When I’ve heard folks say, “Well you know, we’re getting old” I would physically feel my heart rate increase, my eyes would squint, and my rebuttal reply was, shall we say, terse. “Speak for yourself.” Of course, readers are saying, it’s that fear of aging. And yes, you are right. But the other day I heard myself say something that I vowed I’d “never” say. It had to do with getting older.
In six months I’ll be seventy––certainly not the end of my life; I plan to go into triple digits. But I do at last admit with more than superficial ownership, I am on the down side of the mountain. And I intend to enjoy the ride as much as the uphill lift has been.
For quite a while, I told myself, “I can’t be old. I’ve got things to do, goals to reach, dreams to realize.” OK, here’s a hint that a shift was coming. Now when I miss a bit of sleep for whatever reason–too much sugar, or non-stop rumination–I find the next day I’m not quite able to bounce back “like I used to.” I can see quite clearly, this may have something to do with aging. What this means is a shift is in the making. I can still do just about anything. Just in a different way.
Well, I do admit I don’t want to bungee jump anymore, and I don’t want to go on the highest fastest rollercoaster. I remember years ago, when I was in over my head with educational committee work, my college mentor said, “Just cause you’re good at something, doesn’t mean you have to keep on doing it.” This year, the fragility of life was never brought closer to home than with the death of my stepdaughter, and then a dear friend, who will never have the chance to do new and different things.
I have a rich and full palette of life–intellectually, socially, personally, and physically. I have an insatiable curiosity to learn more, do more, see more. And I also know that if I throw some of that “more” onto this rich and full palette, the colors will get smushed into something kind of messy, rather than colorful and light and enjoyable. Too many colors, too many daubs.
So I’m stepping back to see what it is I’ve been painting, look how beautiful my days and months and years have been. I’m going to leave that piece, or this work, and step closer to something new.
In my writing life I’ve created a number of groups, gatherings, and events, both in Arizona, New Jersey, and New York of which I am extremely proud. I believe I have influenced and helped many writers, speakers, and professional colleagues. An incredible number of people, writers, Toastmasters, neighbors, mentors, and friends challenged, paved, and smoothed the way for me. The exhilaration and sense of belonging and pride in each of these relationships has been a gift to be cherished. Writers Read, Writers Lunch, gatherings with writers, workshops, have given me lifelong memories and friends. And it’s time to step away. Writers Read and Writers Lunch can continue if any colleague wishes to take over the facilitation – I’ll be happy to send you the existing mailing list. Both BREWD (eastside) and 5 Points Market (downtown) have been gracious hosts for Writers Read. Fronimo’s (sort of central) has been our eating meeting for Writers Lunch. If you are interested, you can call or e me.
I’m stepping away from these events, but not the people, so that I may step closer to some new things and step closer to things and people that have been waiting for me.
2017 is my benchmark. March 15, 2017 is my celebration date. Stepping away, and stepping closer.
I plan to enjoy the occasional speaking or workshop presentation that calls to me. I look forward to expanding my craft of writing and coaching. Reading about writing. Writing about writing. Writing essays, articles and blogs about life and more about the relationships that make life so rich, challenging, exciting and astounding! Being with people, traveling to the places in the world and in my adopted home state of Arizona that are different from my everyday surroundings and activities. I feel a calling to spend time with my thoughts, and my dreams. Listening to other people as they share their dreams. Being.
Such a lovely message to all who love and admire you. I understand how you feel and am right behind you when it comes to the physical part, but I soldier on simply because I still can. But like you said, you know when it’s time. When I retired from teaching, it was with a heavy heart – I know I still have skills, but I know fresh ideas and fresh faces will energize students in new and exciting ways. Sometimes passion is not enough. Go and enjoy the ride. You deserve it and those who have waited for your time will welcome you with open arms. Savor the embrace.
Barbara, Your words have touched me deeply. Thank you.
I’m not sure exactly what this means. My worry is that it might mean you will be separating from those (me among them) who love you for what you do and who you are- a truly unique presence among us.
Please reassure me that when things are in disarray in my writing or personal life, you’ll still be there with perceptive insight, right on the money advice, and just plain old support for an “old” friend.
With sincere appreciation for all you have done for me and many others
I’m stepping away from most of my “marketing events” that corral local writers. I am continuing my own writing and staying connected with writers. You are one of my best writing “cheerleaders” and I hope you know I am one of yours. And cheerleaders don’t put down those pom poms.
Hope to see you soon.
Thank you for your willingness to always share, always lend encouragement, always give a kind word. Although our interactions were brief and short lived, your newsletters and persistent writing have been inspiring. I hope you enjoy your next adventurous chapter! Don’t be afraid to let us know how it goes!
All the best,
Beautifully stated Ethel???
I look forward to hearing/seeing how you continue to move deeper into new areas as we a move deeper into aging. Carol and I have new challenges but each brings new perspectives and opportunities. Music and painting are still my passion but more time to read and write are very welcome. Carol and I are still very committed to our community here in Maplewood. Tomorrow we’re off to enjoy the Fall in Woodstock , NY. Our 36 year project.???
Love to Hank all your family. Rebekah is 46 and has 3 wonderful kids we enjoy.
Peace. Jim and Carol Buchanan.
So glad to read your post! I’m still at Washington School but since I have a grandson now, I’m thinking more seriously about retiring, but to what end? Work provides a sanctuary that will require much effort (or not) to replace, but there I go again, thinking, thinking, thinking! The bane of the human condition……….
JoAnne, I still treasure my time at C-WC schools, and your recommendation to read “Travels with Charly”.????.
Be aware that there are surprising and enriching opportunities in your future. All the best.
We enjoy traveling, painting and playing music still, even after 10 years of medical experiences.?
Jim, You are an inspiration. The ups and downs in every phase of life are sure challenging, you seem to meet them with a determination flavored with a “Hey, we can still have fun” attitude. YEAH!!!
A dear friend used to tell me “Don’t think for five minutes.Just be.”
Love this piece Ethel. Beautifully said. Glad you are not giving up the coaching / editing just yet. 🙂
A very very slim chance that I will give up editing. And you have a guarantee that I’m with Sidelines right through publication and beyond!!
This is such a brave and heartwarming message. Thank you, Ethel! You will continue to touch us all, no matter the twists and turns of your journey. Sending love as you pull back and go inward. Enchanting!
I have always admired your courage, Ethel, for acting upon your hopes and aspirations. So, what pushes an individual to turn the thought into the deed? When does one finally relinquish the comforts of routine to embark upon the challenges of change? Perhaps old age is one deciding factor, as the energy needed to ‘stay the course’ dissipates and new routines become essential for survival. One of my favorite adages, ‘routine is worry’s sly assassin’, comes with a cost, as transition is always frought with doubt; but you will find a way, Ethel, of that I have no doubt!
I was reading one of my daily books today- the topic was growth as a scary and exciting time. Seems like a paradox, but I am experiencing both those emotions during this time of change. I’ve felt this push and pull before. My challenge is to give myself “down” time to recharge my batteries.
I am very excited to think of having blocks of time, days even, with no set schedule. A first in my life.
Best to you, Joanne
Back to Miller Place, where the world of children is exemplified as an inspiration to us all; as Wordsworth said (barring religious implications), ‘The child is the father of the man.’ So sit in a bed of clover, catch bees in a mason jar, and as they begin to buzz wildly, lift the lid and watch them soar! Happy Thanksgiving, Ethel……
What beautiful writing. I love the images and yes, am letting things go and soaring!
Joanne, Your words provide a vision for me to hold onto when the “rush” and pull of the daily pace tempts me to go with what has become familiar over the years but necessarily the best for me now.