As I sit comfortably in my living room watching “Match Game” on television, Alec Baldwin asks his contestants the $5,000 question, “What top three answers go with the word ‘shift’?” He repeats. “Shift ‘blank’ or ‘blank’ shift?”

My immediate response as I shout out to my empty living room – Shift “gears”!

On second thought, given there are two blue-collar contestants playing the game, maybe the celebrity panel should try to match with “day”/”night” shift?

Time ticks and I am now remembering my generation wearing that popular, old-fashioned classic called the shift dress.

I like “shift” as a verb, a call to action, so I am going with shift gears. I’m going with my first and final!

I had to shift gears in my life this year. In January I turned 66, officially started retirement, which rewarded me with Medicare benefits and monthly direct deposit Social Security checks. Landing in this new age bracket, I downshifted. I found I had more time, extra money and a new mindset of what I wanted to do in my golden years, my fourth quarter, my third act, my final curtain call.

On a daily basis, I shift gears, slowing around the corners, speeding up on the straights, keeping my eyes on the road. I drop it in low and proceed with caution, when things get bumpy or under construction. Having the ability to shift gears shifts perspective; it puts you in the driver’s seat.

Being in the driver’s seat can be emotional. When starting something new, first gear can be exhilarating. Getting stuck in second gear is frustrating, dropping it into third gear starts feeling more comfortable. Fourth gear, more relaxed. Then finally cruising into fifth, life motors along at a nice happy clip.

Most days I merrily roll along, shifting gears when the need arises, changing lanes, changing minds, changing focus. Blinkers are my directional signals. Left foot available to pop the clutch, right foot available for braking, but mostly it’s firmly planted on the accelerator with no indication of slowing down. There is a full tank of gas and money for tolls.

As I apply these principles in my daily meditation practice, I become more mindful that life is more manageable. Don’t get me wrong, unexpected situations can veer us off course, that’s what Google Maps is for. It’s the quickest way from Point A to Point B. The ability to change gears becomes part of the journey and shifts daily as we navigate through life.  However, since the COVID pandemic, I’ve kept it parked in the garage.

So, as I sit in my overstuffed recliner watching “Match Game,” I did not officially win the $5,000 prize money, but I’m happy with my answer, which brings me to my conclusion. I love being in the driver’s seat, shifting gears as I coast down the highway in my five-speed convertible, wind blowing in my hair as I scream Sammy Hagar’s “I Can’t Drive 55”!