"The unexamined life is not worth living" Socrates

- - scatterings of ideas sent to my younger self, a sensitive girl who was fooled into believing she was a boy because of anatomy - -

Saturday 31 March 2018

Filling a Void

Writing this piece feels strangely like whining, yet I do not intend it to be that way. After all, life is treating me well. I am having a very good time; keeping active and productive. Still, I feel a need to write about how it feels to be done with a major life-changing project. Perhaps it might offer something to others. If not, writing this today was an activity other than cross-stitching or cooking or practicing music (or being the doggy door-keeper). That is, in fact, relevant to the topic - filling the void left by something that used to fill your time.

Some years back, I retired from my full-time career - teaching. The void left in my days made room for a process of self-examination that led to my rebirth, not just as a woman, but as someone aware of her inner motivations to a much greater degree. Working had not just filled my days; it had occupied my time to the exclusion of nearly everything else. That process of self-examination took the place of work in a very real way - occupying a large part of each day. I became both learner and teacher while discovering what it means to be me. 

When one retires, a danger lies in having a void in self-identification. When we are introducing ourself to others how do we do it? 

"Hello, my name is Halle. I am ..." 

We fill in that blank space with our place in the world as defined by marriage or not, children or not, and often, what we do for a living. For me, being a teacher (and, therefore, a learner as well) was much more than a job; it defined my personality. I am a teacher by nature. These days dear K gets to be on the receiving end of my need to teach and study, poor thing. She doesn't seem to mind though.

Having transitioned is a retirement of sorts; a huge, all-consuming project now complete to a very great extent. Certainly it is a pleasant change to wake in the morning and be greeted by thoughts having nothing to do with dysphoria . If I think about anything to do with my body when awakening now, it has to do with a trip to the loo. I definitely do not miss those feelings of misplacement. Yet, there is a void left that feels strange to me.

I am guessing that the teacher/learner still wants a place in my life. One very intense focus for learning has been removed. To replace it will require a heady experience, filled with a feeling of adventure. 

It may be that those activities mentioned earlier will have to suffice; yet arts and crafts are not life-changing in themselves. So it seems I shall have to either become satisfied with learning the finer points of needlework and the world of oboe reeds (a lifetime study I've heard) or find another intense focus to chew upon. 

Hmm ... the weather is getting pleasant here. Might be time to get the golf clubs out and dream about the satisfying click the club can make when contacting the ball properly. 


  1. Thank you for sharing such wonderful thoughts, my dear friend. It's really nice to see you so happy.

    Calie xx

    1. I think of you often and hope you are well too, dear sister.

      D xx

  2. we might just have to have that other lunch soon

    1. This time I would like to have our pic taken ­čśü

  3. I see an LPGA title in Miss Halle's future! ;D



    1. Well Cass, a bit late in life for the LPGA, but maybe the senior Canadian Open. Never say never!

      Hugs, D

    2. An interesting post. This void of which you speak may be, or may be related to, a loss - rather than a change - of habit-dominated living, do you think? Our egos invest so much time [whatever that is] and energy into creating a virtual 'somethingness' because it cannot seem to tolerate the experience of 'nothingness.'

      The problem with life [there's only one?] is that there is an ongoing need for awareness and self-interrogation, to separate fact from virtual reality - an oxymoron, no? And I sometimes wonder whether that search for truth may not of itself border on ego-habit.

      Wishing you well, Halle. Easter is a good time to brood upon new life and the changes it brings.

    3. Definitely have to agree that loss of a familiar context for habit-dominated living is a good way to describe this void.

      As an aside, I stumbled across an idea, or philosophy from Japan, that might make a good follow-up post. It is called Ikigai.

      Here is an article on the concept:


      Best to you, as always Tom,


  4. Hi Halle,
    It’s not surprising you would naturally have that feeling after a lifetime of teaching, I think we all do suffer some minor withdrawal symptoms, at the end of a big project or event in our life whilst awaiting for the next chapter to unfold. Have you noticed for instance, that after show, when all the rehearsals and energy is no longer there its natural enough to feel a bit let down the next day? A sort of void?
    I’m sure you will adapt very well to retirement and my advice to you is to simply listen to your heart. Be patent though, because it can take a while to adapt after retirement. Sometimes its good to go through a process of identifying what things or projects you would like to become more involved in.
    My own experience is the reverse of yours. I was so tied up in the commercial world, that when the opportunity came to do some teaching and lecturing I really enjoyed it. Tutoring on a voluntary basis has given me a buzz so I know in I was on the right track. I’m still working, the only difference is I don’t get paid, but in terms of satisfaction and positive feedback it’s far more rewarding.
    So I’m sure your passion will eventually lead you to where you are meant to go.
    Its hard to put your finger on it, but I tend to find if something gives you instant positive energy, its a signal, maybe that's what I am meant to do ?
    Best wishes

    1. Instant positive energy; I call it "the shivers". When something I hear or do feels just right, a tingle goes up my spine. That will be my signal.

      All the best to you Lindsay.