I finally retired from teaching as of September 1 of 2021, and I’m not quite sure I like it yet. Three of my adult children have retired and they keep telling me how much I’m going to love it! Other friends who have retired say that it took up to two years before they felt comfortable being retired. Anyone who knows me well can tell you that I love being active, having a purpose, not sitting still and that I don’t go looking for “fun things to do.”
So I’ve been exploring activities I have enjoyed in the past. Perhaps many of us would find it valuable to take time to remember who we were in a “past life,” i.e., in our younger years. Many surprises will arise out of that exercise.
One revealing event for me came in the form of an old email from my brother. He had sent me a link to a beautiful site called “Trawlers and Tugs Blog.” Sadly, she no longer posts on that site, but she covered beautiful art about working boats.
That site and his email triggered something deep inside me. I realize that as much as I used to enjoy painting with watercolors and messing around with colored chalks, I no longer take time to indulge in anything artistic and I told him so.
It was his answer that made me think. He said, “It bothers me that you don’t take time for yourself to make music, paint, sew, act, direct, etc. All my life I associated those kinds of things with you.” I promised him I would start again.
One of my favorite courses to teach regularly was “Psychology and the Expressive Arts.” And yet in teaching it, I always put my own artistic past aside and simply taught others how to draw on their creativity. Sometimes I got a glimpse of that “old Lucy” when teaching other courses, too, but I always shoved it aside in the interest of the students.
When I find myself re-reading books like Who You Were Meant to Be: A Guide to Finding or Recovering Your Life’s Purpose by Lindsay C. Gibson, Psy.D, or other books about finding “the authentic you,” then I know there is something in my life that needs attention.
I started rummaging around for my art materials, deeply buried in a junk room. When I opened up the first box of pastels, I said “Ohhh!” right out loud. The brilliant colors took my breath away, and tears came into my eyes. I want to put them where I can see them regularly and to remind myself that it’s something I now have time to enjoy in retirement.
Perhaps you are someone who has already re-discovered the “old you” – the authentic you – and are living the life you were meant to live. If so, I congratulate you! My suspicion is that most who will read my post need a reminder to take time this New Year to think about who they are.
I must be authentic if I want to continue to inspire students and friends to be authentic – and creative.
Hau`oli Makahiki Hou!
(Happy New Year!)
4 thoughts on “A New Year for the Old Me!”
I think we have always placed honing artistic talents on the back burner of education. All too often it is categorized as “child’s play” and limited to the lower grades, with this emphasis is phased out as the years progress, and by the time it is all over , i.e. you have your high school diploma and obtained advanced college degrees, we are conditioned to deemphasize developing our artistic abilities. Actually, I have a theory about how it should go , with calculus classes in the first grade and working with oil paints in the 12th, but that is a commentary for another time. 🙂
You are correct, of course! We spend too much time on things that may never enrich our lives quite like picking up a pen to write or a brush to paint. If we could encourage a child’s creativity instead, how much better our world could be!
When I retired the first time at age 50 (I did it twice) I ran into a man at the Frankfort airport who had also just retired. We were both on our way to new adventures (I was going to do an international law program in Salzburg that included an internship at a Belgian law firm. I can’t remember now what he was doing, but something that excited him greatly.) We chatted about our plans and heartily agreed that “retirement is the best-kept secret in the world.” I still feel that way and will never understand people who fret about what to do when they retire.
The second time I retired, at age 66, I headed to Canada, escaping from George Bush and Bush’s America. (LIttle did I know that I would come to regard Bush almost with affection after later living under Trump!). I managed to stay in Canada for nine wonderful years, in the process finishing my BA Degree, which I had abandoned decades earlier.
I’ve been back in the United States for more than five years now, and I survived Trump. Now, at 80, I find myself entering another era of life, the era of the “oldest old”, where one’s health begins to fail, where one must contemplate the prospect of living without a car after 64 years of unhindered freedom of movement, where the financial security one spent a lifetime building begins to erode as unanticipated expenses make themselves known and inflation deflates the real value of one’s income.
Here’s my message to the newly retired and those contemplating retirement: don’t fret, not a moment, not one second, about the loss of purpose retirement may seem to bring. Tempis is fugiting, so carpe diem while ye may. Soon enough a darker vision will emerge over the horizon and your precious days of freedom will fade.
I say I am “semi-retired.” Having this time has allowed me to re-visit my crafts and hobbies of the past. Work was always frantic and stressful and just getting my day to day was enough. Now I can open my mind and heart to these creative activities. It’s a difficult adjustment – I feel I still need to be working so making myself sit down to be creative has not come easy. But reading your blog encourages me and motivates me to find the joy in the colors.