March.  What is more, I did that without giving away the fact that I am unemployed, without losing my temper and without allowing him to make me feel like a naughty fourteen-year-old – things must be looking up at last.

There is no doubt about it, I need to work, in more sense than one.  I think I always will, because I don’t expect much in the way of pension, but that’s the choices I made in life.  On an entirely other level, I don’t think I would ever not want to work anyway.  Work gives life purpose, satisfaction and fulfilment, raison d’être, so long, it goes without saying, that it isn’t the sort of mindless, repetitive and boring stuff I have been known to sell my soul for in recent years.

I can’t help wondering if another inner voice, one which is now way louder, was chipping away at my lifestyle bit by bit, pushing me onto the road down which I now travel.  Note to self:  “LISTEN next time!”

My feet itch less just now.  I think that’s because I am, actually, on a journey, even though I am still islandbound at the moment.  It feels like travel.  It feels like uncertainty and new discoveries.  I am running down the road, not ambling, anxious to see what lies around the next bend, and this will be my story about what I find there.


Author: IslandMomma

Exploring island life and the freedoms of Third Age: Challenging myself every day: writing, traveling, snapping pix, running & teaching ESL

18 thoughts on “On Being Fired at 63

  1. Lovely. You explained yourself well, and I get what you’re saying. Good luck!

  2. wuau !!! girl…you are on a journey!! is it in your plans to write a book??? because OMG you can write, I so enjoy your story I sort of forgot it was about you!! keep enjoying life, and as you well said, or Aerosmith or Emerson or whoever (beacuse I heard that quote many of times…The Alchemist is all about that)…live is a journey not a destination! Love and XXXX Maria
    P.S.: Love the collage of the doors, doors are also one of my favorite subjects !!!

    • **Blushing** You are totally biased mi amiga, but it’s still nice to hear! I have all sorts of idea, and can’t wait to tell you, but am getting impatient. I guess everything happened so fast at the beginning of the year, and now I have to learn how to do the things I want to do! I must reread The Alchemist I think. I’m glad you like the collage. I’m working on a better version I can make into a poster. Miss you!

  3. Hear, hear! I’m right with you. Life is a journey or it’s nothing. And being 60+ is part of that journey. Hey, being 1 or being 100 is part of the journey. What we do with our lives sometimes is in reaction to what is done to us via the twists and turns of the world, but our one freedom is to decide how to respond. I’m right here with you.

    • I know you are, my friend! As a friend of mine quoted recently, “We are living in interesting times”. We will probably discover things about ourselves we never would have known otherwise, so that’s to the good. Happy travelling!

  4. You know, I’ve been reading your blog for years and never imagined that you were anything other than about a decade younger than me. I now find the reverse is true. Perhaps that’s why your father sees you as a girl – you are young at heart!

    I love WordPress. I’m wearing a WordPress hoody now in the growing chill of Canberra’s autumn. You’ve get a bright, elegant theme. And thoughtful, personal, inspiring content.

    • You made me smile! I look around at people, and I don’t feel anything like the age the calendar shows, which is one of the reasons I am rebelling so much against the stereotype I think!

      You are an inspiration. You know that, don’t you? Your karma is extraordinary.

      Your confirmation of how I feel about WordPress is very reassuring. I am just beginninn to learn (and I mean beginning!) about all of this, so it sounds as if I am off to a good start. It began as a kind of open letter to people who I don’t contact elsewhere, so I didn’t have to keep writing tons of emails, but it seemed to grandually take on a life of its own! Thank you for the compliments, coming from you they are most valued.

  5. Oh God Linda, I have just spent 10 minutes covered in goosebumps and am now struggling to see what I’m writing through tear filled eyes. You are amazing, incredible, I love you and miss you dreadfully. Never change and please keep writing, you are an inspiration.

