Tag Archives: slowing down

Retirement Aspirations


When nearing retirement age most people begin to consider what life will look like post-retirement.  For some, sadly, retirement only means escape from a job that requires more energy and mental stamina than they can muster.  They do not think of what comes next, of what they may enjoy doing.  For many, retirement means an opportunity to try new things or to travel.  There are those who think about things they have been wanting to do for years but couldn’t fit into their working schedule.  Some people begin to think about their “bucket list”*.  Several months before I retired I found a little metal sign in one of the dollar bins at a craft store.  The message “Follow your dreams and explore your new reality” became my retirement motto and was even written on the sheet cake at my retirement party.  Long before I retired I had many ideas about what I might want to try in retirement.  I will share a few of the more ambitious thoughts.

For years before I had a retirement date in mind I began to consider retirement possibilities. One of the things I considered was opening a teashop.  When I was in my twenties I developed a taste for tea and began searching out stores where I could be buy assorted loose teas.  I recently subscribed to a tea magazine.  I felt I could almost open a tea store with the variety of teas that filled two shelves of my cabinet, with overflow of my daily favorites on my counter top. I began to research tea organizations, suppliers, and conventions.  Several years ago I even considered going to the World Tea Expo in Las Vegas to learn more about tea.  When I finally retired several of my friends asked me if I was going to open that tea shop I had talked about it so frequently.  It seems I had customers lined up and waiting!  By then, however, I realized that having my own retail business involved more hours and weekends then I was prepared to invest.  I knew I wanted more freedom in retirement.

When I was teaching, I took a “writing workshop for teachers” class offered by my school district.  As a result of that class I have several partial or completed drafts of children’s books that I considered editing and trying to get published someday.  I felt particularly interested in writing chapter books for children who are early readers or a children’s story about selected events of my childhood. (My author mentors are Donald Crews and Cynthia Rylant for those of you who know about such things or such people.)  After taking part in a three- year history grant which included traveling with peers to the Smithsonian Institute and following the Civil Rights trail through Memphis, Birmingham, and Atlanta, I also thought it might be interesting to write biographies for children.

When I first retired I dabbled in writing. I began a collection of some short anecdotes of teaching experiences that I felt might make interesting reading for adults.  I started this blog because writing a blog for adults was something I wanted to try. I purchased a text and DVD from the “Great Courses” series and did some writing for that.  I found this challenging as the course assigned writing tasks for no audience but myself and I craved some feedback on the pieces I wrote. Writing is still on my list of things to pursue.  I need to decide  which genre I really want to pursue first.

For each of the last eight years of my teaching career, I hosted a student teacher in my classroom.  I enjoyed mentoring these young people and learned from them as well.  It seemed like a natural move for me to work with students in the university setting. About three years before I actually retired, with no certain retirement year in mind, I began networking with people at the universities attended by my student teachers.  I updated my resume and sent it to my Alma Mater after talking with the Dean of the School of Education.  The universities prefer hiring experienced teachers who are newly retired as adjuncts in their education departments and people who secure these positions keep them for years. There were no openings available before or after I retired but I had so many projects and activities to keep me occupied the first year that I set the idea aside to think about at a later time.  Spoiler alert…I received an unexpected call late last summer regarding an adjunct position. I taught last fall and will again this fall.

At, this point, two years into my retirement, I still embrace some of the same large and small goals that I set for myself.  Now that the wedding is behind me and the basement on the path to recovery I am feeling motivated to once again tackle writing.  Hence, I am once again posting to the blog.  I also began a short course on writing memoirs at the local community college.  We will see how that progresses.


*In case you’ve wondered, according to the Wallstreet Journal (http://www.wsj.com/articles/the-origins-of-bucket-list-1432909572) the term “bucket list” was coined by screenwriter Justin Zackham  in 1999.  He composed a list of things that he wanted to do before he “kicked the bucket.” Looking for a shorter title he called it “Justin’s Bucket List” which eventually led him to write the screenplay that starred Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson.  The term has become a part of our language and now represents any list of things that someone wants to do, without the thought of dying even considered.




The Present is a Gift

After planning the the title of the post I researched “The Quote” about the present being a gift – only to find several variations of the quote.  I chose this particular one for the graphics.

