Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Stretching out of the comfort zone

My book club is reading Naipul's "Magic Seeds", a tour-de- force by any definition. What struck me the most was the immense sense of longing permeating every single page. The narrator longed to feel at peace and at home in the world. An immigrant to England and then again to South Africa, he felt like an outsider everywhere he went. He thought that going to India and connecting with the issues of the locals, he could understand himself. He got involved in semi-terrorist groups who expected his help to fight poverty and oppression. He found himself out of place, discouraged and confused.

He returned to England,profoundly altered, but still out of place.

The best part about retirement is the time to read, meet to discuss and think about issues out of our comfort zone.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Try something new

I signed up for an acting course-minicourse, and attended my first session yesterday, all day. The all day part was a bit hard to take. I am no longer able to sit in unconfortable chairs a whole day. Most of the people there had had acting experience. But the teacher was smart and alert to our needs.

What I liked most was how it felt to try something new: both exhilarating and frightening, in a good way. To stay alive is to learn new things, I kept telling myself as I drove over in a vehicle that was not my choice to drive.(that is another story for another day!)

At the end of the day I was exhausted, with a headache, with an enormous hunger (I get hungry after events that are full of unexpected elements).

Today, I feel like a new woman, ready to be challenged again, to find a new path and a new stride, to be observant and careful, to be bold and excited about life.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Be patient with your new you

Truthfully, I still miss my job. I miss the people, the challenges, the accomplishments, the rituals. My whole life centered around education. I was breathing, talking, walking and dreaming about my job. When I retired, I just wanted a rest, a real rest.

What I found was that I had nothing else. Not a thing that had not been in some way related to my work. Even my wake-up times and bedding times were connected to the school calendar that was pacing me and everyone else in my family.

I had to develop a new routine to feel that I was accomplishing things.

My husband, retired a few months ahead of me, had been bugging me with questions about my plans. I kept telling him to relax, I would be fine. But I was not, and for a long time I felt a deep loss of identity.

Monday, January 21, 2008


This weekend the local Bandon Writers' group, was asked to share at the Langlois Library. This was my first public appearance as a writer. I found the courage to stand in front of new friends and strangers and share a piece I had written about the group. I heard all kinds of other voices, some confident and polished, some hesitant,some with rough edges. All of us had unique voices.

The most interesting thing about the event was the confidence we all gained. I felt that I had found my place in this new community. And that is a wonderful accomplishment.

Thursday, January 17, 2008


Everywhere you live there will be possibilities for new friendships. Making friends is as easy and as hard as you want. Start by taking walks in the neighborhood, the shops, the library. Introduce yourself. Tell others what your interests are and ask for help in finding groups with similar interests. Be patient with your ability to open up to complete strangers.

Soon, you will join the first group and begin to spend time with people in an easy way. They might ask you to go for coffee after a meeting. Take the initiative and ask them. They are just like you, eager to join and participate, but also new to retirement. Ask for advice on how to meet people.Before you know it, your interests have connected you to others.

But, what if you want to explore new interests? That was my case. I wanted to write and needed a writing support group. I will share how I became involved, made many friends and in the process I became confident enough to begin my memoir and start this blog. Yes, one step leads to another.

Monday, January 14, 2008

discover your voice

Hillary said it best: I found my voice. We all smiled at that. Isn't that a true, revealing statement, finding our voice, the sound we make when the pain in our soul finds its own sound and is allowed to be heard? When does that happen? Not often enough. We are busy protecting our public persona we have so carefully crafted during our lifetime, afraid that any alteration might upset somebody.

I spent the last few years trying to find my true voice, the one note that spoke like me, with the expressions and quirkiness that are my signature. I sound like my mother and my children, and sometimes like my husband. I sound with the history of my life, the winds and the rains that I have experienced. I sound my age. I sound sixtyfive. C'e ma vie! `E la mia vita!

And so, I say, this is sixtyfive. What now?

Friday, January 11, 2008


January 11, 2008


I have decided that learning French is good, but maintaining my native Italian is better. So, I will post with all three languages in the next few months. Benissimo!

My biggest challenge in retirement is balancing what must be done, like shopping and cleaning, with what gives me a sense of accomplishment, like gardening, and writing. I must remember that my work is behind me, but not my contributions to society.

And that is the crux of the challenge. Che fare. What to do. What can pass the time and still give me a sense that today was not wasted. Au revoir. Ciao, a domani.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

adjusting to a life without work

The first thing that will strike you after you retire is the way your mind feels about your new freedom. For the first weeks and months, you will feel as though you are on vacation, jumping into activities that are relaxing and do not require you to expand a great deal of energy. You will be tempted to schedule adventure outings to your neighborhood stores, theaters, attractions, revisiting them as though you are visiting for the first time, with enthusiasm and energy.

You might even jump in and plan out of town vacations right away, leaving all old activities and projects behind. But at some point, two, three months after you have not left for the office, you will start to examine your life, looking for the permanence and security that your old life had.

Now, at this later point, you are ready to listen to your inner voice.

Au revoir

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

A new year always brings out the need to renew our committments and our wish lists. This year, I will learn French, and post a weekly blog. C'est Bon!

What are you doing to keep renewing?

Are you still fighting the bulging waistline and going on yet another diet? How new is that?
Look at how water flows and churns and wants to move, invading all places still open for invasion. It's a lesson for our minds as well.

In 2008, in my new stage of life called retiment, I will create my opportunities daily. And my wish for you sixtyfive-plus people is to create for yourself your new learning setting. Look around you. Read something you would not normally pick up. Taste something you would not usually taste. Be new! Renew!