By Mary Erickson
The last year or so has been very challenging for virtually all of us as we have seen the very foundation of our collective financial well-being deeply shaken. In many cases, we have learned too late that the experts we had relied on with our life savings, retirements and comfortable expectations for the future weren’t working for us but, in many cases, working against us to satisfy their own personal greed for increased wealth. What had appeared to be tangible is no longer so.
The obvious questions are how could this have happened to us and what can we do about it. I think the second question is much more important to seek answers to because what has happened is in the past but we need to search for ways to cope with the uncertainty of the future. For those of us nearing retirement the uncertainty looms large with questions about whether retirement is even an option anymore. In spite of my own personal disappointment and tangible loss, the reality for me is that I always should have at least suspected that this was a possibility. Well, I didn’t think that way and was greatly shocked and the sense of betrayal that I have felt has been palpable.
I have no solution but do find hope in the prospect of being challenged to look at my life with less certitude and with more of a sense of not knowing what the future will bring. This reality requires that I trust in the idea that things will work out for the best in spite of truly no longer knowing how or when my retirement may occur. “Taking one day at a time” makes a lot of sense now and a stronger reliance that I am not alone in this. I am not alone because there are millions of others in the same situation but more importantly, I am not alone because I know that the Divine is accompanying me on this journey. My dictionary tells me that faith is defined by not demanding proof…..I have faith that I am not alone on this journey into the future.
There are ways that I feel we can cope with a new reality that has shaken our perception of future stability. Usually when I begin to feel anxious it is clearly a physical response to fear of the unknown. I feel the fear in my body, so it my body that I focus on to diminish the fear. I find that a good, long walk will begin to alleviate some of the anxiety and helps put me back into the presence of God and nature. This and regular breathing practice has done a great deal to help me calm myself and to remember what is really important in my life: my family and friends.