Re-Imagining Retirement: Love, Play, Listen

Sharon Rolph

Years ago, I was drawn to the marvelous work of Bernie Siegal with his book Love Medicine and Miracles and his others. In recent times, Elizabeth Gilbert wrote of her quest in book. Today I propose a new title of Love Play Listen!

I want a simple easy recipe for isolation and Love Play Listen could be a solution. Having listened last week to Shonda Rhimes’s TEDx talk, and what’s become her book Year of Yes, she found by saying yes to life, her career was saved, play was as simple as a 15-second jig and life became simple again.

I want a simple solution to isolation that isn’t limited by health, wealth, capacity or incapacity. Anyone is able.

Here’s how I see Love Play Listen knocking out isolation. When self-care includes connecting with others, I solve my alone-ness. (Many years ago, I beat that loneliness downer when I realized I made the choice on Friday night to work on my crocheting project instead of doing the expected “going out” thing. I took responsibility for my alone-ness and said, I like spending time with me.) Said another way, I can be loving myself by/when I spend time with others. It’s being kind to me; it’s medicine for my spirit. By reaching out to others, now there’s two of us making a connection and eliminating alone-ness. So, loving myself by sharing time with others and reaching out, is being outside focused.

Play is a little more of a challenge, perhaps. Music can be play. There’s dramatic play and creative play. Kathleen Alfano says, “Play empowers people to be flexible thinkers, creative, young-at-heart and free-spirited. It unleashes our imagination.” Joe Robinson writes, “Engaged play increases your happiness, aligns you with your deepest needs and is a huge predictor of your well-being.”

I recently interviewed Evan Briggs about her documentary film The Growing Season. (The story of the Intergenerational Learning Center at Providence Mount St. Vincent in West Seattle.) The lesson that stood out to her was the being-fully-present moments she captured between preschoolers and elderly residents. Being fully present means not being consumed with me or yesterday or tomorrow. That‘s required for play, too, right?

Now, being fully present is best when listening, too, actually. How often do you fully focus on a moment of silence? On the light of the moon, on the sound of birds, on your body, on breathing, on plants, on the dog, on the wind, on shoes, on the beat of music, on freedom?

I have a strong conviction that people need to feel heard. Our children need to feel heard. Listening to another person is a priceless gift. Years ago, I read a book about priceless gifts and am pretty sure listening was one of them. Could listening solve my alone-ness, too?

Reader, consider reflecting on what have you done to create your alone-ness and isolation today.

Could being fully present with others be a form of loving myself. Could dancing a jig be a playful way to unleash my imagination? Could really listening to your child curb their rebellion? Make a choice to love, play and listen for your own health today.

I am a retirement coach and my website is My re-branded podcast, FRESH COURAGE is on FB Live Mondays at noon on Transformational Talk Radio ( Sponsors and partners are welcome.

— By Sharon Rolph

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