Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Oprah and Retirement

Several weeks ago Oprah announced that she would be ending her talk show and devoting her energies to other projects. Oprah has been an idol of mine for years. I have admired her openness and her commitment to personal growth. She is someone who walks her talk. Oprah is a role model…but I obviously don’t live up to her example. Unlike me, she’s planning ahead for what she will do when she leaves her current job. Oprah is making plans more than a year before she leaves her job. I decided to retire just a few weeks before I left my job and only now, a year after the fact, am I trying to figure out my next steps.

I’m adding attending a taping of the Oprah show to my retirement list. I’ll have to get right on this one; the clock is ticking.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Memory Tree

I took the Christmas tree down today. Each ornament holds a memory of a past Christmas. My mother died at Christmas two years ago. When we cleaned out her house, I kept several of her ornaments. I think of her as I wrap the tissue around a small plush crown with rhinestones. Ours was not an easy relationship, but wrapping up the Christmas ornaments it’s not the challenges that I remember. Together we would shop the after Christmas sales for half-price ornaments. I have fond memories of teaming with my mom against the crowds to score my discounted decorations. Our bargain hunting treasures were the start of my families Christmas collection.

As the years have gone by, I’ve added a few new ornaments every year. This year I picked up a souvenir ornament on my retirement cruise to Alaska, It hung on the tree alongside the green salt dough dinosaur one of the kids made in kindergarten. My son will be thirty this year; his “baby’s first Christmas” ornament dangled alongside the double-decker bus from the "Rayer Reunion, 1997." The decorations document births and deaths, major life changes, and the spirit of Christmas past. I remember the love as I put each shiny or tattered ornament in the box.

When my grandchildren were born I started the tradition of buying each of them an ornament every year. I try to find one that reflects their current interests. This year I bought my oldest granddaughter a cow, because she says, “the cow is my favorite animal.” I hope years from now, when she is putting her own tree away, she will remember when cows were her favorite animal and how much her Nana loved her.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

What I've Learned So Far

Making the commitment to write a blog was a big step for me. I spent a lot of time looking at other blogs and being intimidated. Everyone else has well designed and organized blogs with strong points of view. Everyone writes so well, sharing themselves with poignancy and depth. Everyone else has something important to say, and they say it with humor and insight. I visited a blog that focuses on what one mother is cooking. She has these beautiful pictures of the Christmas cookies she made. Not only can't I produce a quality blog, but my Christmas cookies aren't works of art either. Maybe producing a blog isn't such a good idea...I'm not worthy.

I'm dazzled by the bloggers who can so freely share their innermost thoughts, and then I read one of those how to articles that warns not to share too much information. Now I'm confused and not worthy.

I've read several posts about how to choose a good name for a blog and the need to narrow the focus. I spent some time coming up with great ideas for blog names…unfortunately someone else already grabbed these good names. Great, now I’m neither original nor worthy! I suppose it is all good advice, but I decided that if I spent my time figuring the details out, I'd never get anything written. Besides, no one is reading this but me. I only need to please myself.

Writing the blog has already forced me to grow. I hear the lion whispering “courage” in my ear. The rest I will sort out later. The important thing is to start and that’s the life lesson that has been reinforced for me. Someday I will be worthy.

…and I can always edit, right?

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Shampoo and a Meaningful Life

The end of the year is a natural time for reflection. It has been a year since I retired and this coming year I will turn 60. When I look back at my first year as a retired person, I realize that I haven’t accomplished anything. Retirement has posed some unique challenges. There is nothing standing in the way of my doing anything…but what I am doing is nothing. I can no longer say I don’t have the time. I don’t have any excuses for not living what Oprah would call “my best life.” My problem is, there really isn’t anything I want to do. There is nothing in my life that can’t be done tomorrow…so I have chosen to do nothing. And that isn’t a very rewarding way to live. So with the new year approaching, I will make some changes. The blog is my first commitment to myself. I will learn how to manage a blog and will document my search to find my way to meaningful activity.

Last year, soon after I retired, I noticed that the huge bottle of shampoo from Costco appeared to be almost gone. I remember thinking that it was another big change in my life…no longer working after 30 years of responsibility and finally getting to the end of that giant bottle. It’s a year later and the shampoo bottle still isn’t empty. I swear I wash my hair almost every day! I’m still showering everyday with the same old shampoo…but once I was showered, I didn’t have anywhere I needed to go. I’m buying new shampoo tomorrow and I’m going to start figuring out what I’m supposed to be doing now that I’m retired.
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