Retirement: reinventing priorities

The best part of retirement is that I get to choose how to spend my time.

My friend Kathy (Bunny) Adkins says she is as busy as she ever was prior to retirement, but that now, she’s doing what feeds her intellectually, emotionally, and physically. For her, that means being involved in leading travel groups (I just went to Italy with her and 20+ other fun women!), actively participating in church and civic organizations (paying it forward!), and working as a Zumba instructor (she’s in the best shape ever!).

Another retired friend, Joyce Wiley, spends her time as a community leader and activist, especially in the Aldine and Acres Homes area of Harris County. Mayor Sylvester Turner takes her call when she phones him—and he listens. Others do as well because she has proven herself as one who wants to improve the lives of others. She continues to do the meaningful work she did when she worked for Lone Star College, but now she does it for the greater good, no longer for a paycheck.

My friend and mentor Jackie Crowley has accomplished so much in “retirement.” She coached me through the last several decades of my profession (no easy task), coordinated the creation and production of the CASA book Just for Now: Kids and the People of the Court to help assuage fears of abused and neglected children caught up in the court system while she served as a CASA volunteer (an amazing feat), served as a Lay Chaplain for Texas Children’s Hospital, and became a certified Laugh Therapy facilitator (to give sick children the healing power of laughter). Now, with three magnificent grandsons, she is sharing her wisdom and unshakable sense of humor with them so they can grow into the men their father is.

So… here I am 91 days into my retirement. What’s on my horizon?

Travel. I am finally mature enough to go to Italy and other places and soak in the culture and history instead of knee-walking myself through a “Bar Crawl,” which is what many young adults seem to be doing. When you read this, I’ll be in my paternal ancestor’s homeland, Ireland, with my sweetie. I’m enrolled in a workshop “Aging with Panache.” My friend Karleen Koen and I are going to lead a condensed 1-day workshop on the topic at the Jung Center later in this month.

Teach. The great thing about my profession is that it’s a lifetime commitment. What makes it so desirable in retirement is that there’s no more grading papers. In addition to the one day April 26 “Afternoon of Life” workshop, I’ll be teaching an 8-week class in memoir writing, tentatively titled “Writing Stories from a Well-Lived Life,” at the Jung Center in the Fall. Prior to that, I will offer a 2-day workshop entitled “Turning Points in the Arc of Memoir” at Writepace, June 22 and 29.

Write. I will continue to blog. All writers need to practice and blogging is a place where I can explore ideas, recall life adventures, and explore the boundaries of my craft. Although I have a novel that needs revision, I’ve decided to devote the summer and early autumn to researching and drafting the story of Lane Murray, a pioneer in correctional education. (I’m still astounded that no one has done this before. Perhaps it is God’s way of inviting me to get a new perspective on my mother (yes, she is)—to understand her challenges as a professional woman in a patriarchal world in the ‘60s.

Of course, there are ingredients in my life that will remain no matter what tomorrow’s plans/goals may be.  I’ll continue to love two men with all my heart: my sweetheart Ronnie and my son Matthew. I am a hard woman to love (I’m bossy and often self-absorbed), but they both possess kind hearts, and they motivate me to be a better person.

I will continue to seek God, both in and outside of religion. I am so happy to find Him everywhere I look in earnest.

I will continue to nourish the friendships I have with the most extraordinary, creative women. They feed my soul with their fierce persistence, endless generosity, and bravely bold endeavors. I am so blessed to be in their company. (Yes, you, “Bunny,” Karleen, Jackie, Wynell, Maya, Barbara Jean C.C., Melanie, Cheryl, Bernice, Dorothy, MelissaCassandra, “M.E.,” Rilla, Susan, Pat, Sandi, and… and… and… Oh heck-fire, this blog cannot contain all your names! But my heart can, and does.)

How about you? What is on your horizon?