Beginning my retirement with my hand in a splint really has necessitated that I slow down.  Everything takes me at least twice as long as it would take if I could use both hands.  I broke my finger because I was so focused on getting to work early that I was not even considering being careful about what I was doing. So often in the past years life has been about tackling the next thing on my agenda in some impossible effort to catch up. I’m not sure what it was that I was trying to catch!  Several times in my life I have injured myself by not being in the moment.  Now, as I tackle my tasks with the precision of the turtle in the race against the hare, I breathe deeply and intentionally to keep myself in the present. I wonder if the turtle took deep breaths to keep himself on track.  I don’t know, but it’s great for me.  I am enjoying things without looking at the finish line.

This past weekend, my daughter came in town.  She wanted her older brother and sister to come to our house for a belated Father’s Day barbecue.  Saturday at noon was the time when the others could come.  My daughter and I hit the grocery store Saturday morning, just a few hours before the event, with no menu in mind.  We chatted and shopped, came home and chatted and began food preparations. Well, she began preparing food as I was more of a hindrance than a help. We all enjoyed a great meal.  Usually my daughter takes off early Sunday so she can get her laundry and shopping finished and be ready for work on Sunday.  I usually begin my catch up routine as soon as she leaves.  This weekend was a little different.  She was not leaving until 4:00 since she was going to a business destination for a Monday morning meeting.  Those extra hours were such a gift, I think for her as well as for me.  We went on a lengthy shopping trip to a local outlet mall and really enjoyed the excursion.  Her sister came back to our house for a while to visit.  When every one left I breathed, pushed thoughts of laundry out of my head, and just soaked in the pleasures of the leisurely family time that had been ours over the weekend.  WHAT A GIFT!


A few days ago I talked about routines and how important they will be during my retirement.  One of the routines I plan on establishing is to blog everyday.  It’s obvious to myself and anyone reading this blog that I have not yet disciplined myself to this daily practice.  I need to remind myself that it usually takes me most of the summer to establish a routine.  But one of the reasons I began the blog was to help me be accountable to myself – to move myself forward, slowly and with precision, in the eight ” disciplines”  I have determined are important.

I am considering how to best meld discipline and slower pace.  As a teacher I was fairly disciplined.  Anyone who has taught within the last five years, maybe anyone who has worked at any job in the last five years,  understands that the constant multi-tasking required  precludes working at anything other than a quick pace.  (Frantic pace was the first phrase that came to mind but that might be too dramatic.)

So, for right now, I am blogging when I feel that I have something to share that will provide insight to myself or others.  Maybe the infrequency of my blogs is really not a result of lack of discipline but a  sign that I am actually decluttering my mind, as I told friends I would do for the first month of retirement.  It could be due to the fact that I hate typing with one hand and when I try to use only my thumb and index finger on my left hand the splint protruding from my other fingers hits some unknown function key which sends my computer into a tailspin which I struggle to untangle.  Who knows?  But I guess I have all summer to figure it out.



Slowing Down

A week before the last day of school – my retirement day – I broke the middle finger of my left hand. This was not one of those  “buddy tape your finger and carry on as usual” type breaks.  This break required surgery, pins, and therapy.  Oh my!  So my retirement started differently than I had anticipated. Fortunately, I am right-handed but it still takes me an inordinate amount of time to do simple things. Interestingly, having to slow down because of the break has caused me to step back and take a look at my outlook on retirement.

Several months ago I began considering what I could do, wanted to do, should do when I retire.  Then I found myself thinking about preparing for some of these things before the school year ever even ended.  I was revved up and getting ready to hit the ground running the day I retired.  Fortunately, I realized how misplaced my thinking actually was before I lined up all my prepared items and wrote my plans on my calendar!  I was going to “attack” retirement with the same level of energy I put into my job.  Start those To-Do lists right away – retirement here I come!  Woah!!!!!

Last week was my first week since school let out.  How much could I squeeze into that first week of freedom?  Not much with one hand in splint and pins to avoid bumping.  Not much with a doctor appointment, 2 days of hand therapy, and three or four daily hand exercises followed by ice.  Last week I realized that I really was not planning on taking a break after retiring.  I was going to keep on working at break-neck speed – just at some unknown something.  Hmm.