Transformative is a word that implies a great shift brought on by incidents, occurrences or actions in one’s life. I sometimes also hear the word pivotal used interchangeably. I’ve been thinking about these words quite a bit lately, increasingly so over the last 6 months.

I just got back from a month long vacation (and I use the term loosely because it was a mix of business and pleasure) but it was a fun road trip. Remarkably, it was such an incredible aggregate of impactful moments that it may take quite some time to process. Generally speaking, we can only hope to retain and process some of what happens in our life and when moments come too fast and furiously, it can be overwhelming.

Before I left I had friends say that this trip may well be transformative for me. I assumed they were referring to my work and I can now agree. However, I have to expand on that endorsement with what else I am noticing.

I’ve had the month to think about each of the moments as they occur and try to digest and sort them for a later, deeper evaluation. As we moved from state to state I took pictures for later. We went to galleries and art museums and saw scenery that was different from what I was used to. At one point I began to paint oil studies of what I was seeing as well.

What I realized is that almost every event in our lives is transformative. Each step we take is pivotal. What I think we tend to do is we live our lives in a mode more rooted in survival than in experience, and in doing that we miss the importance of the details. We know major events can be life-changing but somehow we learned to rank all of the small steps and small decisions as inconsequential. Every moment of every day of our lives is transformative, or has the potential to be. We pride ourselves with just being able to field, deflect or avoid harm when in fact they, too, are transformative moments.

Perhaps these moments are just noticeable to us in retirement because of the change in speed that we now experience and are more aware of the small events that could be important. Because of the perfect storm of retirement’s awakening and the ability to start rebuilding schedules, assign different values to moments, and even the luxury of being able to note, process, and implement change within ourselves. We are more aware of what each small moment is teaching us. Transformative actually means reawakening and allowing all of the micro workings of your life – body and soul now reunited fully – to reset.

Yes, this vacation was transformative because I realized what it truly meant to retire. It’s not just about free time, coffee and jammies, or making rent. It is about tabala rasa… but, you get to bring your accumulated tool kit with you. Now I can allow myself to relearn what is important from the granular to the monumental. I am filled with gratitude. I am flooded with joy. I am aware of a growing sense of love and peace. I can be overwhelmed with thankfulness when I’m handed that cup of coffee, I am hugged tightly by a friend, I see a sunset, or even feel changes in temperature eddying in each breeze.

Now that I am home and at my easel I will be sourcing the photos I took and working my way though the visual impact as well as the emotional and intellectual impacts of the last month. I offer you this 16″ x 20″ oil on canvas of the sunset over the Gulf waters in Florida.