  6. Wow, honey. Thank you very much for that. I know it affected you because you know me, but even so I am very tickled to know that my writing can have an affect. I suppose that’s what writers aim to do! As for changing, well, I think you knew the side of me that I can now indulge anyway :=), so to some people I have and to others, like you, not! You are one of the few “things” I miss, and the way you conduct your life and cope with the things it has thrown at you is remarkable – so I would toss the compliment back at you! Hugz.

  7. You are an inspiration, islandmomma. I admire your positive spirit and your determination, and I feel as though I’m following in your footsteps in some respects.

    For all of the recent stress (financial and emotional) as a result of my husband’s job loss (two times, per my other comment under Who, Where, What) and the inner strength I mustered up for the both of us and the support I provided for him (he is digging out from an extremely difficult bout with depression), he surprised me with a gift that we surely could not afford – a Nikon SLR. I felt selfish accepting something so generous, but it was his way of returning the support.

    My husband knows that my blog has been my saving grace (my survival manual) during these difficult times, and he knew how much I’d wanted a “real” camera one day. He takes pleasure in supporting my creativity, and I am so grateful for his understanding. I’ve just begun snapping photos for my posts, and hope to take a class at some point. Your photos are so beautiful!

    I’ve also just recently started walking and trying to make exercise a daily habit. I take my camera along with me and it helps me put things in “focus,” to appreciate the simple pleasures and not be consumed with worry. Whether it’s financial or emotional risk-taking, sometimes we can’t afford to and can’t afford not to do things.

    I wish you all the best on your journey. I have no doubt that, ironically, your life is much “richer” now having lost your job. It’s a gift when we can be lost and found all at the same time.

  8. As I said in reply to your other comment, I’m really sorry about your husband’s non-employment at the moment. My but he sounds like a keeper though! That was a wonderful present, and taking it everywhere with you is great. It’s something you need to do. What I realized was that the course I did taught me how to use the camera, but not h how to take pictures, if you know what I mean. It’s like learning a language – you only become fluent by practising, and you only begin to take good pix by practising. I know I’m still really at the beginning. I’ve tended to ignore it a bit, once having learned how to use the camera, because I’ve been concentrating on other things, and just using the photos to illustrate what I write. I intend to get more serious from now on! I wish you many, many hours of creativity and pleasure from it!

    Your good wishes are returned. Yes, I’m lucky that it did enrich my life – I was in a pretty yukky place in that job, which was especially disappointing because I’d enjoyed it so much at the beginning.

    See you online!

    • Thanks, again, islandmomma. Don’t get too serious about the camera, just have fun! 😉 Photos coming from the heart are often more captivating. But, another blogger provided this link to me – I don’t know what half of it means since I’m that much of a beginner – maybe it will be more useful to you when the time is right for you to get “serious” about taking photos. Like I wrote, I think your photos are great! Arrivederci!

  9. That site looks really good, thanks! I don’t want to continue with the classes because what they are going on to this term is using photoshop, and whilst I acknowledge the necessity for that,I’m also kind of biased against messing about with photos too much. We did some stuff last term like HDR in which I found myself totally disinterested. I do believe it’s something, with guidance like maybe this website you can teach yourself. I think it comes from the soul at the end of the day. Thank you for the compliment….I have a tendency to overexpose which I can’t seem to rid myself of – but am blaming my glasses!

    • My glasses are to blame for lots and lots and lots of things! I noticed that your photos have watermarks. I spent a good chunk of the day trying to accomplish this at and ended up giving up out of sheer frustration. I got the steps figured out, but it was soooo time-consuming. If you have any suggestions, they would be greatly appreciated!

      • I use Picasa because it’s free and I can’t afford anything else at the moment. When you’ve resized your photo (which I do to put online) it asks you if you want or what you want to use, and does it for you. Am not a huge fan of Picasa, but musn’t grumble about free stuff!

  10. I’m all about the free stuff, too! Thank you, islandmomma!

  11. Pingback: Deciding, Discarding and Dreaming | Islandmomma

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